Monday, April 30, 2012

Beat The Heat In Three Easy Steps

Dirtbag friends, your favorite Dirtbag (me) has a new article up. This one is about preparing your body for a hot-weather race, inspired by the hottest Boston Marathon in the race's history and motivated by my upcoming 70.3 in June through the lava fields of Big Island.
Enjoy! Then tell everyone you know!
Beat the Heat In Three Easy Steps

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Weekend of Waiting and Mud

Ride (Saturday)
time- approx. four hours
distance- approx. 60mi*
*all numbers approximate because the Garmin only works if you turn it on when you leave the house

Run (Sunday)
time- 1:48
distance- 10mi

Something was up with gravity Saturday. I'm not really sure what it was, but I do know that it impacted all of us. Well, it impacted the Grey and I and Diesel claims he was riding slower too, but I think he's just trying to make us feel better. Which would be really out of character, so maybe not.
Pupukea just felt like a slog. It hurt and there was no go fast going on. I don't normally fly up the hill, but I have been able to set a decent enough pace. Saturday was not a decent pace day. Saturday was an I just want to get to the top and be done with this day. The guys waited for me for the second time that ride at the top. The first time they waited for me was when I said I'd meet them at 7am, texted I might be five minutes late, and ended up more like ten or fifteen *cue Diesel preparing his comment about exactly how late I was*.
However, at the end of Dillingham it was not I who was being waited for! No, Diesel and I waited for the Grey instead. Normally, the tailwind going down Mokulea makes us light and quick and Diesel decides he's going to time trial it and takes off. We struggle to keep up and eventually wave as he disappears. Yesterday, though, he never did that. And I was feeling strong. Not at first. The road conditions for the first quarter of that leg are awful. The road goes crack pothole crack divot gravel potholecrackpotholecrack catch your tire and pull you into the depths. Not much fast there. But when it finally cleans up, thanks to the state fixing the road because Lost was being filmed down there, it is kick ass. And Diesel was cruising it. But not crushing it, like normal. As I just said, I was feeling strong and I didn't know why he wasn't going for it, so I decided to make the jump to lightspeed. I never never pass Diesel but here I went. Honestly, the thing I was thinking for the minute or so he let me get away was, "Gotta pump gotta pump, I'm in the lead, gotta hold on." Of course he caught me and retook the lead, but I didn't let him get away. OR he didn't take me to task, and its probably some of both. Either way, I cooked it and felt great. I managed to ignore my legs saying, "Ok, but you're going to pay for this later." We both dusted the Grey, who had found some kind of headwind to ride into.
But the Dillingham road giveth, and the Dillingham road taketh away. The lighter out feels, the more brutal in will be. Except in this case. Yes, it was windy. Yes, it sucked. But it didn't suck that bad. I spent a lot of time on Diesel's wheel, getting my draft on, but near the end I again decided to try and make a pass and again it worked. I assume Diesel jumped on to my wheel for a little drafting of his own, which he never gets to do because he's so much stronger than we are...and because we never normally try to get in front.
Pineapple was, well Pineapple. Somehow I got way out in front of the Grey, who was bonking pretty badly at that point, so I had a good lead on him hitting the climb. I spent the whole thing looking over my shoulder for him. Stupid physics means that since we both put out probably about the same amount of power, but he is so much lighter than I am, he climbs better. So he caught me, despite my best efforts to the contrary. Skinny jerk.
Two short climbs closed out my ride and home I went, worn out but feeling good about my training for the day.
Today's run was a big one for me. Ten miles is the furthest I've ever run in a non-race setting, and only the second time I've ever run into the double digits. You can look at the data and it is obvious cruising was priority number one, I was in no hurry, but I'm still happy. An average pace of 10:52 isn't bad. I think I could have gone a little faster too. I spent some of the out running along the pineapple fields but it was wet/rainy and had been, so the dirt was mud. Mud builds and cakes onto the Vibrams until I'm not running so much as I'm lifting weights with my feet. Once I abandoned the fields for the road and scraped a bunch of the sticky stuff off I felt much better. Best part for me was that I only walked twice. Once at my five mile turn around, grabbing a couple of Gummy Bears for a sugar bump, and once up a hill two miles or so from home. My feet were hurting and I felt like I'd earned the few minutes of walking. It improved the end of the run.
It was wet the whole time, which probably helped. Like we know, the heat sucks the life out of a runner. Cool, overcast, slightly rainy conditions are pretty perfect for long runs. But I don't care, I need to be stacking miles like that and it was good for me to get some.
Tomorrow might hurt.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Did Workout! I Swear!

Ride (Wednesday)
1 x Pineapple Hill

Swim (Thursday)
1 x 200- warm-up
5 x 200- 3:00
500- miss
400- miss
300- miss
1 x 50- easy
500- 7:34
1 x 100 cool down

I was crashing out on Wednesday. Not feeling it, something was wrong. I think I'm fighting off a low-level cold. Whatever it was, riding did not appeal to me. I had to get out on the road though so I went down Pineapple and back up. Headwind while climbing is the suck. But it makes me stronger, right? Felt strange to only do one lap. My Garmin battery died almost immediately because I didn't check it before I left the house, but I think I only ride 16 miles or so. Unimpressive.
My swim was good, at least as far as distance goes. I don't think I've been cranking out the big yardage like I should be, so 3k+ will be the goal distance for most of my remaining workouts in the pool. I missed nearly every time standard, which annoys me but I should have expected it. My training in the water has suffered in the last few weeks and I shouldn't expect results I haven't worked for. It'll come back.
I didn't run yesterday for a variety of non-injury related reasons. Simply put, a run didn't happen. It might happen after school today, but I'm not sure. For sure Sunday.
This has been a downer post,

OK, so I actually LOLed at this one. That seems like a nice place to leave it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

When Does That Get Fun? (Dirtbag Cut)

Dear Dirtbag Friends,
When I submit an article to active for publishing it goes through an editing process. For every single thing I've written I have been exceptionally happy with the final edit, and I think they do a wonderful job there. Editing is not easy, and I have a ton of respect for the people who have to cut for length and content, making articles fit into the vision. With that said, I feel that When Does Endurance Training Get Fun  lost some of the message I was going for in the final edit. Thus, I'm going to go all Ridley Scott on you and present the Dirtbag Cut of Where Does That Get Fun? below. I want to stress this is nothing against and I love writing for them. They put out great content. As I said, I feel my cut presents my thoughts a little clearer in this case. Thanks for reading. 


