Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Sorry folks, I have been really busy and it is going to get a lot worse real fast. I apologize in advance, but unless you want to hear about electron beams or linac calibrations, I probably will not be posting very much over the next month. I wasn't even planning on posting tonight, but hearing some sad biathlon news from around the world I figured I would at least type out a few quick thoughts from my head. And yes the time is 02:30.

Last Friday I had a follow-up with my cardiologist regarding an irregular heart beat I have been experiencing. I have passed every single test with flying colors so far. I still occasionally feel the irregularities, but have been told by several physicians that they are totally benign. I can either do nothing, or take a drug. Since I do not know how bad my allergies and asthma will be this spring, I chose not to take the beta-blockers. However the cardiologist has not given me the green light to train with no limits and even cast a doubt on doing an Ironman period. He ordered a 30 day heart monitor (argh) and would like to test me for a genetic syndrome called Brugada Syndrome. The last couple of days, I have had many thoughts swirl in my head from fear, to frustration, to damn-it-I-am-so-going-to-whoop-that-IM course determination.

Saturday, thanks to BuckeyeRunner, I was feeling rebellious and cranked out a 5 mile swim and 9 mile run. That was the best I have felt all year. My brain has yet to decide what I should think and how, or if, I should go ahead with my training. I have told my coach that I would like to continue, but without doing any high intensity workouts. Right now I know I can not give up this Ironman quest. Wil wrote something a few weeks ago that really hit the nail on the head for me:

"I mean, if I don’t show up one day, what’s the worst that can happen? If I don’t show up period, what’s the worst that can happen? I mean, I’d just lose my focus, abandon a goal, stop changing my life, let it settle, stagnate, fall into a rut, get fat, depressed, buy a bunch of copies of Vogue and Cosmo and In Style, watch the Olympics and dream of living driven …watch it all float away…yeah… not like my life depends on this ride every morning... nah"

This is who we are: we work, we train, we live, we love. I KNOW I am not ready to start reading Cosmo...

Thursday, March 23, 2006


I called my shrink this evening to schedule an appointment and luckily she has an opening eight days from now. Why the urgency? Well this is what I did:

- 7 miles on the treadmill, 3% grade, most done under 8:00 minute pace.
- 5 minutes later I was lifting with my buddy. Did a full hour of arms and some abs.
- Ate a ham and meat pie sandwhich with a peanut butter milkshake from Tommy's
- Sat through a good lecture on multileaf collimators
- Then swam 4200 meters. (2.6 miles)

None of these things by themselves are crazy, but taken in the proper order could cause some mental and physical anguish. My main set lasted 62 minutes and hurt. I was about to cut back on my 5km swim set on Saturday, until Wil called my bluff. So yes Wil, I will see you in the pool and on the road that takes us to Madison.

Thank you everyone for the good wishes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Prove It!!!

Without the mind, the body will fail. Last week was a much need step towards improving my confidence. This afternoon I ran with a purpose: to show my Doubting Thomas mind that my body was still capable.

Here are my half mile splits (the first and last were to and from the parking lot to the first marker):


I was pushing a bit harder than I should have, but I needed to see a few splits in a row below 3:30. And by golly they were there!!! So now my mind has seen that my body is still capable. So I'm on a little high, but I was going to sober up real soon.

I rushed home to pack up my bike and trainer to head to a group indoor training ride, led by my coach. Just so you all don't think I'm totally nuts, there is a projection screen with cycling and tri racing scenes and music to go along with the workout. (By the way, I have music on in the background for 90% of my indoor rides, just no TV.)

Here's the workout.
- Warm up for 10-15 minutes
- Spin at 120 up to 135rpms for five minutes
- Lactate ladder (read through the bike section here for an explanation)
- 2x10 minute "time trials"
- 3 min (1 min hard 53x19 gearing , 1 min at 53x18, last min all out) 4 min recovery x 8 with a climbing block
- Cool down

My legs were tired going into the ride, but they were dead by the end of the two hours, not to mention I was hungry (three hours of workouts and no gels - I know, I'm nuts.) We definitely earned our post ride chili and beer!!!

