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Monday, August 25, 2008


Last week started off with me having to bail on a run because of a weird pain in my knee. After the run I could barely walk down stairs. A day later if felt fine. Two days later I ran again and had the same issue come up within a mile. At that point I started doing some research and self-diagnosed myself with onset of ITBS. For the next two days I aggressively stretched, foam rolled, and got massage. I found that I was very tight, especially in the hamstrings and glutes but quickly was able to release the tension with the right stretches. While foam rolling I found a very sore tendon in the top of my tibia on the posterior side which joins at the same place that the IT band joins. I’m wondering if this is the issue. I went for a test run on Saturday morning (2 miles) and it felt fine.

Yesterday (Sunday) I went for a ride with a friend and went down on some loose gravel in a turn. I wasn’t wearing gloves so the palms of my hands got ripped up pretty good as did my shoulder and hip. I got bandaged up and continued the ride. Now I’m in pain and can’t swim because of all the open wounds. I don’t want to run or ride until showering isn’t painful. So it looks like I’m going to have a forced rest week with just 5 weeks until the HIM and 9 until the IM. I’m just going to have to trust that a rest week is what I need right now and that the time left for training will be sufficient.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Greenville Triathlon Race Report

My wife, son and I drove up to Greenville on Saturday afternoon, leaving the girls behind with the grannies. We left with enough time to go to packet pickup, check into the hotel, change our clothes and get to a dinner meeting for the SC leadership of FCA-E. My son was very well behaved at dinner. He was very quiet (but also quite entertaining) for 2 hours while we met and ate dinner. He really made the trip a lot of fun for us. After about two hours at the restaurant he was ready to move on but the meeting was not over yet so he and my wife walked over to Barnes and Noble to buy some books and magazines. We made it back to the hotel around 8:30 and headed to the lobby for some cookies and then to the pool to let him swim for a while before bed. After that he insisted on a quick game of Sorry before bed, to which we obliged.

So finally around 10:00 PM we were off to bed. That’s we when noticed that our mattress had a dip the size of the Grand Canyon in the middle of it. My wife tried to sleep on the sofa bed with my son which gave me a chance to move into the bottom of the valley which was better than trying to lie on the slope of the side. She didn’t last very long on the sofa bed so we were both back on the slopes for the night. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep too well. I thought Hampton Inns were supposed to be at least decent among the chain hotels?! Guess not. Also, the room had a funky odor.

We woke up around 4:45 AM to the sound of thunder and rain. It was a full-on storm that was pouring down rain. Not good. We decided to go ahead and pack all our stuff and check-out in case the race was delayed and we couldn’t make it back by noon. We got it all done and managed to eat breakfast by 6:00 am and headed to the race site. Thankfully the race had an indoor pool swim so my wife and son could get out of the rain. They went inside while I setup transition and got body marked. It was still raining but the lightning had stopped by 7:00 am so the race was able to start on time.

This swim was a little awkward for me since I’m not used to racing in a pool, much less a 50 meter one. I think I seeded myself fairly well as I was able to pass 3 people and didn’t get passed by anyone, nor did I catch Donna Douglass or Chris Anderson who both went off 10 seconds ahead of me. The 3 people I passed must have grossly misestimated their swim pace because they had to start at least 20 seconds ahead of me (and one of them had to start at least 30 seconds ahead). Anyway, I had an okay swim. I think the newness of it all had me a little preoccupied and kept me from swimming at the intensity level that I should have been. The swim distance was supposed to be 400 meters but was more like 385 since we exited using a ladder that was about a quarter of the length from the end. The swim time also includes a run out of the building and down a sidewalk to the transition area. Swim time: 6:38. Overall rank: 30 Age group rank: 4

T1 was standard fare for me. I always give up about 20 seconds here to the Elite guys. This is something that I will work on and change before next season. Time: 0:55

Heading out on the bike it was still raining pretty steadily. It was a typical bike start for me where I pass quite a few people in the first 5 miles. About mile 5 I came past Chris Anderson and we cheered each other on. He had started 10 seconds ahead of me and had a phenomenal 6:06 swim. The course was wet, fairly hilly, and totally unfamiliar. In talking with David before the start, he mentioned a downhill section that makes a sharp turn that could potentially have washed out dirt on the road and the propensity to overshoot the turn. I instantly recognized that section when we came to it and slowed way down but still managed to overshoot the turn and cross into the opposing lane, mainly because I didn’t want to lean the bike too much on the mud and risk loosing traction. Thankfully there were no cars coming. At about mile 7.5 I realized that I didn’t know the distance of the bike leg. I decided that I would ask the next person I passed. I got the chance about a quarter of a mile later and he said it was 15 miles. In return he asked how far we’d gone. I thought that was kind of funny since we both had information that the other needed. I yelled “7.75” as I headed up a climb. The rest of the time I spent reeling people in, climbing, descending, going easy through the many turns, and hammering the straight-aways. At some point it stopped raining. No one passed me, which is a good sign, although not all that meaningful in a time-trial type start. Bike Time: 37:41 Overall rank: 14. Age group rank: 1

