Monday, June 25, 2007

Game On

I am now officially an Ironman-In-Training; I registered for Ironman Coeur d'Alene. I'm already a little bummed about it. I thought CDA (I still haven't learned how to spell it without looking it up) was held "the last weekend in June" which would be just before my 40th birthday and it would be a great way to celebrate. Instead, it's held "the 4th weekend in June". Next year June has 5 Sundays, so CDA is June 23rd. That's not my birthday week. Doesn't count.

I will have to refine my goals as my training progresses, but right now I'd like to finish in 15 hours. I'm worried that if I finish too quickly it won't be dark outside and I won't get any of the glow sticks they give out during the marathon.

I tried the online "Triathlon Time and Pace Calculator". I know, I know, we shouldn't listen to those things. But according to the internet, which is never wrong, I can expect to complete a full Ironman in 17:44:46. Pity the race closes at 17:00:00.

Notes for next year: Today I weigh 152.5 lbs and am at 14.0% bodyfat according to my "inaccurate yet we obsess over them anyway" Omron analyzer. I have no idea if i will gain weight or lose weight over the next 52 weeks.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Don't ever play pool with me.

Our Tri Team did a "5k run for time" workout tonight. It was very well-organized. Leader Leah marked out a 5k out-and-back course along the L.A. river trail, with mile markers and inspirational chalk-notes along the path. Everyone was assigned a number, we were body-marked, and we had an official timer to clock us. There were about 25 of us, and we all had to sign up with our individual goal time. I wasn't sure what to go with. I haven't been running very frequently over the past month, and before that most of my runs were untimed hill runs at a presumably slower-than-normal pace. I figured I'd start with my standard 10-minute-mile baseline, then knock it down to 9:30s. I put down 28:30 as my goal.

The path is pretty narrow, so we tried to seed ourselves at the start line. Remember Steve? He came up to me and asked what my pace was, because he never times himself. I told him I'd probably go out a little fast for the first mile, about 9 minutes, then slow up and average about 9:30. But I warned him: DO NOT PACE OFF OF ME. Do not sight on me during a swim because I can't swim a straight line to save my life, and don't pace me in a run because I am wildly inconsisent. But you think a guy with a swim cap over his nose is gonna listen? Instead, he stayed in my line.

We took off at what seemed like a brisk but not unreasonable pace. I checked my watch at the 1 mile mark: 6:57. I was hoping for 9:00 and came up with sub-7:00?! (although to be fair, Steve was ahead of me for much of the first mile so I blame him.) I pulled ahead for a while and then figured I had plenty of time in the bank so I could ease up after the turn-around and still hit my goal time. Unfortunately, Steve pulled up next to me. Now then, I had nothing to prove, I didn't have to beat him. But I didn't have to get left in his dust either. So I drafted behind him as long as I could and wheezed my way through the last mile.

After everybody finished, I was looking over Koach Konrad's shoulder (he's a triathlon trainer) as he was reading the clipboard showing everybody's goals and actual times. We've met eachother several times in the group but he doesn't know me by name. He started laughing: "wow, we've got some bad sandbaggers here! Look at this guy: he puts down a goal of 28:30 and pulls out a 23:59!" Um, yeah, that was me. I think we had some 21s and 22s in there, but at least they knew that's what they'd run.

A sub-24 minute 5k is great for me. I just have no sense of timing or where I stand with my training. But I guess that's why we're doing these workouts, right?

In a few weeks we're going to do a 10k. I'm thinking... 90 minutes?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Getting Cut

Some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that with all of the workouts I've been doing, I'm getting some well-defined lines on my torso.
The bad news is that they're blisters from my heartrate monitor.

This year, our tri-team has really been making an effort to "train smarter, not harder". This is perfect for me because I know I am very inefficient with my training: I go out, I run, if I get tired I slow down. Simple. But not good for making improvements.

