Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A note about Bike Fashion near EOY 2009

Let me break this thing down for you (i am your neighbor!):

- Triathlon bikes and road bikes: strange athletic machines that are usually ridden by people in tight spandex-y clothing who are very sweaty and breathing heavily.

- Hybrid bikes: a bike, usually ridden by someone in business attire coming home from work, or a casual bicyclist.

- Mountain bikes: ridden by people who either have no clue what they're doing, and bought their bike at Target, or who are serious offroading maniacs who love the sport.

- Vintage bikes: That classic schwinn or brooks or globe-y bike that older guys ride to get "in touch" with being young again. Likely in business attire or running shorts and a cotton tee.

- fixies: ridden by hipster artsy types

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chicago Triahlon fatness

For those of you who have seen my 2009 Chicago Triathlon Pictures, I want to make a disclaimer... The round tubular shape around my waistline was NOT any kind of performance enhancing device. It was, in fact, an anomoly in the manufaturing of my race clothing. Apparently a tube of cellulite, comprised of refined ingredients from hundreds of cakes, bowls of ice cream, chocolate bars, converted sugars, and animal fat, concentrated into what is known as "a muffin top" was sewn in to the race top I was wearing, unbeknownst to me.

The makers of Zoot athletic clothing and TYR athletic were not available for comment for this blog posting. Repeated calls to their customer service line, to discuss the appearance of this odd, tubular shape, were not returned.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chicago Triahlon 2009

This morning I raced in the 2009 Chicago Triathlon. What a great race! And I felt really GOOD which is a very important thing to me in these races.

The big story this morning was the weather. The forecast called for "October-like weather" with a high in the 60's... YIKES! This summer in Chicago has been very cold, and I'm not sure why. But this was outrageous.

Thankfully the sun broke out before I got into the water, and the water temp was actually a totally bearable 63.5 farenheight. I had to wait for 2 hours in the cold first, though, but the sun finally rose and the clouds faded and we had a full sunny day. It was warm in the sun and cold in the shade. I was in wave #23, which started at 7:44 AM and turned out a respectable but equal time to last year, essentially. I thought I was going to do much better on the Swim--I was going in VERY confident that my training had prepared me for a 20 minute swim--but due to the fact that I've been pushing off the wall a lot more in the pool, my expectations were off a bit. And it turns out that only elites and professionals get 20-minute swim times. I really never hit my stride on the swim unfortunately, I caught it on the last third of Wildflower this year, but never could really get a hold on it at Chicago. I was extraordinarily frustrated that I kept swimming ontop of people at this race and bumping in to people, people get into your way... it's an unmitigated disaster because this triathlon is getting so huge.

Biking wise I felt strong, and I felt that if I have a lot more potential, if I had a regular training schedule. I started to get a hold of the oft-conceptualized constant power output that the human-bike system is supposed to create, which is why you upshift and downshift going over hills. I definitely hit a great stride here. I biked only two minutes faster than last year but we had a NASTY 15+mph headwind from the north, which really altered the field's performance this year. The continental race tires I bought the week before the race SANG the whole way and I will definitely race on racing tires from now on. The Specialized Allez may be seeing its triathlon days numbered here. I think it was responsible for my immediate cramping on the run. As soon as there is money I will get a Triathlon bike, if I am to stay in the sport. Money may not be good for a while, however.

Suprisingly, for only having trained 6 times on the run this summer, I turned out a decent run time. I was pretty scared because of my knee problems from last year (A note about my knee problems. I was essentially UNable to run after Steelhead Triathlon last year, and walked most of Chicago Triathlon (a month later) because of that and because of major shoe malfunctions. I started foam rolling my legs this summer at the urging of my Girlfriend and Chiropractor and I beleive that was majorly helpful in me being able to run 6 miles cold-turkey.) Really made me feel that a half marathon was possible before the season ends this year, however I probably won't attempt it. I stopped every mile to check my pulse, which was around 120bpm, so I was taking it mighty easy, just to avoid injury on this unprepared run. I really suprised myself that never once on the run did my knee problems materialize. Even with patiently expecting the moment when my legs would flare up and that terrible twisting iliotibial band pain that I had on a few of my training runs... it never happened. I did attempt to stop and stretch my legs on the run and my hamstrings and calves IMMEDIATELY went to full-insane-tilt cramp mode, and I backed off immediately and prayed for freedom and it went away--no mores stretching on the run. I iced my hammies at the end of the race at the medical tent.

Finally, it was really nice to see some of my friends supporting me along the course. Thanks Anna, Mary Megan and Joe! Sorry I was the only one that could drink the beer.

Overall, considering my lack of training all summer... I was very impressed where I can go on my next race. Ironically, if I could cut just 9 minutes off my swim, 15 minutes off the bike, and 20 minutes off the run I would be a rockstar elite athlete.... that seems to be a lot easier than it probably is though.

Clock Time02:51:30
Overall Place1397 / 4243
Gender Place1216 / 2951
Division Place274 / 557

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Oh god.... it's that time of year again. Starting a training regime... way too late.

I'm gearing up - literally gearing up - for the 2009 Accenture Triathlon... with a bag of ice on my leg.

