Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Run Log

Since 2010 marked my first full marathon, I thought I would take a look back at my running workouts for the calendar year. I had a total of 127 runs for 940.73 miles. If I was so inclined, this distance would have taken me from Louisville to Toronto. I'm guessing I would decided to fly back home.

Since I'm a geek, I decided to make a graph showing each run (even speed work at the track) and it's distance. This actually looked pretty cool, showing my build-up to my half-ironman triathlons in May and July and my marathon in November.

Just for comparison, I looked back at 2009. I only logged 632 miles in 2009...so this past year I managed to squeeze in 308 more miles! Wow...where did I find the time???

During a run on Sunday (12/26) morning, I stepped off the side of the road while doing some hill repeats and severely sprain my ankle. This is definitely the worst sprain I've ever had and within a few hours, my ankle was the size of a softball. I iced it on and off all day Sunday while keeping it elevated. I started adding in some compression (thanks for the Christmas gift of compression socks, Mom & Dad!) yesterday and this morning I was able to walk on it without crutches. I did about 45 minutes on the bike this morning and it felt ok. It's going to be a while before the swelling goes down enough to even think about running on it, but I have to let it heal properly or it will be nagging me for months. Injuries are never good, but one now is something I can work with...one in July is not!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Run Lactate Threshold Test

So yesterday I did a LT test for the bike. Today I did the same thing for the run.

Here's the test:

15 minute warm-up at an easy pace
Then run a 30 minute time trial at my maximum sustainable pace. The key is to run at a pace that you can sustain for 30 minutes, without slowing down (steady pace throughout).
I pushed the lap button 10 minutes into the time trail to get my average heart rate for the final 20 minutes.
This average heart rate is my Lactate Threshold for running. Here's the results:

Avg. HR = 174 bpm

In order to find my ranges, I take my 174 bpm and multiply it by percentages to get each zone (just like I did yesterday to find my bike zones). For Zone 4, I use 0.96 and 1.03. This gives me a range of 166-179. This is my new Zone 4 (LT or Anaerobic Threshold). Using this formula, I can find all of my HR zones. Here's what I came up with.

Zone 1 (70-76%): 121-132 bpm
Zone 2 (77-85%): 133-148 bpm
Zone 3 (86-95%): 149-165 bpm
Zone 4 (96-103%): 166-179 bpm
Zone 5 (104-max%): 180-max

My legs and body were pretty tired from yesterday's bike test, so I didn't have the extra push that I wanted. I'm not sure that I agree with these numbers (expected them to be higher), but I will have another test in 6 weeks that may correct these a little bit. For now, this is what I'm going with.

After the run TT, I splashed some water around for the first time in almost 7 weeks. Here's my workout:
480yd warm-up (9:28)
Drills (480yd in 9:10)
Two laps of each (single arm, fist swimming, catch-ups, one side, 3-1 transition)
48yd cool-down (1:00)
Total workout: 1008 yd in 19:39 (1:57/100yd pace)

It felt good to get back in the water, but even with only going for 20 minutes, I'm sure I will have some sore muscles over the next few days.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In 250 days, I will....

...be smack-dab in the middle of Ironman Louisville. Training for that day started today (technically, I've been building up my endurance over several years, but from now on, every training session is done with a purpose - to survive Ironman!). I'm using the 36-week Triathlon Dominator program designed by Ben Greenfield. Today is Day 1.

Today's workout had a very specific purpose, which was to determine my heart rate zones on the bike. I will use these zones to make sure that every time I'm on the bike, I am getting the absolute most out of that workout.

So here's what I did this morning:

30 minutes of weights while I waited for my watch to charge - I thought that it was charged when I looked at it last night...I was wrong. Not exactly the way I planned on starting my training for Ironman (IM)!

