Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Day with Barry

A few weeks ago I had to go to San Francisco for a work conference for a few days.  Normally these conferences are long days and long nights since we have to entertain our clients after being on our feet all day standing at a booth.  But I figured out a way to change up the monotony of the week and I'm glad I did.

My best friend Jodi's sister moved to San Francisco a few months ago because her husband open a Barry's Boot Camp there.  For those who don't know what Barry's Boot Camp is, it is basically a class of interval training in a group sessions.  There are a few of these types of places around the country, and I have taken a few different classes either as gifts or to see what they are about.  Typically, I don't enjoy the classes since I structure my workouts for whatever training season I'm in, but also I know how to kick my own butt, so I don't need someone pushing me.  Plus a lot of these types of boot camp classes are in some kind of indoor gym style setting that mimics what it's like on the "battle-field".  Not Barry's though.  Not at all.

The weekend before I went out to San Francisco the wife and I were in Florida for Jodi's wedding.  Knowing her family, it was great to be there and it was one of the best weddings I have ever been to.  Talking with her sister and husband I told them I would be coming out to their area in a few days and was told to check out a class at Barry's.  I was already planning on it since I wanted to support them.

So come middle of the week, I show up to my class and am kind of nervous.  You have to realize that I know the owner (who happened to be filling in to teach this class), and was partying and drinking with him a few days earlier, so I didn't want to look like I can't hang.  But I get there and say hi to Adam, the owner, and he shows me around, introduces me to his staff and tells everyone I'm a marathoner and triathlete so I should be a superstar.  When more people show up, it seems like everyone knows each other and knows what to do, yet here I am anxiously waiting for class to start.

When we finally get inside the class, there is no bootcamp style obstacles. It's pretty simple.  A row of treadmills on one side of the room and a bunch of benches, weight racks on the other.  The class is split in half so one side starts on the treadmills and the other near the benches.  What comes next is basically an hour of intense interval training that goes by in the blink of an eye.

Without giving away trade secrets, the time you are on the treadmill you are doing sprint intervals. My kind of thing since I do those anyway and the treadmill was limited at 12.5 mph so I hit the max and needed to increase the incline to increase intensity.  The time you are on the bench you are doing a bunch, and I mean A BUNCH, of different weight exercises.  The intensity is up and you are pushing your body as much as you can.  My class was Back, Chest, and Abs and felt my entire body working.  It was great.

The best part of the class was the instructor.  Again, I'm biased here because I knew him, but he is so motivating and encouraging.  It's actually a little disgusting how positive he is.  There was no shouting at people negatively to get them to do more or push harder.  He was coaching them and pushing them to push themselves but not once was there a negative word said in the class.  He was high-fiving people, giving shout-outs to everyone, and yes, including me to which he told everyone about my workouts and how we were with each other the weekend before partying.  I have never seen an instructor for any class I have ever taken been more engaged with each and every person, more positive, more encouraging, and just having fun.  It felt like I was taking a class all by myself, and I know everyone else in the class felt the same.

So at the end of the day, my body was sore.  But in such a good way that I haven't felt in months or years.  Because I started my off-season a few weeks before, I haven't really had those types of workouts in a while so to push myself differently was amazing.  I haven't felt that good in a workout in a very long time.

If you are in San Francisco any time soon and want to get a great workout in, check out Barry's Boot Camp.  I guarantee you will have not only a great workout, but at great time.

Barry's Boot Camp
236 King St, San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 546-3996

Me with Adam, the owner after he beat me up 

Friday, November 28, 2014

What I'm thankful for in 2014 Sports Related in 2014

To celebrate Thanksgiving, last year I published what I'm thankful for relating to sports and training.  So I decided to do that again this year because there are things that have changed within the past year.  So to take out the obvious, I'm thankful for family, friends, Riley, Thunder, good health, etc., this is strictly a sports related what I'm thankful for.  So don't get your panties all in a bunch when I don't mention what's going on in the real world.

Things I'm thankful for Product related:

- My Wahoo Kickr paired with TrainerRoad.  I got this last year as a Black Friday deal and my cycling has dramatically improved as a result. I am consistently training with power and trying to get stronger every time I jump on the bike.  Previously, I would just either ride my bike or spin bike and create a workout during the ride.  I can feel how much stronger I am getting and love those indoor rides.

- My Skora Fits. Yes, full disclosure, I am a Skora Ambassador, but the Fits were released this year and they are the most comfortable shoe I have ever run in.  They have made training runs so seamless and comfortable.

-Cherry Cola Energy Chews- If you haven't already tried these, Honey Stinger makes a great product.  I'm not a fan of any other chews, sportbeans, or anything I have to chew during a training ride/run, but these are great.  The taste and consistency make them a nice change of pace.  Plus the caffeine in them gives me a nice boost.  I typically use them during all my Tri's, and I had them this year for the marathon.

-Tight spandex shorts.  Yes, I love the spandex!  Who doesn't.  And anyone who says they don't is not a real runner or real triathlete.  We run and compete in spandex all season so it's better to embrace the stretchy than to fight it.  Don't put shorts over your tights.  Show off your goods, you earned them.

-Sunglasses. Like all types of sunglasses.  That's my crack.  I have over 6 pairs that I train in and with new Black Friday deals, I'm sure there will another addition to that group.  I may look like the Terminator when I wear them, but I need them on

-Waterproof MP3 player.  I hate the pool.  There is nothing I like about getting in the water and doing laps, so at least I have some type of distraction while I'm cranking out swim laps.

What I'm Thankful for non product related training issues:

-The nod you give/get from another runner going in the opposite direction.  This is just some validation that you're out there doing the right thing and you recognize a common brother out there on the roads.

-Summer training bras on female runners.  Yes, sexist, but there is nothing sexier than running past a girl who is running and she has rock hard abs that pop while she is on the road

-Public restrooms where you didn't know they existed.  Sometimes nature calls and you have no idea how you're going to make it home.  Finding a restroom is one of the ultimate treasures of running.

-Passing someone on a hill (even some bikers) and then hearing them say something about you.  I love hills and I push myself up them so the ultimate satisfaction is when I blow past someone riding up a hill and they look at me like I'm crazy.  It means I'm doing something right.

- The feeling after a long workout/run where you reward yourself with whatever food you want.  The reason they call it a reward is because you earned it.  Now enjoy it.

-Finally, the off-season.  Mine just started and I'm probably enjoying it a little too much, but it's only a short amount of time, so for this small time, I'm going to make the most of the rest, recovery, and weight gain

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 NYC Marathon Race Recap- Part 2- The Race

Now that I’ve gone over the pre-race festivities, the question is “How did the race actually go?”

My main goal for the race coming into the week was 2 fold.  First, I wanted to GoPro the entire race and get footage to show what it’s like to run the NYC Marathon from an actual runner’s point of view.  I had a GoPro attached to a chest harness and ran the entire race taking a time lapse video.  I’m still in the process of editing the footage, so that should be up in a bit.  The second goal was to enjoy the race and run it for fun, yet still go under 3:10.  Why 3:10?  That’s my Boston Marathon qualification time.  I know I am not going to run Boston again for some time, but it’s still nice to say I BQ’d.  Easy enough since I have been running all my runs significantly faster and running a 7:14 minute pace was something I knew I could achieve.