The story is that @JasonMuelver just finished walking me through my first bike rebuild thursday night after my derailleur cage exploded on a trail in Rochester, MN (it was friggin hilarious... except that I was 11 miles out).

A little thought and consultation with Jason led to me making the hefty investment of buying all new hardware for the bike, and saving up for a frame later on, maybe next year. After 2-3 weeks of online purchases and waiting for shipments I have built a badass hodgepodge of new and used hardware. Dura-Ace 10-speed shifters, brakes, and deraileurs, a 10-speed ultegra cassette (12-25), Shimano R-700 compact cranks (34/50), a whipperman chain, and a smorgasboard of cables from Performace Bike on Halsted and Diversey in Chicago. Of course it's all on my shitbox specialized frame form 2007 which has nasty scars and bends from the FedEx nightmare. Thanks to @MikePilat and for the use of his living room, while I was taking care of his cat.

Finally after weeks of feeling fat I got back on the bike and was reminded that I am human and I have atrophied a bit. I made intentions to make it a brick, and during the run i felt so slow and heavy and useless.. at about 0.7 miles i had this strange twisting pain run up from my knee to my hip... it's the old iliotibial band pain again. Hurt REALLY bad. Guess I have to finally get on the damn foam roller.

... and here we are. I feel confident in the water but I have to train rigorously for the next month.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

To Be Skinny and Tan again

Agile, lean and brown. This summer I want this.

I am struggling right now to control my winter diet and wrangle it into that tropical low-fat diet that I had last summer... I need to control this beast. I have begun with the vain attempt to reduce my caloric intake... but DAMN that is hard.

Yes, I am swimming, my shoulders and lats are getting larger and shaping out... but everything is covered in a thickening layer of undesirable body fat.

... that's all i got right now. I don't even have hopeful words because this is HARD!!!!!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Readying for Wildflower 2009

Well February is upon us now, and I've got only 3 months of chicago season to get ready for my fastest open water 1.2 mile swim in my history of competition.

I don't consider it to be a simple task to do this, especially considering the 25 yard pool problem.... it basically sucks ass. That's pretty much all I have available to me on the near north side of Chicago in the winter. I'm going to get up to distance in the short pool first, then I might explore signing up at a longer pool thats a bit of a drive away, on the near west side, for the remainder of the time. I think I'd like to get up to about 70% of the distance in the short pool by mid march, then consider less frequent long swims at the UIC 50 yard pool during march and april.

I did the math on this ridiculous feat a long time ago. I would have to end-to-end 84.48 times, or do 42.24 here-to-there-and-back "laps". I was often confused about these pools being 20 yards or 20 meters or 25 yards or 25 meters. After some reserach I have come to accept that the meters thing is out, because that's clearly the Europe thing, but is my pool 20 or 25 yards? Off to the Wiki I went.

I also skimmed this:

I'm like 90% sure that the pool I'm swimming at is 25 yards.

For those of you highly intelligent avid readers of my blog, you may know that I still have not competed in a 1.2 mile swim. I was raring to go for the steelhead triathlon in 2008, when it was cancelled due to bad weather. I had trained in the Chicago lakefront, in the heat of summer, and so my target time at that point was 45 minutes, and I feel I have to at least meet that time.

I will only be training for the swim because I'm going to be on a relay team. I wanted to let you know about my relay team members, Chris Newton and Robert Wallsgrove, two of my amigos out in L.A. who raced Wildflower with me last year. Chris is going to spin the bike up 56 miles of grueling hills and Robert is going to run the hardest 13.1 he's ever run.

Being the "front man" for the team though, so I have to refocus a bit this time. Not that it was ever a good idea to risk foot cramps, but this time I not only have to swim fast, I have to make sure that I dont stop and get a DNF, because that would really kill the team. I have to spend as much time on the safety aspect of making sure I can finish, while at the same time finishing as fast as possible. It's not just my race anymore.

Our team name.... NewtWallyRooch. Look out for us at Wildflower 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

General approach to training - an email to Emily

a new friend wrote me about my blog and my training plan for steelhead. I responded with some general ideas about my training. Here's what I wrote:

Let me give you a brief rundown on my plan:

1) constantly change my tactics to trick myself into being motivated. Honestly, it's a strategy that works. Lie to yourself, do whatever it takes to get moving. If something works for 2 weeks, then stops, then change your plan, change your tactic to get running and moving. It really works.

2) the first and foremost thing was to sign up for the race. This was the biggest motivator of all. It's actually a strange story, I signed up for the lottery for the 2008 Kona Ironman (completely unrealistic and ridiculous) but in order to qualify to be in that race, I had to complete a 70.3 race prior to august 31st of the same year, or something. So even though I found out in like February that I didn't make the lottery for Kona, I still had committed time and money to Steelhead. I then did a rough plan of my whole summer, which included Wildflower, and Chicago Triathlon.

