Friday, December 23, 2011

A Dirtbag Year in Review

It has been a very Fit and Busy year in the Life of Dirtbag. Let's review, shall we?

After an excellent honeymoon vacation to New Zealand, I got back and immediately got to work training for the Honolulu Triathlon, my big A race for the year and my first attempt at the Olympic Distance after knocking off a couple of Sprint distance races in 2010.
February was an orgy of registrations as I signed up for both the Sprint Triathlons I was using as tune-up races on my way to Honolulu. It was also the Great Aloha Run, which I called the Great Aloha Jog because I'm clever like that. This was my first attempt at eight miles, so there was some barrier breaking going on there.
March started with the Guard Dog Triathlon, a small fun race where I actually placed in my age group! And a little later in March we had the wonderful experience that is a tsunami warning. If you get the chance to spend the entire night watching the news and listening to warning sirens, skip it.
April brought plenty of training and the Lanikai Sprint Tri, another good experience out on a course. Every race is a learning experience, and learning is good. I didn't attack like I wanted to but I learned to deal ever better with the fear of pain that racing brings. Mental toughness.
May was The Month I had been building to since January. The Honolulu Olympic Triathlon. A race so exciting for me I created a contest, did a pre-race photo blog, and a post-race photo blog. And I shaved my legs.
June was an example of the goodness of others. My wonderful sponsor, Background Profiles, jumped on board the Dirtbag Train, making many of the foolish things I do financially possible. It was also an example of the importance of paying attention to pre-race directions. I did the Firecracker Sprint Tri and, had I not gone in the wrong direction to start the swim, would probably consider it one of my best races. It was the most solid, confident run I've had in a race situation yet. And I got my second medal finish ever during the Popoia Open Water, a 1.6 mile swim that put the rough in rough water. Took first in my age group!
July was a short training month due to a much-needed trip to California and Seattle for the summer to see family. Did that stop me from signing up for events? Of course not! I completed the Chun's Reef North Shore Open Water swim. I was out of shape, for me, and slow, for me, but it was a good time. I love getting out and swimming long. I also threw my hat into the book reviewing ring, giving my thoughts on Matt Fitzgerald's RUN: The Mind Body Method of Running By Feel.
August found me back in the ocean for the North Shore Challenge, a 2.3mi open water event with too few buoys and a killer current. Still had a good time. But I don't like to complain about events unless they really need it. This month launched what was supposed to be a monthly event but in reality hasn't happened again because, well, I don't have a really good reason. I really ought to try to get another Barefoot Runners Society Meet-Up happening though. Come one, come all! Also in August I developed my first genius idea for The Dirtbag Foolishness Race Series- The Barbarian Horde 1k! Bring your own waivers.
In September I made a new friend who helped me prepare for the Honolulu Century Ride and hasn't stopped helping me since. My first 100 miles straight out on the bike and I loved every second of it, even dealing with crazy drivers and tourists who don't know how to ride. I also completed the final distance open-water swim of the season, the Waikiki Rough Water, putting down an even better 2.3mi time. Super Awesome Wife won a drawing for some Alaska Air miles too.
October was exciting because it was my first chance to repeat a race, the Ko'Olina Sprint Triathlon. I could not have been more excited or keyed up for this race and the chance to show myself just how far I'd come. Instead, I learned hard lessons about over-training and pre-race nutrition. Still, learning is learning. I developed the second event in the Dirtbag Foolishness Race Series- The DeadMan 5k and 10k, a zombie pursuit-style race. And Super Awesome Wife and I completed a relay event, the MCB Splash and Dash, with me Splashing and her Dashing (pronounced "walking quickly"). It was great to be able to share an event with her like this, and cheer her across a finish line instead of the other way around.
I turned 30 (aka- officially aged up into the 30-35 age group) in November and celebrated with a 30, 30, & 30 For 30 week of training. I also registered for my big A race of the coming year, and a fun little dash through mud and fire.
As for this month? Nothing big, no events. Just good old Dirtbag training, but unstructured and relaxed. Got my second trail run in, made fun of Sean for being old, got my ass kicked by Sean, did some swim lessons, and ate too many Christmas cookies. Good, kick back month.
Wow, looking back on 2011 in one big chunk like this is something else. Four Open water swims, three Sprint tris and one Olympic, a Century, a running race, a biathlon with the wife, and near constant working out? That is what I call a busy freaking year. And, with what I have planned for 2012, there will be no slowing down any time soon. Gotta stay busy, gotta keep moving forward. Pain tells you you're alive and getting stronger. Much thanks and love to all the Dirtbag family and Dirtbag support on the island and around the country. Hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season. Try not to eat too many cookies.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Imaginary Ride on a CompuTrainer