So once they loaded us in the starting area, I started talking to some folks and met someone who wanted to do the exact same time as me, and since he ran 3:12 last year, we decided to run together for a while.  Right there was both a good move and bad move by me.  I loved the idea of running with someone since it would keep me in check since I’m notorious for going out too fast, but I never run with anyone else so I knew this might backfire.  However, once we got on the bridge, things seemed to work out.  The fact that there were 40 mph winds pushing us from one side of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge wasn’t helping, but only made me feel like I was going to get pushed over into the water.  They say the first mile on the NYC Marathon is the hardest since it’s all uphill.  I’d agree and the winds added to it.  Once we got on the descent and started getting into Brooklyn, we started getting into our rythmn.  By the looks of our first few miles, we were right on pace.  About 10 seconds too slow after mile 4, so I was so happy.  I wanted to stay loose and not tax my legs so I had enough in the tank at the end. 

One thing I noticed during the entire race was just how quiet the spectators were.  You always hear how great and loud NYC is and everyone says Brooklyn is an 8 mile long party.  I can say, this didn’t happen today.  I know it was windy and cold, but that usually doesn’t stop the masses from coming out and cheering.  There was definitely a disappointment with the crowd.

As the miles ticked by, I started to realize that my strategy of running with someone was not a good one.  The guy I was with seemed a little slower than me, and during every water stop, he physically stopped to get water then sped up.  I know how to grab a cup and drink on the go so it was a fluid motion for me.  But I saw myself waiting for him after every water stop.  Not a good idea.  Also, hills don’t bother me so going up them I stay the course and cruise down the hills.  He decided to significantly slow down up the hills, but then fly down them.  I didn’t like his move but we were on pace for most of the race so it wasn’t so bad.

At around mile 10-11, I noticed he just wasn’t staying with me as much and stupid me slowed down to stay with him.  I felt great and thought it was just some small rolling hills that got him.  At mile 12.5, I couldn’t take it anymore, we were just at the halfway mark and he dropped back.  I felt great, went up the Pulaski Bridge to the Half mark and never saw him again.  Now it was my race.  I knew how to control it.  I looked at my half split and I was 1:36.  One minute slower than goal pace but I was fine with it since that’s about where I wanted to be.  No worries.  Half the race to make up that minute.

As I took the turn up to the Queensborough Bridge I enjoyed the silenced of no spectators knowing 1st Ave in NYC was going to be the explosion I wanted and needed.  I kept passing people and killed the bridge while telling myself to be prepared and hold back on 1st and not to get carried away from the downhill and the fans.  Once that turn was made, 1st Ave came and went and the most disappointed I felt of the day was here.  In my opinion it was dead. Runners were only on the left side of the road and there were no spectators on the right.  So weird.  I knew I was going to see Leo at mile 17, so I went to the side where he was and saw his BIG, and I mean BIG sign.  I saw him 4 blocks before he saw me.  Look here at his sign
No way to miss Leo like this

Riley bracing the cold to come watch me
My family is on the right, though hard to see
Once I passed Leo, I crossed over to the right side of the road where my family would be and had the ENTIRE lane to myself.  I guess the wind kept everyone together but I went to say hi to my family.  I gave my wife a water bottle to give me with a new piece of gum attached so I was looking forward to this.  When I came up to my family I saw them all and saw how miserable Riley looked.  Aww, how I felt bad.

A pic of me from where I met my family

After this, it was only 8 miles to go and I felt great.  I knew I had about 2 more miles of headwind and then the wind would be helping for the final 5 miles.  I still felt good and knew I had the race in the bag.  At about mile 20, I looked at my watch and thought I was going too slow. The wind didn’t bother me the entire race (that I noticed at all), but I saw my mile times slipping but not because I felt bad, just the wind. I tried to pick it up but it was too heavy.  So when the wind didn’t stop at mile 22 I knew I really didn’t have a shot at my 3:10 goal since I didn’t think I could knock off that much time in only a few miles.

So 5th Ave came and I conquered it and now it was time to entire Central Park.  Home turf.  It’s weird.  I kept going past people. I didn’t think there were that many in front of me, but I felt strong and kept going.  Once in the Park it was just going for 2 miles and then a quick exit out of the park and right back in.  Coming back into Central Park was great, but as I was running I had this big pit of disappointment.  Not because I knew I was going to fall short of my goal, but this race just didn’t have the excitement I thought it would.

Crossing the finish line was a bit anti-climatic.  But a finish time of 3:15:40.  With 40 mph winds, it was actually a good race.  I later spoke with a bunch of different runners and they all said the same thing.  Their times were somewhere between 5-8 minutes lower than normal because of the wind.  So can’t really complain about that.

Looking back, the wind was not the issue.  I didn’t run a smart race for myself and strategically limited myself by running with someone else that I didn’t know, and also not taking advantage of the 1st Ave downhill and crowds.  But, the race is in the books and I’m happy with how everything went down.  I’m glad I raced NYC one more time, but will probably not be doing it again for a while. 

Well, race season is over and now it’s time to enjoy cupcake season.

I ran with this guy a lot during the race.  Sometimes I got "too much of a view"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 NYC Marathon recap- Part 1-leading up to the race.

This past weekend I ran the NYC Marathon for the second time in my life.  The first year I ran it was in 2006 and I knew absolutely nothing about anything.  I was so naive that I thought it was "weak" to drink at water stops and I had 1 gel the entire race.  Since then, I have clearly learned a lot and have raced plenty.

So how'd my race go?  Well, sort of good, sort of bad, mostly neutral.  I'll talk about the week leading up to the race here and my next post will be about the actual race itself.

The weeks leading up to the race I was ready. My training was good, I felt good, and knew this was going to be a good race for me.  But during my taper weeks something happened.  The dreaded IT Band started to flare up ONE WEEK before the race during an easy final run.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  On an easy light run, it started?  During my taper, it started.  That's crap.  If anything, it should have acted up weeks/months ago.  But it waited until the week before to start? Come on.

So the week leading up the race was mostly spent recovering, spinning, and just as much therapy as I could give it.  For the most part it worked and my legs felt fresh.  I went to the Expo and spent as little time there as possible since there really wasn't anything great that I saw and nothing I really needed.

I went on 1 run on the Thursday before the race as part of the Timex One Relay, which was amazing since I got to test out their new GPS One watch and they donated $600 to the charity of my choice.  My legs felt good.  The IT Band hurt a little but nothing huge.

So Race morning arrived, and since I raised money for the Achilles International Foundation, I was able to take their private bus to the start.  I could have taken the water ferry to the start but I chose the bus because I wanted to meet some of the amazing Achilles athletes and I thought the bus would be a better/faster route.  So I woke up at 4 am to eat, got ready and got to the bus at 5:15 AM. This is where everything started to get weird.  We were told to get to the buses early and once the were filled they would depart.  What was omitted was that ALL the buses had to be filled in order to get our police escort to the start.  Well, we were on our bus at 5:30 and we didnt start to move until 6:50AM.  That's a long time to stay on a bus.  On a bus with NO bathrooms.  I'm sure you can see where this is going.  All of these marathoners eating and drinking to stay hydrated and we had no place to go.

So let's just say there were a few people who got creative, some more than others.  Some had no shame or remorse and some just didn't care.  There were plenty of empty water bottles that were suddenly filled, and some other items that were filled.  All I can say is that I sunk to a new low and can only thank a fellow passenger on that bus for helping me out.  For the sake of just being plain ol' nasty, I won't go into details, but my friends and family heard one funny story Sunday night.  I guess I didn't pack everything that I needed for my race.

So after the bus finally got to Staten Island for the start, I had to make my way across the field where I was dropped off to my corral and start area.  Since there are 3 start areas, of course mine would be at least a 15-20 minute walk away.  And it was coooold.  Like 36 degree cold with winds of 40 mph. We'll get into that in bit, but those winds didnt help the day.