3) Swimming 1.2 miles in a 25 yard pool is somewhat annoying, 2200 yards is all you need, although I really don't think I've ever completed that distance in the pool, and Chicago's lake doesn't get warm enough for practice swims till mid summer, so I basically had to split it up:

- I go to the Chicago Park District pools and bring my little lap counter finger watch thing, and the membership there costs $20 per quarter. I go during the adult-lap hours and I think I was there about 3 times a week at my peak. The schedules are all available on their website. I go to three pools (Sheridan, Gill Park, and Eckhart). I did like 50% distance for a while, then increased to 75% the final distance, and then started swapping out with the lake swims. (there are 50 yard pools in the city, UIC has one)

Lake swimming is a bit more involved... pack up the shit in the tri bag, ride down to Ohio Street beach, change into wetsuit, lock up bike and bag to rack (pray that nobody gets curious, but there are a bunch of triathletes there in late summer doing the same thing), and then swim out to the last buoy and back and then out half way and back (or something I can't quite remember right now). I measured a course out in Google Earth (not google maps, but google earth has a ruler tool) around the buoys. I did this maybe once or twice a week in the month before the race. I felt comfortable, and actually had fun doing this. It's lonesome but kind of introspective and fun past the last 1/4 of the buoys.

4) biking: chicago SUCKS in the winter for biking. I bought an indoor fluid trainer and I used that, a minor amount during the winter, but luckily Steelhead was late in the summer so riding over the summer was a blast. The first thing I did was sign up for the MS150 (a 150-mile fundraiser ride, and went into it totally underprepared, as a ass-kicker initiation ride for the summer). I went out to Barrington hills three times and rode on a known 56 mile triathlete hilly training ride with my friend Jason. The combination of these two things got me used to some long distances, and left me better prepared for Steelhead which is relatively flat. The butt pain will ease with time on the seat, and also I'm going to upgrade my seat this year although there's a lot of thought going into that purchase.

Riding on the lakefront is a humungous pain in the ass moronic adventure, north of soldier field. I laugh at the newbies trying to ride at top speed from belmont down to Adler during the daylight hours in Summer and getting all frustrated and angry at people, when they should be angry with themselves for trying to be a speed demon on a tourist rollerblade skate park. If you love yourself you will ride casually and safely down to McCormick Place, and then pick up speed down there as you are able to maintain very conservative safety. Please watch out for kids running across the path down by the beaches on the south side. I rode the lake path once or twice a week, doing like 15-20 miles or something short. Usually up to hollywood, then down to the museum of science and industry and back home, something in that range... but again serious training will happen in the far away lands. I never made it out to Benton Harbor to train in advance, but I wanted to, and 
would do that next time.

another option for a casual ride with new scenery is out in the western suburbs, or in the city there is a north  trail that goes up to skokie, but again its slower and casual riding but good for once in a while new scenery. My buddy Jason knows some better paths up in the north.. See this map

5) running: (Emily is a big runner so I didn't go into much detail here) this is your specialty... you tell ME! I do the Lakefront path. Just do it. I occasionally ventured into the city with much frustration. during the death-cold winter i use the treadmill. I haven't been too serious on the running side since a bad knee injury, but rarely go out on a 40 degree day with running tights.

6) Getting a coach is completely up to you. I got one to teach me how to swim properly. It depends on your level of fitness. I tried using an online plan from followed it very spottily.. kind of a waste but again it was a trick to get me moving for a slow few weeks i had. I generally just look at what I have to accomplish, by when, and move towards meeting that goal slowly in a linear incremental way towards being at the distance i need a few weeks before the race. This is my casual approach to Triathlon, I don't want to win any races, I just want to complete with a decent time. Call me boring, I'm still competitive with myself. Always looking to beat my miles/min time on the run, beat my previous race times... I don't always make it but again I've only been doing this for like a year and half.

One thing I do that I freaking love to do is track EVERY workout on a spreadsheet. Everything. I dunno why I like to do that but it motivates me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2008 Accenture Chicago Triathlon Results

Here are my results from the race:

Swim 0.93 miles, plus 400 yard run: 31:03 (overall top 32%, class rank top 45%)
T1: 3:16 (class rank top 44%)
Bike 26.2 miles: 1:17:33 (19.1 mph) (overall top 40%, class rank top 51%)
T2: 3:20 (class rank bottom 33%)
Walk 6.1 miles: 1:30:22 (overall slower than 95% of people, class rank bottom 1%, I beat one guy)
Final: 3:25:36 (overall bottom 20%, sex rank bottom 7%)

For not having trained since before Steelhead, and having a knee injury I'm pretty impressed. And as Jason put it, I'm also impressed that I didnt try to be a hero and blow my knee out.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

in 3 hours I'm going to get up to go to the chicago triathlon. I am not competing in this race. I am simply going to do it to do it. The reasons and excuses are many, but my overall feeling is that next year is a new year and I'll have a new lease on life by then. Ever since my bike died and now that my knee is blown out from The Steelhead race, I'm pretty much going to just see what the race is like and how it will be next year.

I am planning on either a) not doing the run, b) walking it, or c) walk/trotting it. I really don't mind, because I don't want to destroy my knee.

I'm sad about all this, but I really can't do anything about it right now, there have been just too many bad things in a row this summer that prevented training.

Rucci out. 

