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


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh My Aching Little Baby Cows!

Run Day
time- 46:27

Minimalist running activates the calves, there's no getting around it. The forefoot strike means more of the load is transfered to that part of the leg, which is better than into the heel/knee/hip, but better doesn't mean that soreness won't occur. After Wednesday's 45 minute run my veal was killing me, since I hadn't been out in a few weeks. And yesterday's adventure did nothing to ease the recovery process. So I started out today sore. And by the time I was turning for home my gastrocnemius were screaming for mercy. But in a good way.
I love this low-pressure running I've been doing recently. I have no interest in a fast pace or pushing hard, I'm simply getting miles in and getting strong. It's a great way to run. Aside from the muscle soreness, I feel like I could be running much further than I am, but I need to be patient and take my time building distance. It will come. 

I was going to post this...

But anyone who knows me knows my calves look more like this.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Long Road

Ride Days

distance- 11mi

distance- 42.57mi

You want to know a big clue that the ride you're about to do is going to suck? When the guy who brought you there looks at you and asks, "We're friends, right?" Today was that ride. I met up with Dirtbag Diesel, with whom I've ridden before when he introduced me to the joys of Pupukea. And I may have talked a little smack earlier in the week (see the comments), so I kind of brought today on myself.
The day started out nice enough. We met at Dole at 7:30am and down Pineapple Hill we went, cutting around Haleiwa to Dillingham Airport. Dillingham is where you've been if you've ever gone sky diving or glider riding on (above) the island. It's also where I ride my time trial five mile repeats. This would not be that. We turned off, put the bike through a gate, then around another gate, and stopped to prepare. At which point Sean told me all about the planned ascent and asked me the question I started this post with. His plan? Yeah, some things you have to see to understand.
This was the hardest thing I've ever done on the bike. I think I've said that a few times over the course of the last 15 months, but I'll be shocked if I say it again for a while. At least, until the next time we go up Long Road. It starts out ok, gets kind of steep for a few hundred yards, and then you black out. Seriously. It is about 1600ft of elevation over 3.5 miles. That is a lot of up in not much distance.  When he told me at the bottom, "Yeah, the section between the second and third switchback- that's going to suck," he wasn't kidding. I was already huffing and puffing, hurting getting to the first one. But I wasn't going to stop. One- I've never stopped on a climb. Two- I concentrated on how strong this was making me for the Honu, how if I conquered this suffering I would fear no climb. Then I hit the second switchback, looked at the grade, and laughed. Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached insanity. Not only was it as steep (or steep-looking) as anything I've ever ridden on in any vehicle, it was covered in loose gravel, a result of the washout after rains. Which meant, as I soon learned, that if you get out of the saddle to stomp in a vain, futile effort to put some power down and your tires are on a loose spot (as the will inevitably be), you're going to spin. And that's about it. This happened to me twice before I tried again and wiped out. Crash boom, over and down. And I sat there for a few minutes catching my breath and wondering how exactly I was going to be able to get back on the bike, pedal, and get the other foot clipped in on this freaking grade. But I was not to be beaten. So I tried, got it, got going...and went down again. So I walked to the third switchback, pushing my bike and wondering if Sean would come back for me so we could stop this foolishness. 50% right. He did come back, and he cajoled me into continuing with lies like, "It gets easier!" and, "Over halfway!" For the record, we were, "400 meters from the summit," three times.
I went down one more time on the way up. This time not from slipping, but from lack of forward movement. You see, if you're balanced on two narrow wheels you need to be moving otherwise gravity, that jealous bitch, will grab you and show you who's boss. Sean pulled up behind me and gave me a short push so I had enough momentum to get going and clipped. He also showed me the trick to steep climbs, which is not to go straight up, but to cut side to side, making the ride slightly longer but making the angle of attack much easier to handle. He said something about the hypotenuse of a triangle, but I wasn't hearing much but the blood in my ears at that point. In fact, he talked, whistled, joked, coached, and encouraged me all the way up that last mile and a half. I gotta be honest, not sure I would have made it alone. Still, how annoying is it to be dying and have the other guy laughing about doing repeats?
As we neared the real summit, Diesel sprinted on ahead to the end, got off his bike, took out his phone, and snapped some photos of me finishing. Which is funny now and I can't wait to do it to some other sucker sometime.
Here I come!
Some time later
Some more time later
"Look happy." (notice the grip on the gate)
We hung out at the top and checked out the views before heading back down, which was a nerve-wracking adventure all it's own. A little more riding, and then it was back to Pineapple Hill. I'd ask that you, dear readers, remember I haven't seriously ridden in two or three weeks. So Pineapple Hill was not fun, and it was not fast. But Sean did hang around with me for most of it and the conversation helped pass the miles.
And now? Now I make noise every time I stand up from the couch. I also ate, the put on a Netflix of Top Gear, saw the first two segments, and then Supre Awesome Wife was standing over me asking when I fell asleep. Not sure, honey. Not sure.
Tomorrow will be a cruising run, slowly building mileage and strength.
And today? It was a good ride, if good can mean brutal beyond brutality but with the knowledge that next time will be better and suffering brings strength. Thanks, Sean.
You can see all three parts of the road from here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Runner vs Jogger

