Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been awhile since I've had a four day weekend, so I figured I would get in some solid training. It all started Tuesday night at the SDTC workout. It was cold and rainy, perfect conditions for a Mile Time Trial! I couldn't remember the last time I ran a mile for time. Everyone in the group predicted their time before we started and whoever was closest to their prediction got a signed Meb book. Without doing any type of speed work, I had no idea what I could hit. So I predicted a 4:42. The time trial wasn't meant for you to go all out, just a good solid effort -because after the mile we had 10X150's. I went through the half at 2:23 and felt pretty good, so I picked up the pace a little and negative split a 2:20 for a finishing time of 4:43. Kinda funny, I only need to drop .40 seconds for a PR! Even though I missed my prediction by 1 sec, someone got theirs spot on! Either way, the TT was encouraging because I know with some decent weather, some spikes and competition I could go sub 4:30. The speed is still there surprisingly-- and my running fitness is FINALLY starting to come around.

The next day my work had a half day, so since Amy and I were going to be in Ramona for the holidays -we packed up early and the fam dropped me off at work with my bike so I could just ride home from there. It's funny because everyone from my work thought I was seriously crazy. They just don't understand why someone would want to ride their bike that far. From Kearny Mesa to Ramona -it's 30 miles -which after my 70 mile ride --it's not that difficult of a ride. People that are not familiar with endurance sports have a very difficult time relating to those that are. I often get asked how I lost so much weight and I tell them that I train for triathlons. Usually the next question is, "Oh, which one are you training for?" And I'm starting to realize that the question right there is one of America's biggest problems with keeping weight off. So many people train and train for that life-changing marathon or that big race and then once they do it, they quit training and gain the weight back. They set a goal of doing a race and then have no long-term plan-they don't make it a lifestyle change, just a short-term goal. To take it a step further, we do the same thing with jobs, marriage, relationships, finances...etc. Making the lifestyle change inside is what makes things you want...happen.

Enough of that rant. The ride went great, there was about 3000 ft of climbing and my legs felt OK, just very cold. Half way through the ride I stopped at the Iron Mountain trail head to use the restroom. As I started making my way back to the road with Blue Steel, some bright lady said to me, "Wow, you biked up that mountain with that??" And before I could even speak, she screamed over to her friend, "Hey Janice, check out this guy, he road up the mountain on this bike! Look at those tires!!" I was going to let it go, but I just couldn't...I said, "Actually I just used the restroom--I'm just heading up to Ramona." She looked at me with a weird look and just said, "Good for you." and walked off. So freaking weird. She was probably from Ramona.

On Thanksgiving morning, I headed back to Iron Mountain with Amy for the 1st Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot up Iron Mountain. It wasn't really a race, just a low-key group that got together to run or hike up the mountain, come back get a cool t-shirt and have some mimosas. I made it up in 25 minutes and the view from the top was amazing. After a taking it all in, I decided to do a little exploring afterwards. It ended up being a very serene experience, the kind of run that you go on and realize how lucky you are to be able to do the things you do. 2000 ft worth of climbing later, I headed back down the mountain, joined the rest of the group for some mimosas and champagne ---which come to find out is REALLY good after a long run.

Jubelale on a crisp Thanksgiving day
 The weekend included a 35 mile group ride Saturday morning which had about 15 riders and lots of climbing. I'd never ridden with that big of a group before and it was a lot of fun. I ended up leaving the group (except Jim!) on all of the climbs -so I know I am getting strong on the bike. However, I feel that I have a lot of work to do on the flats. It was fun to try and hang with the random sprints these guys would throw in. I have a feeling that if I had a lighter bike, my average speed for my rides would increase drastically. The next morning, I put in a 14 mile run, with three 2 mile surges spread throughout the run. I was excited how the run went. I hadn't gone over 11 miles for a run in about 2 months because of IT Band issues I have been having. I think there is no coincidence that the problems started going away since I started going to Rehab United. I averaged 7:35 min miles on a hilly course and my average heart rate was only 149. I was very stoked and my fitness is really coming along.

Happy Holiday's everyone!

Love the Bike.

For some reason when we grow up we stop riding our bike. Just about every kid learned how to ride as soon as possible. A lot of us got that bike for Christmas, then the training wheels came, our first ride without them, our first crash, years of fun...then. We just stopped. Why is that? I think I stopped riding my bike once I reached about junior high - and I know a lot of my friends did the same. It just wasn't cool anymore, or we out-grew our bike or went on to other things. 20 years later, I'm starting to realize how much I missed riding. I remember riding with my brother and friends miles and miles, just exploring, finding new jumps, daring each other---just being a boy. My brother and I rocked the Diamond Back back then---his was way better of course (older brother) and I'll never forget the jump we would frequent on our way back home. He would catch this big air and then I would try to imitate. On this one occasion, I'm glad I didn't imitate. I was watching him take flight and I would yell YYEEAAHH (kinda like the old school skate movies when they would slow down the Yeah to YYEEAAHH). He landed it, but he landed it on his sac. Did I just write that? Yea, he hit hard and I'll never forget how much pain he was in. I really didn't know what to say..."Let me see if you're OK?" no...I just let him be. I remember him yelling that he thinks he's bleeding. I thought to myself..."That can't be good" "I wonder if he'll ever have kids...." Maybe that's why I stopped riding my bike...Anyway, I'm happy to see that he does have beautiful kids and he's recovered.