Monday, August 4, 2008

Whirlpool Steelhead Triathlon 2008 Results

My results are finally in!!!!

What I expected               ---           What I got
swim 1.2 miles: 45min                    run 2.1 miles: 15:55 (7:57/mile)
T1: 5:00                                         1:35 (ranked very high here/1889)
bike 56 miles: 3:30:00 (16mph)        3:02:35 (18.4 mph)
t2: 5:00                                          4:19
run 13 miles: 2:00:00                      2:24:24 (holy crap 11.1/mile, badness)
total time: 6:25:00                         5:48:46 

(if you add the swim expectation that's still a 6:17:51, beating my expectations!!!)

Not that I care, but:
Overall rank: 1518/1889 (pretty bad, 80th %ile)
Males only rank: 1149/1378 (bad, 83rd %ile)
Males 25-29 rank: 168/194 (quite bad, 87th %ile)

Here's the link to the official Ironman results. Please don't be fooled by the 1.2 mile swim listed there.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

2008 Steelhead Whirlpool Triathlon Race Report

I heard rumblings of people in the old house getting up when, at 4:20 am, a jazzy cell phone alarm music was heard quietly coming from one of the other bed rooms. That was it. Pretty much everyone started to rustle and roll out of bed within minutes of that quiet music, even though their own alarms hadn't gone off. Nobody was sleeping hard enough to need a blasting loud alarm, plus the house was so creaky you could hear every footstep thruought the night and morning.

As we packed up to leave, people were not visibly nervous. It was just a house full of really fit people making jokes and walking around in weird clothing. Most of them were wearing the Chicago Triathlon Club jerseys, but not me, as I was a last-minute guest-bed-renter at the house. I hopped in the Jetta, in plain darkness of morning, where all my necessary gear was tightly and studiously packed in my transition bag, and I drove about a mile north, under the big bridge in St. Joseph, Michigan. A long line of red brake lights slowly snaked into a large parking lot. I was in the second of what would be 20 or so rows of cars, so I was confident that I hade left early enough (not typical if you know me well). I was wearing my sandals, and I walked about two minutes away to the bus pickup area with my tri bag on my back. (everything except my bike, which I had to rack the night before)

We packed in to short corporate-style busses that showed up within 5 miuntes.  It started rolling after it was comfortably full athletes, parents and grandparents, boy/girlfriends, friends, and the occasional child or baby of the athletes. The mood was a bit excited but notably groggy as we drove through the darkness with few streetlights to illuminate exactly where we were going. I sat next to a guy who had invented a new sponge to fit the top of his aero water bottle because he said the provided net sponge always fell out of the bottle when you hit a bump. Perhaps this man will be a millionaire someday.

We pulled up in front of transition, still dark outside, and I walked in and started to set up my spot. I kept it simple but saw others with even more simple setups—what looked like two sets of shoes on top of a folded towel. I had backup gear and clothing in my protuberant tri bag, but my actual transition gear, which gets placed out on a towel by my hanging bike tire, was just the basics.

Over the PA system we kept hearing the 6:45 closing time, announcements about flat tires, found lost gear, open bar ends that had to be capped (the announcer suggested taping a nickle or bottle cap (as-if!) over the pipe to do this, or they couldn't race), and that men had to wear shirts in this race, and there was some cool vocabulary word for this that I didn't catch.

I noticed a pretty gusty wind as well, and the announcer kept saying that the lake was choppy but nobody paid any attention as the glow of the sun started to come up over the horizon and we started to filter out of transition. The lines for the toilets were very long this morning, at least 20 minutes long, so I forwent this until I could find another set of port-o-lets, and there were many.

I was finally set and exited transition barefoot (although many left with sandals, I didn't want to deal with potentially losing them, so maybe next time I'd bring cheap flip flops) but most people figured nobody would steal them off the beach.

Because the current was coming from the north to the south we had to walk about 1 mile north along the beach. It was solemn and exciting at the same time to watch an orderly group of several thousand athletes and spectators walking 2 or 3 abreast on the sand, right where the waves stopped because that’s where the sand was flattest and you could expend the least amount of energy to walk that far. The goal was to arrive in style with energy to spare. Once I got about 100 yards from the swim start inflatable, I walked up a small dune to use the 20-minute line port-a-potty (had to do it).

This is where I saw my friend D'arcy Lynch, who said she was trying to finish the race in sub 5 hours. INSANE! The girl is a madwoman when it comes to triathlon. What an inspiration. She was the one who said that I might just do the race as a training day when I asked her what I should do because I hadn't had enough time to prepare all three disciplines. We hugged and she went on her way. It was great to see her. She’s really the original inspiration I had for signing up for the Kona Lottery, and therefore the reason why I did this race in the first place (had to finish a 70.3 event to validate my spot at Kona, which I never got anyway)

Just minutes before I entered the bathroom, race officials called the swim because of high waves and wind. What occurred next was a full hour of collective sighing about how much that sucked, about whether the race could still be considered for clearwater 70.3 spots, about how much people's performance would be different because of this, about how much the race officials were wrong, and some defiant swimmers going for a ‘prove-it-to-you’ dip in the water. I was personally deeply disappointed because I had spent the majority of my thought in training lately on overcoming the difficulty of swimming 1.2 miles. I had achieved that goal, and had neglected long bike rides to train the swim. Oh well.

