Monday, June 27, 2011

Firecracker Sprint Tri Race Report

Firecracker Sprint Tri
Swim- 9:40 (500m)
T1- 1:37
Bike- 35:09 (12.4mi)
T2- 1:25
Run- 24:14 (3.1mi)
Total- 1:12.02

To start off on a positive note, this is a PR for me at this distance. I ought to be thrilled.
But I'm not. Not really. I'm trying to be. But not so much.
Because the race did not start out on a positive note, and I let that throw me off for way too long.Come with me now to 5:45am, Sunday morning. I have prerace butterflies, which happens for most races, but these are slightly more active than they normally are. Because of this I'm not paying the kind of attention I should be to the prerace briefing. I'm jittering and chatting with other racers. I miss an important part of the announcements. A part I really should have known anyway, but forgot.
Which direction the swim goes in.
Every single race I've done, Every. Single. Race, the swim has gone clockwise, buoy on the right shoulder at all time. But for some reason I'm standing on the beach at 5:59.30, with a start time of 6:00, wondering aloud to the guys around me which buoy we are swimming at first. And we are all confused. Was it the race organizer's fault? No, we should have known. Should have been listening better. I did not hear a countdown to the start, but I'm sure there was one. Every race has had a, "Ok, guys! Ten seconds! Five!" But I missed it.
I was mid-sentence when the gun went off. With my goggles on my forehead. Like the greenest newbie you've ever seen.
But I reacted fast and was in the water right away.
What I should have done
Swimming hard.
Towards the wrong buoy.
Like a moron. And guys I was talking to were following me. We'd chosen, like the man told Indy, poorly.
It wasn't until the lifeguard caught my eye, waving frantically, yelling we needed to go the other way, that I course corrected. I estimate I went at least 150m, maybe 200m, out of my way all told because of my mistake. And instead of having clear water in front of me I had to spend 90% of the race finding a path through swimmers who weren't faster than me, but ended up in front of me because they, you know, went the right way. Positive: I made it up and was tenth out of the water overall. Negative, my time was a miserable 9:40, at least two minutes slower than it should have been. I should have been second out of the water.
What I did
Bigger negative: Look at what I was doing at the off. Talking. Unprepared. Unfocused. How can a person race when their mind isn't at all where it needs to be when the gun goes off? This is so unlike me, so unprofessional, that it makes me madder than anything else. How could I be that blasé about the start of a race I was determined to do well in? It taught me a lot. It's not going to happen again. To be honest, it bothered me so much that right after the race I wanted to do it again. I wanted to redeem myself.
Trying to get my head back in the game
A true elite athlete would take this problem at the start, swallow it, and move on. But I'm not there yet. Yes, that's pretty harsh on myself. Yes, I think I deserve it. I'm a swimmer, I shouldn't make these mistakes. Moving on. I know it ate into my transition and my ride. T1 felt slow. It wasn't that bad, it was actually the fastest T1 yet. But it could have been better. I tried to get over my swim mistake, tried to move past it and get in to the race, but I struggled mightily. I couldn't get out of my head for the first half of the ride. I was riding, my feet were moving the pedals, I was breathing hard, but there was no Urgency. I wasn't Racing. I was merely riding. Talking to myself, trying to get out of my head and get some, but it wasn't happening like I was asking for.
After the turn around it got better I think it was because I could see the end of the ride now. I knew what to expect for the second half of the course and had a good feeling for my fuel tank. Too fuel. My legs were too fresh. I managed to get on it.
I don't remember a lot about the second half of the ride, which is a good thing. It means I was racing now, I was in it and my mind was where it needed to be. Now I feel strong and fast. Now the race report gets more positive. The damage to my average bike speed, 19.something mph, instead of 20 or 21mph where it should have been, had been done. Now was not the time to fret. I was finally racing.
You can see my foot half out of the shoe. Also, I look fast.
I'm especially proud of T2. It was at least twenty seconds faster than my fastest transition so far. I think that time save was mostly due to my new slip off the shoes while riding but still clipped in, then off the bike and barefoot into transition while the shoes remain clipped in. (More detail: Cycling shoes attach to the pedals via a clip, allowing the rider to pull on the upstroke, granting him or her more power all the way through. Triathletes use this to their advantage by unVelcroing the shoe on an upstroke, slipping one foot all the way out of the shoe, placing it on top of the shoe, and then pedaling again. The process is then repeated on the other side, taking the foot all the way or nearly all the way out of the shoe. This way I don't have to run in my cycling shoes, or deal with taking them off in transition. I feel like a real triathlete by pulling this off. Then I remember I swam the wrong direction. D'oh!) I've been practicing this for a month now, it was easy and fast. Once I get better at putting the Bikilas on quick that T2 time will drop even more. VFFs just aren't built for getting in to quickly. There are other minimalist options out there, but this is what I've got now and I love running in them, so why play with it too much?
As far as you know, they guys behind me stayed there all race
My run was where the race finally truly coalesced. It was thirty seconds faster than any previous 5k. I felt strong, fast, and confident for the first time since the gun. (Ok, not true. I felt strong and fast in the water, but I was too busy bubbling to myself to notice.) I still was being passed, because that's how I run, but not as often. And my internal gauge said I was having a good run. There was plenty of gas in the tank, my stride was quick, and I hammered as well as I've ever done. I was even feeling positive enough to joke with a guy who ran by me wearing a Star Wars cycling jersey ("I love your jersey! Awesome!"), recommend VFFs to another guy passing me ("You like those things?" "I love these things!"), shout at and startle a dude running full on barefoot (but not passing me, YAY!) ("Barefoot! YES!"), and joke with the girls at the water aide station at the turn around ("No one else needs to pass me. Tell them you are the finish line! Don't let them by!"). I even executed two attacks in the final kilometer, passing people. Dirtbag does not normally pass on the run. It was a good feeling. I kicked hard in to the finish and laid down a PR of 1:12.03.
Like I said at the top, its hard not to think about what could have/should have been. I am positive this race should have been a 1:09 at least. It wouldn't have moved me on to the podium in my age group, I came in 6th, but it would have been the race I wanted to have. Instead I have more fuel, more to make me hungry, more to make me focus. I learned a lot during this race. I need to train harder, increase the suffering when I'm riding and running so my threshold grows.
Big Finish!
I'll be taking at least a month off from racing now, and at least three weeks off from serious training while the Super Sexy Wife and I head to the mainland for West Coast Summer Family Tour 2011. My next race will probably be one of the Chuns swim of the North Shore Swim Series. As always, I've got to thank Background Profiles for their sponsorship, and my wife and all of Team Dirtbag for their amazing support.
I would also like to plug Cycle Dirtbag's blog about his recent metric century. Way to be, brother! Get some. Go again.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Three Prep Workouts

