Week 18 concludes as the second build week before heading into a recovery week. I decided to change from 3 week builds to 2 weeks for a couple reasons: One, it fit my schedule and two, I was planning to up the intensity a bit and being able to recover more often would allow me to sustain this better. Being able to head into my Lake Placid mini-camp in a fresh state will allow me to maximize my training time up there.
If you read last weeks training update post, you may remember I had some IT band/hip issues during my long run last Sunday. Well I was pretty stoked to find that it was not really a problem for me this week. I had a little bit of a niggle at the end of my hill repeat run on Thursday, but nothing major. I stopped running immediately too. Today(Sunday) I ran locally just in case it flared up again, but it really wasn’t a problem at all. I did ice it well when I got home just as a preventative measure.
Although I didn’t have hip issues on todays run, I did fall a little short of my planned 3 hours. It was a gorgeous day and a little hot. I had planned on circling back home halfway through to refuel a bit, but ended up going out longer than I planned and ran out of hydration and food. I basically ran out of gas around 15 miles and walked the last half mile home. I did intentionally run slower today just so I didn’t aggravate anything, so I ended up with around 2:30 hours. TrainingPeaks marked the workout in green on the calendar so it must be ok right? I also figured with the 6:25 century ride the day before I am ok with volume all together. I finished the week with a solid 16:30 hours of training.
Next week is an easy week. Well, relatively speaking. It is pretty crazy that a 10 hour training week is considered an easy one. But it is.
One other item is that I signed up to do the MS City-to-Shore ride in late September. There is a bunch of people from work doing it, so I thought it would be a fun post-season event. I am planning to do the Century ride down and the 75 miler back.
If you read my previous post on our trip report to Pittsburgh, you know that my wife talked me into running this race with her so that she could coerce me to go to Pittsburgh for a long weekend. You also know that my wife could not run the race due to knee issues, so this left me flying solo. I was originally just running it as a training race and would stay with her, but now I figured I might try to PR it. The elevation map for the race looked fairly flat except for miles 11-12.5 and then a downhill finish. So that was now my plan. I had done an easy, recovery week of training the week prior so it was shaping up to be a perfect .
I woke up around 4:45am after a pretty good night sleep at the Hampton Inn. I had an Amrita bar and a Vega Performance bar to kick the metabolic engine off along with a cup of Starbucks Via coffee. I was quickly dressed, since I had laid out everything the night before. I brought along a old pair of track pants to keep warm and then ditch before the race. It was supposed to be fairly cool this morning, around 40-50 degree ( F), and there was a slight chance of rain.
We hopped in the CR-V and headed down I-279 to the parking lot by Heinz Field. On Saturday, the parking attendant said she was not going to be there until 5:30am, so we could park for free if we beat her. Fat chance! There was another attendant there before and we waited in the short line to pay our $5 to get in. A T-line rail train had come and left while we parked, so we would have to wait for the next. We got up the platform, which was pretty empty and waited. More and more runners accumulated while we waited and eventually the train came and quickly shuttled us downtown.
It was pretty busy with runners downtown when we came up from the rail line. I spotted a bank toilets and made a B-line for them. There were NO LINES!! I haven’t seen that at a race in a long time. We then sauntered down the street to the cross street where “B” start corral was located. They had all the side streets blocked off with chain-link fencing one block on each side from the starting line street. We hung out there for a bit until it got closer to start time. A few rain drops fell as we waited but nothing major. It was a really cloudy morning.
I said goodbye to my wife and made my way through the security checkpoint. There were more toilets in the high security area between the gate and the start line. I didn’t have to go real bad at that point and kept going past. I also didn’t want to wait in the line. It wasn’t huge, but I was impatient. I made my way up the starting corrals to the 8min/mile pace area, which was not very full at this point. The full and the half marathon all started together by pace too. As I waited my bladder began to indicate I should have taken one more leak before. Oh well too late now.
We were off. It had started to rain a bit harder at this point. The first couple miles up Liberty St. were very flat and I got up to a good cruising speed. I was averaging a sub-8, which is what I needed to do to PR. The need to pee became more and more urgent and I found it hard to concentrate on anything else. I kept checking out the toilets along the course but they were all full. Around mile 3 I finally found an open one. Ahhh!! Well, that was the longest pee I ever took I think. It seemed to not want to end. I was looking at my watch as the seconds were ticking away. Ugh…now I got a deficit to make up.
I sprung from out of the Port-O-John like I was rocket. My average pace on my Garmin was now saying 14:00 min/mi average for this 3rd mile. No problem I can make this up now. I still ended up averaging an 9:00/mi pace for the 3rd mile so it didn’t hurt me too much. We made a right turn over the first of many bridges. This was the first real incline of the day, but I was still hanging on to a solid 8:00/mi pace.
All hell broke loose around mile 6. I started getting a really sharp cramp under my rib cage on the right side. I don’t typically get side-stitches, but now I am pretty sure that is what it was. It started to hurt bad enough that I needed to walk a bit. I realized that it was most-likely from not breathing properly, which is usually what causes. I began doing some deep breathing exercises and it eventually worked itself out. I felt my PR slipping away with every slow step. Mile 6 & 7 were averaging just a hair under 9:00/mi. Wah…wah…wah!
I decided that my PR was gone now and I decided to just enjoy the race and take in the views as we crossed more yellow bridges. There was a large group of kids singing that “Happy” song at the bottom of the hill on Alexander St. on the South side which gave a little spring in my step again. Then I saw Denise standing on a barricade down towards the Duquesne Incline which also helped me pick things up again. It was a pretty nice long, flat stretch along the South Side before turning left over the Birmingham Bridge. There were a ton of spectators out all along the South Side cheering away. It looked like a really cool neighborhood too with lots of shops, bars and restaurants. It started to hurt a bit as we crossed the bridge. The bridge itself was pretty steep and then it was a slog up Forbes Ave and then Boulevard of the Allies.