But I finally made it to my start village, sat down, ate my PBJ sandwich and made some race day friends.  At about 9:30, they loaded us into the starting shoot and we were ready to go.  I would have liked a smoother race morning, but all being said, it wasn't too bad.  I just needed to wait for the start cannon to go off.

To find out about how my race went, my post will be up in a few days.

Just loading all of us in the corral

Trying to find a spot to sit against a fence

Everyone just trying to stay warm
All of us huddled waiting to start.
(The guy in the middle will play an important part of my race)

An Ominous Sky, but we're soon to be off

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NYC Marathon Playlist

One of my largest viewed posts from last year was my playlist for the Boston Marathon.  One of the things I love doing for all my races is to make a specialized playlist that flows with the specific course that I'm about to run.  I get completely into the playlist and know where I should be down to the minute.  I add up the time of the song and my pace and make the playlist for what is needed for the course.  For example, if on mile 15 there is a big hill coming up, I want a fast paced song to help get me up the hill.  Or if there is a downhill section where I want to control myself and not go too fast, I'll put a slower song to help reel me back in.  And of course, no playlist is complete without the standard Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift pick me up and smile song at just the right time.

So without further ado, below is my NYC Marathon Playlist and the course map so you can see where I'll be at an exact time a certain song comes on.

NYC Marathon Elevation

Dont Wake Me Up- Chris Brown
Where Them Girls At- David Guetta
Al About That Bass- Meghan Trainor
Domino-Jesse J
Turn Me On- David Guetta
Fancy- Iggy Azalea
Dont Tell Em- Jeremih
Brokenhearted- Karmin
Wild Wild Love- Pitbull
Sick of Being Lonely- FieldMob
Dark Horse- Katy Perry
Up in Da Club- 50 Cent
Break Your Heart- Taio Cruz
Fancy Footwork-Chromeo
Airplanes- BoB
Wild Ones- Flo Rida
Without You- David Guetta
Right Now- Rihanna
Rather Be- Clean Bandit
Timber- Kesha
Bailando- Enrique Iglesius
Break Free- Ariana Grande
Hate it or Love it- 50 Cent
Lose Yourself- Eminem
Raise Your Glass- Pink
Price Tag- Jesse J
Whistle- Flo Rida
The Anthem - Good Charlotte
Beggin- Madcom
Pump It Up- Joe Budden
Play Hard- David Guetta
Bardon Bellas from Pitch Perfect
This is How We Do- Katy Perry
The Resolution- Jack's Mannequin
Magic- BoB
Dont Stop Believing- Journey
Good Feeling- Flo Rida
Keep on Keeping On- Travie McCoy
Black Widow- Iggy Azalea
Titanium- David Guetta
Shake it Off- Taylor Swift
The Man- Aloe Blacc
Let it Roll- Flo Rida
My Time- Fabolous
Rest of My Life- Ludacris
Empire State of Mind- Jay-z
Dynamite- Taio Cruz
Cant Hold Us- Macklemore
Talk Dirty- Jason Derulo
Payphone- Maroon 5
Give Me Everything- Pit Bull
Club Can't Handle Me- Flo Rida--- This is the song I should cross the finish line to if I'm on pace
Call Me Maybe- Miley Cyrus 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I was recently informed of something cool that I am going to take part in and am very excited.  

I log my road miles using CharityMiles. If you haven't heard of CharityMiles, it's a great app that allows you to log miles and in doing so, any given brand, company, or corporation will donate money for the miles you logged. For every mile I run, 25¢ is donated to whichever charity I choose for that run. It doesn't seem like a lot of money, but it's pretty cool if you think about it. The more you use the app, the more miles you log, the more money goes to the charity you specify.

About a month ago I received an email about this exciting opportunity to run for the Timex ONE Relay. What is the Timex ONE Relay? It's a month long relay. The miles run move from city to city, starting in Chicago and ending in NYC. It's an 800-mile relay!  Timex Sports is working with CharityMiles to do even more. They are organizing and sponsoring the Timex One Relay, an unprecedented 800 mile, 22-day journey featuring more than 100 runners and spanning the Chicago and NYC Marathons to help raise funds for deserving charities. The relay kicks-off on October 9th. For every mile traveled between Chicago and New York, Timex will donate $100 to one of those designated charities.  I'll be raising money for the Achilles International Foundation. 

What they are also doing is launching the Timex One GPS+ watch which is a new GPS watch that is pretty cool.  Something cool about the watch is you can send messages to the watch.  As a result, you can follow the progress of the Timex One Relay on FacebookTwitter and at Runners will be wearing the new Timex IronMan One GPS+ watch. So, you can track the relay progress in real-time and to send messages of encouragement directly to the runners, who will receive them on their watch along the route.

I will be running the NYC leg of the relay on October 30th when the relay finishes up in NYC right before I run the NYC Marathon.  Check out this great relay every day and track it's progress.  I'm excited to be part of it

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Family Traditions

The family pickers
One of the things that I have started to really enjoy is to continue on family traditions.  Every one who knows me knows that I am not a sentimental person, I am not someone who gets emotional, gooey or anything like that.  But thinking about my childhood, there were things that I grew up doing that I now want to pass on with my family and having Riley do them.

One of those things is Apple Picking in the Fall.  When I was younger, my family would go to this one Apple Orchard every year and pick apples.  We would spend an entire day there, packing a lunch, having a picnic, picking apples, sometimes thrown a ball around.  Those days were just awesome.  I remember them so well.  A few years ago, the wife and I started apple picking again.  While it was fun, there was something missing about it.

A few weeks ago, we took Riley apple picking.  Not just the wife and I, but the whole family.  grandma, Grandpa, and Auntie.  The best part is it is the same orchard that I went to as a child. So not only did we continue with the tradition, but we continued it at the same place.  This orchard allows you to climb trees, eat as many apples as you want in the orchard and then you just pay for what you take out.  We went last year, but Riley was way too young to enjoy it.   Not this year.  This year he was running around the trees, picking apples from trees, helping Grandpa fill his bag.

Sometimes its the little things that I enjoy, and this was definitely one of those.  Yes, apple picking is fun, but knowing that my son is doing the same thing I did 30 plus years ago makes it all that much more special.  I can't wait to continue to do other traditions with Riley and the family.

How many apples can I fit into my mouth

Grandpa I got one!

Dad, can we get this pumpkin please?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Raising a child

When I started this blog it was because I wanted to document what it's like to raise a baby and continue to train as much as I do and how I manage the 2.  Over the course of almost 2 years, I think I have possibly forgotten a lot of writing about the raising a child part.  It's so easy to write about training and what I'm trying to accomplish and how I've either been successful or not.  Those are documented things.  However, I haven't been writing that much about Riley and how he has influenced my life.

Outside of the obvious, he's changed my life for the better, he's the most important thing in my life, and everything a parent should say, etc.  Riley has also taught me a lot over the past 21 months.

-He has taught me that it's so easy to laugh at almost anything.  The wife and I are really lucky. Riley is such an easy baby.  Very rarely do we experience the typical terror baby (which is also why we don't want to mess it up and try for a second soon).  So it is very easy to look at Riley and laugh at almost everything he does.  He is so good and playful that even if he does something bad, he gives this face and you just have to laugh at him.  Even in his devilish ways, laughing at him is so easy.