When Does That Get Fun? (Dirtbag Cut)
By: Doug Robertson
I put my head down on the table at a friend’s house. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I rode seventy miles this morning. I’m beat,” I replied.
“Oh,” she said, “and that was, like, fun for you?”
Well, some of it. The downhill parts, definitely. On the downhill parts I’m like the pig in those insurance commercials. Weeeeeee! But the uphill parts?
“Yeah, I like it. Pain and I are best buds. It’s not fun unless it hurts...not that it hurts that bad.”
Lies. Macho lies.
Endurance sports are not fun. Not in the traditional sense. Not in the way going to a movie, playing a video game, or eating ice cream is fun. Endurance sports are hard. They hurt. Most of the time they hurt a lot. If you’re really good at them then they actually hurt more, but you’re better at absorbing the hurt, which in turn allows you bring more pain. Endurance sports are about suffering.
So why are we doing it? Shouldn’t a hobby be fun? Especially a hobby with the kind of time and cost commitment required by training for a marathon or triathlon?
First, this isn’t a hobby. Model rockets and stamp collecting are hobbies. This is a sport. Fun isn’t the point of sport. Fun is the point of games, and as the t-shirts say, “No one plays triathlon.” Still, all this defining doesn’t answer the question- Why do something that isn’t fun, that actually hurts, in your free time? Why spend so much time and energy, risking injury and constantly walking funny up stairs, on something that isn’t fun?
Not that the whole adventure is solely an exercise in masochistic pain and suffering. If it were then it would be called “soccer.” Training for an endurance event should have elements of fun, otherwise its just a grind for weeks on end. Grinding is bad because eventually the thing being ground, in this case you, will wear out completely. You know going in that the whole process won’t be a gas because you should be preparing yourself to suffer, which is by definition not enjoyable, but incorporating fun elements smooths things out. Fun is the grease.
Group training, running with friends, laughing through the pain and pretending it doesn’t hurt all make training more fun. If you have a group of running friends, a great drill for mixing up a run is a Last Man Sprints drill, what used to be called an Indian Run, where a group of four or more athletes run in a single file line and the last person sprints to the front while the others call encouragement. Or a fartlek run where you and your partners alternate deciding when to go hard and when to dial back.
Trail running breaks up the monotony of the road better than anything. It is also a great way to get away from cars and their exhaust fumes and their drivers who seem determined to pull off your shoe with their front tire. Another trail running bonus is when nature calls you’re already in nature, simplifying things. The best part has to be running through mud like you’re a child again. Squish!
Athletes are always getting creative to add enjoyment to their exercise. Finding random things on the side of the road and stopping to take pictures of them to share on a forum, blog, or social network (or tweeting them to active or your favorite active contributor #photobreak) is fun, plus you get an excuse to take “picture breaks.” You could even develop a fake rivalry with a famous person. I, for example, am training for the Half Ironman on Big Island in June. Lance Armstrong is also doing this event. I’ve decided he and I are archrivals and I amuse myself on runs by coming up with WWE-style promos challenging him and posting them online. There is nothing in the rule book about not being silly. Having a smile somewhere in your head to go to when The Wall looms large can be invaluable.
Look around at most events and you’ll see people in crazy costumes, interesting gear, or doing simply strange things like juggling for the duration. It hurts just as much for them as it does for anyone else, but they have found their own way to cope with the suffering. Sure, the doing isn’t always fun, but the way it is done it can be.
More and more races are becoming more fun-focused. Obstacle course-style events like the Warrior Dash, the Spartan Race, and the Tough Mudder are successfully combining the idea that a race should be hard with the idea that something you pay money for should include lots of smiles. Athletes of all levels are showing up in droves to get dirty, play like kids, and still be sore the next day. A recent Warrior Dash on Oahu sold out so fast they added waves. At one wave every half hour, with about five hundred people in each wave, more people played through their course in one day than most Americans realize live on Oahu. They must be doing something right. Same goes for the Run Like a Diva half marathon series. Did you know they have an aid station dedicated to handing out tiaras and pink feather boas? Women’s events know how to have fun.
And yet most endurance sports, while you’re doing them, when you’re two hours into a four hour plus effort, are not fun. Fun, again, is not the point.
Discovery is.
Endurance sports are about discovery. Discovering where you go when the going gets tough. Discovering how much more you have than you thought that morning. Endurance sports are fun in the way climbing Mount Everest or writing a novel is fun. The process is long and arduous, it takes planning and patience and luck, and there will be numerous times along the way where you want to throw up your hands (or just throw up). Those moments aren’t fun. Those moments are brutal. Those moments happen seven miles into a half marathon. No one likes the seventh mile of a half marathon. The run portion of an Olympic distance triathlon sucks for most people.
And right there, right when you’re suffering the most, that is when the discovery can begin. Once you hit the point of highest suffering there is only one place to go, and that is past it. When you learn to “embrace the suck,” as Chris McCormack calls it in his book, I’m Here To Win, you discover things about yourself you never knew.
I feel I need to be honest here- It is a million times easier to say, “And then you push through the suffering to the point of self discovery,” than it is to actually do it. But going to that place where you do hit the wall is a learning experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Hating mile seven, walking through some aid stations, and finishing at a zombie-shuffle sprint teaches you about your depths, your strength, and your ability to overcome. As your own inner-Columbus sailing on the seas of suffering you have discovered a new place within yourself.
And that is fun.  
How do you make training fun?

When Does Endurance Training Get Fun?

Ladies and gentlemen, your favorite Dirtbag has a brand new article up, so please follow the link and check out When Does Endurance Training Get Fun?