Around mile 12.5 it started downhill all the way to the finish. There were lots of spectators cheering everyone into the finish line which was nice. I crossed the line in 1:51:19(official results), which is about 5 mins off my PR. It was a nice race regardless and I was happy to have spent a nice weekend in Pittsburgh.
I immediately got online and started searching for endurance-related races after receiving word that I would be attending the Microsoft Build Developers Conference in San Francisco. Low and behold, the San Francisco Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon was running the Sunday immediately following the conference on April 6th. The best part was, it was running back-and-forth over the Golden Gate Bridge. How could I pass that up? I would need to do a two-hour run anyway that day, so might as well.
Everything continued to fall into place with this too. The packet-pickup and expo was in one of the Moscone Center buildings, which was where the Microsoft conference was. The race ended in the Civic Center Square, which was only a couple blocks from my hotel. The race also provided bus transport from the Civic Center Square. Logistically perfect!
We headed over to the Moscone Center on Saturday morning after fueling up with some breakfast at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. Dottie’s is reknown for their breakfasts and TripAdvisor had warned of long lines to get in. We got there early enough and we were seated right away. Getting to Dottie’s is a bit of a treat too. It is right in middle of one of the scarier sections of the city. If you go there, beware of having to walk amongst some of the street folk making random outbursts as you sneak by. The food was pretty good, but I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. That is until we left. They had some amazing looking baked goods in the case when we left. Guess I didn’t order correctly.
After breakfast we headed over to the Moscone Center to for Packet Pickup and the Race Expo. The packet pickup was a bit over-organized. They almost had too many volunteers because it was highly over-specialized. Each item of swag was handed to you by a different volunteer instead of prefilling the swag bags. Then they force you through the race store to try to persuade a purchase out of you.
The race expo was actually pretty good and a decent size. It was much larger than most of the Ironman triathlon event expos I have been to. We spent a bit of time there too listening to some sales pitches and even trying on some Hoka’s. I am still not up to buying a pair of these things yet, but there freakish looks are starting to grow one me. My wife is actually entertaining the idea of buying a pair since she thinks it may help her knee pain.
We walked through the Yerba Buena Gardens after the expo which is right in front of the Moscone Center. It is a pretty little oasis amongst the concrete jungle of the city. There are also a couple restaurants and shops that surround it too. It was getting to be around lunchtime now so we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our road ride to Sausalito and Tiburon, which you can read more about in my previous post.
Pano view of San Francisco from Yerba Bueno Gardens. Yerba Buena Gardens, St. Patricks Church & San Francisco
I woke up around 4:45am on race morning and immediately fueled up with a Vega Performance Protein Bar, an Amrita Bar and some Starbucks Via coffee. I had prepared and laid out all of my clothing and race bid the night before so getting ready was pretty easy. Running races are generally so much easier to get ready for compared to triathlons. Plus, this was a casual run for me, so not a lot of pressure here. I was tip-toing around the hotel room with my headlamp on the whole time so not to wake Denise up. She was actually sleeping quite soundly which is odd for this time of the morning. She is typically an early riser. Around 5:15am I headed down the elevator and out the main lobby towards the Civic Center Square, which was where the race transport was, to get to the starting line. The Civic Center is located right in the heart of the shadiest part of San Fran, so I was a bit anxious about getting there by myself. I was hoping I could join up with some other people that were going to the race as well. To my misfortune there was no one leaving the hotel at the same time. As I started into the thick of the scary sections I started jogging a bit. I needed to warm up and this would get me quickly past most of the folks lying about in the streets. I eventually located a couple a few blocks ahead of me, so I sped up a bit to try and tag along with them. I passed one homeless fellow sitting on a hydrant or something that looked at my as I scurried by and said “good luck!” I laughed and said “thanks man!” as it took me by surprise. There was also one street corner that had a bunch of homeless folks congregating on it and they were all yelling at one another. I found this a good opportunity to cross the street here. I soon caught up with the couple, but by then we had reached Market St. which is well lit and was pretty full of runners heading to the square. Whew…Safety at last! The lines were pretty long at the Civic Center, but they were rolling and loading the yellow & black school buses through pretty quickly. Before long I was on a bus headed to the start line. The ride was around 25 minutes or so and I had a seat all to myself to spread out. When I finally reached the starting line area which was situated along Ocean Beach on the west side of San Fran, I was in a B-line for the port-a-loo. There were a ton of them, but they all had huge lines. I walked down to the farthest one thinking the lines would be less, but no such luck. I settled into a line and waited. It seemed like forever. There was a couple girls behind me who did not shut up the whole time. It surely made my patience wane even more. I was a bit more disturbed when they continued to talk through the National Anthem. The race was a wave start, so each finish time-based corral would start every couple minutes. I didn’t realize this at the time, so I really wasn’t that concerned about starting with the race clock. I had my Garmin so that is all I really cared about. And…I had to pee really bad. I eventually got a port-a-john and let the floodgates release. I quickly dropped off my post-race gear bag off and headed to the start line for the 2:00 hour finish corral. I still had plenty of time will my wave went off.
And we were off. We headed down Great Highway and quickly made a right turn up Balboa St., were we encountered our fist hill of the day. It wasn’t terribly steep, but just kept going up and up. The first mile was pretty slow since I was dodging people as we ambered up the hilly course. I am also not one to start out too fast. I need to ease into my pace and sometimes it takes me a half hour to settle into a groove. Guess that is why I like the longer distances.
My times gradually increased as the crowd sorted itself out and I got into my groove. The exception to that was on Lincoln Blvd, right before the Golden Gate Bridge, which was a pretty healthy climb. This and the fact that there was a lot of picture taking going on with its unique view of the GG Bridge. This helped sort out the crowd for the very narrow cattle chute that we had to endure crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. There was a bunch of jugglers and guys riding huge unicycles too which helped distract you from the pain.
