Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Getting Gutsy

As you know, there are four disciplines of triathlon training: Swim, Bike, Run, Guitar Hero. The latest game in the genre is "Rock Band" which uses the same principles as Guitar Hero, but now up to 4 people can play at once. It adds a microphone for singing and a full drum set. You have 4 drums to hit with real drumsticks, plus a bass drum pedal you control with your foot. In a long song, you might have to tap the foot pedal several hundred times, often in rapid succession. Let me tell you, you would not believe how painful it is to step on that pedal after doing a long run. You need at least a 2-hour Transition between Running and Rock Band.

Stupid Dutch and Smart Dutch's Girlfriend came over for a little Rock Band jamming the other night. After each song, the game gives feedback comparing each of the players. It might say someone was the "Top Performer" while someone else had a "Great Solo". Several times, I got the message "Most Gutsy".

How awesome is that?!

I may not win my races, but I would love to be thought of as a Gutsy Triathlete: someone who doesn't stick with the safe races, who instead goes for events just outside his comfort zone. That's where you score the most points. Would you rather be the Top Performer on Easy, or Most Gutsy on Hard?

Previous posts:
Everything I need to know about Triathlon I learned from Guitar Hero
Triathlon Hero

p.s. Smart Dutch's Girlfriend was our star vocalist, but I kicked Stupid Dutch's ass on guitar. Not that matters, I'm just saying...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Strangers in the Night

I had to do a 9-mile run after work last night. Griffith Park has a pretty good horse trail I use; one out-and-back lap is about 8 miles, it's flat, and the packed dirt is much easier on the shins than pavement. You don't have to worry about cars, but it is a little unnerving seeing coyote eyes being reflected back at you from your head lamp in the woods. Best of all, there are water fountains along the trail so I don't need to carry my own water.

I was about 4 miles into the run when I stopped for a water break. I leaned over the fountain, pushed the button, and SPLATTT!!! The thing shot up like a fire hose right into my eye. It was probably a good 20 seconds before I could even open my eye after that; I could feel my contact lens folded over and pressed back into my eye. I was trying to figure out where the nearest hospital was, because I was certain the lens would have to be removed by a doctor. Fortunately, after another minute of blinking and rubbing my eye, the lens settled back into place. It still stung for several hours after that.

Most of the run was uneventful after that; I was far more cautious when I stopped for drinks. I did the last mile of the run on the main road. I like to finish my runs strong, so I did a pretty good sprint for the last 1/2 mile or so. It was bout 7:00 so it was completely dark aside from the car headlights. I saw another running coming towards me. He (it?) was wearing a bright headlamp and every part of his body was glowing with reflective tape. It looked like something out of Tron. We passed each other and I may have given a quick nod of the head, but with his bright lamp shining at me I didn't see his face. About 20 seconds later I heard a voice behind me: "whatsa matter, you don't say hello?" My first thought was "joke's on you pal; I'm not carrying my wallet and I just have a cheap iPod Shuffle on me so it won't do you any good to mug me." I then realized that it (Tron) was IronAndre. He asked how far I was going, I told him I was finishing up a 9-miler. He seemed very impressed with my pace. Of course, at the time he didn't know that I had only started sprinting about 1/10 mile earlier.

Most of my runs are in the dark now. I just need to be careful of the cars. And the coyotes. And the water fountains. And Andre.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

IronNightmares 2

Two more Ironman nightmares on the same night. They were both pretty elaborate, but here are the short versions:

1. It was 2 weeks before Ironman and I forgot I had wanted to do a 2-mile swim as part of my training and I had to rush to get it in. I ran 1/2 mile to get the pool so I could start doing laps, but when I got there I realized I forgot my towel and I had to run back.

2. On race day, when the starting gun went off we all had to run to T1. I got there, put on my Tri Jersey, my sneakers, my race belt... I was all set to go when I remembered that the swim comes before the run. So I had to take everything off and get into the wetsuit.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Raising Expectations

When I first signed up for Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2008, I said my goal was to finish in 15 hours. It is going to be a tough race, but given that you only have 17 hours to finish, 15 isn't a particularly ambitious goal. For me, I'm guessing it would be 2-7-6; 2 hours total for the swim, transitions, and various potty and sanity breaks, 7 hours on the bike, 6 hour marathon. Should be doable, and the more important goal is simply to finish the darn thing, regardless of time.

A few months ago, I was doing a ride with Gerald and he said something to me which has bothered me ever since. He told me, "I don't think you should train to FINISH Ironman, I think you should train to KICK ASS at Ironman."

Stupid Gerald.

He's right; this could very well be my one and only Ironman, so why not try to kick some ass? I'm going to raise (lower?) the bar a bit and shoot for a 14-hour Ironman. I think that would be an ass-kicking. Most of that will have to come from the bike. I still think a 7-hour bike would be a good ride, but maybe I can get through it with enough energy for a 5-hour marathon. Or maybe I can go 6.5/5.5. I'll have to fine-tune the goals as my training continues.

Of course, in order to do a 14-hour Ironman, I had BETTER be able to do a 7-hour half-iron in March. The Cali 70.3 has way too much (self-imposed) emotional baggage weighing on it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Making Head Lines

Most of us have suffered at one time or another from Helmet Hair. You know how it is: you get back from a ride, your hair is all sweaty and it sticks up like a set of horns. Well, for those of us who are - shall we say - more "follicly streamlined", we have a different problem.