Once I had a decent charge on my Garmin, I hopped on the bike. I used a 20 minute warm-up to get my heart rate up and my legs loose. I then did a 40 minute time trail at a cadence of 85-90 rpm. I maintained a high intensity the whole 40 minutes, hard breathing and leg fatigue. I checked my cadence once every few minutes to make sure that I wasn't riding too slow. I hit my lap button on the watch 10 minutes into the time trail so that I could get my average heart rate for the final 30 minutes. This average heart rate is my bike lactate threshold (LT) heart rate. My LT heart rate is 165 bpm. I finished with a 10 minute cool-down. This was by far the hardest I've asked my body to work since the marathon...and it felt good!

Here's what the workout looked like:

So what do I do with this info? I'm going to use this LT HR to determine all of my new bike HR zones. The zones shown on the chart above are what I used last year after my VO2 bike test in November of 2009. In order to find my ranges, I take my 165 bpm and multiply it by percentages to get each zone. For Zone 4, I use 0.96 and 1.03 (96% and 103% for you non-math people). This gives me a range of 158-170. This is my new Zone 4 (LT or Anaerobic Threshold). Using this formula, I can find all of my HR zones. Here's what I came up with.

Zone 1 (Recovery): 115-125 bpm
Zone 2 (Endurance): 126-140 bpm
Zone 3 (Muscular Endurance): 141-157 bpm
Zone 4 (Lactate Threshold): 158-170 bpm
Zone 5 (Sustained Speed): 171-max

I'll do a similar test to find my run HR zones tomorrow. Should be fun painful!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Will Running In The Cold Make You Sick?

I don't mind prefer running when it's cold outside. I've yet to find a temperature that is too low for me to run in. I take proper precautions if it get's below zero and cover all exposed skin, but air temperatures in the teens or even single digits don't bother me. I ran last week when it was 16° F. I ran yesterday morning when it was 11° . Both times, I felt pretty good after getting warmed-up. Admittedly, getting to the point where I feel loose and my legs feel good takes longer in the cold, but it's not a big deal.

I was told by two different people yesterday that "you're going to get sick running when it's this cold". I gave both people the same response, "I'm not worried about it."

I've spent that last three winters doing all of my running outside. I hate treadmills. Refuse to use them. So my runs this time of year are planned around the snow and ice, not the temperature. If it's dry outside and the roads are fairly clear - I'll dress accordingly and head out. I don't hesitate to run outside in the cold because I know that it's not the cold air makes you sick. You can't catch a cold, the flu, or even pneumonia from exercising in the cold. Not even running outside butt naked in the freezing cold will make you sick. You actually have to pick up a germ or a virus from somewhere or someone. You are more likely to get sick by using a treadmill in a gym that someone just finished lathering with all of their germs! Think people clean the equipment? Think again.

So now you have one less excuse to keep you from running this winter. Buy some Under Armour and get your butt out the door!

The 2010 Ironman World Championship will be on NBC this Saturday, December 18th from 4:00-6:00pm.
The race was actually held on October 10th, but NBC likes to take their time preparing the footage. They include not only race coverage, but lots of stories on the participants as well. In my opinion, they spend too much time talking about the athlete's and giving their life stories and not enough time showing the actual race. However, I understand that they are trying to make it something even non-triathletes will watch. So set your DVR (or watch it live if you're old school) and enjoy one of the greatest Ironman World Championships ever...the men's pro finish is awesome!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Offseason to a triathlete is no different than that of any other serious athlete. While you may cut back on workouts, you never completely stop training. I've been limiting myself to just a few short runs (4-7 miles) a week and focusing on some strength and core building exercises.

I've been doing each of these circuits once a week followed by some "abnormal' cardio (i.e. rowing machine, elliptical, stair stepper):

Swimming related circuit
4 times through with 1-2 minutes rest after each circuit.
Cable torso twists (10 reps per side)
Medicine Ball Twisters (10 reps per side)
Cable Single arm chest press with rotation (10 reps per side)
Stability Ball Military Press (10 reps)

Bike related circuit
4 times through with 1-2 minutes rest after each circuit.
One arm dumbell clean and press (10 reps per arm)
Low to high WoodChopper (10 reps per side)
Double arm lawnmower (10 reps per direction)
Tricep pushdown (10 reps)

Run related circuit
4 times through with 1-2 minutes rest after each circuit.
Ice Skaters / Lateral hops (20 reps)
Alternating Lunge with overhead press (10 reps per leg)
Squat bicep curls (10 reps)
Dumbell Running Arms (10 reps per arm)
Walking Lunge with twist (10 reps per leg)

If you would like to see what any of these exercises look like (some are pretty wild), go to this website.Yes, I get some weird looks at the gym!