Ride Day
Simulated Distance- 30mi
Time- 1:45

Today was a trip over to Sean's house where I got to play with his expensive toy, a CompuTrainer ThingerMaBobberWhatchacallit 2000 ™. What it does is simulate any course you can upload into the software, putting the correct amount of pressure against the rear tire at the correct time to recreate any climb or descent you might encounter over that route. For example, Sean is preparing for his second outing at Ironman New Zealand and he has been able to download the course he'll be riding onto his computer, which hooks up to the CompuTrainer ThingerMaBobberWhatchacallit 2000 ™, which then shows him an elevation profile of the course and a computer animated version of what it might look like, complete with a phantom pace bike if he wants. It is a very nifty device. What he's done is buy second-hand software from Neato Cycling Videos INC, and what they do is video tape courses, record the grade, then sell all that data so as you're riding you are looking at exactly what you would be seeing out on the road. And the video, through the magic of technology moves at whatever speed the computer reads you are moving at. It also records wattage, mph, and will show cadence if you have a sensor (which I don't, but it was in my list to Santa Tebow). Very neat stuff. So what Sean let me do is ride the front half of the Honu loop today, from the first turn-around up to the top of Hawi. This was a great chance to see exactly what will be in store for me come June 2 and I'm looking forward to coming back over to Sean's to play with the CompuTrainer ThingerMaBobberWhatchacallit 2000 ™ a few more times before race day.

Basically to the tip of the big spike in the middle
I must also plug Brother Fit Life's latest blog. I must do this for two reasons: 1) Dude motivates and is fun to read and B) He totally interviewed me for it, making me even more famous in my own head than I already am.  It's good stuff, head over and check him out. And once he lets me know he's done using all the questions and responses I may include over here a Very Dirtbag Special Features Out-Takes edition. If you're lucky. Which you probably will be. Because I love to hear myself talk, even in written form.
Special Nerd Bonus- Sean owns the TARDIS Cookie Jar, in which he keeps dog treats. This means that Sean's dog, Kai, is trained to respond to the sound of a TARDIS, making the dog the most awesome K9 ever (get it?).


Hi, yeah, I'm here for the made up link. Oh, this is it? Great, thanks a lot.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Know Thy Self

Swim Day
1 x 200- Warm-up*
3 x 300
1 x 100- easy
3 x 200- 1, 2, 3, Swim
1 x 500- 8:30
1 x 100- Cool down**


So Richardson pool on base is a nice pool. Very clean. It's a good workout to swim long course since I'm preparing for open water swimming. It hasn't been too bust when I've been there. But its not heated. I talked about this last time I wrote about swimming here and about halfway through my workout today I realized something: I'm making changes to the one part of my training which needed no changes. I mean, yes, the long course and all that is great and potentially very helpful. But I was having great workouts at my piddly 24 Hour Fitness pool. It's murkier, busier, possibly slightly less than regulation length, and I don't care. Workouts there have been more good than bad, as opposed to the two or three workouts I've had at Richardson, I can go before school or after (they really do stick to the "24 Hour" part of the name), and my results have been strong. I managed to train for both the Waikiki RoughWater and North Shore Challenge, both 2.3 miles of open ocean fun, 25-ish yards at a time. But I've been ignoring that in favor of the novelty of a different pool and the rave reviews of training partners I respect. Sometimes I forget that in one aspect of triathlon I actually do have a ton of experience and I need to trust my instincts. A slightly warmer pool means better blood movement means a better overall workout. And I like flip turns.
Dirtbag Tenant- Thou Shalt Trust Thy Self.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oh, Holey Ride... (OR Mom, He's Poking Me!)

Aborted Ride Day
Run Day
time- 57:33
distance- 6.1mi

It was going to be a good ride. The weather sucked at home so Sean and I decided to meet down at the airfield for some repeats or, better yet, some good distance. Or, as it turned out, stopping twice because my front tire was allergic to air. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the Time of the Flats continues. Yesterday was a double rear tire flat ruining my ride. Today that stayed nice and tight but my front tire attracted the glass slivers. If you click on the charts on the link you can see where it happened. I think my favorite pieces of information are the little heart rate spikes while I'm not moving. Know what those are? Those are, "Get on the rim you little...." or, "I know there is glass in here somewhere! Here it is! Of course, too tiny and dug in for my chewed down nails to reach. I shall now dig a hole in my tire!" And once the integrity of the rubber is compromised, fuggetabotit. Now every tiny little suggestion of debris is going to cause Massive Catastrophic Damage to the tube. You know what the most annoying part is? Yesterday, when I went to The Bike Factory to grab some new tubes and CO2 I looked at GatorSkin tires. But at $45 each I passed. Don't need 'em yet, I thought. Sucker. Guess what I'll be buying later today?
Sean was very helpful during the first flat, giving me pointers on the best way to seat the tube and tire, helping check for glass, and talking me through using the CO2 cartridge the first time. Thou Shalt Not Explode the Tube. But after the second flat, wherein I found not one but two shards of glass in different places, I decided to call it a day. And Sean decided to point and laugh at me. And video tape me. And take pictures. Because he's a good friend and that's pretty much what I would have done had our positions been reversed.

Little bastard
Letting Diesel Dirtbag know he is Numero Uno! 

