Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Long-Overdue Vacation

Everyone deserves a break, and mine was last week.  The Wife and I, along with 8 of our closest friends, headed down to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

We went riiiiiight there - under the first 'n' in Cancun.

Can't quite see it?  Okay.  Here's a closer look.
The red dot?  That's our room.  The yellow dot?  That's the pool bar - AKA 'Home Base'.  
That big blue thing?  The Caribbean Sea.  Not too shabby.

Here are a few other photos from the week.

 The pool - with bar.  So. Many. Prune. Hands.

The Wife hanging out on the resort grounds.  OOOhhh.  Purdy. 

Chairs placed around the resort grounds that are eerily reminiscent of the 
old Saturday Night Live commercial for the 'Love Toilet'.

Enjoying the walk from our hotel to downtown Playa del Carmen.  I would swim the same trip (about 2 miles round trip) later in the week as one of my few 'official' workouts.

Proof that Playa del Carmen is, in fact, the perfect place to live.

Now, you may be thinking 'That sounds like fun.  But, how did the training go?'  Well.  If you count 'general frolicking' as a workout, then put me down for about 40-50 hours of training.  That'll include bouncing up and down with the ocean waves, laps around the pool and the occasional chicken fight.  However, as far as focused workouts go, I only had about 4 hours worth.  That includes a treadmill run and some open water swims up and down the coast.

Honestly, it wasn't my best week.  I know that there's a little bit of wiggle room with the training plan, and taking a day off from time to time won't do too much damage.  But, this is a critical time in my training and I hope that this week off doesn't greatly impact my fitness.

But hey.  The Wife and I haven't had an honest-to-goodness vacation together since our honeymoon.  I'll gladly sacrifice a week of training for good times like that.

The only bad news is that I seem to have come down with a case of the flu since returning from our trip.  So far, it's taken 2 days  from my training this week.  I'm hoping to get back in the saddle tomorrow.  Then it'll be time to kick it into high gear this weekend with a couple hard-core bricks.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chaska River City Days Triathlon Quickie Race Report

This race recap isn't going to be nearly as thorough as the one I did for the Liberty 1/2 Ironman.  It isn't because I don't have a lot to say, but I've got other things on my mind.  But we'll get to that in a moment.

In short, the race today went GREAT.  I either met or exceeded all of my goals.  Let's take a look:

Swim - 1/3 of a Mile

2009 Results - 11:34 - 2:07/100y
2010 Goal - Sub 2:00 splits
2010 Results - 9:18 - 1:42/100y

The swim went WAY better than I was expecting.  I ended up 24th out of 299 racers and 2nd in my age group.  Are you KIDDING me?!?

Bike - 16 Miles

2009 Results - 54:33 - 17.4 MPH Average
2010 Goal - 18.5 MPH or faster
2010 Results - 48:27 - 19.8 MPH Average

I didn't FEEL like I was going very fast during the bike.  The hill climbing out of Chaska is pretty tough, so I must have made up quite a bit of time on the flats and coasting down back into town.  Now, if only I had the cash-flow to invest in an honest-to-goodness tri bike.  That'd be sweet.

Run - 5K (3.1 Miles)

2009 Result - 27:27 - 8:52/mile
2010 Goal - between 8:30 and 8:45/mile
2010 Results - 25:19 - 8:10/mile

Again, I didn't FEEL like I was running that quickly.  I didn't even feel like I was running at my normal training cruising pace - which is usually in the 9:00 to 9:30 range.  This was especially the case on the long uphill, but I managed a 9:10 first mile.  My 2nd mile clocked in at 8:50.  This was close to my goal pace, so I knew I had to book it down the hill for the 3rd mile if I wanted to reduce my average split.  It must have worked, because I managed a 7:10 split.  Cripes!  I haven't run that fast since high school. 

I really dig this sprint race.  It's a fun course and there are just the right number of participants for it to feel well populated, but not crowded.  Since I usually do longer races, the hardest part was knowing how to pace myself.  I knew I could push harder, but wasn't sure how MUCH harder.  I was just blessed to pick paces that left just enough gas in the tank to tackle the run.  Another bonus is that, unlike a 1/2 Ironman, I won't have to take a week off to recover from the race.

Well, that's all for now.  I'm off to pack for a trip.  My wife and I are flying out early tomorrow morning for a vacation with some friends.  Here's what I taped to the monitor at my office:


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chaska River City Days Triathlon Preview

My second race of the year is just a couple of days away - the Chaska River City Days Sprint Triathlon (whoa, that's a mouthful).  Of the races I have planned this year, this is the only one that I've actually done before.

The foot is feeling much better now.  There hasn't been any real pain to speak of for a couple of weeks.  Sometimes I'll be 'aware' of some tightness, but now the tendons are relaxing on their own.  Hopefully all the unpleasantness of the last month will soon be a distant memory.