T2 was pretty typical for me. Time: 0:53

This was a challenging little run course. It was here that I realized the theme of the Greenville Triathlon is “Turns”. Being a pool swim there’s like 7 of them, the bike had about 10 of them and the run had a bunch of them also. Anyway, once you weave your way around and out of the parking lots you take a sharp turn onto a washed out dirt road/trail that leads you over a hill and into another parking lot where you take a near 180 degree turn to begin a square (more turns) loop. You do this twice, which means 4 trips along the washed out dirt road, two uphill and two downhill. On the last trip down this section of the course, which is close to the finish I could hear someone catching me. Then I heard someone say, “He’s coming Nick”. It was Chris Anderson that said it and I’m not sure to whom he was referring (other than himself) (it was Jeff Brandenburg who was seeded behind me and beat me overall) because when he said it I opened up and began my sprint to the finish. Neither of them caught me. Chris crossed the line 3 seconds behind me. After I passed him at mile 5 of the bike I had totally written him off, but he was hunting me down. He ran an amazing 18:20 and I barely held him off. Thankfully I had 10 seconds in the bank on him from the swim start. Run time: 19:43. Overall rank: 29. Age group rank: 6.

Total time: 1:05:49. Overall place: 11. Age group place: 1

This is the state’s largest triathlon with about 550 people racing. It was a great atmosphere despite the bad weather. By the time the post race activities had begun, the sun had come out and a beautiful day emerged. I was the first one to get a massage and didn’t have to wait in line. That was a welcomed first. We were all pretty tired by lunch time and ready to get on the road home. We packed it up, ate lunch on the way, and my wife and son passed out on the ride back. I took a short nap when we got home and then my wife and I enjoyed the bottle of Chardonnay with the Greenville Triathlon label that was given as our award while the kids ate ice cream and played with their neighborhood friends in the cul-de-sac. It was a nice end to a great weekend. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

4 steps forward 1 step back

Because that 5th step forward might just break me. It’s a recovery week. I’m finding the necessary energy to put a few thoughts together and write them down. Actually, it’s more like I’m finding the time to write down something, but I not sure what yet. Okay, that’s rambling. Maybe I’ll just interview myself:

Me: So how are you feeling physically these days?

Myself: Pretty good. I have a few aches and pains but nothing too concerning. I’m a little worn down from training but some active recovery will have me feeling all fresh again soon. I have a massage scheduled after this interview which I’m looking forward to.

Me: How’s training for the ironman coming along?

Myself: Very good. I just finished up a four week training block that was big on bike and run volume (for me). The weeks were 14 hrs, 13.5 hrs and two 15.5 hour weeks. During that block I completed an 18 mile run (my longest to date) in good form and two 100 mile rides with loads of climbing in under 5 hrs. There were also several long bricks and one session which contained a 75 / 9 mile double brick. My swimming is coming along quite well also. I feel like I may be at a peak for the season with my swim. I had a very good session on Monday where I saw a few weeks worth of concerted work on a certain element of my stroke come to fruition.

Me: What’s next for you in terms of races?

Myself: I have a sprint distance race this weekend in Greenville, SC which is the complete antithesis of all my training lately. I’m not sure I even remember how to go as fast as is necessary to do well at that distance. I’m treating it as a “training day” and going out there to have fun and reconnect with friends. My wife was asked to say the prayer for the race which is a great honor in my opinion. The founder and head of the FCA Endurance ministry (of which I am a part), Chris Anderson, is coming down to meet with us and see the race. He was recently interviewed on Endurance Planet which is a good listen if you haven’t heard it already.

There’s another race in 3 weeks in Hartsville that I may or may not do, and then there’s the half ironman in late September, Hickory Knob in mid October and then the ironman on November 1. That’s a lot of racing. I seriously doubt I’ll race this many next year. I’ll focus on either the SC Series, qualifying for Kona, or qualifying for 70.3 championships in Clearwater. This year has been a little crazy with trying to win my division in the SC Series and preparing for my first ironman.