-Schedules are good.  Yes, we all know schedules are supposed to be followed, but how many of us actually do this?  Since about 3 months, Riley has been on a schedule for most things. Naps, food, playtime, bedtime, etc. What we find is that the more he follows this schedule, the better acclimated he is at everything else.  What this also does is allow the wife and I to be on a regular schedules ourselves.  We know how we can build our days, workouts, plans, and everything else around his schedule.  This makes our lives so much easier.  Yes, we get the comments of how "structured" we are, but we also get the comments on how good Riley is, so I'll take the structured comments with how great of a baby he is.  I'll also take knowing when I can go for a long run vs. short intense run because of timing issues.  This helps me plan my training tremendously.

-Grandparents mean well, but.....I'll just leave it at that.  Riley has 2 sets of wonderful grandparents.  They both love him and make our lives easy....most of the time.  Some of the challenge with having grandparents is that since they raised you, they think they know everything and always use the line "well, I raised you and your sister (or brother or X amount of kids).  This is very true, but it is the wife's and mine choices that are going to have the most impact of Riley's development.  We like to think we know what's best for him since we see him every day.  So when we know he has to be fed by a certain time or he'll turn into Audrey 2 from the Little Shop of Horrors, we know what we're talking about and that he should probably eat.  While we can stretch out the times we eat, he can't.  Or when we only allow him to watch TV before naps and bed, that means it should not be on all day.  The wife and I can't complain about Riley's grandparents too much since we'll take them over most, and definitely not having, but we wish they would listen to us a little more.

- A way to make Thunder like you is through his stomach.  At first, Thunder wasn't too fond of Riley.  He didn't like the attention he was getting and wanted me all to himself.  This all changed when Riley started eating real food.  Since Thunder was always Riley's best friend, but Riley wasn't always Thunder's, this had to change.  Riley always wanted to play with Thunder.  So when Riley started giving his Cheerios to his sidekick, Thunder started getting a little more interest in Riley.  Now Thunder follows Riley around since there is a chance he might get a snack.  To watch a boy and his dog play is one of the true treasures in life.

There are tons of things I have learned and experienced over the months since Riley has been born that I can't write enough.  But since I realized that I have gone away from a lot of the reasons I created this blog, I wanted at least get some of them out there.  Having Riley in our lives has been a blessing and one that we wont trade in.

A Boy and his Dog

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Favorite workouts

Now that Tri season is officially over for the year, it's time to focus on marathon season.  I'm actually really excited about this.  Having a disappointing Tri season is something that I wasn't expecting, but I'm happy to put it in my rear-view mirror.  This way, I can focus on only one discipline, which also happens to be my favorite of the 3 disciplines and one that I am most comfortable in.

Over the past few years, I've developed or stolen some workouts that have been staples in my running training programs.  They are just my go to workouts that I know will kick my butt, but also give me a good idea of where I am in my training.  I would say that 95% of my workouts are hard.  I very rarely do "easy" days.  I know this isn't good and that easy run days are needed, but it's not something I can do easily.  Even during my easy days, I find myself pushing myself during parts of the run.

I've also had the experience to bring on a few fellow runners and introduce them to a few of my workouts.  Some like them, most don't.  But when we all get through the workouts, everyone does thank me for introducing them to the pain. So here goes.  Feel free to take them, tweak them, make them yours.  Just pass them on and push yourself during each workout

Treadmill Speed workout:
Warm up with a 1/2 mile-1 mile at half marathon pace
Interval runs 2 minutes on, 1 minute rest
Here's the kicker- make the intervals FAST.
For example, my treadmill run pace for a normal run is 10.2 mph. For this workout, my run interval speed is 11.8 mph for the first minute, then 11.9 the 2nd.  After 2 minutes, either rest with a slow/comfortable jog or hop off and stand on the rails

Do this for at least 5 miles on the treadmill.  For me, that breaks down to about 25 minutes. If you can do longer, then do it.  I know I'm exhausted and fighting at the end of it, so do it until you can't sustain the entire 2 minutes.
To make it harder, increase the incline on the treadmill.  I start mine at a level of 1.0

Hill Workouts:
Warm up with a jog to your desired hill.
Find a hill that is about 1/3-1/2 a mile long.  The speed for this workout should be faster than 5k pace.  I know a lot of people don't recommend this, but I find that essentially sprinting up a high grade hill at this speed gets me more ready for long runs than doing a hill at an easier pace.
Jog back down to the bottom of the hill and start again.

Build up hill reps.  When I start these each season, I struggle to finish 5.  By the end of the season, I'm up to 10 hill repeats.  The goal during the actual run part is to really fight the pain and mental pain during the last 30 seconds of the hill.  That's how fast you want to go.  If you can do the hill and it feels easy or slightly difficult, you're not pushing yourself hard enough.  At the top of the hill, you should have your hands on your knees gasping for air and then recover on the way down.  This makes racing up hills a lot easier and you get to find that edge where you blow past people on the hills during a race and really get a lift.

note- this is the hardest workout I do.  At first, it was just me.  Then I had Leo join me, and have since had others join.  Each have said how much they hated it the first time doing it.  I think one person even threw up.  But I can tell you that every single person has asked me when is the next time we are doing this workout.

Pole Workout:
No, I'm not becoming a stripper.
I stole this workout, so this is one I can't take credit for.  Since Central Park is my home turf, I use Light posts as my markers, but you can use whatever street marker you want.

Run at 5k pace for 3 lamp posts, then jog for 3 lamp posts. Then run 4 lamp posts, jog for 4 lamp posts.  Go to 5 lamp posts, then start again at 3.

Why this is good is that you can't pick a course that is easy.  If you happen to start an interval on an uphill and have to do 4 lamp posts, then that's what you have to do.  You can't cheat the system.  It all depends on the street, the course, what marker you are using, where your intervals start and stop, etc.

Those are my 3 favorite workouts.  The first 2, I typically use every week.  The last one, I tend to use in the beginning of the season for some reason and then forget about. Every single one of these workouts make my long runs easier because it works on specific parts of each run.  Knowing that I can bust it up a hill at a pace faster than 5k speed helps me get through the pain I'm in when I'm doing that same hill at marathon pace.

Tempo runs, long runs, Canova workouts and a bunch of others are all incorporated into my running, but as much as I hate the 3 above, I love them just as much, if not more.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I'm just so grumpy all the time

So I don't know what it is recently, but I've been in this weird grumpfest for the past few weeks.  Yes, that is a word.  It's just been all the time I've been in the worst possible mood for days on end.  I honestly can't remember the last time I was truly happy and had a good day.  That's so weird.  I'm not like depressed or angry or anything to be worried about, but I'm literally on edge every second that I am awake, and that includes nights where I've woken up in the middle of the night and have been up for hours.

It seems like everything Riley does just agitates me and I can't even enjoy him playing without getting angry that he is having fun.  That's weird, right?  Shouldn't I love hearing him laugh and giggle?  Right now, it's just noise that is irritating.  He's the easiest baby in the world, and taking care of him is a joy.  Just not recently.  He's done nothing wrong except be a baby which isn't even wrong.  Same goes for the wife's voice.  Yes, I'm getting going to get in trouble for saying that, but the sound of her voice just frustrates me.

I honestly don't know what's going on.  Could it have stemmed from pulling out of Nationals and not having that to look forward to?  Even my long runs are dreaded because I know it's just me and the road and all I have with me is music and my thoughts.  My birthday was last week and even during that day, there was still something going on in my mind.  I was thinking back to last year and how I was racing that weekend and then I ran through the finish line with Riley and it was great.  That put me in a weird mood since I missed it and couldn't enjoy my birthday.

