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Monday, June 29, 2009

Training update

Training goes well. I love the day-in, day-out training. Both last week and this week are transition weeks from the lower-volume racing weeks of late to the buildup for half and full iron distance races coming this fall.

Last week: 15 hrs 15 min

- 11,400 meters swimming
- 7 hrs 45 min on the bike
- 3 hours of running
- 1 hr 45 min strength

This week's plan: 16 hrs 50 min

- 12km swimming
- 8 hrs on the bike
- 4 hrs 50 min of running
- 1 hr strength

Also I've been trying to choose a race as a lead-in to the Augusta 70.3. I think I've landed on the USAT National Championship as my only option. Unfortunately it's like 6 hrs away in Tuscaloosa, AL. Originally I thought one of the Hartsville races would be an option but that conflicts with the much anticipated annual surf trip / family vacation to the Outer Banks.

My brother-in-law may be coming over from San Jose to join us so he can show me how they do it out west. Sadly any surfing skills that I once had are long gone now that I live over 100 miles from the coast. So I fully expect to get schooled by the b-i-l as well as give the local obx-ers a good chuckle (at least I hope that's their reaction!!) It's all good ... I wouldn't have found triathlon if I hadn't moved inland (kinda strange?!). Anyway, I'll have a bike with me and there are tons of well paved, bike laned roads to ride. There aren't any hills, but the wind there is ridiculous (think Wright Bros) which should be plenty to make for some hard workouts. Swimming will be all open water in the ocean and I can't wait to run barefoot on the beach at sunrise!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tri the Midland Race Report

A little belated, but here’s a quick report from Tri the Midlands:

The swim was awesome (apart from the hot water). I swam in the Xterra Velocity speedsuit again … I LOVE that thing!!!! The Open division had ITU-style swim start where we lined up on the dock and had a dive start. That was a lot of fun, but I did take on a little water in the goggles. No biggie. Felt strong in the water, but never latched onto any feet. I think we were all pretty much strung out. My arms burned but my breathing was calm and steady. I was the 5th Open male out of the water (of 10), and ranked 8th overall among the men (255). Until I typed this I didn’t realize how much swim ability drops off outside of the Open div … I was top 3% overall, but only 50% in the Open division. Swim time (with run to transition) 7:40. Still so work left to do here …

Running into T1 I could see Woody and Mike Wendt at their bikes so I knew my swim was pretty good. Parker is one speedy dude all around. He came into transition after me and was out well before me. I think getting out of the Velocity cost a bit of time here. For reference, Parker was in and out in 44 seconds to my 1:03.

Before we made it out of the Lake Carolina community I had a school of fish in sight (Mike Wendt and Ryan Payne). I was gaining ground on them and watching the battle ahead. Soon enough Mike passed Ryan and was on his way down the road. I caught Ryan around mile 4 pushed past him pretty hard. This was right after the turn on Langford Road, which was the fastest and most fun part of the course. By the end of Langford I had almost bridged the gap to Mike. I made my move on him around mile 10 on Mickle Road. Mike hung with me for the final mile 4.5 miles which had a lot of turns, traffic circles, etc and he entered T2 behind me by 7 seconds. Bike time was 36:44, 3rd Open, 6th overall

Jerking my feet out of the bike shoes my calf locked up with a cramp. Not a good sign but what can you do? Time, 49 seconds.

Starting out the run I felt good. The calf cramp seemed to be totally gone. It was getting hot and I need to open the jersey a little to get some air to my core. The zipper on the Craft jersey is just like the Xterra Velocity in that it is a break-away zipper if the zipper is flipped up. Somehow in trying to open it up a bit the zipper broke away and all the sudden I was running with a wide open jersey. I tried to fiddle with it for a bit but gave up as I had to sacrifice some pace to mess with it. Oh well, who care how I look anyway … let’s just concentrate on this run. This is a brutal run course. It is very undulating until all the sudden it goes straight up to the turn around, and then straight back down, then undulating again. This year the course was changed such that we ran on the road on the way to the turn around and then on the bike path on the way back. Theoretically you are covering the same amount of elevation gain and loss, but the run this year seemed way harder than last year. I think running on the road isn’t as gradual of a climb and increases the grade in certain sections. Perhaps last year when I raced in the age group, having people up ahead to run down made it go by quickly?? Whatever the reason, this little 5k was one of the hardest runs I’ve endured. I knew there were fast runners coming for me and I could see that I was losing some ground to Woody and that long hill seemed to go on forever. I think the hardest part was hitting the undulating part the second time, after climbing the hill. I was tapped out. I gave it what I had (which wasn’t much) and ended up running a disappointing 20:45, 6th Open, 13th overall.

