Back to business

Having two weeks in a row of low-key training has actually really paid dividends to my body. I was pretty beat up with calf and IT issues, amongst others I didn't list. Last week I put in 10.5 hours and my body felt great. The goal is to increase work load every week until I get to 18 hours or whatever my body allows. It's unexplored territory for me, but I feel strong and I know its the volume I need to put in every week if I want to be competitive this year. I mentioned before that I'm following Joe Friel's Periodization methods for the season and to start the season (in order to have a good race at Xterra West Championships) I will be doing abbreviated Base periods with a quick peak for the West Championships, I will then start back in Base mode and build to ready myself for Xterra Nationals at the end of the year. Confused? My year will kind of look like this:

Base 1
Base 2 -Starting this week
Base 3
Race -Xterra West Championships

Base 1
Base 2
Base 3
Build 1
Build 2
Race -Xterra Nationals

How long will I stay in each period and what do they mean? Well the graph above briefly describes it, but keep following along and I'll try and explain a little each week. I'm new to this too so it will be interesting to see how my season pans out--it's off to a good start so far.

Here's a week's worth of training in pictures:

A Group Ride session with The Bike Shop

Pit Stop at the fire station to refuel

Some one-legged, high and low cadence drills on the trainer

Vail Lake MTB Ride

My kind of playground!

As always, finishing off the tough week of training with a new beer! Great on a cold, rainy day like Sunday

I finished up the weekend with a 1:30 MTB ride with a ton of climbing and hitting technical sections much better than I ever had. After the ride, I threw on my running shoes and put in a solid 4 miles on the trails. It was my first brick workout I've had in awhile and I felt great.

The next day I put in an easy 11 mile run and my body felt great. Another big week is in store, with the USATF Championship race on Saturday. I plan on "training through" this race. I know I won't be even close to competing - this is THE big Cross Country race of the year. I'll be racing against Olympians like Abdi Abdirahman and Jorge Torres. It will be on the same course as the Dirt Dog Championship final that I raced in November, except instead of a 4 mile race, it's a 12k (7.46 miles). With the fitness gains I have had, I imagine I'll be able to come pretty close to maintaining that same pace I did in that 4 mile race for 7 1/2 miles. We'll see.

Thanks for reading-

Rest Week

My son checking my live results w/his coffee
during the R&R AZ 1/2 marathon.
So last week I only logged 5.45 hrs. The 1/2 Marathon really tore me up more than I thought it would. The next day I woke up and had to hobble around and I even had night sweats a few days later. This is a sign of over-training. The fact that I hadn't been running combined with hammering out 13.1 miles on the concrete took a major toll on me.  So I took the week as an opportunity to rest, heal and recover. I haven't had a week under 7 hrs since I first started training for triathlon, last June. I took Monday and Tuesday off, swam on Wednesday and felt absolutely horrible. Thursday I did a Rehab United session and still felt really drained so I took another day off on Friday. On the way home from work that night, it was at that point that I decided to just relax about training for the week. Amy knows that when I miss a session or have to take the day off, I get really grumpy and/or depressed. Training really is a drug to me -and it's proven that it can have these kind of effects if your body is so used to training. It's kind of like not drinking coffee if you always have some---you might get headaches. So on my way home I just kinda put things into perspective, I bought some beer and just enjoyed family time, football and friends over the weekend. I just figured if I feel good or not Saturday and Sunday I'll just take whatever my body gives me.

How do you guys coupe with over training?

This thing literally is a piece of crap.
I long for the day I actually have a
bike that has the right size handlebars
and can actually shift quietly. You
only rock that big of a saddle bag if
you own a Forge!
Saturday morning I set out on Blue Steel, planning to go 2 hrs but realizing it could just be 45. Before I took off, I raised the seat post a bit -just to see if it would help me generate a little more power. 10 minutes into the ride I was just cruising and checked my GPS and I was rolling at about 23 mph. I know that's not flying, but my perceived effort is what made it so encouraging. It's amazing what a little adjustment can do for you on the bike. If you haven't already, make sure you go to your local bike shop and get sized. I did that last year, but your supposed to do it every year, because things can change (this being good example of that). I was also encouraged because my legs finally felt like they had some life in them. They felt fresh, rested and recovered. Finally! I still held myself back for the most part and just tried to get back into a training rhythm. I rode down to Escondido and back, covering about 35 miles and 3000 feet of climbing. Of course with 3 miles to go I get a flat -changed it, find out my CO2 cartridge was bad, had to wait for a rider to come by with some air, found a guy I rode with about 3 months ago and he hooked me up.

