Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Alum Creek Multisport Weekend

Introduction and Objective:

The Alum Creek Multisport Weekend provided several opportunities to vary the current IM training regimen. Saturday morning was a series of open water swims followed by sprint and olympic distance duathlons and triathlons and an aquabike.

The objectives for the open water swim were to:
  • Practice swimming in a wetsuit.
  • Practice open water swimming.
  • Establish a benchmark time for a long open water swim.
The objectives for the Olympic Triathlon were to:
  • Practice race day mental tactics
  • Practice transitions
  • Train with a slightly higher intensity
The results from this past weekends races were:

3km open water swim = 61:03.
Olympic Triathlon = 2:33:31

The results were fair and in line with expected values. However, the objectives were easily satisfied and therefore the weekend was deemed successful.


Of the three disciplines, swimming was considered the weakest. In order improve in this area, a wetsuit was recently purchased. Prior to Saturday morning it had only been used once. Therefore getting in and out of the wetsuit was one action that needed to be performed and practiced over and over. In addition, an adjustment needed to be made to the sensation of swimming with the added buoyancy stemming from the wetsuit. Racing with this wetsuit would provide knowledge of the unique nuances of this particular wetsuit. The additional swimming techniques of open water swimming needed to be practiced as well. Techniques such as judging current, dealing with wind and waves, and proper navigation of distances are effectively and ideal practiced in open water swimming. Finally, no long open water swim had been previously attempted or timed. The results of this open water swim would provide a guide to establishing proper workouts for the crucial upcoming months.

The objectives for the Olympic Triathlon were very straight forward. Like the open water swims, the training was invaluable as many factors of a race could not be easily duplicated. The purpose of entering this race was not to establish a PR, but to do a more intense workout than usual.

This was the last weekend of a three week build period. Due to a schedule that was not routine, the legs had not been given a rest day for over a week and were fatigued. Friday was planned as a much needed rest day. However due to some other commitments including a social function at Dave & Buster's on Friday evening, travel was delayed and did not begin until 22:15 and ended about two hours later.

Experimental Methods:

The races were staged at an inland reservoir. The 3 km swim consisted of four laps on a 750 meter triangular course. Beginning at the beach swimmers, had to swim southeast, then turn and swim north, then west back towards the beach. The sun was out and shining brightly. The ambient temperature was comfortable. The water temperature was also very comfortable. There was a slight breeze and some waves that were probably less than a foot.

The Olympic Triathlon also used the same swim course, but only two laps were necessary for the triathlon. The transition area was set up in a grassy area just past the beach and roughly 100 meters from the water. The bike portion was a 40 km loop was fairly flat; there were no climbs. The course was adequately marked in most sections.

The run course consisted of two loops. There was about a 0.5 mile portion of the course that was on grass. There were some small divots that warranted caution while racing through this portion of the course. A gradual uphill climb made the second mile tough, but after the turnaround this uphill became a welcome downhill. The last mile was a flat stretch that went back into the park and towards the spectators and the finish.


The total time for the 3 km open water swim was 61:03. No splits were obtained for the 3km open water swim.

The results from the Olympic Triathlon are listed below. The paces for the swim, bike, and run are listed in parentheses.

Swim 29:44 (31.58)
T1 1:10
Bike 1:17:48 (20.8)
T2 0:58
Run 43:53 (7:05)
Total: 2:33.31


Many of the 16 competitors in the open water swim were pure swimmers or swimmers turned triathletes. About half of the racers wore wetsuits. The intent was to give a solid effort but not the proverbial 110%. A few minutes into the race, most of the racers were already fading into the distance. A few unexpected waves led to some excessive consumption of lake water; that moment of panic was quickly squashed. The thought of 138.2 more miles led to the establishment of a steady pace that was maintained for the duration of the race. Upon exiting the water there was a sense of contentment knowing that the 2.4 mile swim in September was achievable at an effort that would allow the completion of the next 138.2 miles.

One negative aspect of the race was that sighting the buoys was somewhat difficult since contact lenses were not worn. In addition, wind and waves were conditions that had not been encountered this season until this race. Real time race adjustments need to be made quicker and more effectively. This includes selecting and swimming in straighter line.