I know I'm thinking a lot about work and I'm stressed with that, but that can't be the only reason.  Maybe it's that time of the month for me.  Boys go through cycles don't we?

The one thing that it isn't affecting is my workouts.  Those have gone pretty well.  Considering Tri season just finished this past weekend and I am going to start Marathon season tomorrow, things will get a little more clearer with that.  but my bike rides have gone great and every run except for my long runs have gone great.

I don't know what it is but I need to get out of this funk and soon.  It's not good for anyone. There have been some good things the past few weeks to be happy about.  The wife had her first race, my birthday, some good things for work, and just normal every day things.  But I just can't get behind them and enjoy.

It's time to break out and get things moving in the right direction.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

USAT Nationals and I'm missing out

It's going to be a tough weekend for me.  This weekend is the USAT Nationals in Milwaukee, and I was supposed to be competing in both the Olympic and Sprint races.  I actually qualified in October of last year and registered soon thereafter.  My main goal all offseason and this coming season was to compete in Nationals and earn a coveted spot on Team USA.  I just missed out 2 years ago on a spot, but that was when I didn't know any better.  For those who don't know about how that works, essentially the top 25 athletes in each Age Group earn a sport on Team USA and get to compete in the World Championships, this year being held in Chicago.  Last year, World's were in London..  Pretty cool right?

So I thought all season that I was going to be gunning for one of those spots.  However, life takes over and things get in the way.  I learned a lot this year so far about training and what I need to do to be successful, but that came at a cost.  The cost being not performing at my best at any race this season.  I learned my lesson about training for hills at the Rev3 Nationals, I learned my lesson about training and being able to push the pace during TriRock Philly, and I learned what I need to do to be successful in future races.  The problem with all of this is that I learned it too late.  For me to go out and compete in Nationals, I felt I needed to be competitive and be able to hold my own.  And truth be told, I haven't been all year.  This has been a very wasted year for me and one that I look forward to putting behind me.  Knowing that I wasn't going to be as competitive as I needed to be to get a spot on Team USA, I pulled out of Nationals.  For me to spend over $1000 for flights, hotels, bike travel, etc, it wasn't worth me getting my butt handed to me by the best in the country.  I had a chance to make the team in the Sprint division but I made the fiscal decision to not chance it.

When last season finished, I knew this was what my goal was.  I even thought about printing out a picture of the Team USA logo and putting it on my bike so every workout I had I knew I had to push myself.  I wanted every workout structure to get me better, stronger, and faster.  But I fell into a bad rut this year and didn't do that.

My decision was the right decision, but that still doesn't mean it makes it any less painful.  When I see friends of mine traveling to Milwaukee this weekend to race, I am definitely jealous and wish I could be there. I wish I would be in better shape to compete with the best in the country.  But right now, I am not.  That will change next year, as I vow to get back to Nationals and vow to make the team and represent USA the following year.

This is my fault and my fault alone.  I was the one who didn't put the work in, who didn't push themselves harder, who didn't work on my swim to get better.  I am the only one who I can blame.  But I know that since I did this, I can learn from it and that is exactly what I intend to do.

For everyone who is competing this weekend, good luck.  It will be a very hard weekend for me knowing that you are out there with the best of the best.  But be afraid, be very afraid, I'll be there next year with you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Skora's Huge Sale

I just wanted to pass along that Skora is having a HUGE sale over the next few days.  As you all know from reading here, my impression of Skora's are amazing.  I don't think I have put another brand of shoes on my feet in close to 2 years.  I love all of their styles

Now is your chance to get a pair for a huge discount so you can try them out

I just wanted to pass along such a great deal to everyone

Thursday, July 17, 2014

One Proud Moment- Riley's first race

A few weeks ago, I raced the TriRock Series Sprint and Olympic Double and it was a good weekend of racing.  Not my best performances, but there was another event that weekend that I will remember forever: Riley's first race ever.

Saturday afternoon after the Sprint race, TriRock held a children's "Fun Run".  There were different race lengths for different ages, but all I was concerned with was entering Riley into this race.

Once the wife and I decided that this weekend would be race weekend for me, we found the kids race and decide to make a full weekend out of it.  While Leo and I went up Friday afternoon to be there for our race Saturday, the wife, my parents, Riley and my sister all heading to Philly Saturday morning to meet us around 11 am.  Once we met up, we picked up Riley's race bib, t-shirt, and swag bag.  yes, even an 18 month old gets a swag bag.

Cheerios are the perfect pre-race snack
While we waited for Riley's race to start, we decided to "carb him up" with cheerios so he would definitely have some energy.  After eating his fill of cheerios and getting hydrated, they announce the 1-3 year old race was about to start.  With his race outfit on, which was definitely designed by me and matched my race outfit and bike, we headed to the starting line.

Guiding Riley to the finish
Yes Riley, you are winning

Knowing how races get, I decided to hold Riley from the crowd and let him start in the back.  (pacing is key in a 50 yard dash).  This way, all the kids would run to the finish and be done with their race in like 10 seconds, and Riley would be the only one on the red carpet finish shute getting all the attention.

Plus it was a good way to get clear pictures of him.

Even though Riley didnt let go of me until the very end of the race, it was the highlight of the weekend for me.  Not only was it Riley's first official race, but I got to escort him in it and we finished together.  I do think he won his Age group though :)

As you can see, he is definitely proud of himself and such a ham when it comes to getting attention.  I wonder where he gets it from.

Let it be known that Riley has now raced in more races in his lifetime than the wife. That will change in a few weeks.
Notice he is the ONLY baby in the finish line area

I will remember that race forever, and can't wait until the day we can run a real race together.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TriRock Philly Sprint/Olympic Race Review

This past weekend I did something for the first time: I raced back to back days.  I decided a while back to race the TriRock Philly double Sprint/Olympic combo and thought it would be a good idea.  I have to say, it was.  The races might not have been the best for me, but racing back to back days was definitely something I'm glad I did.

So Leo and I drove down to Philly Friday afternoon to race on Saturday morning, and the family would meet us the next day since it would be a really long weekend if everyone was there from Friday night through Sunday.

Sprint race recap:

I think I was more excited going into the Sprint than the Olympic.  I really wanted to test my speed and figured I would be less tired since this race was first.  Looking at the times over the past few years, I thought I had a good shot at some type of podium finish.  So pushing the pace was definitely in the agenda.

For the sake of length, I'll combine all disciplines into a single recap.  So starting off with the swim, I felt good.  I knew I wasn't going to be the fastest, but I figured I could do well enough to keep me in position to make up ground on the bike and definitely the run.  My swim actually felt like I was doing well for me. With the mishaps of Knoxville, I wanted to see how fast I could push without burning out. The swim had a tiny bit of current, but the problem with the swim was they did a time trial start with rolling waves based on Age Groups.  So while I was pushing myself, I kept catching and having to pass the waves before me weaving in and out of poor swimmers.  This definitely took time off.

When I finally hit my bike, within the first 2 miles, I knew it was not going to be my day.  I couldn't get any speed going and the course was flat.  My legs were just dead for some reason.  All week, I felt like this, but I figured I would be able to push through.  The course was 2 loops around Fairmount Park in Philadelphia which wasn't flat, but wasn't too hilly.  I expected a little bit more flat roads, but was prepared.  My problem was I just didn't have it in my legs.  I thought I would try and conserve energy for Sunday's race, but mentally I can't do that.  I pushed as much as I can.  The same problem that occurred on the swim happened on the bike.  All of the faster bikers kept having to pass the slower cyclists on the 2nd loop of the same course.  I wouldn't say faster, but maybe younger?  The waves started with the higher ages so when it was my age group and even younger, we were sharing the roads with a lot more people and having to weave in and out.  Not ideal at all.  I felt like I was screaming "on your left" all day.  And yet, no one would move over to help us out.