Sean let me borrow his patch kit and I patched up the tire and we rode back to the cars. He decided to keep riding, which turned out to be a mistake because Puncturana, the Goddess of Tire Integrity, got his ass too. But she got him via a bee sting. Sean's allergic to bees. Benadryl to the rescue!
I needed to workout when I got home so off went the bike gear, on went the Bikilas and running shorts, Rush into the headphones, and we're off. Nice and easy run. The weather was mostly cool, which was nice because I left my water at home. Foot got a little sore near the end of the run, not really sure what that's about. Probably just that a lot of my recent runs have been on trails to pounding the pavement wore on after a while.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kona World Championships Video Link

Someone was cool enough to upload a recording of the Kona Ironman World Championships to YouTube, and then Jason was cool enough to post it on his blog, so I'm going forward with that and also posting it on my blog. It's a RB (ReBlog). Really cool to watch and so much easier in an hour-long chunk rather than watching it on over the course of the day. I dare you to not be amazed out loud by the guys at the end, coming in at 16 hours+. To me, they are more impressive than the guys and gals finishing in 8:something. Try not to get teary.Try not to be motivated to get out and do something.

If the video doesn't work on the page follow this link.
Thanks Jason, and thanks Random Dude From the YouTubes.


Today was supposed to be a ride day. Actually, yesterday was supposed to be a ride day. But it was pouring. Not according to, which said it was bright and sunny, but according to, which said it was not a good day to go outside. And rather than hit the trainer I decided to take the day and ride Sunday.
Fail. Looked nice enough this morning when I got up. Sprinkles started but I figured it wasn't that bad and it always rains near my house. I wanted at least 50 miles today. Got down to the main road and got a good look at the north horizon. Them there be rain clouds. Damnit.
New plan! Head home, set up the trainer, watch the Packers, and ride. Or I could immediately get a flat rear tire. Choice- call Super Awesome Wife for a pick-up a mile and a half from the house or use this as an opportunity to practice changing a tire on the road. Practice! I'm not great at changing my tubes yet and on a race day I don't want to be stuck and screwed. And it wasn't raining. Ok, so it was, but not much. At that moment. Oh wait, now it is. And now it stopped. But now it is. You get the idea. Got the wheel off, got the tire off, got the tube out, new tube lined up, tucked in, seated, tire back on, inflate (after a little fighting with the stem), small happy dance, wheel back on the bike...and tire goes flat again. Anyone want to guess what step I missed? Yes, the tall, balding man in the back? That's right, I forgot to check the tire for the cause of the original flat. Which means whatever evil little pointy messed up my first tube just messed up my second (and only spare). Gold star for you. Which led to this:

Pictured: Dirtbag Tantrum
There may have been some cursing of the Cycling Gods (Feltus, Cervellonon, and Tebow, among others). There may also have been some stomping of feet and shaking of mini-bike pump.
As penance for my mistake I shlepped the bike home on my shoulders, as rolling it a mile and a half on the rim seemed ill-advised. And now it sits in the corner waiting for me to fix it again, but I'm not willing to look at it quite yet. Luckily, it didn't rain at all the whole walk back. Oh wait...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dirtbag Powered Travel (plus MEGA Links and Shilling for Louis CK)

Run/Swim Day
Run time- 45:18
distance- 4.91mi
1 x 500 yds
8 x 25 dolphin kick (1 breath or less)
1 x 50 dolphin kick (underwater)

Yesterday was my first day off of school for Winter Break. (It's not Christmas break because there are actually people in this country who celebrate something other than Christmas, and its not Holiday Break because often those other holidays don't fall during the so-called Holiday Break. Living in Hawaii even calling it Winter Break is a stretch. Where was I?) As I've stated before in this space, having time off from work is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to working out. On one hand, I'm completely free to work out any time I'd like. On the other I have no set times when I must work out. Too much freedom! My training plan is based around get up before school/train again after school timing. To be able to just wake up whenever or go run whenever is troubling. Too much opportunity for "I can play another 30 minutes of Uncharted 3, then I'll head out." But I've started out strongly this time.
As I've gained endurance and confidence I've been trying to do more and more things Dirtbag-powered. If something is close enough to ride the bike to, I will try  to do that. And now the gym is close enough to run to. Actually, its just as close as its always been, but that distance doesn't seem nearly so far anymore. So with a coaching session with Dirtbag the Grey planned for 2:30, I set out at 1 for the gym. I wore my zoomers under my running shorts, tucked my goggles and cap into the trunks, strapped on my heart rate monitor and Garmin, threw on my glasses and visor, tried not to think about how non-minimal I was being with all this crap, and set out. No water because Google Maps told me it would be just over five miles and that's not too bad and because Super Awesome Wife might have gotten me something to help for Christmas.
It was a decent enough run. According to the fanciness I averaged a 9:07 pace, which isn't too bad since I wasn't pumping at all. Not that there will be much pumping in the near future from my runs. I'm looking for strength still, not speed. Speed is so much less important to me right now.

And when I got to the pool the Grey hadn't arrived yet so, in an act of extreme trusting, I gathered all my stuff on a kickboard, put the kickboard on a chair, and put the chair right next to the lane I was swimming in so that I could see in on nearly every breath while I swam. Then I cruised a nice and easy 500 to stretch the muscles out. My core has been feeling a little weak in the water and that's the reason for the dolphin kick repeats. Nothing strengthens the core like a good dolphin kick set. And the anaerobic additions? Why not? It's only 25 yards (enter Sean laughing and arguing with me that its shorter) and that's an easy underwater to make. Hence the double at the end.
Honolulu Triathlon

Race Update: In other Dirtbag-related news the Honolulu Triathlon is open for early resident registration. Since this will be the big tune-up race before the Honu I got in early. As of right now it's the only triathlon on my plate for the year aside from the Honu and I'm really looking forward to seeing my time drop since I'll be prepared for a much longer race and this should be shorter than many of my training sessions.

