Thursday, August 23, 2007


I bought another bike today. It's called the Roubaix, named after the destination city of the Paris-Roubaix race in France.

It has character. It has style. And riding a bike like this is better than chocolate, as well as 99% of the coffee I've ever drunk in my time. It's a weird thing to discover that a bike can fit like a glove; it's a measure of my reaction when, when asked how my trial ride was, I had to spend a minute to come up with "it was perfect."

Don't get me wrong: I still love running. But this biking this... I think it may open up whole new worlds. Centuries. Iron Men. Cool stuff like that. :)

Cold showers: It's not just a cure for concupiscence

Like I just said, speedwork is tough.

Right now, my right thigh is hurting like I overused it; thankfully, it feels only like a muscle issue, which heals with the proper doses of rest, massage, and occasionally anti-inflammatory type drugs.

But the best thing I've found to keep this from happening is the first cousin to the ice bath- the cold shower. Aimed directly at the right place for a long enough time, it really keeps inflammation from becoming a problem, even hours after the workout.

Not days, though. Not doing it after speedwork on Tuesday was a mistake; enjoying a long, hot shower compounded the issue.

*sigh* after all I've been though, you'd like I'd have learned by now, ya'know? :P

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday Speedwork

I'm getting fast. Not speed demon fast, mind you; I have friends who can run my mile PR and still hold a conversation. But a combo of speed work, months of hill training, cross training, and a great group of friends all work to help me get my time down.

How much? Well... I'll get to that in a minute.

Strangely enough, I took yesterday off- with rain, triathlon recovery, and a general feeling of malaise being the leading reasons why. Oh, and I think I forgot to drink coffee till afternoon.

Today I went in to work early, did the work thing, and had 2.5 hours to kill before speed work. After an hour of pouring over the tri results, I went to warm up. About Seven and a quarter miles of warm up. :) Every so often I had to tell myself to hold back; run at about 40%, relax, and enjoy the scenery. Kept me at a 9:15 average, with occasional forays into the 8 min/mile land.

Got to the track and heard todays workout: Mile sprint, quarter rest; 2 mile run (clockwise; interesting twist), 800M rest interval, then two 800s with a 400 rest between them.

Tough stuff. But I did well! My first mile was at a nice 6:09, knocking 25 seconds off my previous mile PR set at the Angela Hospice Run a week ago. If I keep up at this rate, I might see sub-6 in October. Um... yeah. wow.

The two mile pace was 6:42; not that far off my mile PR before today. The quarters were 3:14 and 3:02 respectively. The home stretch of my last half- maybe 50-100 meters, was definitely sub-5, perhaps even hitting sub-4 for a few feet.

Let me be honest: I never, every thought I'd be fast. Less than a year ago I was pretty happy running at a 10-11 min/mile pace, and would do my long runs at 12:30 and feel well satisfied. Running at 9 min/mile was fast for me, and averaging 8 min pace for anything over a half mile was something other people did.

But I'm getting faster. And ya'know- it feels kind of nice. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

First Tri!

The Swim

'Twas a tad cold, air temperature-wise. Most of us stood shivering as the race announcer did the announcing thing; I borrowed a page from marathon racing and wore a disposable sweat shirt.

Thankfully, water temperature-wise things were much better. The water was significantly more comfortable then standing about in the air, but this led to something even more scary... wisps of fog making it hard to see much of anything. Buoys, kayaks, other swimmers... everything (at least, from my myopic vision) was pretty well obscured. I found myself swimming off in kind of random directions, as much as 90 degrees from where I should have.

Of course, this happened to me in practice, too, so I shouldn't have been taken too off guard. :P

I did have a scary moment when I caught a lung full of water, and as I coughed, gasped, and tried to suppress my gag reflex, I felt long tendrils of seaweed grasping at my feet. Gross! But worse, it also messed with my kick. Scary! And then, I realized, it was a really shallow part of the lake, and I could stand up, cough to my heart's content without fear of drowning, and even take a bit of a rest. Whew!