Finally racking my bike, I grabbed my Skora's and headed out for the run.  Being only a 5k, I really wanted to kill it.  But my legs, and at that point, my mind, wasn't into it.  I kept just wanting the race to be over.  The run course was flat and fast and even so I managed a 19 minute 5k, which I guess I expected.  I would have liked faster, but knew I had to save something for the next day.

I wanted a better result in this race, but sometimes knowing your body is more important.  I didn't want to ruin 2 races so taking my foot off the gas, even a little during this race, definitely help me for the next day.

Overall time 1:18 for a .5 mile swim, 15.8 mile bike, 5k run.  Top 3% of entire participants
The somewhat bright spot was I was pretty close to Ironman World champion Chris McCormack in my race.  He raced the sprint race and had a bunch of issues during his race, but still I wasn't too far behind him.

After the race, it was time to wait for Leo, meet the family who came for the end of the race, Riley's first race, and to see Philadelphia.

The family after my race, and right before Riley's first race
Grandpa, Daddy, and Riley walking back from dinner

Olympic Race Recap:

After getting somewhat of a decent night's sleep, it was time to strap on the boots again and go racing.

I was more excited for the Olympic race for some reason after not doing well in the Sprint.  I felt I had a better shot at having a good race and that my speed would be able to keep me in the mix more.

The Olympic race was also a race for the Pro's, so some big names like Andy Potts, Cameron Dye, Matty Reed and others were there.  When they got out of their swim, the announcers said they finished in like 15 minutes so the current was giving us about a 4 minute advantage.  Being an average swimmer, I was excited. Anything that helps my swim, I'll take.

Once my swim started, I was cruising.  The only problem was that I think I forgot to start my watch.  I have a timer on my watch to go off every 3 minutes during my swim.  It helps me know where my pacing is.  So when I got to the 100 meter buoy, there was no vibration, then the 200 meter one had nothing.  I knew the current was fast, but I didn't think it was this fast.  It was around the 300 meter mark that I just accepted I didn't start the watch.  I was bummed, because I thought I was making good time.  Ultimately I was, but my watch wasn't letting me know.

The swim was finally over and I grabbed my bike, started my watch, scrolled through my settings and went to town.  The first 4 miles or so was a breeze. I was averaging about 22 mph, and I thought it was going to be a good day.  But then some technical turns occurred, hills happened and I lost my bike mojo.  The course was essentially the opposite of the day before, but with added mileage. I knew the course and took advantage where I could, but for some reason, my speed wasn't there.  I just don't get it.  How could I have such great training sessions, and when race day comes, I can't push it and drop the hammer when I need to?  After finishing the 25 mile bike, I didn't know where I was in placing.  I figured I was either near the top, or towards the bottom since I only passed about 3 people in my Age on the bike, but only got passed by 2 people.  The run was where I needed to do my damage.

Coming through the finish to end my weekend
And that's exactly what I did.  My run was great.  Like, really good.  I racked my bike, and went to town.  The 2 people who passed me on the bike were caught within the first .5 mile of the run.  After a brief chat with one of them, we joked and I was off. I then put my sights on every runner ahead of me.  Other than the dead leg feel for the first mile, my time was great.  My first 2 miles were an average of 6:12.  I felt great.  I continued to pass at least 7 people in my age group, all of who were very dejected when I went by.  The course was measured a little long (or I started my watch early from transition), so I ended up with a run of 6.4 miles instead of 6.2.  My Garmin said I averaged 6.23 for my run, but running long took some time away so officially I ran a 6:40 mile pace.
I crossed the finish line and at that point my weekend was done.  it was time to stop being an athlete, and start being a daddy again.  I cooled off and took Riley away from the wife and took care of him.  We walked around, waiting for Leo, cheered him on, got some snacks, and then hung out.

Olympic Time: 2:22 for .9 mile swim, 24.8 bike, 6.2 mile run.

Overall, I am not happy with my placing for the race, but I realized that I can't control who enters the race.  I can only control my race.  If I place 1st, 400th, or anywhere in between, it's out of my control.  Whoever enters the race is not something I can worry about.  If I'm only going to race where I might win, then I will never hit my full potential.  So I have to look at other things that are in my control.  The Olympic race is the first race where I am happy with all 3 disciplines at the same time within a single race.  My times might not reflect it, but I executed my game plan the way I wanted so I can be happy about that.  
2 races down and wiped out.  

I wanted to quickly thank both SunRype and HoneyMaxx for my race kits.  It was the first time I was able to race in kits provided by sponsors.  They both felt and looked great.  It's nice to have something across my chest to know I'm racing for other people as well and that I have partners that I'm proud to help support.

So after a long weekend, I finally got home, had a quick dinner, and tried to play with Riley.  As you can see below, that didn't last long.  I think our weekend came to a close pretty early Sunday night.

After a long weekend of racing, Riley and I couldn't keep our eyes open

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Happy Birthday Thunder

Thunder's Birthday Cake

With all the hoopla surrounding that this Friday is going to be Friday the 13th, a Full Moon, and Venus is in retrograde all happening at the same time and the last time this happens for the next 30 years, I am taking the time out to say Happy Birthday to my best friend, Thunder.

Yes, most people who have a pet often say that it's their best friend.  And no disrespect to the wife, Riley, or anyone else, but I can honestly say that Thunder has been my best friend since 2005.  He has been with me through a lot of things in my life, both good and bad.

Thunder came into my life on his 8 week birthday in August, 2005 at a time when things were a little difficult for me.  Somehow, he always made my day better.  I can remember laying on my couch in my old apartment and Thunder would sleep on my chest.  He was so small at that time fitting int he palm of my hand.

My all time favorite photo
From there, Thunder has been through everything with me.  He has lived in 5 different apartments with me, multiple girls I was dating ( I won't give a number since the wife reads this), was there when the wife and I got together, was at my wedding, has seen Riley grow up for the past 17 months, and has been through it all.
 Somebody had to make the announcement

Why not have fun in the crib
Thunder wasn't so keen on Riley being in our lives at first, but he has definitely come around.  We used to say Thunder was Riley's best friend, but when Riley was a baby Thunder wanted no part of him.  Now that Riley is older and eating food, he has figured out how to sneak Thunder his Cheerio's so Thunder has definitely become more responsive to Riley.

Thunder is so important to our family and we will be celebrating with him just as much as anyone else in our family.

Yes, you get a lollipop too!
So Happy 9th Birthday to my best friend, and the one person who can always put a smile on my face and make the world around me better.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Coffee, Yum!

Coffee Makes Me Happy

Ah caffeine.  The most addicting drug in the world.  It is soooo good and also what powers me throughout every day. My normal caffeine intake is a cup of ice coffee every morning, and then between 1-2 pm, a cup of green tea or a Crystal light energy packet I mix with water.  If you haven’t tried them, pick up a box.  They are easy, transportable, and great tasting. 

Over the years, I’ve heard that during the weeks leading up to a race that one should limit their caffeine intake so when they start taking gels, coffee, etc the day of the race it has more of an impact.  Well, I tried that this year for Knoxville.  What I can tell you is that it was absolutely miserable.  I hated every minute of it.  More importantly, it didn’t work.  Not one bit.