The triathlon swim was much more crowded - 16 racers to about 300 racers. However it seemed to make sighting easier as swim caps could be used to sight as opposed to the large buoys. Compared to previous triathlons, the swim today was not an epic struggle that elevated the heart rate or led to exhaustion. In T1, the sleeveless wetsuit surprisingly came off efficiently. After a quick gulp of water from a bottle, the attack on the bike course was about to commence.

The knee was not an issue on the bike today. However, minor bike adjustments have been made between each of the last several rides. The issue on this race day was that the aero position was not comfortable enough to be sustained for 40 km. This led to wide variances in speed and intensity throughout the day.

The bike course had not been previewed prior to the race so some doubts existed throughout the whole ride. One wrong turn led to an additional minute or so being added to the total time.

Exiting T2 is always difficult. Today was no different as the legs were sluggish. After leaving the grassy portion and hitting the pavement, many athletes seemed to appear out of nowhere and the race was on. The gradual uphill required physical effort and mental focus to keep moving forward. At the turn around the downhill acted like a springboard as the mile splits actually kept on getting faster for the duration of the race.

The mental intensity throughout the race was certainly higher than a normal training day, but the physical intensity was certainly not an all out effort. There was plenty of juice remaining in the tank as evidenced by the negative run splits. This leads to the belief that a longer race could have been completed with a similar type of effort.


Triathlons are all about the people. Saturday involved a conversation with a veteran of Ironman Wisconsin who came from Milwaukee to race in the open water swim. The banter was insightful and certainly fun.

Sunday was a chance to race with and cheer for other Tri Club members. It was a good day for the club as all the other Club members took home some hardware. Finishing towards the back of the age group was certainly humbling, but solace was found in the fact that deposits were made into the Ironman Bank account.

Bottom line is that the complete weekend was a success. Next test will be the Musselman half IM. Let's roll.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fool in the Rain

I bowed to Mother Nature and all the other forces around me today. I was supposed to get in a five hour ride today and really wanted to squeeze it into everything else.

World Cup match? Okay I can squeeze that in and ride in the afternoon.
Two papers due tomorrow? One paper I can finish during futbol and the other is very straight forward. Well all was going according to plan including the not so surprising US loss. So grab a quick snack, check the weather forecast and ohhhh that rain is going to hit me in a few hours. Better move.

So I'm clicking along with my dead legs at a decent clip and get out about 25 miles or so then a drizzle. All right this isn't bad. Toss in a few angry motorists, no sweat I've dealt with this before. At 30 miles I'm getting slapshed by the all the cars as the rain gets heavier. No problem, I can deal with this. Boom!!! Crack!!! Time for some thunder and lightening. So what are the chances of getting struck by lightening? To heck with that. At 35 miles, well now I literally can't see a darned thing its raining so hard. This will pass right? Besides I'm almost at my preplanned stop at my apartment. I'll reload my food and fluids and head back out when it gets a little better. POP!!! Damnit!!! Have I ever mentioned how I hate the developer who decided to stick a Lowe's in front of my apartment complex!!!! So I walk back half a mile to my apartment getting splashed by the traffic getting dumped on by mother nature. And still I was planning on heading back out after I change that Fin flat.

Well I climb two flights of stairs, cold and wet, unlock the door and then like the Sirens' my familiar abode was calling to me. "Stay here and it will all be better." The temptation was great as I changed my tire, but no, Iron must be earned. After topping off the fluids I rolled back out the door. Twenty seconds later I am back indoors. I succumbed to the pressure. I couldn't ride through this monsoon and I think most sensible humans would have done the same. But still trying to reach for Iron, I set the trainer up and got in another ninety minutes or so for a total of about three and half hours of saddle time. So as I type this now, Mother Nature's fury has passed and I'm sure there's a rainbow somewhere out there. Sigh...well it is what it is.

And yes there is photographic evidence of a trainer ride in June. By the way, I couldn't find any code for Fool in the Rain, so you get to listen to Over the Hills and Far Away instead.

"I'm hungry; let's get a taco."

Good luck to all the racers out there especially Su and Rob and others at Ironman this weekend.

Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Short and Sweet

My training has been anything but short and sweet. As a matter of fact my workouts have been long and salty. This is my second week where I am scheduled for about twenty hours of workout time, which means closer to thirty hours devoted to training. Some crazy volume out there folks and my legs are feeling it. I am pretty sure I eclipsed the 20 mile mark somewhere on my weekend trail run. By the way, doing mile repeats has to be a creation of the devil; I was scheduled for 10 x 1 mile and somehow got through them. (And no my coach is not the devil; just some tough love from him.)

Since I have already signed up for an open water swim "race" and an Olympic Tri this weekend, my coach wants me to get in a 5 hour ride on Thursday or Friday. Uh, well he understands I have two papers due Friday at 17:00. So his advice is do as much as you can.

So thanks for all your thoughts about my bike and my knee issues steming from my biking. I think my knee pain was coming from my saddle tilt. But it only flared up twice on rides longer than 50 miles. I feel fine on my shorter rides. I got through 60 miles okay on Sunday. We'll see what happens on my next long ride.

As for the bike components, I have drafted a few posts about my bike. By the way, while democracy is a great thing, this corner of blogland is a monarchy. And I already have a nice older set of wheels that I use for racing.

And I finally got myself a tri specific wetsuit. I tried it out last night; I still don't feel fast, but the swimming did feel easier. Now if only I can get out of that damn thing without losing too much time or worse yet falling on my face in T1.

Time to start thinking about TG-51. (The link is a pdf file. Go there if technical reading helps your insomnia)

By the way, I got a kick out of the frozen furby. I was throwing some ice in my aunt's freezer and what do I see: a furby snickering back at me. Later my aunt told me that she thought that thing was too noisy so she put it in the freezer.

Have a happy hump day!!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dad's day

Happy Father's Day, Dad!!!

(and to all the other dads out there)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Got Pictures?

The road to Ironman.

Keep rollin' rollin' rollin' rollin'. Come on.

Sometimes you don't realize how far you have come. ( Go ahead and click to get a larger view.)



Close to home.

This house was for sale; I should have got more of the view of the breath taking valley behind it.

Need a refreshing drink? (I've never had root beer out of a keg till now!!!)

When in Wisconsin, do as Wisconsin-ers do.

Frozen furby.

My apartment building got flooded this week when somebody decided to set the sprinkler system off.

My god child and me.

Always fun taking in a baseball game on a nice summer night.

By the way I slipped a picture into my recap of my infamous April duathlon.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Help me out; what bike component group should I get:

a. Campagnolo Record
b. Campagnolo Chorus
c. Shimano Dura Ace
d. Shimano Ultegra

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I am finally back from my WI recon trip. I probably added 10 pounds (literally) to my frame from all the food I ate and my liver is still working overtime from the drinks. As the expats will tell you, Madison is quite a town. I think I can find Riley's Wines of the World in my sleep now, but I'll need to check out the breakfast/porn place sometime. Oh by the way getting a suite at a graduation ceremony is the way to go.

I will not go into the course in depth here. I am a polka dot jersey kind of guy so my opinions are skewed from the norm. If you want my opinion, email me and I can be more specific with you. But in addition to a recap of my own training, I will add a few of my observations that anyone can use. If I get some time I'll post some pictures this week.

The Background:

The IM WI course starts in downtown Madison and heads towards Verona. Then you do two 40 mile loops. I started from Veteran's Park in "downtown" Verona just a few meters off the course and did the Loop twice.

The Goods:

The course itself - I really like it. It keeps you thinking ahead; I was never bored. The miles seemed to fly by.

80 miles? No problem. My legs felt so good I even got in a 20 minute run afterwards. Yes I said run.

My nutrition strategy was okay. It was a cool, overcast day with a few sprinkles. That really helped me today as I tend to not drink enough. I made it through with a few Clif bars, a few gels, my Accelerade, and some endurance Gatorade. I wasn't craving meat until after I finished. My post training meal included a 24 oz steak off the grill. Mmm...

I "negative split" my second lap. The first lap I took it easy since I was just trying to find my way. I went back and took a few sections over and took a few snapshots along the way. I ran into two folks riding the course around mile 20. The were UW students preparing to do IM WI again and in this small world they actually raced with my cousin. I tagged along, but they were going slower than I would have gone on my own. That was okay because I was getting tired of pullling out a map every 5 minutes. The second lap I started out cruising right around 20 mph. As my knee started bothering me and the hills got harded to climb, that pace just started to fall. I the finished the second loop somewhere just under 18 mph -ish.