I highly reccomend this IPA
from one of my favorite
It's only out for a limited time
so jump on it!
The next day was going to be interesting because I was due for a run. I told Amy that I'll either be gone for 30 minutes or two hours. The first four miles my heart rate was really high and my legs weren't responding very well. Finally around the one hour mark, they starting coming around and I ended up having a decent 10 mile run. I rolled past this guy that was probably 6'4, 230 - he had a camel back and an Arrogant Bastard shirt on. I came up to him and asked him, "How far you going today?" He looked at me, looked at his GPS and said, "I'm on mile 16 right now, one mile to go..." It surprised the hell out of me -but I believed him, he was working. I told him to go home and enjoy an Arrogant Bastard, he earned it. He replied, "I have two of them waiting for me, along with the playoff games." It was cool to see a big triathlete (he had spandex and shaved legs) out there hammering. We all know that the triathlon isn't necessarily suited for big guys. It's kinda like when you see a 5'7 guy on the football field (kinda like Darren Sproles) and you say, "Ahh, bless his heart, look at that little guy go...Hope he doesn't get hurt!" I see it the same way when I see big guys on the bike all awkward or huffing and puffing all of that weight around on a run. There are some studs  that are on the bigger side (Matty Reed), but they are few.

This week it's back to business. The week off allowed me the opportunity to re-evaluate my season. I'm self-coaching myself this year (unless my income drastically changes---races are expensive!), but I'm getting a lot of help from Joe Friel's books. I already read The Triathletes Training Bible, but his new one that just came out, Your Best Triathlon compliments the training bible and really helps you lay out your season if you are self coached. I highly recommend it if you are. It helps you phase out your season, gives you workouts, drills and a schedule to follow so that you can accomplish all of your goals.


Rock & Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Friday night Kev and I flew out to AZ and met up with some college buddies of mine to have a few drinks, trash talk a little and get primed for the race on Sunday. Getting in at 3am the next morning probably wasn't the best race preparation, but I was really just hoping to finish the race at this point because of my IT band and calf issues. Looking back at my training log I had only put in five runs during this month and two of them were days before the 1/2.  When we woke up, Kevin and I just did a little 3 mile tune up run and my IT band and calf were on fire. I just ignored it and hoped for the best the next day. We stopped by the EXPO, registered and I was able to talk to Meb a little. When I was freshman in HS, he was a senior and he was just blowing everyone away. I remember him breaking 9 mins in the 2 mile on a cinder track all by himself. Stud! Afterwards we picked up some dinner and watched the Packers embarrass the Falcons and when we got home my buddy Irving and I taped up our legs with some Kinesio tape. I had tried it once before and I really felt it made a difference. It has elasticity, it's waterproof and there's tons of tutorials online that you can follow to make sure you're taping in the right place for your injury.

Me and my buddy Eric pictured just
behind me in yellow.
 Early next morning I was up -had a cliff bar, a banana, some coffee and sipped on some Nuun until we got there. I forgot how much I love big races. I hadn't been to one on this scale since my first R&R marathon in San Diego. This was on a different level though.  There were almost 20,000 people in my race. Nuts! Kevin and I did a little 2 mile warm up and my legs were actually feeling good and pain free for the first time in months. I was excited and ready to race. The gun went off and everyone sprinted off as usual. My original plan was to hit 5:45's, but I knew with the lack of running and lost fitness it would be unrealistic to run my goal of 1:16. Instead I was just shooting for sub 1:20, average 6 min pace and just finish!

Fiddling w/my IT band brace
 The 5k came quickly and easily---going through at 18:48 (6:03 pace) so I decided to pick up the pace a bit. I was really paying close attention to my heart rate which was at 172. I knew I should be hovering right around 175 or so which I think is my Lactate Threshold zone. I came through 10k at 36:43 (5:54 pace) and I still felt pretty good. Not only was I taped up, but I was also wearing my IT Band brace that I bought recently. Although I felt like it was working, it kept slipping down my leg and I fought with it for the first 6 miles and eventually just took it off and held it the rest of the race. It's crazy that when you break your rhythm how much it can effect your heart rate and pacing. Every time I fiddled with it, my heart rate shot up about 3 beats and my pace fell off. Good riddance! Hope the leg holds up.