About 2 weeks before the race, I started to decrease my normal caffeine intake gradually every day and it got to the point where I had no caffeine in my system 5 days prior to the race.  I was so proud of myself, and as the wife told me multiple times “see, you don’t need coffee”.  Well, like Ebinezar Scrooge, I say Bah Humbug.  While the wife said I don’t need caffeine, she also said I was a lot more miserable to deal with since I was so cranky and unruly. 

Race morning came and I started my day with a cup of hotel coffee.  Not great, but it did the trick.  I also love gels that have some caffeine in them so they were packed on my bike and carried with me on the run, and I also mixed my favorite Crystal Light energy mix and drank it just prior to starting the swim.  What I found is that I didn’t notice any of the caffeine kick I normally do.  There was no buzz, no rush, no nothing.  It was like my body was immune to any caffeine I put into it.  I understand that during a race I shouldn’t want to feel that buzz, but I like it.  It makes me feel like I can keep going, and it’s also something I’ve been doing for years.

As a result of my failed experiment, I have jumped back on the coffee bandwagon and continue to energize myself throughout every day, multiple times a day.  I’m so much more pleasant and my workouts continue to get better with the caffeine in my system throughout the entire day.

But that’s the point of experimenting, right?  To see what works for you.  My failed experiment proved to me that coffee is king and that I will continue to pump my body full of it no matter whether I’m racing, training, or just sitting on the couch. 

So what’s your take, coffee, no coffee during race week?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Things I learned during Knoxville

It's been a little over a week since Knoxville and the championship race, and I can honestly say that I learned a lot during that race.  Even though the race was extremely difficult for me and I didn't have a good showing, I'm glad I did it.  I think the experience of racing in Knoxville will truly benefit me in both the coming months, as well as the next year or so. Below are just some of the things that I learned both during the race, as well the weeks leading up to it and immediately afterwards

1 -Decide how important certain races are and stick with it:
  We all know that as athletes we should pick "A", "B", "C" races and so on.  But sticking to how you categorized each race often gets lost throughout the year.  I know I typically think my A race is the next race up, but it can't be like that for every time.  In my mind, C races are for training through the race and practicing things, B races are for finalizing everything and making sure your prep is done for your A race, and your A race is the most important race of the year.  In the case of Knoxville, I knew it was a B race for me, but also hindered on being an A race.  The problem with this was I really couldn't decide.  I knew it was important, but in my mind I didn't know much. I wanted it to be more important than it actually was, but I just couldn't get up for an A race that early in the year.  So in my case, I really should have used Knoxville as an important race, but not base everything around it.

2 - Training with Power isn't just hitting Watts, it's how you hit those Watts:
  This is probably the biggest thing I learned while suffering on the bike.  This course was hilly.  As in, really hilly.  Typically the hills are my strength since I can fly up them.  Not this year though.  The reason being was my training.  When doing my trainer workouts, I was so focused on hitting my Power Zones that I didn't realize there are different ways to do it.  I was focusing on increasing my cadence more which increased my power.  However, this course required me to decrease my cadence and really focus on "pushing up the hill".  I didn't really do low cadence work simulating the climbing that this course had.  I just assumed I would be in such a high spin going up the hills so that is how I trained.  I was too focused on hitting my wattages that I didn't really think of how I should hit my wattages.  Knowing this, I'm going to focus a lot in the coming weeks on sheer force and building strength in my legs instead of achieving a high cadence rate.  This will definitely help me in the coming races, even on relatively flat courses since I will be able to have more force through every pedal stroke

3 - I suck at swimming.  Like really really suck:
  I knew I was never a good swimmer, but going against some of the competition there, I got my butt handed to me.  I really need to improve my swimming for future races.  I know I don't enjoy the training that it takes to do that, but I can at least tweak my training. Early in the season I was doing a lot of swim interval training and I knew I was getting faster, but at some point I stopped doing it.  I would go to the pool and just do laps.  What I was learning to do was swim at a slow pace for a longer period of time.  So I picked up the interval training in the past week and hopefully that will help me in the future.  I know I can push the pace in the race, I just don't for some reason.  Either way, that needs to changed quickly

4 - I have a really bad temper at times:
  I referenced my travel problems getting to Knoxville in my previous post.  But here's how it went down.  I initially decided to take a late flight Friday night so I could help the wife with taking care of Riley Friday since I would be away all weekend.  Well, at about 3:45 pm Friday, my flight got cancelled due to weather.  This left me scrambling to find flights to get to Knoxville.  I called my airlines and the earliest they could get me in was Saturday at like 5:30pm.  Yeah, not happening.  Not when I had to check in, pick up my bike, rack my bike all by 6:30pm.  Luckily I got on another connecting flight that got me in to Knoxville about 1 am Saturday.  Not ideal, but it was the earliest I could do.
 So I ran to my car, and the airport is only about 15 minutes from my apartment.  But on a Friday afternoon, it could be a while.  To make matters worse, all the streets and entrances to the highway were blocked because someone got shot on the FDR drive.  It took me 45 minutes to go 1 mile in NYC traffic.  At this point, I blamed the wife.  It was her fault for making me take the late flight that night, right?  If I hadn't tried to be nice and stay all day, I would have been on like a 1pm flight and had no issues.  So when she called me to check on me, I lost it.  I have never screamed like this in my life.  EVER.  It wasn't directed at her, but it was to her.  She didn't even know what to do.
And when I finally got to the airport, I had 15 minutes to check my bag and get to my gate for boarding.  Thank goodness for TSA Pre. However, my bags didn't make the cut-off time and the airline had no idea when my bags would get to Knoxville.  They could be on my flight, the next one, or Saturday.  They told me I had to wait to find out when I landed in Knoxville to find out.  Of course, at this point the wife told me to take everything carry on that I needed.  Ummm, that was EVERYTHING.  they only thing in my suitcase not needed for the race was a spare set of underwear.  The rest was a helmet, bottles, shoes, clothes, wetsuit, nutrition, basically everything.  I would have had to buy 3 carry on bags to make this work.  But of course, she didn't know that so when she suggested it to me, I went off again.
  Needless to say, I can't control everything, but when things go bad, I lose it very quickly

5 - I don't know how much I enjoy long races
  At some point on the bike, I realized I don't want to be on a bike for 2 plus hours, and then run another 1.5 hours, not even including the swim.  I started to reevaluate my racing and figured I would stick to Olympic Tri's this year.  This way, I can do more of them, and recover more quickly and train harder as the months continue.  Doing a Half Iron or even Full is a lot of work.  I just don't know if I want to do that again this year.  Knoxville was a hybrid race with a 40 mile bike and 10 mile run.  That was still a bit too long for me.  Sticking with Olympic distance for this year might re-energize me for next year and then I'll be able to full train for one.  Plus the Half Iron that I was planning on doing is in September, and I'm doing the NYC Marathon this year 2 months after so it would be a hard turn around for training to pull that off.  I think I'll stick to the shorter, faster races where I can really see what I can do there

I know I learned a lot more than this, but these are probably the most important that hit me and I wanted to share them.  I think it's good to have take aways from every race, even the bad ones.  I definitely learned more in this race than I have in any other that I have ever done.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rev3 Age Group Championship Race Review

Only in Knoxville do you see a working locomotive on the race course
This past weekend was the Rev3 Series Championship race in Knoxville, TN.  This was for both Pro's, as well as Age Group athletes.  Since I raced in at least 2 of the Rev3 races last year and had an overall ranking of 9th in the country, I was invited to race.  I thought it was such an honor being able to see how I stacked up against the competition and Rev3 actually gives a prize purse to the top 5 athletes in each age group.  Pretty cool.  No other race series does this.