The swim was replaced by a 2 mile run (all of these announcements coming over the PA system). Race officials had to be on their toes with this one, what a logistical nightmare it would be to have to reroute bike and run in/outs because of this. But they did a stellar job and we were all impressed. However our starts were pushed back an hour! So my already last-wave start (wave 17 of 17) was pushed back another hour to 9:09am, as they reduced the intervals between the waves as they went. It was just kind of ridiculous to wait a full 6 minutes between waves, so they started squeezing it to 3 minute intervals at about wave 9.

By the time I started the race, I had been awake for 4:40 minutes, and walked the better part of 3 miles in the sand and on pavement, and sat on my ass in uncomfortable poison-ivy laced mosquito-town forestry. What could I do about this? Well I ran two 8-minute miles to start! That was great to see 16 minutes on my watch by the time I got to my bike in transition. I was pleased sprinting past a few people in my wave in the chute into transition. The race was on!

T1 was boosted by something I heard over the PA "We have only about 120 people still out on the run", and that gave me hope that I had finished in the top half of my wave on the run. Onto the bike my transition was pretty fast. I clubbed along in my bike shoes down a long 50-yard pre-mount chute, being encouraged by cowbell ringers and cheering crowds. I mounted at the line and off I went.

Unfortunately I was already winded, and my Quads non-responsive to additional effort output. It would be the first 10 miles of the bike before I started to get my groove back. And this is where a whole host of insanely annoying things started to happen. First of all my ASS hurt so bad. It was like my seat was just a bed of nails and some muscle in my butt was not happy with this. I had to stop and stand on the pedals to stretch my glutes like every minute or two. It was horrible but I saw other people doing this too. Then I began to realize, that my bike geometry, as far as the aero position, was a complete disaster. My knees were hitting my elbows, my hands were off the front of the tri bars, I kept having to push myself back on my seat post, my hamstrings were in pain because I guess my seat was too high. I actually considered making these adjustments in-flight, but then I heard my friend Jason Muelver's voice in my ear, calling me a dumbass for talking on my cell phone during our early training rides, and I just huffed it out.

After I passed through this horrible slow-mph wannabe biker phase I started to get my groove on. I was in a passing challenge with only about 2 people in my wave during this bike ride. I passed by only a few people in my wave, and I really didn't want to pay any attention to that but I couldn't help myself.

The ride was beautiful and the weather was too. The air was cool, the scenery was your typical Midwest summer farmland and bushy berry fields. The aid stations were frequent and incredibly well stocked. Traffic control was 100% rock solid county and city police presence. The pavement was both rough for some long stretches (but not unexpected as they made the announcements about this in the pre-race talks) and some of it was butter-smooth brand new blacktop. The hills were very moderate rollers with maybe 2 or 3 short grinders here and there.

I was hanging tough, but the last 20 miles, despite the gooing every 45-50 mintes, were very hard. I was very exhausted already, and weirded out by this fact. I would like to see what my MPH average was, because I really think I was incredibly more exhausted during these last 20 miles than I've ever been on the bike so I have to assume I was averaging a lot of wattage during the first 36. However I wasn't being passed by a lot of people. It was only 3 or 4 of us and we kept trading the passing. In the end I think most of them finished in front of me, but they weren't even in my wave, for the most part, so I was locked in the same effort that everyone else was making and I guess everyone was feeling the same thing I was.

The last 2 or 3 miles were a FAST descent, for either resting your legs, or passing that last person in your wave, whatever you could muster. Again here I rode it fast and tried to pass people, but nobody had that big “17” written on their right calf in front of me.

Into the transition I went. I had amazingly little to do here. Dump the bike, swap helmet for wildflower running hat, swap biking shoes for running shoes with elastic laces (no tying) and repack some goos. Off on the run. I think the smartest thing I did here was a) eat swedish fish for energy, b) eat goo for the same reason, and c) take three advil to slow the onset of the horrible hip and knee pain that I usually experience around mile 9.

There was no doubt about it. I was fucking cooked. The typical jelly legs you have after a long cycling lasted quite a while. This is where some superlative end-game scenarios started to happen.

I expected the course to be pretty flat, but I was nonetheless already walking, about 50 feet past the end of the chute. There was nothing left in my legs to put out. I really think this had a lot to do with the 2 mile run we had to start. I felt I was majorily handicapped by that decision, but I struggled on. By mile 1 I was already resigned to 1/2 walking and 1/2 running, alternating every minute or so, as a method to continue (but not necessarily complete) the race. Eventually this was reduced (I wasn’t checking my watch, but…) to walking for 30 seconds every 4 minutes (?) so it wasn't that bad.

By mile 2 I started to calculate that I would probably see D'arcy within a few minutes. Not a few minutes later there she was! She was already finishing her run, just two miles to go, and she totally was looking out for me and pointed to me and cheered me on, and I did the same. She said I looked great and I was happy that at this moment I had been in a run phase. The encouragement certainly gave me some extra oomph to keep going. I was so proud of her, and simultaneously proud of myself because, holy crap, I was actually running at that moment!