For the next few miles I was still feeling smooth and effortless popping out 5:52-5:55's with ease. I took Cliff Shot Bloks at mile 5 and mile 10 and taking in just little amounts of water at the stations. I like the Cliff bloks personally because they fit easily in your pocket and you can kinda just slowly eat them and chew on them so you don't have to be totally out of breath trying to suck down a GU. I went through 8.5 miles in 49:54 (5:52 pace) and 10 miles at 59:17 (5:55 pace) and was passing a ton of people. This is where I made a bad decision. I decided to just go for it and try and break 1:17. I knew at this point if I just averaged 5:40's for the next 5k that I could pull it off. So I hit mile 11, looked at my split--perfect 5:39, my fastest split on the day. Then I started hitting the wall at around 11.5. My legs got very heavy, my heart rate bumped up over 180 and I started struggling. It's crazy how quickly it can happen. I worked on keeping my form, trying to pass the next person in front of me and then 1:16 became out of the question. Great, how bout 1:17--that's still possible...With a mile to go, I knew all I needed was a sub 6 and I had it in the bag. I've been doing it all day, but my legs would not have it. On the final stretch I saw 1:17:46, 47....I tried to change gears and as soon as I did they gave out on me and I had to walk just to stay up and kinda shuffled my way in to a 1:18:06. Love the Hurt!

Afterwards I caught up with Irving who won the relay with Eric with team name: "Free Wesley Snipes" (so sweet) and grabbed a banana, our photo op and walked towards our group. About 5 minutes later I was feeling it, my legs started giving out on me and I started getting really cold. The medic came over helped me over to the tent and gave me some salt tablets, cytomax and light massage. It was really weird---I probably pushed too hard, but I was loving it and just so happy to run pain free. I can't believe my legs survived the pounding on the concrete.

Final results:
10th in my Age Group
52nd overall (out of 19,200)

I really enjoyed the distance. Even when I was competing I had never run a 1/2 marathon, so this is now my PR. I can't wait to do another one with some proper training and prep. Maybe San Dieguito? After the race we hit the beer garden and then a sports bar to watch the games, talk about the race and take it all in. Fun weekend. Time to take this running fitness and get strong on the bike and swim!

Some more pics from the weekend:

Eric and I (notice his relay baton--sweet!)

Kev, Eric, myself, Irving and Brad celebrating with "VH" at the finish

Great times in Arizona!
You can see a few more pictures of me in agony here.

Glad to be back with the fam and ready to get this triathlon season started!

Swim Week

So I'm less than 5 days away from my first half marathon and my opening race for the 2011 season. I wish I could say that I am prepared and ready to "rock" the Rock & Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon but I am just hoping to finish at this point. About three weeks ago during an interval session (in the cold rain), with about 20 meters to go on my very last interval (of course), I felt a twinge in my calf. I walked off the track without doing a cool down and figured it was just a little cramp or something. A few days later I ran easy and it felt OK. But then when the weekend rolled around I tried for a 10 mile tempo run and after about 5 miles, the pain came on strong. I hobbled back home and for the last few weeks I have been trying to run on it -but am still getting pain. Tonight I'm heading to the track after taking over a week off with no running -so I'm hoping with some ibuprofen, some tape and some luck that I'll be ready to roll. You can track me here on Sunday. With the lack of prep I'm changing my goal time from 1:16 to just going sub 1:20 and finishing!

Staying in striking distance
at the TRI Rock last year
 So with no running going on, what have I been up to? Swimming. I almost look at this as a blessing in disguise because it's forced me to spend more time in the pool. Last week I got in 3 sessions covering just under 3 miles for the week and this week I'm putting in 4 miles. I've been reading a lot of books, watching a lot of video and just becoming a student. It's definitely my limiter of the three disciplines. You always here the saying that you can't win the race with the swim alone, but you can sure lose it. It's about finding that balance. I don't want to devote so much of my training to swimming and neglect my biking and running fitness. After all, you spend the most time on the bike, then run and finally the swim. My goal is to just be in good enough position to exit the swim, not have to fight through bike traffic and be in striking distance of my AG leader when the run starts. Then the hunt begins!