So Friday night, I headed to Knoxville.  I had some major travel problems which I'll share in my next post, but after one cancelled flight, another delayed flight, someone getting shot on the FDR drive in NY and blocking my route to get the airport (yeah, crazy, right?), my bag not being on my flight since I arrived too late, I finally ended up in Knoxville at to my hotel around 1 am Saturday morning.  I thought this would be my night to get some sleep, but I was clearly mistaken.

Saturday morning I woke up and tried to get out early to drive the race course to see how bad the hills were.  But after getting lost, not being able to make certain turns, I finally gave up.  Luckily I had a print out of the course elevation profile (thanks, Leo) which was laminated and put on my aero bottle so I knew exactly what was going on during each part of the bike course.  I did this for the Maine race, but didn't figure to put it on my bottle.  This was such a genius move by me and something that I'll continue to do moving forward.

After all of that, I headed to the Expo to pick up my race number and swag and also pick up my bike and put my pedals on.  Since I shipped my bike using TriBike Transport, I needed to fully check my bike to make sure it got there ok.  After having the techs help out and doing some quick tune ups for me, everything was all set to go.  So I dropped off my bike and headed for the practice swim.  I give Rev3 so much credit. They do a lot for their athletes.  By setting up a practice swim for the athletes, it helps alleviate any stress from the open water swim.  I wetsuited up and jumped in the river and started swimming.  Honestly, it felt great.  The water temp was warm and pretty calm.  All of my pre-race swim nerves went away at this point.

After having dinner at the championship dinner, I headed back to my hotel and went to sleep.

This is about where the good times ended for me.

Race Morning:
I woke up, ate my pre-race oatmeal and headed over to transition.  All week the temperature said it was either going to rain or be 75 and humid.  But on race morning it was 50 degrees and pretty calm.  No complaints at all.

Once I got my transition set up, I headed over to the swim start to start my race.

View of the swim from my hotel.  It started a little past
 the 2nd bridge on the right
For the championship race, they started all men in the same wave, regardless of age.  At first, I was scared how many people there would be, but after we all jumped in the water to warm up, I was cool with it.  There didn't seem like it was as many people as I thought there would be.  Once the horn went off, so were we.

I recognize I am not the strongest of swimmers, but I also know I'm not the weakest.  However, today it felt like I was swimming against the current in both directions.  I felt like I was going so slow. I guess the truth of it is I WAS going so slow.  Everyone else seemed to be so far ahead of me.  It really hit me when the lead females from the wave behind us caught me around the .9 mile marker.

There really isn't much I can say about the swim except for that I sucked. It's something that I really need to work on in the coming months if I want to have any shot at doing better in a big race.
Swim time: 42 minutes

After realizing I had a lot of work to do , I grabbed my bike and started going for it.  Only having about 4 rides outdoors this year, I was still getting comfortable on the roads.  Either way, I tried to catch as many people as I could.  I knew this course was hilly, but DAMN.  This course kicked my heiny.  I was so not prepared for this course.

Since I have been training on the Kickr and started using power, I realized about 7 miles into the bike, I have been training wrong.  The one thing I didn't do in my training was work on hills and power that way.  I essentially was training through cadence/power and if I needed to increase my power, I often increased my cadence.  For this course, that was a WRONG move.  Bumping into Pro Triathlete and super biker Andy Starykowicz at the airport after the race, he actually agreed that high cadence cyclist didn't perform well on this course.  Coming from the guy who had the fastest bike split in Kona last year, I think he knows what he's talking about.  Not only was this the hilliest course I have ever ridden, there were no real areas for my legs to catch a breather.  The downhills were so sharp and technical that it was hard to coast down them letting my legs recover.  And once we got on the flats, my legs were so wiped to push the pace.

Around mile 24 or so, I think I realized I enjoy Olympic races a whole lot more than Half Iron, or this distance race.  Maybe it was just this course, but I felt wiped the whole bike course.  I'm used to averaging 20-22 mph depending on the race and course.  Well here I was averaging like 18 mph.  Such a hit to the ego.

The course itself was great though from a spectators view.  The roads for the most part were very well taken care of, the scenery was great to look at and the volunteers were really great.  Once saw me looking like crap and shouting something (not suitable for here), but it made me laugh and I got a little wind back in my sail.

After questioning if I can actually finish I got back to transition so happy that this hell was over.  I dismounted and grabbed my Skora's for what I thought was going to be my most enjoyable part of the race.

Bike time: 2:12.  18 mph.  NP 201 (a little high for what I wanted)

I was so happy to rack my bike that I felt a huge rush of adrenaline.  I love the run.  It's my strength.  I know I can pick off a bunch of runners so I was psyched.  What I realized when I was running both into transition, as well as out of it, was that my legs had nothing in them.  They felt like bricks.  Yes, they are supposed to be tired after biking, but this time they just felt so heavy.  They weren't this heavy after Maine, and that was a longer bike course.

But I sucked it up and headed out for the run.  Even though my legs felt like crap, my first mile was still 6:24. I was aiming for 6:20's so 4 seconds off wasn't that bad for me.  Normally after a mile or so my legs start to get some life back, but not today.  Today they just felt miserable.  It was also getting a lot hotter and the sun was definitely beaming down on me, so I started to fade a bunch.

My miles started going from 6:24 to 6:47, 6:56, 7:12 after 4 miles.  I really started to question if I could finish the race.  After 4 miles, I knew there was less than 6 miles left but those 6 miles felt like an eternity.  But after my Garmin read 6:19 on mile 5, I had this new found energy.  Maybe I just needed some reassurance that I did have some faster miles in me.  I tossed back one more gel and just started running hard since I wanted this race to be over so bad.  The things running through my mind were definitely not helping me.

With a mile left, I saw a 15 year old athlete and she was killing it.  She was in the Olympic distance race, but she was impressive.  I passed her and offered some words of encouragement and she did the same.  By this time, there was only about a half mile left and I just cruised to the finish line not caring any more.

Run: 1:04.  pace 6:37/mile

 Championship results:
My main goal coming into this race was to place in the top 5 of the final yearly rankings for the Rev3 Championship series.  I knew I needed some luck to get there, but I also figured I had a lead over some people behind me so I thought there would be a chance.  I was more concerned about where I finished in the annual rankings than this particular race, so knowing I finished this race 7th in my Age Group didn't bother me. I wanted to know where I stood in the standings.

After annoying probably everyone at Rev3 and trying to get an answer they started to announce the series standings.  I had a flight to catch and wasn't sure if I could hang around so I was badgering almost everyone I could to find out if I should stay or not.  When they finally announced my age group, my name was omitted from the rankings.  Ugh.  Tough blow.  But then I recognized a few of the names who were called out and realized they were behind me in the rankings so I went over to the scoring tent and asked to see the results.  As it turned out, the calculations were a bit off and I actually finished with a final ranking of 4th in the country for the series.  While it sucks that I wouldn't get on stage because of some confusion with the calculations, I did end up taking home some swag to go home with and some bragging rights.

4th place Overall in Age Group Championships
I learned a bunch of lessons in this race.  Some that I will post in a future entry, but I'm glad I did the race.  As much as I hated every minute of it because of how unprepared I was, it was still a race.  I'll be able to take what I learned and apply it to my training and future racing.