Friday, April 29, 2011

A Big Weekend Preview

Two weeks from tomorrow I have my first race of the year.  This will be the earliest in the season (only by a week) that I have ever raced a triathlon.  It is also the longest that I have ever gone to start the season seeing as it's a half ironman.  I'm not going to rest/taper for this race as I have bigger plans for this season so I need to continue to to train.  I have been having some great days of training, and feel pretty good about my fitness, especially my run fitness.  Run training has been consistent and I've been smarter about my running in the past few weeks...i.e. going out slower than usual.  Yesterday I had an awesome 11 mile run.  It was one of those days where the legs felt great, my breathing wasn't labored at all, and I could have kept going if I had the time.  Don't you love those days?  I started out with a 6:53, 6:38, 6:30 and then cracked off the next 8 miles with the slowest one being 6:19 (fastest 6:04).  No these aren't extremely fast, but for me to run at that pace with the effort (or lack there of) that I had to put in I was excited.  I am excited to start to race and excited to start to take some calculated risks on the run!!  The past few seasons I've taken risks on the bike, and I felt as if I could...well I will still plan on attacking the bike, but for the first time in ever I feel I can take some risks on the run now too.  I'm not sure where those will be yet, but I do plan on putting myself into the hurt locker more than I have in the past knowing that I've been there in training!

Alright for the weekend preview.  The sun is finally out, crazy, and I don't think it's a dream, I think it's actually here for a day.  With that in mind I'm planning on having a big weekend.  Today's training load is going to be rather light which has already included some time on my bike, and will include an easy 6 mile run in a bit here.  Tomorrow will be big.  I'm going to use Endure It Willowbrook as my homebase for training for the day (mainly because if I come home from a ride and try to get a run in right away my dogs will give me way too much guilt).  So the plan is to drop off a back pack of running gear at Endure It on my way out for my 100 mile ride, come back and run 10 off of the bike where I can end up at home for an ice bath.  I may ride with a few people for some of my 100...or I may go solo...not sure yet.  My 10 mile run will be solo and at slightly faster than Ironman pace hopefully.  I'm going to follow this up with a "Marathon Dress Rehearsal" on Sunday where I run 23 miles at planned Ironman Marathon pace.  The key here is going to be to keep things in check at the beginning and to push come mile 17ish to hold on to the pace.  That's usually where the wheels start to fall off and it's just going to take some focus.  My mom doesn't know it yet but she might be riding some bottles for me.  So mom when you read this that might be part of your Sunday morning plan.  Thanks, you're the best!

But before all of this begins I'll have to load up on Mexican food and tear up the bowling alley tonight.  Some people think they can out bowl me...I'm just going to have to prove otherwise.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dodging Worms...When Will the Rain Stop?

I'll get to the title in a second, but are there ever times when you just want to put someone in their place?  I mean really say what you're thinking, yet you really shouldn't...I mean you could but it would not be in your best interest?  I suppose these people aren't worth the I'll drop it.

Anyway this weather in Chicago right now is not the best!  We have had so much rain lately that I've been trying to avoid the worms on the roads and sidewalks during my rides and runs, luckily I don't have that issue swimming, if I did then there would be some serious problems!  If I could just make a request that the rain stop I would greatly appreciate it.  I don't mind running in the rain all that much, actually I enjoy it if it's warm outside...but riding in the rain just sucks.  There is no other way to explain it.

Training has been going well, I've kept  things pretty well rounded this week with a couple of swims, bikes and runs so far.  My legs feel heavy, and so I usually don't feel like running, although I feel great after a few miles.  I was reading the blog for Dave Jewell who is definitely a shoe guru and a great runner and he does something awesome with his 12 year old son.  Every week they go for a 40 minute run together.  He talks about it here, and I just thought it was a really neat idea!

I should hit one of my largest running months yet this month, and I'm feeling injury free which is great!  2 months from today is Ironman CDA, and I can't wait.  I figured out my race shoes today...the Zoot Race 3.0 are going to be my weapon of choice.  I can't wait to get more miles on them!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why Does It Continue To Hurt???