In the end it was 1:06:59 for 6th place overall.

Coincidently JB also put up a 1:06:59, but apparently his was some 10th or 100th of a second faster than mine, which gave him the 5th spot. Unfortunately since he’s not racing Open it didn’t come down to a sprint finish between us (which would have been AWESOME). Instead we have to let the clock sort it out and it is what it is. Oh well, next year he’s racing Open Masters so we’ll be going head to head. Fun stuff!

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 8 - 14

Back to the training grind I love so much ...

Total: 17 hrs 7 min
Swim: 10,000 meters
Bike: 8 hrs 33 min
Run: 3hr 28 min
Strength, etc: 2 hrs 15 min

Training last week was good after taking it pretty easy Monday and Tuesday to absorb the work from the race last Sunday. By Tuesday the legs were feeling good and ready to put in some harder efforts. As for swimming, I was totally spent by Wednesday after swimming 4 days straight with no lack of intensity. So Thursday was no swimming and then back in the pool on Friday for a great session with my friend Chip Edgar. For the main set, which was 2000m continuous negative splitting the second half, we worked on drafting with each of us pulling 500 meter segments. This was a great learning experience for me as I haven't been able to draft well in races (and had just about given up on trying). Now I can see the true amount of rest you get when being pulled and know what to feel for with my hands to know I'm in the right spot. Hopefully I'll get to try out my new found awareness this weekend.

Which brings us to the upcoming race on Saturday. I can't wait ... this is a really fun race just across town. It's a great little sprint race that was established last year, but this year there have been some changes made to the bike course to make it a little longer and avoid a busy intersection. So times won't really be comparable to last year. The downside of racing is that training volume for the week goes down (unless you're just "training through it" - which I am not). It's a local race so I want to do my best to represent my sponsors and supporters well.

I think the reason I'm looking forward to the race so much is that it is a kind of celebration of the culmination of the short-course season for me. After this race my focus will shift to preparing for the 70.3 race in Augusta and B2B iron distance race. I'm tossing around the idea of going to Tuscaloosa for the USAT Age Group National Championship race but haven't decided yet. Actually I'm a long way from deciding as I haven't yet mentioned it to Jennifer.

On the family side it was a big weekend of dance recitals. We had family come in town from Savannah to watch the kids and Jennifer do their thing on stage. They all did great! Hannah (3 yrs old) was hilarious ... at one point she covered her eyes (so no one could see her) and then laid face-down on the stage during the performance with the other "babies". It didn't help that the whole place was laughing at them, but it was just too cute and funny not to laugh! The next night she did much better with the stage fright, but did end up getting mad at one of the other 3 yr olds and chased her around the stage trying to whack her with her wand. That's my girl!!

Abby (almost 5) on the other hand was the consummate professional. She had here routine absolutely mastered and really was in another league from the other 4 and 5 year olds. Everyone was so impressed and we were EXTREMELY proud of her! I would say that she has a gift for ballet.

Have a great week and train well!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Festival of Flowers

I had two goals in mind for this race. 1) top 10 overall. 2) take 6 minutes off my time from last year which would be about 2:07:high.

I was hoping for a non-wetsuit legal swim as to separate the sharks from the fish from the minnows, and I got my wish. Also I was anxious to try out the new Xterra Velocity speedsuit. The water felt great during the swim warm-up and I was more relaxed than I have been all year. The buoys were setup in a awkward jagged line going out to the first yellow turn buoy which could barely be seen for the fog. On shore Chris Olson and I plotted our line to yellow turn buoy on the left side of the orange buoys. Here I made my first mistake by picking a target of the canoe on the left of the first orange buoy (a moving target) since I breathe on the left side. The gun went off and the plan was to stay controlled and relaxed until the second orange buoy and then pick it up. Everything went according to plan and there was a little jockeying for position in the beginning. The canoe I was sighting on evidently drew further to the left close to the shore the closer I got to it which pulled me away from the pack and too far left. I had to make my way back to the right to make the left turn around the first yellow buoy. Once here I picked it up a bit and found a really good rhythm. Coming out of the water I looked at my watch and was shocked to see 24:16. Worst case scenario in my mind had me under 24 minutes, I guess I'm not a shark yet ... The upside is that it was 3+ minutes faster than last year.

