Archive for February, 2009

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A Window Into The Past

February 28, 2009

While I like to think I’m pretty spur of the moment and don’t make strict race plans for myself very often, I realized tonight that I may just be fooling myself.

Now that all of my siblings have moved out of the house to branch of their own lives or move away to college, Momma Bull clearly has a little case of empty nest syndrome. She must have been digging through some old piles of my stuff this week because she sent me an old race plan from just before a high school cross country meet. It was even written on the back of a page per day calendar so I figured out that I wrote it in 1998, when I was a Sophomore in High School. More then 10 years ago now. DAY-UM!

I was prepping for for the JV race of the South West Connecticut Conference cross country meet in Bethel, CT. Reading through the notes I made to myself brings me back instantly to that day. Coach Abraham had us focus on visualizing the race throughout the day to keep us focused. I knew the course really well and broke it down into about 200 meter sections and had specific goals for each. I can even remember sitting in the middle of my biology class that afternoon, pulling this scrap of paper out of my pocket for the hundredth time and just reading it to myself over and over again, imagining myself on the course and tearing it up.

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This cartoon is extra funny to me now since when I wrote this, I was about 40 lbs lighter, you could see every one of my ribs and had tiny little stick legs. I guess that’s what happens when you are a 15 year old long distance runner

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My detailed notes for visualizing the race. Please excuse my disgusting handwriting and spelling… Hey. I was only 15.

This was one of my last big races of the year so I remember planning to take it pretty aggressively and focusing more on my place than overall time to score some points for the team. Even now after reading this I can visualize the course so clearly. If I was there today, I think I could map out the course all by myself.

I really like having a solid visualization plan on race day and may have to start doing that again, 10 years later. It was helpful to have my pace grid at Hyannis, but I think (especially if I know the course pretty well) having psychological cues at each point in the race probably have a lot more value to them in terms of keeping my race on track and staying focused. I may have to even use some of the same notes I wrote to myself in 1998 at Rev 3 in a few months.

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Race Report: Hyannis Half Marathon

February 22, 2009

FYI: This blog has moved to a new address. Catch up on new posts at: http://swimbikerunlive.com/

or “Plan the race, race the plan.”

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Let the 2009 racing season begin internet people! This morning was the first race of the season and my first stand alone half marathon ever. The weather report was sketchy all week and had me checking a half dozen Web sites several times per day. Reports went back and forth from predicting rain or snow (I was rooting for snow because there are few things worse than mid 30’s and raining). This morning the forecast finally turned to rain, but not until the afternoon. With a 10am start time, it would give me just enough time to cross the line safely before the downpours started. WOOT. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Sam and I drove down to Cape Cod bright and early. I sucked down a GU about 45 minutes before race time and all lights went green. Game On.

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Me walking to the starting line. I look pretty angry, but I guess that is what my “Game Face” looks like.

Shivering Hyannis Starting Line

I’m all bundled up and still shivering, but people are still rocking shorts? Seriously?!?

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The all important last minute, err.., adjustments.

Since I had already departed from my faithful “play it by ear” race strategy with a mile-by-mile outline of my goal mile splits, I decided to keep with the trend and tape the mile splits to my arm. I covered it in clear tape just in case it started to rain. Since my running fitness has come a LONG way since the last time that I raced, I didn’t have a clear idea yet of what I’m capable of, and I laid out pretty conservative goals, I only planned on using each split as a general estimate and went on perceived exertion more than actual pace.

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The Game Plan

As planned, I took the first 6 miles nice and easy, but every time I looked down at my watch I was about 45 seconds faster per mile than I had planned. Instead of 9:30’s, I was hitting around 8:45’s. I second guessed my pace for a while and thought about slowing down to low 9’s but I decided that listening to my body made a lot more sense than sticking to (relatively) arbitrary numbers that I had laid out days ahead of time. I stuck with it and comfortably hit mile after mile in the high 8 min/mile pace range without working myself too hard.

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I’m not in this pic, but I really like the blur of the runners. It looks pretty cool.

Despite being a little cold at the start, I warmed right up once I settled in to a good pace. The course was really nice too. It was SUPER flat and made a few twists and turns through little residential neighborhoods, with only one section along a busy street that was a little sketchy. There were rumors that there were some easy rollers throughout the course, which ended up being all lies, but it was a nice course nonetheless.  At a few points we passed by the shore so we got a nice view of the ocean and got a really nice sea breeze to keep us moving on. It is strange how the smell of stinky sea weed and fish can some how make me associate with happy thoughts. I can’t wait until summer comes and I can go hang out on the beach on Cape Cod when it isn’t 30 degrees outside. Again, I digress…

Right after mile 6, I caught up with one of my Wheelworks teammates and chatted it up a bit. At that point I was just starting to pick up the pace and increase my turnover. We traded game plans and while she wasn’t planning to go all out until the last 3.1 miles, she eventually came with me and we traded places with each other throughout the rest of the race. We had never raced together, but it was great to have that carrot dangling in front of me to keep my pace up if I started to slow down.