I didn't have a flat tire!!!

The Bads:

I could not get out of downtown Verona without missing some turn. I missed something both times around and probably tacked on an extra 5 or 6 miles. I know the course will be less ambiguous in three months, so no worries.

For those who ride in urban jungles, I would spend some time at the zoo or a farm sometime before racing IM WI. Get to know the Eau de Cow since the IM WI course covers a lot of farmland.

The roads were a bit bumpy at times. No, we're not talking about NE Ohio sized potholes. It's just that the concrete used for the country roads were composed of more coarse aggregates.

Hills? No worries. I have a new enemy. I don't know where she comes from but damn does she suck. Well actually she blows. I you can't really prepare for her, but I expect her to show up in September. Believe it or not, beware the Winds of Wisconsin. Don't let me scare you since it is nothing that will blow you over, but just enough to piss the hell out of you for much of the day.

The Ugly:

I figured I would need to stop in to the bike shop when I got back. My 56 mile ride a few weeks ago left with my a sore knee the day after. So I actually already scheduled another look at my bike fit for this week. Well, by mile 42 today, my knee was killing me so much that I almost turned around. Between miles 40 and 70, I could not find a position that was not aggravating my knee. It probably felt best when I stood up out of the saddle, but I knew better than to ride that way for 40 miles. Between mile 50 and 70, I was praying for some relief somewhere somehow. It nearly broke me. I'm not sure what happened the last ten miles or so, but I was able crank it up a notch a cruise home. Was even going 24-25 mph for some stretches. I don't know maybe it was the thought of getting done. Maybe it was the fact that I was out of the hills or even riding downhill. All I know is I better get this bike fit/knee issue taken care of ASAP. By the way, my knee feels fine when I run. I got in a nice 90 minute run the day after and felt pretty darn good.


I stopped at the Trek store because it was on my way to the course. There are better places to blow your money.

I could really use a new bike.

The Bottom line:

I needed to do this and I needed to do this on my own. In three months I will need to be able to work through any obstacle on my own. It's fun to train in a group and it's easy to do the physical training, but you don't get many chances to train your brain. I got a sniff of the mental games that must be played out on IM race day. Because of my struggles with my knee, I did not push the way I wanted to push. I was always holding back to prevent something more serious, but I was able to get through the day. I know that will serve me well in Septemeber.

The clock is still ticking down. Three months to go. Let's roll.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

2 in 2 days

Lots of thoughts, little time. Excuse me if I write in sentence fragments. It's 3 am, I must be lonely, er, no I'm just waiting for my socks to dry. Need to sleep soon though because I have a long drive ahead of me with my parents and three little nieces.

Okay, so I was born on the 31st anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Thanks for your thoughts. And yes I tend to downplay my birthday. So did I live it up yesterday? Not really. Actually my shorts are in a bunch from one event yesterday.

As Papa Louie mentioned, things are flying in air. My eyes are itchy, I have extra snot, and worst of all, my airways tend to constrict. I have the high powered drugs and hope they keep me going.

Yesterday dropped my car off at the auto shop at the early hour of 8 am (early for me). Shop is only 3 miles away, but I did 6 mile repeats on my way home. Felt pretty darn good. And the splits showed it.

Chilled till 13:00 when I hopped on my bike to pick up my car. I hate Lowes. A new store is being constructed right outside my apartment complex, 100 meters away from a Wal-mart and 200 meters away from a Home Depot. Getting in and out of my apartment complex is a pain, the road is ripped up, and they tend to kill the electricity and water every now and then. Forgot my regular wheels in my car so had to use my race wheels. A mile away from my apartment and two minutes past the construction zone, front wheel goes flat. Ughh, they're tubulars, so you either patch them up (which I deem impossible) or get a whole new tire. $100 down the drain.

My fun and excitement for my birthday was heading down to Jacob's Field for a ball game. My classmate went to high school with one of the ballplayers. He was pretty preoccupied since his family came up to watch him play, no dugout passes, but fun nonetheless.

Today was hectic trying to get everything done including a trip to the bike shop to get a replacement tire. Got in a pretty good ride today. Went about 24 mph for a ten mile TT followed by about 20 mph for an 8 mile TT with a 3 mile climb. Coming back down the hill, I hit a pot hole and blew out another tire. Well at least this one was a clincher and tubes are cheap.