So just two quick notes on the rest of my week.
-I plan on doing a 5k and a 10k this Saturday. 5k swim and 10k run. Any takers?
-I'm praying for some good news on Friday. That is the day of my follow-up with the cardiologist. I'm on pins and needles...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Training Tools Tuesday, #2

For this week's TTT, I am going to highlight something that many of us in the snowy parts of the world have. I sometimes think just a little differently from the norm, so I have actually grown accustomed to and enjoy using this week's training tool. It happens to be my bike trainer.

What I have is the CycleOps Fluid2 flywheel. I purchased my trainer two winters ago. Back then it was a magnetic, but somehow the resistance unit got messed up and started destroying my tires. You can see the damage on the flywheel which was shredding the crap out of my tires. Don't ask me how the flywheel got like that. I don't have a clue.

So I needed just a new resistance unit and I was able to get just the fluid unit. Since then I have ridden a ton on the trainer with little problems. I suppose I could have gotten any other trainer with similar qualities, and still tell you all why I like it. This just happens to be the one I have.

Call me crazy, but I intend to keep working out on my trainer for a few more weeks. Why? Here are a few reasons:

- more flexibility with time
- comforts of my own home
- easier to complete workouts
- safety

Regarding the time flexibility, I can come home anytime and still jump on my bike. 8am or 9pm I can still spin indoors. I can't do that when I am riding outside because there is/was no sunlight. I would have to pack my bike and gear, sometimes drive somewhere before beginning my workout. That takes up extra time which can make all the difference some days. Trainer 1/Outside 0

Comforts of home include having all the food and water I need without having to throw it into the back of my jersey. I have running water, towels, and a toilet. One negative of the indoors, is that I can't just spit on the ground, but I got around that by having a plastic cup nearby. Trainer 2/Outside 0

The workouts I have are geared towards indoor winter riding anyways. Things like isolated leg drills and high cadence work can not really be done outside. Can you imagine spinning away at 130 rpms and then having to stop suddenly at a red light? Trainer 3/Outside 0

Which leads to safety. I don't have to worry about cars running into me. No railroad crossing. Very little chance to get a flat tire. No debris or stray deer running across your path. Trainer 4/Outside 0

Despite the lopsided score, don't think that I prefer indoor riding over the outdoors. When I moved back to riding indoors last fall there was a mental transition that had to occur. I had to come up with the positives and remember exactly why I was doing this - IM Wisconsin. Once your mind is on board, the body follows. I have been riding indoors for several months and have gotten into a good groove with it. And when you have a good thing, why rush to change it? Especially since there's still some snowflakes in the weather forecast.

I thought about also discussing my logic for not watching TV or movies while I spin. I tried that with my tri club's forum and I think the general opinion was that I was a little off my rocker. If anyone wants me to discuss it further, drop me an email and I'll send you my thoughts.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Roller coaster

Today was quite an up and down day. Got up early (for me) and was at the hospital for a school project by 07:30. Worked straight through till 14:30 when I finally left for lunch. Didn't mind the rumble in the tummy because I was able to finish everything I needed to do without having to come back some other day. I also found two pennies, heads up, on the floor. My lucky day, huh?

So went home to relax before heading to the gym. Got to the gym and forgot my swim trunks. Doh!!! Went back home...went back to the gym. Pissed that the weights will get cut out of the workout today, but excited that the pool was finally in its 50 meter configuration. Got a new swim workout to try too. 50, 100, 200, decrease the rest intervals, lather, rinse, repeat 3 more times then do that block again. Well, my coach gave me the intervals based on 25 yard pool. (I told him I would make the adjustments based on my perceived exertion.) Well, if you have ever done any swimming in a long course pool, you know there is a difference. Here are a few things I learned about my pool today:

- when you think you're close to the wall, you're probably still 25 meters away.
- you're not going to be able to follow the black line on the bottom of the pool, especially if the line is dashed and 16 feet below the surface of the water.
- unless they have a huge clock on the wall (which they did not) or have super human eyesight, you're not going to be able to see the clock at the other end of the pool.
- you have plenty of time to calculate in your head your next send off.
- keep reminding yourself that your times are slow because meters are longer than yards.
- I'm still not at the long is this thing?