Each direction had one full lane of the bridge. As we made the first cross towards Sausalito, many were drifting over into the opposite lane since the fast runners had not made it there yet. I stayed mostly on the left side up against the yellow rope that separated us from the bridge traffic. Both directions on the bridge were tight and it was difficult to find any open running room. There was a girl running in some rainbow-colored hairy boots that I found myself following for a while. It was pretty cool running across the bridge though and I took the opportunity to snap a few pics along the way.
Once across the bridge, the crowd thinned out quite a bit with the wider road heading down into Crissy Field. We were now at least half way through the race and we finally encountered a band playing. I almost forgot that this was a ROCK ‘N’ ROLL event! The band was playing so quietly though that you may have missed them if you didn’t see them. We did encounter a few more bands after this which got subsequently louder after this.
We then headed through the city again on our way back to Civic Center Square finish. With the city came more hills again…ugh! On one of these hill I started getting so nauseated that I thought I was going to puke. I managed to keep it in though and it eventually went away. I also started getting down into the 7-8min/mi pace as the raced thinned a bit and we hit some flatter sections. I started to pick it up a bit too since I felt good and I thought I would try to negative split the race.
As we were heading down Polk St., towards the last mile or two, they diverted us straight where others had been making a left towards Larkin St. This was kind of cool because it felt like we were in the front pack of the race for a little while. Eventually we were sent left to Larkin and joined in with the rest of the bunch. The last mile was a downhill cruise to the finish where I was running in the low 7’s. My wife took a picture of me and it looks like I was severely putting the brakes on. I crossed the line in 1:55:11 which isn’t too bad considering I wasn’t really going for time. It was more of tourist sightseeing tour. I grabbed my finisher medal, a couple of waters and searched around for some decent food. I managed to find some banana’s and pisctachio’s among all the other post-race crap they call food. Some of the worst was the Cheez-Its and of course the worst of all…Chocolate Milk!!! Yuk!! The worst thing was people were grabbing it like it was going out of style. It kills me how they can push this crap off as some kind of health food. Why don’t they just hand out some Mountain Dew while they are at it!
I claimed my gear bag and we headed back to the hotel to pack and check out. The race was really fun with great views and a challenging one with the hills. I would recommend it as one to check out, but not if you are going for a PR. The lack of music along the course was a bit of a let down for a Rock ‘n’ Roll branded event. The local St. Lukes Half Marathon in Allentown is Far better with regards to course music. This race made me appreciate how good a race that is. I believe there was a concert and free beer after the race, but we weren’t going to be sticking around to find out. We were on route to Yosemite this afternoon. Thanks for reading!
I started off this week with a day off from official training, but that didn’t mean I didn’t rack up any miles on my feet. I attended the National Retailers Federation(NRF) expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City on Monday. My wife came along and while I was talking to vendors, she was out perusing the streets of the city. We took the Bieber Bus up and I ended up spending about 4 hours at the show. I set my Jambone UP to timer mode and it said I tracked about 2 miles while expo-ing. Walking and talking for 4 hours just exhausts me.
We made reservations that evening at Candle 79, which is a highly acclaimed vegan restaurant on East 79th Street just east of Central Park, so we had some time to kill. I stopped off at B&H Photo on 34th & 9th Ave while Denise made her way up from Chelsea Market. It worked out perfectly as she was coming up the block as I exited the store. We then took the subway uptown and walked through Central Park for a bit. We still had a couple hours to go, so more walking. I tracked 10 miles for the day.
We eventually made our way to Candle 79. It was very nice and I was a bit overwhelmed by all the options that I could eat the menu. My wife, who is leans more to the Paleo side of things these days, didn’t have quite as many options. The tables were turned. I ended up overdoing it a bit with soup, appetizer and entree, but still found some room for dessert. It was pretty good.
Enough of the gallivanting around NYC, and back to training. The work week was pretty basic with a couple rides on the trainer and a couple swims. On Wednesday, I did a graded treadmill test as per Joe Friels’ Triathlon Training Bible to measure my current LTHR for the start of the season. My results were not that impressive, but neither were my first FTP test. I hope to do this at the end of my prep phase and after each base phase to assess my run fitness and progress. My LTHR was around 167-170bpm.
Saturday was the Megsmiles day, in honor of Meg Cross Menzies who was tragically killed by a drunk driver while out on her morning run on January 13th. It was pretty fun following everyone who was cranking out some miles that day. I started out with a 2 hour trainer ride and then threw on my shorts and headed out for a 4 mile brick run after. I tried to take my dog Yuki, but he wasn’t too fond of the wind blowing in his face. It was a nice run, a little cool though.
Sunday I was feeling a bit groggy in the morning. Perhaps a 4 mile brick run after a 2 hour trainer ride was a bit much for this early in the season. Regardless, I did head over to Rodale Fitness Park for an EASY hour and ten minute LSD run. It was nice day for a run, but I was feeling it. I think I will take another Monday rest day next week.
That’s about it that week. Nothing too exciting. I do have a new race announcement coming that should be pretty cool. More on that later.
I had never run a 10k in my entire life until this year when I ran the Celtic Classic 10k in Bethlehem, PA this September. Since it was my first 10k it was obviously a PR, but I also came in 3rd place in my age group. I had then run another one in October as part of the Runner’s World Hat Trick, but didn’t PR since I had run a PR 5k immediately before that. My wife really wanted to run in an event on a birthdays(we are a day apart) but she did not have time to prepare for a half-marathon. So instead she found the Cooper-Norcross Run the Bridge 10k in Camden which seemed like a good alternative. Unfortunately, she ended up aggravating a metatarsal injury a couple weeks before and decided not to run at all. Now, I would be running by myself again and so I might as well try to better my 10k again.