Swim- 1000yds nonstop
Ride- time- 34 minutes/distance- 10.3mi

Run- time- 21 minutes

Thus endeth my mini-taper for my last race before summer break, during which I think I may try not to think about riding, running, or swimming too much. That way, when I get back I'm fresh, hungry, and ready to get back at it with a vengeance.
The swim was a straight ahead 40 laps alternating between long, stretched strokes, thinking lots about form and high elbows during the pull phase, and quicker, more explosive laps to keep the blood flowing and to make the muscles fire. Felt good. Felt strong. Like normal, Sunday I'll let my body take over for the swim. It's only 500m. We can work that without accruing much energy debt.
The ride was also just a chance to push some blood through my legs and check everything on the bike one last time. I'm still not 100% about my seat height and positioning, but 48 hours before a race is not the time to futz with things. So I'll leave it be. It'll be fine for 13 fast miles. Everything else felt good and strong. I need to remember to pull through the back half of my pedal stroke to get as much power as possible, and I've been doing much focusing on not dropping my heels. Like Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor says, "More power!" Arr arr arrr!
And Saturday's run was an easier affair, without much heavy breathing or mental stress. Just enough to keep the legs awake and prepared for tomorrow's exertions. My stride is short and quick, though not as quick, I think, as it should be. Much like my last Sprint, I want to push through at the end and find a high pace to run at. I know that I have more at the end of the race than I've been using, but the twin barriers of Pain and Fear stand in my head, keeping me from total achievement. Tomorrow I plan on chipping at those again. If I can't scale them, I'll go through. Like I learned in college, If You Can't Be Smarter, Be Stronger. I'll be stronger than Fear and Pain and I'll make my weak discipline come to me and work for me.
It's nearly time to get some.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Bike Day
time- 1:03
distance- 18.9mi

Today was a god day on the bike. A short day, but a good one. I went back to a course that I used to do a bunch early in my training but hadn't done in a while because it isn't long enough on its own. Actually, I tried to do this route last week Wednesday, but the military thought practicing shooting guns was more important than letting me ride up their hill. Whatever.
It was on to base and a big push up Kolekole Hill. I wanted to go after it today, really try and take a bite out of the climb. And, let me tell you dear readers, I was huffing and puffing for a while there. My legs didn't burn, but the Dirtbag heart was a-goin' BA-BOOM BA-BOOM BA-BOOM! Strange, because I haven't huffed and puffed like that on this particular climb in a while.
Turns out, I had a good reason. I did the climb in 13:00. As a frame of reference, for those of you who aren't avid readers while minds like a steel trap, my goal time up the pass is fifteen minutes. So I was two minutes under. This pleases the Dirtbag. I'm not sure if this is a personal best for this climb, but if it isn't I'm betting it's close.
Today was the last full-on workout before Sunday's race. Tomorrow I'll rest, Friday morning I'll swim and afternoon I'll ride, and Saturday I'll run. I'd like to be able to throw down Sunday. I feel pretty good right now. I'm not in top shape, but I think I'm strong enough to make a good show of it. Looking forward to finding the Pain.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Slow Swim and a Negative Split

