Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ko'Olina Tri 2010 Race Report (OR Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About My Triathlon But Were Afraid to Ask)

The race started for me at 3:30am. That's what time the wonderful wife and I got up and got ready to go. I grabbed a Cliff Bar and a banana and we were on our way. I'd packed and prepared the night before so all we had to do was throw all the gear in the truck and drive into the predawn dark.
Parking at the site was well organized and easy. In fact, considering how disorganized the events of Friday and Saturday were, the race day went off without a hitch. I guess if something is going to go well, that should be it.
I found my bike a spot, got my little transition area all ready like I'd been shown at the clinic the day before, and wandered off to warm-up in the water. We were told Lagoon 4 would be open for warm-ups. But its very dark and there is no lights in or around the water. So warming-up was a little tricky. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was the only person to get into the water there, and I only went halfway across the lagoon and back. At least the water was warm.
I got back to my transition area to double check it only to find someone else had made space for their bike and my stuff had been shoved to the side a little. Jerk. But whatever, I fixed and was good to go.
I also was body marked (some guy writing on my arms with a Sharpie) and chipped. The chip is a small, well, chip attached to a velcro strap you strap around your ankle and, "Don't touch! Do. Not. Touch. Noooo touchie!" (I may have made that last one up.) The chip is cool because it electronically tracks your times and entries and extis from the transition area. The chip is why my times are so exact on the results page.
We had the pre-race briefing, which I paced and jittered through and then the Parade of Athletes to Lagoon 1. Basically, that was a whole bunch of people in swim suits walking and talking from one end of the lagoons to the other making jokes like, "Where are the marching bands and horses for our parade?" I may have been one of the jokers. I talk when I'm nervy and around a group like that.
At Lagoon 1 everyone jumped in for a real warm-up which lasted a few minutes. The sun was rising and it was looking to be a beautiful day. The muscles felt good, the stomach was settled (kind of surprising for me), and I felt ready.
Once we all gathered to start the non-military men entered the Starting Box ( I don't know that that was it's name, but it sounds very official dontcha think?) for the first wave. After a blessing from a Hawaiian priestess-lady, they have an official name which escapes me at the moment, the race organizer asked us to kind of seed ourselves by ability in the water to avoid too much pile up. Faster people in front. I didn't know where I belonged but erred on the side of ego and was in the back of the front third. Looking around, he might as well have asked up to sort by body fat percentage. Super-ripped guys in front, fat guys in the back. Whatever.
There is no Ready, Set, Go to start a race, at least not my race. It was instead, "OK! We're starting in one minute!" Jitter, stretch, wiggle. "Thirty seconds!" Jitter, wiggle, shake. "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, well, you get the idea. At one and "GO!" we sprinted for the water. I hit the water about in the same position I was waiting in and started chugging.
My plan had always been to get in and get some separation from the flailers. Get out away from swinging arms and thrashing feet and get my stroke working. Lagoon 1 was close, but not for long. The plan came off just as I wanted. After an initial jockeying for position the field stretched out nicely and I got my own little space of water to swim in.
It was a swim-run-swim remember, so I had to poke my head up to sight on the orange flags at the other end to keep going straight. Getting out at the first lagoon I felt strong and set a good pace across the grass carpet to the next. I saw a few people in front of my but not many. I was confused, where is everyone else? Turns out that I was the sixth guy out of the water after the final lagoon, having been passed only once and that was during a run portion, not the swim. Not too shabby, eh!
I huffed and puffed into the transition area to find my bike. I admit, I may have walked a few steps once I got in there. I shouldn't have, but I did. Weak sauce, I know. The transition felt good, especially since I'd never done it wet or full-on before. My feet were sandy but on the way in to T1 there were water tubs to step in and out of, which I made use of. I hadn't planned to because I figured there were be a ton of people waiting to use, but I was way ahead of the pack at this point and there was no traffic at all yet.
I jogged the bike out passed the Mount Here mark and struggled to get on. That morning I'd forgotten to be sure the pedals were in easy starting position so it took a second and I kind of wobbled off, nearly clipping a more efficient competitor. Not an auspicious start, but appropriate.
My bike was, lets just say, not all that fast. Remember all those people I smoked in the water? Yeah, it wasn't long before they were zipping by me. It wasn't that I was super-tired, though I was feeling it, its more that I have no fast on the bike yet. I felt like I was working hard, pedaling hard, keeping my head down and getting it done. And still I watched others fly by me. I admit, every time someone did pass me I thought to myself, "Kicked your ass in the swim." Not bitter, just keeping myself up. It's hard to continue to race, to continue to push, when you repeatedly watch people you know started minutes behind you scoot by like its nothing. So attitude became a focus during the bike portion of the race. Staying positive, not getting frustrated, trying to have fun. And not feeling like I was going super-slow.
My post-race assessment of my ride is much more positive. According to the results page, I averaged 15mph during the ride, which is pretty much dead-on my training average. This tells me I need to find other people to train with who are faster than I am so I can teach myself to get faster.
My second transition went fairly smoothly, except one of the guys on my rack who'd gotten back before me had racked his bike over my area, so my toe shoes were practically beneath his front tire. Rather than just bending down, grabbing them, and slipping them on I had to kneel, reeeeach, and get on it. It's a small thing, but in a race its an annoying thing. Even a newbie like me knows that's poor etiquette. Also, I grabbed a squirt of water from one of my spare bottles before setting out because I'd forgotten to hydrate at the very end of the ride. Slow, but that's ok. I'm new.
Right outside of the transition area there was the first aid station, which I hadn't planned on hitting at all. I should have been hydrating on the bike and shouldn't need at the very start of the run. I did grab a cup as I ran by though for a cool off splash. Honestly, I felt kind of cool grabbing a cup from a volunteer on the run, dumping the ice water over my head, and crumpling and tossing it into the waiting trash can as I ran by. That's right, I used the trash instead of just dropping the cup when I was done with it. Give a hoot. (And I made up for it at the second aid station when there was no near-by can and I just crumpled and dropped. Less hooting a mile and a half in.)
To be completely honest, I felt great during the run. I thought I was setting a good pace for myself, I came out of T2 with a good heart rate and controlled respiration. I had been passed by an older guy who works at Island Tri and Bike in the last mile of the ride and went right by him at the start of the run. Ha, that'll teach you to be nearly 60 and pass me on the bike...jerk. My stride was good, I had quick feet and strong body position. I passed a few people, got passed a few times, and ran fast for me. Looking at my pace on the results page, I had a really good run for me. Just over nine minute miles. And I was able to dig deep at the very end to finish strong through the finish. I probably could have burned that energy going slightly faster over the whole course but I don't have the discipline or training for that yet.
To keep it light and keep Have Fun in my mind I high-fived many of the volunteers placed along the course, pointing us in the correct direction. I developed a small stitch under my ribs about halfway through the run, I think because the water for the second aid station was so cold. You'd think ice water would be really nice and refreshing, but that much cold all at once kinda hurts. The stitch was forgotten around the final lagoon, when I could see the finish. That's a sweet sight. Right after I crossed someone was there to take my chip and put the finisher medal around my neck. Mom was there for a five and Angela was there for a sweaty kiss. That's a nice way to finish a race.
Post race was nice, walking around, trying to hydrate, taking pictures, catching my breath, and remembering to stretch. The athletes were all very nice, that I saw, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. They handed out awards, posted unofficial times, and had plenty of fruit and drinks for us.
I am very pleased with how the race went. I had fun, I did well, I pushed myself, and, as someone working at Ko'Olina said to me as we left, I was "more alive than I was that morning." I like that. I'm already planing to buy a bike, looking at one tonight, and think that I'm going to register for the Haleiwa Tri on Nov. 14th. That's really soon but I figure I'm in shape so I'll just cycle my training back three weeks and start from there. It will be good for me to get right back on for another race. After that the next tri I see is in April. Maybe there will be an open water swim, a bike race, a run, or a duathlon I can do in between.
Thanks again for all the support and encouragement over the last three months. I know what I'm going to do better next time, and know what to work on. I'll update here when I buy a bike, and when I start working on the next race.
Go Team Dirtbag!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ko'Olina Tri- Photo Blog