So 2 day, 2 wheels, 2 flats....

Not sure if I will report while I am in Wisconsin, so have a great week everyone.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I am a little late posting this. Besides Blogger sucking yestersday, I spent a number of hours Sunday night and Monday trying to finish writing a 30 page paper. Half of those pages were filled with numbers and calculations. That paper was such a piece of crap, I missed a typo on the cover page. Doh!!!! There goes my A.

The buzz around C-Town this past weekend was Curly Su's move. Send her some positive vibes as she transitions to life in Jersey. Su, you're going to have many more great performances and unbelievable accomplishments. All the best to you!!!

Like any grand occasion, there were cameras all around and the "Wait! One more with my camera!" for the umpteenth time.

So another pic of the hawt tri ladies.

Can the goggles make this geek look any better? (Image borrowed from TriSaraTops) I don't think the team sponsors had this kind of exposure in mind. And at least it's not a picture of somebody running out of T2 with a bike helmet on.

Since Elizabeth was ready to run, we had to hop to another bar.

Every other picture of me must include food or drink.

Saturday included a long trail run, not sure how long I ran or how many miles I covered. I brought my camera along, but I'll save those photos for another rainy day. It wrapped up with some beer, some grilling, cake and ice cream, and relaxing with some good friends from college.

Sunday was a quick ride with Jodi, Elizabeth, and some new faces. I was supposed to get in some easy Zone 2, but that went out the window as I crushed a few hills. Then a few more hills.

Monday was a pretty good swim. Probably got in around 2500 yds or so of open water swimming. I have got to get me one of those wetsuits though. Since the park was closing in about 30 minutes, a few of us went for a fast 20 minute run.

I'll be busy tomorrow as I try to get everything in before heading to Wisconsin for a long weekend.

So does anyone know how to be a Godparent? I have a few days to figure it out before my niece's baptism. For that matter does anyone know how to be an uncle? What was my sister thinking, asking me to be a Godfather?! Doesn't she know the date of my birth?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

lambda = c/f

Here are some quick notes from the last few days.

Seven years after I did my first tri, today I finally became a member of USA Triathlon. Yeah!!!

Got in some hill repeats on the bike today too. 6x4:00 minute climbs. I did an okay job of keeping my butt planted in the saddle while I climbed, but need to keep working on that. Out of the six climbs, I could only stay in the saddle for the full 4:00 minutes on two of them.

Yesterday I was able to jump in an inland lake for some open water swimming. And I didn't even need a wetsuit. Took a few strokes to get used to not swimming with a straight black line below me. Too bad we are restricted to swimming in a 100 yard strip. Hopefully they can get some more guards and open up more of the lake.

Really fried my shoulders on Saturday, literally. They are peeling like crazy now.

So the meat of tonight's post is my conversation with my coach. Last week I had a good talk with him, did some homework (i.e. look at my schedule), and reported back to him tonight. We are on the same wavelength on a lot of things. For the most part, as long as I can give a logical and rational explanation for deviating from his plan, he is okay to go along with it. Unfortunately I am still under a yellow flag from my cardiologist, but I am continuing to train for this little race in September. I'm not going too far into Zone 4 and should avoid Zone 5 heart rates for precautionary measures. This is hard to do, especially on hill climbs. This certainly is not an ideal situation, but I can still get prepared. So what's on tap for me the next few weeks?

- Bike, bike, and bike some more. Four hours at the gym, ppffff. I will be ramping up to seven or eight hours on the bike.
- Riding the IM WI course next Friday!!! My coach is encouraging me to put in a good Zone 3 effort. I won't do the whole 112, but probably 70 plus miles. Maybe there will be some good photo opportunites along the way. Can't wait to see how over hyped the hills are.
- Since I have never done a half IM, got to get one of those in too.
- Try a few open water races. There are some swims appropriately named COWS that I can do.
- Squeeze in some races to mentally train for the morning of September 10. Don't want to be too jittery.
- Just run - and stay healthy on those runs.

I'll be signing up for some races soon so look for the subtle changes on my sidebars in the near future.

PS - The science geek in me trumped the tri geek and came up with the title today.