The Garden

Scarlett loves her Straberries!
With the weather giving us plenty of sun and rain - our garden has been thriving this year. Last year we got hit with a lot of bugs and since we vow to have an organic garden - it didn't produce much. This year we planted tons of greens, onions, artichoke, brussel sprouts (amongst others) to go along with our herb garden and fruit trees (lemon, peach, 2 orange, grape vine, strawberries and a kumquat tree). Our peach tree is literally covered with 100's of fruit. Can't wait. One of the things we were most excited about owning a home and a little bit of land was to have the ability to grow your own fruits, veggies and herbs. There is nothing cooler than picking out veggies for a salad, seasoning your pasta with your own herbs with a fresh lemon from your tree in your beer and then have BBQ Caramelized peaches for desert from your own tree. Not only does it taste better straight from the vine, but it's cheaper, more convenient and better for you! Oh yea, the kids love picking and eating too!

A few pics from the garden:

4 Veggie Beds
2 Grape vines....other one is tiny
Herb Garden Bed
Loaded Peach tree the training front...This past week has gone great. After great sessions in the pool both Monday & Tuesday morning, Tuesday night called for mile repeats with the San Diego Track Club. We did 6X1 mile repeats with a 400 jog/float (7 min pace). I hadn't done mile repeats in a long time so I just figured I'd shoot for 5:35-40 (which I think is about my ballpark 1/2 marathon pace currently). I set off and usually I'll have a few of the guys come with me, not today though --I think some of the guys raced so they were just I did them all solo, here were my splits:


For an average of 5:33. I was pleased as my Heart Rate was in control and never felt like lactic acid was building. Based off of how I felt and years of experience I think I'm in 1:13 1/2 marathon shape which is about 5 minutes faster than I was in January. I've seen big gains lately since I'm in the "build phase" of my training and it's getting me excited to race next month.

Saturday was another break through workout, this time in the swim. I've kind of felt that my swimming has just stayed stagnate over the past few months with not many gains. I've tried my hardest to find a masters program that fits into my schedule and even WITH my time management skills....just impossible...for now. I did a warm up and then did 2 sets of 4X100 w/40 sec rest. Normally I average around 1:45, but today I convinced myself to push it a bit and see what I can do. Here's my splits:

1:35, 1:32, 1:33, 1:33
(1 minute rest)
1:32, 1:28, 1:29, 1:25

Now I know that's not a huge set or anything but it's a faster average than I've ever swam (1:31)-including my last one which is my fastest 100 to date. After that I put in some long/easy 500's and called it a day. I felt strong and confident for the first time coming out of the pool and can't wait to re-deem myself next month in my first road Olympic TRI.

That night was the first Temecula Valley Tri Club meeting at The Bike Shop. They are just getting things started on a club and it was pretty cool to be apart of the first kick off meeting. We just did a mellow 15 mile ride and then a 5k run off of the bike. Afterwards they just talked about where they want to go with the club and I'm pretty excited to be able to train with some people locally and have some support at the races. I also got a chance to take another look at the Blue Triad SP...Nice bike....The Bike Shop is bringing in the Cannondale Slice 5 also for me to check out. Once they're here, I'm going to get fit to both, see which one is more comfortable and finally get my first "real" bike. So excited. I told Amy that this rates as the most exciting purchase I have ever made for myself (excluding the engagement ring of course..haha). This includes when I convinced my mom when I was a kid to buy the Super Nintendo with my life's savings (thanks mom!) would think a kid would have buyers remorse after a week on that thing, but not so much for me...I wore that thing out.  Then fast forward to my twenties when I bought my first nice car, an Audi TT which I had a lot of fun with...but I have to say this blows those away. It's not so much about getting something that is materialistic like the other things listed, it's about expanding my fitness. I put so much time and effort into my training and getting something that can help alleviate my IT pain and get me faster in races excites me. Just the fact I'll be able to get back on my bike consistently again pumps me up --I've been off of it quite a bit since the Temecula Challenge.