I've also included a link to the Dirtbag Cut of the article, allowing you for the first time a glimpse into the metamorphosis from final draft to published edit.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Positive Negative (plus Going On Quite A Bit About Teaching)

time- 57:34
distance- 6.04mi

I was tired after school yesterday. Worn out. You see, I have a student teacher right now, and at this point in the school year he is doing a lot of teaching. That's how I run my classroom. Many mentor teachers (their term) only allow their student teacher to teach the lessons they have been assigned by their professors. When in school to become a teacher you take methods courses- Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, etc. Each of those professors will assign specific lessons the student needs to teach at their student teaching placement. During the final two years of study the student teachers are taking those classes and...student teaching. In the case of my ST this semester, and last semester, that means twice a week they spend the day in my room observing, helping, and teaching.
I make them do a lot of teaching.
Two reasons- 1) Observing anyone is boring. Even someone as interesting, handsome, and dynamic as I am. So my student teacher will spend two or three days parked at a table watching how I run my classroom, taking notes, observing the kids and how the teacher/student relationship works in my room. After school the ST asks me as many questions as they can think of while I pontificate at them about teaching philosophy (short version- student who fear you will learn, students who love you will try).
Which leads to 2) The only way to really learn how to teach is to get in front of the class and do it. And fail. And make mistakes. And get flustered and confused. And confuse the kids. And back up and try again. And reflect so that your mentor teacher can guide you to a better way next time. So there is a lot of that in my room. And I love it.
I think being a mentor teacher is one of the most important things a veteran teacher can do. When I was a lifeguard a hundred years ago every vet, that is, every guard who had been around for more than one summer, would be given a rookie. The vet's job was to be sure the rookie stayed on top of their job, knew all the skills, knew the philosophy of the program, and exceeded their potential. This is one of the many lessons I've held on to from my time as a COP guard. And it applies directly to mentor teaching. Veteran teachers need to take student teachers under their wing because that is the only way to ensure student teachers learn the right way. And yes, my teaching ego is such that I believe I have quite a bit to pass on to a new educator. It is all part of My Take Over the World plan. Soon there will be young teachers all over the country teaching children the way I think students should be taught. Schools will be better for it. (Yes, my swimming ego is eclipsed only by my teaching ego. But I'm a damn good teacher. The love thing works both ways.)
Like I said an hour ago when you started reading this, my student teacher is doing a whole lot of teaching at this point in the year. He needs to be, he's got the basic stuff and now it's practice, reflect, practice again. So I'm doing more than the usual amount of sitting and watching him. See #1. I take notes so that I can bring up specific things during our after school debrief, but I am still spending more time than normal at my desk watching someone else teach. Not a complaint, I signed up for it and I want him to be teaching as much as possible. But a truth.
So after school my energy level is lower. You would think it would be higher because I haven't really done all that much during the day, but sitting takes a lot out of you. It's a drag. Like when you get off a long flight all you want to do is crash on the couch.
This is all a long way of saying I really really really didn't feel like going for a run when I got home. I wanted to take a nap, followed by eating a snack, followed by another nap, followed by dinner and The Daily Show, followed by bed. But I fought through that and got my toe shoes on and got out the door.
Because, like almost always happens, I knew that as soon as I got moving I'd feel fine. The adrenaline and endorphins would kick in and off I'd go. I felt so good that I decided to do six mile with a focus on getting a negative split. And I did it! I haven't felt as good during a run as I did the last three miles in a long time. My kick was strong, my breathing was steady, there were no unusual pains. It was really great. Part of my wants to qualify all of this with a self-effacing statement like, "It was fast...for me," but I kind of hate it when people do that. I'm not judging myself against Diesel or the Grey or anyone else. I had a fast run, and a mentally strong one. Its the kind of run I'm trying very hard to save in my brain so that I can pull it out during the dark part of Honolulu and the Honu and show it to my body- "See! We can do this! Get through it and go!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pumping Carbon Fiber

1 x 200- warm-up
5 x 100- odd laps left arm/even laps right arm
5 x 200- 100- 0, 1, 2, 3/100- hard
1 x 400- odd 50 easy/even 50 hard
1 x 100- cool down

1 hour trainer
10 min warm-up
10 min hard/5 min easy repeats

Monday was the last full on drill day I'm going to do. I'm not going to stop doing drills, but I'm starting to feel the Honu breathing down my neck and I need to get better at endurance and speed. So the majority of swims from here on out will be harder sets with less drill focus.
The one arm drill was an experiment since I haven't tried something like that since I was being coached. It's a good way to focus on what each side of the body is doing, getting the stroke to lengthen at the front, and getting a good rotation. I need to remember to make each stroke in this drill a separate effort, I'm not just spinning my arm in circles.
During the 400 I started getting weirdness in the right elbow. I hope this will go away, it happens every once in a while. I can fight through it for the Honu, but I'd rather not spend the next few weeks wondering and babying a different injury. Bad enough being unsure what my AT is going to feel like each run.
I noticed during the Lanikai swim that my core wasn't as solid as it ought to be either. Part of that is the conditions of the race, I couldn't get myself into a happy body position. But still, something else to be thinking about.
Pumping Iron PosterAs I've written before, trainers are boring. I've tried podcasts, concert DVDs, and music to get me through. Yesterday I decided to go obvious- Pumping Iron. Yes, the 1977 documentary following Arnold through training and competing for his sixth Mr. Universe title. It is amazing. Sure, there are some slow parts where its five minutes of huge men lifting heavy things and grunting, but the insight one can glean into the mind of The Best Bodybuilder Ever is invaluable. Any time you can watch someone who is at the top of their game talk about what that means you should. The ideas transfer. His discussion of missing his dad's funeral because he was preparing for a competition, highlighting the killer mindset that made him the best, is very enlightening. And I would bet any other champion would watch that and nod knowingly. Plus, you can see James Cameron watching it and thinking, "This guy is my Terminator."
It being Arnold in the 70s, there are also some absolutely unintentionally hilarious moments. In the first scene after opening credits Arnold walks through Gold's Gym in Venice greeting the other bodybuilders. "Hey, Big Mike! Hey, Big Tony! Hey, Big Joe!" Seriously, either everyone's nickname is Big Their Name, or Arnold thinks he's funny. Either way, it's great. And the film ends with a triumphant Arnold laying on a couch wearing a shirt that reads, "Arnold is Numero Uno" and smoking a joint. Yes, friends, we have a documentary showing the former Governor of California feeling up models and smoking pot. How did he get elected? I guess we like being righteously indignant but we don't really care.
The main side story follows Lou Ferrigno, an up-and-coming bodybuilder, as he trains to topple the champ. You might know Lou better as the original Hulk from the old television show. No? He was on King of Queens too.
 I really enjoy the pose-off at the end of the film. Lou comes out and does his thing and you think, "Wow, that man is massive! Holy crap." You doubt Arnold can win. I mean, look at this guy! Then the one, the only, the Austrian Oak comes out. Ho-Ly-Hell. It's night and day. Arnold starts to go into a pose and you can't believe the size and definition. Then he actually flexes and BAM! You realize why he's the Greatest Of All Time. He's got this look on his face the whole time that says, "I can not be beaten." Everyone should watch, even if you don't care about bodybuilding as a sport. And I, honestly don't care anymore. The guys are freaks. But Arnold, he was the apex.