View from Lake Wolford
20 years later, I'm so glad that I re-discovered riding. I truly do feel like a little kid again when I'm out on The Mistress. Exploring, finding some jumps, challenging myself on some tough climbs, rolling the single track and listening to some hardcore. Haven't had this much fun since I was a kid. Road riding is a different kind of fun. I've never been a "cyclist" before. It's a whole other world, and I'm learning a lot about the sport. Especially from sweet movies like the one I recently watched; American Flyers....Kevin Costner a world class cyclist with a moustache?? Yes please!.....After my track workout the night before (12X200's---just like we did in college), I set out on a 70 mile group ride. The longest I had gone before this ride was 50 miles, so this was quite the jump for me. The plan was to ride down to Escondido, up to Lake Wolford and shoot back towards Temecula, up Pala and home.

Data from the ride:

I think the 70 miles part wouldn't have been that bad if it weren't for all of the climbing. Because along with this being the furthest I'd ever ridden, it was also the most climbing I have ever done in a single ride (5,200ft). Check out the calories burned, almost 4000. That's like 2 days of eating! Good thing I had some of Amy's homemade "Adams bars" to keep me from bonking...Oh wait, I did bonk in the last 3 miles! I ran out of calories and water going up our final climb in Pala---when I got home I ate like 3 lunches. It's amazing what your mind does when you get through a 70 mile ride. It makes those 35 and 40 mile rides seem so easy. The gains I have been making on the bike have been huge and I can really see my mountain bike strength coming along with logging so many miles on the road. Love the Bike!

Well Deserved Winter Warmer!
 Other week highlights include another session at Rehab United a few swims and then the weekend...Rain came of course, so I rode out on a 25 mile ride in what felt like 25 mph winds accompanied with lots of heavy rain. I got a lot of honks and a lot of weird looks and saw nobody out there. Usually Temecula is swarming with bicycle and running traffic on the weekends, not this day. I always feel that when you are working out in horrendous conditions whether it be the heat, rain, snow or cold that you can't expect huge physical gains, but the mental gains are huge. You get mentally stronger and learn how to be tough in those types of conditions. You never know what kind of conditions you'll see come race day, so you better prepare yourself for all of them. The next day it was still pouring rain and I set out on my 13 mile long run. I felt really good despite the 11 hours of training I put in that week. After taking a very hot shower, I warmed up some more by pouring one of my favorite Winter Warmer beers, Anchor Brewing's Merry Christmas Ale. If you haven't tried it, make sure to bring it to Thanksgiving dinner along with two of my other favorites, Deschutes Brewery's Jubelale and Avery's Old Jubilation. I'm loving the holidays with my family, my newly found fitness and my holiday brews! Maybe I'll re-visit the ole' Urban Beer Gardner soon and brew up a batch just in time for friends and family for Christmas. If not, I'll just train...Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!


Track, Movie, Bike, Brick and Fun

Levi crushes the course record
That kind of summed up my week this last week. Now that xcountry season is over, I'm really excited to spend some time on my bikes. I logged over 100 miles on the bike (over 3 rides) for the first time and my legs actually responded really well to it. On Tuesday night I had another great session on the track. I don't know what it is, but I have this obsession with the track, especially at night. All of my track PR's came at night. I know I run better in cooler weather, but there's something about the smell, the cool air --it just seems...faster. After the workout I rushed over to catch Race Across the Sky. The movie was very inspiring. It didn't get into the actual race itself a whole lot, but it had a lot of different individual stories of different challenges some of the competitors had and how they overcame them. Very cool, highly recommend it -it's going to be on DVD soon.
The next morning I went on a group road ride with The Bike Shop and the morning started off pretty rough. I had two flats in the first 10 minutes of the ride, which included replacing one of my tires. One cool thing about having great people that work there -is they hooked me up with everything (paid a few days later) so I could get on my way. We put in just over 50 miles and 3000 feet of climbing for the day. After running the hard the night before, I was very encouraged on how my legs responded. Getting strong! On Friday I headed over to Lake Hodges for some mountain bike fun. I ended up clearing a lot of sections I have had trouble with in the past and made it all the way down to some of the San Dieguito trails that go towards Ramona. Very fun ride, although I had to push it on the way back, the time change put me in the dark in my last 15 minutes of riding. Time to get some lights!