Swim Day
1 x 150- warm-up
5 x 100- 1:30 (goal time is 1:20 or below)
3 x 50- Sideline kick
1 x 200
1 x 500

Run Day
time- 45 minutes

This morning was a semi-relaxed, super-short stint in the water. The main set was the five one hundreds with a goal time of 1:20 or below. I'm happy to say I made every one of them at the goal. What this tells me is I need to embrace the pain and drop my sets down to a 1:25/100yd pace. Can't win a triathlon in the swim, but you can make the bastard runners earn it.
I'm most pleased with my run. I admit, I didn't go out quite as hard as I may normally have, but that's because I wanted to negative split this. And I did. Good, quick cadence, form felt nice, breathing was controlled. The stomach issues, while not completely abated, were barely there today. I think the problem now might be that it was bad for a few runs so now I'm expecting it and worrying about it. And worrying about it is starting to upset my stomach. See the vicious circle I've trapped myself in? Do you? I hope that after a few clear runs with no real problems I'll start to relax again and be back at it with nothing on my mind but getting some and going again.
Looking forward to the Firecracker Sprint on Sunday. My last few bricks have felt good, I know I'm swimming well, and I think I can cut loose a little more on the run and lay down a fast, no-fear-bring-the-pain, time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Popoia Open Water Race Report

Dirtbag Fitness had a successful morning, fans and friends.
Today was the Popoia Open Water 1.6mi race. Yes, 1.6 miles is plenty far to swim. Put it this way, the swim leg of a Half Ironman is 1.2mi. For a swimmer like your's truly, 1.6mi isn't that long, but it is long enough. Long enough to get plenty tired, long enough to need to trust the swimmer brain to pace correctly. Turns out, though, it wasn't the length of the swim I should have been concerned about.
It was the open water part.
I'm as comfortable in the water as a person can be. If swimming was a video game my Confidence Bar would be full. I've found all those crystals (red orbs/coins/horns). Better have after over ten years of competitive swimming. So I'm not intimidated by being out away from land. This morning's fun came from the surf.
Surf was rocking today. The last race I did out here stayed relatively close to the shore, which means the water was calm and flat. This race took us out and around Flat Island, where the water is not so much flat as it is rough and choppy. To be honest, I don't think it was that bad. Like, in a kayak it would probably have been alright, if a little rough. But in the water, trying to swim, trying to breathe, it felt brutal a few times. Put it this way, if it was possible to get sea sick while swimming, and I was so inclined, it would have happened.
Mass Milling-Around
What this meant for my race is that the whole plan pretty much got thrown out the window from the get go. To start, it was a mass water start that I may not have been ready for. That is to say, I was swimming a short warm-up to the first buoy (a warm-up that was cut short because some very-friendly dude wanted to chat while I was getting ready. Nice enough, but excuse-me-I-need-to-swim-a-bit), and was treading water out there when suddenly people are calling,"Five seconds! We're starting in five seconds! GO!" we're going then. Ok. So my head wasn't quite where I wanted it to be right from the start. Nevertheless, off I went. And the whole, "keep up with the lead group" thing wasn't happening. Partially because I started a little out of position, and partially because there is not a whole lot of seeing going on in choppy water. So I may have been near the lead group at the start, but it's hard to pick out little orange caps bobbing in the surf when you are also a little orange cap at surf-level. A few times I stopped and breast-stroked to get my bearings and to make sure I was on my way to Flat Island and not, say, Maui. So I swam my own race. Which is fine, I trust myself and I know how to pace. I have  a fairly good internal gas gauge (my wife has a good external gas gauge, "Honeyyyyyy, ewww! Go outside!") when swimming.
So I swam. And swam. And pushed myself. And measured technique. And remembered not to forget to kick. And for some reason had Tenacious D stuck in my head. Got passed by a few fifteen year olds from the local swim team. Jerk kids. (15 year old took second with a time of 36:25. Little punk did butterfly for the last 100 yards. Which is something I would have done if I had thought of it. Punk.)
Dirtbag Post-race gasping
Coming around Flat Island was an adventure in using the surf to my advantage. Which means that instead of swimming into and over/under the waves coming towards shore I was heading in the same direction as those waves and was able to pseudo-body board for a few yards. That or get caught under it and pushed forward a little. Whatever.
At this point I could pop my head up and see the final buoy, so I turned it on and really went for it. I dug deep that last 1,000 yards. The water was calmer, so I was able to bring my stroke to bear and get technique working that had somewhat fallen apart in the rougher stuff. Strong kick, long strokes, and in I came. 41:05 was the official time.
Envelope of Winnings