Lanikai Sprint Tri Race Report- Relay Edition

Transition in the pre-dawn
 Sunday was the Lanikai Sprint Triathlon. A few months ago Diesel, the Grey, and I decided it would be fun to do the race as a relay. None of us was very interested in doing it solo, since we are all deep into Honu training and spending a Sunday doing a sprint tri seemed like a silly use of workout time. So the original plan was to have the wives drive with us to the race with our bikes, do the race as a relay, then the wives would drive home and we would ride the sixty miles or so back. Good plan, yeah?
For various reasons this plan fell through, but that was ok, also for various reasons. Which I'll get to when I'm good and ready.

I'm ready.
The weather Sunday was, in a word, awful. In a bunch of words, it was really pretty crappy, overcast, rainy, windy, and cold. For a while there before the start it looked like just about the worst weather you could have on Hawaii for a race. Listen, racing in bad weather sucks for a number of reasons. In the ocean, bad weather creates chop, making swimming in a straight line difficult, and stirs up the sand, making visibility poor. On the bike it makes the roads slick and unsafe, and when your glasses get soaked you can't see. And on the run wind slows you down and can make you cold. A little cool is nice to run in. Cold isn't so much.
We hit for the cycle on Sunday. Not to complain.
I started the race, since of the three of us I'm the strongest swimmer. We figured that as long as we're doing a relay we may as well stack it. I hadn't been in the water at all for a week, having taken a recovery week. The swim was only 500m, so it's not like a week off killed me, but it doesn't help going into a race to not do anything for seven days. This is my impression of me making excuses for a less-than-stellar result.
Relays started in the second wave, same as the women. I've, obviously, never started with the women before. It was me, a couple of other guys, and a ton of very serious looking female triathletes looking to take me down. The first buoy was 100 or so yard off shore and the key to a good swim is to get there first. Once everyone hits the turn at the buoy everything bottlenecks as swimmers get as close to the giant yellow floating prism as they can so as to not swim any further than they need. I lined up just off center from said prism and fidgeted until the countdown got to 30 seconds. We started three minutes after the men, so hopefully there wouldn't be too much swimming over slow guys.
At the go I sprinted for the water, along with 200 or so of my soon-to-be closest female friends. I got out good but got slightly off course right away, having to correct 75 yards in and swim at an angle to hit the turn correctly. Didn't get stuck behind too many people. Yet. I did swim right over a massive sea turtle though. And I did shout, "Cool!" into the water. Because I'm bright like that. And because it's freaking cool to see a giant sea turtle.

Once we made the turn the course was parallel to the beach for 400yds or so, then another turn in. I tried to set a good, fast pace that would guarantee I finished with an empty tank, but it wasn't easy.  Remember what I said a few minutes ago about open water swimming in bad weather? No? You need to work on your comprehension skills. Go back and find it.
Ok, bad weather makes for choppy water. Choppy water makes for choppy strokes. I never once had a decent rhythm going. I didn't even start to feel warmed up until halfway through the swim. Couple that with rain making it hard to sight the next giant yellow buoy and I'm not all the happy with my swim. I got stuck behind a few people, did some swimming around, avoided getting kicked in the face, and hit the beach hard charging past some of the slower men, finishing my leg with a time of 8:33.
I'd like to pause here and say that my swim time for this event last year was an 8:14. But the weather was great and my training was more short-distance-centric. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I cranked up the beach and into transition, handing the timing chip off to Diesel.
From here to the end of the race I probably said the following words half a dozen times, "Boy, I kinda like working for 500m and then being done for the day. It's nice!" This is true. The flip side of that is also true. I woke up at 3:30am and drove 45 minutes to work for eight minutes. 
Diesel's version of the ride is, "It was wet and slick, so I rode safe. Painted white lines are slippery and they happen every block. I passed people going up Radar Hill (the only climb of the ride, and the turn-around point), saw some people fishtail out on the way down Radar Hill, and remembered halfway back that I didn't have to run when I got off the bike so I put the hammer down." So yeah, he forgot he wasn't doing a full triathlon. That happens I guess, as one ages.
He put in a strong time of 30:13 anyway and came in to transition where the Grey was waiting for him. And, in his excitement, the Grey tried to grab Diesel's bike and help him rack it. No, we don't know why. I guess that happens as one ages. We reminded him (read: shouted at him) to just grab the timing chip and go. So he did and went. And 25 minutes later he came cranking in for a finishing time of 1:05.45, putting us in second place for the men's relay division.
Not too shabby. Especially considering I'm not thrilled with my swim, Diesel isn't impressed with his ride, and the Grey complained about his run time until he realized (read: justified it by saying) the course was muuuuuch longer than the advertised three miles.
We won basil plants, which made Super Awesome Wife happy. And here is where I put one more joke about the Grey stroking the plant all night long like Gollum, "My preciousssssss, yessssss, nasty filthy Hobbittses tries to take you precioussssss." To be fair, he has placed in each of his last three races. but don't tell him I was fair just then, ok?
The Grey and his precioussssss

Diesel, "Why is this cup empty and what kind of plant is this?"
 Sunday was also the first triathlon ever for a friend of mine and she did awesome! I'm really proud of her. She embraced the spirit of fun and was smiling through every transition and across the finish line. At the race debrief at Koa Pancake House, the only place to eat after a race, she couldn't stop talking about how much fun she'd had. Love to hear it.