 Completely Unrelated to Fitness Thing: Louis CK is hilarious. If you don't already know that you need to find it out right now this minute. Warning: SOOOOO NSFW.

If you did laugh your ass off at these (the story 2:00 into the second one is one of my favorite things ever) then you should support the man. And here is how-go to this website and buy his special, Live from the Beacon Theater. It's $5. So even if you hate it you only spent five bucks. He's being completely upfront and honest about where the money is going and how he's going to use it. He made it, literally, the easiest thing on the internet to steal. But why would you do that? Buy one. Buy one for a friend. You can! You can gift this thing for $5 from his website. And you can burn it to a DVD. You can, like I'm going to do, download it and move the file onto a different device, my Nook Color, to watch it on a plane. If enough people support him he'll keep doing stuff like this. has a great interview with him (BS Report links, 2 parts, you can't miss it). Ok, I'm done now. But seriously, Louis CK.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

There Will Be Mud

Run Day
time- 1:55
distance- 7.73mi

Frankly, Dirtbag Followers, I'm worn out today. Yesterday's run with Diesel Dirtbag, his dog, and CURG (Crazy Ultra-Runner Guy, eventually he'll get a Dirtbag nickname I'm sure) over the trails and mud and through the woods...and mud kicked my ass. It was great, I had fun and I ran hard, but I got home last night and crashed BOOM. Worn out. Today was Christmas Party day in class and those days are worse than days when I teach all day. The kids are wound up, there is cookies and candy and cupcakes everywhere, even the best classroom is a madhouse. So instead of a long write-up you get a few dirty pictures (get it?) and the Garmin map. I would like to say that I'm glad Sean brought his dog. It meant that I got a few more breaks. And only one root jumped out in front of my feet yesterday. Much better.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Der √úbernachtung schwimmer (The Night Swimmer)

Swim Day
distance- 0.6mi
time- 23:21

Yesterday was an experiment. Super Awesome Wife had a meeting in town after school so instead of doing a pool workout like I normally would have I packed my gear and went for a swim at Ala Moana beach park. But since her meeting didn't start until 5:45 we hung out at the mall for a bit before splitting off. This means that I didn't get into the ocean until 6-ish. Know what happens at 6-ish? Sunset! I knew that getting in and figured I'd be alright but I once again completely underestimated how quickly the sun sets. You'd think there was some kind of magical force pulling it beneath the horizon. I was good for one end of the beach, near Magic Island, all the way to the other side, but by the time I got there it was dark. No problem, I thought. I'm an experienced swimmer, a strong swimmer, a badass Dirtbag, The Tattooed Wake. I'll be fine. Yeah, not so much. As far as you, dear readers, know I got out because I got attacked my a massive sea monster which I killed with my goggles and cap. I did not get out because it was too dark to see the bottom and I was naviguessing by parking lot lights and I was doing my level best not to imagine previously mentioned sea monster. Still, it was a good swim until the sea monster attack. I'll need to get out there again when it will be lighter longer. Less attacks then, you see.
I also used this as my first opportunity to test out the waterproof features of my Garmin Forerunner 310xt. I know from other examples that if I leave the watch on my wrist I'll get a drunken mess of a GPS track and the proposed solution from others who have it is throwing the thing under your cap. But that's where I put my hair and I'm not bright enough yet to get both the hair and the watch under there at the same time comfortably. So I stuck it in my suit on my hip. It's gotta be towards the sky so it can see the satellites, but putting it over my butt didn't seem very comfortable. The hip, I thought, would be a good compromise. Seems to have worked too. The only odd thing about the data is my top speed. Somehow I got to 131mph. Which is great. And I probably don't remember going that fast because I  slammed into the far rock wall so hard I knocked my brains through my feet.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

When It Rains It Means Airport Repeats

Ride Day
time- 1:38
distance- 29mi

The plan for Saturday was scrapped when everyone involved woke up to rain. Not little, ahh this is nice and cool rain, but WHAT I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF THE RAIN ON THE ROOF rain. So instead of risking Pineapple Hill in the extremely wet we (Sean "Dirtbag Diesel", Andy "Dirtbag the Grey", and myself "Da Dirtbag") decided to meet out at Dillingham Airfield where we knew it would be dry for some repeats.
I've never ridden with Andy before, he's one of my swimmers, and it turns out he's a great guy to ride with when Sean's there. Because Sean is a freaking rocket on his bike and Andy is more my speed. Which meant that after Sean took off, "Sure was nice to have that tailwind, huh guys?" we could hang back and plot. "Ok, I'll pull for a while and you draft, the we'll switch and we will catch him in no ti-wait, where'd he go?" Though I am proud to say that on the third lap into the wind I managed to grab onto Sean's back tire and stay there for almost the entire seven miles. I realize he wasn't working as hard as he could but Shut Up! Knowing that at any moment he might decide that he'd had enough rest and disappear in a cloud of road grime made the lap more interesting.
Riding in a small group is nice too because we would stop between each repeat and shoot the breeze for a few minutes. It was then I learned Andy is a kilt fan like myself. And Sean teased us about being three guys in lycra talking about wearing skirts. And later Sean and I discussed the finer points of leg shaving, at which point Andy reminded us that we were three guys in lyrca who had just discussed skirts and were now sharing tips on how not to get ingrown hairs. And then Sean and Andy started talking about ultra-running, at which point I reminded them that anyone who runs 100km for fun is mentally damaged. They agree.
 And after our ride we went to The Bakery in Haleiwa and had the Best Cookies on the Island. Seriously, one dollar and they kick ass. Right across the street from Opal Thai, the Best Thai Food on the Island, in the Market parking lot. Everyone should go.
Also, I love my Garmin, minus the tech issues I'm having uploading data to the computer. But that's probably more of a user error than the machine's fault. Here's the link to the ride. I love being able to see Moving Time vs Total Time, average everything, speed over time or distance, speed broken down by mileage. It's all so cool!
I registered for the 100k of Sharon's Ride Run Walk for Epilepsy. Check out my post here for more information. That's right, I masterlinked again.