I had some mild-mannered chats with other people, both running and walking, as we made our way down country roads, helping me realize that I had energy left in this race. I was only passed by very fast people, and probably only two in my age group. There were a lot of us walking here. I couldn't believe how many had resigned to the walk/run method. This is where I kept thinking how hard this was for me, but doable, and how much everyone else must have been in the same boat as me. It was strange because everyone I saw had started earlier than I had, or were on a 2nd loop of the middle of the course, so I was so confused as to who I was supposed to be passing and who didn't matter and when they had left. Ugh! My walking became less frequent as I was moving through the course.

13.1 miles is by far the longest I've ever propelled myself on my feet without stopping. I had trained 11 miles and 9 miles a few times, but the last 3 or 4 miles of this run would definitely be unknown territory. The course included two loops through the Whirlpool campus of buildings and suburban streets to the south. The numerous aid stations had cold wet sponges, cups of ice, hoses and sprinklers, water, and gatorade. My entire afternoon was a combination of dousing myself with these various substances, or packing sponges into my singlet. I would frequently toss a cup of ice down my shirt and listen to it sloshing around and becoming a cocktail of sweat water in my tri top before I would dump it out. Delicious.

I was surviving. There was pain and walking here and there, but I was running and I was surviving. I hit a stride around mile 6 when I broke off from the finishing crowd into the 2nd loop, because there was nobody in front of me for hundreds of yards, and few behind me. I entered this awesome zone of running alone, and it reminded me more of my training and cleared my mind a bit. It was nice, also, to catch up to some other racers and gague myself again. It’s the duality of racing experiences, I guess. In triathlon you can draft people on the swim and the run, but not on the bike.

The eloquent thoughts about how this blog would be an award winning, adjective-laced description of my experience this day, raced through my head. Pun intended. I had come up with these gorgeous poetic sentences about the limits of effort and endurance and the beauty of the human body, the strength of my will to keep running, strides I had hit and lows I had felt... And I can't remember a single one of them. I assure you if you had been in my head at this moment they would have been glorious.

It was at some point during the first loop that I thought to myself "I could not imagine doubling this distance". And that's where I'm at with Ironman. It’s absolutely insane and outrageous to double this distance. Although anything is possible.... I couldn't imagine doing a 1/2 ironman in my first year of triathlon and here I am...

I was utterly amazed that no matter how many people I passed, I never saw anyone in my wave on the run. The gap of our age group must have been so spread out by the time the run started that we could barely pass one another. I kept passing people on the run but nobody was there from my wave. I was kind of bummed about this and also that the course was so barren of people by the time I was finishing, because I was in the last wave. I never got to experience the mass of people moving together. I have no doubt I’ll experience this at the Chicago Triathlon, though.

I continued to goo thruought the run, and I felt it’s swell of energy rise and fade throughout the run. The advil was definitely working too, and I was so grateful that I had taken it (I think I have to credit D’arcy for this idea). I saw lots of people on their second loop through the campus pulled off to the side, working on leg cramps. It is just a thing you see in these races. And pretty soon I was that guy too. My QUADS started to cramp up at some points too, every time I would reach maximum extension on my leg, and there's really nothing you can do about that, they were mini cramps that lasted just an instant as it was extended, but I changed my stride to prevent that. My hamstrings were again a problem here, but I think the bike really did that to me. I have to fix my bike. Luckily my knees were cooperating for the most part. Butt and calves were definitely needing some deep massage and I stopped a few times to thumb them into compliance.

The last few miles of the run, I had a shit eating grin on my face. I realized I was going to make it. I cheered myself on. I cheered others on. I was really ecstatic. I was passing people here more than ever--walkers from previous waves, older people, and I ran with a 70 year old woman for the better part of a minute, chatting with her, and I felt good. I was just amazed at what was happening.

Definition of “eternity”: the exact time it takes to run one mile after you have just run 12.1 miles, immediately following a two-mile sprint and a 56 mile bike ride.

I swear to anything that the last mile was much longer than that. The race officials should do their homework on this. It took forever, finishing in a long sand tunnel that had been dug out so we could finish on the beach. But I was nonetheless that nerdy guy pumping his fists in the air and so explosively elated that I had finished that the crowd was going crazy for me. I really felt so superbly proud of myself at this moment, and even the disappointment with the swim situation faded at that moment.

I had finished my first attempt at a half-ironman triathlon. 71.1 miles!

Turns out, on the car ride home I realized I was Hyper-hydrated. I had drank too much water and output too much salt as sweat and my salt balance was wacked out. I felt really sick but not nauseous, it was strange. I kept drinking water because I thought I was dehydrated, but since that wasn't working I went to McDonalds and ate like 4 salt packets and felt better within an hour, and peed like a racehorse. Awesome. At least now I know to take salt tablets on long events like this.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I did it. I completed my first half ironman! 
I bought the 70.3 running hat.
I am exhausted.
Will blog the whole thing soon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Shit is Bananas

Another quick way to lose a few pounds before the race:
eat bananas the two days prior and laxative yourself off a few pounds of waste before the race

Preparing for the Race!

