Saturday, May 30, 2009

Zooma Half-marathon Eve

Final preparations are underway for JB's first half-marathon. It looks like it is going to be a glorious day for a run, 60's low humidity climbing to 80 later in the day. A duplicate of the beautiful weather we are having today.

I just spent some time putting my "chip" on my shoe. Chip is a term of art apparently, it's like running with half a credit card weaved into your laces. How they think this is comfortable I do not know. I also customized my race number (i.e. made it smaller with my handy scissors). We are intending to wear our fuel belts tomorrow. The aid stations are few and far between so we thought it best to bring our own nourishment, keep it simple. The extra weight added will be irrelevant--especially as we pass the gaggle of women at the infrequent aid stations.

Today I enjoyed, somewhat, a two mile lake swim followed by 45 miles of easy riding. A few hills but not what I was itching for. My plan tomorrow is to finish the race, turn around on the course and go run the last few miles with JB. Not that she will need encouragement to get home, I think she will be plenty stoked to finish. My advice on race strategy for her is to celebrate every mile--the hard work is in the bank, this is all about the celebratory march home. This will be the furthest she has ever run in her life and I'm really proud of her for the accomplishment.....anyone see a marathon or Ironman in the future?

Tomorrow's post will be from the new half-marathoner herself, and sorry, no pictures. As we are both running we couldn't figure out where on our fuel belt to carry the 35mm.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Slight deviation

My plan did not include any bike time all week but those who know me know my greatest fault is deviating from the plan a little. Never in the direction of less, always in the direction of more.

I hopped on the trainer today for 80 minutes of time trial work. I used the compression socks which have quelled the calf cramps for now.

Tomorrow is still under development. Again, deviating from the plan I think a bike ride is in order but I was waiting to hear if, in addition to the ride, there was a group swim. If there is no group swim I'll probably ride for 3 hours with the thought that I'm stretching a half-ironman load over two days.

Sunday is the Zooma half-marathon, Jacki's first at this distance so send her some good wishes. I don't think I will be setting any PR's but if it is within reach I'm willing to dig down and get it. After I finish I plan to circle back and find JB, help encourage her home. Fingers crossed the humidity is tamped down.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Have more babies

Most people would never believe that these three words "have more babies" would come out of my mouth. Mind you, I don't subscribe to the Republic of China's one child per couple viewpoint but I do believe you should not be outnumbered--see, I'm much more liberal then China.

Today, I had the pleasure of running on the brand new TC Williams High School track which my tax dollars have paid for. TC Williams boasts a brand new--not renovated--brand new high school at the expense of Alexandria residents. It is gorgeous and the rubberized surface and lane markings on the track made me feel like an Olympian. While I had no choice in the matter about the need, cost, or scope of the work (I'm still bitter they did not replace the city pool on the same property) I am now starting a personal crusade to encourage friends and neighbors to expand their families to make use of these amazing facilities because while you got my gay taxes there will be no offspring from our household that can take advantage of our contribution. Breed on people.

Anyhow, great day on the track today. 7:20 time trial mile. Hey, it's no 5 minute mile but I'm a Towne and I'm old. I think it's pretty respectable.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dara Torres is a sprinter for good reason

Oh L4-L5, how you tweak me in my 4200 yards of work but I'm not complaining about aches and pains. Short term recall appropriately nudged.

Swam 1 mile, rested a minute, swam another mile, rested a minute, swam 2 x 500--I nearly bored myself to tears. Long distance swims are best done in open water situations. How much does Dara Torres swim each day? I should reconsider sprint triathlons, I'm sure I would not be ticking off 4200.

Tomorrow, I have to get to the track to get my track work done. I have only 3 weeks left of speed work...speed being a relative term when you are 46.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Behind the 8-ball

Something I ate last night did not like me. I could not get to the track today for my speed work so I'm behind the 8-ball a bit. Still, despite my intestinal war, I did enjoy sleeping in until 6:20. If I had some sick days, I may have done the track work and been fine exacerbating my situation but given my new job it doesn't look good to call in sick on day 4.