So help me decide, which one do you guys like?

2011 Blue Triad SP in Black

2011 Cannondale Slice 5 in White

Blue Triad TT Demo

A fitting bike to replace Blue Steel
 Kind of like when you are in the market for a car, you want to do some serious research both online, at the dealership (bike shop in this case), ask around and most importantly, test drive the machine! This past weekend The Bike Shop let me demo their 2010 Blue Triad TT bike. I was pretty excited since I have never ridden another road bike besides Blue Steel since I was a kid. I really had no idea what to expect, especially since I had never even ridden in aero bars before. Not only did I want to test out what riding a bike like that would feel like; I also wanted to be sure that Blue Steel is the source of my IT band issues. Friday (the night before) I hopped on the trainer that night to pump out some intervals but only lasted 30 minutes. The IT flared up more than it ever has and I had to cut the workout way short. I was pretty pissed but excited to test drive the Blue the next day.

Sam Calagione makes some fine craft beer...
 Going back a earlier that week on Tuesday I hit the track for the first time since I hurt my foot at the Ragnar Relay. I really didn't know what to expect. I ran with Ryan, an athlete I've been coaching. He was a 3:40 marathoner and is trying to qualify for Boston next month at the R&R marathon. He's come a long way and I see a sub 3 coming in June. We did 8X800 meters with a 400 meter float (7 min pace). We were hitting 2:55ish and then the last three I picked it up a little and went 2:35-9 and felt pretty good. Nothing too crazy, I just wanted to see how the body was holding up after almost of a month of no hard efforts running wise. We hit the 10k in about 37 mins and realized Ryan had just pr'd. He's ready! Afterwards, we headed back to his house and had some Dogfish Head IPA which absolutely hit the spot.

Saturday after a hard 1 hour session at the pool I picked up the bike and then headed out for a 40 miler to test out the Blue Triad. It was ridiculously windy that day, which I actually looked at it in a good way because I'd really be able to tell if being aero really makes a difference. Boy does it ever! I was just kinda figuring out the gears and feel for the bike the first half of the ride and then the last 20 miles I let it rip. My garmin showed 47.3 mph going down a hill at one point. So crazy fast. It feels a little bit sketchy to be going that fast in the aero bars (breaks are not near your hands), but exhilarating at the same time, I had a smile all the way down that hill. I could easily say the bike was 2-4mph faster per mile for me compared to the same route/effort on Blue Steel. Even with the wind, I felt like a new cyclist on that bike. The climbing was easier too. You always read about the geeks that weigh every single ounce on every single component to make sure their bike is as light as possible. I think there's something to that to a certain extent. I did notice that I was using some different muscle groups from being in that position. My glutes were working pretty hard along with my hips and then had a very stiff back and neck from being in a new position. Overall, my experience was great on the bike. It's an older model that has been used quite a bit so the shifting was slipping quite a bit, but other than that, it was a great experience and I'm excited about the possibility of owning one hopefully soon.

Me and my sis
 The next day was going to be a busy one. First, I met up with Kevin at Lake Hodges and put in 12 miles on the trails. This is the longest run I've done in awhile and it actually felt really good. Last week when I tried to go long after riding Blue Steel the day before, I had to hobble back home and cut the run short so I think it's safe to say that bike is the devil! After knocking out the run, I headed back home, showered and hit up church with the family. Then my sister Rachel came up to get her dress hemmed by my amazing wife and then we went wine tasting. The wineries up in Temecula are amazing and it didn't take me long to really enjoy living out here. With old town about 10 mins away, wineries 5 minutes away, Vail Lake 15 minutes away and miles and miles of traffic free roads, you really couldn't ask for a better place to raise your family and train. Now in my twenties we would have hit about five wineries, but now that I'm old at that ripe age of 32 we only hit up two and that was enough for us.