This put me 21st overall. More importantly, this put me first in the Men's 26-30 age group! My first first! And second podium. And it was pretty much dead-on to my predicted time. Which really thrills me because at the halfway point, when there was some Dirtbag Battering going on, I was sure I was going to be way off.
I'm Number 1...or 21
I want to acknowledge my sponsor, Background Profiles, and thank them for their support. More importantly, I must thank Super Awesome Sexy Wife for waking up early with me and coming to watch a sea of orange caps, one of which is her husband. And of course to everyone else on Team Dirtbag who supports, encourages, and plays hard. I'm hoping Cycle Dirtbag writes something about his metric century I can link to so everyone can be impressed.
Next Sunday is the Firecracker Sprint tri and then it's off to the mainland for the Dirtbag and Stitches Annual Summer West Coast Family Tour.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Prep Swim

Swim Day

1 x 150- Warm-up
1 x 500- 7:30
3 x 200- 3:00 (increasing effort)
3 x 50- Sideline kick
1 x 100- Cool down

Today was all about last minute stroke corrections, visualizing the swim, and getting the muscles stretched out. I think all those goals were achieved. I did the 500 in 7:00, with moderate effort. If I can sustain that effort and speed for the entire race on Sunday I should be fine based on last year's results. I feel like that is something I can do.
My plan is to link up with the lead group and hang out with them. I'm sure they are going to go out hard, but most of the people at the head of this swim will be people who have done it before. They know the distance better than I do. So I'm going to ninja them, get in the group, hang tough, and try to be as smooth and strong as I can for 40 minutes. Sounds like a long time to swim, but I'm used to sustained efforts over that long thanks to my training. I have high hopes for myself. Maybe too high, but its what I do in the water. I know swimming, and I'm going to use that confidence to get me through. Trust.
Easy run for tomorrow, just to keep moving. Also, tomorrow is Cycle Dirtbag's first century and all of us at Team Dirtbag are proud of him for setting such a high goal and following through. Fight through that, get it done. Hopefully he writes some kind of ride report after he conquers the road that I can link to.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Live-Fire Brick (Now With More Gunshots!)

Brick Day
distance- 23.7mi
time- 1:14
distance- approx. 2.4mi
time- 20min
total time- 1:34

Another brick has been placed into the Fortress of Fitness, and its a strong, confident brick at that. Rather than ride down into Waipahu as I have been doing recently I rode instead on to the military base near my house, Schofield. At the beginning of my training I rode here all the time. It is close, it has a good climb, and it feels safe because the roads are well maintained and people drive like they are scared of/respect the MPs on patrol. And did I mention Kolekole Pass, the good climb? Yeah, because there's that. Not the longest climb in the world, but is hits some pretty decent grades, which is important to me as a teacher (get it? get it!), and takes me about fifteen minutes to get up. Any quicker I count as a win. But halfway up today I encountered a sign that one only finds when riding on a military base:
Ohh, that's what all the boom-boom is...
This sign was guarded by two bored looking soldiers and a barricade. I thought I heard more ratt-a-tat-tatting and pew-pew-pewing than normal. So I flipped an n-turn (downhill = n-turn, right? No?), rode back down to the base of the hill, turned around again, rode back to the barricade and the now confused guards, and then back down and off base.
I got home, practiced taking off my shoes while still riding the bike to make for a quicker T2, and I think this is going well and plan on doing it next Sunday, and quick fast threw on my Bikilas to run.
The run plan was a simple out-and-back to the main road. I pushed hard, didn't negative split but came close, and it felt good. It was a solid confidence-building transition run. I remember my first brick and how much that run sucked. Now I feel strong running after a decently fast 23 mile ride. The whole training for an Olympic distance tri has something to to with that I'm sure. My runs overall still aren't where I'm happy, but next Sunday should be successful in that it will be fun.
Rest day tomorrow, swim and game plan for Sunday on Friday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Early Morning Warm-up

1 x 150- Warm-up
5 x 200- 100-5, 7, 9/100- 15 strokes or less per lap
4 x 50- Sideline kick
5 x 100- 1, 2, 3, Swim
1 x 100- Cool down