As always, I want to thank my sponsor, Background Profiles, for the help paying for events like this. Now I just need to remember to pay Diesel back for registration.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Das Burnout

Think I hit a wall this week. Every day after school I lay down on a student desk and contemplate the ceiling fan. Pretty sure that means it's time for a small break. Which is why there has been no Dirtbag updates. Ok, I guess there was one Tuesday, because I had a halfway decent run, but there won't be one for yesterday and this is today's. Tomorrow I'm thinking I might ride to the pool and do a mile just to get something done and not be a complete bum.

Blarg is a funny word

I like puns

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dirtbag Tired

time- 1:02
distance- 6.05

I'm tired, and have things to work on. So instead of a long-winded recap of every step of my run today you get pictures. You're welcome.
Aww, ran out of pink Rocktape. Darn. Tattoo print time!

This is the funny

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Compromised/Pineapple Fields Forever

Ride (Saturday)
time- 1:37
distance- 17.49

Run (Sunday)
time- 1:37
distance- 9.02

I bought the worst Gatorskin tires ever made. Seriously, I have had more flats since I put on my flat-resistant tires than I ever had before. And yesterday was the epitome of that.
I noticed the softness right after I passed Haleiwa, only a few miles in to my ride and really before too much riding had been done. The whole start of my ride is about four and a half miles of flatish, then down Pineapple we go. So no, I hadn't done much yet. With softness suspected I did a light bounce test and yep, that's the rim donking on the ground. Really? Brand new tube? Expletive.
Pulled over, did the full check of the tube and rim and tire looking for the culprit. Picked some glass slivers out. (Rant- Throwing your empties out the window is a bullshit thing to do. I know the regressive, neanderthal lump of WalMart leftovers that you call a brain gets tickled by the crashy smashy noise, but it really fucking sucks for those of us who also use the road. Knock. It. Off. End Rant.) Threw a new tube in there when I was as sure as I could be that nothing detrimental to my inflation levels remained.
Back tire went flat again right before the top of Pupukea. My spare tube was already in the back tire. My only spare. Expletiveexpletiveexpletive.
Lucky for me Diesel and his wife had just finished a hike nearby and were able to pick me up, saving my bacon. I even somehow got a cookie out of the deal.
I've decided there must be a problem with the tube itself, because its always the back tire and it happens way too often. A sliver too small to see, a design flaw poking holes but not sharp enough for the finger sweep test to find. So today I got to go buy a new tire. Yay! Luckily, I'm a teacher in Hawaii, a state which respects the teaching profession to such a degree that we get paid, when adjusted for cost of living, at the top of national teaching scale. (Correction:Wait, I just reread that last sentence and there is a small error- It should have read, "when adjusted for cost of living, at the bottom, dead last, 50 out of 50 of the national teaching scale". Sorry for the mistake.)
I also added a hydration system to the bike which will help guarantee I'm not drying out during the Honu. Yes, I realize the irony of talking about a new thing I just bought after complaining about my lack of funds due to the disrespectful pay scale of Hawaii teachers, but I didn't really buy my new Profile Design Aquacell, my wonderful sponsor did. I again would like to thank Background Profiles for all their help, there is so much I'm able to have and do that wouldn't be possible without you.


Yes, I did cut the straws before I left. Otherwise they would still be in my nose.

Who needs a special bracket? I got rubber bands!
My run was smooth and solid. I was concerned leaving the house that my AT issues were going to flare up again but a controlled pace seemed to manage it. I'm still not 100% healed, the left AT will act up but the pain level stays around a 2, so its no reason to stop.
Normally, I run along the side of the road. I've always noticed a dirt track running just over a hump right in the pineapple fields (what? You though Pineapple Hill was just a clever name?). So today after passing Dole (The pineapple company) I hopped over the hump and did the next mile and a half in the fields. Such a nice change of scenery by simply moving a few feet to the left. On one side, fields of little pineapple, and on the other, a bump then the road. No more running where the asphalt meets the grass for Dirtbag. I'm using this new course all the time.
I took a short photo break to get an artsy picture of little baby pineapples, turned around at the 4.5mi point, and headed back. The last time I ran nine miles I walked two or three times I think. Today I only walked once, up the steepest part of the run which isn't really all that steep but I was kind of tired so leave me alone. No physical issues until the final quarter mile when suddenly my feet really started to hurt. Like, oh yeah, these are minimalist shoes and I'm on pavement hurt. But it went away as soon as I stopped. Left calf threatened to cramp up a few times too and as I sit here I can still feel it being too tight. Foam roller in five.
Ohhh, artsy!
I should also mention that today was the North Short marathon and the Grey took third in his age group with just under a 3:40 finish. Go Team Dirtbag!

Friday, April 13, 2012


1 x 200- Warm-up
200- 3:00
300- 4:30
400- 6:00
500- 7:30
400- 6:00
300- 4:30
200- 3:00
1 x 100- Cool down
total- 2600yds


Reason #71 You Should Learn To Flip Turn- If you have gas during your workout, flip turns will help ease your pain.
This ladder went about as well as I could have expected considering my lack of swim time. I made it through the front end of the ladder just fine, but missed the 500 by about ten seconds. Then I missed the 400 by almost a minute, which makes me think I fell asleep during it and did at least 50 yards too many. But the final 300 and 200 were ok. Like I always go on and on (and on and on and on) about, the most important part of long swims is keeping technique consistent from beginning to end. And my stroke went wonky in the second 400, which I've noticed happens nearly every time I do this set, but I got it together at the end.
Normally, Thursday's are run days. But Wednesday as I was preparing for my ride I noticed the back tire was flat. Living room flats are the worst! Stoopid slow leaks. But I knew that I had a spare tube in my bag so I pulled it out. Something was wrong. This tube is, like the blonde in the story says, much too big. I look at the white paint on the side. "700x28-32c" Holy crap. My tires are 23s. I, somehow, bought the wrong size tube. D'oh! Makes me feel like a speshul snophlake. So the ride was ditched in favor of hitting the Bike Shop and Costco. Bummer.
The ride plan was two scoops of Pineapple, with the option of bailing after one of the weather got bad. It was one of those days where the big dark clouds did hover, and it was hard to tell if they were coming or going. I'm ok getting rained on from Dole to my house, that's easy. But I did not want to get caught on the hill in a downpour. Luckily, it dried out while I was rubber side down.
My focus for these laps was cruise the climbs, power the flats. Diesel preach preach preaches this every time we are out now and it's good climbing advice. So I'm down in the saddle, light gear, spinning uphill, then as soon as the road levels out I pop the gearing up heavier, get out of the saddle for some stomp action, and try to get going until the road rises back up. This ride was the first time I really felt like I was making a difference on the flats, and I felt it on both laps. In fact, I felt pretty fresh even on the second lap. I could have gone for a third, but light would have become an issue. Take a look at my Garmin information, you can see the spikes on the blue graph. Good stuff.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weather Its Good Or Weather Its Bad