I've decided not to race this weekend at the Kenda Cup Big Bear race. I still feel like I have a lot of work to do to get to where I want to be for San Diego International. I don't think a mountain bike race will elevate my fitness as much as a good weekend of training. With the intensity I've added to my workouts lately, I really feel like my fitness is starting to come around. I think a big reason why my performances have been sub-par to my standards is because I've been in aerobic mode for so long. Now it's time to reap the benefits of that aerobic fitness, get some solid build workouts in and race!

Few more pics from wine tasting:

Me and my boy
Longshadow winery has goats! Kids loved them

The fam

Sick Week...

And I don't mean "sick" in a good way. Last Monday my son Taylor starting throwing up out of both ends, body aches--slight fever... then Tuesday Amy and Scarlett followed suite. I thought I dodged a bullet, then woke up Wednesday morning with it. I was in bed for 2 days straight. Friday couldn't have come sooner. I decided to do a little "jog" to try and shake some cobwebs. I told Amy that night to keep an eye on me and my crazy workout plans for the weekend. After all, I did lose like 5 more pounds and still felt pretty week.

So the next morning I woke up and hit the pool for a leisure 2000 yard swim. I felt horrible as I hadn't swam in a week. It's funny, when I take a week off of running or biking - I definitely don't feel sharp, but man---when I take a week off of swimming, I feel like I forgot how to stay afloat! I got through that and just hung out with family for the day until it was time for me to jump on the bike for a little hill repeat session on Blue Steel, followed by a 30 minute brick run that included 3 mins on, 2 mins off. The hill repeats were brutal. I found this really steep hill not too far from my house that I'm excited about doing again in the future. It's about a 1 mile, 300 foot climb straight up. I originally wanted to do 5 of them, but opted for 3 (my way of holding back a little from being sick). All in all I put in 2000 feet of climbing in a short 90 min ride with some hard hill efforts. This was my first hill workout I've ever done on the road bike. Quite different from the mountain bike...I got back and did a quick transition to the run and actually felt really good. I pushed it a little at first to warm up and then after hitting a mile, I did 3 mins on, 2 mins off (fartlek style) for 2 miles and then finished up with a mile cool down. I didn't really realize hard hard I pushed it until I was cooling down. I probably pressed a little too hard for being sick all week.

The next day I woke up pretty sore, but needed to get out and get a long run in. I just chilled, put in a little climbing but after about 8 miles, my IT band flared up badly. I concluded about a month ago that I knew the source of the problem is the road bike. When I was solely training for Xterra, I didn't touch my road bike and I had zero IT issues. As soon as I started riding again, it has flared up big time. Even after talking with some guys at the bike shop with pedal and seat adjustments --I measured everything and it is identical to my mountain my only conclusion is, it's Blue Steel. The bike was a smart purchase when I first started training because it was only like $400 bucks and I had no idea if I would like triathlons or even riding on the road for that matter. It is a very weird bike structurally because everything is sized wrong. The cranks and seat are just about right for my body size, but then the handlebars are made for a 12 year old girl I think. Super narrow. It just feels awkward to ride, especially when I stand up to sprint, feels like I'm going to go over the handlebars. Sooo...needless to say, I need a new bike, especially since it's causing my IT band to flare up...I have to make a choice on whether I get a road bike or a triathlon bike though. I know a road bike will be more comfortable on rides and I won't look like a douche when I go on group rides but....if I'm going to be racing on a tt bike, I want to be training on one too, so I think I might go that route...I'm really liking the Cannondale Slice...we'll see.

Sunday was all about Mother's Day. I can't say enough about how much my wife, the mother of my children rocks. We are blessed to have her be a stay at home mom and she is knocking it out of the park! She expends so much energy on those kiddos (trust me, they have a lot of energy!) and still puts up with my heavy training load AND even gets out the door for runs and rides herself! After being raised by such a wonderful mom myself, it is such a blessing to see Amy do the same to my kids. So I took her to one of her favorite places -The Wild Animal Park (or Safari park...whatever they're calling it) and had a Mother's Day brunch and afterwards we cruised around and checked out all of the animals. I could tell she had a blast along with the kids and myself. It was just a great day to celebrate mom.
This week, I'm just getting back into the swing of things with training and rolling out that IT band as hard as I can. No racing this week, but next week I might jump into the Kenda Big Bear Shootout---we'll see.