I'm still pretty tired and don't feel like writing a race report quite yet. So instead, this will be the photo blog portion of the report.

The Gear:

Race Morning:

The Race:

Post Race:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Finish Line- Ko'Olina Triathlon 2010

Race Day

Time- 1:35.42

I'll post a race report and a ton of pictures tomorrow or Weds, when I have a little more time.
The results page is here and you can search for me by name or in the Sprint Tri category M25-29. I came in 15th in my age group and 68th overall. Great swim, slow bike, surprising run. All in all I'm a happy triathlete.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Fun

Run Day/Prep Day

Time- 10 minutes

Easy run today. Not much to say about that.
Went out and picked up my race packet today. There was supposed to be a Fitness Expo there too that I was excited to check out but for some reason it did not happen. We were also supposed to be able to leave our bikes overnight at the venue to make things easier tomorrow, but it turns out there is no on-site security so the bike came home. So instead I just picked up my packet and we left. Came back at three for a new athlete triathlon clinic by the race coordinator and all around knowledgeable guy, JJ.
The clinic was very helpful and I'm glad I went back for it. He explained the course and how everything is going to go tomorrow, which I'll hear again in the morning but now I already know it. I'm ahead already! He also took us through the transition area and went over how he suggests we rack our bikes and set up our space to be as fast and efficient as possible.
I learned a lot and it got me excited for the race. Made it feel more real. Like holding my bright yellow t-shirt made it feel more real. One thing he said that I really liked was that people, when they talk about the course, love it all, except the swim-run-swim. "Swimmers," he said, "want to get in and swim and then when you're done swimming you're done. Runners don't like swimming and don't want to keep getting back in the water. No one really likes this swim-run-swim course. You'll see." Well I, gentle reader, already saw. If you remember, and I'm sure you do, my training took me to the lagoon for two run-throughs. I've swum-ran-swum the course already and know how better to deal with it. I'm mentally prepared for that leg of the race. And, from what I can tell, triathletes don't like swimming so much. Its just the first part they have to do so that they can get to the fun parts. I, on the other hand, love swimming and and looking forward to that leg the most. I think I can make some time there and get, not a lead, but at least some distance that will make people pass me during the bike and run.
I asked Obi Tri Kenobi for race advice a few days ago. His advice? Go have fun. Those, I think, are some words of wisdom. I tend to get very competitive, very geeked up for races and full on tension. I need to remember to have fun. That this should be a good time. Otherwise I paid $80 to be unhappy and in pain for an hour and a half. I want to be happy and in pain for that time.
With that in mind I will be making small gear modifications. My swim cap (I'll be wearing my own because somehow they ran out. How they ran out, I'm not sure. I knew how many people signed up. Don't they have access to their website?) is flat gray. So when I finish this I'll be attacking it with a Sharpie, decorating it with the Dirtbag Fitness logo on one side and Team Dirtbag on the other. I'll be putting a TD and a DF on my cycling shoes and VFFs with Sharpie as well, which should make me smile when I slide them on. This should be fun. I want to be fast, but I want to have fun.
After the clinic I went for a ride (motorcycle) to see the bike course. I think I went the right way the whole time. Tomorrow there will be cones and race marshals and cops blocking intersections so I shouldn't get lost, but its a small concern. I'll just follow the guy in front of me and hope he's not lost.
Speaking of having fun, I was thinking someone needs to make a shirt that has Master Yoda swim/bike/run-ing and underneath it, "TRI there is". I think that would be funny and I'd buy one.
Tomorrow I plan on being very tired when I get home so don't expect a huge long write-up. I'll do a race report, but probably on Monday or Tuesday after I've had time to digest it. Tomorrow I'll probably just post a picture or two and my times.
Many thanks to everyone who wished me luck, supported me with comments and donations, and sent positive vibes my way. Team Dirtbag is stronger for its support team.
Get some.