Reworking my plan for the week. I'll either swim or get the track workout in tomorrow.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Salute to the Stable Pony

JJB Guest Blogs today
Mercifully, my tapering week has begun leading up to this Sunday’s half marathon. Now, this is the longest distance I’ve EVER run. One week after we returned from South Africa (late January) until today I’ve been building my endurance as well as my physical and mental toughness to get through the 13.1 miles. I believe I’m as ready as I can be. Hoping my knees hold up and my mind stays positive.

Anyhow, back to the word “tapering”. It means, to me, the act of decreasing the amount of physical activity leading up to a big event to give yourself some time to relax and recover before going all out during the actual race. Today’s plan called for 1000 meters ”easy” in the pool - no problem, less than 30 minutes and I'm done. But no…as many of you know, I’ve described myself of late as a “stable pony” for my partner who –even after promising once would be enough – has decided to become a double Ironman at Lake Placid in July.

Stable pony, you know, the constant companion of the more gifted filly or colt signed up to do the big race. The companion that keeps the more-celebrated athlete company on long rides, in the pool, through the mental tough days, and gives constant encouragement so that the fore-mentioned athlete can be successful. It’s a role I voluntarily take on so that my partner can achieve her goals…nonetheless, there are times when it would be nice to be recognized for the work I put into the event.

So she and her “stable pony” got in the car and drove the 45 minutes to Quantico Marine base for a 2 hour ride. It’s where we do most of our bike training since the vehicle traffic is low and you can get a nice balance of hills and flats. Thus, my “easy” day turned out to be a testament to my commitment to the Ironman.

So for all the unsung heroes out there, know that you count. That the more gifted, the more celebrated, the more highly visibles out there could not be where they are without you. And to all the women and men of our Armed Forces – many of whom we’ll never know your names – YOU count as well. We, as Americans, certainly couldn’t be where we are without you. On this Memorial Day and always, thank you and here’s to achieving YOUR dreams.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good form but Janet Evans I am not

Today, Jacki and I participated in the Jim McDonnell 1 and 2 mile open swim. I'll let you guess who did which race.

It was a beautiful day.
A bit overcast for the 1 mile swim but definitely bright and shiny for the 2 mile swim which came later. I'm going to throw in a few pictures of perfect that there are a few with less than perfect form.

The Jim McDonnell swim is a swim for Master swimmers but competitors are predominately triathletes. One key difference, and I hesitate here to make generalizations, Master swimmers tend to have a little meat on their bones but trust me when I say they are pretty fast. They also swim in their swimsuit and make fun of those in "rubber suits" insinuating we are cheaters. Not wanting to provoke, I reserved my thought that the leaner, meaner triathlete bodies have no body fat to keep us warm even though today's water temperature of 70 degrees was perfection. The last time I competed in this race the water temperature was 64.

I'm going to detail my swim and encourage Jacki to post her Monday morning quarterbacking on her own swim. Mine began very calmly, great rhythm, in the pack perhaps a bit wider then the rest of the pack but definitely in the mix when generally I am left in the dust....or wake as the case may be. At the first buoy I got smacked in the face and lost my goggles. Generally in a triathlon, I put them under my cap because triathlon swims are very physical and the loss of goggles is common. Today, I had them over my cap thinking my swimming colleagues would be a little bit more cognizant of spacing. No worries, though. Sure, I was ticked but I just flipped on my back, put them back on and kept swimming. The best part was that to that point my goggles were fogged up and I couldn't see a thing. Getting smacked in the face and having them involuntarily removed took care of my fog problem.

I think the swimming community thinks triathletes are coddled. There were 7 buoys on the course. Over a mile course, you can imagine that they are pretty far apart not to mention small. As I said, I did this race several years ago so I knew sighting would be a challenge. I used others to sight for me, swimming side by side with someone until I passed and lost them or looking ahead for green swim caps.