Temecula Challenge

Temecula Challenge Start
With time off of the foot, it was time to put some miles on the bike. I had my biggest week on the bike since I started training---logging in just over 8 hours almost all on the road. With my next race being my first road Olympic triathlon (San Diego International) next month, I wanted to start focusing a little more on my road bike. With this being the case, I decided last minute to ride in the Temecula Challenge on Saturday in the 75 miler. This ride is claimed to be harder then most century rides in the US with 6000 feet of climbing and a 3.5 mile time trial starting right after your legs are feeling know at mile 67...more on that later. First a funny/embarrassing story...

All smiles at this point...
 Earlier in the week I went on a 45 miler in the morning and later that day I wanted to just go for an easy 30 minute spin with the family to shake out the legs a bit. This was the first "family bike ride" we had done and it couldn't have been a better night. The weather was perfect and the sun seemed like it didn't want to set. I was just cruising behind them on the community side walks hootin and hollering at my wife, chattin with the kids...good times. Then we started heading down a hill and things got ugly...I was about 5 feet from the kid's trailer following them down. Then a bee started to sting me on my stomach. Naturally I used my right hand to flick the bee off. As I was flicking the bee off, I look up and realize I'm about to smack right into the kids (I was going faster). So I slam on the breaks---only it was my left hand (front break) since my right hand was flicking the stupid bee. Over the handle bars I go, over the curb I go...slam...slam, slam, smack. I think it was frame, elbow, knee, hands in that order...Couldn't tell happened so fast. I was just lying there on the street looking up in the sky thinking to myself, "are you kidding me!!??" My first road crash is this? I always imagined a dramatic slide out in a crit or something cool...but this? Apparently I laid down there too long, cause Amy hears this loud crash and turns around and just sees me on the street motionless...funny actually. She comes running up and for those of you that know me I get up and say my typical..."Awww....son of a b....!" looking up and down my body making sure everything works...Just a ton of bruises, road rash and TONS of cool points.

Taylor sweeping the floor before I head out
 So fast forward to a good weekend...I actually ran on Friday night for 30 minutes and the foot felt good -so very good news. I'm going to keep easing my way into it and hopefully I'll be ready to tackle to some workouts soon. Saturday morning I got up had a cup of coffee, ate a bunch of eggs and pancakes and actually rode 5 miles to the start to get registered...So I guess I did 80 for the day. They had 100, 75, 50 and 25 mile rides going on for the day. They just had windows (7-8:30) on when you could start (there were about 500 riders). Apparently the 100 and 75 milers left around 7:00. It was 7:45 by the time I finished registering...Great, is this going to be a long lonesome day? After registering, I hurried out and decided to try and turn it into a game and see if I could catch up to some packs. Don't know why, even after stating on FB that I have problems with pacing I decided to push a little early. So I was in the 20 mph range for the first hour...Dumb, but I didn't want to ride 5 hours alone!

This was actually my longest ride to date by like 15 miles. I hadn't gone over 50 in awhile either so I wanted to make sure my nutrition plan was dialed in. I just forced myself to consume as many calories as I could throughout the day since I had no idea how my body would even handle it. I think I ended up taking in about 6-7 bottles of calories, 2 powerbars, 1/2 cliff bar, 1 GU and a sleeve of cliff shot bloks....More on this later. The route took us through a lot of the sections I ride every weekend, but at the same time I had never gone UP Cole grade, Couzer and Rainbow Canyon all in one ride. Blue Steel and I had our work cut out for us. I finally caught up to some packs after 15 miles or so but I think they were just very slow 50 milers that set out early. I finally decided to start conserving some energy and focus on the fact that I have 60 miles to go - so I backed way off and just started enjoying the ride. I think the coffee had me all amped up. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day as far as sunshine goes...however the wind was pretty brutal coming back. Pretty much 50 of the 75 miles was into a head wind. Brutal!
50 mile aid station
 I found myself passing a lot of riders but none of them seemed to be going my pace. I finally figured out that I won't be catching anyone that is doing my pace unless I minimize my breaks. So out of the 4.5 hours I rode I only spent 15-20 minutes of non-riding (bathroom breaks, refueling). As I approached Cole Grade I remember going down it months back and thinking this was the steepest decent I've ever gone down--now I'm going up it. Time to turn on some Pandora on my phone. For some reason on the road bike I've really been into club/dance/house music which is really weird since the majority of my life I have been into punk rock and hardcore. Whatever works. It's about a 5 mile steep climb and then about 4 miles of rollers before we hit an aid station and finally start making our way back home.