The next day I woke up grabbed some oatmeal and coffee and headed out the door for a 35 mile bike ride. I mapped out a fairly hilly course and managed to average 19 mph over it. I was pretty happy about that because I kept my Heart Rate under 170 (aerobic). After the ride, I rushed in, grabbed my shoes and a banana then headed out for a 4 mile run. I hadn't done a brick workout in awhile and my legs actually felt really good the whole run. I just cruised at around 7 minute pace, keeping the heart rate low. Can't wait to race...2011 is so far away!

That night Amy and I went to a GALA (work function) and went in style. It was pretty fun to dress up and hang out with my sister, her boyfriend and some other friends. Great week, I'll leave with a few photos:

The crew minus a few rolling in a nice limo

Wifey and crazy sis

Good times!

Race Report: Dirt Dog USATF Championship 4 Miler

It's hard to believe that this time last year I weighed in at 179 pounds. For only being 5'9, the weight started to show (my wife says "mostly in the face"...thanks hun!) and it's then when I decided to start training again. Well 37 pounds later I was ready to toe the line last Saturday at the Championship race. I was really excited leading up to this race and with the weather looking good, the family joined in on the action. We arrived to the course only to find this beauty greeting us. So freaking weird! This person was really into trinkets, jewels, thimbles, and magical things. Amy had to go over and get a photo.
Leading up to the race, I really took it easy in training. I only went for one swim, one harder "tempo" effort run and the rest of the days I just did some easy runs and strides to get the legs ready to roll. My strategy was to go out a lot slower this time (5:40ish) and try to negative split the last 3 miles in. Well the plan kinda worked. As soon as the gun went off, I kinda just jogged out and dealt with a lot of traffic. I wore my Garmin to help me out with pacing and I found myself way in the back of the pack as I reached mile one in 5:40. Nailed my pacing, but I had a lot of work to do to get my way through everyone. I felt kinda anxious because ever since I can remember, I've never tried going out slow in a race. I've always went out and stayed in contact of the leaders and some days I'd stay with them and others...not so much. So as I worked my way up the field, I hit two miles in 11:11 (5:31 split) and it seemed like I hardly made any ground...

We couldn't have asked for a better day. East Mission Bay Park was beautiful and the weather was perfect. Before the start, the kids were able to play with mom in a really cool playground. About 15 minutes before my race (normally high stress/anticipation time) I came over and Amy needed to use the restroom before the start. At first I kinda panicked because I wanted to get over and get some strides in. Once again the kids calmed my nerves and put things in perspective for me. Watching them laugh and play made me realize again how little racing and training is. For all they knew, we brought them down there to play at this park and every once in awhile they'd see me race by and Scarlett would yell, "Go Daddy, Go!" Music to my ears...I think it's no accident that my two worst races came when the family couldn't come and watch!
The course was very spectator friendly. It was a 3 loop course and although it was a flat for the most part, there was thick grass and uneven footing which kinda zapped the energy out of your legs.
After the 2 mile split, I started to feel that energy leaving my legs. I kinda just got into "no man's land." The course was set up in a way were you could almost keep an eye on where all of your teammates were and I was having problems trying to make my way up the pack. So I decided to just focus on one guy from the club Movin Shoes (who ended up beating us) and just try and catch him. I ended up catching him with about 800 meters to go and finished with a strong kick.

Here's my splits for the day (via Garmin):

Official Time: 23:17 (5:40 pace)
Place: 12th in my AG, 34th overall
My Garmin read 4.1 miles -who knows...

Overall I was happy for the result, but I also knew that going out that slow probably hurt me because I had to fight through traffic from the beginning and work my way up the field which I know taxed me a little. I probably could have broken 23 minutes if I went out in 5:30 and stuck with a pack...oh well, I had a fun Cross Country season and a blast running with BSK. About 15 minutes after the finish, five of us from the team put in some extra work. We ran an extra 4 miles at around 6:10 pace and I actually felt OK. Good 11 miles for the day.