Running up to transition Jeremey tells me I'm 6th. T1 wasn't that great, for some reason couldn't get the helmet strapped. Racing Open has the advantage of the best rack spots which mitigated this some. I opted not to clip the shoes on the pedals which further slowed down t1.

Off on the bike felt pretty good. I passed position 5 and 4 within the first few miles and could see 3 and 2 up the road. I was very slowly bringing them in some. About mile 10 I get passed by Dan Moss. I knew it was just a matter of time. Around mile 14, here comes Parker just absolutely smacking it!! Of course I can't ride with these guys so I just settled into my rhythm back in the 6th spot. I knew there were guys who would beat my time that started in waves behind mine, but to keep my head in the game I was pretending I was actually 6th. I changed my position around a little last week and had only ridden 12 miles on the changes which had and additional 1 cm of drop. Nearing the end of the ride I could feel my lower back a bit. I kept reeling in the two in front of me but never closed the gap fully and they entered T2 just ahead of me. Ride time was 58:48 for an average speed of 24.5. I was happy to have broken the 1 hr mark.

Mistake number 2 was forgetting to get out of my shoes on the bike. So the once advantageous rack spot was now a hindrance as I had to run the entire length of transition on cleats. I ran out of t2 just behind 5 and 4.

Setting out on the run I saw my family at the top of the first little rise coming out of transition. I slowed down a bit to high five my wife and kids and then proceeded to get about the business of finding a good rhythm. The guy in front of me, bib 139, was running what seemed to be a pretty good pace. I thought I would just run his pace until the mile marker and then reassess and see if I could attack on the first big hill on hwy 702. We hit the first mile marker and I looked at the watch ... not good ... 6:32. By the feel of things I was pretty sure we were running low 6s, but that just wasn't the case. Shortly after mile 1 we both passed position 4. About this time I noticed the audible slapping sound coming from my left foot with each foot strike which didn't do anything for the mood. Also 139 (David Hall) was either picking it up or I was slowing down. Not much going on after passing number 4 until just after mile 4 when some dude (Mark Render) with 44 on his calf comes flying past me and I watch him fly past 139 up the road. Geez, this run has gone from bad to worse! In the end it was a terrible run ... my goal was sub 40 and this wasn't even close (41:40). Still 2+ min faster than last year, but c'mon!!!! My running form just feels so awkward to me right now.

In the end it was 9th place in a time of 2:06:37. So my goals were accomplished and I took 7 minutes off last year's time and finished 10 positions higher. Sitting here today though I'm seething over that run! My suspicions are that my training after getting past the calf injury was just too little too late. 56 miles run in all of April due to the injury and then ramping it up in May but without any threshold work just didn't setup well for a good 10k. Maybe next year ...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Energy galore

I almost posted again yesterday but figured it would overload y'all with too much Nick so I delayed it until today (you're welcome). The recovery week has left me with more mental energy than usual ... hence the many posts and massive amount of code being written a work.

Physically I'm feeling pretty fresh also. My little tune up run went well this morning with my race pace intervals coming and going smoothly. In the pool today I did a 1500 meter distance set in 21:32, so feeling pretty sprightly there also. I'm not sure if this speed in the water will translate to open water, but if it does my sub 24 minute swim goal should be a given.

The downside of a recovery week before a race is that I'm left with too much and knock out tasks I've been meaning to get around to. Namely the task of making position changes on the bike based on the advice of my coach after seeing the pictures from Lake Murray. Reading Scott's latest post and talking with him about his bike-fit changes and viewing the video he sent over inspired me to give a go. This probably wasn't the wisest thing to do just days before a race. Hopefully I didn't sabotage myself!! I'll have to try to get some pictures up of the refined position. In short, it's lower in the front and my arms are now parallel to the ground instead of being slanted down. I achieved this by removing 1 cm risers from between my aerobar cuffs and the extension to which they attach.

peace out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Expert Coaching

Being a recovery week I have some extra energy for posting, so here is another! On the flip side of that coin, it is the week of a race so naturally I have a sore throat and congestion :-(

In case you hadn't seen these, I thought I give you a glimpse into the expert coaching and mentoring I receive from JonnyO. Enjoy!