Sharon's Ride/Run/Walk for Epilepsy


Yesterday, I put in my registration for Sharon's Ride for Epilepsy. It's a multi-sport event happening here in Honolulu on Jan. 29 and, according to the website, six other sites across the country (so rare someone remembers Hawaii is actually part of the country). The event is named for Sharon Rosenfeld, a nurse and teacher who cared about epilepsy and who was killed during a cross country bicycle ride in 1993.The event is made up of a 100/75/35k bike ride, a 5/10k run, or a 1 mile walk. I am naturally doing the metric century.

The reason I'll be participating in this event is not, honestly, because I have any special place in my heart for epilepsy. That is to say, I don't know someone directly affected by this. It's not that I don't care about epileptics, it's just that I'm not identifying with it as strongly as I would a ride to raise money for, say, cancer research. But to be a part of something with a real purpose, which raises money for a good cause, that's pretty awesome. Feels less selfish than some other event might.
Honestly though, the event is a perfect training opportunity. 100k is just over 62 miles, which is just over the Honu course distance and right around where I'll be training at that point in January anyway. So I basically paid money to ride a distance I would have ridden anyway for free. But its for a good cause. And Andy is going to play too, and I think Sean will as well, so that will be fun. I like big organized rides. Sure, dealing with so many other people can be a hassle, but training in groups is good preparation. And its for a good cause! And the aid stations will probably have better snacks than my normal GU.
Also, I talked Super Awesome Wife into joining the fun. She's not going to ride, but she will be walking the 5k. I'm happy she's doing another one of these events with me (Ok, this is much less "with me" than the biathlon was, but we are doing the same event thing at the same time and we'll have matching shirts. Close enough). The registration is pretty reasonable and I think everyone should get in on this. Should be a good time.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thou Shalt Flip Turn

Swim Day
1 x 200- Warm-up
5 x 100- 5, 7, 9
3 x 300- 5:15
4 x 50- Sideline kick
1 x 100- Cool down

Today I swam with Sean at Richardson pool on base. This is important for two reason. 1) Richardson is currently set up for long course (50m instead of 25yd). I haven't swum long course in about nine thousand dog years. This means that I spent the first few hundred yard looking for the wall and seeing it waaaaay off in the distance. Takes adjusting. And B) Richardson is not heated, which you wouldn't think is a problem until you realize that a 50m x 50m pool which is about 4.5 feet deep has...let me see...carry the two...divide by the power of pi...adjust for the position of Jupiter in relation to Mars...101,250 cubic feet of water for the sun to warm. That's a lot of water. So no, it's not all that warm. If you take too long between sets your muscles will become solid blocks of petrified sinew.
Long course swimming, however, it great for endurance practice and its even better for most triathletes. Why? Because there are way less walls getting in the way of all the yardage you want to do. And since most triathletes don't come from swimming backgrounds the wall is the enemy. "Why is that, Coach Dirtbag?" you ask. Because getting to the wall means you have to turn around. There are two basic ways to do that. The Right Way- a flip turn. Or The Way that Makes Micheal Phelps Cry Into His Bong Water- an open turn. And non-swimmers think flip turns are hard to learn. But they aren't! A halfway decent flip can be taught in fifteen minutes and then it gets practiced every 45 seconds of a workout.
"But Coach Dirtbag," the non-swimming triathlete whines, "I'm going to be racing in the ocean so this skill is useless to me." Wrong, my little tadpole. You may be racing in the ocean but you will be doing the majority of your training in a pool, so you might as well do things correctly. A good flip turn means you can get off the wall and get back to swimming faster. It makes your stroke smoother because an open turn is disruptive and breaks up the rhythm of a good stroke. It means your can set your times just that tiny bit faster, making you feel a tiny bit faster, making you swim a tiny bit faster, and all those tiny bit fasters add up on race day. Flip turns teach better breath control, good body position, good streamlining, and allows you to do a ton of mini-squats every workout.
Most importantly, it means you are doing one more thing correctly in the water, making you a better Whole Athlete. Triathletes love to talk about how the sport makes them adaptable, how you have to be good at three different things and be able to switch between them quickly, but swimming is the only one of the three where its generally ok to leave out major parts of the sport. And I do say parts because non-swimming triathletes never get to learn the backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly, even though these will make their freestyle faster too. (I realize these take a lot of time to learn, but I think if you want to be a complete swimmer you need to have at least a basic understanding of them. They aren't first year Big Rock skills for a triathlon-only swimmer, but they are something one should learn eventually.) But more than fly, back, and breast, a flip turn is key to a well-rounded swimmer. I don't care if you are never going to compete in a pool, you are willingly training improperly by not taking fifteen minutes to learn a very basic skill.
Here, I'm going to teach all of you. Caps on? Goggles on? Ready? Good.

