Monday, March 21, 2011

Oceanside in less than 2 weeks

Well, what was once so far away, is less than 2 weeks away. The snow has finally lifted from most of the roads and the weather has been stable... stable as in not snowing too much.

I have a bit of history with this race. I raced this event for the first time 2004 when I saw it as one of the best races in the US, maybe the world. Wow, what a wake up call. If you think your training has been going well here in the PNW, go down to southern California and you will soon find out that there are 500 other people that will show you where all your deficiencies are. In 2004 a lot went wrong, (broken chain) but the fact that I was down there, and in one of the biggest races of the season, was pretty cool. As I have told a few people, you cannot show up there and have a marginal race and expect to walk away with a high placing. There is no hiding. In 2004 I was 32nd in my age group. Most races don't even have 32 people in an age group.

I went back in 2006 and was able to move up to 21st. Race went better. Had a decent swim, way better bike, and struggled on the run. Damn run. But it always sets a baseline to where you 'think' you are, and the reality of where you are. That year I had a great season qualifying for Hawaii in Cda and finishing 5th in my age group in IM Canada and 33rd overall. It was a great season full of racing.

My final race in Oceanside was back in 2007. I was focusing on IMs again and knew this was the race to start with...again. I moved up to the 35-39 age group which meant, well, nothing really. I placed 19th in my age group and 6 people were within one minute of my time. 2nd place was 8 minutes. So to think things get easier as you get older is a myth. That day was a pretty similar day to 2006. Good swim, faster bike by 10 minutes, sub par run. But, it is what it is and I learned from it...again.

So that brings me to the current day. My swimming has been more consistent and a larger volume. I am hoping that will translate into a similar time with less effort. I can't say there has been any real changes, just hoping for some benefits :) My shoulder has been holding on. A few hiccups along the way, but nothing that has been too serious. (shoulder problems resulting from getting hit by a car last May).

My riding has been a bit hit an miss. I have been able to get out on the road a couple times this season. Once on my mt bike and a couple on my road bike. I think last year at this time I had been on the road quite a few times. So I would suspect I am a tad behind there. I will have to keep that in mind when I am comparing my prior seasons there relative to this year. But I feel smarter, if that means anything.

The run has been good in terms of staying healthy. I had a problem back in November with my calf that set me back, but that all seems to be in check at the moment. No real speedwork. Just out jogging along at this point. Probably why I tend to joke with people, "Why run when you will probably end up walking anyway." Joking of course.

I think the best part of my training this season is the way that Jessi, Emma, and I have worked it into all our schedule. I really feel that this season I have not missed anything 'family' related, and I have been able to be there when we are all home. It seems like in prior seasons I have trained when I wanted to, often waiting until the weather was perfect. Which also meant that it was mid day when the family was up and rolling. Now I tend to do it in the early morning, or when Emma is swimming, or in transitional times. It really helps out with staying connected and being there for one another.

So it's a new way of training for me, and I like it. Now we will see how it translates into racing. I am not expecting a miracle by any means. Just looking forward to a performance that I think I am capable of. This will be my first 1/2 IM in 3.5 years...and first triathlon in 1.5 years. I feel a little out of the loop. Do I need to eat during these events...I can't remember?

Hope everyone's training is going well. Those of you that will be in Oceanside in less than 2 weeks, I hope your day exceeds what you thought was possible.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I am a Geek...I always have been

Wikipedia defines a Geek as: a slang term, with different meanings ranging from "a computer expert or enthusiast" to "a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts", with a general pejorative meaning of "a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp[ecially] one who is perceived to be overly intellectual." I am not a computer expert, nor do I perform in carnivals, and I hope I am not a dislikable person...so I searched further...

  • A derogatory reference to a person obsessed with intellectual pursuits for their own sake, who is also deficient in most other human attributes so as to impair the person's smooth operation within society.
  • A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest. This definition is very broad but because many of these interests have mainstream endorsement and acceptance, the inclusion of some genres as "geeky" is heavily debated.
I think those pretty much sum it up. Essentially, a person whose passion for something exceeds what would be considered "normal" and who often does not heed social norms when talking about the subject or participating in it.