Me: How do you feel about your results so far this season?

Myself: I pleased with the way things have turned out so far this year. The season got off to a bit of a rough start at Langley where I only placed fourth in my division / 19th overall. For some reason there was a lot of strong talent from outside the area (and country) that showed up. I think it was a bit of a shock and wakeup call to all the series regulars.

Since then I’ve raced four other times and been on the podium each time. I can’t complain about that. I hope I’ve done enough work in the first half of the season to secure the first place spot in my division through the remaining races. As I stated earlier, I’m not in top short course form at the moment. The last speed work I did was at my last race which was a Sprint distance race a month ago.

Me: How’s the family?

Myself: Great. The kids keep us busy of course. Caleb is getting ready to start back school next week. He’ll be a first grader and is looking forward to reconnecting with his friends. Abby is getting ready to turn 4 years old next month. With her birthday being in late September, she’ll be home with mommy for the next two years. She’s a big time Momma’s girl so I'm sure she won’t mind. Don’t get me wrong, she loves her daddy, but she’s like a mini-Jennifer. Many times she’ll actually echo what Jennifer says as Jennifer is talking to other people. Not the whole sentence, just the main point. It’s funny. Hannah is the baby who doesn’t want to be “the baby” anymore. This creates a bit of a challenge because she’s not yet totally potty trained (I’d say 20%) but insists on wearing big girl underpants just like her sister. She thinks she should be doing everything that her sister gets to do and gets very upset when she can’t. It’s kind of funny because occasionally she gets so mad at you that she’ll stick out her tongue and call you a “baby-head”. In her mind there’s nothing worse than being a baby.

Me: How’s work going?

Myself: Work is work. In some ways I very much dislike “corporate America”. I get tired of soft guys talking “office politics” (talking about other people) in hushed tones throughout cube-dom. On the other hand, I’m also thankful for my job and for the fact that my wife doesn’t have to work. I don’t know how families with two working parents do it. I have a lot of respect for them. Jennifer does work a week every six months for her friend at a semi-annual consignment sale. That one week is enough for both of us to appreciate how blessed we truly are. Actually, Jennifer is now gainfully employed as a fitness instructor at her gym for two boot-camp sessions per week. She was attending the classes and was later asked and accepted the position of instructor. It works great because she can get her workout in and make a little extra cash. Her gym provides childcare so the girls go with her.

Me: Now let me get slow-twitchy on you. Describe a typical hard training week.

Myself: I’m just learning what a true “hard” week is for me so they are not too typical. Here’s my basic week which I adjust up or down in terms of duration per session to reach my desired volume: 5 to 6 bike sessions with one being a brick and/or long ride, 4 swim sessions and 4 run sessions with one being a brick or transition run. I typically have 2 sessions per day, sometimes 3, and occasionally only 1. I have a rest day every week.

Me: How do you spend your off season?

Myself: Freezing my butt off in my garage at 5:00 am riding the trainer. Fun huh?

Me: So how are things going for you in terms of sponsorship?

Myself: Great. I’m still with Harrell’s Bicycle World and glean as much information from Paul as I can. I have to say that he (Paul Harrell) is an awesome bike fitter. I’m so comfortable and fast on my Scott Plasma tri bike and Scott CR1 road bike. I'm looking for additional athletes to bring to the team. I’d love to see us compete with the quite large Cycle Center and TYB teams in the coming seasons. I’m also still very much involved with team FCA-E as I mentioned earlier.

Me: What about music? What do you listen to most often?

Myself: I have a variety of songs on my iPod. A mix of early 80s punk, late 80s and 90s grungy stuff, some progressive Christian punkish bands, some rap, reggae (especially Dub). I also listen to a lot of podcasts related to the sport.

Me: What’s the last book you read?

Myself: Last night I read some book about a bunny who found and egg and tried to open it, and then fell asleep at which time the egg hatched. The Chick woke up the bunny and they became friends. Great book, I highly recommend it for your two year old.

Me: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Myself: Enjoying my family and racing triathlons. Same as today, only I’ll be faster at 38 than I am at 33.

Me: Is there anything else we should know about you?

Myself: Sure. I’m not a native South Carolinian. I was born in Savannah, GA and spent my childhood there or on Hilton Head Island. This is as far as I have ever lived from the coast. Salt water runs through my veins.