I hit Couzer Canyon (back/easy side) and was still feeling pretty strong and as I rode up to the last aid station at mile 65 and right before the time trial starts, I got off my bike to refuel and my hamstring cramps up really bad. Holy crap that hurt! I tried to walk it off all cool and talked to the volunteers, thanked them, grabbed some trail mix and filled both of my bottles up with the Powerade they had. I had decided earlier to just do a bunch of watered down sports drinks for the day. Although I think it was the right choice, the fact that each aid station had different brands caught up with me. At first I had Heed in both of my bottles then at the aid stations it was Gatorade then Cytomax (twice) then to Powerade...I think it caught up to me because as I reached the start of the 3.5 mile time trial climb my stomach was acting preeettty funky. I was joking with the ladies running the tt, saying how I'm not sure how I feel about this was my longest ride already and I was going to go hard for 3.5 miles and 900ft of climbing. I took off and hit it hard. The cool thing was I was seriously enjoying this...loving this hurt. Loving the burning in the legs, burning in the lungs, heat baking on my back, picking off riders...this is the sick thing I love about endurance sports...and then as I approached the end of the tt I started feeling that nasty Powerade coming up. I finished, the timer got my number, I stopped for a bit and fought that Powerade back down into the tummy. 
Enjoying the beer garden at the finish

I quickly realized that my stomach was just saying no to Powerade and I still had about 7 miles to the finish. That was the longest 7 miles I've ever done. Rather than throwing up, I just gutted it out and took nothing in the last part of the ride and felt it. I probably screwed up mixing so many energy gels, drinks and not taking in enough "real food." I know I would have enjoyed the ride a lot more if I had been with a pack, taken more/longer breaks and been a little more conservative in the beginning, but lesson learned---that's why I signed up for it, learning experience and a great workout. As I crossed the finish I was so happy to see my family. They were all smiles and I sure was. We stuck around, had some burgers and beer and waited for results. I honestly thought I had a terrible time trial. I blew up with about 1/2 mile to go and it was unexplored territory for me. When the race director made his rounds he indicated to me that I won. Holy crap! Seriously? I definitely wasn't expecting that and it was a good confidence booster (something I needed after getting my a$$ handed to me the past month).

Well earned beers at the finish...Who doesn't
love a women that loves dark beer!!??
That's one thing I want to accomplish through this blog is to not only show the good times I have at races, but also try and illustrate how hard and frustrating it is to be successful in endurance sports. I won't beat around the bush when things are tough and with all the work I put in over the winter, I wasn't so pleased with my results in April. That's when you have to make a decision at whatever level you are at. Do I quit because I think I am no good and this is hard? Or do I use the poor performances to fuel the burning fire you have inside? April pissed me off and I want to make it right. This was a good start for me. I definitely pushed passed my comfort zone and it paid off. I don't have any other races planned for May, so I'll just focus on building my fitness for the San Diego International Triathlon. I might jump into a sprint tri before that race, but we'll see.

Thanks for reading, and here's a few more pics from the weekend:

Bruised hands from the "incident" didn't make
riding so comfortable...

Scarlett getting a flower painting at the race EXPO
This one was a hard earned one!
Scarlett wanted to wear one like daddy...but she insisted on wearing a funny