Usually Thursdays I have great rides on the computrainer at Endure It.  And though I wouldn't say the ride was wasn't great.  I really had to work to hit my numbers, and trust me I'm not complaining, I love doing the work.  Actually as time went on during the set I started to feel stronger...maybe it was the other people suffering which really helped to motivate me.  I don't know, but either way it was work.  On paper the set doesn't look all that difficult, and it really shouldn't have been...but it was work:

15' warm up
4 x 10' (no rest)
-2' @ 80%
-2' @ 90%
-1' @ AT
-1' @ 80%
-1' @ 90%
-2' @ AT
-1' @ 70%
Cool Down

I mean there was only 12 minutes at threshold, 12 minutes at 90%, 12 minutes at 80% and 4 minutes at 70%.

Enough about the bike...the sun is out, and I feel like it's been forever since we've seen it in Chicago.  I'm going to take my Zoot Ultra TT 4.0's out for a spin this afternoon...I'm shooting for 8-10 miles and maybe another 3-4 later tonight.

With no school tomorrow I'm going to try to get a high volume day in with a couple of runs, a long ride and maybe a little swim too.  Here's the plan for tomorrow for my training day:

5:30 a.m. - Breakfast
6:00 a.m. - Run # 1 (3-4 miles easy)
7:00 a.m. - Long Ride (4-5 hours in the rain)
12:00 p.m. - Transition Run (5-6 miles tempo pace)
1:00 p.m. - Lunch

Maybe I'll get to squeeze a swim in later in the afternoon, but I have to take Winther to the vet to get his knee checked out, hopefully we can get him fixed soon so that he can join me on runs once again!

Saturday should be nicer, so another ride and some running are definitely in order!  My swimming assault is going to start next week.  I have a few key workouts that I want to fit in every week, and I can't wait to get this season rolling.  I want to get that first race out of the way with so that I can see where my fitness is right now.  Until I race it will have to remain unknown...I've been training hard, hopefully it will pay off!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Different Kind of Swim

Last night at masters Sue (our coach) decided to do something different.  Since some of us with the group are triathletes she decided to take out all of the lane lines and we had an "open" water swim practice.  I thought it was fun, as it was something different as opposed to following that black line on the bottom of the pool!  We did quite a few different things, but I would have to say the most fun thing we did involved the craziness that is a diving well.  So we were supposed to swim 3 laps around the perimeter of the pool, no problem right.  Well when we arrived to the diving well portion of the pool they had turned the air vents at the bottom of the pool on to full was like swimming through a huge storm and completely destroyed you!  We were pushed all different directions and had to swim our way out of it.  It was definietly fun!!  The highlight of the night, for me at least, was a particular set that we did after our fun in the diving well.  So let me preface this with the fact that I don't think I've ever swam the length of a 25 yard pool under water.  We used to practice it once in a while a few years back, but I haven't done it for quite a while.  Well we were instructed to swim the width of the pool under water.  Typically that would be easier than the length, however the pool we swim in has 12 lanes...we figured out it was roughly 33.47 yards across.  My first attempt I was unsuccessful and I made it 10 out of the 12 lanes, but I realized that I really wimped out.  So I was determined on my second time that I would make it.  I did make it all the way across under water without taking a breath, and the really weird thing is that my legs hurt like crazy when I was done.  I'm not sure if it was the lack of oxygen to my muscles or what, but they hurt bad!!  Last night was definitely a nice change, it's hard to put a specific number on the yardage that we did, but I know that I got a solid set in because I was wiped when we were done!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Weather Sucks!

Alright so we're towards the end of April, sure we've had a few nice days so far, but I am tired of the WIND and the rain.  I think I could deal with the rain if it were warmer, but the wind SUCKS!!!  I know it's going to be windy on the bike course in Hawaii, especially by Hawi...but that's Hawaii and it's to be expected.  Why do I need to train with it day in and day out here in spring in Chicago?  Alright I guess that's enough about the weather.