I really didn’t have too much confidence I would do so. I had not run very much in the two weeks after the Runner’s World Hat Trick so I wasn’t sure how my fitness would hold up. I also knew that running bridges can be pretty tough from my experience at Ironman 70.3 Miami. They are like a big hill with no protection from any winds that may be blowing. The event started at the NJ side toll booth and went across to the PA side, turned around and came back and then through streets of downtown Camden, NJ(Yikes!!).
We decided to make a weekend out of it and stay overnight in Penn’s Landing. We got a room at the Holiday Inn Express Penn’s Landing right near Dave & Buster’s. It was a nice hotel, except that we were not able to check in until later that night after dinner. We ended up having to change in our car in the parking lot before walking to dinner. They also charged us $25 to park at the hotel, which is a ripoff too.
We walked to dinner at Talula’s Garden right next to Independence Hall. It was a really good farm-to-table restaurant, but they only had one vegetarian option on the menu which I thought was a bit sparse for this type of place. Regardless, it was very good. I had a pumpkin entrée and root vegetables with a Fegley’s Imperial Pumpkin ale. Definitely worth a stop if you are in town. Make reservations ahead of time though since they fill up fast.
When we got back to the hotel and finally got a room, we then had to deal with the most obnoxious neighbors in the room next to us. It sounded like a bunch of really drunk guys and they must have been practicing for a WWF match since they kept banging into the walls and yelling at the top of their lungs. I could not believe how anyone could have regard at all for others in a hotel. Fortunately they were not there too long and must have headed back out again since it had gotten quiet again.
Just I had started drifting into some heavy REM sleep, I was woken up around 2:15am by our obnoxious neighbors walking down Columbus Blvd 4 floors below. It wasn’t too long before they were then heard banging on peoples doors as they made their way down the hall from the elevator. The steel cage match began again in the room and they were yelling at one of their compadres to “GET UP!!” who had most-likely passed out from their night of partying. Thankfully, before too long I heard a loud pounding knock on their down followed by a deep voice stating that he was “SECURITY!” Thank YOU!!! The noise immediately dropped a few decibels and then I heard some mumbling conversation and the door closing. The noise picked up a little bit and then slowly faded into silence again.
I had drifted back to sleep and didn’t wake again until my alarm went off at 5:30am. Not a bad night sleep considering. I slammed down a banana and few bars for breakfast before heading down to the lobby. Our car was parked in and I had to warn the car park attendant we needed to leave. He joked with me asking if I could possibly wait until later in the day to leave. When he saw my eyeballs bulging out of my sockets, he started laughing and said he was just kidding. Wise-guy!! We then grabbed some coffee and a few things at the hotel breakfast which was just opening up.
We then made our way over the bridge and into Camden. The main street down to the waterfront and Campbell’s field was a bumper-to-bumper slow go. There were about 4500 people participating in this event, so I think it is probably one of the largest 10k’s in the country. We eventually got a nice parking spot right across from the baseball park. The registration, packet pickup and finish line were all based in the Campbell’s baseball park and it was a long line to get into since they were checking everyone for security. It was a little breezy and chilly this morning, but really perfect running temperature. We picked up our race packet & t-shirts and headed back to the car. Denise was going to do the walk which basically just went back and forth over the bridge. We hung out in the car until the 8:30am start. I did some laps around the parking lot just to warm up a bit.
The race started at the bridge toll booths which were almost a mile away from the baseball park. We made the long slog with the rest of the herd of participants down Pearl St. which paralleled the bridge on the south side. We reached the start of the bridge and parted ways. I got into the 8 min/mi pace area which I thought was safe. It was a bit warmer being in the herd of people since it blocked the wind a bit and provided some body heat. Before long the horn blew and we were off.
On the climb up to the crest I was feeling really good despite the incline and it got even better on the decline. Making the turn on the PA side and heading back started to get a little tougher. I was only running an 8:11 pace for the first mile(about 2/3rds of span of the bridge) which would explain why it felt easy. I am sure that some of that was also dealing with navigating people too. I passed the leaders, going the other way, as I was almost to the PA side which surprised me a bit. I eventually hit the crest of the bridge and was relieved that it should be mostly downhill or flat from here. Time to turn it up a notch. I should be running mid 7:00’s from here on out.
I passed Denise, who was coming up the other side, as I was heading down to Camden. She shot the picture above as I passed. The hat came off as I got off the bridge and was starting to really heat up. I played around with stuffing it in my shorts, but it kept falling out so I just stuck it in my little pocket where I normally put my keys.
The course was pretty flat as it made its way through the streets of downtown Camden. It didn’t really seem that bad there, but that could be cause it was 9am in the morning too. We did hit a little incline as we ran through Wiggins’ Waterfront Park along the Camden waterfront , which I wasn’t expecting. It seemed much bigger than it probably was. The worst part of the race was when we were heading down Delaware Ave and Campbell’s field was firmly in view. I started thinking just hold it flat straight down this street and then we had to make a hard right up Market St. taking us farther out of the way. It played with my head a bit, but it was only around the block so before I knew it we were back on Delaware Ave again. Then down into the back of the baseball park to the finish line. I tried to scan the people lining the finishing chute looking for Denise, but I never saw her. Apparently, she was still walking. I had my phone strapped to my arm, so I texted her to let her know I finished.
I crossed the line as the clock had read 27:58. I was pretty confident I was going to PR this one most of the way since I was holding pretty steady 7:30 pace. My previous PR was a 7:54 so that was fairly easy to figure out. I also knew that it had taken my at least 10 secs or more to reach the start line, so I was definitely under the clock time. I got my finisher medal and a couple bottles of water as I waited for Denise to show up. She eventually turned up and we headed up the stands into the concourse of the park. They had tables with food, but it was a lot of processed junk, so I just grabbed a couple bananas and a bagel that I never actually ate. I guess it should not be surprising that the food was processed junk since it was probably donated by Campbell’s Soup Corporation.