Right at about mile 10, I passed Team Hoyt and gave a little cheer as I chugged along. If you haven’t read or seen any videos about Dick and Rick Hoyt, check out this one. They have an amazing story and it was a huge inspiration to see them on the same course as me (and 4,000 other runners) letting it all out

The last two miles were pretty brutal. It was rough just to keep my form together, but my pace still held up pretty strong and I was able to knock down runner after runner with no problem at all. Granted, a good chuck of them were probably finishing the first loop of the full marathon, but the plan was definitely working and I was able to really knock out a solid pace while everyone else was struggling just to hang on.

Hyannis half marathon finish 2009

“I crown thee: Half Marathoner”

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I’m in there somewhere I think I’m completely covered by that guy in the blue shirt.

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Looking like a hot mess just after the finish line, but totally psyched to have rocked the race plan.

According to my watch I clocked in at 1:50:30 (8:26 min/mile avg), safely under my goal for the race. I’d post my mile splits, but I don’t remember them. My avg HR was 159 and maxed at 180.

Overall the commute/warmup/race plan worked pretty well. Looking back, my paces needed some tweaking, but it is always nice to surprise yourself by going faster than expected instead of slower.  2009 is going to be an awesome year. I smell PRs in the air. Stay tuned internet people.

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Last Deposit To The Running Bank

February 15, 2009

… before the Hyannis Half Marathon was made yesterday with a nice 12.6 mile LSD run. I clocked in at 1:03 for the first lap and 1:02 for the second for an average pace of 9:56 and average HR of 142. While keeping my average HR pretty steady for my long runs, I’ve seen my pace slowly increase over the last two months. It has been slow, but the improvement is definitely there. I’m totally psyched to see how all the work on improving my running will reveal itself on race day.

All the miles are in. The work is done. There isn’t anything else that I can do to build up any more running fitness, but that is okay. Given how far my running has come since starting to train for this race in in October, I’m pretty happy. There were some bumps in the road and I didn’t get in as much speed work as I may have wanted, but that is all part of the game. Adaptation.

This will be my first half marathon ever too. I’ve done a bunch of 10ks and 5ks, but the only half marathon I’ve ever raced was at the end of my half ironman last year, and that was pretty much a disaster because of other injury-related issues. I definitely feel like I have something to prove next weekend and am looking forward to redeeming myself.

And with the first race of the 2009 season comes the first TAPER of 2009. For the next week Coach Brett has me taking off running completely and sticking strickly to swim and bike workouts to make sure my running legs are nice and fresh for the race next Sunday. And with a little bit of extra time on my hands, I’ll be working over my race day plan.

I really like Coach Adam‘s Commute-Warmup-Race philosophy. I’m planning on taking it easy for the first 6 miles, and slowly picking up speed in pre-planned intervals should allow me to not only negative split, but have a really solid idea of how hard I can push myself and still hold it together all the way through the finish line.

Now that I had a plan, tossed it around with the coach, it was time to break it all down on paper and see what race day could look like.

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And for those that can’t read my awful handwriting, here is the game plan (the conservative version). I’ll be holding off to a 9:30 pace for the first 6 miles, picking it up to 8:45 for the next 4 miles, then laying it all out for the last 3 miles with a 8:15 pace (or something hopefully a little faster). That will leave me with easily knocking off my  B goal of breaking 2 hours.

I’m trying not to get too stuck on numbers since it is so early in the season, the weather report is a little sketchy and I’d rather just enjoy racing my first half marathon, but my A goal would be breaking 1:50.  If I’m lucky and the stars align, a sub 1:45 would be pretty sweet, which gets me to my next point.

Here is some advice from Coach Adam’s blog and this is going to be one of the hardest part of the next 7 days:

During this last week, don’t begin to mentally shave seconds off of your Commute Pace to try and hit a specific time goal. Remember, your Commute Pace is the most important pace of the run. Do it right and you will feel strong and empowered as you run your final 10K. Blow it and you will be like any other marathoner out there struggling through an excuse known as “the wall.” Your Commute is run at a pace at which you will run no faster, not a pace that you will try to stay close to.

Welcome to taper week folks. Population: This guy!

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First Ride of 2009

February 9, 2009

Mark it on your calendar people. Sunday, February 8 as the first outdoor ride of 2009. About 2 hours and just shy of 30 miles.