Training has been going well.  I've been riding and running quite a bit, the swimming hasn't quite been there, but I have plans to make that work.  This mornings computrainer class was tough, I don't know if it's because I ran 12 yesterday and rode 23 or because of all of the training that I've been doing, but it was tough none the less.  Our set this morning was:

15' warm up
15 x 3'
-1' @ 120%
-1' @ 90%
-1' RI
Cool Down

Ever since I tested my threshold a few weeks ago (it might be close to a month by now) the workouts have been much more difficult.  This is going to pay least I hope it does.  The funny thing about the workout today though was that it was hard from the start, but it never really became more difficult.  Usually it's tougher to hold through the middle...but today it was just as hard in the first set as it was in the last.

Let's hope that the weather breaks for my long ride on Saturday...I doubt that it will, so it's going to be a long, lonely, rainy sufferfest Saturday morning.  Something I can handle...and need to love!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Some New Zoot Kicks...

When I got home from practice last night I thought it was Christmas in April.  Thanks to Jake and the crew at Zoot I have some new kicks to help me prepare and race fast this year.  I love my Zoot shoes, and if you haven't given them a try, or it's been a while since you have tried them you really need to!  They are only 4 years old in the shoe department and have improved greatly in that time!  I have well over 200 miles on my Ultra TT 4.0's and can't wait to rack up the miles on these new ones.

The Zoot Speed.
If you'll notice there are no laces, which should make for a smokin' fast T2...which will lead to a smokin' fast run.  The plan for these racing flats are to use them for anything from a 5k up to a half marathon.  They're flashy too, which is definitely an added bonus!!

The Zoot Race 3.0.
Another "racing" type of a shoe.  Should make for another fast T2 and fast run.  My plan right now for this shoe is to race it at the Ironman distance.  I'm going to give these a go today for a few miles.

The Zoot Otec.
This is the high mileage trainer for the Ultra TT 4.0 (which I am currently running in).  I plan on getting some big mileage from these in the coming 11 weeks leading up to Ironman Couer d' Alene, and then leading to Kona.  I wore them last night and they are super comfortable!!

Not a shoe...just Winther keeping guard of the living room.

And Roxy who is my security guard looking over my bike.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

About a month...

...until racing starts.  The question is does anyone ever feel ready to race?  Right now I do feel like I'm ready to do a half ironman, not sure if I'm ready to "race" a half ironman, but I know within the next month I will be.  My race schedule has really filled up pretty quickly and I'm racing 4 times before I head out to Coeur d' Alene for Ironman.  I'm kind of excited about racing that many times.  Obviously I want to do well, but I think I'm coming to terms with not worrying about the end result and really want to learn from these races.  I swore that I would not race an olympic distance triathlon again, but it looks like I'm going to be racing one in early June.  The distance doesn't suit me well, but it will push me out of my comfort zone which is something that I really need! 

I'm really going to up the volume this next 9 weeks which will be my final push until Ironman CDA (I didn't include my 2 week taper in that time).  So I'm 11 weeks out, and I feel fresh, fit and ready to start the long stuff.  I feel really good with my bike, awesome with my run, and actually pretty confident in my swim.  I need to continue to do the work.  In this next 9 weeks it's crazy that I'll be racing 2 half ironmans, an olympic and a sprint...all of which are going to be in a 5 week span.  So what that means is mid-week long runs, one weekend day of racing, and the other weekend day as a long ride.

I finally downloaded my pictures from San Diego, so here are a few more:

The view from my hotel in Encinitas, the ocean is to the left and I could see that too

One of my sunset beach runs

Courtesy of Theresa Ancona, I had no idea she was even taking the picture, thanks though!


Not sure where I was, but riding in the sunshine is just amazing

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Typically when I get on my bike to do a set on the computrainer I nail the set.  This morning was not the case, I went into the hurt locker early, and stayed there for the entire set.  I even blew up in the middle, but stuck with it and brought it all back together by the end.  I could try to say that I ran hard the past two days, but screw it that would be an excuse and remember in Wedding Crashers they say rule number ?? "no excuses play like a champion."  I pushed as much as I could, and felt like I gave a solid effort by the end, when I really just wanted to bag it today.