Step One- Sight the wall through the top of your goggles, don't lift your head., take one or two stroke past the T at the end of the lane.
Step Two- As you reach with your last stroke and begin the pull section, allow your head to follow your hand under your body. Your shoulders, chest, hips, knees, and feet will have no choice but to follow. There is no need to flutter your hands around in a circle.

Step Three- Plant your feet firmly on the wall. At this point your body position is chest and knees towards the surface with hands tucked against your chest but ready to launch straight out. Facing up-ish at this point is fine. Stop trying to rotate down.


Step Four- Push off the wall with your arms shooting towards the opposite wall into a streamline position. As you push off rotate your body, doing both actions (pushing and rotating) together until you are fully off the wall and fully facing the pool floor at the same time.
Step Five- Glide in streamline, kicking, until you break the surface. Now swim.

I had a great time swimming with Sean today, who does do flip turns, though they are self-taught and therefore not as efficient as they could be. He pushed me hard and I haven't gotten that from a workout in a while. And he's nearly as fast as I am between the walls. But I gained a body length on him every turn. And when he mentioned it I told him the truth, "Dude, I'm going to take advantage of you on every wall." And that is going to make the difference.I will be less tired because I will get to the wall faster. Meaning I will get a few more seconds rest. Meaning I will be more ready for the next set. Meaning overall I will have a slightly better workout. Every. Single. Workout. You don't think that transfers to an open water swim?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trainers- All the Pain, No Fun

Ride Day
time- 60min
distance- 0 ft

Sean lent me his trainer in a transparent attempt to get me to buy it, but also, as I stated yesterday, because he is a stone cold badass tri Jedi willing to help a brother out. And he likes the thought of my bored and sweating in my living room. Or maybe just sweating in my living room...
Anyway, he also let me borrow a trainer workout dvd he never used but, seeing as it was my first time, I went with some Dream Theater instead, using their Scenes From New York live DVD. Not as brutal as Slayer or Black Flag, but more conducive to a stretch of time on the bike. Speed metal works better for sprints. Or Yanni, because then you run/bike as quickly as possible because, "God I hate this and if I finish faster I can turn it off and not be listening to Yanni anymore."
So the plan for today was there was no plan. Get on, see how I liked it, go until I felt like not going any more. That turned out to be an hour. And I did some small interval work, cruising then cranking and spiking my heart rate (I used the Garmin to track HR but having uploaded the data yet. Poor little thing looked so confused. I could almost hear it, "Why aren't you going anywhere? I'm a GPS, damnit! Let me position something!"). At 30 minutes I decided to climb a hill so I popped the chain on to the big ring/lightest gear and every two minutes shifted up, trying to keep my cadence consistent and my HR above 160. The former was tough, the latter not so much. Once that set was over I spun light for ten minutes, maintaining a HR of 140-ish and rocking out to virtuoso prog metal.
I'll probably mess with the video and some other fancy trainer things later. And I would run tomorrow but my pinkie toe is still sore so I'm resting that. Which is a bummer because I was feeling very run-positive after the trail run and was ready to get back out there and now I can't.

I would make a joke about knowing how to spread towels on the floor for proper coverage...

...but that would be dirty and my parents read this sometimes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Coupla Workouts and some Whining

Ride Day (Sunday)

Swim Day (Tuesday)
1 x 150- Warm-up
3 x 200- 3:00
1 x 50
2 x 300- 4:30
1 x 50
4 x 100- 1, 2, 3, Swim
1 x 500- 8:00
total- 2500 yards

Sunday was supposed to be a long ride, maybe 50 miles. But my neck had been killing me for the last few days and I really didn't feel like going that far. So I sat on the couch instead. But then Super Awesome Wife called from town and said she was feeling sick and could I come drive home? An excuse to ride a little over 30 miles and not feel like a complete bum for skipping a workout AND get Good Husband Bonus Points? Done and done. It was a pretty nice ride. I was worried about it getting too hot in the mid-day but it actually stayed pretty nice. No rain, but no pounding sun. Traffic was light until I hit Honolulu proper and even then only one guy really seemed like he was trying to kill me.
And my swim today wasn't fast, wasn't even all that smooth, but at least it got swum. Right now I'm in that Stroke Broke Into Pieces phase of getting back in the water. Normally, this feeling lasts about two weeks of regular work and then everything starts clicking again, so it's all about staying patient and staying with it. I was barely making my time standards, but I was making them...mostly. And I didn't get yelled at in the locker room today, so I had that going for me. I had planned a 400 instead of the 4 x 100 set, but because my stroke felt slippy and choppy (these are technical swimmer terms) I choose to go with the 1, 2, 3, Swim drill to get some feel back in my hands. That and slapping the offending appendages palm-down onto the water to, I dunno, wake them up. Both approaches worked well enough and I finished with a slightly better stroke than I started with, but a slower stroke too because I was wearing down.
No running recent;y because I'm pretty sure I jammed my pinkie toe on my left foot during the trail run last week. Seems little, but freaking hurts. No bruising, mostly full range of motion, and it seems to get a little better every day so no hypochondria Oh Crap I Broke My Foot yet. But I'm not going to run on it until I can stand on it for an hour with soreness.
Sean is a badass, stone-cold tri Jedi and lent me his bike trainer so I'm going to play around with that tomorrow and see just how bored I get.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Don't Yell Near a Naked Man