That said, I think we are all Geeks in some for or another. Some of us have many Geek hats. Now, a Geek is not to be confused with a Nerd, who is defined as intelligent but socially and physically awkward. A Nerd seems to be more of a character. A Geek seems to be more relevant to subject matter. Okay, enough on that.

I have to say that I am a Bike Geek. I have enjoyed seeing the changes that have happened over the last few decades. I love the smell of solvents because it means something is clean. If they made a cologne called "Tri Flow" I would probably wear it.

I love seeing shorts with more than 6 panels.
Just the word Assos gives me a chill.
6 speed brings back memories of the great cyclists of the 80s.
Retrofriction I still hope makes a comeback.
A 42 chainring should ALWAYS be the smallest on a road bike.
A straightblock tells me it's time trial time.
Benotto ribbon wrapped well, was sleek...but Cinelli cork was plush.
A two button Avocet is still all you really need.
Deep drop has nothing to do with women.
A-Head, quill,...they both do the same, yet define an era.
Lugs did once exist on frames.
28 hole wheels were light weight TT wheels.
Bladed spokes meant you had to drill a hub.
Aero rims were 4 cm max.
Hairnets were not what food service women wore.
Leather chamois were commonplace.
Oakley Factory Pilot...all the others can thank them for creating the market.
LOOK was primarily a ski binding company.
You used to actually grease bearings.
25 pounds was pretty light.
Aluminum meant "big tubes."
Frame pumps were not for airing up frames, and there was a difference in the heads.
Clips and straps had nothing to do with bondage.
High flange we will probably never say again away from a track.
36 hole wheels were standard, and 32 meant race ready.
Rim cement was just that...cement. And when applying it, if you did not ruin what you were wearing in the process, you probably did not use enough.
Solar anything on a road bike? Ya right.
If you could still use your waterbottle after 1 month, it meant you rarely used it, or are drinking mold, or you have a mom that bleaches bottles. The tops did not lend themselves to cleaning.
V1 Pro? Nice try at a hairnet Bell...but a big miss.
If the word WINNING means more than 1st place, that meant you ran to the mailbox once a month...and the only running a cyclist would ever do.
Results were found in the paper, or rare weekend CBS Sports coverage, which left a week's worth of hypothesizing who the winners would be and how the races would unfold in Europe.
The 'Professor' has nothing to do with Gilligan's Island.
The 'Badger' has nothing to do with Wisconsin.
American Flyers is respected not because Kevin Costner was in it, because it was about cycling.
Breaking Away was not about a guy trying to leave his girlfriend.
Quicksilver is not just a brand...right Nelson Vails?
Though Americans praise Armstrong for his borderline countless Tour wins, it was Greg LeMond that had the most thrilling one in 1989 when he averaged over 34.5 mph in the final stage...the time trial... to win oevrall by 8 seconds. Though most Americans have forgotten this victory, no Frenchman will ever.
There is so much more that can be said, but I will end with two last words... Detto Pietro.
**Sad thing, I typed this list in about 5 minutes**

The point here, the machines are magnificent...the history is rich tradition and controversy. If you walk into a bike shop and immediately assess the mechanic's aptitude by the crispness of the return of a brake lever...you are probably a Bike Geek. If you can admire a new bike that is $500 for what it is, and the budgeted quality it possesses, you are a Geek. If you walk in a shop and you can immediately locate the most expensive bike there, and not because it's on display, you are a Bike Geek. Bike Geeks like all types of bikes and respect what they represent.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The season in numbers…Hmmm. I really don’t have too many numbers yet. It’s really been more about the season and events and things I see along the way.

After Jessi and I carefully merge our calendars every Sunday (which just might be my favorite time of the week…and it has nothing to do with the calendar merging but the conversation) the training takes shape. I feel a bit like a hamster, but that’s okay. I might get up in the morning and put a little time on the Computrainer. I eventually get bored after a bit and then I watch what local news there is before Emma gets up and Jessi and I start our morning routines. She makes the lunches and I make breakfast and coffee…normally. I have been known to drop the ball completely from time to time, but I usually pull my weight.

A couple days a week my afternoons find me at Oz splashing around. Michelle, the Oz general manager, has set some time aside for “Master Swimming.” Though it is not officially Master Swimming, it is an opportunity for people to lap swim without people with flotation dumbbells thrashing around in a lane…not that I am against that, just not while I am swimming if at all avoidable. I know swimming alone is not ideal to improve fitness, but it does offer me the opportunity to get in a few yards and get the feel for the water back. The Oz pool is quite warm, so it will be a bit of a shock in Oceanside when the water is in the upper 50’s. Eeek!