I still haven't found the proper conversion for times between a 25 yard pool and a 50 meter pool, but my best guess is to add about 6 or 7 seconds per 50.

I should have cut some of my warm up and drills down because I ended up getting in only 3/4 of the main set done before they kicked me out. But heck I did 3200 meters and that's 2 miles and it felt pretty darn good.

Got home and now I'm back down after reading this about the LA marathon.

Oh well, I guess today wasn't my lucky day, especially since I don't believe in luck. Maybe Cliff has some extra beer and ice cream....


Well I started this post last week, but I got sidetracked...I can't quite remember but I think it had something to do with Beamish, corned beef and cabbage, and black pudding. Anyways, I think we all, consciously or not, seek some form of validation from time to time. Whether it's watching your 5K times drop, or getting some positive feedback on a project you put your sweat into, or even a return smile when you smile at someone first. During last week's training, I saw a few things that confirmed my progression. Here's a quick review of last week since I want to throw up another post tonight.

Swim: My coach took a look at my swim again for the first time since December. Back then I looked so bad he scratched my normal workouts and had me drilling for months. He watched and then said something like this: "Well, you're not going to be an Olympic swimmer, but you've come a long way." Hot Damn!!! I still need to keep working at it, especially gliding and reaching, but boy that kind of news, it feels good.

Bike: I know I am improving, I can feel it. My coach puts into my indoor trainer session what he calls a lactate ladder. You spin at 100 rpms for 55 secs in then accelerate to 120 rpms for five seconds. Every minute you accelerate for 5 more seconds. You work your way through the ladder down to 5 seconds at 100 rpms and 55 seconds at 120 rpms. I am a masher, so I really struggled with these. But this past week, boom, no sweat. Well, actually liters of sweat, but I finally nailed it. But yeah it feels good.

Run: I had been nursing that ankle for a little while. I finally worked myself off the treadmill and hit the bike paths. Well I had runs on consecutive days of 9.5 and 6.5 miles. The ankle still isn't 100% but it's pretty strong. The really good news is that getting back to my form from two years ago. After a long slow warm up I revved up the engine a bit and was cruising nicely between 7:05-7:30 pace for about four miles. Hard to tell with a few missing mile markers and the traffic light. Seeing your mile splits improve, that definitely feels good.

So to sum up last week: It feels good...


Music moves the soul, or at least today it moved mine. Curly Su did a magnificent job at her recital!!! If you can put on a performance like that than Ironman should be a piece of cake. AWESOME job!!!

TriEric, TriSaraTops, and Elizabeth were all there too for a mini blogger convention. As a bonus I walked away with a door prize, too!!!

So way back before I wanted this...

I wanted this...

Before I was passionate about triathlons, I was passionate about the piano. Well, as passionate as I could be for a grade school/high school kid. I know I probably will never be as good a piano player as I was before, but I certainly do miss playing. My fingers have been rusting for more than ten years, not to mention multiple dislocations and sprains. But after listening to Curly Su this afternoon, I moved "Find a piano and some spare time" towards the top of my to do list. Thanks for the inspriation.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Training Tools Tuesday, #1

Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Today I am a follower. I have noticed a little trend going around in the blogland that I often visit. Some bloggers are having a regular weekly column. Tri Eric has done a fine job with Two for Tuesday, What's Cookin Wednesday, and Family & Friends Friday. So today I unveil Tuesday's Training Tool. Yeah sorry to step on his Tuesday toes, but I just did not like the sound of Thursday Training Tools. I guess if there was enough commotion from you the readers I could pit my post against Survivor.

So what will TTT entail? Every week I will try to highlight something that I use during my training. It could be watches to wheels, gels to glasses, bikes to beer...Well you get the point. I got the inspiration over the weekend during my run and you will see why in a minute. So what is the first item we shall see?

My waterproof shell.

It's the Superlite Waterproof Jacket from Endura, shown here in blue.

Late last fall when I went to my favorite store for gear, I knew I wanted something highly versatile. I didn't see anything I liked immediately, so I talked with my buddy at the store and asked him what else he could get for me. He got on the phone with the Endura rep.