Friday, October 22, 2010

One More Early Morning (And The Non-Party Party Update DLC)

Brick Day Swim/Bike

Distance- 500yds
Time- 7:49


Got up early this morning for my final swim and bike. Nothing was challenging and, in fact, I didn't even actually ride the bike. I was in the pool at the gym by 5:30am, did my 500 yards to stretch the muscles out and get the feel for swimming that early, and then got out and got on a stationary bike. I didn't ride mine because I would have had to tote it to the gym, lock it somewhere, run through the gym wet, ride in the dark, lock it again, shower, change, then go to school. Easier just to leave it home and use the gym's equipment. I am paying for it, after all. Boring 30 minutes on the gym bike, then I was outta there.
For those of you just tuning in, I am doing my first triathlon this Sunday. I've been kicking my ass for three months to prepare for it and I think I'm ready. I know this will be a very mental event. I have to believe and know that I'm fit enough, strong enough, and prepared enough to not only finish (I have no doubt I can finish), but finish strongly and do well. "Well" is a relative term, of course. I have no baseline for what "well" is. This is all experimental at this point. I'm also excited to get it done so I have a frame of reference for next time. I already know training changes I would make for next time. I also need to find myself a bicycle, since the one I'm using is a borrowed ride. This whole cycle has been a great learning experience for me and I'm looking forward to putting those lessons to use next time.
I'm pretty positive there will be a next time. Unless there is some unforeseen tragic event this Sunday, some reason I realize I'm not liking this at all, there will be a next time. And I just don't see something like the happening (hence it being "unforeseen").
Team Dirtbag's Official Parental Booster Club (TDOPBC) hit island today specifically to watch the race, which is really nice. Hawaii is a long way away and it ain't cheap. Takes some of the cheering at 6:30am duties off Stitches, which I'm sure she appreciates.
Tonight is some kind of athlete welcome party thing out at the venue and we'll be hitting that in a few hours. If there's anything exciting I'll update this post.
****Added 9:25pm***
The Non-Party Party Update DLC
The website for the triathlon says that tonight out at the resort there will be an "Athletes Welcome Party". Well...not so much. Turns out what that really means is "If you're an athlete competing in our event you are more than welcome to hang out at the bar/lounge in the hotel, which will not be marked in any way, nor will the people who work at the hotel be notified you might be stopping by so they will be really confused when you ask where the Athlete Welcome Party is, and they will try to help you but really they'll just be sending you out to wander around the hotel area trying to find this fictional 'party' which doesn't exist because we were not specific about this particular portion of the event." So, what that means is we got there, couldn't find where we were supposed to go, Sarah at the restaurant was very helpful twice and got us all the way straightened out, and we ended up at the lounge we started in. Turns out the event organizer just meant that athletes could meet and hang out in the bar/lounge if they felt like it, but they weren't going to actually do anything that night. Could have been much clearer. We did, however, find out where tomorrow's stuff will be, so that hopefully saved some time. This is the glitch for the weekend.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Brick In The Wall

Brick Day- 35/25

Time- 35.28 minutes
Distance- 10.18mi

Time- 26.05 minutes
Distance- 2.68mi

Total Distance- 12.86mi

This was the final brick in this wall. Like my swim, I cruised it. I didn't work too hard, my heart rate never really rose, my breathing was never labored. It's purpose was to get the muscles moving and prepare them for Sunday.
I'm actually pretty happy with both parts of today's brick, especially considering the above paragraph. 10 miles in 35 minutes when I'm not working isn't too shabby. That means when I'm pushing race-style I should be making good time. And the run felt great. If you look at the time/distance correlation its right around 10min/mile. And I was cruising slow. That is encouraging. There was lots of speed not being used during today's run, no heavy breathing or leg strain at all. I think I'll be able to pump the run on Sunday. Looking forward to it.
I feel strong and I feel as ready as I could be. Rest day tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Night Swimming

Swim Day

1 x 150 Warm-up
3 x 100 Pull- 2:00
3 x 200 Swim- 3:00
3 x 100 50-5,7,9; 50- fingertip drag- 2:00
1 x 150 Cool down

total yardage- 1500

Not too much of a swim today. I didn't do much in the way of really pushing it, more focusing on long strokes and good rotation in my shoulders, which is something I think I have been neglecting a little. Not completely forgetting, just not thinking about as much as I should. Shoulder to chin. Shoulder to chin. Finish past the hip. Got it.
I pumped the 200s at about 85%, but the rest of the swim wasn't all that exciting. This whole week is more maintenance and clean up. Tomorrow's brick is pretty short. Trying to focus, trying to visualize, trying to get my head in the game, but not take it too serious. This supposed to be fun, remember? Let's have some fun.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Practicing Putting on Shoes, Then Changing Them (Then I Talk About Shoes)