1:45 pm. Almost ready for the 2 hour drive to Michigan
Packed bag. Polished bike. Picked out race uniform. Laced shoes with bungees. Filled bottles.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Steelhead upon me

Ladies and gentelmen, My first half ironman has arrived. I cannot believe how freaking fast it has come since I signed up for this in January.

Well here I am. It's Tuesday night before the saturday race. I Just ran 9.5 miles last night, and have been building up to that. But all my runs so far have been in the cool evening air. I haven't been on the bike but a few short rides since the MS150, and I still feel confident on a 45 minute swim.

I know I will finish the swim. I know I will get on the bike and most likely finish with some energy left. What I don't know is combined with the supposed 90-degree heat, or whatever daylight heating goes on, is if I'll want to start a 13 mile run after this, given the absolute lack of training.

I just put together a rough estimate of a 6:25 1/2 ironman. This is pathetic, but it is conservative, but I officially don't even want to hold myself to that time, that's how unsure I am. What I do know is that I am going to go in totally relaxed and having a good time. It's going to be a blast. I'm staying in a group house with other triathletes from the Chicago Triathlon club, thanks to my buddy Jason, who had some friends in the club that he knew about. He also is a member on which has a forum post about the issue.

Wish me luck.

swim: 45:00
t1: 5:00 ?
bike: 56 mi. @ 16 mph: 3:30:00
t2: 5:00 ?
run: (if I do it) 13.1 mi. @9 min/mi: 2:00:00

Monday, July 21, 2008

Scared about Steelhead Triathhlon, but going to do it anyway

Well, I'm acting shy and coy, and perhaps that's to ward off Steelhead's ire, because I'm going to accomplish the swim! Yes, that's right, I'm going to actually swim a sub 45-minute lake michigan 1.2 mile swim. To most swimmers and triathletes doing this distance, or in this race, 1.2 miles isn't a big deal, but it will be a proud moment for myself. I only started swimming last november, and I'm really proud of how far I've come. I took some lake swims at Ohio street beach this/last week and i feel like a rockstar.

Now I picture myself running out of the water, T1'ing, and getting on the bike with fresh legs. Even if I take it lesiurely, I should be at around 16-17mph the whole time. That'll put me squarely within the 3:30 timeframe for the bike segment. I know I can do this.

The worry is the run. If it's boiling hot outside and I get off that bike feeling sweaty and dehydrated and overfilled with nutrition from the last hour of biking... I might not be able to set out on an afternoon 13.1 mile run, which to this date (less than 2 weeks before the race) I have NEVER done yet. I certainly don't want to get to mile 6, poop out, and walk 6 more miles. THAT would never be good.

But on the other hand, not finishing the race would suck too. So I need to decide about completing the race the moment I get off the bike.

This is where I stand right now. I am confident on the swim, confident on the bike, and not confident to run, especially after my abysmal lack of training before wildflower, and after wildflower with vacations and dating and my bike being broken. I know these sound like excuses, mr. conscience, but it's just reality. I am going to make every effort to be in incredible shape for the Chicago Triathlon, but for now, the Steelhead Whirlpool race won't be my fastest.

Here's my current prediction
Swim: 45 minutes
Bike: 3:30
Run: if I do it: 2:00, If I dont: DNF

Sunday, June 29, 2008

turning away from Steelhead.

BACK! after a long hiatus of being cockblocked by bloggers spam-targeting robots! Victory is mine.

I am loosing hope that I will actually do the Steelhead half iron on August 2nd

The circumstances that precipitated this sinking feeling are really important to me, so I will blog them. It all started with my not-excellent but hearty performance at Wildflower. FedEx totally hozed my bicycle in shipping to California so I spent the next month trying to get them to pay me back my claimed insurance amount, and until I got the check I was unwilling to repair the bike because they might need to do a closer or additional inspection of the packaging or damage. There went all of May, but finally they came through and paid me without much haggling, just learning the ropes of how to actually get it done.

Somewhere in the mix here I go for an incredibly long and arduous run, that turned out to be on a random whim of a tuesday night with no regard for nutrition or sleep preparation or anything and I ran 11 miles. I had hoped I crossed over into 13.1 but mapmyrun said otherwise. I was so proud of myself, cranking out my absolutely consistent 8.5 minute miles.

That being said, my only experience biking 56 miles was on the hilly miles of Barrington Hills. My confidence was low from how much of a struggle that was... the saga continues...

June was fantastic and interesting. I'm totally blowing off my workouts because I'm dating this great girl and she's moving out of town so we're trying to make up for future lost time. But we do manage to squeeze in a great 4 mile run together, which was a lot of fun. (Turns out that she's going to to a marathon this year, beacuse she had set her sights on it a while ago, but turned away because of hip and knee problems.) But aside from a few rides here and there to get the bike back in shape for the big MS50 ride, this is literally my only major workout.