Ok, not the hardest swim in the world. I had some cognitive dissonance going on last night (when I wrote my workout) and this morning (when I did my workout). The workout I wrote was a long 3400 yards made up of the above and distance work. Then I got to the pool this morning and two things happened. One- I remembered I have a long race Sunday and I shouldn't be swimming so many yards so close. Two- I realized I was kind of sore from yesterday's swim and shouldn't stack more sore on top of it if I want to be recovered and as strong as possible for Sunday.
That kind of thing messes with my head. I hate questioning my own workouts. To add on, that 200 set is not the best way to start out a swim. It's a great set, certainly, but it sets a certain tone that is hard to break. To make the 5, 7, 9 breathe pattern successful over 100 yards, and to follow that with long strokes for another 100, one often settles into a rhythm. Couple that rhythm with the mindset of, "Ok, this is a moderately easy swim day," and you get into a slow rut quicker than you can say, "Who the hell is Michelle Bachmann and what makes her think she should be president?" So I cut a good 1200 yards off of the swim, did a few laps at a quick pace to shake the body up, and chilled in the hot tub afterward for a few minutes to relax tight muscles. It's all about mental gaming now, planning the race. The physical is taken care of. Nothing more I can do to prepare my body aside from letting it recover without sitting idle or allowing my triathlon next weekend to suffer.
This is not the end of the workout day, but I've decided due to the extreme difference in tone between my swim workout log and my run workout log to split the write-up in half. The run for today can be found here.

Running With Al

Today I decided some tunes while running were in order. It happens every once in a while, though I try not to get used to it because very few races are cool with mp3 players on course and I don't want to link music to my runs. Normally, when I go from a run with music there is a very specific type I'm pumping into my skull at full volume.
Something like this:

Or this:

Today, however, I decided to mix it up. I was looking for a fun run. So I went with this:

That is correct, ladies and gentlemen. His Weirdness himself, "Weird Al" Yankovik. Because if you want to feel goofy and enjoy yourself during pretty much anything it's hard to do better than Al.
As a rule, when I run with music I don't sing along. It's not that I'm worried people around me will think I'm crazy, it's just that I don't have the air to spare. Tell me though, how am I not supposed to sing along with this:

Impossible, I say!
The album this song is on, the album I was rocking out to today, is called Running With Scissors. How freaking appropriate is that?

Songs about Jedi, Grapefruit Diets, and the great city of Albuquerque got me through the run with a smile on my face. Did I bust a few moves? I may have. I may also have spun my visor around during my first listen through of All About the Pentiums to be more gangsta. Because around here at Dirtbag Fitness HQ we are nothing if not gangsta.
Oh yeah, I ran for 48 minutes, I have no idea how far I went or what my pace was, because I didn't care. That wasn't the point. Getting on the road and trying to enjoy a run was. And I think I succeeded. Booyah.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Trying to Find It

Swim Day
1 x 150- warm-up
3 x 400- 6:00
1 x 500- 7:30
1 x 50- easy
5 x 200- 3:00
1 x 500- 7:30
1 x 100- cool down
total- 3400yds

Ride Day
distance- 30mi
time- 1:28

It was a brutal week last week for training. And by brutal I mean I never really got it going in any way that makes me feel satisfied or strong. I had some two swims, one good ride and one decent run. Then there was weather, illness, and laziness. Weather and lack of motivation have no excuse. I can ride in the rain. I can get my ass off the couch and run. But last week I didn't. I didn't feel well, it was drizzling, I'm a big ole wuss, whatever. It's hard to look back at my mileage for last week and see anything positive. Aside from my two swims, both of which went very well. Except there should have been three but I skipped out on Tuesday's am session.
This is not motivational for me or anyone else. The above is whining. Complaining is not moving forward. So now we put the past behind me. We take that sub-par week of training, use what was valuable, discard everything else, and move on. I need to discard last week like Michael Bay discards plot or character development.
This Sunday is my big swim race. A week out means that we have entered the Doubt Zone. This is the place where thoughts creep in to my head while I'm staring at that black line on the pool bottom at 5am. Thoughts like, "You're averaging a 1:25-ish pace per 100 in practice, but that's with rest between sets. How will that translate to a straight 1.6? Can we (I sometimes [often] refer to myself in the third person, because it's my brain talking to my body, get it?*) hold that kind of intensity for that long? Will the stroke fall apart?" And I push all that aside. They are good concerns, real concerns. But if I hit the water Sunday with any of that in my head then I will fall apart, and much quicker than I should. Instead I need to have a plan, stick to it, and have faith in my body to get me through. If there is one even in triathlon where I have the utmost faith in my body, its the swim. I trust my stroke. I trust it to not fail even when I'm blown out and exhausted. I trust it to get me out and back to shore efficiently, smoothly, and quickly. That mindset is what I'm building.
Today was the last heavy heavy day of swimming before Sunday. Tuesday morning will be long but not as, with more stroke work, and Friday will be a short preparation swim with lots of stroke work. Technique is the key.
As a side note, there was a younger guy in the pool today too, saw if last week, who is super fast. Looks like a high school swimmer, maybe early college. He did some butterfly today that I just had to sit and watch. I'm, at heart, a swim nerd and I was totally a little homosexual for his butterfly. Such a pretty stroke when done well.
Today's ride was the now normal Monday ride from Wahiawa down into Honolulu. I really enjoy this ride because it makes me feel fast and because there are some good hill climbs to pain my way up. They are just long enough that I fail before I hit the top, but not so long that I'm too intimidated to try and hammer the whole climb. Good stuff. There are also a few nice flats where I can really get low on the aerobars, get my chin tucked, and try to get some wattage going.
So I'm feeling positive now after last week's not so much-ness.

