A vision for my life - Because what we focus on expands

Friday, June 29, 2007

06/29/07: TT Time

It's been a while since I've tested my biking lactic threshold (lt), so tonight seems like as good a time as any, especially since this is a recovery week and I'm feeling pretty fresh. After a decent warmup, it's an 8 mile time trial, hard as I can go. It'll be interesting to see if my biking lt has increased as much as my running lt did. Since my running lt is around 181, I'm expecting my biking lt to be around 175 or so.

Last night was another good swim. Consistency is the key....I seem to be making progress every time I'm in the pool. I'm hoping to be able to do the 2.5 mile hammerhead ocean marathon in about a month. It'll give me a good feel for where I am and how far I have to go with 3 months left till the IM. Last night's workout was 2200:

400 warmup

4 x 100 pull, 100 swim (stroke count)

4 x 50 kick, 50 swim (breast & back)

8 x 50 descend

200 cd

I definitely enjoyed the 50's. It's nice to swim as fast and as hard as possible on rare occassion...something different....and since swimming has a tendency to get a bit boring doing long, slow sets, different is good.....

I was recently reading an article about what makes the biggest difference in race results. My personal opinion is a combination of two things: training consistently at the right intensities - thus today's time trial.

Although time trial's are not particularly fun (actually the last 10 minutes or so hurts like hell), it's in my opinion the only way to accurately determine the right training zones. Mind over matter, if you don't mind.....it doesn't matter.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

06/28/07: Miscellaneous Ramblings.....

On occasions that seemingly happen far too rarely to let them pass by, someone comes into our lives that immediately grabs our full and complete attention. A couple of weeks ago one of those people showed up in my life. Everyone say hi to Lori :)

The ironic thing is that we almost never met....After seeing my blog, one of my musings really seemed to jump out at her: Ironman is a lifestyle, not a sport. As she put it, if I recall correctly, a very very disciplined lifestyle....Well, in some ways she's right, and as she's finding out, in some ways not so much....Life doesn't always revolve around triathlon (if I keep saying it enough maybe it'll come true)....

I'm always fascinated by peoples' perceptions when it comes to IM training, even my own family's. It's easy for people not familiar with the sport to assume that training for an event like ironman requires living life like a professional athlete, and doing nothing but training for hours and hours every day. As a lot of people new to the sport find out very quickly, that's a recipe for ending up overtrained, burned out and injured....thus the principles of periodization, measuring intensity with heart rate, rest weeks, etc....but I digress......

As I've mentioned before, tri training is one big juggling act. In fact, it's the ultimate in cross training, trying to fit 9 workouts into 6 days (I most definitely need one day off). The key for me is getting all of my workouts onto my calendar at the beginning of the week and seeing where else the rest of my life fits - work, friends, family, finances, reading, relaxing, contribution.....Does that mean that the workouts are my top priority? Hmmmm....interesting question that I sometimes ponder; yet, I always seem to come back to the same conclusion: There's a really really nice thing about scheduling in pencil - flexibility.....

Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled blog, already in progress.....

I'm definitely enjoying the shorter workouts of the rest week. Last night was a 30 minute run on the treadmill. Fortunately we have really nice treadmills that have heart rate control - simply put in the target heart rate and the rest is automatic....the treadmill speeds up and slows down to keep hr constant - gotta love modern technology. I did 30 minutes with the target hr set at 155, ending up going a bit over 3 1/2 miles with an average hr of 149.

This morning I almost took the whole flexibility concept too far. I had a 30 minute form ride on the trainer scheduled. It's so easy to justify moving or blowing off a shorter workout that I don't want to do anyway, especially at 6 am. I found myself thinking that I'll be home from the pool by 8:30 tonight and will get in the ride then. What are the odds of me actually putting my bike on the trainer tonight after swimming? Yip, you guessed it - no chance in hell.

Fortunately one of my beliefs is that if there's something I really don't want to do, than it's something that I probably really need to do (think swimming practice twice per week). So.....I dragged myself onto my bike and got in this morning's workout:

15 minute gearing pyramid (19-14), 3x2 ilt and a couple minutes of easy spinning to cool down.

Of course I felt great (and awake) after the workout, and am proud of myself for sucking it up and getting it done.

I guess Lori's right (something tells me I'm going to be saying that a lot), ironman is a very, very disciplined lifestyle....except when it's not.....

Live with purpose.....Enjoy the adventure.....

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

06/27/07: Recovery Week

I love every 4th week of my training plan. Why? Because it's a recovery week = significantly reduced training. The recovery weeks are great not only to give my body a break, but to have some extra time to catch up on things around the house, get some extra rest, and enjoy whatever other pleasant diversions come along.

Yesterday was an easy 20 minute zone 2 run. I seemed to be back in running form again after Saturdays nightmarish jog/walk, keeping an 8 something min/mile pace. Last night I had a good 2200 swim with the masters group. My swimming form seems to be continously improving thank god. Hopefully at some point in the next couple of months I'll be able to call myself a swimmer....until that happens, any night I manage not to drown in the pool is a good night....

The hammerhead ocean marathon is coming up Aug 4th. Since I already know I can swim 1.2, do I push my luck and try out my newly acquired swimming ability in a 2.5 mile ocean swim? Hmmm...have to give that one some more thought - It would either do great things for my confidence, or alternatively....well....let's not think about that.....

Today is another relatively easy 30 minute run. I was really hoping to take Kramer along for a beach run tonight, but it'll be high tide, and looks like it may rain anyway. :( Worst case is I'm on the treadmill for a 1/2 hour. As much as I dislike training indoors, 30 minutes I can live with.

The rest of this week is pretty light too - 30 min ride and a swim tomorrow, a really easy recover ride on Fri, and a 2 hour brick over the weekend (1.5 ride, .5 run). If the weather cooperates and I'm in the mood (which I never am), I may get in an ocean swim too.