After being completely frozen for all of January, the roads finally thawed and the temperature topped 50 and me and one of my Wheelworks team mates took full advantage and hit the roads. It was the nicest it had been all year, despite the 15-30 mph winds, and I was loving it. I was even a little over dressed. It felt really good to be outside and actually warm. It even felt strang to be on a bike that actually MOVES when you pedal it. After WAY too much time inside on the spin bike and trainer, I almost forgot what it was like to actually handle a moving bike and clip in and out at stop lights.

Since it was the first time in over a month where all the snow banks actually had a chance to thaw the roads were pretty wet with all of the run off. There wasn’t any avoiding all the puddles  and streams running down the side of the road so we both had prett bad cases of mud butt.

mud butt (n): When the dirty water spraying from your bike’s back tire splashes up your back and makes it look like you messed your pants.

And yes, I have some standards so I’m not going to be posting any pics. 🙂

About 45 minutes into the ride I heard this big crash behind us. We stopped and turned around to find two cars totally destroyed. One apparently hit the gas instead of the brake and t-boned the other, sending the drivers side door of the other car straight into the middle of the car. The driver of the other car wasn’t wearing a seat belt either and was pretty beat up. From the looks of things, she broke her pelvis, but she was lucky to be alive and somehow managed to get out of the car. Judging by the damage to both cars, the fact that the air bag went off in the first car, and the fact that the second got tossed completely up onto the sidewalk, they must have hit pretty hard. My team mate used to be an EMT so she jumped into action and made sure everything was under control until the cops, fire department and EMS showed up.

It got us thinking about how dangerous driving can actually be. People always think of cycling as a really dangerous activity, but are really quick to dismiss the dangers of day-to-day driving. That being said, howevery you are getting around, BE SAFE PEOPLE. Buckle up. Wear a helmet. Stop at the red light. Life to race another day.

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Snowboarding and muscle memory

February 8, 2009

Because Seasonal Affective Disorder is just for people that are afraid to go out and have fun in the cold, I decided to break my +8 year hiatus from snowboarding and take a trip up to New Hampshire to hit the slopes. A guy can only take so many swim/bike/run workouts before he needs to break it up and try something different.

It had been at least eight years since the last time I went snowboarding, some time when back in high school, so I was just a little nervous about actually remembering now to snowboard and not go flying off into the woods. Scratch that. I really didn’t have much faith in my ability to remember how  to snowboard at all.

After heading up the lift to the top of the mountain and a sketchy dismount from the chair lift, I sucked it up, took a deep breath and pointed my board down hill and hoped for the best. The first half of the run was a little rough, but I was surprised how quickly I remembered how to turn and especially how to stop! By the second run I was back in the game, a WHOLE lot more comfortable, and was actually really impressed about how quickly I got back into a nice carving rhythm. Muscle memory is an amazing thing and I was completely surprised about how quickly my confidence on the slopes came back. I was still a little cautious around other skiiers so that I didn’t take anyone out, but I was actually able to relax and have fun with it.

I took a short video from the hill. It is a little sketchy in some parts, but I figured you might enjoying my fall on my butt about half way through. 🙂 In my defense, it was only my second run, and this other guy came flying dangerously close behind me while on a patch of ice. I decided bailing and landing on my butt was the best option.


The only real fall that I managed all day was while I was passing Sam on a flat section, rubbing it in her face, then immediately biting it hard. Thankfully I hopped up pretty quickly and I managed not to get injured, so it was a pretty sweet day.

Here is the view of Lake Winnipesaukee from the top of the mountain. This is where I’ll be racing my “A” race. The Timberman  70.3 in August. Thankfully this scene should be a lot more green and blue by then instead of gray and white.


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New Sponsor! TRAKKERS

February 7, 2009

FYI: This blog has moved to a new address. Catch up on new posts at: http://swimbikerunlive.com/

Awesome news today triathlon people.

I am a member of Team Trakkers 2009!  Trakkers is a relatively new company that is getting ready to launch a new gadget specifically for endurance athletes and sends their GPS data to the web in real time. Not only can your family and friends follow your progress on race day, but all the data is stored so you can compare performances and course data.

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It all started when I saw that they put out a call for sponsorship applications on SlowTwitch back in November. I laid on my best charm and filled out the application, but wasn’t expecting it to go too far. Thankfully my writing skills and internet street cred came through and I made the team! I’m sure that also already planning to race at Rev3, the new HIM where Trakkers is making their official launch, probably helped a little too. I’m totally looking forward to playing around and testing Trakkers before it is available to the public.

I’ll be on the team along with some other kick-ass pro triathletes like Bree Wee, Amanda Lovato, Heather Gollnick and fellow age grouper and tri blogger Carol.

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