Monday, June 30, 2008

June Training Summary and Totals

I began cycling in June, so it was the first month that I incorporated swimming, cycling and running into my training. By adding the cycling this month, my running and swimming numbers went down slightly from May, but I realize that is part of the process and I am still very pleased with how the month went. Since getting my tri-bike ("Me-Cycle Aluminum" is what I named my bike) on June 9th, I have found thus far that cycling is definitely the easiest of the 3 disciplines for me. I have already done a number of 20-30 mile rides and one 50 mile ride with what I would consider minimal effort. I have been doing a lot of reading on bike setup and geometry and feel that I have the seat height, aero bars and my overall body positioned very well right now for my training. I may post a few pictures or a video of me on my bike in the near future to get some input from you more experienced cyclists and triathletes. Here are my June numbers:

Running: Ran a total of 152.8 miles which included 19 runs, average run was 8.04 miles with the longest single run being 14.0 miles (heat index reached 94 on that run) and the shortest run being 4.0 miles (a bonk run), and my average pace per mile for timed runs was 7:46. I am especially pleased with these numbers because the average heat index on all of my runs has been well into the 90's with humidity in the 70-100% range, and those temperatures exist early in the morning and after the sun goes down as well.

Swimming: Swam a total of 43.6km or 27.09 miles which included swimming 16 times, average swim was 2725m or 1.69 miles with the longest swim being 4000m or 2.49 miles (did that 3 times) and the shortest swim being 1600m or approximately 1 mile, and an average pace of approximately 1:57 per 100m (give or take a couple of seconds). I swam the 2.4 mile Ironman distance on June 18 in 1:18:19, just a shade over 2:00 per 100m, which I was very pleased with. I ended the month today with a 1600m swim in 29:39 (1:53 per 100m), an all-time PR for me for that distance.

Cycling: I cycled 12 times (starting June 9th) for a total of about 400 miles. I will have a much more accurate count on miles, time and speed in July because I just invested in an odometer that I will start using July 1.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


ok, so I'm an idiot and still rather new to this cycling stuff. The box to the left are the contents of my Shimano clipless pedals and the clips that come with the clipless pedals (call me too logical, but why are they called "clipless" and yet they clip?). I guess I missed reading the instruction section that talked about unclipping your clipless pedals before coming to a complete stop.

Tonight I successfully had my second crash since I got the bike 3 weeks ago, and both of the crashes occured while I was at a dead stop. Now keep in mind, neither of these incidents did anything but bruise my ego and a couple of minor scratches to the bike. You see, twice now I have forgotten that I have on pedal clips. Yes, that's right, laugh all you want. I came to a complete stop both times, started to put my foot down to brace myself, then my mind registers, "OH NO DUMMY, YOU ARE STILL CLIPPED IN!" From this point, everything happens in what seems like slow motion as you teater back and forth for a second or two, then just collapse to the side. At least I can laugh about it (just like all the people riding by me are).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ironman decisions

First of all, congratulations to all of those amazing finishers at Ironman CDA this past Sunday! All of you are inspirational to me and so many others.

For anyone who reads my blog, I've been talking for quite some time now about entering Ironman CDA for 2009 as my first IM. Online registration began yesterday, and I went to the web site, started filling out the form, and just couldn't complete it. It had nothing to do with changing my mind about doing an Ironman, but more to do with personal reasons. I've been thinking quite a lot lately about switching to Louisville in 2009, mainly because it is only a couple of hours drive from where my Dad, stepmother and brother live, and it would mean the world to me for them to see me finish my first one. My stepmother has also been going through chemo treatment for Myeloma (a cancer of the blood), and depending on how she is feeling this time next year, it would be much easier for her and my Dad to travel to Louisville to see me than for them to travel far away. Second, my wife's best friend since early childhood and her husband live in Louisville and it would present a great opportunity for her to visit them. Finally, for all of the reasons I just described and for others that I can not put into words, it is a decision that makes me feel at peace. I realize that might sound strange, but I have entered races before where my gut told me I was jumping the gun, and typically those instincts ended up being correct.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Answers to my 5 Tag Questions

Normally, I delete tag questions or chain emails, but Jim is a great guy and has a very inspirational and humorous blog, and since the questions are mainly about running, I'll give in.

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago? 10 years ago in 1998 I was in the midst of trying to qualify for Boston for the year 2000, which I did. I had already completed about 5 marathons, but the training it took to make my time for Boston really taught me a lot about myself and what it takes to be really dedicated and push yourself past your own limits. I feel it has carried on with me and has helped me to continue to improve.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience? I have a tie for best between running my first Boston Marathon in 2000 and running my marathon PR of 3:19:18 in Austin in 2001, which qualified me for Boston again. Worst, too many to name, which is what makes this all so wonderful when you finally do achieve your goals. If I were forced to pick one, I'd say the 1986 Houston Marathon (my 2nd marathon) where we had a record heat day. I swore to God, my wife, and anyone else that would listen that I would NEVER do a marathon again (now I'm at 17 marathons and counting).