*There should be an entire post concerning this mind/body connection/conversation. Someone remind me if I forget. It ties in nicely with the running book I'm reading right now.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stupid Sick and Dumb Rain

Swim Day

There was a good swim between now and the last time I checked in. Unfortunately, that's all there has been. Wednesday I planned to brick, but as I was teaching the throat got progressively more sore and I decided to rest rather than workout kind of sick and get more sick. So Wednesday turned in to rest day and Thursday became a swim day because today was supposed to be a ride day. But it was raining at home, the wife and I are irritated at the woman we share cable and bills with, and we needed to get out of the house together. Since she's not much on the working out like I am that meant something other than a long bike ride. Which I'm fine with. I wasn't looking forward to a bunch of time in the rain. So right now this week stands at only 30 miles ridden and around five run, which is awful meager. But the swims have been good, like I said. Might not be in top form for the Firecracker Sprint but I should be strong next Sunday for the 1.6 mile open water race. Honestly, that's what I'm looking more forward to anyway.
Saturday is booked with other stuff, negating the time for a workout, but Sunday may turn in to some type of brick day to get some more miles in for the week.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Two Days of Strong

Swim- 3250yds
Bike- 30mi/1:27

Run- 45min fartlek

I know I haven't been writing my swim workouts down and I'd like to but I keep doing this away from my workout sheet. Know that it's big yardage, there are multiple 500s in there, and some drill work. I feel very strong in the water right now. I'm pacing under 1:30 on every set, many times going as low as 1:20/100yds but probably hovering around 1:25/100yds. It feels so damn good to swim this way again. I know that going up against guys and girls who swim and only swim I'll still get beat up, but my inner fish is quite pleased right now. Full disclosure: I was supposed to swim yesterday (Tuesday) too, but I could barely keep my eyes open while I was getting ready and decided sleep would be a better choice. Skipping workouts bugs the crap out of me and makes me feel weak, but I think it was the right choice. And as I type this my throat is getting sore and my ears feel a little clogged. Hopefully it'll pass in a day, but today I have a brick planned and I might lighten it up from the distances I want to do. Or I'll fight through that shit, be happy I did, and then be sick and recover on my rest day tomorrow.
The bike went well also. I feel stronger and stronger on the bike. This one, as Monday's have been for a while, was a ride in to Honolulu and mostly downhill or flat, with only a few short climbs I powered up. And by powered up I mean I'm up, out of the saddle, really trying to stomp up the hills and making it hurt. After Sunday's 50-miler, pounding up hills then next day means there is much the hurtage. It's good, makes Dirtbag strong.I still like my new seat as well and am nearly ready to write a review. Couple more rides ought to do it.
Yesterday's fartlek run went pretty well. Legs felt stiff to start (SHOCK!) but by the halfway point they had loosened up and my sprint sections we going fairly fast. I would still be caught by an elderly, asthmatic, fat, lazy rhino at full tilt, but maybe not a blind one with a broken knee. And I finished covered in gnats again! What the hell, gnats? What the hell? I didn't even see this cloud. They were ninja gnats, probably sent on a suicide assassination/retaliation mission gone horribly wrong. As a final insult, my stomach cramped up again in the last five minutes of an otherwise healthy run. I don't know what's going on with my stomach and running but it displeases the Dirtbag. Information will be given to Sister Dirtbag, Official Trainer of Team Dirtbag and we'll see if she has any ideas. I wondering if hydration is my problem. I don't think I've changed anything about my diet between now and all the training I was doing during the last four months.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Da Heavy Weekend