time- 1:18
distance- 7.08mi

I am conflicted on the subject of weather. You know, the subject everyone supposedly automatically reverts to whenever there is nothing else to talk about. Yeah, on that topic I experience cognitive dissonance.
It's not the weather's fault, per say. I would never blame Thor. He's James Tiberius Kirk's daddy. He is above complaint.
SAME DUDE! Kirk's dad is the God of Thunder!
My conflict stems from challenge vs training. You see, storms are blowing in again over my part of Oahu and temperatures are dropping. Running is so much easier when it's cool out. The heat sucks your will to live faster than any planned distance and more effectively than any climb. I feel better, faster, smoother when it's a little overcast, maybe even sprinkling. It's great. Plus, that means more opportunities to skip through mud. A Dirtbag never passes up a chance like that.
BUT, the Honu will NOT be cold. It will NOT be cool. Odds are very high it will NOT be overcast. It is going to be life-suckingly hot. That side of Big Island in June? Life. Suckingly. Hot. There are no trees over there, the lava destroyed them and they never grew back because Kona gets half an inch of rain a decade*.
What that means is, while I'm getting in good runs and I'm feeling strong for the most part during them, my training is only half complete. I am not really being heat trained right now. Oh, I have an advantage over those triathletes flying in from the mainland for the race. The humidity alone is going to draw their souls from their skins. And I'm well aware that melting will occur on the run, its unavoidable. But I'd like to get a little time under the hot hot sun in.
...That felt like a really stupid thing to ask for. Please tune back in two weeks from now when I'm bitching and moaning about how hot it is.
As for today's run, it went really well up until half a mile from home. A mile from home I decided I was feeling strong and I wanted to pick up the pace a little, see if I could stir it up for a mile. And after half a mile my left calf said, "I have had enough of this," and POOF like magic turned into a softball. Which is ok, I guess, since my right AT was also beginning to whine. So I limped home, hoping for the ominous clouds to hold their water for just a few more minutes.
Foam roller- I love you, I hate you, please keep fixing this knot.
(*all numbers approximate)

Drilling For Technique

1 x 200- warm-up
4 x 200- 100-0, 1, 2, 3/100- alt. fingertip drag/thumb drag*
5 x 100- 5, 7, 9
1 x 500- 7:39
1 x 100- cool down
total- 2100yds
*1 & 3- thumb drag/ 2 & 4- fingertip drag

Trainer- 1hr

 Drill, baby, drill! Oh, Sarah, if only this is what you meant when you brainlessly chant at hordes. I would have so much (read: any) respect for you. I'm all about preaching technique over speed in the water and I'm trying damn hard to practice that. My swim numbers have dropped like the Marianas Trench in recent weeks and I'm trying to fix that. Like I've said many times, the swim is my lowest priority discipline in my coming triathlons, which means I'm comfortable losing workouts there. But I think that mindset has let me miss workouts without guilt, and guilt is sometimes a decent motivator. I would never say that guilt is GOOD, but it can help. So I've made a decision- to help myself get enough rest I'm going to drop my Tuesday morning swim completely. I'll be swimming Monday and Thursday only. That little extra Tuesday rest should translate into better runs Tuesday. And even though I sell myself sometimes as Joe SwimmerGuy, I still need to do stroke work like anyone else.
Yesterday afternoon I cranked an hour on the trainer listening to Bill Simmons on the BS Report already panic about the Red Sox starting 0-3. Listening to guys complain about their baseball teams might not seem like the most gung-ho go get 'em trainer motivation, but it makes the time pass easier. Simmons is one of my favorite sports writers and while I don't care about the Sox and I hate the Yankees, I'm just happy he isn't talking about basketball. If you're interested, President Obama did a short BS Report at the beginning of March that is very good. Look at that, two political things in one post. Guess the cat's out of the bag!
Speaking of baseball- GO DODGERS!

Monday, April 9, 2012

How to Fuel For a 5K

Dirtbag friends, your favorite Dirtbag has again been allowed on to someone else's website posing as a figure of authority and knowledge. 
How to Fuel For a 5K is now up on Just like all my other wonderful article, read, share, reblog, repost, retweet, and smoke signal this to all your friends. Unless you don't like it, then do all of that stuff but to the people you're trying to beat at your next race. Hey, views is views, right? 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Surprisingly Amount About Hips