Lots of time this weekend for things other than triathlon - YEA

Monday, June 25, 2007

06/25/07: Heart

Fortunately yesterday's ride went much better than Saturday's run. I rode a bit over 42 miles in 2:24, keeping my heart rate in zone 2 the whole way. Today is a rest day, and in fact this week is a "rest" week - week 4 of my 1st training block. The first three weeks certainly blew by in a hurry.

Yesterday I mentioned how proud and inspired I was by Jill finishing her 1st event after going through everything she did. Well, as a follow-up, here's her race report. This is why I LOVE coaching:

"The training was tough - the toughest thing about training for a triathlon is fitting everything in. There's not enough days in the week to learn 3 different sports, gain endurance in each of them and do them well enough to complete a race in all three. I realize now the challenge of multisport events, even if it's a short distance event. I would like to do another event, but I don't see myself doing this type of event on a regular basis. And I won't sign up for another one until I get the swimming figured

During the last month of training for the Austin race, I put everything I had into it, since I had lost so much training time this season. I basically burned out on it. So, when I went to the Austin race, I was really ready for it to be over and to have some of my life back. When the race was cancelled, it wasn't over. However, my mind had already prepared for it. I never really did get back into training (in my head). I didn't have the same level of commitment to the event and as a result, I lost some ground, particularly in the swimming.

In addition, I have been feeling extremely fatigued the last couple of months and mentally drained. This was probably from a combination of things - the injuries, illnesses, etc. I've had to overcome this year, the intensity of my training during the training time I was able to fit in (always playing catch-up, so I was probably pushing too hard), and the stress at work the last couple of months. Driving to the race, I felt so exhausted, I wasn't sure I would be able to muster enough energy to complete the race. No matter how much rest I try to get, I can't seem to get rid of the this feeling of complete exhaustion.

Despite my fatigue, I was determined to get this over once and for all. For those of you that don't know this about me, I am not an exercise fanatic. I am not one of those people that enjoys exercising. I am a junk food junkie and couch potato at heart. I was the type of person that when people talked about healthy food, etc., I always thought to myself, "I'd rather enjoy myself and die a little earlier than work hard at eating right and exercising and end up getting killed in a car wreck or something anyway, Everybody dies of something." About a year and a half ago, I decided that I would change my lifestyle by exercising regularly and making healthier eating choices. The reason I decided to change was not a newfound fear of dying of some horrible disease - it was actually a fear that I wouldn't die and would have to live in a body that I had not taken care of. I've been watching my mom live a life that I don't want to live when I am her age (early 70's) - with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, a breast cancer survivor, etc. I am not afraid of dying - I don't have children, so there is really no one relying on me for support (except my dog), but what if I don't die.
Then I have to live a life that's restricted by what my body can tolerate; I see too many older people with too many health problems that limit their activities.

So, I'm getting everything ready for my first triathlon, checking in, getting bodymarked, setting up my transition area, putting numbers on bike, helmet, and race belt. So, now I'm ready. I head down to the beach to get ready for the athlete's meeting. I wait for my wave to start and off I go. I can do this, but then the nerves kick in and I'm actually in the water and just like 80% of the time I spend in the water, even when my face isn't in the water, I feel like I'm suffocating. I'm gasping for air - if I'm
gasping for air without my head in the water, how do I put my head in the water? I couldn't do it. So, I just move my arms and legs the best I can and I keep moving them, going nowhere. Several times they life guards corrected me moving in the wrong direction. I was all over the place. I was probably swimming in circles - I don't even know - my mind was definitely not in the right place. But eventually, I did make it out of the water, with much patience and help from the lifeguards. Got tangled in the
buoy on the way by, but he got me out of that too.

Then for the walk to the transition area - what a walk. I was beating myself up, but at the same time preparing for a decent transition so I could salvage something from the race. I stopped and rinsed off at the shower (obviously, I wasn't racing for time) and headed in. I felt pretty good about the transition - I didn't hurry or feel rushed - I just tried to focus on getting through it smoothly and onto the bike. But I didn't see where I was supposed to go. There were people and cones lined up where I thought I
was supposed to go, so I asked the policeman and he pointed me through the people and the cones and off I went. I pedaled smoothly and quickly in an easy gear, just spinning like the coaches taught us, for several minutes. As I passed TNT's going the other way, I cheered, "Go Team!" and that made the time pass. Soon I saw the 4 mile mark - almost halfway. Then came the turnaround - one nice thing about being last is that you get a police escort - there was a police escort trailing me nearly the entire bike portion. But after the turnaround, it was just me, no one going the other way to cheer. At the 7 mile mark, I was starting to drag and a few minutes later, Pt. Williams pulled his motorcycle up beside me and pointed ahead in the distance. He said, "You see that bike up there (I could barely see a bike in the distance) - you can catch them." As I looked at him like he was crazy, he smiled and nodded toward the cyclist in the distance. I found some energy from somewhere deep inside and started pedaling faster. I hit a couple more gears and before I knew it I was passing the cyclist and cheering her on as I passed. Before I knew it, I was pulling back into the transition area.

I changed my shoes and hat and put my race belt on - another smooth transition. I'm sure I didn't set any time records in transition, but given that I wasn't racing for time, I was just hoping for smooth. I started out on the run and my calves were still stiff from the swim (still are), but I started out slow, or so I thought. When I looked down at my Garmin, I realized I was going too fast. I knew I would never finish well if I kept running that fast. So, I tried to pace myself better. I passed a few people, cheering
them, cheering the people coming toward me, cheering everyone on. It made the time pass. Slow and steady through the water stop, the turnaround, back through the water stop and I was down to the last mile, but no one to cheer on. I was getting tired and really hot. My heart rate was higher than it should have been. But I came across the finish line fairly strong and finally I was a triathlete!