The only real issue I have now is some, um, 'tenderness' in a very special area.  In hindsight, I should have applied some body glide to this area prior to my ultra long run on Sunday (15.5 miles in 2:25, thankyouverymuch).

For those of you wondering where my raw soreness is, well, is halfway between my...

and my...

Let's leave it at that now, shall we?

Moving on.

The swim for the Chaska Tri runs at about 1/3 of a mile, the bike is a quick 16 miles and the run is a 5K.  It's a fun course, and you're almost guaranteed to negative split the run - the first mile is straight uphill, the second mile is flat and the third mile is a screaming downhill back in to town. 

It's not an 'A' race by any stretch.  It doesn't even really fit into the training plan all that well, but I had so much fun doing it last year, I had to give it another go.

I plan to push the swim harder this time around.  My heat is one of the last to take off, so I'm hoping to go out harder than usual and pass as many people as I can.  The first few miles of the bike head uphill, so I'll try to push it here too.  I'll try to put it in cruise control once the course flattens out and then give my legs a little bit of a break on my way back into town in preparation for the run.  Again, I'll push it as hard as I can up the long hill at the beginning of the run, cruise through the 2nd mile and then get down the long downhill as quick as I can safely move.

Time wise, I'm aiming for swim splits under 2:00/100y.  On the bike, an 18.5mph average sounds about right. Finally, if I can keep my mile splits in the 8:45 range, I'll be thrilled.   In the end, an overall time between 1:20 and 1:30 would be great. 

On another note, I'm also prepping my body for the race.  Usually, I'll re-shave my legs.  It's a nice little ritual, and the smooth skin that's left over helps me feel faster.  This time around, I talked The Wife into giving me a proper leg waxing.  Now my wheels are just as smooth as when they're shaved - but this time the effect will last up to a month.  Score!

Ooohhh.  Sexy!  Plus, I'm rocking some awesome tan lines!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

How NOT to do a Ride in Hot Weather

Well, if you read this blog to check on my workout progress, then this is your lucky day.  Last weekend I polished off the end of a bike-centric week with a 4 and a half hour ride last Saturday.  Let's start there, shall we.


I packed up the bike with all the nutrition I could, including 50 ounces of Perpetuem, 24 ounces of water, PowerBar Gels, Shot Bloks and Endurolytes. 

The wind was blowing at a steady 20 miles per hour from the South, so the plan was to head South first and then turn to go with the wind as long as possible before heading home.

I made my way through New Hope, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie before ending up in Chaska, home of my next race: the River City Days Triathlon.  On a side note, if you've never done a tri before and want to get your feet wet, this is a great race to start with.  It's small, well organized, and has a 1-mile-long downhill run to the finish.  That'll boost anybody's ego.

Anyway, I was already out of water and had the salt munchies, so I stopped at the local Walgreens to snarf down some Pringles and pick up some H2O.  Then, I headed out West towards Waconia.  My legs were doing fine, but temps were over 90 (dang hot by Minnesota standards) so I knew that endurance may be a factor.

After Waconia, I headed North towards Minnetrista.  At this point, I was FINALLY going with the wind.  My average speed jumped from 18-19mph up to 22-23.  Yee-Haw!  Unfortunately, I was having such a good time enjoying the tailwind that I made my biggest mistake of the ride - I didn't stop in Minnetrista to grab more fuel and water.

By the time I reached Independence I was out of Perpetuem and water, my legs felt heavy and my back was sore.  I was hurting.  Big time.  I hit up a Holiday station near Maple Plain for 2 more liters of water and some fruit, but the damage had already been done.

I decided to cut about 10 mile off of my route and just limp home the quickest way possible.  I finally reached the homestead after 4:25 on the bike and 74 miles behind me.  Unfortunately, that gave me an average speed of just 16.7mph.

At that point, I was so overheated, the only thing that felt good was lying nude, spread-eagle under the ceiling fan in the bedroom.  Not a pretty picture.

I think that when I do long rides in the future, I'll load up the car with copious amounts of fuel and fluid and drive out to a loop.  That should help prevent me from running out of gas and turning a training ride into an Epic Fail


Sunday was a recovery day.  I did a quick 19 mile ride - two loops around Medicine lake and then back home again.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.  Then, The Wife and I did a short jog around the neighborhood.  She started getting overheated, and I was still reeling from Saturday's suffer-fest, so we cut the run short and headed home to veg out.


Monday was all about my dad's birthday.  You can read all about our shenanigans here.   I did manage to squeeze in a quick 30-minute run before all the birthday-fun.  No muss, no fuss.