Run Day
time- 45 minutes

I wouldn't say I'm jogging right now. I'm still running, just not terribly hard. As I've said a few times now, this is time for strengthening and base building. And in order to build as big and solid a base as possible I'm going to be doing plenty of long, slow, low heart rate runs. Just going out and grinding a few miles, going a little further each time, building and preparing.
But now the point of the title:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Practice What You Preach

Swim Day

1 x 150- Warm-up
5 x 100
3 x 200- 100-5, 7, 9/100- fingertip drag
1 x 500
3 x 50- Sideline kick
1 x 100- Cool down
total- 2000 yards

There was nothing intense, hardcore, or difficult about this workout at all. It was my first swim back in a few weeks and the very early start to building a big strong base for Honu training. And the best place to start base building in swimming is with technique work.
The only way to be fast over long distances is to become strong enough that when you're tired your stroke doesn't deteriorate. This is not a new claim in this space, but its going to become Mantra in the coming months. Drills, distance work, and extended speed sets will all play a roll in my preparation, but I see drills and technique focused workouts in my nearest future. In my own head I have a pretty freestyle. I ought to, I've worked hard on it. When it's clicking its long, smooth, and efficient. And when it isn't it feels like a thousand pieces of mismatched joints grinding together in disharmony, all working to create as much drag and headache as possible. This morning was not like that. It wasn't like the former either, but that's to be expected. Instead there are dozens of niggling little problems to be dealt with. My elbows are dropping on my catch, my hands aren't entering the water in a solid line, but are wavering slightly, my core is weak, my head position drops too low when I'm not paying attention, and I'm not finishing as strongly as I'd like. But the minor things are the hardest to fix. So that's what the next few weeks and months will be about: smoothing the rough edges and searching for that hydrodynamic happy place where speed, economy, and efficiency meet like happy forest creatures in a Disney movie...ok, I admit that last metaphor wasn't the most Dirtbag thing in the world. Let me try again. I'll be working on making speed, efficiency, and economy blend into a speed metal mixture of Slaytanic  proportions. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lazy Ass Edition (plus Bonus Self-Advertising!!!)