So, this is my story."

Thanks Jill!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

06/24/07: Practice What You Preach

Yesterday started of by me getting to cheer for some other people for a change, which was very gratifying. The Team in Training sprint group did their tri.

Although everyone did great and finished the event, one person stood out in particular. Initially Jill began training with me and was planning on doing the olymic distance. First came a bike accident that left her unable to swim, ride or run for several weeks. No big deal - it happened at the beginning of the season, so we had plenty of time. Then came bronchitis....Ok, not a problem, we have plenty of time......Then gall bladder surgery - uh oh - we're running out of time....Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Jill didn't know how to swim either.....

I've said all along that triathlon is a mental sport. Well, it takes something else too: heart. With about 5 weeks before the olympic tri, Jill started taking private swim lessons and was in the pool 5 days a week, on top of a hectic work schedule and trying to squeeze in some rides and runs. Since the Austin event got rained out, she got a bit more time to train. She kept training over the last few weeks, and did a fantastic job at the race yesterday. To me, that's heart.

Congratulations Jill!!

Later in the afternoon I went for an hour and a half zone 2 run. Based on my recent runs, I would have expected to average about 9 minute miles and to have run a bit over 10 miles, keeping my hr between 154 & 164. Well, my body had different plans for me.

About 20 minutes into the run my heart rate was starting to go way above where I wanted it, into the high 160's. Again, this is a mental sport, and this is where discipline comes in - the discipline to keep an easy day easy. I'm sure my team got very tired of hearing me constantly mention two things: hydrate and keep easy days easy.

It was very tempting to say screw it, I'll just turn it into a harder zone 3 run; fortunately I was able to set aside my ego and stop and walk...a trend that continued for the next hour. Even at a 10-11 minute pace, my hr was creeping up into zone 3, so I ran for a minute or two, and walked for a bit, letting my heart rate come back down. I got back to my car at 1:25. It would have been REALLY easy to hop into my car and call it a day - what's 5 minutes, plus, did I mention it was REALLY HOT? Well...no one said any of this was supposed to be easy. So I sucked it up and ran/walked for another 5 minutes. A 1:30 run is a 1:30 run, not a 1:25 run.

Instead of doing 10 miles as expected, I found myself doing just over 8 at an average of over 10 min / mile. I'm proud of myself for having some discipline and keeping an easy day easy.

This morning I'm going to keep a promise to Kramer: It's time to hit the beach now that he's allowed :) This afternoon I'll jump in the ocean for an hour or so swim and get in a 2 1/2 ride.

Friday, June 22, 2007

06/22/07: End of the week....

Or is it really just the beginning of the weekend?

Funny thing about focus nowadays....then end of the work week really just means that my "real" training is about to begin. The mid-week workouts are more filler than anything else, keeping the mind and body focused for the weekends longer workouts. Fortunately I'll have some great time away from training this weekend too.

There's more to life than ironman, there's more to life than ironman....If I keep saying it, maybe it'll take hold.

So far this has been a great week, training and otherwise. Since this blog is all about training for IMFL, we'll stick to that for the moment. I fit in all of my workouts, made it to the pool when I really didn't feel like it, and even managed to fit in today's optional recovery ride this morning on the trainer, which you all know I despise if you've been reading my blog.

With a bit of flexibility, this should be a very enjoyable weekend. I have fun plans for tonight, which is why today's workout happened this morning on the trainer. The TnT sprint group has their triathlon tomorrow morning, which I wouldn't miss for the world after working with them for so long, even if I wasn't their main coach. Since I have no desire to bike for 2 1/2 hours in the mid-day heat, tomorrow I'm going to run on the beach for an hour and a half instead. At least the ocean breeze will keep me cool and I can enjoy the sightseeing along the way.

Sunday morning I'm planning on doing a group ride, and will hopefully make it to the hammerhead ocean swim in the afternoon. It'll be nice to see how well the swimming improvements I made in the pool translate to the ocean.

After yesterday's rant about being miserable on a bike trainer for an hour, I had to laugh when I saw this article about a guy who's going to run on a treadmill for 24 hours in Times Square. There's no amount of anti-depressants or other chemical inducements in the world that would keep my from going completely over the edge if I had to be on a treadmill for 24 hours (not that I could run that long anyway). Here's a link to the article:


Now let's get to the votes on what Andy should do after ironman:

Do another one faster? Maybe...While I only committed to doing one, my friends seem to think there's no chance of that happening. As Tony put it, either it's going to kick my ass so badly that I'm going to have to do it again to show it who's boss, since I don't let anything kick my ass, or I'm going to have a great time and want to do it again....just have to wait and see on that one....

Xterra? Speaking of getting my ass kicked......I did an Xterra my very first triathlon. While I can endure the pain of an endurance event for hours on end, and even a 1/2 mile ocean swim in rough water with only 2 weeks of training after not having been in a pool for years and years, there's a certain pain I have no intention of repeating ever in my life....that of bouncing off of trees....OUCH! That was one of the most miserable mornings of my life....I think I'll stick to something much easier, like doing ironmans.....Ironic part is that very event is what got me hooked on triathlons. It kicked my ass so badly, that I had to come back.....I'm just doing a slightly more sane version now (although sane seems to be a very fluid concept at the moment).

I will say Ride the Rockies sounds kind of fun. I also may want to do the Triple Bypass at some point. When I was living out there some friends did it. I wasn't nearly in good enough shape to join in on the fun back then. Funny story about that. A day or two before the event, one of my good friends drove into the Vail parking garage and heard a very loud crunch.....ooops....there goes his gorgeous Kline road bike.....So he did what any hard core rider would do....rode the Triple Bypass on his mountain bike.....You da Man Chris!!