Here's a list of the runs I've done since my marathon:
11/12/10 - 4.0 miles in 30:34 (7:42 min/mile pace)
11/15/10 - 4.8 miles in 36:27 (7:34 min/mile pace)
11/17/10 - 6.0 miles in 47:12 (7:49 min/mile pace)
11/20/10 - 4.3 miles in 31:54 (7:24 min/mile pace)
11/23/10 - 3.5 miles in 27:50 (7:58 min/mile pace)
11/25/10 - IHR Thanksgiving Day Race - 5.0 miles in 36:36 (7:19 min/mile pace)
12/02/10 - 6.0 miles in 45:06 (7:31 min/mile pace)
12/07/10 - 6.8 miles in 53:05 (7:51 min/mile pace)

A few more weeks of taking it easy...training for 2011 officially starts on Monday, December 20th!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Legal System Fails

I try not to get too political on this blog. The purpose of this blog is to help my friends and family keep up with my training and races, and to hopefully give some tips to other triathletes and runners. If I give my opinion, it's normally regarding a training style or piece of equipment. However, I feel that a recent ruling by a local judge needs to be address here...especially considering the crime that was committed.

On August 1, 2009, John Carr (pictured at left) was competing the Tom Sawyer Triathlon. This is a race that I myself raced in 2008 and again this year. If I wasn't out of town during the race in 2009, I'm sure I would have been there. After competing the swim portion of the sprint triathlon, John Carr headed out onto the 14 mile bike ride. While on Chamberlain Lane, John was hit from behind by a car...driving at a high rate of speed. John was thrown from his bike by the impact and died from blunt-force trauma. An impact so violent that his bike stuck in the windshield of the car! The driver of the car, drunk and high, continued to drive, with the bike in his windshield, for almost half a mile.

An off-duty police officer working the race saw the car and immediately jumped in his cruiser and chased. Once the car stopped, the driver, 26 year old Kenneth Yates (pictured at right) jumped out and fought with the police officer. He then fled on foot - running all the way to his Mother's house. His Mom, who apparently has some sense, brought him back to the scene. Yates was immediately arrested and charged with murder, assault of a police officer, driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, third-degree assault on a officer, disarming an officer, fleeing and evading, resisting arrest, and operating a vehicle on a suspended license.

A little over a month before this incident, Yates was charged with DUI and reckless driving...thus the suspended license.

Fast-forward to November 24th of this year (three days ago) to the sentencing (so much for the sixth amendment's right to a speedy trial). Jefferson County Circuit Court Div. 13 Judge Frederic Cowan sentenced Kenneth Yates to 15 years in prison, with eligibility for parole in 11 years. While I would like to say that Judge Cowan made the wrong decision, apparently this length of sentence is appropriate under Kentucky law for first-degree manslaughter...which is ridiculous.

Kenneth Yates will be credited for the year that he's already served, so in 2021, at the age of 38, he will likely be a free man.

John Carr had a wife and two young children (6 and 8 years old). He will never get to see these kids grow up. They will miss all the wonderful time that they would have spent with their dad. He started doing triathlon's to stay in shape so that he could live to see his children grow old. The Carr family will never be the same. You can't put a price tag on the life of an innocent man...but this sentence seems too lenient.

According to those close to the case, Kenneth Yates has shown no remorse. He has never asked to speak with the Carr family. Never once told them that he was sorry. He had been arrested on driving under the influence just a few months earlier...and clearly didn't think it was a big deal. He made the decision to drive drunk, which lead him to ignore police officers, traffic cones, signs and other cars that morning and killed John Carr. He then chose to flee the scene without any consideration for the man that he just hit. Once he was stopped, he fought with the police officer and attempted to take his gun during the struggle. What did he plan to do with the gun? Thank God we didn't find out.

