Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Conversations with the Coach

A busy tri-type day yesterday (Monday).

Master's swim was a crowded affair, with a full slate of the usual pool rats. Andy and his wife Debbie, Jay, Kathy, and myself. Andy is a former competitive swimmer in college, and Jay is just wicked fast (and an age group competitor of mine, though I can't say I'm offering him too much competition at this point -- he's in the front of the pack). Debbie and Kathy are a different matter. When I began Master's they were clearly stronger than me. Now...not so much. We took turns leading off, and I can hang with them now. Nice that I can keep up with the fast girls now!

Took my bike into the shop, after an accident (no one hurt) ripped the rear deraullier off. $177, a new hanger and a spiffy Ultegra derailler later, I'm back on the road, courtesy of Blue Wheel Bicycles.

Highlight of the day was a phone conversation with Coach Debi. I'm not getting any formal coaching for November, but she suggested I call to touch base on what to do during the "off" time -- very nice of her. The conversation was cool -- she's just returned from Hawaii, so I reflected in her Ironman glory as she talked about riding "the Queen K."

Name-dropper. ;)

Not too much "off" in November however. The short version: keep swimming, keep riding, increase your long run and miles per week. A good conversation though -- I asked about setting time goals for Eagleman. She was cautious about that. The attitude was pretty much, "I'll get you ready, then you run a smart race and don't worry about the time." Can't argue with that, at least at this point. At any rate, a winter's worth of training, and then a couple of races in the spring and it may be a good idea to start thinking about my race time. Until then, stay patient and be faithful to my training.


Staying faithful to my training? You decide.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Daily double

Friday (tomorrow) Coach Debi has two workouts scheduled for me. Nothing extreme, mind you, just a 30 minute easy spin and a 30 minute run. No brick -- two separate workouts. I'm sure it's a routine I'll get used to as I prep for Eagleman.

Even training once a day I've learned the value of planning and organization. For example, if I've got an early morning spin on the trainer the best way to make sure it happens is to make a list and get everything ready:

1. Set up bike on trainer, plug headphones into TV, and put cycling shoes, remote, and sports drink by bike.
2. Put cycling shorts on chair by bed.
3. Prep coffee maker and set timer (nothing like a hot cup of joe when I'm done).
4. Iron and put out clothes for work.
5. Pack lunch.
6. Set out breakfast food.

I learned early on that if I didn't do all of these things, the rest of the morning could easily turn into a total SNAFU. And when the alarm goes off it's easier to get up knowing everything's ready to go.

In short, I can live with a workout missed because I'm sick or injured, but I'm determined that I'm not going to miss any because I wasn't prepared.


P.S. -- Check my training log and see how I'm doing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Winter training

No doubt about it, I wimped out this morning. No, I still did my run, but I couldn't brave the cold, and drove five minutes to the gym, where I could trot in comfort on the indoor track. Of course, in a few months a calm, 35-degree morning will seem pretty balmy, but I'm just not ready for it yet.

Winter seems to be creeping in a bit early this autumn in central Virginia. There's been no snow yet, but the temperature has been below average the last few weeks, and the sky has already taken on the bright clarity of the winter season. Views of the Blue Ridge mountains that were obscured in haze a few months ago are now crystal clear -- so clear you swear you can count the trees on the distant peaks.

At any rate, it's time to take a trip to Performance Bike to pick up some gloves and warm socks so I can take advantage of the rare days that are suitable for cycling in December, January, and February, and check my Netflix queue so I'm ready for the trainer rides to come. And get ready to brave the cold air of those morning runs. At least the pool is indoors!

Keeping it real -- check out my training log.

Friday, October 20, 2006

When the extraordinary is ordinary

I'll preface this by stating that I may never do an Ironman race. A lot of stars would have to align properly for that to happen -- I'll need the blessing and support of my family, I'll need the motivation for a long training cycle, and I'll need to stay healthy in mind and body. Right now, looking uphill at a 70.3 in June is a daunting enough challenge.

And that 70.3 is a challenge to me. Especially when the goal isn't to "finish." I've done enough endurance events in my time (8 marathons) to know that I could muddle through training, go slow, and I'd still make it to the end. But my goal is to finish with style -- "style" defined by me as being in the top half of my age group (45-49). Maybe a bit ambitious, since after three sprint tris I still haven't managed that feat. But I'm doing all the right things -- training consistently with a coach's guidance, giving myself plenty of time, and taking care of my body (down 15 pounds since a year ago!)

But if you hang around the internet too much, it's easy to feel inadequate. Message boards and web sites are crowded with dedicated endurance athletes discussing their latest IM, their podium places, and detailing their training plans and schemes. It's like a game of one-upsmanship -- you take some pride in your twice weekly 3000 yard swim workouts, only to be brought down by someone discussing their latest 6000 yard workout. You've just had a nice 30 mile bike? That's not as hot as the 60 mile super-fast workouts the other guy is talking about. And that 30 minute run doesn't compare to the brick workout the local Kona-bound athlete has just posted.

Oh, it's unintentional -- no one is trying to make anyone feel bad (mostly). But it's helpful to step back sometimes and remember that the internet isn't the whole world. Like an amplifier, it can take a small signal and make it very loud, so the voices of a few seem like the roar of a crowd. The extraordinary seems so ordinary that you lose perspective on what you're doing, and the personal challenge you've given yourself.

No, I'm not doing an Ironman -- and I may never do one. But a triathlete -- at any level -- is a pretty unusual speciman. And I'm happy that I'm doing the best I can.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Not often you get to celebrate like I did on Sunday. After nearly one year without racing, and nearly 5 months after knee surgery, I finally got to race again.

The return was celebrated at the Giant Acorn Sprint Tri, with a totally MOP performance (14/27 in 45-49M; 110/226 overall male if you're keeping score) -- and I couldn't be happier. I'll write more about it later, but feel free to check out my race report at BeginnerTriathlete.com.

Only 8 months till Eagleman!

P.S. -- Feel free to check out my on-bike pic here (I'm asking for bike position criticism, I know...)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Counting down...

It seems a little odd to be saying it at this date, but I'm getting pumped for my first race of the year.

In 2005 I took the plunge and started doing triathlons, competing in two sprint events. My performance was respectable: age group finishes of 14 out of 24, and 8 out of 13, and I was hooked. I worked hard through the fall and winter to improve for the 2006 season, but when I injured my knee in March, the season's plans were pretty much shot.

I'm almost 5 months out from my knee surgery now, with the Giant Acorn sprint tri on October 8th, and I honestly am not quite sure what to expect. If I compare myself to 2005, there's no doubt that I'm a much stronger swimmer than I was then. My cycling is coming back well, and I'm probably faster now than I was before (losing 10-15 pounds does seem to help when you're on the bike!)

Running, of course, is the wild card. All my running to this point has been run/walks, as I gradually build up the knee. Even running/walking, I'm able to do 10 minute miles when I'm on the track. I'll just try to run the distance with a steady pace and finish the run with some degree of grace.

In truth, it's probably best to go into the race with low expectations -- stay conservative and enjoy myself. Still. . . a good swim, solid bike, smooth transitions, and a decent run -- maybe I'll be able to crack the top 1/2 of my age group.

Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?


P.S. -- I've actually got a day off in my training schedule for the week! Thanks, Coach Debi!