Oh, I almost missed the English Channel....I met someone back in '05 who did....Let's see...a 9 or 10 hour swim in 50 something degree water with no wetsuit....Hmmm...I think I'd have a MUCH better chance at surviving Everest....Climbing wall at the Y - here I come......

Live with Purpose...Enjoy the Adventure

Thursday, June 21, 2007

06/21/07: Ahhh....Much Better....

Two things became official yesterday:

1. Kramer is fully recovered...YEA...he's cleared for his own duathlon this weekend: Swimming and running at the beach (he doesn't seem to do so well on the bike)....I promised him I'd take him to the beach this weekend so he can play and celebrate being a happy, healthy Labrador again.

2. Weight lifting is out. After taking Monday and Wednesday off of the weights, I feel MUCH better. As much as I enjoy lifting weights (which I really do), my body was giving me a message in no uncertain terms that it was just too much.

Last night's bike workout on the trainer felt pretty good, as much as I like being on the trainer. How is it that an hour can seem to drag on for soooo long. The more enjoyable things in life seem to go by in a heartbeat....hours seem like minutes....time disappears...Indoor workouts seem to have their own and very opposite timeframes - minutes seem like an eternity....ok - I'm done whining about it now.

Last night was just over an hour. Started with a 21 minute gearing pyramid warmup, 19-13 (6 minutes in 19 decreasing in each gear to 1 minute in 13). Spun easy for a few minutes and did a cadence drill: 3 x 100, 2x 110, 1x120. Spun easy for a few minutes and did my "favorite" drill: 3x3 ilt.

In English, that's pedalling with one leg for 20 seconds, taking 10 seconds to transition to the other leg for 20 seconds, three times..take a minute off and spin easy, then do it two more times....It hurts a bit once fatigue starts to set in (which is usually by the end of the first set), although it's definitely worth doing....even after just a couple of weeks my pedalling seems stronger and smoother.

Finished with a 21 minute reverse pyramid 13-19

This morning I went for an hour run. Since I didn't lift weights this week, my legs felt much better today. Did mostly a zone 2 run, with 6 x 30 sec accelerations thrown in (a few minutes rest in between to let my heart rate come back down into zone 2). It was a bit misty/drizzly out this morning, which actually felt very refreshing. Keeping in mind that my workout goals are always based on time and not distance or speed, I ran 6.75 miles in just under an hour.

That brings up a point I made to the team I was coaching over and over...Note to self: speed is a function of effort. Effort is reflected by heart rate. Train at the right heart rate intensities, and don't worry about pace. Speed is a result, not a cause. As long as I'm constantly training at the right intensities for any given workout, speed will take care of itself. Plus, at an Ironman distance, I could care less how quickly I run or ride, as long as I manage to make it across the finish line before midnight.

J - you mean there's actually a way out of this silly sport once you get sucked into it?

Which brings up another point: Behind every ironman athlete (and shorter distances too) there are lots of people who put up with our insane and often intrusive training schedules. A very big thank you to everyone who puts up with mine. I really appreciate it and will make it up to you somehow once I'm done with this craziness :)

Speaking of...what the hell am I going to do once I finish the ironman? So far the votes have been climb Mt Everest and go to law school.....Hmmmm.....

As far as Everest goes, I value my fingers and toes, and only have a very limited amount of climbing experience, plus North Florida is not exactly a hotbed of climbing activity. Think I could get ready climbing the wall at the Y?

Law School? Although I've thought about it before, do I really want another 50-75k in student loans? Since I already have a masters degree, do I want to subject myself to three more years of suffering through analyzing way too much case law and other "fun" stuff? If I go to law school, would that mean I have to stop telling lawyer jokes? Hmmmm.....

Stay tuned.....I figured out how to put a "What should Andy do next" vote onto the blog..... I'm open for suggestions :) And remember, as they say during presidential elections, vote early and vote often......

Just think, you could play a part in determining my next crazy (or not so crazy) adventure.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

06/20/07: Too Much?

You crack me up Tea. I love all kinds of music, except one: country. Imagine rubbing sandpaper on raw exposed nerves....yip.....PAINFUL....that's what country music does to me.....You don't by chance still have an 8-track player laying around, do you?


One thing definitely comes from working out consistently week after week: you get to know your body pretty well and when you're truly overdoing it (vs coming up with excuses). This past week I've stayed right on that border.

The tri workouts seem to be going quite well. Lifting weights twice a week seems to be pushing me right up to the edge of overtraining, a really bad thing so early into my plan. Also adding to it is not getting enough sleep Sun & Mon, but that's a different story for a different blog.

My plan for today was an hour bike workout on the trainer this morning and weights tonight. When I got up I knew right away that getting on the bike this morning would do more harm then good.

Some things are musts, and some things are nice but not necessarily critical. The bike workout is a must, weights are nice, but....So I hit the snooze button (much to Kramer's dismay, since he was already up and ready to play), went back to sleep for an hour, and will hop on the trainer for an hour tonight.

If I feel good on the bike tonight, I may still head to the gym for a lighter than usual workout....just have to wait and see.

Speaking of Kramer, he's definitely feeling MUCH more like himself. I took him to the vet this morning for what is hopefully his last visit. He should be allowed to start playing with his friends again and going to the beach to play shortly. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

06/19/07: One of Those Days

Ever have one of those days when the alarm clock goes off at an ungodly hour, long before the sun comes up, and you find yourself wishing it was National Stay in Bed Until the Afternoon Day (yes - it's a rhetorical question)? Today is one of those days.....

Since I only had a 45 min run scheduled for this morning, may as well skip it - it's a short run...missing just one 45 minute run won't hurt....yeah....right.....Herein lies the beauty of setting a goal that's just BARELY within my grasp, or maybe slightly outside of it....there are no days off....