Doug Robertson
I'm Batman...Dirtbag...
It has been a very quiet, unproductive few weeks here at Dirtbag Central. After a rubbish Ko'Olina Anniversary triathlon I was looking forward to having my racing revenge at the final sprint of the season, the North Shore Triathlon, planned for Nov. 6, which would have been my second repeat race. And the day after I sent in my check, because for some reason their online registration wasn't working so I had to result to something so Stone Age as the mail and an actual check, I got an email from an address I'd been emailing for three weeks for information on the race which had never gotten back to me telling me the race was canceled and had been for a month, but no one knew because they never updated either webpage with information about the race. (I apologize for the run-on-edness of the previous sentence. I've been watching a lot of Zero Punctuation in my non-training free time and it may have rubbed off. It might work better if you read it at warp speed in an Australian accent. No? Well, that's why Yahtzee gets paid for what he does and I don't. Anyway...) Needless to say, without a race to train for I became lazy and unmotivated. But I felt justified in it because frankly I've been busting my ass for most of the last 365 and wanted some time off. So I took it, mostly guilt-free. I've barely ridden and haven't even looked at my Bikilas except to wonder how they got from the living room to the closet (thanks, honey.).
Though I have been to the pool a few times. Not to workout, mind, but because I've accidentally become Dirtbag Stroke Doctor D.S.S. (Doctor of Swimming Strokes). My good friend and training partner who whoops my ass, Sean, recommended me to his wife as just the person she might need to help get her stroke together, since she isn't terribly happy with it and wants to make the cut-off for the Honu this year(fyi- the course is 1.2mi and they stop you if you're not out of the water after 75 minutes). So we met and I started helping her. She's happy with how the first lesson went and so is Sean, so he started telling other friends about my services (I'm working with another of his friends now, an ultra-runner) and now I'm telling you. Dirtbag Stroke Doctor D.S.S. is here for you, be you a triathlete or someone just wanting to get into shape, if you're on Oahu and you want someone to take your stroke apart and put it together mended, faster, and smoother, and at a much lower price than most Masters programs AND in a one-on-one setting then I'm your Dirtbag. Comment or email me and let's set something up.
Back to my laziness.
So I was unmotivated, tired, and school was hitting it hard with Parent/Teacher Conferences happening. By the way, and this is for the dads out there, Mom always goes to PTC. Always. If only one parent does show up mom is the safe bet. You should find time to go too. As a male teacher, I love seeing fathers involved. Meet the teacher, make small talk, and when he asks you to please please please have your child read aloud to you for fifteen minutes a night because it will be so good for their fluency and comprehension and because then you can ask intelligent questions about what they are reading please do it. Thanks. This has been a message from Mr. Robertson, the teaching alter-ego of your favorite Dirtbag.
 All of this, plus the release of possibly the best video game I've ever played, Batman: Arkham City, led to me not really working out for a few weeks. And I've finally reached that point where I feel like a lazy lump on the couch. To paraphrase Al Bundy, if I get kidnapped and murdered the police can use my ass-print from the couch to identify the body. So I won't be going back to two-a-days yet, but I will be working on on a regular basis again. I'm stating it here so everyone on the internet can call me out if I don't. But I will, because even though the Honu is over half a year away and the start of my serious training for it is two months away, I am scared to death of the thought of starting big Half Ironman training from a crappy lazy-on-the-couch-watching-football-and-playing-video-games base.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Announcing Dirtbag Race Plans for 2012! Big News!

Ladies and gentle-dirtbags! I have two announcements about my upcoming race season. One smaller but fun one and a Big Ass One. I've very excited about both.
First, this:
This, my friends, is the Warrior Dash. Described on their website as "America's most insane race...where 12 obstacles from hell await you along this 3.01 mile course". How does that not sound awesome? Exactly, everything about it sounds awesome. Here's a rundown of the "obstacles from hell":

-waist deep water and logs
-something called Satan's Steps
-barbed wire and barricades
-vertical climb
-scrap yard scamper
-warrior wall
-cargo nets (horizontal)
-slippery slope
-more cargo nets (vertical)
- fire leap
-more barbed wire plus mud

Like I said, so much the awesome. And the best part is that although its timed, no one cares how fast you go. I certainly won't be watching my time. I'm going out to have a muddy good romp. And for the registration price I get a t-shirt, a finisher medal, a fuzzy horned hat, a chicken leg, and a beer (the beer will be given to a grateful, muddy co-warrior). This literally might be the best $45 I've ever spent. I'm very excited.
But not as excited as I am about Event #2, the Big Ass Event for 2012:
I have signed up for 70.3 miles of badassery broken up into chunks of 1.2mi swim, 56mi ride, and a 13.1mi run, some of which takes place on the Ironman Championship course better known to triathletes simply as Kona. I haven't been sure is funds were going to allow me to participate in this event, but with the blessing from Super Awesome Wife and Sean offering some much-appreciated help, plus using funds from Official Dirtbag Sponsor Background Profiles, I am going to be able to get my first half-Iron distance race under my belt. It's not until June 2, which at the moment seems a long way away, so right now there is no focused training plan for the race. That will come later. As of now I'm base building and getting the body moving again. No, I haven't worked out regularly since Ko'Olina. I've been alternating between sick, tired, or busy. But I'll be getting back into it soon.
What this means for the rest of my season is I won't be doing the two sprint tri's I did leading up to Honolulu, and I will use the Honolulu Olympic as a tune-up.
So, just so we're all clear, a year ago a sprint triathlon was a big deal. Six months ago an Olympic distance triathlon was a big deal. And now a half-Ironman is a big deal. Let's not look any further ahead for a while.
Pictured: The future