I's kind of a joke to say the 2 mile race which means 2 laps around. I drifted right which I felt may have been from crossing center. It's a lake, there is no current to carry me or in this case blame. I started to focus on the zipper drill in my stroke which made me catch the water better and seemed to increase my speed...again a word I hesitate to use. I forgot my watch today-- another indication of this being an exercise in a 2 mile open water swim vs a competition--but Jacki said she thought my first lap was around 33 minutes which is pretty decent. Still, my friends joining me in Lake Placid, I don't feel I will have much of a swim course improvement over 2007 despite that I have improved my technique and comfort in the water.

All in all, a nice swim. I did have vertigo issues when I exited which manifests itself in my walking like I am completely drunk. This happened when I raced this course before and I thought it was the temperature of the water disagreeing with my brain (perhaps instead it is the toxins in the water). Since then I have used earplugs in water under 70 degrees and I have had only minor problems with vertigo. While swimming today, very early in the course as we reversed direction, the sun was in my eyes. I decided to change the side I was breathing on. Unfortunately, my body disagreed. I could not switch my breathing side because I was so dizzy and disoriented I could not even determine the sky from the water. Kind of a problem. I'll have to research why this may have happened because it is clear that the drunken walk to my bike in any triathlon would probably get me pulled off the course.

One good thing, I did have lots of energy today. I could have swam another lap. My swim training is in good shape. I may not be fast, but I am strong. When I came home I went out on an hour run for good measure. I'm desperate to use the 3-day weekend well and bank some training time.

Tomorrow, a ride, perhaps a swim. Jacki will be trying out her new shoes and speedplay pedals. I worry the band-aid stock may not be where it needs to be but I'm keeping my fingers crossed she/we returns unscathed.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Oh solo mio

I've had a few requests to reconstitute my blog so I'm going to give it a try amidst the pressing demands of a new job and the unrelenting Ironman training schedule, much my own doing as will be explained. I'm also going to try to complain less about my body ailments. Readers should presume they exist...enough said.

It is of course Memorial Day weekend when we honor the memory of the men and women who have died in service to our country. A shout out to the families of those who have lost loved ones, and a special nod to my family's war veterans. Without meaning any disrespect to the real purpose of the weekend, it also means I am 2 months out from Lake Placid. Traditionally, this is the weekend that many of the 2,500 competitors head to Lake Placid to test out the course. I am not among them.

My schedule called for a 2 hour ride and 25 minute bike, and my coach was encouraging me to scratch that plan and join in a group lake swim followed by a ride today. My freakish mind got the better of all of those plans. To date, my longest ride has been 4 hours and some 50 miles up at Skyline. I looked at the calendar and scrapped all plans inserting the need to assuage my mind--I needed mental miles today.

I could not get anyone to come out and play with me today, and to be honest, I was quite fickle about what I wanted to do. I did not want to ride solo at Skyline, particularly in the heavy traffic endemic of any 3-day weekend, so I had a bifurcated plan. First I headed to Prince William Forest Park and did three loops on the hills. Then I packed up the car, went one exit down to Quantico to get in the rest of my road work.

Today was a good day--not measured by speed but instead by the quality and cumulation of my ride. I rode 72.5 miles, much of it in the aero position, then I went on a 21 minute run. I was definitely spent by the end. As any endurance athlete will tell you, you must be most focused at the end of your endeavor--coming down from Everest, finishing the 112 miles of an Ironman, etc. The results of losing focus can be minor or catastrophic. Today, I enjoyed a mental reminder when I lost focus and dropped my chain while climbing a hill at about mile 68. I have never done this before and usually I ruthlessly mock others that succumb to this misfortune. How can you not know what gear you are in? Oh, I see now. So next time I shall give my riding compatriots a little more room when they drop their chain on a hill.....which is not to say that I won't still pass them.

Tomorrow, a 2 mile open water swim--well, race for most people but I'm not a swimmer so it's really just a lovely 2 mile swim. JB will be doing the 1 mile swim. Here is hoping neither of us swallows enough of the putrid water to cause any medical maladies.