Swim- 3100yds
run- 6.05mi

Ride- 50mi

Big Dirtbag Fitness weekend. Bigger than planned, actually. You see, I planned on swimming Friday but things got in the way and I had to push it back to Saturday morning, pushing my run back to Saturday afternoon, which I think may have contributed to total run fail. Anyway, my swim was pretty stellar. I think having a goal like my upcoming Popo'ia Swim is helping immensely with workout motivation and focus in the water. And I'm laying down some solid splits. Swimming is fun.
Running, however, seems to suck right now for some reason. I don't know why, but for the second weekend run in a row my stomach cramped up and screwed up the second half of my run. I was feeling strong, setting a good pace, and being all kind of positive, when suddenly I was cramping and slowing. Never stopped, but I did slow way down. It turned into a trail run for a while there because I wanted to be off the road in case stopping was required. I've looked at what I was eating before the runs, looked at my hydration during the runs, and I'm really not sure what's causing the problems. I only shut down once in my entire training cycle leading up to the Honolulu Tri and now it's happened twice in two weeks. Frustrating.
Running on the trail also meant that I would encounter wildlife. Not big, exciting wildlife like a pig or a...well, we don't really have big exciting wildlife. However, I did run through a nearly-invisible cloud of gnats hovering mindlessly in the middle of my path. And I destroyed them. Dirtbag Fitness Fun Fact #1: Gnats will stick to sweat.
Dirtbag Fitness Fun Fact #2: When you arrive home from a gnat-filled run, the Super Awesome Wife will make a face, take a picture with a camera that magically appears in her hands, then demand you take a shower immediately if not sooner. *the above picture does not do this justice. I had gnats across my shoulders, down to my waist, and in my hair. Billions of the little bastards. It was a massacre. I'm on trial for war crimes by the Gnat Council.
Sunday was a long ride day. The thing about long rides on the bike is, you really ought to start early. Before the sun gets too high in the sky and temperatures start rising. OR, you could be up late hanging out with friends after spending most of the night battling a severely upset stomach that carried over from the ruined run the day before, causing you to sleep in and not leave on your ride until 11am. It's an option.
But, even with leaving much later than I planned, it was still a good ride. Got really hot a few times, but I also got poured on for about ten minutes. Weather God balance, I guess. I'm pretty happy with how it went. I didn't bonk nearly as bad as I did last week during my 50 miler. Part of that was probably the brutal wind last week as compared to yesterday. I finished in 3 hours 4 minutes, a respectable time. Especially with the climb up Pineapple Hill (which I felt went well and I did in 35 minutes) and the long, shallower but still difficult climb back from Kunia at the end of the ride. I really was gunning for three hours flat and just missed it. Maybe next weekend. I don't know that I like being out on the bike for three hours, but I do like that it makes me feel strong. I'm looking at a century in September so I need to be feeling good after 50. Mileage building. Grind it out and make it smooth.
This was also my first ride with my new saddle and so far I'm very happy. I will write a full review after a few more times out to be sure my posterior has had ample opportunity to form an opinion.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Forever Adjusting Gear: New Seat Edition

Today was supposed to be a swim. Things got in the way that were nobody's fault. So it was a rest day instead, which I suppose I could use. But its hard to take a rest day on a day when I'm geeked up for a long session of pain in the pool. So the weekend, instead of looking like long ride Saturday, long run Sunday, suddenly has become early long swim Saturday, early afternoon long run Saturday, long ride Sunday. Why not ride after my swim Saturday? Because I'm planning 50 miles, which will take a tad over three hours. And I don't want to do that after a swim.
So instead I Gear Fiddled. Gear Fiddling is the fifth event of triathlon. (The fourth is transitions, and the sixth is not puking after completing a triathlon and then consuming perhaps too many of the post-race bagels/bananas/oranges/sugary snacks they always provide.) Today's Gear Fiddling was replacing my seat with a new one, which you all bought for me if you don't remember. I'd been meaning to get around to this since the seat came in the mail last week so I got off the couch and actually did it. And it was easier than I thought. I think it was because I ignored the advice of the ancient philosopher Clarksonius and his First Rule of Fixing Anything and didn't once say, "How hard could this be? Really?" And when it wasn't that hard, I may have reacted in my head like this:

On to fiddling! As I mentioned, the switch was rather easy. Here, you see my old seat compared side-by-side with the new one:

And here are some fancy shots of the new one by itself, all mounted and everything:

(Those of you with sharp eyes, yes, you can see a Wall-E bank, a Final Fantasy XIII Special Edition Guide, and a Pirates of the Caribbean DVD player which is plugged in to nothing in that bottom picture. However, did you notice the top of a Big Daddy action figure in the lower-most corner?)

Now the trick is to see how well I guessed at the angle and forward/backward positioning of the seat. This will lead to the Forever Adjusting mentioned in this post's title. Nothing adjustable is every quite right. Quite perfect. It always feels like there is another millimeter one way or another something can go that would make it juuuuuust a little more comfortable, a tensy bit more aero, ever so slightly more power-productive. So now begins that journey. I'll be sure to let you know how comfortable (or not) the new seat is after it gets ridden on.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Another Brick in the Fortress of Fitness