Some people will say that he made a mistake. That he shouldn't spend his life in jail. That he could come back into society in 11 years and be a contributing member in our community. I say that he was 26 years old when this happened. He wasn't and isn't a "kid". He's a grown man that makes his own decisions and knows what he is doing.

When will people start being held responsible for their actions? This is just another indication to me that our legal system is broken. This was no accident. Sure, Kenneth Yates didn't intend to hit John Carr that morning, but he did intend to get drunk and high and drive...again. What kind of person drives half a mile with a bike lodged in their windshield after hitting someone? What kind of person tries to take a police officer's gun from him? I know that jails and prisons are full, but issuing more and more lenient sentences to criminals is not the answer! I hope and pray that Kenneth Yates is fully rehabilitated once he's released...for all our our sake!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Enjoying The Offseason

As of the moment I crossed the finish line a week and a half ago at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, I officially started my offseason. I might do some short running races between now and the spring, but my training for next season won't officially start until the end of December.

So I'm trying to enjoy my offseason. It's hard for me to do. I understand that resting your body in the offseason is key to having a successful and injury free race season. I've been limiting my workouts to some short runs and weights lately, but I'm feeling weird.

Over the last two years my body has become accustom to being in shape and eating well. With both of these starting to slack, I'm getting the feeling of being a little "off". My heart rate is higher on my runs and the pace doesn't come easy. I feel tired more often and I've even put on about 6-8 pounds in the last 11 days. I'm really trying to take it easy and let me body rest, but I'm not sure if I can do this for another month!!

Progression Run
The object of this run is to start out at a comfortable pace and at set intervals (every mile in this case), increase the speed. Here are my mile splits:
Mile 1 - 7:53 min/mile pace
Mile 1 - 7:47 min/mile pace
Mile 1 - 7:33 min/mile pace
Mile 1 - 7:18 min/mile pace
Mile 1 - 7:14 min/mile pace
Total Workout: 4.82 miles in 36:27 (7:34 pace)
Avg HR = 159, Max HR = 174

Workout: 6.05 miles in 47:13 (7:48 min/mile pace)
I always try to squeeze in a run when I'm traveling for work. I was able to run 6 miles along Lake Michigan in Chicago this morning. They have a great path called the "Lakeshore Trail" that starts in Millenium Park and heads south along the lake. I ran past Shedd Aquarium, Soldier Field and the Natural History Museum...pretty cool run! I took it easy and didn't push it until the last mile or so. Good workout and the weather even cooperated. 42° F, but hardly and wind - which is unusual here. Snapped a pic with my phone (awesome view of the sunrise on the lake):

Friday, November 12, 2010

2010 Season in Review

The video sums it up pretty well....

I really do want to thank my very understanding wife, Jessica, for supporting me 100%. She sacrifices a lot in order for me to participate in all these races. I also want to thank my parents for making to almost all of my races this year, even the ones that were out of town. I don't know anyone else that has such great support all around them. It's awesome!

Big things (Ironman) are planned for 2011, so I'm going to continue to ask for everyone's support. Thanks in advance for helping me achieve such a huge goal!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Report

I thought I had everything planned, I remembered to put on my Chamois Butt'r, covered my feet in Vaseline and had all my cold weather gear. My Garmin watch was fully charged and I had my three Hammer nutrition gels in my pockets. I said goodbye to Jessica and Kate and walked from Sona and Dave's place the 6 or so blocks to the starting line. I was ready to race!