I don't know if it saved my life, but it was like that unexpectedly awesome meal when your starving, or a cup of amazing coffee when going through withdrawal. It'd be wonderful under normal conditions; in extremis I makes me wonder if there really might be a benevolent God watching out for me through no fault of my own.

Anyway, I finished in pretty good time (for me) and without swallowing too much water. And my first words when hitting the transition area to the other people around me were: "Whew. I'm glad that's over!"

The Bike

The second leg had us zooming around a subdivision, going through two loops of tight corners, puddles, and the occasional resident who I'm sure will never vote for a triathlon to happen near their place again. Rain pelted us pretty constantly through the whole ride, and the intersection between those starting, those halfway done, and those who were finishing left about a single bike width for each of the above, and an awful lot of congestion.

It was especially scary because it was coming down a hill, and braking was a bit nerve wracking...

But other than that, the bike was nice, relatively flat, well marked and the race volunteers were troopers! The definitely had it harder than we did, standing out in the cold, dreary weather rather than riding through it.

The Run

Strangely enough, the run was my favorite part of the tri. :) The course was about 2/3rds asphalt roads, 1/3 trail. The trail was a wood chip forest thing. There was just something so cool about running through it in the rain- a sort of rain forest type feel that was absolutely flipping awesome!

It was also nice to be able to encourage my friends as I saw them pass by during the run- it's a lot easier to tell if someone is a friend or not at a run speed then at bike speed, especially with rain-fogged glasses.

General thoughts:

I love my friends! They are the coolest people evar! They also all got AG prizes, so they are cool and awesome athletes!
I'm extra, extra glad that I put everything into my car the night before.
I'm also happy that I was smart enough to put my keys and wallet into my jacket; I just wish I had also done so with my camera.
Rain isn't so bad, so long as you're a paranoid person like myself and have the garbage bags, extra set of dry clothes, and the courage to change in front of everyone. :) I did have to use the race t-shirt as a towel, tho...
Need to do more early morning swim practices, as well as more swim practices in general.
I just might be addicted to triathons, now... *sigh* Like I need another addiction. :)

Half mile Swim: 25:54
T1: 3:54 min
12 mile Bike: 35:23 min (Garmin- 11 miles)
T2: 1:18
3 mile Run: 21:06 (Garmin- 2.9 miles)

Anyway, Yay! :) And I feel even better after a nap! :)

Still was in the cellar of my AG; 14/14. Though I was last in swimming by a good five minutes, I was eighth in biking and second in running! Cool, eh? And I'm pretty sure I can only improve on the other two events- and transitions, especially!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Training update

#1 "It's a little spooky, actually..."

I have a Garmin which, in theory, tells me almost exactly how far I've run. I note it all down in an excel spreadsheet which keeps track of me, and I'm pretty relaxed about trying to get exactly ten miles or whatever. If I hit 9.1, I'm happy with 9.1, and I don't feel any need to run an extra .4 miles or whatever. If I hit 9.96, I may run an extra .04, but that's less than an extra minute.

The excel spreadsheet is crude; everything is broken up into four week segments, which any regard to actual months. I just concluded a four week segment and came up with a total mileage of 173.93. I looked at last periods total mileage. It was 173.96.

I find that a little weird.

#2 "miles per week"

Hit 60 miles this week; the most miles I've ever run in a week. How do I feel? Hm... I feel like I could really use a nap. :)

#3 "unintentional PRs"

Did it again today: for a race which I wanted to do "easy", I ran a PR. Not by much, mind you: 46:13 rather than 46:57. But my first mile was also a PR of 6:36, which qualifies at way too bloody fast. My pace did almost drop to 8:00 during mile five, but I picked it up for the last bit to my race average of 7:30. All this after doing an 18 miles yesterday. *sigh*

#4 "Age group"

Last week I won my age group by virtue of being the only one in it. This time, I came in second of six, so I got a silver colored medal and got to stand to the accolades of my dear friends. One, with whom I was honored enough to run the first mile and half, went on to win over all the other females running. And many of the others did well in their age groups, also.