Swim Day

1 x 150- Warm-up
3 x 500- 8:00

 Friday I went straight from school to the gym for my swim. I was giving two lessons that afternoon and wanted to get a workout in myself before I started. I don't know how it is at your gyms, but the 24 Hour Fitness locker room is pretty nice. Plenty of space, TVs playing ESPN or Fox Sports constantly, all the good stuff. 
When I got in to change there was one other dude in the section I was in. He looked like he was ready to work out but was sitting on the bench fiddling with his iPod so I ignored him. Rule #1 of the Men's Locker Room: You don't talk or make more than passing eye contact. It's like the Men's Room. Eye line high, get in, get it done, get out. I start to change. And right when I'm naked, literally between boxers and swim trunks, this dude looks up and shouts, "HERE IT COMES!!!" 
To be clear- I could not be more naked at this moment. I'm in profile to this guy reaching into the locker to grab my suit. And he's shouting what now?
I froze. What the hell!?! I glance over at him and he's not looking at me, but up at the TV where the Ducks/Bruins game is about to begin. And he keeps talking excitedly and loudly. To me? To the TV? To no one? I don't know. But he's awfully pumped about this game and is going on and on about it. For myself, I'm not too proud to say I jumped into that swin suit as quick as possible. Of course, as always happens when one tries to dive feet-first into lycra, my feet got all tangled up in the suit and it took me twice as long as normal, pretending not to struggle and curse under my breath as brother continues to go on about HOW BIG THIS IS. And then my stupid lock doesn't lock right away because Hawaii makes things rust and today is the day it chooses to stick on me and I'm cool, I'm cool, it's alright, but what the hell, dude? 
Was I wrong to be rattled? No. It wasn't a gay thing. And it wasn't a confidence thing. (Trust me, you don't know anymore with a higher level of body confidence than me. If there is a level above narcissism, it should be named Dirtbagism. When I become All High Grand Emperor of Earth and Beyond I shall decree it so.) It's simple- You do not yell at a naked man. I repeat- You Do Not Yell At a Naked Man.
I heroically shook it off and had a good, if short, swim. Not too fast but that's not where I'm at right now. And both lessons went well too. I'm looking forward to the growth the triathletes I'm working with will be showing soon. They are going to be shocked when their strokes really start coming together. Right now there's still a lot of, "Are you sure? This feels weird/hard/different." But swimming takes a long time to get right. Lots of laps, then more laps, then even more laps. But the returns are going to be awesome.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trail Running With My New Toy

Trail Run Day
time- 1:45
distance- 7.8mi

Press Power...hmmm...honey!
Today started out yesterday. Wait, that didn't make any sense. Let me go back. To yesterday. In my DeLorean. It's aluminum, it conducts electricity the best. ...Anyway, yesterday I started playing with my new toy, the Garmin Forerunner310XT. It does everything. Pace, mileage, GPS, heartrate, multisport. Everything. Except like Linux OS. Fail, Garmin. Fail. This seriously threw a wrench into the installation of the software onto my laptop, which runs a thousand times better on Linux than it ever did on Vista. But Garmin is not software agnostic and only likes the two major religions of Mac and Windows. Luckily, the Super Awesome Wife's desktop runs XP, and she spent a lot of time helping her slightly technologically inept Dirtbag husband get the whole thing up and running.
Why does none of this look right?

And last night Sean (aka Dirtbag Diesel whether he likes it or not) told me he was planning a trail run with some of his ultra-runner friends today and asked* if I wanted to come along.
(*asked in this case means "come on, it'll be fun, no backing out, you'll love it, we'll see you at 4, ok great)
So of course I agreed. To go trail running, which I've never done. With ultra-runners, who run 100km for fun. Right.
And it was a great time! I love trail running with ultra-guys. Did you know they like to walk up steep inclines? They are used to thinking, "Well, I have 90 more miles to go. So I can run up this steepness and blow a bunch of energy. Or I can walk up it, conserve, and run longer later." This is philosophy I can get behind. We ran at a conversational pace for the majority of the run and I only spent a little bit of it huffing and puffing, unable to participate in said conversation. This my kind of running, especially for the big base building I'm doing right now. Sean and I met up with some friends of his after a mile or two (you'd think I'd be more sure but my fancy new Garmin had trouble locating a satellite right away and started me in the ocean. So I have a map of the end of the run, but not the first five miles. Whoops.) and we ran with them for a while along the ridge and to an old '40s military bunker with one of the best views of the North Shore I've ever had. Then they split off and we ran back to the car.
I did discover from them the one thing Super Awesome Wife would like about ultra-running: Gummi Bears. They are a cheap, easy, light source of straight sugar energy. And these guys had a little baggie they happily shared. What swell guys.