I've been working on a lot of technique drills, trying to find the balance in my stroke and becoming as efficient as possible. I want to be as fast as I can while conserving the most energy. One of the ways I've discovered to do this is by incorporating a "2 beat kick." I've found out that a big reason why I tire so quickly swimming is because I've been doing a 4-6 beat kick on my tired biking/running legs. I almost always hit the pool the next morning after a hard workout and my legs are trashed. The 2 beat kick allows me to limit my kicking and use them more for balance and rotation help rather than propulsion. Check out this video:

This guy's doing 1:12's (per 100) with a 2 beat kick. He's fast, efficient and if it were a race his legs would be primed to kill it on the bike and run (where the race is won). It's kind of a hard habit to break, but I still have until April to perfect my form and technique so I can come out of the water within striking distance.

Monte De Oro
 Last weekend was also me and Amy's 7 year anniversary! Amy's mom watched the kids and we went wine tasting at Briar Rose which was just OK and Monte De Oro which I highly recommend. It's a new winery and not only was it a great experience but the wines are probably the best I've tasted in Temecula Valley. After some tasting we went to The Gambling Cowboy which is in Old Town Temecula. For those of you that have never been to Old Town--take a date and go. Great upscale restaurants and wine bars and suprisingly great Gastro pubs with great beers like The Public House. We've been here for a year now and both Amy and I are really surprised how much we love it here.

I also can't believe it's already been 7 years since we tied the knot. We originally agreed (at the time) to NOT have kids, then 5 years later we softened up and have had two in the past 2 1/2 years! It was the greatest decision we've ever made and can't love these rascals more!

Cheers to the next 7 years!

New Year, New Goals

I'm going to sound old when I say this, but things have changed so much since I ran competitively from HS-Post Collegiate ('93-02). Periodization, Compression Tights, GPS Watches, Nutrition/Supplements--the list goes on. There have been so many tests, studies and progression towards endurance sports since then and I think we are seeing results in the US because of it. We are finally starting to get competitive in running and and triathlon. Not everything was extinct back then though. I remember during my junior and senior year when Heart Rate monitors where finally starting to get affordable, we started wearing them as a team (although I think we used it incorrectly). I remember just always running hard. Whether it be in the summer or during track season -there was never a time where I would just put in slow base mileage and periodize my season. It's so obvious now when I look back why I always peaked too early and was burned out for every national championship. I don't put that on my coaches--I think they actually tried to implement some type of system back then, but no one would ever listen. It was a race most practices and during summer you had to hammer so you'd be ready for training camp. Vicious cycle. Only the strong survived back then. I think athletes are finally starting to buy into periodization now and we are seeing the results.

Back then we were also the guinea pigs on the latest sport supplements which included this nasty toothpaste looking gu and a recovery drink called Sports Toddy (I can't believe they still sell it). They tasted horrible! I remember dry heaving several times trying to get that sports toddy down, but our coach swore by it -so I forced it down. Thank goodness they have good stuff out there now. I currently use and highly recommend Nuun, Carbopro and Cliff Shot bloks for workout nutrition and Hammer Nutrition Recoverite for recovery. The Recoverite is pricey -but so worth it. I really do feel a difference when I don't take it after a hard effort. Its so funny because when I look back on some of the training I did in college we would run these weekly hill/long run efforts -literally 18-24 miles all uphill (Mt. Baldy) with only a water or sometimes none at all! That is crazy, then when we got back we loaded up on donuts - no wonder I would feel absolutely horrible the rest of the day and sometimes rest of the week.

One thing we did have back then is goals. I'm a firm believer in them, whether its your job, training/racing or even your finances. This year my big goals are simple. Qualify for Xterra Nationals and Worlds. They are kind of lofty goals since this will be my first year doing triathlon, but I've had a solid 5 months of training and I know I'm in good shape. The first step will be at the Xterra West Championships on April 10th. However many points I get from there along with all of the other Xterra's I have lined up for the year (check out revamped race schedule) will dictate whether or not I get one of the six spots in my age group for nationals.

A few other goals:

Getting in here 3-4 days/week

Getting this Cyclocross bike

Riding in more places like this

Putting on more of these (less nipple chaffing! less bleeding!

Earning more of these

And most of all, spending a lot of time with my fam!
Thanks for reading everyone, although I haven't received any comments yet with the blog---I do get feedback from a lot of you. My tracker says over 800 have visited -so I imagine this isn't just a diary for myself. Hopefully this blog can be used as a little inspiration to you -I know it's keeping me accountable for my training.

Happy 2011, hope it's your best ever!