Somewhere in the mix here I do the MS150 "Tour De Farms". This was a 2-day, 75 mile per day event with major rest stops every 15 miles. I couldn't have had a better time, and I totally survived the distance and time, thanks to kickass bike shorts from Pearl Izumi and Sugoi. Riding on the flats, as I imagine the Steelhead Half Ironman to be, was SO MUCH easier than the Barrington Hills hills. Confidence boosted.

Then Steelhead sends out an elevation map, which makes no real sense to me and so I have to go ride it, but lo and behold I'm going out of town for two weeks on vacation and I get back on the 11th of July, leaving me 3 weeks to get into shape to swim 1.2, bike 56 and do a solid 13 mile run afterwards in the DEAD HEAT of a Michigan summer day.

FUCK that.

I'm not sure I can handle this, at this point, or wether its just dumb.

I will resume thought about this when I get back on the 11th and maybe do a full distance triathlon that weekend and see how i feel.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lactate Threshold and competition as motivation

I managed to walk a good portion of the run tonight (futzing with an extra layer of clothing I had to stow in my shorts' waistline, waiting for stoplights, sprinting and walking to rest, grabbing some water from the fountains) and with a long-haul push to catch up to a couple runners in front of me on the long northward lakefront stretch, I still pulled down a respectable minutes/mile pace, which tells me that the hills I ran in california alone, just that one race, seems as if it possibly raised my lactate threshold. I'm wanting now to run more on the basis of heart rate, and am considering a polar heart rate monitor to try heart rate zone training to increase my speed and efficiency.

I sprinted a couple times on my own, and then found that I set these little meaningless goals for myself like "catch up to that girl before the water fountain" or "catch up to this guy" who then sensed my presence and pulled ahead faster... but right when I thought I couldn't catch up to him we hit a tiny little incline over the diversey bridge and I muscled it up and over the hill and caught up to him right before I made my turn down and under the diversey bridge for home.

These little things feel good, they feel like competition and they motivate me and I like it.

New runing shoes

I went to Fleet Feet tonight and finally bought this year's pair of running shoes. I tried on, probably, 7 different pairs from various manufacturers including Saucony, New Balance, Brooks, Mizuno and settled on the Asics Gel-DS Trainer 13 in White/Liquid Silver/Lime color.

They do a great job at Feet Fleet. I got a free video fitting analysis where they make you run on a treadmill and they capture a few seconds of your running on video and then loop it in slow motion on a big screen for you. Since I'm a video nerd I have to describe: it was shot standard definition on a cheapo home camcorder, firewire connected to a windows laptop running some kind of software that I didnt remember, then played back on a big ceiling-mounted hidef screen driven by the laptop as an external display.

I got great advice from the girl who attended to me. She just graduated from Loyola and ran in college (and is looking for a 2:50 marathon time this year in chicago!!). Her professional recommendations made me feel like I was making an informed decision, and then I asked her for her personal opinion. Ironically the brand that she loves were, by far, the best fitting shoe I tried on. Despite not letting her personal opinion into my decision, it was really coincidentally the best shoe.

The Asics Gel-DS Trainer 13 shoes have an asymmetrical lacing, also called an asymmetrical upper, that really follows the natural line of the ridge of your foot, which I think is a no-brainer and wonder why it's not done more, and they are very svelte, weighing in at 9.5 grams (each or for the pair, I don't know).

I regret not trying on the Zoot shoes, because I really like their clothing. I should consider them for my second pair (buddy Joe heard from another friend of his who ran a marathon that long-distance runners are behooved (pun intended) to buying a second pair, so they vary the wear and tear on their bone structure).

I however do not regret not trying Nike or Addidas because I dislike Nikes clothing engineering and wanted to get a little more serious and I think Addidas has this homeboy, 'round the way, soccer/basketball kind of feel to it sometimes and blah blah blah bad reasons not to buy a particular brand blah blah blah marketing blah.

a weak sauce week

This week was abysmal... I ate like utter crap, i slept in because there was little work to be had in my freelance life, I stayed up late (although I got to hobby a bit, which was fun). I had portillos TWICE including a big honking piece of chocolate cake at the end of each meal. I made a huge serving of rice crispy treats at home (lord help me), and my bike is still hanging out somewhere in the FedEx void (after being totally torn up I had to send it in to get my insurance claim and they STILL have not returned it, even though it's been 7 days.) Top this with Chipotle, McDonalds, a new potbellies opened across the street from my house (sugar cookies!, 3 times!) and everything horrible that was fast and cheap I could find, I gobbled it up. My body, resillient from decades of McDonalds intake in my youth, felt very warm and comfy. Oh god,  I forgot white castle, MAN I ate like shit these last few days.

It got so bad, that I finally put my foot down. First I realized that the whole thing going on here is I cleared out my fridge before wildflower and so I had no food to make at home.... duh, and I had no money to go buy a shit-ton of groceries. So because I actually really like my home cooked, usually olive-oil-based goodness, I went to the grocery store and bought a load of basics on credit. Pasta, pasta sauce, eggs, some chicken boobs, zucchini (sauteed, my fave), and oranges (fruit is the best) among the selection.

As I consume my last rice crispy treat, I will post tonight's run, my first run on the new shoes (see next post).