Buddy: "So how about a light weight waterproof jacket."
Me: "Hmmm, aren't these mostly cycling jackets?"
Buddy: "Yeah but I have run in one before." He exchanges a few more words with the rep.
Buddy to me: "The rep says since this is a new jacket, you would be the first in North America to have one."
Me: "Okay you know your stuff. Do they have one in blue."
Buddy asks the rep and then says to me: "Yup, you can pick it up in tomorrow."

I have done a few rides and a few runs wearing this jacket in a variety of conditions. I did notice I got a bit hot on some of my runs, but it did the job. Well then on Sunday my opinion went from "its okay" to "love this jacket."
Why? Well my run was done in about 55 degrees F and a steady rain. And you know, what I stayed dry and surprisingly did not overheat as I thought I might. Awesome. I think it looks pretty nice too. Functional and fashionable. So thumbs up to my new favorite jacket.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fantasy v Reality

Okay I admit that I am a geek. I'm not just a tri geek, I am science and math kind of geek. (I've got some of that Star Wars geek in me too, but I'll leave that for some other day.) So this past weekend I bypassed a fun little race that was attended by Curly Su, TriSaraTops, DaisyDuc, and Papa Louie among others. Sure looks like it was a good time and am genuinely disappointed in missing out. But there was another event that comes once a year and I could not miss it. It's called the fantasy baseball draft. I love sports but I also love stats and numbers. While I have never picked up a bat and swung at fastballs or caught fly balls in the outfield, I am thoroughly geeked when it comes to the statistics of this sports. I love the fact that a game can be summed up by numbers in a box score. So I have participated in this annual rite of couch potatoes ever since I was in high school.

So if you have no interest in fantasy baseball, feel free to fast forward to my next post that is pertinent to my triathlon training. Choose your own adventure... (anybody ever remember reading those "choose your own adventure books"?)

So anyways back to the fantasy game. I used to always win the league, and by always I mean I never lost a league I played in for almost 10 straight years (which included fantasy football and a fantasy basketball leagues). Well, a few years ago I realized I had to cut down on this obsession. Not only was it sucking up time and energy I just wasn't having fun anymore. One of the reasons was an old catch-22. What happens when you have a player on your fantasy team that is playing against your favorite real sports team? Who do you root for? Well, I finally made the decision that I had to root for the real team. Since then I drafted players that I really want to follow and not just the best players. This strategy has led to mediocre fantasy results but has increased my enjoyment of the real sport. I would make that deal every day of the week and twice on Fridays.

So last season, I finished in second place. Check out this lineup:

Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, Michael Young, Marcus Giles, Eric Chavez, Grady Sizemore, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Lee, Travis Hafner, Chone Figgins, Adam Dunn, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Mark Buehrle, CC Sabathia, Jason Isringhausen, Mariano Rivera, Todd Jones, Derrick Turnbow.

Well there is a price to success and that was trading away my high draft picks for this year. Compare that list to this year's:

Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, Michael Young, Jim Thome, Aubrey Huff, Magglio Ordonez, Garrett Atkins, Richie Weeks, Nick Swisher, Dan Johnson, Rocco Baldelli, Jake Westbrook, Ryan Madson, Dan Haren, Chris Ray, Rafael Soriano.

Even some non baseball fans can recognize a few players from that first group, but sheesh I've got a lot of unknowns on this year's squad. As was said in Major League:

Rep1: I've never heard of half of these guys and the ones I do know are way past their prime.
GM: Most of these guys never had a prime.
Rep2: This guy here is dead.
Owner: Cross him off then.

But you know what, I can root for most of these guys on my fantasy team. One of them is actually a former high school classmate of one of my current classmates. "Well I guess there's only one thing left to do...Win the whole firetrucking thing." And if I don't well I'm still going to enjoy a ton of baseball games this summer. Can't wait for April 2nd and April 7th!!!

Back to the Zones

Well I apologize for the long lapse in posting. Last week just happened to be midterms. I am also nursing a bum ankle and am still in a holding pattern in my training with respect to my funky heart. My records did not transfer from one hospital system to the other and I practically had to do it myself. So the cardiologist's office finally called back and I was scheduled for a follow up next Friday. I have had stretches where my heart feels perfectly fine and some where I can feel my heart go wacky for a good length of time.

