Saturday, February 28, 2009

Healthier than Birthday Cake...

It was Jayme's birthday today, and since we're both eating better these days I was search for some ideas on how to make something sweet she would love and avoid some of the calories involved in traditional birthday cake. This is what I came up with.

Strawberries + Dark Chocolate = approx 70 calories (maybe less) of goodness each. That means there are about 6 strawberries in your average piece of birthday cake. Not so bad.

Friday, February 27, 2009


The idea behind training is simple. We stress our bodies beyond their current capabilities, and our bodies respond by healing the stress and adapting to become stronger in order to better deal with future repeats of that same stress.

What surprises me though, is how completely unpredictable that adaptation is. Sometimes our bodies adapt in a way we may not notice it. Sometimes our bodies just maintain status quo and don't really adapt at all. Sometimes, very rarely, they will react in a way that adapts beyond what is expected.

That's what happened to me today, in fact. I'm a very new runner, and as such my normal tempo training run pace is only around 10:15/mi. Today, when I ran that pace it felt like I was running much to slow for a fast run. My heart agreed, as it stayed on the very low side of zone 1. So very carefully I increased my pace until I was in the upper end of zone 1, knowing as the run progressed that would break into zone 2, which was the workout I had planned for today.

I finished today's workout with my HR much lower than normal, and my 3 mile time was 28:06. That's 9:22/mi. Not only did I run faster, but I gained efficiency, burning about 60 Kcal less then normal for this run.

This was of course a happy surprise, and I'm sure it will be one I look back on when I'm not as new, and the big increases in performance slow down.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Race Shirts

I'm pretty sure that most race shirts must be designed by a committee. How did I come to this conclusion? I don't think that it's possible for a single person to have such awful taste.

In just one short year of doing bike and running events, I've managed to collect some really special race shirts. I have one featuring a prancing elf, one with a gigantic pumpkin, and lastly one with a snowman and a giant heart. Each are really worth of their own paragraph, so lets take a deeper look.

First lets talk about prancing elves. I'm guessing they started with an elf and said "you know, that's not quite emasculating enough, at least 5 male runners might wear it, what can we do? Oh, maybe we could make him hold his elf wife's little yappy dog in a bag. is a run, lets make him prance."

Then there is the giant pumpkin shirt. If you think I want to wear a shirt with a giant veggie I happen to resemble on it, you're out of your gourd. (Oh, that's right...I went there...)

And that leaves the piece de resistance, the snowman/heart shirt. It's really the item that inspired this rant. Having come out of the shower tonight, I grabbed a random shirt and headed down stairs before I noticed I was wearing it. Then I realized it...ugh...snow man, big red heart. Why do they even make a shirt like that in male sizes? I look like someone's grandmother. It might as well have a gigantic cat on it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Official MITCS Results

19 Laps
.264 Miles

This was my first official swim time ever. That's really cool since alot of pool based Tris all want you to give them a swim time.

6.19 Miles
18.6 Mph

Pretty much what I would have done outdoors actually, given enough flatness and a lack of wind.

18.5 Laps
1.542 Miles

This number was a little off because I was about 1/4 of a mile beyond the half mile mark when time expired. That probably didn't make much of a difference though. I was hoping to be below 10 minute miles, and I met that goal, so I'm happy about that. Running is still my weakest sport by a long shot though. When comparing my results, my performance running sticks out very obviously, but then again I'm lucky to be able to run at all considering my crappy knees. Anyway, I've got to improve here, but it isn't something I can really rush. It's just going to take time. Strategically, the best thing I can do immediately (this season) for my running is getting faster on the bike.

4/4 in my AG, .168 behind third place. :(
91/153 Overall, Middle Third... :)

I am really beginning to hate results like this. Two guys in my AG kicked my butt. I'm totally fine with that, the one in my wave was an amazing athlete for sure. Missing out on a medal by a fraction of a percent stinks though.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

MITCS Health Track Indoor Triathlon

Well, it's official. First Triathlon complete, indoor though it may be. What an intense, crazy race it turned out to be. I don't have official results yet, but here are some of my collection of pictures, along with a few comments...

My first experience with body marking. I was number 1536, which meant wave 15, swim lane 3, and bike 6.

There I go... We were two to a lane, but I was quite a bit faster than my lane partner so it wasn't too big of a deal.

Knowing the swim was limited to "most laps in 10 minutes" meant my pace was nothing but "as fast as I could go the entire time. It made for a more intense experience than I really was prepared for. It also turns out, I was a decent swimmer, in comparison to most of my wave. I was at least MOP, maybe better.