It was a good week, and a great race. Hopefully, I didn't do anything for which I'll be in too much pain this week....

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Training tip #2

What not to do on a 93 degree day, especially during the hottest part of it...

run a 6 mile warm up
do 6 sets of 800 meters at mile PR pace with a 200 meter jog interval
then finally, to wrap it all up, plyometrics

My legs did a 17 mile long run last week without complaining half so much. :P

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Store 5K competition

New thing number one: Cross Country running.

It means grass, rolling hills, and the odd root and rock that the typical road runner seldom comes across. Add a dash of rain to make things slippery and interesting.

New thing number two: a small field.

Twelve runners came together from the three different Running Fits in the Northville area; well actually there were thirteen of us, and one was the owner-boss-guy, so I'm not sure I should count him.

Many were college runners- meaning after the first minute I didn't see them again. Most of the race I was completely alone, which suits me okay; it was a lot like a training run that way.

New thing number three: a steamy finish.

... and no, not in as fun a way as it sounds. But I had wisps of steam coming from off my body after the run, like my skin was smoking or something.

Last new thing: 5K PR.

Last February I ran my first (and up till today, only) 5K in a respectable 25:16, which was my first foray into a race pace of 8-9 min/mile. I haven't run one since, concentrating on longer distances, trail running, and speed work. Yet all that training has seemed to have helped a bit! :) I knocked almost three minutes off my time, coming it at 22:27.

And my first mile (6:50) was only about nine seconds off my mile PR set Tuesday! I was pretty amazed, really. :)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Mark Mellon Memorial Duathlon

The Mark Mellon Memorial Triathlon/Duathlon/Relay takes place in the greater Gaylord/Otsego Lake area, home to D~ my second eldest brother. He and I have run a number of races together, though neither of us have done a Duathlon.

Something I love about doing a new event- no matter how you do, it'll be a PR. No pressure to meet expectations. :)

A few images I'll take from the event:

Getting marked with the euphoria-inducing marker on each calf, thigh and upper arm. It made me wonder: am I going to be able to wear shorts to work next week?

Setting up my transition area, thinking: Thank God I don't have to swim. Air temp is like 50 degrees!

Looking at the tires of my brother's road bike and thinking: I knew I should have asked him if they were inflated enough! They weren't. Made for a difficult run for him at the end- his quads kept on cramping...

Being asked by that same brother to be best man at his wedding, just as we were passing by his house where is fiancee and kids were waiting to cheer us on. Of course, I said "yes!"

Starting the run thinking- I don't think there's anyone behind us...

Run walking through the last four miles. Like I mentioned earlier, constant quad cramping makes makes for a difficult run. On the plus side it was a absolutely beautiful day, sunny and in the 70s- significantly cooler than earlier in the week, and I was able to enjoy it much more than any part of Heart of the Hills.

Finishing last. I've met people who are deathly afraid of this- they'll go so far as to not go to races for fear of... what? I'm not exactly sure. But I can now honestly say that I've done it, and it isn't that bad. Runners are (for the most part) a kindly bunch, and will cheer on anyone working through the same sort of difficulties they too have fought through. For something that can be so competitive, it's awfully supportive.

Winning a pair of tri shorts. It's something I'd been thinking about buying for a little while now, but put it off because I'd have to order it online, they're too expensive, and I'm not sure I'm committed enough. *sigh* Now I don't have an excuse!

Winning my age group. Even if you come in dead last, you can still win your age group if no one else is in it, and I guess none of the other 22 duathlon participants were in the 30-34 male age bracket. Color me so surprised I almost thought they were joking!

Perhaps sooner or later I'll go on at length about the virtues and vices of a "fun run" vs "race" mentality, and how I try to do both. But for now, I'll relate that I found quite a bit of joy in the race today, in the rewards of sticking with friends and family, and enjoying the whole process of a race, rather than just achieving somewhat arbitrary goals.

Though I gotta tell you, I enjoy that, too. :)