That night we stayed at my in-laws house in Ramona and I got up early to put in a 30 mile mountain bike ride. I can always tell when I'm getting in good shape when I wake up the next day after working hard and my legs actually have some pop in them. I rode from their house (near main st.) all the way up Black Canyon until I hit Mesa Grande. It's over 3000 feet and 12 miles worth of climbing. There's a fire road all the way up to the top and although it's not the most exciting ride, the scenery at the top was beautiful. It went from a desert at the base, to pine trees, cold winds, deer, wild turkeys ---you name it at the top. Crazy. My goal was to make it to the top seated the whole way. And I actually did it with no problem at all. My average heart rate was only 132 and I can tell my bike fitness already getting better.
Ride Stats
The best part about 12 miles of climbing? Descending. It's always a game to me to see how fast I can get going on The Mistress. This time I got up to 45.9 mph. Amy loves it when I tell her. I just have so much fun pumping as hard as I can downhill, you just seem to float over the rough sections. So I hammered the decent, working on my cornering at high speeds. I was thinking about how fun it would be to race a downhill race, but after already breaking my pinkie from riding-it probably wouldn't be the best idea especially how hard I train.
 As for this picture, I have no idea why I look so hard. I started laughing when I saw it, so I thought I'd share. Just so "Bout the Business" here. Time to wrap up long post. I'm excited because I feel like triathlon training is now in full effect. Now that the running races are over, it's time to get in some serious triathlon base and strength training. I'm going to start hitting up Rehab United every week for strength training. For swimming, I'll be joining a Masters club and doing an open water swim once a week with TCSD. As for the biking, I'm going to be getting in a lot more volume with group rides with The Bike Shop, and a trainer for those early morning/late night rides. For running, I'm just going to be upping my long runs on the weekends and getting out on the trails as much as I can to get ready for next years Xterra's!

Big week of training on deck. Until next time....

Cuyamaca 6k

So this was the last race in the Dirt Dog Series before this weekends championship race which will be down in Mission Bay Park. It's kinda cool that it's down in Mission Bay Park because back in 2008 I went to the USATF Cross Country Championships and it was hosted on that same course. I remember running with a few friends around  fiesta island before the races started and I couldn't even keep up with them at an 8 minute pace. That was the first time I thought about getting back into shape. And also because of these same thoughts that are greatly expressed in this
New Balance commercial:

As far as last weekends race went...Well, it went horrible. Probably my worst race of the season. I think I was most bummed because I tapered a bit for the race. I did very little swimming and biking, so that I would have my "running legs" for the race. At Tuesday's track workout, I had a bit of a breakthrough. We did 5 sets of 1000 meters with a 200 float and then a 400. I was clipping off 5:20 pace for the 1000's and sub 5 for the 400's and felt great. I felt like I could do another 2 sets---which is where you want to be on a hard workout. You don't want to leave it all on the track, save it for the race....

Back to the race...The forecast was for rain, which is a bummer because that means no wifey and kids again. Sure enough, just before the gun went off it started to rain---nothing too bad, just enough to make things slick. I felt "ridiculously good" the first mile-which cost me. I went through at 5:15 which, I found out, is too fast for me right now. At the time, I thought maybe I was going to have a break through race too, so after I heard my split I continued to hammer. Well about 5 mins later I was hurting and fading fast. This wasn't the "I Love the Hurt" type of hurt though....This was the type of hurt that you can't do anything about...You just fade. I pretty much spent the rest of the race going backwards. I finished 7th in my age group and 24th overall in 21:48. Terrible, but lesson learned. A bit of the "old James" kinda took over me at the end of the race and I'm glad my wife and kids weren't around. I stormed off after I finished, just pissed off and telling myself how much I hate Cross Country (I did the same thing in hs and college). I had a bad race, it was rainy and cold and my nipples were bleeding....Yup, that's why you see weird runners putting band aids on their nipples when it's cold before they run. I forgot to and after the race and cool down, my shirt had half dollar blood stains around my nips...Sweet.

One thing I've always been good at is channeling my anger over a race and turning it into motivation. You don't learn anything when you win. You always do when you lose, so for this final weeks race I'm actually going in with a strategy. I'm going to go out very slow (5:40-5:45 pace) and then just start clipping off negative splits the rest of the way in and pass as many people as I can. I love the racing and excitement that come with championship races. Even though it's just the Dirt Dog Series, I always seem to do better at the bigger races. Two years after barely making a lap around fiesta island, I'm very excited to go down and compete!
The rest of the day Amy and I had grandma and grandpa watch the kids while we went up with some friends to Julian to enjoy some pie and "fall foliage." Just kidding on the foliage...We also hit up Witch Creek Winery for a tasting. Nothing special there except maybe their last desert wine that was fermented in some old bourbon barrels. Tasty!

The next day I hammered a 50 mile bike ride that took me from Temecula to Valley Center and back. I climbed about 3800 feet and had a blast. It was a beautiful Halloween! My legs felt great and I even got lucky on the ride because halfway through I blew a flat and found out that my co2 cartridge was empty. About 5 minutes later a group of riders came by and saved me. I flew home and after taking Amy's mp3 player that has both of our music on it, I found my self listening to one of my favorite songs from a band called Strung Out while tackling my toughest climb of the day, only to be followed by Fergie....The rest of that climb was rough and very funny----that's what I get for putting it on shuffle!

Until next week---