Swim (Thursday)
1 x 200- warm-up
2 x 500
1 x ?- Stroke check

Ride (Sunday)
time- 3:38
distance- 53.05

First, don't ask me where Thursday's run went. I don't know either. Somewhere between school and the couch it completely disappeared. And there is a Saturday run. 
Thursday was a test swim. I found an article is this month's Inside Triathlon about a coach who slows his athletes down in the water and focuses nearly exclusively on stroke technique for huge amounts of training time. And these athletes, as you would expect if you've been following along here, get faster anyway. Swimming IS NOT ABOUT VOLUME. It's about smoothness and proper technique. To steal from The Fit Life, "more is not better. Better is better." And one of the drills this coach uses on his swimmers to isolate their hips is a kickboard drill. But not in the way you think. He has them tuck the board between their legs so half sticks up out of the water like a fin and half down into the water like a rudder. Then they swim and the submerged part of the board give immediate feedback and resistance straight into the hip/core area. Brilliant! I must steal use this.
And so I did. I first tried it on the Grey, but that didn't work well because I hadn't done it myself first. So he threw the board away and Thursday's ? set was my experimenting. I have no idea how many laps I did. I would do a 25 with one board one way. Stop, readjust, do another 25, and so on. There are two different types of boards at my pool and after I settled on the right one I needed to figure out seating. But once I figured it out it is really great. Swimming with the board like a rudder, not too deep but not so you've got a big waving tail, communicates directly into your core exactly what your stroke is doing. Its a workout, because there is oblique torsion happening, and its also a drill because you can feel how much of your stroke is being driven through your hips. Good stuff.
Today's ride was good, pretty much the same course Diesel and I normally ride. Felt a little slow up Pupukea, got rained on headed down Pupukea and all the way back to Haleiwa, but both directions of Dillingham felt strong and Pineapple went well. Saturday's trail run was pretty tough and my hips today, especially on the left, are sore. Doesn't impact the riding too much, until I swing my leg over the bike. Then it's all kinds of joy joy.

Vi's Top of Tantalus HURT Trail Run Report

Fact- I really like trail running.
Fact- I am really not very good at it yet.

Saturday morning I joined (read: was told by Diesel and the Grey to show up to) the Hawaii Ultra Running Team's (HURT) second race of their season, Vi's Top of Tantalus 7 Miler. Technically, this was a race, but you would never know it from looking at the runners that morning.
Ultra runners are special. These are people who run marathons through trails back to back (to back to back) for fun. So while they have "races", what the really have are fun runs. Everyone shows up, pays their $10 entry fee, gets marked with a sharpie, and that's about it. No one really cares if you run or walk, as long as you finish. Take 50 minutes? Wow, that's awesome. Take two and half hours? Great job!
Listen, at this point I've been in lots of starting corrals. I know what a start feels like and I know what the morning of a race feels like. It does not feel like a picnic where everyone there happens to be athletic. But this race did. Seriously, runners rolled in to Pu'u Ulaka'a State Park at around 7am for a start time of 8:00, and everyone just mingled and hung out. There was laughing and joking. There was not nervous jittering and stretching and "Oh, look at that guy, he looks fast, he's my rabbit." Just a nice day out.
This atmosphere is awesome. The $10 paid for food, which there was plenty of, and sharpies. Timing we'll get to later.
Anyway, we started at one end of the park where the race director gave a short speech about Vi, to whom this race was dedicated. I don't really know too much about her and don't want to get anything wrong out of respect to the team, so that's really all I'm going to say about it. But after the dedication the group was loose and having fun. Being a trail race we were told to follow the orange markers, then the white ones. "If you're following blue, you're way off course." Naturally, I assumed I'd be off on a blue trail in no time.
The start was like the rest of the race: Keep It Simple, Stupid. As in, "Ok, we're going to go in 3, 2, 1, Go." And we went. After a very short run through the park we hit a bottleneck that led down the hillside and into the trail. At the bottleneck I caught up to Diesel and the Grey, but didn't figure on staying long with them. I know when we run together I keep up because they let me, not because I'm as fast as they are. So I figured I'd hang for a while, then do my own thing.
"For a while" was about a mile, then bu-bye guys. The problem isn't so much that they are a ton faster than me, though that is part of it. The problem is that I'm not part mountain goat yet, I don't have the experience and therefor the footwork to feel comfortable running over parts of the trail. Uphill is actually easier to run, aside from the whole running uphill thing. Downhill is easy to run, aside from the steps and rocks and roots thing. And flat is easy to run except for see downhill. What I'm trying to say here is, I did a lot of walking.
I walked uphill most of the climbs after mile two, and there was a lot of climbing. Check out the elevation profile.

I went in to this without any ego, so my slowness doesn't really bother me. Along with walking uphill, there were many parts of the trail that, to me, seemed very technical. That is to say, lots of root root rockrockrock water root rock. I am not running over that. Simpler parts I can, but complicated stuff? Not for Dirtbag. If I twist and ankle during a fun run I'll be (more) pissed (than normal) for the next four weeks. So I'm picking my way around. And again, nobody cared. I spent the whole race hearing, "On your left," which meant that someone behind me was making their move to pass and on such a narrow trail they needed to let me know so I didn't accidentally knock them into the bamboo. I followed one girl for a mile and a half or so, then I passed her, or maybe she got away, I can't remember. Then I ran near another dude for a while until we got to the top of a climb and we on our way back down. "You a good descender?" he asked me. "Uh, no, I don't think so. You go ahead." And with a, "Coolthanks," he was off.
I brought along one of my handheld water bottles with a baggie of Gummy Bears for energy and wore my Garmin, but that was all I had. There was but one aid station and it was very late in the race. Everyone came prepared with water in bottle or camelback form. I never checked my Garmin except for distance. I never looked at my speed. I didn't care and I knew it was slow.
The hardest part of the run for me was between mile three and four. Right dead in the middle. I think it might have gotten a little technical in there, plus there is a good chunk of up there, and it's the farthest part from the start or end. Mentally, that's always been a weird place for me.
Around mile six I slipped and fell on a metal bridge. There were a few of those along the trail, easing stream or gap crossings, and most of them are just wooded boards with metal grating along the top for traction, I guess. What really happens is they get mud in the grates, which makes them slick. I hopped off a rock onto the bridge and my feet went right out from under me and I went down, BAM, right onto my left hip and elbow. There was a guy right behind me who grabbed me and picked me right up and made sure I was ok, which was very cool. He even called back to me as he ran around the next bend to be sure. And I was fine, just needed to walk it off. After I got home and got a good look at the hip I saw that the soreness I'm still feeling is earned. Working on a nice bruise. And I never bruise. Elbow is sore still too.
The impact zone
Super Awesome Wife came along too, though she didn't really do the race with the rest of us. Diesel brought along his dog and let Super Awesome Wife walk her on the trail. So she set off in the opposite direction of the rest of us and when Diesel got to her she handed off the dog and started back. I caught up with her about half a mile from the end, right after she'd taken a spill of her own, and walked to the final climb with her. I ran up the hill and finished a minute or so in front of her. Have I mentioned I love finishing races with my wife? It is so cool.
Way to go, baby!
Bonked knees
 My final time was 1:51, which isn't great but like I've been saying, I don't care. I had a good time. The way the race directors recorded the finishing times without chips was very simple- they hung out in lawn chairs at the finish and the wife would call the numbers on our leg to her husband, who would type them into his iPad with the time. Simple. Diesel says they are the original Hawaii ultrarunners, the founders of HURT.
So for $10 I got a nice day out and plenty of food at the finish. Can't argue with that. I guess there is another coming up in May, and eight-miler. Might do it. Diesel says I am. Who am I to argue?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wherein I Torture a Music Analogy