T1 & T2 Day

Today I worked on both T1 and T2. So I grabbed my gear and went outside. I set the bike up and arranged my helmet and glasses on the handlebars, with both pairs of shoes opened as wide as they will go near a small towel laid out on the ground.
Then all I had to do was go. I jogged up to my makeshift transition area, pretended to wipe sand off my feet, slipped said pretend-sandless feet into cycling shoes, popped on my glasses then my helmet, and grabbed the bike and jogged off. Once I was a few feet away I climbed on and clipped my left foot in.I didn't clip in right away because, as I learned after doing a little research on transitions, there is a special transition area at triathlons and those are a No Ride zone. Keeps everything safer and more organized.
Then I turned around, unclipped, and jogged the bike back to my transition area for T2. This, I think, is going to be a more important transition for me. The key is not to rush it, but to use it as recovery time. I've already said that I plan to dial it back some the last half mile of the ride to get my heart rate down, and keeping the transition slowish and unpanicked will also help with that. I put the bike up, took my helmet off and hung it back on the bars, and slipped out of my cycling shoes and into my Vibrams. The toes aren't going to be too much of an issue I don't think. It seems more that I'm trapping the heel of the shoe under my own foot and I have to dig it out, so I need to be aware of that. Like I said though, I'm not going to panic or stress during this transition. I practiced breathing deep and slow and calming myself down so that I'll be ready to take off on the run.
I'm thinking after this race I might experiment with full-on barefoot running. I've been doing a lot of reading on it and the running world is very divided on the issue, as you can imagine. But it seems like a small step to go from FiveFingers to nothing at all. I read a running blog where the guy loves his VFFs but is not a fan of going completely without and I've been on some forums where the people swear by going unshod. The general consensus is, "Just try it. Go on a short run and just see." So I think I might. I have no idea how I'll like it, if at all, and I don't expect it to be a regular thing. But maybe barefoot every few runs will be something I really enjoy. Assuming I keep up with the triathloning (pretty sure I just created a verb there), going without shoes on the run will severely cut down my T2 time. Not like I'll be qualifying for pro races by doing that, but a PR (Personal Record) is a PR. At the very least it'll make other racers look funny at me, and we all know how much I enjoy that. Or I won't like it and stick with the VFFs, which I still love and want another pair or two of. The foot is still a little sore after runs, but it's not nearly as bad as it was and I don't feel it while I'm running. I think I'm a full on convert to the minimalist trend.
We are inside a week now. *starts humming Eye of the Tiger*

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Honking at Me is Startling

Run Day

Time- 45 minutes
Distance- 4.91mi

When I'm running down the side of the road, focused, trying to keep my pace up, trying to keep my feet quick, honking at me makes me jump and curse at you.
In other news, another pretty good run today. Last hard run of the training cycle and I'm happy with it. It was another interval run (5min run, 5min sprint, 5min jog, repeat) I feel like I squeezed a lot out of the third sprint today. Really worked it hard. I know I'm not fast, but I no longer feel so slow. Wish I'd have been doing intervals every Sunday run. Next time I know better.
We are now seven days out, ladies and gentlemen. Seven days from now at this time I'll be back at my house taking a nap after completing my first triathlon. I'm excited. Are you excited? Lets get excited! In seven days Dirtbag Fitness goes worldwide! ...ok, that last one was a little much, but you get the idea.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mr. Mojo Riding

Ride Day

Time- 1 hr 30 minutes
Distance- 22.75mi

First off, I know that's not the lyric. It works, leave me alone.
Last real tough-ish ride of this training cycle today. I didn't work as hard as I could, didn't really try to ride super fast for most of it, but I didn't slack. Call it 85% effort.
Went down to Haleiwa and around then back up again. That hill back up feels flatter and flatter every time I do it. Each trip I can pedal faster for longer and I find more places where I can work it. The first time I did it I felt like I was going so slowly I may tip over. Not so much any more. I think I'm nearly to the point where I could use it as both a muscular workout and a greater aerobic workout.
The bottom of the hill has a nice bike lane that is smooth and fairly level, so that's a good place for me to play with my cadence and control.
The race is getting closer. Doing lots of visualizing during my workouts. Keeping myself in the pack, racing my own race, staying competitive. I feel strong. Dirtbag Fit. Run tomorrow. More intervals.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dawn Patrol

Swim Day

1 x 150 Warm-up
4 x 150 Pull- 2:15
200- 3:00
250- 3:45
300- 4:30
250- 3:45
200- 3:00
4 x 100 50-5, 7, 9; 50- fingertip drag- 2:00
1 x 100 BCY Kick
1 x 150- Cool down

Total yardage- 2550yds

This was the first time since freshman year of college the sun has risen on me in the pool. It was kind of neat. It's been a long time. There's something about starting the day with a swim, or any workout really. It wakes you up, gets the blood flowing. I like it. Especially a morning swim.
It was good practice because the race starts at 6:30am and my swim today started at 5:45am. Early early. Think I'm going to do the same next Friday. That was I'll be tired early, go to bed early, starting an early to bed-early to rise weekend cycle that'll help me get up and be fresh for the race.
Today's swim was all right but unremarkable. I screwed up coming up with times so had to change that on the fly. My standards were way too fast for the pull 150s because I forgot they were 150s and I forgot it was a pull set. Oh well, got it fixed.
This is my last real long, tough swim before the race. Tomorrow will be a 90 minute ride, Sunday is a 45 run that'll be intervals like last week. After that I'll be inside a week to race day and will be working a very abbreviated taper.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rest Day- The Training Montage Post