And I'm not that sore yet. If I had run nearly two hours on the road I'd be hurting. But trail running is completely different. This only pain I feel right now is in my feet. And that's not the fault of my VFF TrekSports, its the fault of a Dirtbag runner unfamiliar with trail running and constantly trying to kick roots out of the ground. Roots which are firmly, well, rooted. So aside from some kick-stumble-ouch it was an excellent time out and I can't wait to do it again.
Below is the partial GPS of today's run. If you click on the View Details link at the bottom it takes you to a more detailed look at heart rate, pace, etc. I'm really looking forward to using this as a training tool, without coming to be completely dependent on it. Remember, I'm the guy who thought RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running By Feel was the greatest thing between two covers since Super Awesome Wife and I.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Damn, It's Dark

Bike Day (Monday)
time- 1:40
distance- 32mi

Winter came up and smacked me in the face last night. I should have seen it coming. The temps here in Hawaii were down to 73, sometimes 72. Christmas decorations have been up for two months. The Lions lost on a Thursday. And it gets dark damn quick.
I normally ride into town to meet Super Awesome Wife Monday nights. It's a good thirty miles, which I can add to if I feel like it. Some short climbs, mostly decent roads aside from the stretch of Kam around Pearlridge Mall, and its nice not to do a lap. I leave the house at about 4:50 and plan on arriving at Ward Center at 6:30, maybe a little later if the traffic lights are against me.
Yesterday it was dark by 5:30.
Dark. Like street lights. Like taking my sunglasses off so I can see the road. Like wishing I'd put the light back on my seat before I left the house. Whoops.
So the ride was good, I held a decent pace, got the blood pumping, and climbed well. And I'm not doing that again until the sun stops running for the horizon before at least 6pm. I could put a light on the back and a light on the front, but I don't trust the morons driving around this island when its bright and sunny, so I don't expect them to notice my little flashing headlight heading towards the intersection at 20mph. God forbid they realize my light is green and they are blithely making a right turn right into my front wheel. Don't mind me. So until two-a-days kick in again I'll be riding right after school, around my neighborhood, still getting my mileage in but getting it done under the sun.
I would also like to encourage all of you, my dear readers, to check out Jason's Triathlon Blog. He just finished a five part race report on his experience at Ironman Arizona which I really enjoyed. My favorite part has to be the report on his Epic Battle With Eric Byrnes. This level of beautiful delusion and sense of fun inspires me to find my own famous person to challenge at the Honu. So Jason, if you're reading this, I'm completely going to rip off your idea in a few months.
Who Fears the Dirtbag in June?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

30 & 30 for 30

Swim Day
30 x 100- 1:40

Ride Day
distance- 30ish mi*
time- 1:45ish**

(This post title inspired by ESPN's 30 for 30 series. You should check it out. It's awesome.)
This Thursday is my 30th birthday. To celebrate, I decided to train all things 30. Hence the 30 100s and the 30 mile* ride.
The swim set went really well. Its a long set, and boring was a big concern. Boring = letting my pace slip. To deal with sets like this I have to break it up into smaller pieces mentally. Get to 10. Now there's only five more and then I'm halfway. Five after that and now I only have ten left. Ten left? Piece of cake. And that's how this morning's swim went. I made all of them with between 12 and 7 seconds rest, averaging ten seconds rest I'd guess. And I bombed number 3, it being the last one and all, hitting it in 1:21. Not too bad after 2900 yards. I'll probably do a similar set in a few months, but on the 1:35, and then another on the 1:30 as benchmark checks. I want to be out of the water at the Honu in under 30 minutes without burning too much energy, and an occasional set like this will move me in that direction.
My ride started out well, went mostly well, and then ended with a flat tire. Lame. Luckily, it was close enough to the house that a) it didn't screw up my 30mi goal and b) Super Awesome Wife coming to get me was a quicker option than changing the tire in the dark. Of course when the tire went flat I forgot to stop my watch (**) so according to when I remembered and stopped it my ride took 4:32. And I'm guess at the distance because it's a route I've gone before, so it should have ended up just slightly over 30, but I'm not positive because as soon as I left the house my CatEye bike computer decided to have a mental breakdown and not work. So I'm going by memory. (*) I used all my technical knowledge to fix it (ie jiggling the wires, standing back, looking closely at it, turning it off and back on, jiggling the wires again) but nothing worked. I think it is jealous of my newest toy, brought to me by Dirtbag Dad. I haven't had the chance to unpack and set up yet, so I'll be giving the down low on that next week some time.
Dirtbag Fitness is headed to Kauai for Thanksgiving to hang out with the rest of the Dirtbag Clan. I will be getting my 30 minute run in on my birthday, and probably a longer on Saturday, and those will be up Monday (I imagine). Have a happy Thanksgiving. Eat lots of turkey, watch the Lions be relevant in November for the first time in a decade, fall asleep.
I leave you with pictures:
Say 'ello to my leetle fren'!

He's going to watch my back and scare off anyone trying to pass me