All-in-all it was a pretty fun birthday weekend. It was a shame that Denise could not run the event too, but she made a smart decision since she really wants to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon next May. I was pretty happy to have PR-ed my 10k for the second time this season and on the day before my 45th birthday too. Hopefully I can keep getting better with age!!
I think that will conclude my running events for this year. I am planning on taking totally off from running now for at least a couple weeks and let the legs recover a bit. I am going to start getting back in the pool regularly and on the bike trainer too. I also have a spare bathroom that needs completion before another triathlon season starts up again. Thanks for reading!
The final build week of the season has been completed…and I have survived! The week started out with some easy training volume with my coach cutting me back to only one-a-days. This gave me some much needed recovery time but also brought about the crappy feeling that comes with a few days of easier training. I knew that after the heavy volume of the previous weekend and the intense heat that accompanied it, I needed that going into this final weekend. Monday to Wednesday consisted of a swim, run, swim respectively. As you can see from my Heart Rate Variability below, that after my long bike on Saturday my HRV continued to decline until about Thursday. (NOTE:The training hours below are matched up with the next mornings’ HRV reading.) It did start to rebound a bit after getting back to regular training volumes again.
On Thursday, the 4th of July Holiday, we went to a Bike-N-BBQ that friends of ours were hosting. The event consisted of a several group bike rides of varying abilities and distances in the morning followed by a cookout thereafter. I chose to ride the ~53 mile “A” ride and Denise was going to do the 30 mile C ride, which worked out perfectly. My coach had eliminated my Tuesday bike ride this week in anticipation of this special ride. It was a good thing too. The “A” ride was filled with some pretty advanced riders and the pace was very fast especially considering the hilliness of it. We even did a ride over Blue Mountain which I think is a category 3 climb.
Riding my tri bike proved to be an additional challenge for me in keeping up with these guys and their more responsive road bikes. Nonetheless I kept them in eye-shot and maintained as much of a steady pace as I can. I seemed to catch up with them on some of the climbs which surprised me. I thought that tri bikes are not usually good on climbs. The first half of the ride was also a bit of a struggle as my legs were feeling extremely fatigued and stiff. They did start to come back to normal about halfway through and I finished the ride hanging a bit closer to the pack.
We finished up with a average speed of around 18MPH, which is pretty good considering the ~3600 feet of climbing we did. I think that ride was perfect addition to my training. I don’t typically ride with others and it was kind of good to have that extra motivation to push the speed up a bit. After the ride we chilled out and enjoyed nice cookout and a few beers. Everyone at the bbq was really nice and we enjoyed a nice time chatting with everyone. The temps that day were also pretty hot, but thankfully they had some canopy tents that everyone congregated under which made it much more tolerable. It was a nice day out to relax and chill out a bit as this intense training finally to wind to a finish. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the event. Hmmm…WTH? So unlike me.
The Last Big Weekend…
I decided to take off on Friday to make a 4-day weekend out of the holiday. On Friday I met with Kenrick Smith from TheBruisedBanana to help him out with some web stuff. After that, I headed over to Dutch Springs for my LSD Swim. I got there around 2PM and it was cooking out(VERY HOT!). You have to wear a wetsuit there, so I had no choice but to put it on. The top couple feet of water was pretty warm that day, but every so often you would catch a cool spot. There were many people kayaking that day and it was a bit more challenging sighting and not running into someone. It did take some of the monotony of it. I ended up cutting my swim to only the prescribed 1:05 that my coach had scheduled since it was pretty warm out. If it was warmer I probably would have done the 2.4 miles again. Oh well, save that for July 28th!
Saturday consisted of another 6 hour bike ride with a 30 min brick run to follow. It was forecasted to by dangerously hot and humid on Saturday with Heat Index of over 100 degrees F. I thought it would be good to get out bright and early and try to get most of the work done before the worst part of the day. I mapped out a course to follow the 65 mile Dream Come True(DCT) ride course on my Garmin the night before, but when I went to start out my ride the Garmin locked up on me trying to load it. Arggh! I lost about 34 minutes(9.4mi) of my ride on the unit due to this issue. The ride course never loaded so I was left having to navigate the route by the leftover markings on the road. Unfortunately I did hit a few roads that have recently been oil and chipped(PENNDOT Sucks! Do they ever pave anything anymore?) and had to figure my way out. I think I did ok though. Ride was really nice and there was one long stretch from Kempton to Werleys Corners that was mostly flat, decent paving and a tailwind the whole way. Ahhh! Although the end of that was punctuated with a nice cat 4 climb up Werley’s Corners hill.
Towards the end of the DCT route I swung through the Rodale Institute Farm and made a pitstop at the store. They had some nice cold coconut water and New Zealand Spring water in the coolers. This tasted like liquid gold at this point as the temperature had really started to rise at this point. I filled up my water bottles from their tap and got back on my way. I still had a couple more hours to go so I headed out to Fleetwood on my typical routes and made my way back home from there to fill up the 6 hours. My black cycling shorts had started turning white at this point due to the rapid evaporation of my salty sweat on this hot day. The one nice thing about riding bike on a hot day though is that you always atleast have a 15-20 mile per hour breeze blowing.