I yawned my way to the closet and forced myself to put on my running clothes.....grabbed my Ipod and turned on some 80's hair metal REALLY LOUD....and off I went....I ran for a bit over 45 minutes, just over 4 1/2 miles....nice easy (relatively speaking) zone 2 run.

Tonight's a swim, which thanks to Greg's coaching I'm actually starting to enjoy.

Monday, June 18, 2007

06/18/07: Perspective

Following is a really moving letter written from 1/2 of Team Hoyt. If you don't know about Team Hoyt, do yourself a favor and click here (you may want to have a tissue handy):


While it's easy to think how hard training is sometimes, this letter certainly puts things into perspective. Suddenly yesterday's two hour ride doesn't seem like it was that long or hot.

Now, onto the letter.....

"My name is Richard E. Hoyt Jr., and I have cerebral palsy. I cannot speak or walk. To write this story, I'm using a computer with special software. When I move my head slightly, the cursor moves across an alphabet. When it gets to the letter I want, I press a switch at the side of my head.

I am half of Team Hoyt. We are a father-and-son team, and we compete in marathons and triathlons around the world. Our goal is to educate people about how the disabled can lead normal lives. We started racing in 1979. My high school was having a road race to raise money for a lacrosse player who was paralyzed in an accident. I wanted to show this athlete that life can go on, so I asked my dad if he would push me. My wheelchair was not built for racing, but Dad managed to push me the entire 5 miles. We came in next to last, but in the photos of us crossing the finish line, I was smiling from ear to ear!

When we got home, I used my computer to tell Dad, "When I'm running, I feel like my disability disappears!" So we joined a running club, had a special running chair built, and entered our first official race. Many of the athletes didn't want us to participate, but the executive director of the event gave us permission. Soon we were running three races a weekend, and we even did our first double event a 3-mile run and a half-mile swim.

Dad held me by the back of the neck and did the sidestroke for the entire swim. We wanted to run in the Boston Marathon, but we were not allowed to enter because we had not done a qualifying run. So in late 1980, we competed in the Marine Corps Marathon, in Washington, D.C., finishing in 2 hours, 45 minutes. That qualified us for Boston!

A few years later, after a road race in Falmouth, Massachusetts, a man came up to my dad and said, "You are quite an athlete. You should consider a triathlon." Dad said, "Sure, as long as I can do it with Rick." The man just walked away. The next year, the same man said the same thing. Again, Dad said he'd do it, but only with me. This time the man said, "Okay, let's figure out what special equipment you'll need."

So on Father's Day in 1985, we competed in our first triathlon. It included a 10-mile run, during which Dad pushed me; a 1-mile swim, during which Dad pulled me in a life raft with a rope tied around his chest; and a 50-mile bike ride, during which he towed me in a cart behind him. We finished next to last, but we both loved it. Soon after, we did our first Ironman Triathlon. We've now competed in more than 950 races, including 25 Boston Marathons and six Ironmans. During every event, I feel like my disability has disappeared.

People often ask me, "What would you do if you were not disabled?" When I was first asked, I said I'd probably play baseball or hockey. But when I thought about it some more, I realized that I'd tell my father to sit down in my wheelchair so I could push him. If it weren't for him, I'd probably be living in a home for people with disabilities. He is not just my arms and legs. He's my inspiration, the person who allows me to live my life to the fullest and inspire others to do the same.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. And thank you."

Hmmm.....kind of puts things in perspective.....

Saturday, June 16, 2007

06/16/07: Fitting Everything In

First I want to address Tea's comment. Let me make sure I'm being very clear Tea: I said I think I now have the swimming ability of a half decent six year old swimmer, not that I could actually beat them in the water :-p


Often the hardest part about triathlon training is fitting everything in....3x swim bike run, plus 2x weights, plus having a life outside of triathon....yes...there is life outside of triathlon (or so I keep telling myself)

I'm going to Tampa this afternoon, and wanted to get in a swim this morning with my coach, which created a bit of a dilema...how the hell do I fit in a 2 hour ride this morning and be at the pool by 8:30 for swimming so I can be ready to leave for Tampa by 11:30?

Was, as with everything else in life, flexibility. Today's bike ride turned into todays run, since it's not even light out when I would have had to start my ride.

Sometimes I really miss the concept of sleeping in on weekends.....ahhh..the good old days lol.....now I'm seemingly up on the weekends earlier than during the week. Well, that's not exactly true anymore, since I've been getting up at 5:30 Tues - Thurs to fit in my morning workouts....but I digress....

This morning I started my 1.25 hour run at 6:30. Two nice things about running that early: it's nice and cool, and there's virtually no cars. It ran 8.5 miles, keeping my heart rate in zone 2 the whole time.

I got home with just enough time to down some gatorade endurance and head to the pool. Had a good swim. Although the 2-beat kick felt totally foreign on Thurs night, it felt very natual and balanced today, which is exactly why I made sure I got my butt to the pool today....it's so easy to let swimming technique slip.

Pool workout was 2000:

300 warmup

4 x (50 swim, 50 kick (which I still struggle with massively), 50 pull)

3 x (50 back, 50 breast)

4 x (50 easy, 50 hard)

100 easy

cd: 100 swim, 50 kick, 50 swim, 100 pull

Time for my favorite QUICK breakfast: carrot, apple & ginger juice.

Tomorrow when I get back I'll get in my 2 hour ride, and hopefully squeeze in an ocean swim with the hammerheads (the tri group, not the shark), which will be my 4th swim this week :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

06/15/07: Fundamentals

I made a significant breakthrough in the pool last night. I finally got a couple of things my coach was trying to to get me to do, which means I think I now have the swimming ability of a half decent 6 year old :)

I must be doing something right, because a couple of things feel very odd. When it comes to learning anything new, different is good. Greg has been trying to get me to do a two-beat kick. I usually end up kicking and kicking and kicking, just to keep from sinking like a rock. Last night I finally began to get the concept - one arm hits the water, one leg hits the water....hmmm....progress...as odd as it felt, it seemed to be very efficient.