Time- 1:11
distance- 7mi

Yesterday (actually, earlier this morning), I made a comment in this space about how if I wanted more readers I would focus on one topic instead of being widely self-reflective in nature. After reflection, this may sound like kind of a dickish thing to say. To someone, it might sound like I'm taking the piss on some of the more popular bloggers out there, and that couldn't be further from the case. Writers like Swim Bike Mom and The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy, to name two of many (see sidebar) normally stick to one topic and kick its ass all over the internet. Saying I'm not worried about being popular and I'm more worried about being me is kind of like an unsigned punk band claiming Green Day sucks because they signed to a major label. This is obviously not true. Green Day sucks because they write awful music. And both the unsigned punk band and I secretly wish we had half the followers Green Day does.
To stretch the music analogy further, clarify my point, and justify the title of this post, let's look deeper into my pathology, shall we? If I had to pick a band/artist who's career trajectory and choices I would like my triathlon/writing/teaching career to mirror there is only one option.
*Waits while my sister and closest friends roll their eyes and guess correctly without trying*
Mr. Henry Rollins.
Henry first rose to semi-fame as the final and arguably best front man of the California-based punk band Black Flag. A take no shit aggressive but self-reflective madman, Rollins destroyed audiences and himself across the world. During this time he also started doing spoken word shows, a different but no less intense experience. When the mighty Flag broke up Henry got back on the horse and started the Rollins Band, basically rebuilding himself and his music career. He constantly experimented and pushed himself to different places, both geographically and functionally. He's appeared in movies, cartoons, and television shows, always keeping himself busy. He only had one semi-hit, Liar off the album Weight, but he never stopped. Even after putting his music behind him Henry is on the road doing over 200 spoken word shows a year. He doesn't give a crap what anyone says, he does everything he can to stay intense and on point, and he understands self depreciation and humor help you stay within yourself. He also wrote the best fucking thing about working out I've ever read.
I want that focus, that drive, that intensity, and that will to understand myself, break it down, and build it back stronger. I want everyone to come along for the ride, but I'm gonna shout into the dark emptiness if I have to.
Still, thanks for reading. And I know it doesn't seem like it from this post, but I had a really good, pain-free run today.
Here's some Rollins for you.

Like They're Going Flat

Ride (Saturday)
distance- 53.24mi

Run (Sunday)
time- 1:11
distance- approx. 7mi

Swim (Monday)
1 x 200- warm-up
2 x 500- stroke check

Ride (Monday)
time- 1:46
distance- 29.77mi

Dirtbag fanatics, how have you been? Me? I'm pretty good. Training hard, yada yada yada. The pervious workouts were all decent to good, with the exception of Monday's swim, which was kind of lame but important. I took last week off because of some strange twinging in the right elbow and of all the disciplines, swimming is the one I can back off of without worry. So Monday was about checking my stroke for strange. Verdict? Feels good, seems to be better. I did get so involved in the self diagnostic that I got lost in the swim, so I'm pretty sure I did two 500s, but the second one might have been a 400 or 450. No biggie.
Saturday I cranked out an early but good ride with Diesel, the Grey is preparing to win his age group at the North Shore marathon so he is training differently for the next few weeks. It was the same ride as last weekend, but harder, I think. Less rest time, and I feel like we pushed more. Windier too, which is good for training but suuuuucks for climbing. Dirtbag get strong. Diesel and I spent a good 40% of the ride chatting too, which is something we rarely do because its hard on the bikes. After the ride the workout continued as I was the muscle in a friend's move. You never really know who your friends are until they get up at 6am to ride 50+ miles and then help you move.
Sunday was exciting because Super Awesome Wife completed her second half marathon, the Run Like a Diva Wahine Half. I'm so proud of her for going out and doing these events. She walks them, but who cares? She does them. Thirteen miles is a long way either way. And it was hot Sunday, with a shadeless course. She kicked ass in her Batman cape and underroos.
Pink boa, tiara, and a medal the size of a manhole cover. Women's races are awesome.
 While she was out on the course I ran around Ala Moana park. Never run down there except for the Honolulu Tri and it is nice. My plan was to run until it hurt or I was done and, to my surprise, there was very little Achilles pain during my hour ten. This is good and it might mean I can get back on the stick now.
Yesterday's ride was ok, I cooked a lot of it. I came up with the idea that I should ride like my tires are going flat. What that means is, sometimes flats happen. And sometimes when flats happen it ruins the ride and you need a pick up. So if you spend the ride pumping and you do have a catastrophic flat, you still feel like you got a workout in. It's a theory in progress.
*Note- See, if I was more interested in building a big audience I would have led with the Going Flat theory and left the post at that. It would be instructive and bite-sized and still interesting. But I need to use the blog as an attitude check for myself. Reflective training is the Big Point. I like being able to look back and see how I felt during ride x when I repeat it to see growth or issues. So I fill the posts with thoughts and feelings about the workout details. Numbers are nice, I like having the data and love my Garmin, but I also do a lot of training by feel. Which means that you, lovely and patient reader, sometimes get to slog through a paragraph about my run in the park to get to the point. Which I do appreciate.
The only other thing I want to say about the ride is that everyone should ride safe out there. I had a close, but safe, call. Not trying to worry anyone. But be safe out there, keep your head on a swivel, and remember the lights on the back of a car don't turn on when the car is turning, even though they should, and you're a vampire in their mirrors. Ride safe and keep the rubber side down.