When I got home I quickly changed into my running gear and headed around town to complete my 30 minute brick run. The first mile or two was tolerable, but the last mile was just brutal. The heat had finally caught up to me and I had trouble finishing the last 10 minutes as I made a loop through Lock Ridge Park. I was totally wiped out by the end and I just stood there hunched over for a minute trying to regain my composure a bit. The run this time had taken me to my limit. What would my long run be like tomorrow? Ugh!
headed over to the Lehigh Parkway for my last 3:15 run. I got started a little before 7am and it was already hot at this time. The run had gone pretty much ok through most of the first 2-6 mile loops of the parkway. As I got towards the end of the 2nd loop, my foot had begun to expand and my toes were now jamming in the end of my fairly new Altra 3-Sum running shoes. The website I purchased them from recommended that I get size 11’s based on the size 10.5 I had for my New Balance. Apparently I should I have gone a half size more because now my toes were jamming in the end of them. Also just as I was finishing up that 2nd loop I also bumped into a fellow co-worker who has finished Ironman Lake Placid a couple times and is also competing again this year. This and a fresh change of running shoes gave me a little motivation that I needed to get moving again on the 3rd loop.
The extra motivation got me down to about the 2nd mile and then the hit started to sink in again. Now I was stopping at every water fountain and soak my hat and fill up my empty water bottles to pour over myself. I was really struggling now. So much so that I began cycling through running for 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. This helped and it got me through to finish the 3rd loop and completing the 3:15 that I needed. When I got back to the car I was so wiped out and unfolded my camp chair in the parking lot and just sat in the shade for 20 minutes until I began to regain some composure and stop sweating.
When I had got up that morning I weighed 170 lbs. When I got home from running, after drinking a Nalgene bottle and a bike water bottle full of water, I weight 164lbs! Yikes…that is a lot of liquid lost. I also went through 8-8oz Fuel Belt bottles and had a Amrita bar and a Clif Bar. Where did it all go???
Well, that is that. The hard work is now done and there is not much I can do now to change anything for Lake Placid, except for doing something stupid and injuring myself. The 3 weeks of taper begins and now it is time to let the body recover and get ready for Ironman Lake Placid 2013!! Hard to believe it is only 3 weeks away. It has been a long 5 years and now it is show time!
Sunday morning I woke up a bit groggy. I reached over to my nightstand, fumbling around until I felt the elastic band of my heart rate monitor strap. I squirmed around wrapping the HRM around me without actually sitting up in bed, a task I have become quite proficient at over the last several months. I check my Heart Rate Variability(HRV) every morning. I was curious what HRV reading would be this morning after the 100+ mile bike ride and brick run yesterday. I hit the start button on the Sweetbeat HRV iPhone app and tried to relax as best I could for the next 3 minutes. After the buzzer went off, indicating the test had completed, I was more than shocked to see a reading of 36. Half of the previous days’ reading of 69. Obviously Saturday’s training had taken its toll on me and my body was a bit of stressed. Despite the app telling me to take it easy today, I had a 2:45 long run to do today, so the easy day will have to wait until tomorrow.
My eyes peeled open around 4:15am. 15 minutes before my alarm went off. I was happy to have gotten a full nights sleep and feeling pretty fresh. I rolled out of bed and started preparing my pre-race breakfast in the little microwave in our hotel room. Granola with coconut milk, a banana and a cup of Tazo “Awake” black tea. I tried to be quiet and not disturb my wife, but everything seemed so loud. Eventually she awoke.
I had everything prepared the night before, so it was pretty easy to get ready. Just had to eat and get dressed. I did need to make two trips to the car since I had accumulated a bunch of gear from the car. I was happy to see other triathletes vehicles still in the parking lot when I got out there, confirming I was not totally late. We were out of the room by 5:30. The transition area at Rev3 Quassy closed at 6:30am and a half hour drive there gave me a full 30 minutes to get my transition area prepped. There wasn’t much to do really since my bike was already there and I body marked myself already. We had made good time getting there until we made the turn onto the last road into Quassy which backed up 1 mile from the park. Fortunately it moved pretty quickly and we were there in no time. Some people got out of there cars and started walking to the race entrance and their cars actually passed them. By the time we got to the entrance they were re-directing everyone to the overflow lot across the street. Denise dropped me off and I made my way into transition.
I got to my spot and quickly set everything up. I put socks in bike shoes this time, which I don’t normally do, but I thought it may be a good idea with the heat. I also opted for the standard bike helmet as opposed to the aero helmet, to keep a little cooler. The aero helmet will not provide that much benefit on a hilly course like this. I also put my sunscreen pump bottle there too so I could lather up a bit. I carried my wetsuit and swim stuff out of transition with me since I had over an hour until my wave, the last wave of the day. No sense getting heated up that early. I headed over to the Quassy ticket booth to wait for Denise and chowed down one of my PB&J Rice cakes(from Skratch Labs Feed Zone Portables cook book. Yum!). I tried texting Denise but the cell waves were quite congested and the message never got through. I resent as a text message and waited. By now the toilet was a calling so I jumped in line for the Port-O-John. They were well stocked and lines were not too long, so I was in there pretty quickly. Much better than the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon and Steelman Tri last year.
I still had not received any response from Denise after emptying out my digestive system, so I went back to waiting. Eventually I got a text back from her and spotted her immediately. She didn’t see me, so I had a little fun texting her while walking right behind her. LOL. We headed over to the beach area and watched the pros and initial age group waves take off. They had a area designated for swim warm-up, so people were swimming away while other waves were going out. Pretty nice. I decided to suit up and head in for a warm-up swim. Water was really nice temp, which they said was around 72 deg F. I was feeling pretty good in the warm-up and the lake was really nice for swimming.
Before I knew it they were calling my wave, so I headed over to the starting coral. We then proceeded over the timing sensor into the coral. I lined up right in the middle of the pack on the right, inner buoy side. I have no idea why I lined up here cause I am usually a back, outside kinda guy avoiding the craziness. Today I for some reason chose to get “in the mix”. Perhaps I am feeling a bit guilty about missing out on the mass swim start at Lake Placid due to the recent swim start changes. The countdown started and then we were off. It was a little hectic getting started but things eventually settled out. As I was spotting the buoys I also glanced for some open water too. I did end up getting a little drafting in with some other swimmers which may have helped my time a bit.