Since this entire thing was going down at way beyond my normal pace I decided to throw flip turns out the window and take a few extra seconds to gasp for air!

My unofficial swim was 19 laps in 10:00. It was a 25 yard pool, so 17 laps was 1/4 mile. This was far beyond my expectations. Thank you EVF and adrenaline!

Here I am setting up for the bike. Some cool points about this race. On the second floor, right above my head in the picture, there is a club DJ spinning dance music, with lots of "wicky wickies." That was really cool for sure, but I preferred to suffer with my own music for most of the time.

Another really cool thing about this race was that every athlete was assigned a "coach" that followed you through all three sports. The coach's job was to (as far as I can tell) record your distances, yell at you to go faster, give you advice on how to race an indoor race, and make sure you had water. Anyway, my coach, ChristinA, was to my immediate right in this picture...

My unofficial bike time was 6.34 miles in 20 minutes. That ends up being 19.02 Mph. There were two people in my wave faster than me, a few the sameish speed, and a few slower. I wasn't as fast on the bike as I thought I would be. Either because I've been working too hard on my other sports, or possibly because it was just a screwy indoor bike.

My legs were completely toasted after the bike, as I quickly found out when I tried to climb the two flights of stairs to the track in T2. After a bad/confusing start I found myself in the back of the pack in the run. No big surprise there though. After about three laps, I found my legs again and knew it was time to go for it. Here I am passing the rest of the BOPs.

This was with about 5 minutes left on the clock. I was at max heart rate for several minutes at this point, and just trying to stick out the rest of the sprint. The problem with a race this short is that the efforts were all totally anarobic. It was really brutal!

This is me, getting ready to be lapped yet again by a crazy fast runner. This guy must have passed me 4 times!

My unofficial run time was 18.5 laps in 15 minutes. That ends up coming out to 9:19/mi, which is insanely fast, but given that I was running as hard as I freaking could, sounds about right.

Here I am after the race, showing off my fancy body markings, and holding my arm at a weird angle to cover the reflector on my shirt for the camera. I'm also marked on my opposite leg, which seemed weird, but I guess if I stepped on a landmine while running they'd know who I was. So I've got that going for me, which is nice...

And here I am, after cleaning up a bit, completely exhausted and ready to go home.

There is a small chance I might have placed in my AG, but I won't know for sure until tomorrow. Stay tuned for that, and it would be cool but really more than I could expect for my first race. Either way, I think I finally earned that shirt. Six weeks until my next race...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Looking Back...

Sometime in October, just a few months ago, I got it in my head that I was going to challenge myself to complete a triathlon. It was an ambitious goal, and it is a goal that I'm going to complete this weekend, when I participate in my first race of hopefully many multisport races that will follow.

Before that happens, I wanted to take a moment and reminisce on how far I've come in the last few months.

In October I knew that I could do great things on the bike, but I had no idea what running even was, and I didn't even know how to swim. With alot of faith, I backed off of my bike workouts. That was really scary at time. I was giving up what I knew worked for my weight loss, and set off to learn two new sports at the same time. Two weeks later I traded my SPD-SLs in for running shoes and ran my first 5k. In 42 minutes I finished my first 3.1 mile run with CJ cheering me on, running next to me and telling me to "put the pain out of my mind and run." At the finish line of that race CJ (who by the time I got close to the end had time to finish running, get some water, and probably write a short story) was telling everyone that I just ran my first 5k and I was going to do triathlons, (and there was clapping and bouncing in place of the happy female variety) and one of the volunteers there was talking about how she had done an ironman recently...and that's when I really knew for the first time that I was going to be a triathlete someday.

In November, thanksgiving morning, I was back for another 5k. This running thing was hard work! I had settled in to doing two sports, three times a week. I still wasn't swimming, but I was squeezing in a 40 mile every Sunday, weather permitting. After all, swimming could wait. Running was a serious problem for me. My goal on thanksgiving was to complete the 5k without walking. Unfortunately that was a goal I fell very short of, having been completely thrown off my game by some mild hills and the wrong clothes. I finished stronger though, at a speedy 37 minutes this time, with Ritter coming back from the finish to run the last bit with me this time. Throughout this entire experience, I've been blessed with a "gold medal" level of support from all of my friends, and believe me guys, it's made a big difference! I wouldn't be here without you.