Tip of the Week #1:

Tip of the Week #2:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More on Health

Paul’s recent post on Health and Fitness got me thinking (as his posts often do). It was strange that we posted on the same topic within hours of each other. His post was a continuum of a set of posts with the common theme of Health, Wealth, and Happiness … these being the pillars of his long term goals and with each pillar being linked to each other. I believe this is a common set of fundamental goals for many of us in the “western” world. In his writings, Paul does a beautiful job of illustrating each pillar with a slant to make the topic relevant to the endurance athlete.

But specifically his post dealt with a dimension of Health that mine did not, which is the mental aspect of health. This brought me to ponder the importance of spiritual health since, in my opinion, the three (mental health, physical health, and spiritual health) are undoubtedly connected.

So the premise thus far is that spiritual health is a necessary ingredient for the larger pillar of Health, and the pillar of Health is directly connected to the pillars of Wealth and Happiness. But what is spiritual health? How is it related to physical health? How important is it? How can it be obtained and maintained? And what impact does it have on the other pillars?

What is spiritual health?

Instead of providing a definition from some internet source, I’ll write the attributes that I believe embody spiritual health.

- Hope
- Eternal assurance
- Absence of fear
- Maturity
- Selflessness
- Contentment

How is spiritual health related to physical health?

I grabbed this from (a “secular” website), which was the first result in the Google search “spiritual health”:

“No one really knows for sure how spirituality is related to health. However, it seems the body, mind and spirit are connected. The health of any one of these elements seems to affect the health of the others.

Some research shows that things such as positive beliefs, comfort and strength gained from religion, meditation and prayer can contribute to healing and a sense of well-being. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better, prevent some health problems and help you cope with illness, stress or death.”

And this is simply a confirmation that the medical community recognizes the importance and connection between spirituality and health. To me, the most intriguing part of this statement is the acknowledgement that spiritual health can “contribute to healing”.

How important is it?

Okay, so here’s where things begin to transcend …

Until now the premise has been that spiritual health is a vital component of Health, with the understanding that spiritual health contributes to physical and mental health. But, in truth, spiritual health not only affects the temporal (the mind and body as they exist now), but the eternal … specifically the spirit, which is not temporal. So in this regard, spiritual health transcends all other health since its implication reaches beyond the natural and into the supernatural.

If you are not of Judeo/Christian theology you may be saying to yourself, “this guy is Looney … I don’t believe that there is eternity … there is nothing that is not natural, everything is finite, including us, the world, and all of existence. We have no spirit; we are simply animals whose minds have evolved way beyond that of other animals”.

To that mindset I don’t really have a response. It’s like a blind man and a man who can see sitting on a bench in a park. The man who can see says, “Hey there’s a squirrel over there”. And the blind man says, “No there’s not. There is no such thing as squirrels.” The man who can see says, “Yes there is, I’m looking at one. It’s right over there.” And the blind man says, “Yeah right … you’re a fool. Like I said, there is no such thing as squirrels.” – A pointless debate that goes nowhere.

So, moving on …

How can spiritual health be obtained and maintained?

There is only one answer and it is the same for both obtaining and maintaining spiritual health. Christ … believing in Christ, receiving salvation and redemption through Christ, and being sanctified through Christ. Christ is the only way. Every other path is false and will never bring you to spiritual health.

And what impact does spiritual health have on the other pillars?

Well … unfortunately for our desire to be comfortable, Christ does not call us to a life of wealth and happiness. He puts a greater calling on our lives; He calls us to a life of sacrifice! The truly best part is that He promises that through this we will find something better than happiness … we will find contentment, which transcends both health and wealth.

This shouldn’t be a problem for endurance athletes like me since we are very accustomed to sacrificing comfort to gain fitness and performance. So I should do this more. I should sacrifice my wants and my needs for others. I should love my neighbor as myself. And I should do this as a willing sacrifice to the Lord.