Everything was good until I made the first turn, then it was straight on sun right in the eyes trying to spot the buoys. I could not see anything straight ahead of me except swimmers immediately ahead of me. I thought I could follow them but that is not always a good idea. I remembered that they said that the paddleboarders would be on the inside and kayakers on the outside, so I just kept them at a certain distance a side of me and knew I was good. I got into a nice rhythm and was feeling amazingly good. I really focused on my swim technique and started kicking more than usual. I also really worked on my body rotation to get a little extra torque.
Before I knew it I was at the last turn towards shore. At this time I started getting a gas fume smell or taste from the boats. It was really foul. I also was getting blasted from the sun again, but this time on the left side. I focused on closing my eyes when I breathed to the left side and also took double breaths on the right side. I was starting to see all kinds of psychedelic trails now from the sun glare. Pretty wild. Next I was grabbing sand in my hand and was up and out of the water. I spotted my wife right away and headed over her way while I started unzipping my wetsuit. I forgot to hit the lap button on my watch until in transition and it was reading 34 mins and change…holy crap! That would be my fastest 1.2 mile swim ever. Officially it was 32:45.
Transition was pretty uneventful. I managed to get my socks on without issue and ditching my wetsuit went well too. I made my clackety-clack walk to the other side of transition to head out on the bike. Denise was standing at the turn so I ambled over towards her to have a quick chat as I mounted the bike. She told me to “enjoy those hills!” as I left. “Thanks!” I replied. The course started out with a slight downgrade and I took full advantage of it. I wanted to get my heart rate down since it is always red-lining coming out of T1. We made the first right turn and then it was steady upgrade from there. The course was always either up or down, there was nothing flat for any length of time. My plan, with help from my coach, was to spin easy up the hills and bomb the downhills. I think I did that pretty well. I really tried to let it fly on the downhills keeping in a tuck position and trying not to hit the brakes. I only did so a couple times when I wasn’t sure what was around the next bend. Knowing the course more would have really helped there I think.
The course was very hilly to say the least, but I really liked it. I was enjoying just spinning past people going up those hills. Many people were laboring to breath and I felt like I had mammoth lungs or something. Nutrtion-wise I just kept nibbling away at my Cha Cha Cha ChiaChunks of Energy the whole ride. They are packed with nutrition and don’t give you that rot gut like all the over-processed crap does. I also drank my Hammer Perpetuem too, but I am not sold on that as a single nutrition source. Makes me feel very full. I also was drinking my Skratch Labs hydration drinks and water very consistently. I really feel like I did everything right on the bike. I was hoping to be around 3 hours, but with a course much tougher than Ironman 70.3 Muskoka, 3:11 is not too bad. I did slow down a bit towards the end just to give my legs some reprieve before the run started.
T2 went pretty smoothly as well. I was starting to feel some sunburn on my shoulders so I layered on another coating of sunscreen. Fuel belt, run bib belt and shoes and off on the run. My plan was to head out on a steady pace for the first couple miles until the legs acclimate. Today it took about 3 miles for that happen, which ironically was right as the hills started up. We basically headed out the same way as we did on the bike, but eventually made a different turn. I got into a steady run around 8:00-8:30 pace. I thought I would be able to pick things up a bit, but little did I know how tough this run would be. The worst part was the hill from around mile 3.5 to 5. It was unforgiving to say the least. Just up and up and up again. Not only that it was dirt road which made it worse. I have not seen that many people walking since I was volunteered on the run course at Lake Placid last year. It really made it tougher to keep running when you see people that look much more fit than yourself walking.
I did end up walking the aid stations after that big hill. It sucked the life out of me. Walking the aid stations also gave me a chance to get all the hydration I could in and put some ice in my hat. It is amazing how much help that is to get you going again. My legs were really feeling it and I was battling in my head to keep on running. I kept thinking to myself how this is good practice for LP in controlling the mind. If I can do it here I can do it in LP. There was one guy, who was running near me and we kept passing each other. We would then push the other one when one was walking. It made such a huge difference to have that support. We ended up finishing right next to each other and he definitely helped me get there and I hope I did the same for him.
Eventually some relief came with a bit of downhills, but they were never real long as there was always a little up interspersed every so often. The worst part was at around mile 9.5 the course went right by the finish before heading out for another 4 miles. How cruel!! The only good thing was the encouragement from some spectators and seeing my wife. But then it was out away from the finish and the hills started up again. The last one was really steep too and it was all I could do to keep from walking. Eventually I caved in to the grade. At the last aid station I grabbed a cup of Coke(the only time I will drink Coke) and some water for a last blast of energy to get me home. As I neared the finish, I could feel the feet picking up again and then all the pain is quickly forgotten. Sort of.
As I entered the finishing chute, I spotted my wife with iPhone camera in hand. I headed over for a high five and then high fived the announcer guy too as I made my way to the finish line. The clock said around 6:47 and I thought “oh crap, I am over 6 hours!” figuring my wave left at 7:45, but realized we were probably late so I had no idea. My watch was saying 5:57 so was a bit disappointed at first. I never saw my official finish time until we were part way home and realized I had a new half-iron distance PR of 5:54, which really made me happy. Also, 2:05 run on a hilly course like that is not too bad for me.