When you head out for a bike ride and the temperature is in the 50s, you don't always think about sunscreen. After all, you're wearing long sleeves, eyewear, and a hat. The problem is that all those air vents on your helmet are also UV vents. So if you're like me and you no longer have your natural layer of protection, you wind up with 2 red stripes going down your forehead. To make matters worse, I was wearing my helmet too tightly which made the skin puff out even more.

I used to think that the spandex shorts were the biggest indignity of bike riding. No more.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Losing Weight

Last weekend I lost 20 pounds. If you know what I'm talking about, tell me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

New Math

Little Johnny wants to do a 6 mile run. He plans on averaging 10 minutes per mile. How much time does he need for his workout?

a) 45 minutes
b) 60 minutes
c) 90 minutes

Pencils down. The correct answer is "c."

I basically live in the middle of a city, so I can't just step out my front door and start running. (I'd have to run on sidewalks which knowing from experience kill my feet, and I get stopped by traffic lights every 2/10 mile.) I need to drive 10-15 minutes to get to a nice running area. Then I can run, there's a little bit fo cool-down time afterwards, drive another 10-15 minutes home and then shower. A one-hour run takes an hour and and half to 1:45. A 3-hour weekend bike ride can easily take 4.5 hours.

The Ironman training guidelines I'm using has suggested workout times ranging from 10 hours during a recovery week, up to 20 hours during an endurance week. With the overhead, that is more like 13-25 hours per week, and I'm using the easier schedule. I'm allowing myself one big cheat to make sure I meet my weekly hour goals: I am defining the shortest workout I can do as one hour. In other words, if I swim 30 minutes before work, that's 1 hour. A 4-mile run is one hour. However, a 30 minute bike ride followed by a 30 minute run still counts as one hour. A 90 minute run will probably count as 1.5 hours.

Yes, I am fully aware that the quality and intensity of a workout is far more important than time. But if I don't have a strict, quantifiable plan in place then I will skip many of my workouts. I'm just lazy that way.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


In addition to being on an Ironman training plan, I have also started my Ironman diet. The diet is very simple to understand, but very difficult to follow. I'm sure many of you will just roll your eyes in disgust, but I don't care. Here is my Ironman diet:

No chocolate before noon.

Before you judge me, you have to understand the environment in which I work. This is what I am faced with every day:

These are just the candy dishes on my floor at the office. There are more goodies throughout the building. Everywhere I go, there is temptation and I am very weak. And these are not some sort of special Halloween treats; they are there all the time. And let me tell you, around 10:30-11:00 those little bites of Heaven are absolutely delicious.

I tried one day of skipping my afternoon Mountain Dew break, but I basically went crazy. So that snack stays in place. But I think you'd be surprised just how much chocolate I would consume each morning. Following the simple "no chocolate before noon" rule is enough to make me lose some fat.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Do you feel a draft?

I've been looking for an excuse to use the image of Voyager using her Quantum Slipstream Drive for a while now. It's finally here.

I don't draft a lot during bike rides, for several reasons. Sometimes I simply can't catch up to the person in front of me. Sometimes I'm too busy chatting with people and I'd rather ride alongside them. And then there's the whole issue of worrying about riding so closely behind someone that I might crash into them if my reaction time isn't good enough. When I do draft, it's usually at an easy-to-moderate pace.

We did our Tuesday morning bike ride this morning and finished up doing our regular out-and-back course along the Los Angeles River Trail. Jon said that he was "gonna go hard" for the final 3 miles of the trail, and told me draft him to practice riding his wheel. It was not something I was looking forward to, but I trusted him and gave it a shot.

Wow. I knew all about the theory of drafting and how it works, but I never really experienced it at this level. We were FLYING down the trail. (well, I felt like I was flying; Jon was holding back a bit so as not to lose me.) I wish I had timed myself. I stayed on his wheel for the entire 3 miles and I'm sure it's the fastest I've ever done the trail, by far. Not seconds faster, minutes faster. In a way I felt like I was cheating since I was doing less work, but I suppose it's just a different type of workout.

It was just a really cool feeling to have that sense of sustained speed for the full 3 miles. I need to find some draft-legal races, and some more fast friends.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Great Motivator

It's often difficult to keep up the intensity during a workout. You often have to rely on external forces to keep you driving hard. Cycling in a group can do that for you, especially when riding with more experienced riders than yourself. They'll push you harder than you might normally go on your own. However, I've found an even BETTER motivator: the cable company.

We did our group ride along the San Gabriel River Trail today. I had one major constraint; I had an appointment with "the cable guy" between 1:00 and 3:00. They had been to my house twice before to fix my TV and it still wasn't working. I was thrilled that I was able to get a Sunday appointment and I did NOT want to miss it. I knew that I absolutely had to be back at my car at 12:30, which would give me 30 minutes to drive home.

We let ourselves sleep in a bit for once and had a late start. We reached the turn-around point at 11:20, where we took a short break for a snack. It took us about an hour-and-a-half to get there, going mostly downhill along the river. In order to make it back by 12:30, I had 70 minutes to do a 90-minute ride, only this time I'd be going uphill.

I skipped the break and split from the group and started racing back to the car. I have done the river ride many times, and I swear the wind there is evil; it knows which way you're riding and switches directions so you always have a headwind. Today was different for some reason, and I lucked out by getting a tailwind for once. Phew.

I pretty much nailed it. I got to my car just before 12:30. This is what I found:

Yes, that's my wallet on the roof which was sitting there for about 3 hours. Somebody up there likes me.

I got home at 12:55. And what time did the cable guy show up? 1:03. Eight minutes to spare.

(And no, my cable still isn't working properly. The tech guy says it's a problem with the billing; the billing people say it's a problem with the hardware.)