The first few miles were going great. I actually warmed up much faster than I expected. I was holding my pace right above 8 minutes per mile, just where I wanted. I was cruising along feeling good. The half-marathon runners didn't peal off until around mile 7, so for those first miles, all 8000+ runners were together. The water stops were very crowded. I skipped the stops at mile 1, 3, 4 and 8, and only sipped a little water at miles 2, 5, 7 and 9. I wasn't sweating very much and I wanted to avoid the traffic at the water stops. My miles splits for the first 13 miles were 8:08, 7:52, 8:19, 8:04, 8:06, 8:03, 8:07, 8:07, 8:05, 7:59, 8:16, 8:10, 8:13.

Mile 14 started to slow, steady hill. This hill was literally 3 miles long (see elevation below).

I was still feeling strong during the hill, but my pace slowed. Miles 14-18 were 8:18, 8:30, 8:49, 8:59, and 9:10. As you can see on the elevation chart, coming down off of the hill was quick. Running down hill is hard on the muscles, especially this steep. I noticed my calves getting tight during mile 19 and while I had taken two of my gels and was drinking water at every station since mile 10, I knew that I was in trouble. My goal time of 3:30 was now out of reach, so I revised my goal to just try and finish under 4 hours.

Dehydration is the enemy of an endurance athlete. Once you get dehydrated, you can't reverse it. I immediately knew that passing on those early water stations was a mistake. I started to down Gatorade at the aid stations instead of water...desperately trying to get some needed electrolytes. By mile 20 I had slowed considerably. I felt good fitness wise, but my leg muscles were giving out. My calves and hamstrings were getting tight. I stopped a few times to try and stretch (see pace chart below), but that didn't help.

Miles 22 through 26 were horrible. I was struggling to keep my pace close to 11 minutes per mile. My brain was telling me to stop, but I knew that walking would hurt even more. Every step was painful, but I broke the remaining miles into small segments and made it through. My last 4 miles were 11:20, 11:21, 11:01 and 10:48.

I was starting to become delusional as well. I kept forgetting what mile I was on and I lost my balance several times during the last two miles, even hitting my shoulder on the side mirror of a car parked on the street. I remember seeing Jessica, Kate, Sona and Dave there at mile 25 to cheer me on, but the last mile is a blur.

I crossed the finish line at 3:56 and some change. I stumbled down the finish shoot and found a patch of grass to collapse on. My body was spent! I attempted to stretch, but it was too painful to even bend my legs. I was getting cold chills and was in lots of pain. I chugged a chocolate milk and got my sweats from the gear check tent and attempted to put my sweat pants on to get warm. I wish I had video of me trying to get my pants on without bending my legs...very comical to all those who saw it I'm sure.

I bundled up and walked stumbled my way back to Sona and Dave's place, where I got some Tylenol and collapsed on the floor.

I thought I had everything planned. For whatever reason, I underestimated the amount of water my body would need to run 26.2 miles. Skipping those early water stops killed me in the end. In hindsight, I should have worn my fuel belt (full of Hammer Perpetuem) and taken water at every stop. Lesson learned!

Official Results:

Time - 3:56:44
Division Place (Male 30-34): 121st of out 214
Gender Place: 778th out of 1565
Overall Place:  1038th out of 2502
First half in 1:46:51 (8:10 pace)
Second half in 2:09:53 (9:55 pace)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Preview

Saturday morning I will ask my body to do something that it has never done before - run 26.2 miles. Sure, I've done triathlons that lasted more than six hours and hopefully I will be on the way back to Louisville six hours after this marathon starts, but running for three and a half to four hours will be completely different. I'm not really sure what to expect.

One thing I know for sure is that it's going to be COLD! Temperatures overnight Friday are going to be in the mid 20's, with an expected race start temperature in the upper 20's at best. If you keep up with this blog, you know that I don't mind prefer to run in the cold...the issue is going to be the standing and waiting in the cold. If you've ever run a road race, you know the feeling. You get your legs loose and then proceed to your corral. Then your wait. No matter how close you try and cut it, there's going to be at least 10-15 minutes of standing there like cattle waiting for the race to start. This is when your body and muscles get cold...and tight! This I am not looking forward to. Those first few miles could be tough.