Crossing the finish line I was draped with a icy cold Gatorade towel over my shoulders which was the best thing I ever. It felt so refreshing. I was pretty spent. That was a tough course no doubt. I was also given a finishers ribbon that would have made a rapper jealous. I usually hang those things on my night stand light, but this thing will surely pull the light off. I met up with Denise and we headed over so I could get some food. As we walked over, I spotted a couple people wallowing in what looked like cow troughs. Oh man…Ice bath!!! The water looked disgusting and actually had a oil slick of sunscreen on the top, but I didn’t care. One dude sitting in one said it is gross but feels amazing! I hopped on it and it really did feel good. A girl next me had her friends filling up a cup for her with a pitcher of beer and my wife caught me staring at it. Denise then quietly snuck away to get me one while I chatted with the guy next to me. When she realized they only had Miller Lite she nixed that idea.
After the ice bath, I headed over to the food. They had lots of pasta that looked so good. They even had veggie burgers which I was pretty psyched about. Thankfully the lady behind me asked about them cause they were not readily visible. While standing in line I realized that they had Corona bottled beer so I ended up getting one and it tasted some good. We then headed over to transition, packed up my stuff and made our way home.
This was a true test of my fitness for Lake Placid. Although it was brutally tough, I come away with some confidence for Lake Placid and new 70.3 PR. The other notable thing was that this was my 1-year anniversary of switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet and I am feeling better than ever. The run at Lake Placid is twice the distance, but the hills I feel are more manageable. I still have a lot more training to go, so I know that will only add to the fitness that I already have. Thanks Rev3 Quassy and bring on Ironman Lake Placid!
The weather report for this Saturday indicated a day clear of any precipitation and a high of around 40 deg F. Armed with my new Pearl Izumi Thermal cycling jacket and Craft windproof gloves, I thought I could finally get a long ride outdoors instead of hunkering down in the basement on the trainer. Unfortunately, that 40 degrees was a high that would never be reached even during the warmest part of the day. The 12 MPH breeze didn’t provide any help either.
The one part of my cold-weather cycling wardrobe I seemed to have overlooked was my feet. I had some neoprene covers for my shoes, but they are pretty meager in covering the feet. I remembered some friends had mentioned a tip of putting plastic bags over my feet to block the wind that steadily blows in the triathlon specific cycling shoes with all their numerous holes for keeping your feet cool in the warm temps. Not very beneficial when the temperatures is in the 30’s. My feet tend to sweat a bit and I feared that the sweat would cool and end up making my toes even colder. This was remedied by a good pair of SmartWool socks since wool keeps you warm even when wet. I covered the bags with a light liner sock so I didn’t look like too much of a dork with bags coming out my shoes.
I set off on my ride and it was a bit chilly. The breeze was out of the Northwest and it provide a nice added resistance. It felt good to ride outside and see all the familiar views again on my regular route out through Pennsylvania Amish country farmlands. It is a truly spectacular place to ride bike. The majority of my cold-weather gear was working great. My new jacket was toasty and my toes were not totally freezing. My fingers were another story! The new Craft gloves with fingers failed in the cool air. I tried to curl a few digits back into my palm, but it provided only limited relief. I had the choice to buy mitten-style gloves when I bought these and I was really wishing I did right now.
An hour and forty-two minutes and 27 miles later, I eventually made my way home. I spent a 15 minutes in excruciating pain thawing out my digits. That hurt like hell! I didn’t realize what time it was while riding and when I got home I went into panic mode since I only had 30 minutes to eat and thaw out before heading over to the Rodale Institute for a Seed Planting seminar.
Vegetable Gardening 101
My first attempt at a garden last year was a bit of a disaster. When I came across a class on Seed Planting & Propagation over at Rodale Institute I jumped on it. We are pretty lucky to have the cutting edge of organic gardening right at our back door. The class was taught by a lady named April who had worked at Rodale for 35 years(since she was 16). I have to admit I was a bit overwhelmed during the class. It seemed that there was a bit of gardening knowledge that was assumed and I apparently didn’t have it. Most of the people in the class seemed to have been experienced with gardening, but I asked my basic questions in an effort to dumb thing down a bit.
I find gardening very overwhelming. There is so many things to remember with all these different plants requiring different things at different times. I think I just need to push through it, make my mistakes and learn from them. It is how I learn best anyway.
After the presentation, we walked over to the greenhouses and April showed us some of the plants and seeds they had going at different stages. We then headed back and separated out some starter plants and replant them individually. I was pretty psyched to find that we could take home as much as we wanted. I got starter plants of Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Tomatoes and Peppers. I was pretty excited about that. Hopefully I can get them to the garden in May.
The class ended up going until 2:30PM. I got home and had just enough time for Denise to give me a haircut and then shower and shave. We were heading over to Horn’s in Bethlehem to meet up with one of my old hockey buddies and his wife who we hadn’t seen in like 10 years. We enjoyed a nice dinner and chatted away for a few hours. Turns out my friends’ wife and his son are vegan, so we had a lot to talk about. Good times.
A Moment of Weakness
The topic of Vegan Treats Bakery came up in conversation and we stopped by there afterwards since I had never been there. The stuff in there was amazing looking. I got three things that were all some sort of combination of peanut butter and chocolate. When I got home I devoured the one treat that looked like a little chocolate cake. It was decadent. Hard to believe there was no dairy in it. Although all the sugar in it was not exactly healthy. This is the kind of thing that differentiates “vegans” and plant-based people. Vegans are just looking to substitute possibly unhealthy things for animal-based products and plant-based people just want healthy options that do not include animal proteins. I guess I crossed the line here. That will have repercussions tomorrow.
On Sunday I headed down to the Lehigh Parkway for my 1:30 long run of the week. It was actually colder than Saturday, but running surely warms you up more than cycling. Later in the day, after lunch, I ate one of the other vegan treats from the night before. Not long after, I crashed hard. It was like I could not move. I fell asleep on the sofa and had trouble getting up. I even had a headache for most of the evening. The sugar had taken its toll. My pancreas was not happy.
I really timed this wrong since I have my yearly blood tests done for our work health program. I am sure all this sugar will do wonders for my triglycerides. We shall see how that goes. Until next week.