Since this is a run-centric week, Tuesday as my first chance to really pound the pavement.  The good news, no, the GREAT news, is that my Superfeet seem to be working.  I've felt little to no pain in my left foot for over a week.  HOORAY!

The run workout started with a 10-minute warm up and then proceeded into 6 repeats.  The idea was to go hard for 7 minutes, then easy for 3 minutes, and repeat 5 more times before a 10-minute cooldown.  This was a rough workout.  It wasn't the longest of the year, not by a long shot. However, I don't remember working so HARD during a run workout.  My heart rate was maxing out just shy of 180bpm.  During repeat #3 I had to fight off a strong urge to start walking

It was strange that repeats 4-6 actually felt easier.  Okay, maybe EASIER isn't the right word.  They were still hard, darn hard.  I just think that my mind finally convinced my body to stop complaining and get to work.  All in all it was a satisfying day.


I got a change of pace Wednesday with a swim workout followed by a bike.  The pool workout was 2 1500-yard repeats.  My pace for the first repeat was a respectable 1:34/100y.  I must have slacked off a bit for the 2nd repeat because I slowed down to 1:38/100y.  Hmmmm.  I'd better keep an eye on that.

Then, as usual, Wednesday was a group ride with the Twin Cities Spoke, leaving out of Wooddale Church.  The turnout was smaller than usual - it had been raining earlier in the afternoon - but we made the most of it with a 31-mile at 18mph through what turned out to be a beautiful evening.


Today, I did another pool workout.  This one was more about speed.  I did a warmup and then settled into descending repeats starting at 300y.  In other words, I swam 300 yards, then 275, 250, 225, 200, 175, 150, 125, 100, 75, 50 and 25.  The hardest part was just keeping track of which repeat I was on and how many laps I had to do.

The plan also called for a run today, but life appears to have gotten in the way.  Our lawn has grown so gnarly in the last couple of weeks that I had to make an attempt to mow, or I'd have to apply for a White Trash Membership Card.  That sucked up the rest of my daylight, so I'll have to postpone today's run for the weekend.  Meh.  Next week is a rest week and includes two off days, so I guess that a hard weekend won't kill me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hot Dog, We Have a Wiener!

Hey kids!  It'll be a short post today.  I'll get you some more to chew on tomorrow - there will be plenty of cool stuff like melt-y bike rides, tempo runs and pool repeats.  The news today is about free gear.  Better yet - free gear for ME.

Remember my post the other day that included some contests I entered?  Well, holy crap, I won one!  Ryder's will be sending me a shiny new pair of VTX shades thanks to Steve in a Speedo.

Those are some sweet shades!  Thanks Ryders!  Thanks Steve!

The contest couldn't have come at a better time.  My Tifosi Slips have had a rough couple of months.  Two of the four lenses are scratched and the tip broke off one of the arms the other day.  I'm really looking forward to taking these out for a spin.

Check back soon for some actual tri-related postings - this time I PROMISE.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Dad....or...Fly Me Up? Fly Me DOWN!!

This weekend was big.  First, I had my first long ride of the season - in 90 degree heat no less.  I'll go into more detail in the next day or two for that workout.  Suffice it to say, by the end of the ride I was doing my best Wicked Witch of the West impersonation - after Dorothy douses her with water.

However, the REALLY big deal this weekend was my dad's birthday on the 4th.  I won't say how old he is, but it's a nice round number. 

On Sunday, The Wife and I met at his place where I commandeered the barbecue and whipped up some beer-in-the butt chicken. 
Step 1: season raw chicken. 
Step 2: cut top off of beer can. 
Step 3: fill can 1/2 way with your favorite brew. 
Step 4: violate chicken with open end of beer can. 
Step 5: place chicken and beer can on grill until roasted.


Nom Noms

Add to that some burgers.

It was a small party, but my dad's never really liked being the center of attention.  We ate, chatted, and ate some more.  Not too shabby.  But the REAL fun would come the next day.

My dad's always been a bit of an aviation enthusiast.  Shoot.  When I was a kid, we had the first ever Microsoft Flight Simulator game - for an Apple II.  So, since it was a BIG DAY, we decided to get his butt up in the air inside a small aircraft.

We showed up at Flying Cloud Airport and met our pilot, Andy.  No, not "Captain Smith", not "Andrew 'Maverick' Smith", not even "Andrew", just plain ol' "Andy".  Yeah.  The kid from Toy Story who writes his name on his toys' feet would be taking us several thousand feet in the air.  Hoo boy.

My dad and Andy going over the pre-flight checklist.

Going over the rear flight controls.