Another wise man named Paul once wrote these (I think it is obvious that Paul was an athlete, perhaps a runner, and a fan of sports):

...train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. - 1 Corinthians 9:22-27

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. - Galatians 5:6-8

...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:1-3

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. - Romans 15:1-2

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. - 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Monday, June 1, 2009

Health and Fitness + Training Update

I haven't done much posting lately so I thought I would catch up in one massive post ... grab some coffee, cause here goes ...

Like many athletes I tend to let the two (health and fitness) blur together in my mind. The latest event to rattle this ignorance-is-bliss mindset for me was the death of a legend, Steve Larsen at just 39 years of age. This one really threw me for a loop because Steve was the picture of fitness ... a world champion poised to see how far he could take it, one more time. Even more so however was the fact that he left behind five small children which hits very close to home for me, having 3 little ones myself.

If you follow my blog you may remember that late last year I set a plan in place to have my body composition measured every quarter this season leading to the ironman in the late fall. My goal was to reach a high level of fitness in June for two races and then again in November. Well June is here and today was the day to check the numbers and let the chips fall where the may. The items that are in bold are the ones I'm concerned about most (from a fitness perspective).

Height (in)717171
Weight (lb)160159161
Waist (in)3029.529.7
Hip (in)36.53636.7
Waist/Hip Ratio.82.82.81
Blood Pressure121/74N/A118/82
Resting HR525248
Max HR186186186
Body Fat %
Fat Weight (lb)9.9212.8812.56
Lean Weight (lb)150.08146.12148.44

Things have made a very big shift since March in the right direction. My weight is up by 1 pound, but for very good reason as my fat weight is down nearly 3 pounds and my lean weight is up 4 pounds. This simply means that I've put on muscle and lost fat. I was very pleased to have reached my goal of 6% body fat for June.

I should say that I did not diet AT ALL to reach 6%. As a matter of fact most days include 2 breakfasts, mid morning snack, lunch, copious amounts of chocolate, more afternoon snacks (lots of fruit), and large dinners with multiple helpings and several pieces of bread, and of course desert. This leads me to believe that I can become even more lean for November by incorporating a smidgen of willpower when it comes to food.

So that is my fitness and I am pretty fit at the moment. But what about my health?

I afraid it is not such a positive note here ... I had an evaluation last week (blood pressure and blood analysis) and the results have come back. The areas for concern are my systolic blood pressure number (121) - which is at the bottom of the "High Normal" range, and my cholesterol numbers. My total cholesterol number was 218 mg/dl which puts me in the "Borderline high" range. The HDL ("good cholesterol") number was fine (50), but the LDL ("bad cholesterol") was in the "Borderline high" range with a 141.

Jennifer has made an appointment with my doctor so we can figure out the right approach for getting my blood pressure and cholesterol back into normal ranges. Hopefully this won't involve drugs!!!

Last week capped off a solid block of training leading into some races this month. I've been very consistent and hope it pays off in my performances. Here's a picture of training over the last few weeks. The first week shown there is the week following the Lake Murray triathlon and then the remaining weeks until now. This week will be much lighter as I'm hoping to realize the fitness gains from this block going into the upcoming races.

The basic structure has been 10-12km of swimming (4 sessions per week), around 8.5 hours on the bike, with the run building to just over 30 miles last two weeks, and as much core strength work as I can squeeze in. Had I not crashed at Mt. Mitchell the cycling time for 5/18 week would have been quite a bit higher. Unfortunately I won't get the boost I was hoping for from Mitchell, but other than that, it's gone off without a hitch.

I have some ambitious goals for Festival of Flowers. Last year I finished 19th overall with a poor swim (27:48) and terrible run (43:54). This year I'm hoping to shave at least 6 minutes off my time from last year (2:13:47) and place in the top 10. Last year a 2:07 would have put you in 10th place. Maybe I'm being optimistic but I'm seeing 6 minutes on the swim and run alone with just a steady effort. I think 24 minutes on the swim is very realistic and I will be very disappointed if I run over 40 minutes!! Last year I rode just over an hour (1:00:23) for a near 24 mph average ... so obviously I'm aiming to redeem myself by going under an hour! The one thing to watch out for here is the heat. This is the first race on the circuit where the heat starts to play a role and, in the past, it has caught me off guard (hence the dismal run last year).

I'll leave you with this picture from last Monday. Me a my girls, relaxing on the boat and lovin' it.