My run training has been going pretty well, and I have nailed two solid runs the past two days.  I'm going to run today, but really need to keep it slow!  It's tough to keep things slow when you're running in the new Zoot Ultra TT 4.0's, I love those shoes!!  I don't think I've run in a shoe that is as nice!  Swimming has also been coming along nicely, and I have been holding a faster pace than I used to.  I still have 12 weeks until CDA so hopefully things will continue to progress, and I'll be able to put it all together for that race.  5 weeks until my first race of the year, kind of scary actually.  I feel as if I need to start picking things up a little bit more.  I have been consistent which is good, now I need to start to add a little volume, mainly to the swim and bike.  I'm happy with my running volume right now, just need to make sure I keep getting those long runs in.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Few California Pics

Who wouldn't get used to riding along the ocean every day, the problem I would have is that I would just ride, and not work. 

Pacific Coast Highway Near Carlsbad, CA

Chillin at the beach after a morning of training.

My new Ridley Dean, can't wait to get it fully built up.

The new Zoot Ultra Team Cycling Kit.  The tri kit is the same except it's a tri top and shorts.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Zoot Ultra Team Camp & Spring Break Training in Southern California

Last week I took full advantage of spring break.  Monday I headed out to San Diego to get out of Chicago, and to get some solid training in.  I had just planned on training and relaxing prior to the Zoot Ultra Team Camp which would take place this past weekend.

California was great, I was able to ride every day, run every day and swim every day!  I stayed in Encinitas and it was really an ideal location.  The local YMCA was only a half mile from my hotel, Nytro was only a mile from my hotel and the Pacific Coast Highway was a quarter mile away.  Needless to say my days looked the same, swim, eat, bike, eat, beach, run, eat, sleep.  Riding along the ocean never got old for me, I am pretty sure that I had a smile stamped on my face the entire time, and I really felt stronger on my bike as the week went on.  It's amazing what a lower intensity and higher volume can do!  I never buried myself on a ride, but just stayed comfortable and enjoyed my surroundings.  I will say that it is hilly in the area that I stayed, at least more hilly than I was expecting.

I did meet up with the Zoot crew a few times before the camp, once for a run, once for an open water swim which I think they invited me as shark bait, and I checked out the Zoot headquarters as well.  What an incredible group of people!  They are so extremely dedicated to the sport of triathlon that their passion helps to motivate everyone around.

Saturday morning I checked out the 70.3 that was in Oceanside, as I knew quite a few people racing.  This is a race that I really wasn't interested in doing in the past, however I think I may have the bug now.  It had Kona and Vegas spots, however that's not the draw for me.  The bike course was somewhat challenging and the run was broken up well mainly along the beach (or very near by).  It sells out quickly, and I'll have to consider whether I want to race that early or not, but I think it might be an option in the near future.

This past weekend we had team camp with the Zoot Ultra Triathlon Team.  I don't think I can really explain how impressed I am with Zoot and all of the people affiliated with the team!  It feels like a family, and the other team members are not only some of the fastest athletes around, but some of the nicest people I have met in the triathlon world.  Many of them raced this past Saturday, and they absolutely crushed it!  I had a blast at camp, the comraderie of the team is incredible, the support from the sponsors is amazing and the hotel we stayed at was sweet!  A lap pool overlooking the ocean, how does it get any better?  Well it could be better if it wasn't like 90 degrees in the water but that's alright.  If you're in the market for some new shoes or apparel, you have to give Zoot a try!  Everything is awesome, and their new wetsuit, the Prophet, is incredible!  When I got home this morning at 6 a.m. (brutal I know) my new Ridley Dean frame was waiting for me.  So I will make sure to post some pics from the trip and of the gear soon.  Thanks Zoot and the entire crew for an awesome camp!!!