I am on a three week recovery period in my training. I was supposed to start a lactate threshold block three weeks ago (four - if you go by my schedule set up in November) . But do I really want to push into Zone 4 heart rates for an extended period of time? I am going to have to if I want to do an Ironman this year. So after talking with my coach, I am, with caution, going to start this block this week. I am only going into Z4 once this week during some climbs on my bike. I know have trained in Z4 recently even pushing into Z5, but boy the thought of it is still a little unsettling.

So how about a little good news on the training front. Sunday I sloshed through the rain for seven miles. (A little more about this tomorrow...) This was only my third run in the last two weeks and my first run outside since shredding my ankle. I started off very conservatively. But on my way back, I decided to give the engine a little more gas. For the three miles going out: 27:01. Three miles coming back: 23:12. The ankle is a little tender today and I know I need to do a little extra in the weight room on that leg. I know I am still way off of my pace from 2004 when I could rip off mile after mile at sub 7:00 pace, but hey I have a lot of miles yet to run. I look back and at this time last year I was struggling to get through a 20 minute run. Oh what a long and winding road it has been, but as others have discovered, it's all about the journey...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Five Weeks Old

Say hi to my youngest niece Clare!!! Lucky for me, I don't think my sister trusts me to change diapers yet.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Today, By The Numbers

- hours of sleep. I should probably get more

3, 1, 2
- pieces of toast with jam, banana, glasses of juice for breakfast (a feast compared to yesterday)

10x100 on 1:55 + 10x50 on 0:55
- main set of my swim workout today

- total yards swam

- number of known bloggers encountered in the pool (hope I didn't scare papa louie away)

- transition time from pool to shower to weight room

- minutes in the weight room

9, 8, 6, 4
- number of reps per set of each excercise

- number of exercises in the weight room (bench press super set with flyes, cable rows, bicep curls super set with tricep pull downs, standing military press, lat pull downs, straight leg deadlift)

- transition time from weights to the treadmill

- minutes on the treadmill

2.5% and 10:00
- incline and pace

- minutes of stretching post run

- number of gels packs consumed during workout

72 oz
- approximate volume of gatorade endurance and/or water consumed during workout (excluding pool water.) Not quite enough

5 minutes
- approximate time needed to get a bag of ice for ankle

- approximate number of calories in a foot long BMT sandwhich from Subway. I adjusted for the condiments

- bowls of rice with dinner. Sliced pork with cucumbers, mushrooms, and onions. (see photo)

- bottles of beer consumed this evening

- number of loads of laundry done tonight

- number of loads remaining for the weekend

Quick Thoughts

Sorry folks, I did not stop blogging; I just went out of town for the weekend. I will have a pic of my one month old niece soon. I came back, tried catching up on things, but it's hard when everything keeps on rolling. I had another long night of working on my school projects at the hospital; I got home sometime after midnight. I have midterms and several projects due next week. Ugh.

I think I took this Ash Wednesday fasting thing a little to the extreme. Two slices of toast, a vegetable stromboli, a bottle of Gatorade Endurance and plenty of water. That's usually what I eat for a snack but that's all I had time to eat today. Going to make me a PBJ sandwhich in a minute to hold me over till morning. Actually I try to fast every now and then. It's a different feeling, somewhat cleansing in a way. Just don't try to do a hard workout on those days.

Speaking of which, I didn't have time for a workout today. I have missed quite a few workouts over the last few weeks. Considering people say Ironman training is all about being consistent, consistently missing workouts is what I think really sucks for me. But the ones that I have been doing feel pretty darn good. Tuesday I did a 3300 yd swim. Got to be happy with that. Followed the swim up with a little over an hour of weights. Even better. Squatting 225lbs and deadlifts of 215lbs. Pretty sweet. No ill effects the next morning. Priceless. Ankle is still a little tender but I plan on hitting the treadmill for a few miles tomorrow after swimming. We'll see how it goes.

Time for lunch and then a quick power nap.