In honor of my last full-on week of training (next week is a preparation week) I present
The Training Montage:

From these I have learned I don't need a gym, just a jungle gym, I should have had an old guy or a black guy yelling at me the whole time, and when I finish my run on Sunday I just might yell, "DRAGO!!!!"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Solid Brick

Brick Day

Time- 65 minutes
Distance- 18.17mi

Time- 30 minutes
Distance- 3.3mi

Total Time- 1hr 35 minutes
Total Distance- 21.47mi

So much happier right now than I was a week ago. This brick couldn't have gone better. I rode the exact same course as last week since my time then was just above 65 minutes. I figured I could push it a little faster and I was right. I did it about a minute quicker, and my hill climb was 14 minutes. I swear, that thing gets a little bit flatter every time I do it. Makes me feel like I'm making real progress.
So my ride went well. I'm not concerned about the ride. It's the run that was my problem last week. I've been mentally preparing for it since, trying to figure out what the problem was and how to fix it. As a result today I made a few modifications. I dialed the bike back over the last 3/4 of a mile and focused on getting my heart rate down and my breathing slowed. During the transition I also slowed down a little, taking a few extra seconds here to let my heart rate drop a little more. Then I headed out with a positive attitude and quick feet. These things together really made me feel strong as I was starting the run. I wasn't gasping. I didn't feel overtired. My legs felt fresh (enough). It was all good.
I kept up a decent pace during the run. It's not much under a 10 minute mile, but a little is better than nothing. Honestly, with the way I felt today, I think I can throw down a pretty strong run. This is assuming, of course, that I swim, ride, and run my own race and avoid ego racing. Having people around me will help me because it's going to push be during all three disciplines. But it could hurt because my ego will be screaming, "Catch that guy! With the red shorts and the hat! Get him! Go!" I will have to listen to him just enough to push myself, but not enough to bonk.
I feel like I'm developing a race strategy. It's not a great strategy, but I've never done this before. Confidence is high today. You'll notice that this brick time was four minutes lower than last week's brick, yet I went 0.4mi further. That's excellent. I needed this brick to go well. Feel strong.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Make Like Da Fishes

Swim Day

1 x 150 Warm-up
3 x 100 Pull- 1:45
8 x 200 Swim- 3:00
1 x 150 Cool down

Total yardage- 2200yds

I'm feeling very positive about my swims. I wish the swim portion of the race were longer. I'm glad I went out last week and checked out the course so I know its not really a mile swim. I'm estimating it's more like four 200-300 yard swims, which is much easier but much shorter. That was what I had in mind when I designed my workout today. The main set of eight 200s is 1600 yards, and I'm thinking that is a good set to prepare for the race.
I made all the times with 15 to 10 seconds to spare, think maybe I was down to five or seven seconds with the last one. This tells me I should have done it on the 2:55. Oh well, too late now.
Weather is rolling in. Hope it clears up for my brick tomorrow. The goal for that workout is quick feet off the bike. No bike/stagger.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Practice Changing Shoes

T2- Judgment...Transition Day

Today was transition two practice. For those of you who aren't much for rememberizing things, I will review. The race goes swim, bike, run. So transition two would be...yes, practicing taking the cycling shoes and helmet off and putting the running shoes on. See what you can do when you set your mind to it?
So out to the covered driveway I go with my Vibram FiveFingers, my cycling shoes, and my helmet. I'll mime the bike, it's ok. I don't even know how the bike gets set up or what the holder thing looks like, so that makes it hard to practice putting it away. I do know that there is no riding inside the transition area so practicing running up with the bike is the best way anyway. Super cool fast people will probably be slipping their feet out of their shoes while the shoes are still clipped in and running up barefoot for this transition. I would do that if I wanted to fall and die. So I won't. Maybe later I'll ask Obi Tri Kenobi to teach me that trick.
This transition will actually be slower for me than it will be for other people because of my choice of shoe. Check out the above link. Those toe sockets to not a swift transition make. Adding on to that is sometimes my toes go numb in my cycling shoes (probably because I pedal with too great an angle or something), which makes aiming those little piggies harder than hitting a Womp rat in Begger's Canyon back home (by the way, what a great innuendo that should be, "I'd hit that Womp rat right in Begger's Canyon!"). Also, the preceding sentence contained two parenthetical asides, a new record. Please wait while I take a victory lap.
Anyway, I went out and practiced taking off one pair of shoes and putting on another. Here are my times:

#1- 48.97
#2- 42.44
#3- 40.85
#4- 41.88
#5- 42.63
#6- 42.62
#7- 47.25 *toe fail
#8- 37.47

I have no idea what I did differently on that last one, but I like it. I know that a 10 second variation isn't going to mean much in a hour and a half long race, so I'm not very concerned with the times here, they are just good to know. I don't see myself finishing, looking at my time and going, "Ohhh, if only I'd been five seconds faster on T2! Damn!" Plus I'll be tired, I'll be breathing heavy, I'll be trying to focus and go slow, but quickly. So the hope is to be under 50 seconds for the transition. Honestly, if it takes a few seconds longer then that's a few seconds more of rest I get. Not exactly a bad thing. Not going to over-stress about the transition.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Get My Run On