I'm planning on breaking out my long-sleeve Under Armour shirt, my thick gloves and my Purdue toboggan (yes, I still call them that). I will still wear shorts. As I discussed with Jessica this morning, I don't even think about running in pants until it's in the single digits. My legs just don't get cold, so I don't see the need.

As I think about the race, I have several things that I want to accomplish and things that I need to try and remember during the race.
  • In my mind, the most important thing to remember is to hold back the reins and not go out too fast. The plan is to run the first half at a pace just above 8:00 minute miles and the second half at a pace just below 8:00 minute miles. I have to run a negative split (second half faster than the first) if I want to reach my goal time of three and a half hours.
  • Another key thing for me to do is stay positive. I know that it takes me 3-4 miles to warm up. Those first few miles are tough and even though I know that once I get loose it will be easier, I still get negative thoughts about being able to run as far as I have planned. I get these thoughts during training runs...and I know that they will creep in during the beginning of this marathon. I have to push them aside and have confidence in the training that I put in. 
  • I also need to remember to eat a gel every hour or so. This seemed to be enough during my longer runs of 20+ miles, so I'm going to stick with it. Water will be available at the aid stations, and I plan on getting some every other station for the first half and then see how I feel after that. I have a habit of drinking too much before and during the first part of the race and then end up have to pee the whole race - not fun.
  • An finally, I need to remember that pain is temporary. My foot seems to be very close to being healed, but I'm sure it will start hurting at some point. Even if it doesn't, I plan on running hard enough that everything else will hurt! This is my last big race of the year and I want to leave it all out on the course. There's no chance to make up for a bad race until next spring. I need to finish the year off strong and be confident and motivated to start training in December for the Ironman!
"The real purpose of racing is not to win, but to test the limits of your heart and your mind." - Bill Brown

One last interval workout just to keep the legs and lungs firing.
1.32 mile warm-up run to the track in 10:10 (7:42 min/mile pace)
4 x 400m sprints w/ 1 min. rest
1) 1:24.97
2) 1:24.75
3) 1:22.67
4) 1:26.77
1.32 mile cool-down run back to the gym in 11:02 (8:21 min/mile pace)
Total workout: 3.94 miles in 33:49

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Exactly is Ironman?

If you are a triathlete, I'm sure certain things immediately come to mind when you hear the term "Ironman". I first heard this word/term in the late 80's when I was a lad watching the NBC coverage of the Ironman Championship in Hawaii. The term Ironman to me meant completing a triathlon that was comprised of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run (140.6 miles).

When I started doing triathlons in August of 2008, my definition of Ironman was the same. I was now educated on the different distances available in the sport, but Ironman simply meant doing the big one. The all-day, ultimate mental and physical test.

The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) owns the Ironman brand. They are the ones that organize any race that contains the word Ironman with the cool "M-Dot" logo you see to the left. While it would be nice to think of the WTC as just a group of people that like to give crazy athletes a way to test themselves, that's not the reality. It's a business...and as we all know, the ultimate goal of running a business is to make money. Just like Nike, Coke, Microsoft, and even Apple, the term Ironman is a brand. So the WTC has decided to cash in on the term, and the logo.

In recent years, the WTC has decided to link the Ironman term and logo with races that are not the "classic" Ironman distance. They have added several Ironman 70.3 races (half the distance of the traditional Ironman), and are now adding 16 Olympic distance races in 2011 that will be called the "5150 Series". These consist of a 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run. Add these up and you get a distance of 51.50 Kilometers. So all that's left for them to attach their name to are sprint distance races...and you know it's coming.

So I tell you all of this to also tell you that for some reason, all of this doesn't sit well with me. I feel that the term and logo should be reserved for the full distance Ironman race only. Sure, when people in the triathlon community ask if you have or are doing "an Ironman", they still mean the 140.6 mile race...but how long before that isn't the case? Soon, they will need to clarify which distance Ironman they are asking about. Does completing an Olympic distance or even 70.3 make you and "Ironman" or "Ironwoman"? I guess that's not for me to determine, but in my opinion, it kind of takes away some of the luster of the term when you decide to attach it to so many events.