3. Why do you run? For the personal fulfillment and reaching the goals I have set for myself. I don't care where I place, who passes me or who I pass, I just run against myself and the clock.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you’ve been given about running? I suppose the best piece of advise I ever got, and it was not from one single person, was to learn how to mix up my training during the week with easy runs, tempo runs, intervals and long runs. The worst piece of advise was that you should eat a lot of pasta before a race. Pasta makes me crater, it is truly my kryptonite.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know. I once had aspirations to be a professional golfer and was a scratch handicap for about 10 years, played golf on a scholarship in college, and played in the United States Amateur Championship in 1981. I now only play about once a year or so, and golf is the only sport I've ever participated in where it is second nature for me, I truly have a natural ability to play the game. I've laid off for a year before, walked out to a course without hitting a range ball to warm up, and still shot close to par. One side note to this, I was fortunate enough in 1997 to be at The Masters standing on the 18th hole when Tiger Woods sank his put to win his first major championship and set The Masters scoring record.

Let me know if you decide to answer these questions on your own blog.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I love to Bonk

I have kept a very detailed running log since about 1984 of every run that includes distance, time and pace (if I timed it), time of day, temperature (including heat index or wind chill, humidity, and wind speed and direction), how I felt both physically and mentally (I give these each a rating of 1-10 with 10 being the highest in any category and the rarest), my weight, and just some general comments about the run itself or things that happened that day in my personal life. The main thing this has helped me to do is to be able to quickly see how I perform historically under certain conditions, and it has paid off tremendously in many of my races.

About once or twice a year I bonk on a run and my body just completely shuts down. I'm not sure how it is for everyone else, but my mind and body are just completely spent from the outset, I always end up doing far less mileage than what I had planned, and it's as if the off switch has been flicked for my entire body. The interesting thing for me is that it usually occurs when I have been training heavily for a long period of time (which I have been doing) and strangely enough it always signals to me that my training is about to go up a notch for the better, which usually happens about 7-10 days later.

Case in point, last week on June 2, I went out on my normal 7.5 mile route, a route that I have covered well over 1,000 times through the years. Before I had even gone 200 yards to the end of our street, I was already breathing heavily and sweating. Anyone who runs a lot knows this type of thing happens from time to time, and typically by the time I get to the half-mile or mile point I have started to get a better rhythm going and the run improves the rest of the way. This was not the case on that day. I had barely made it 2 miles before I was fighting the mental demons to keep moving forward. I stretched it out to mile 3, then 4, then at about mile 5.5 finally gave into my screaming body and stopped and walked back home. I was completey covered in sweat, and my shoes and socks and shorts were drenched. The next day I had a run planned and decided to give myself an unscheduled day of rest.

The next 3 or 4 runs that followed were better and most were in the 7:50-7:55 pace per mile range (including a 12.2 miler this past Saturday in 90+ degrees). Then yesterday, it happened. I went for a run on my 7.5 mile route around 5:30 in the afternoon (temps still above 90) and really did not feel like going, but went anyway. My body felt lathargic, but I pressed forward and was surprised to see a 7:45 pace for the first mile. At the halfway point, I looked down to see that I was at a 7:30 pace, and I ended up holding that 7:30 pace for the entire run. On top of that, my swimming the last 4 times has gone from about a 2:00-2:05 pace per 100m to around 1:50-1:55 per 100m with what feels like less effort.

So what do I take from all of this? If you train hard and faithfully, you are going to go through periods of ups and downs, regardless of your ability. Just hang in there and the benefits will come.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The cycle begins... and I've named my new bike...

After months of going back and forth in trying to decide what type of triathlon bike to purchase, I finally made up my mind last week and my new bike arrived on Saturday. I ended up purchasing a brand new 2007 Specialized Transition Multi-Sport (pretty much an aluminum bike with the exception of the carbon seat post and fork), which is actually one of the very first bikes I looked at when I started shopping several months ago for one. Because of its material makeup, I have dubbed it "Me-Cycle Aluminum" . This bike will hopefully carry me through the remainder of my training and onto my first Ironman. There were 3 main reasons I chose this bike.

First, it has the geometry of a tri-bike with the handling benefits of a road bike. I live in an area where there are no bike paths to speak of, and many of the roads I will have to ride on have no shoulder at all, just the 2 lanes of traffic and God watching your back to make sure oncoming traffic is paying attention, leaving a margin for error of about 3 feet as cars go by in the same lane. The fact that the bike has road handlebars as well as the aerobars already benefitted me from a control factor on my first ride on Saturday when I was coming up on a huge pothole in the road at the same time a car was going by me in the same lane. By being able to let got of the aerobars and get more control on the road bars, I am positive it helped me to avoid an accident. The road bars have also come in handy on the couple of rides I did over the weekend with the wind. Since I am close to the Gulf Coast, it is not uncommon to have steady wind gusts of 20-30 mph, and again it was very comforting to be able to go from the aerobars to the road bars to gain more control.

Second, in the last week or so we found out that our house may possibly have some serious foundations problems, not uncommon in this part of Texas. If that is the case, we are talking major, major, major bucks for repair, and I simply could not justify spending $2,000-$3,000 more for a bike with that potential financial burden weighing on me.

Third, if it does turn out that I decide I want to do more than one Ironman and/or get more involved in triathlons of various distances, I can always upgrade to a better bike further down the road and give this one to my son. He and I are basically the same height and measurements, and he has recently expressed an interest in doing some triathlons in the future (he is 16 and has already completed 3 half-marathons).