Run Day

Time- 60 minutes
Distance- 6.22mi

Intervals- 5 minutes run, 5 minutes sprint, 5 minutes jog, repeat

I like running like this. It makes the time pass faster and it makes me feel like a better runner. I know, looking at my time/distance, I'm still not much faster than a 10 minute mile, which is pretty slow, but that wasn't the goal here. The goal here was to find my quick feet again and convince myself that I can run hard for extended periods of time. It's so much a head game with me.
So I took off running at a pretty decent pace, quick feet, like I said. After five minutes I pulled it into a much quicker pace. Sprint isn't really the right word, but it conveys what I was going for. Hard running, pretty full out. And then the jog portions were slow, and got slower as the cycles wore on. But that's ok, they were recovery sections. By the third cycle my sprint fell off after the first few minutes and degenerated to the run speed, but I fought to pull it back up the whole time. I think my run speed stayed consistent the whole time. That's about where I want to be during the race.
The key is coming off the bike and setting a good pace right away. I can't come off the bike and stagger away, that's not going to work for me. I learned back when I was a swimmer that its easier to have a fast swim if you set the pace high right off the bat. It's easy to slow down, it's hard to speed up. Really hard. So I need to plan on being strong and getting quick feet going right away. That way I won't be a mile in and trying to pick it up, because by then it'll be tough. Easier to fight through it and go from the transition.
So, while my runs still aren't "fast", I'm feeling better about them. Wish I hadn't missed those two weeks in the middle. Oh well, too late now. Doing what I can to get it back.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Longest Ride

Cycle Day

Time- 2:04hrs
Distance- 30.02mi

Longest ride of the training cycle today. I went down to Haleiwa, around there, then climbed back up the hill and still had 20 minutes left so I decided to head down towards the base and through town. It was nice to have the time to do all of that. I wasn't sure I would. I had planned on being in and around Haleiwa until I had 45 minutes left then climbing back up but it was not to be. I started up earlier than that and I think I got up the hill faster than ever before again. It felt good. I went in cycles from really good cadence, strong focus down to kind of spacing out and slowing down, but all in all it went well.
Was pushing liquid the whole ride, it was plenty hot today and I didn't want to get dehydrated. Over all, a 15mph pace for two hours makes me happy. I think that means I'm bike fit for the race. Next week the intensity will drop off a little as I start a taper towards race day. Tomorrow is an hour run, which I'm going to use as interval training. Five minutes run, five minutes sprint, five minutes jog, repeat. Should help the run.
Also, I'm watching the run portion of the Ironman World Championships on the interwebs and these people are crazy. The distance is a marathon and the leaders are cruising like its a 10k. Fantastic. Amazing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ohhh, That's What "Swim-Run-Swim" Means

Swim Day

No time*
Approximate Distance- 2mi

*Genius boy forgot his watch at home. Sunscreen too. But I don't think I'm burnt.

Today I went out to the race site to swim. I thought it would be a good idea to go over the course before the race. This, as it turns out, was a good plan. I should have done it a few weeks ago. It would have helped better focus my swim workouts. Oh well, too late now.
The race website calls this a swim-run-swim (I know, not in that particular link, but it does. I just though you might like to see the course). I have been out to the Ko'Olina lagoons a few times since I moved to Hawaii. It's a really nice area. And since I signed up for this tri, in the back of my mind, I've been thinking, "That does not seem like a mile long swim." Well, it's because its not a mile long swim. It's probably more like 65-70% swim/35-30%run. None of the lagoons are very long. In fact, with my training, I should be able to blast through each of them with a fairly good pace.
The problem with that is between each lagoon is a nice little run, somewhere around a couple hundred yards, maybe less for some, more for others. This screws with the game planning. Do I pump the swims and then use the short runs as recovery before the next swim? How hard should I run each time? These are the questions I'm asking myself. Coming away from the workout I did today, I think I need to not worry about it too much. I think I think too much, and the runs between the swims are too short to spend much time sweating over. I just wish the swims were longer.
Today, first I walked the course, Lagoon 1 to 4, then 4 to 1, to get a look at it and how each lagoon and grass area is laid out. After that I hurried back to the truck, parked right by Lagoon 1, dropped off all my stuff, tied my truck key inside my swim suit, ditched my slippahs and my shades, grabbed my cap and goggles, and ran back to where I imagine the start will be. Cap on, goggles on, ready, go. I swam-ran-swam the whole course, avoiding oblivious tourists and their small offspring as I went. Going from the water up to the grass might be the hardest part just because most of the lagoons are very steep right there. Like I said, I forgot my watch so I don't know how long it took, but I don't think it was all that long. I really don't think it is going to take me as long as I was planning previously. This is both good (shorter time on this leg = less energy spent on it) and bad (more swimming is probably good for me and not so good for some of the other racers).
After I got to Lagoon 4 I ran to where I imagine the transition point will be and took five. Might have been ten. Then I did the whole thing backwards. The second time was easier. I knew what to expect, I had a better feel for the course, it just felt better. I'm probably going to do this once more before race day.
Also, its easier to swim than run in knees deep water so come race day I'm going to plan on swimming as far in as I can (without getting trampled). That way I don't have to high-knee it in, which is tiring and a pain in the ass.
I need to get my head together. More and more I realize how mental this sport is. Anyone with a little training can swim, bike, and run these distances. None of them are very far. Its the going from one to the next to the next that's scary. Lots of mental preparation going on now. Positive thinking, visualization, all that good stuff. I got this. I know it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rest Day

Rest Day

I know yesterday I said I was going to hit the treadmill for two hard miles today to teach my legs a thing or two about going fast, but after much internal debate and bothering of Sister Dirtbag, Official Trainer of Team Dirtbag, I've decided to use the rest day as a rest day. I know the run is in my head. I'm going to kill it this Sunday on my actual run day with serious interval training for an hour. I'm concerned about over-training, being tired on race day, all that stuff that makes me think maybe I'm thinking a little too much about this. After all, I'm not a professional, never will be, and I should be doing this to have fun. Right? So I'm going to try not to feel guilty about not running and try not to think about it for the rest of today (except maybe visualizing what a fast run feels like).