Brick Day
time- 1:21
distance- 24.33mi

time- 30min
distance- 3.5mi

To begin, another race has been planned and registered for. Dirtbag Fitness will be making an appearance at the Firecracker Sprint Tri on June 26th. This will probably be the last race of the summer for me because shortly after that Summer School ends and the wife and I will be shipping out to do the normal Summertime Grand Tour of the West Coast and I'll be too busy traveling and seeing family to plan a race. We'll see, maybe there will be a 5k or something at one of our stops I can last minute register for. Anyway, that leads me to today's workout and my newest conceit: The Fortress of Fitness.
Today was a brick workout, which is an important part of triathlon training. Going from the bike to the run and getting over the jelly legs feeling to get a strong kick going is what bricks are all about. With the plan now being the big swim on the 19th and the triathlon on the 26th, its time to start popping one brick a week into the schedule.
As the overarching goal of all this Dirtbag Fitness foolishness is to have fun, seeing as there are no endorsements in my future, I'm never going to be a professional, and why do it if I'm not enjoying it, I'm constantly looking for ways to keep myself entertained and creatively discuss the journey of triathlon from the Dirtbag Fitness mindset. And since a brick workout lends itself to the easy metaphorical leap to an actual brick used to build things, I decided to go with that. But a brick hut? Too Hawaiian. A brick house? Too Commodores. A brick fortress? Hell yeah, that's Dirtbag Badass. From now on, brick workouts go towards the strengthening of our Fortress of Fitness. (It's like Superman's Fortress of Solitude, but not so...lonely. Or cold. Ok, it's nothing like Superman's Fortress of Solitude. But in my head it looks more like the BatCave. But not underground because what good is a fortress if its underground? So...ummm, SQUIRREL!)
Today's brick was my first in a while, but it still felt strong. The wind was blowing like it was trying to take me to the land of midgets and Technicolor, which always makes the ride fun fun fun. Just keep telling yourself how much stronger fighting the wind makes you. And how being sure you don't get blown into traffic is doing wonders for your bike handling skills. Still, the ride went well and I got up out of the saddle a few times to really drive up the hills, and stayed down on the aerobars the rest of the time to stay out of the wind and pretend I'm quick like Macca. I also practiced getting my shoes off while still rolling and clipped in and I think it worked rather well. I'll be doing that every time I get off the bike now so I can get quick and smooth with it. Will make T2 faster AND I won't be running through the transition area with my cycling shoes on. Once this is squared away I'll start looking at starting with the shoes clipped and putting them on while riding. And not dying.
Quick change into running shorts and my Bikilas, one more squirt of water to beat the heat, and I'm off for a 30 minute run. I'm looking for quick cadence right off the bat with good form and a confident body position. If I can hold these things, I'm good.
After training to run six miles, going out for only 30 minutes was nice. I felt like I could run harder and it was half over before I knew it. I'll be fartleking for 45 minutes and doing a long run of 6-8 miles during this abbreviated training cycle too, so these brick runs will be good for speed and confidence.
In the spirit of keeping it light and fun, I tried to celebrate running with a young lady runner I passed by. That is to say, I held up my hand for a high-five. She held hers up to wave at me. When mine didn't go down a confused moment passed as we approached closer...closer...until finally recognition dawned over her face and she assumed proper five-ing position while running. And then we nearly missed and I almost knocked her over with the force of my Dirtbag Power, Speed, and Exuberance.
Overall, this was a good, strong brick in the wall of my Fortress of Fitness. Now to go to the Bed of Comfiness and the Wife of Snugglitude to sleep the Sleep of Restoration. (Am I done doing that now? Yes. Except the Fortress thing. I like that.)

**This post will also appear on the Run Smiley Collective blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Old Friends

Swim Day

1 x 150- Warm-up
200- 3:00
300- 4:30
400- 6:00
500- 7:30
600- 9:00
1 x 50- easy
1 x 300- 4:30
1 x 100- Cool down
total- 2500yds

This morning's swim was a mix between success and failure. Success because aside from the 600, I made every time standard with at least ten seconds rest. The 600 I did on a 9:05, so it's not like I missed it huge. Fail because I was visited by old friends today. Senior Shoulder Pain and his friend, Mr. Elbow Twinge.
The right shoulder, almost from stroke one, was not pleased. I know why. I blasted yesterday, including more butterfly than I've done in a long time (it makes me sad this is true. I should do more fly). Of course those joints were going to complain. And the left elbow, that elbow gets a twinge at the beginning of a hard cycle every time. But they were both bad enough that it was affecting my stroke and my times. I had three 300s planned instead of just the one, which would have lifted the total distance to 3100 yards. I made a Dirtbag Executive Decision to cut that last 600 out and save my joints the strain. I'd rather come in slightly under-trained but healthy than over-do it and strain something. So rest day tomorrow, back in the water Friday afternoon. Ice felt good too.
Still, though, that's a pretty good ladder there. I'll probably build it a little more next week, or do the other end of it too.
There was going to be a run this afternoon but the wife needed Dirtbag-time, and that trumps run time every time.