Next, it was time to board the aircraft.  Now, usually my dad is pretty selfless.  He'll always let someone else take his place in line or have the last slice of pizza in the box.  But, when I said 'why don't you fly in the co-pilot seat so you can take the controls' I didn't get any argument.  He hopped right in.  Awesome.
Trying to figure out how we were going to squeeze 3 grown men into a flying phone booth.

Yay!.  Cup Holders!

Once we were all packed in, the only thing let to do was fire up the engine and take to the skies!
All strapped in and ready to go.


Lift-off!  AAAAAAHHHHhhhhhhhh!!!

Once we gained altitude, Andy let my dad take the reigns and we headed north, over lake Minnetonka and towards his brother's house in Elk River.

We then proceeded to circle his place for some photos - likely scaring the crap out of him, his family and most of the neighborhood.
Hey Uncle Dan - mow your lawn!

Then, we started making our way back to Flying Cloud.  About half way back, we got a report from the airport that there was a storm cell heading towards the field and we were going to have to race it to the runway.  Oh joy.  It was during this last 20 minutes in the air that I heard 4 things that I wasn't hoping to hear on my first ride in a small aircraft.

1.  Air Traffic Controller:  "We've detected a precipitation cell that has been described as 'extreme'".

2.  Air Traffic Controller:  "You're going to have to keep your speed up if you want to beat this thing".

3.  Andy: "I'm going to have to red-line the throttle so we can get some more speed".

4.  Andy (preparing for final approach): "Okay boys, let's have some fun".

Photo out the left window showing our runway.  Notice: we are 10 seconds from landing and I am taking a photo of our runway out of the SIDE WINDOW.

Getting ready to touch down.  Not shown: me pooping pants.

The actual landing went smoothly - more so than most commercial flights I've been on.  We made it indoors just as the skies opened up and the rain came.  After waiting for a few minutes for the rain to stop, we decided to make a break for it and run swim to the car.

Safely back in the car, we met up with our wives and then each went home to change into dry clothes.  Later that afternoon, we met up in Red Wing with my sister and her new husband for dinner.  I had the jambalaya.  Yummers.

The Wife, me, Dad, Kristi, Karna and Joe.

Happy birthday Dad!

For those of you hoping for more tri-related ramblings...hold your horses.  It's coming.  But, it's late and I'm going to bed.  I'll have plenty to share about the long bike ride and my quasi-triumphant return to real honest-to-goodness running.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Great Week to be a Minnesota Cyclist

It's been a great week so far.  Like I mentioned in my last post, its been bike-heavy.  This means that I've been giving my legs a much needed beat-down.  The weather has also been ABSO-FREAKIN'-LUTELY GORGEOUS.  There have been good temperatures, clear skies, light breezes and even a few happy little clouds. Aaahhh.

Monday, I did a 2-hour tempo workout in the western suburbs along the same county roads that held the cycling leg of the Liberty 1/2 Ironman.  Everything was clicking just right.  Normally, I try to push the tempo workouts, but then end up pussing out after an hour or so.  Then I just kind of cruise along at no particular pace.  But on Monday, when I felt a little worn down, I just pushed a little harder.  I ended up chewing up 39 miles with a 19.2 average.  Nice.

Tuesday was a nice relaxed 90-minute ride.  My training plan said that I was supposed to make mental notes about my comfort and make mechanical adjustments along the ride.  Since I haven't had any comfort issues, and the Liberty race seemed to go well, I just used it as an opportunity to meander through Maple Grove, Plymouth and New Hope.  Good times.

Yesterday was a medium-length swim workout followed by the weekly 6pm group ride with the Twin Cities Spoke.   We left from Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie just after 6pm and put in about 37 miles through Minnetonka, Wayzata and Excelsior.  It was great to ride in a long pace-line with everyone wearing our club jerseys. 

There's no workout for me today - it's a rest day.  So, I'm catching up on some of my favorite blogs.  Steve in a Speedo (local runner, triathlete and all-around fun guy) is having a giveaway for Sugoi and Ryder's sunglasses.  I also entered a giveaway on DC Rainmaker's site for a free Garmin Forerunner 110.  He runs a great site and is the unofficial authority for all of your tech-y related tri needs.  Sure, I already have a Garmin Forerunner 305, but who am I to argue with FREE?

Tomorrow I'm going to give running another try with a quick 30-minute jog around the neighborhood.  There hasn't been any pain for several days, so I'm hoping that means that I can do my run-centric week starting on Monday.  If things go well, you'll probably see my 2nd gear review - for the Superfeet I picked up at REI to help my poor footsie.

Keep your fingers crossed, or toes, or eyes, or whatEVER.

What I'm REALLY looking forward to is Saturday.  It'll be my first official 'long' ride of the year.  I'm planning on around 4 hours - somewhere between 70 and 80 miles, and will likely spend way too much time tomorrow planning my route on Map My Ride when I should be working.