Last nights swim set was 1900m:

100 warm up

900 ladder, alternating easy/hard 2x50, 2x100, 2x150, 2x100, 2x50

8x 25 swim, 25 kick (breast stroke and backstroke)

2x 100 swim, 100 pull

100 cd

I'm a bit exhausted this morning. My body (and brain) is still getting used to doing three days of two-a-days. It was SO nice sleeping in this morning (until 6:30). Tues - Thurs are going to be tough over the next few weeks until I'm used to it.

Kramer is doing MUCH better. His stitches are out, and he's slowly getting back to himself. The contagious Kramer smile has even returned. By the end of next week he should be back to normal and be allowed to start playing with his friends and swimming again.

This weekend I'm scheduled for 2 hour ride, 1.25 run and some swimming. I'll probably join the masters group Sat morning, to make sure I don't lose the techique gains from this week, and I may hit the ocean Sunday afternoon too. The more swimming the better at the moment.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

06/13/07: Weights, swimming and a bit of cycling form

Hey Tea: Kramer says thanks for thinking of him :) He's at the vet today, hopefully getting his stiches out. I'm so looking forward to not having to keep him sedated!!

I'm definitely feeling the effects of weight lifting. I didn't think using high rep light weights would do to much...WRONG..... :)

Just because I think I've been doing something, doesn't necessarily mean I'm doing it. This is particularly true in the pool. After working with my swim coach last night, I'm starting to understand why I've been swimming so slowly. I have a LOT to fix!! The good news is I have plenty of time to fix it.

We spent almost all of last night working on form and changing a whole bunch on my stroke: head position, kick, arm position....I must have been doing something right last night, becuase my triceps and hips are REALLY sore today...that's a good thing....it means I'm using different muscle groups and am making progress. Towards the end of last night I definitely felt like I was swimming much higher in the water.

Warmup was a 300 swim, 100 pull, 100 kick.

From drills were next. 2 x 25 swim/25 drill for fingertip drag, catch-up, thumb to thigh and kick.

Then 6 x 100 kick, 100 pull

Last was a few misc 100's, focusing on form.

Total workout was 1700 meters, which isn't much, but right now form is much more important to me than distance, at least for the next month or two. My goal is to have my more efficient and "fishlike" swimming form in place by the end of July.

This morning I put my bike on the trainer for an hour of form work, which I don't really enjoy, but know I need to do.

I started with a pyramid warmup (working down through the gears), slowly getting my heart rate up and legs warmed up, especially since the sun wasn't up yet and I definitely wasn't awake: 5 minutes 19, 4 minutes 17, 3 minutes 16, 2 minutes 15, 1 minute 14.

I then did a 3 x 3 minute ilt drill. 20 seconds on 1 leg, 10 seconds transition, 20 seconds on the other leg, 1 min rest in between intervals. The 2nd and 3rd intervals took a lot of effort to keep pedalling smoothly. I'd anticipate these getting easier over the next couple of months as the right muscles get stronger and my form improves.

Next was a cadence interval: 3 minutes @ 100, 2 min @ 110, 1 min @120.

After the drills I just spun for a few minutes, keeping my heart rate in zone 2.

I did a reverse pyramid cool down: 1 min @ 14, 2 @ 15, 3 @ 16, 4 @ 17, 5 @19

Total workout was 55 minutes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

06/12/2007: Bally's finally makes it to Jacksonville

A friend mentioned that a new Bally's opened up about 2 miles from my house. GREAT NEWS!!

I have a lifetime membership at Ballys, and hated paying for a gym membership, but had little choice since there weren't any Ballys here, until now :) The gym just opened a couple of months ago, and is relatively small, for now. They're in their pre-opening phase, and put in plenty of free weights, machines, treadmills, etc. Just enough to get things going while they finish the rest of the facility. When they're done at the end of July, it should be a really nice gym. Check them out - they're at Baymeadows and Phillips, right by Scan Design.

I went last night to get in a good weight lifting workout - as usual tri specific. Lifting like this is new to me. I'm used to heavier weights, 6-12 per set to exhaustion. This is 3-5 sets, 20-30 reps per set, and very tiring. I did squats and let presses which are great for pedalling power, bent arm lat pushdowns, rows and dumbell bench presses which are all great for swimming, leg curls for running, and some ab crunches/twist for core stregth. Three sets of each, 20-30 reps per set. The goal is to strengthen the muscles along with tendons and ligaments.

I definitely felt it on this mornings run. This morning was a 30 minute zone 2 run on the treadmill. Gotta love modern technology - plug in my desired heart rate (157), press start, and let the treadmill do the rest. It picks up heart rate from the polar chest strap and speeds up or slows down to keep my heart rate right at 157. I planned on running outside, but mother nature had other plans for me in the form of lightening, so an indoor workout it was.

Hopefully these storms will blow through so I can get my swim in tonight, which should be in the neighborhood of 2500.

Monday, June 11, 2007

06/11/07: Recovery Workout & a Kramer Update

First, a Kramer update: becuase he's had so much pent up energy from not being able to play with his friends or swim, the vet has me keeping him on tranqueliers. As much as I HATE doing that to him, in reality it's helped a lot and he's healing really well. They also have me keeping a t-shirt on him. Poor Kramer - he's been pretty miserable.

The good news is that he goes back to the vet on Wednesday to have his stitches taken out :) Within another week or two he should be back to his playful and energetic self. Yea.