Another swimming activity I have been taking part in is watching Emma’s swim practice. I know, you can’t get better by watching a sport…but I disagree. I watch these coaches give their feedback with these kids and I take note as well. It’s kind of like watching tapes of a game to know what you do right and wrong. It’s also a time that Jessi and I often hang out and admire Emma’s pure joy of swimming. It blows us away. She will be late for everything. But not swimming. It normally takes her 20 minutes to put on her shoes, but she can go from a dead sleep, with clothes on, and be swim ready in 30 seconds and be yelling at you to hurry up and get in the car. You give her the option not to swim, and she won’t take it. I don’t know too many people with her drive and the smile that goes along with it. Who knows how long she will swim for, but right now she loves it and loves her coaches.

Next word…treadmill. There, I said it. Treadmill. How many people have stopped reading now? I tell ya, up until this year I would laugh at those that chose to run indoors…laugh I say! Because there is never a reason not to run outside. You tell me one reason you can’t, and I will come up with 10 reasons you can. BUT, this year we purchased a used treadmill for $100 from a friend so that Jessi can get some workouts in while pregnant and not slip on ice and when the baby is here, is able to sneak in a run or two. Well, I just so happened to have injured myself in November. I screwed up my calf and knew the journey back would be a slow one. So I started with walking on the treadmill in mid December. That walk, weeks later, turned into an easy jog. That easy jog turned into a longer easy jog…and that’s where I feel like I am now. Maybe a bit more than easy jog though.

One part of training that I have always been a believer in is documenting your training. We all know that it’s important, but we often fall victim to time. But I figured if I started to see the little I was doing, it would eventually add up to more than a little. I have been using TrainingPeaks. It’s free and does more than 99.99% of people will ever use it for. I am a data guy and am always trying to make a 10 minute mile look like a 5 minute mile. I have not been able to do that, but I have been able to see trends and things that show that there has been some progress. And really, that’s all we ever want.

Through training it’s always nice to have a few toys that keep your interest. There is no doubt that the one thing that puts a little pop in all our step is music. I have to say that I train almost all the time with something in my ears. No, not swimming…yet. I can listen to the same 5 songs over and over. I don’t think I really listen though. It’s just background noise. I really enjoy listening to podcasts too. Three of my favorites are The Competitors, Packfiller, and IM Talk. All of them have their own variety. I had the opportunity to meet Bob Babbit from Competitor Radio at the TIMEX Multisport camp a few weeks ago. I have been listening to him for the past 3 years. It was amazing to sit and chat with him for hours about sport related stuff…and some not so sport related. What an amazing person.

Another couple items that I have entertained me along the way, and given me data as well, are my Timex Global Trainer and the new Race Trainer Pro. If you want to see a little video of the new Race Trainer Pro, click here. It will be available late March 2011. Both these devices download to TrainingPeaks where I can see everything I need to. The Global Trainer shows everything from pace, map, distance, speed, cadence, power, etc, etc, etc. It’s crazy. The Race Trainer Pro is super for all your heart race needs and quickly and easily uploads to TrainingPeaks as well. I like gadgets…these both make my training go by a tad faster.

Even with the best laid out plans, things happen that kick our asses. Since December I have been sick on 2 different occasions. That pretty much wipes out 1 week per illness at least. But, I have found since my cycling days when I was a mere 13 years old, that when you are sick your training should be to get healthy. The sooner you are back on top, the sooner you can resume regular workouts. So I feel that the 2 weeks I lost was okay…not ideal…but okay. I was super fortunate to have a supportive family that eventually told me to stop whining like a baby. So I did, and got up and got going again.

So though training has been okay, and I have been getting over the occasional hurdle, the big event is yet to come. That being May 15th when our little boy is supposed to make his debut. When that day comes, though we’d like to think that the world will stop for a day or two, it won’t but we will. Emma is so excited and trying to figure out what he will be like and what he will want to do for fun. Jessi and are just wondering what new changes will be made. Kind of fun, and crazy, when you have no control over things that you know are coming. I think that’s good.