In December I started to swim. I vividly remember jumping into the lap pool the first time, the water instantly freezing me, just like swimmers like it. I put on my goggles and swam to the far end of the pool...gasping for breath. "Ok," I said to myself, "That was my first 50 meters, now I just have to be able to do that 8 times and I'll be able to do the swim in a sprint tri." Unfortunately I was wrong, as I'd later learn...after much cussing...that my pool was only 25 meters, and that it was going to take 20 laps to equal the 500m I was going to have to swim in June.

By January I was swimming much better, with still a lot to learn, and I was grinding out all three sports, every week. I was finally in the groove of swim/bike/run training. On 1/24 I finished a 5k in about 32 minutes in freezing cold weather, after having fallen on the ice on the course. I am still slow, but now I'm a respectable, slightly less pathetic version of slow. Biking was going well, I was doing an interval and a tempo workout every week, but not doing any LSD because it was just torture on the trainer. Swim training was going well, my total immersion books were doing well, and by the end of the month I was swimming a 600m endurance set. I was just starting to incorporate long runs and speed work into my running workout. Most importantly, I learned to eat like a triathlete and pay attention to post workout nutrition, pulling my body out of a three week weight loss plateau.

February marked the first time I put two sports together, doing bike/run bricks on Fridays. February was also the first time I started fighting off the feeling of overtraining, which I was so familiar with from the previous summer's bike workout.

And so here I am... As I type this, I'm mentally preparing for making the transition from multi sport trainer, to triathlete. I'm running through strategies for each event, planning nutrition, planning transitions, thinking about swim technique, thinking about running form, and thinking about what cadence and power output to shoot for on the bike. I've challenged myself with alot of learning and physical adaptation and I've succeeded, regardless of the outcome on Sunday. I can't help but smile when thinking about these past few months. As hard as they've been, I've surprised myself with what I've done. I won't be first, and I probably won't be last, but I am ready to tri.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Early Vertical Forearm

Little changes make big differences in swimming, or so I'm learning. My swimming education has been frustrating at best, due to my complete inability to find a coach/lessons that work for me. As such, I've had to take my normal approach and read a few books and watch a bunch of videos. I know that isn't ideal, but that's how I learned to Eskimo roll a kayak too. Hopefully swimming with my local tri club will make up the difference this summer.

Anyway, this little change just made a big difference for me as a swimmer. I still have some work to do to get it committed to muscle memory, but I've already gained some swim speed from it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

First Bike/Run Brick

With my first indoor tri rapidly approaching (2/22), I decided to modify my training plan to incorporate a few bike/run bricks earlier than I normally would have otherwise.

I changed my training plan to look like this:

Monday: Run 3 miles speedwork. Weights
Tuesday:Bike 60 minutes intervals 5x5min
Wednesday: Run easy, 3.3 miles. Weights
Thursday: Swim 100m warm up, 100m fist drills, 800m main set, 100m cd
Friday:Bike 30 minutes tempo, transition to run 2 miles.
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Swim 100m warm up, 100m drill, intervals (100,50,25,25)x2, 200m cd

The actual brick was VERY hard. I do mean VERY.

Bike Portion: Because I'm getting ready for an indoor race, I wanted to ride the bike portion on a stationary bike. The stationary bike seemed to think I needed lots of practice on hills, as it spent a good amount of my ride surprising me with 6% to 20% grades. I hope I don't have to do an actual tri on a course like that any time soon. Another down side to the stationary bike was my position on the bike. I wanted to lean forward and roll my hips forward as I pedaled, but I was stuck VERY upright, like I was riding a beach cruiser instead of a race bike.

Run Portion: Everyone that has ever raced a tri has said "watch our for your legs after T2, they'll be like jello." Wow, was that ever the truth. The first half mile of my run was really a challenge. It took about as much exertion keeping me on my feet as it took to propell myself forward. It was really like someone had removed the bones in my legs, and I had to work extra hard to keep myself stable and upright. After that first half mile though, things did come together. I had orginally planned on running 3 miles in this workout, but unfortunately in mile two I started having some cramps and stomach issues that I'm pretty sure were my body's way of telling me "slow down" so I decided to heed that advice and cool down after 2 miles.

Bike Stats: 30 min, 9 miles, 18mph avg.
Run Stats: 20:45, 2 miles, 10:23/mi
Total 52:50, 862 calories.

Overall, I wish I had made it the three miles, but I think I did pretty darn good anyway. I still have 3 months until my first A priority race, and based on today's performance I'm much more confident I can do it. It was also nice to see that I could bike and run back to back and not be all that much slower on the run. Honestly that surprised me.