I felt pretty good after Saturday's race, but didn't want to push too hard yesterday, plus it was REALLY hot out. I did an hour zone 1 brick workout - 45 minutes on the bike and a short 15 minute run. My heart rate stayed in the 130s on the bike and 140's on the run. The only downside was that I got yet another flat on the bike....seems to be happening WAY too often....the good news is that my co2 worked just fine this time and i was back to cycling again with only a few minutes lost, as compared to what happened in the 1/2.

Yesterday afternoon we had our ocean swim. The water was a bit choppy and VERY warm. I swam for about 5 laps or so over a 1/2 hour, and am guessing it was about 1100-1200 yds. I definitely have a LONG way to go before I'm ready for the 2.4 mile ocean swim. I'll probably do the 1.25 mile hammerhead ocean marathon in August as a good measure of where I am - if I'm feeling particularly good about my swimming at that point, maybe I'll do the 2.5 mile swim. Just have to wait and see.

Moving the swim to Sunday afternoon seems to be a great idea - we had around 15 people show up again. After the swim Rachel had the brilliant idea of replacing the salt water taste in our mouths with the much better taste of beer. So, once again in the spirit of holistic training, about 8 of us made it over to Eddie Bahamas for some cold drinks and good conversation.

Today's workout is limited to hitting the weights.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

06/09/07: A Really Good Race

Finally...a really good race....

This time last year I did something really stupid: I attempted doing a sprint tri the weekend after I ran the San Diego marathon, which was my first marathon. NOT A GOOD IDEA.

Most agree that it takes your body at least a couple of weeks to recover from a marathon. Combine that with me not doing much training for a tri, and it became an interesting day. Common sense would suggest that I'd be in great shape after a marathon and should have no problem with a 1/4 mile swim, 11.5 mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run right? Well....not so much.

Last year's swim was a horrific 16:57, bike was 32:46 and run was 27:28. With transitions, total time was 1:22:49, which was good enough for 322nd place, out of ~405. Not so great....

Fortunately, this year was a totally different experience. Gotta love starting the season with a 1/2 ironman - everything else seems much easier - Kinda like doing a 5k after a marathon - no big deal - just go REALLY hard the whole time. Today was a 9:39 swim, 30:23 ride and a 25:12 run, totalling 1:08:37 with transitions. A MASSIVE improvement to say the least.

Two things of note: 1. They changed the bike course and shortened it a mile, which explains some of the bike split being faster. 2. Even though I took over 8 minutes off of my swim, my swim time was still second to last in my age group.... Ughhh....Must get better at swimming.

I probably could have saved a couple of minutes on the swim with no more effort. I wasn't paying enough attention, and I let the current pull me 50 yds or so past the bouys, so I spent most of the swim working diaganolly back in, which probably added a minute or two.

The astouding thing today is that I placed 166th overall, out of ~405...again, MASSIVE improvement.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with my results today. It was an almost perfect race. Next time I'll definitely sight on the bouys a bit more, and make the first turn a bit tighter, and hopefully my swim times will fall into line with my bike and run splits.

Tomorrow I plan on doing a group ride of 30 or 40 miles and the morning, and doing an ocean swim in the afternoon - good way to end week 1's training :)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

06/07/07: My other favorite cycling drill

While I'm on the subject, here's my other favorite cycling drill: cadence.

My normal cycling cadence is between 90-95. For the drill, I cycle at 100 for 3 minutes, 110 for 2 minutes, and 120 for 1 minute. I then spin easy for a 2-3 minutes and repeat.

From doing this drill, spinning at 90-95 seems slow :)

Keep in mind, by me saying the this and ILT are my favorite drills I don't necessarily mean that I actually enjoy doing them. They are not easy. ...with that said, I think they are VERY beneficial and the benefits far outweigh a couple of minutes of fatigue here and there.

06/07/07: Isolated Leg Training

Since a couple of you asked about it, here's a bit about isolated leg training (ILT):

ILT is one of the absolute best drills for smoothing out your pedaling stroke and getting rid of any dead spots. The ideal cycling stroke is circular, not up and down. It is best done on an indoor trainer, although can be done outdoors as well.

Picture a clock. Because of our physiology, there is a tendancy to have a dead spot in our cycling stroke between 11 and 1 and betwee 5 and 7. ILT drills will help remove the dead spots = more efficient cycling.

Here's a quick blurb on ILT from opentri.com (http://opentri.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=42)

"Isolated Leg Training (usually abbreviated to "ILT") is done while biking on a stationary trainer. While using a relatively small gear (in your small front chain ring, such as 42 x 19) click out one foot from your pedal and rest it on the axle of your turbo trainer or a chair you have set up next to your bike. With one leg still engaged in the pedal, work on a smooth, circular pedal revolution. Try to be sensitive to - and try to correct -- jerky or dead spots in your cadence. After pedaling with one leg for the required amount of time (usually 20 seconds), you can then spend about 10 seconds in transition - switching from one isolated leg to the other. The drill continues with the newly "isolated" leg providing the power for the required amount of time; continue to switch as the drill requires.

Anything that detracts from a smooth pedal stroke will also detract from your overall speed and will waste energy. As your cadence becomes smoother, you should notice it taking less energy to go at a given speed. This will leave more energy to bike faster and leave more energy for your run!"

I typically do a cycling form workout once per week, and ALWAYS do several minutes of ILT drills. Although my legs definitely get fatigued pretty quickly from doing ILT drills and I don't always want to do them, I can definitely feel a difference and constant improvement in my cycling from it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

06/06/07: A few new resources

I added a few of my favorite resources to the Favorite Links section:

1. Triathletes Training Bible, by Joe Friel. This book is an absolute MUST READ for every triathlete, whether just starting out or advanced. It had information on training plans, periodization, intensity, nutrition, proper technique and drills for all three sports, nutrition, and a whole bunch more. READ THIS BOOK!!!!