Instead, here's a funny video that makes me laugh all the time and even more now:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Hardest Day

Brick Day- 70/35

time- 70 minutes (actual time 67 minutes)
distance- 18.07mi

time- 35 minutes (actual time 32:34 minutes)
distance- 2.95mi

Total time- 1 hour 39 minutes
Total distance- 21.02mi

Let me say that my ride was great. It felt fast. It felt strong. I hit that hill and got up it in 15 minutes, which I think is a new personal best. Good cadence the whole ride. Got stopped at a bunch of red lights, which screwed up my rhythm, but nothing too bad. I'm happy. I feel like I'm right on the edge of prepared for the ride. As prepared as I could be going from nothing to here in three months.
The run, on the other hand, is making your friendly neighborhood Dirtbag (that's not copy-written, is it Stan?) less than happy. We are talking epic mental fail on today's run, ladies and gentlemen. Look at that. In 35 minutes I didn't get three miles. That's awful, plain and simple. Awful and slow and its not going to cut it come race day.
There are lots of contributing factors to the slowness. It was my first big brick. It was plenty hot today. I haven't gotten fast runs in for weeks. But in the end it all comes down to a mental fail. I spent the whole run thinking about how much it hurt, how my chest felt tight, how it was hot, how little my steps were, how I'd ridden hard and now I have to run. It was a bike/stagger brick, not a bike/run.
I've gotta get out of my head. My Fast got lost in the foot injury and I'm having a hell of a time finding it. Tomorrow, which is supposed to be a rest day, I'm heading to the gym and getting on the treadmill. That way I can put it on a fast pace and show my legs what I want them to be doing. I think I'll do a mile at about an 8:30, rest, then do another mile about that fast. It should help. And this Sunday is supposed to be a two hour long run, but I might make it two hours of interval training, sprint, jog, run kind of things. I need to get my legs moving again. Today was just...just bad. Slow, staggering pace. I wanted so badly to walk a few times. I guess that's a victory, that I didn't walk. Probably would have been about the same time if I had. Bad mental state today. Not good.
I think, come race day, some of that mental problem will go away. I'm honestly not concerned with the swim at all, to the point where I'm concerned about my lack of worry. I think I'll be able to charge out of the water having expended little energy and still feeling strong. So the second and third legs are where the trouble lies, and the third leg, the run, will be the real gut check. Best Friend Dirtbag sent me this text renaming the swim/bike/run: "The name of the event could be changed to swim/bike/stumblepassoutrecoverrallyforthewin." I like it, but it doesn't fit as well on a bumper sticker. Might be the semi-official motto of Dirtbag Fitness. I'm getting this attitude into my head now: I'm strong. I'm badass. I'm Dirtbag fit and I can get this done. Booyah, Grandma. Booyah.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stronger Through Failure

Swim Day

1 x 200 Warm-up
4 x 150 Pull- 2:15
5 x 400- 6:00
1 x 100 BCY Kick
1 x 150 Cool down
Total yards- 3050

Hard swim today. That main set is a long bastard. Will be good for the race though. Spent the whole swim visualizing how I'm going to race, what my stroke needs to be, how I'll compensate for the mass of bodies around me, and what kind of pace I need to set. I think the pack will spread out early. Looking at other sprint tris, this swim is much longer than normal for a race of this length. I think that plays in my favor because the swim has got to be my strongest discipline now. And, from what I hear, its normally a triathlete's weakest. So if I can get in the front third of the group within a few lagoons I think I'll have room to stretch and breathe.
This was the first workout where I failed to make my time standard. Made the first three 400s on increasingly close times, and then four I came in on the 6:05. Damn. Deep breath and I was off again, determined to make up that time and come in under six on the last one. Yeah, not going to happen. I was feeling it in my shoulders and arms, my stroke fell apart (had been falling apart as the set progressed, the pull set prior didn't help), and I think I did the last one in 6:40 or some slow time like that. But it was a lot of swimming and I felt strong afterwards. The ego enjoyed the pump my shoulders, arms, lats, and chest were feeling as I got out of the water. Gotta get my stroke together for longer.
Tomorrow is the biggest brick yet. So big the training guide has me skip the run Thursday. Should be fun.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Practice Putting On Shoes

Transition 1 Practice

Today I practiced my first transition, which is going from the swim to the bike. This will be the slower of the two transitions and its good to get some runs at it in. Below I list the times for each attempt. Stitches, Team Dirtbag's official Nutritionist/Sexy Wife/Honey-Can-You-Time-Me-While-I-Put-On-Shoes Person, took the times. This transition entails going from barefoot to shoes, glasses, helmet, mounted, clipped-in, pedaling.
For the first three I ran up to my shoes, picked up one and put it on, then the other. Then glasses, helmet, bike, clip, go.