Now we're doing drills to work on our form and build strength. Ouch. And soon I'll be doing that freaky VOmax thingie. Last week, Tri team Leah (our run leader) gave us an introduction to the heartrate monitor. I've had one for over a year and just never got around to learning how to train with it. We basically did a 10k with a big hill in the middle, and the pupose was mostly just to get used to the idea of checking your heartrate.

After about 4 miles I started feeling like I was being electructed; there was a stinging sensation right under my chest. Of course, the pain wasn't related to any kind of electrical current: I didn't put the strap on tight enough and didn't use any body glide, and it was rubbing my skin raw. Sure enough, the next day I had a 3-inch horizontal blister, right below my chest. (I'll spare you my shirtless photos. This time.)

I figure if I reposition the strap, after 2 more runs I'll have a 6-pack.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

With friends like these...

Stupid Dutch and Kentucky-dweller T-Bone were having a webcam chat:

T-Bone: "Are you guys still doing the swim-bike-run thing?"
Dutch: "I'm just running now, Mike's still doing it all."
T-Bone: "Get him on webcam… I'll tell him he's getting fat."
Dutch: "That would be hilarious!"

(Dutch sends me an IM: "get over here, I have T-Bone on webcam." I walk over to Dutch's office.)

T-Bone: "oh wow, have you gained weight?!"

There was much laughter.
Without saying a word, I walked out.
There was much more laughter.

Credit where credit is due: it was a very funny bit.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ironman 2008

I guess playtime is over and I need to step up to the plate and do an Ironman next year. I just need to figure out which one.

The Axis of Evil is planning on doing Brazil in 2008. That would be an amazing trip. Some of them have done it before, and IronAndre even has relatives down there. However, international travel adds an entire new level of stress which I don't want to deal with. The Ironman is enough to worry about; I don't want to be thinking about losing my passport or getting sick on some foreign bacteria. I think I should stay domestic.

Logistically, Arizona would be the easiest race to do. It's the only Ironman I can drive to. The problem is that I hate the desert. I drove out to the far end of the bike course when IronmAnnie did it in April, and it looked awful. Just a straight dirt line through nothing. I don't see how she didn't go crazy. If I'm going to be miserable doing an Ironman, I might as well have a nice view.

I've been to Florida too many times already. If I do an endurance event in Florida, it will be the Walt Disney World Marathon, not an Ironman. Oddly enough, I've also been to Wisconsin more times than I care to remember. I have a friend who just moved to Kentucky; I could visit him and do Louisville, but Kentucky in August just doesn't sound like a pleasant place to be.

I would love to do Lake Placid. I lived in upstate New York for several years and the Adirondacks are beautiful. I just think that the Lake Placid Ironman is a little too hilly for my comfort. Yes, there is no such thing as an easy Ironman but there IS such thing as a hard one. Maybe not my first time out.

That leaves Coeur d'Alene. Aside from a 2-day trip to Portland, I've never been to the Northwest U.S. The course has lush, green trees and rolling hills. It has a cool freaky name that outsiders don't understand (Core de where?) A fellow tri-teammate's husband is planning on doing it, and there is some buzz that other tri-bloggers are interested. All this, and it will be one week before my 40th birthday.

So Coeur d'Alene 2008 is currently the frontrunner, which gives me about 55 weeks to get ready.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Back to the Beach

Meet Steve, the new swim coach for our tri team. I feel safer already.

We had our first ocean swim of the season this weekend. For you land-locked triathletes there, I'm sorry but you are missing out on the challenge of ocean races. There is a certain fun/excitement/fear that goes along with fighting the ocean waves that you just don't get in a pool or lake.

Our group of about 20 was going to practice our "ins and outs" - basically getting out past the waves, which is the most tiring part of an ocean swim, then coming back in. After the first outbound trip, the group returned to shore. The World's Greatest Triathlete stayed out past the waves to act as a buoy so everyone could swim towards him on trip two. Out of the goodness of my heart, I offered to stay out there with them to keep him company since I knew it would be a while before everyone else came back.

Of course, the REAL reason I stayed was because I wanted to avoid fighting the waves again. Yes, ocean swimming is fun but there's no reason to be stupid about it.