2. Tri Talk - a great resource for all things triathlon. Has podcasts, top gear lists, etc

3. A link to a cycling gear progression chart. You enter your gearing, and the site will produce a chart showing the gearing progress though both the big and small chain rings, or all three if you have a triple. Email me and I'll explain if it's confusing (it took me a bit to get it right)

4. A race checklist from Crucible Fitness. I use this before every race. It's very comprehensive and is a good reminder of both gear and race strategy.

06/06/07: A shift in perspective

On Monday I was contemplating lifting weights or not, since I'm doing a sprint race this weekend. I found myself thinking the same thing as Shannon, "it's only a sprint," so of course I hit the gym. Funny how things change.

This time last year I still approached the sprints with a bit of apprehension - probably since I knew the 1/4 mile swim would kick my ass....well - some things haven't changed :)

The one thing that has changed is my perception of the sprint - it's no longer a race that I'm preparing for; instead it's an event to go have fun, race against some friends, and use as a part of the rest of my training. The last couple of years it was an end result - now it's just a piece in the puzzle. The same thing happened with running. A couple of years ago I gave some thought to 5k's and 10k's. Now a 10k is a short weekend run for me.

I think what surprises me a bit is how quickly the shift came about, taking only a about a year and a 1/2.

So far training has started off well. I hit the weights on Monday, ran for about a 1/2 hour yesterday morning, and swam with the masters group last night. Since I lifted weigts on Monday night, the run definitely felt a but sluggish, which I somewhat expected.

Last nights swim set was:

200 swim, 100 kick, 100 pull
5x100 on 2:45
400 continous pull
16x50 on 1:30 (was supposed to be on 1:20, which was too fast for me)
200 cool down

This morning I put my bike on a trainer at an un-godly hour for an hour ride with some form drills thrown in.

Isolated leg drills (pedaling with only one leg) definitely seem to be improving my pedaling stoke, helping make it nicely and smooth and circular. At some point in the next couple of months, I plan to buy a set of rollers to really work on form and balance. The smoother I can pedal, the less energy I have to use on the bike, and the more I'll have left for the run :)

Monday, June 4, 2007

06/04/07: Swimming and Biking and Running Oh My

Let the training begin: today officially starts 22 weeks of training for IronMan Florida. After taking most of last week off, it's nice to feel rested.

I met a friend for a bike ride out at the beach yesterday morning, with no real agenda other than getting back on my bike for a few miles - it's the first I'd ridden since the 1/2. We ended up doing 25 miles on a really windy day.

Of course, what would a perfectly good ride be without running afterwards? So we ran for about 40 minutes. I looked out at the ocean and thought too bad I didn't bring my goggles. The wind was out of the west and the ocean was flat as could be....perfect for a swim.

Fortunately, a few others had the same idea. The hammerheads (the local tri group), organized a last minute ocean swim at 3 at Jax beach. I swam, along with about a dozen other people, for 40 minutes or so.

In the spirit of holistic training, I headed over to the Lemon Bar for a couple of beers (and an interesting water fight) afterwards.

Today starts with a day off :) Actually I'm going to lift weights, but the real training starts tomorrow. From training for the 1/2, I found out that I definitely need Mondays off after long days of biking and running over the weeekends. Training starts off pretty light this week, with swims with the masters group at Episcopal on Tues & Thurs, 1/2 hour runs on Tues & Thurs, and hour rides on Wed and Fri.

Just to keep life fun, I'm also going to do the Bfast Sprint race on Saturday (1/4 mi swim, 12 mi bike, 5k run). It's amazing how quickly perspective shifts. Last year I still gave a certain amount of thought to doing a sprint tri. Now, after doing a 1/2 ironman, a sprint should be pretty easy and I'm going to see how fast I can go, versus thinking in terms of finishing. The same thing happened after doing my first marathon: 5k's became REALLY short.

Live With Purpose. Enjoy the Adventure.

Friday, June 1, 2007

06/01/07: Stars must be out of alignment

It's been a really rough week for me and just about everyone I know. 99% of the time I'm extremely upbeat and optimistic - this is the other 1%. Starting on Monday, the race that we flew out to Austin for was cancelled due to heavy rain (I didn't know Texas had a monsoon season), a friend's friend's 35 yr old husband died unexpectedly, and poor Kramer got attacked while being boarded :( Add to that 2 people I know had bike wrecks, exams being cancelled, etc.....

Let me start out on a good note: Austin is an amazing city.

Now onto the rest.....

As far as the tri being cancelled, I feel SO bad for the team. They worked SO hard for the last four months getting ready for the event. At least they have some good local options over the next few weeks for doing a sprint distance, and they can do either the HOT or Disney olympic distance later this summer. Hang in there guys. The good news: They raised over $20,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society!!! I'm grateful I was able to be your coach over the last few month and hope this is the beginning of your triathlon journey and not the end.

Kramer has about a 6" cut that has stitches and 2 puncture wounds that seem so be healing reasonably well. He'll be fine, and already seems to be feeling much more like himself today. As I type this, he's sitting in my lap, literally. Being that he's 85 lbs, it's pretty funny.

This would have actually been funny under different circumstances: Yesterday I decided to take him to the vet so they could keep him calm in a kennel and keep an eye on him, since he was starting to scratch at his stitches. I stopped at Starbucks on the way for a DESPARATELY needed coffee (and I virtually never drink coffee). I of course left the car running with the a/c on. When I came out a minute later I found Kramer sound asleep in the back seat. He made sure he would be safe while napping by locking the car. Yip - that's right - Kramer locked me out of the car. An hour later the locksmith finally showed up to let me back in. UGHHH!!!!

Thank God this week from hell is almost over!!!!

I've done virtually no training this week, which is ok. Monday officially starts my 22 week training plan.

Let's hope the weekend improves!!!!!!!

I definitely believe that everything happens for a reason, although I'm struggling a bit to find empowering meanings in this past weeks events :(