1) 31.56
2) 34.87
3) 31.85

Here is where you ask me, "Dirtbag, is that good?" and I reply, "I have no idea, I've never done this before." But Stitches and I did notice one thing: putting on shoes this way is hard. I kept almost falling over. Tired from a swim, my balance will be worse. I new way needed to be found.
So for the next four I pried the shoes as far open as I could (thanking my lucky stars and my mom for having bought the slightly more expensive but more efficient shoes with a big velcro strap instead of many straps or clips or anything like that), left the shoes on the ground, grabbed the tap and the heel, and slid my foot in. In practice this felt faster and smoother. Let's see how it worked out.

4) 24.09
5) 26.47
6) 30.22
7) 26.72

So much the better! Six was a pedal fail, which is why its so much slower than the other three of the second grouping. But even with the pedal fail it was still faster than the first three. Pretty sure four was the fastest because I wasn't thinking about it nearly as much.
Happy that I got those done. Once on the bike I got a few hard strokes in to get used to getting on and going. Next Monday I practice transition 2, and in two weeks I go over both transitions. It's getting close now.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blame It On The Rain

Run Day

Time- 55 minutes
Distance- 5.34mi

Not happy with the distance today. I was sure I'd gone farther. This is less than a 10 minute mile pace. But, trying to be fair to myself, I have reasons why this run wasn't as long as I'd like.

1) Rain
It rained, and rained good, for the entire middle section of my run. Soaking wet, running in mud, rain. I'm not used to running in rain and I figure that slowed me down some. I had to pick my steps a little more carefully, avoiding mud and puddles as much as possible. Also, when a Jetta flies by at 45 with spray coming off the sides, that'll push any runner just a little more up the shoulder.

2) Injury Recovery
I'm still keeping half an eye on my foot during my runs. I missed the build-up runs to this one, having to elliptical the 50 minute distance and a few other runs. There was no pain today, it feels fine again, but I spent two weeks babying it, so give me a break. I'm still getting back into the groove.

3) New Time/Distance
4)Poor Goal Setting
These two reasons go together. I've never run this far before. My training guide gives times to run, not distances, and 55 minutes is kind of intimidating. I'm not sure how to run this far, as strange as that sounds. I'm sure I took it easier than I should have the whole time simply because I was concerned about running the whole time and finishing hard. My poor goal setting was having it in my head that I want to survive the run. Of course I'll survive the run, and run it strong. But the back of my head would rather set the cruise a little lower than normal to guarantee success without excessive pain. The back of my head is a wuss. That's ok though. I have a longer run under my belt now and I know that next time I can/should push harder, move my feet faster, and get it done better.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ride to School and Back

Ride Day

Time- 1hr 40min
Distance- 25mi

Nice ride today. Decided against doing the Haleiwa ride again and went in the other direction, towards my school. So I pretty much made up what I was going to do Wednesday before the rain ruined that idea.
I thought it was going to make much longer to get to school, but I made it in about 33 minutes. Kunia, the road I was one for the majority of the time, is a dippy road. So there is a little climb, then quick dip down and up, then flat-ish for a while then repeat. Doing the climb on base and the climb from Haleiwa have injured me to big ascents so these little ones aren't too taxing. Until you stack a bunch of them on top of each other. Its fun though, zooming down and then trying to quick fast find the right gear to keep as much momentum as possible going back up the other side. And before I knew I was passing my school. I think that the next training day I have on campus, where I don't have to teach, just sit in a all day staff meeting, I might ride to. Pack a change of clothes in my backpack and go.
Coming back was harder than going though. I'm pretty sure that its a very subtle drop all the way into Waipahu, so it's a very subtle, but much more noticeable climb, back to Wahiawa. Took me much longer to get back. All in all it was a good ride. The weather cleared up nicely, which helped.
Tomorrow is a 55 minute run. No gym though.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Long. Ass. Set.

Swim Day

1 x 150 Warm-up
100yds- 1:30
200yds- 3:00
300yds- 4:30
400yds- 6:00
500yds- 7:30
400yds- 6:00
300yds- 4:30
200yds- 3:00
100yds- 1:30
1 x 150- Cool down

Total Yardage- 2800yds

In case you're wondering, yeah, that's a long ass set. The ladder was 2,500 yards long. It took nearly 40 minutes to do, which is kind of a long time to swim when you're only getting 10-25 seconds rest max between each distance. This set did teach me something that Swimmer Dirtbag (who I was for about a ten year span from before high school through my freshman year of college) finds very strange and Triathlete Dirtbag (me for the last few months) is, while not please by it, not unhappy with either. The lesson is that I am no longer much good at short distances. The 100s by far were the most disappointing distances of the set. While the longer swims, the 300s, 400s and 500, felt pretty right. I've screwed up my stroke for sprinting. Ruined. I know, I know, who cares? I don't swim in meets anymore. It's not like I'll be challenging anyone to a 100 yard race any time soon. But I was really good at the 100 and 200. I could sprint with the best of them (at my level). Now my stroke totally comes apart when I try to speed it up for a short swim. While I was trying to stretch it and have long, strong strokes, which are more efficient over a longer distance, the stroke came right together.
Also, the shorter the distance, the less rest I got. I know this makes sense if my pacing is as good as I think it is. I realize that if I'm throwing down a 1:20/100 pace then I'm only going to get 10 seconds rest off the 100, but that rest will increase as the distance does assuming my pace stays regular and there is little fade. Knowing that only helps a little. But the rest/pacing really came together on the 400s and the 500. This is good. I know this is good. But Swimmer Dirtbag still lives in my head and he's making me write this.
Long ride tomorrow. Lets all hope for no rain. Everyone rain dance backwards.