As a side note, when the WTC decides to add events, they very rarely will create a race from thin air. They swoop in and buy up an existing race. They can take a small, local race and turn it into a huge production...which can be pretty cool and make you feel like a superstar...but there's a cost that comes with this "upgrade". For instance, the Muncie Endurathon has been a favorite half-Ironman race of many people in the region for the last 31 years (one of the oldest in the country). While I've never competed in the race, I've heard great things about it. The race organizers always did a great job and the people of Muncie, Indiana welcomed all the athletes and their families with open arms. Now the race will be called the Ironman 70.3 Muncie and will have all of the pomp and circumstance of an Ironman event...including an increase of close to $100 in the registration fee and a 60 day blackout on other races! Will the race be better for it, who knows, I'm just giving you an example of how the WTC operates. Personally, I like doing the smaller, local races. There are two 70.3 races here locally that I loved doing this year and I hope that they stay small!

8.0 mile Progressive Run in 1:00:15 (7:31 min/mile pace)
Started off with a conservative pace and slowly ramped up the speed during the run, finishing with a near all-out effort. See the chart below for my mile splits:

10 minute warm-up, 45 minute spin class, 5 minute cool-down (1 hour total)
Good class with some long hills (5-6 minutes), followed by fast flats lasting around a minute, then a 2 minute sprint to finish the class.
Avg HR = 138
Max HR = 162

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Things I Learned While Training For A Marathon

I started running for fun while I was in college. Studying for Engineering classes can really drain your brain, so I started running a few days a week to clear my mind. I like goals - so I set a goal to run the miniMarathon in April of 1998 and did so in 2 hours, 13 minutes and some change. That's a pace of around 10:09 min/mile. The goal was to run the whole race, which I did - with no consideration to the pace that I was running. After the mini in '98, I took a year off and then picked running back up in 2000-2001 and completed a total of 6 races including the mini two more times, improving my time to 1:46 (8:05 min/mile pace). This 13.1 mile distance was the furthest my body have ever run...until a few months ago.

I took a hiatus from running following the MiniMarathon in 2001...until I did my first triathlon in August of 2008. Through all of my triathlon training the last two years, I had never asked my legs/lungs/heart to carry me more than 13.1 miles. I did a 15 mile run this summer leading up to one of my half-Ironman races, but that wasn't much different.

As I started building my mileage for the upcoming Indianapolis Monumental Marathon I noticed a change once I attempted to go beyond 16 or so miles. I realized that I needed to do some things different on these long runs. Here's what I've learned that are unique to running long distances:

1) I needed to put Vaseline on my feet to prevent blisters. I don't get blisters that often, but if one starts to form on a run that's going to last close to 3 hours, it's going to lead to a huge problem. Vaseline keeps friction from rubbing my skin off of my feet and toes!

2) Nipple chafing is not cool. I believe that it was during a run of around 18 miles that I started feeling some discomfort on my nipples...yeah, that's what I said. I tried wearing different types of shirts of varying tightness and fabric, but I found that the only fool-proof way to keep my nips from become bright red and irritated was to put small band-aids over them. I just got to remember to take them off before I walk around the locker room shirtless!

3) Even briefs (aka tighty-whities) move around. For obvious reasons, I wear briefs instead of boxers when I run. I never had an issue with this until I started running longer distances. I found the the briefs rub against the inside of the top of my legs where it meets my torso (in the crotch area). This gets really uncomfortable. So I started rubbing some Chamois Butt'r (which I originally bought for long bike rides) in that area before I run. This stuff holds up a lot longer than Vaseline.

4) Hydration is critical. Hydrating before and after a run is fine while it's only going to be an hour or so. But I quickly realized that I couldn't run for over 2 hours without some liquid. I tried several things, including taking my runs by water fountains, but I ultimately decided to break-down and buy a fuel belt. I've used it on several runs, and it works great. I filled the bottles up with Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem (Orange-Vanilla flavor) for my marathon simulation last week - yummy stuff!

5) Change is necessary. When you run for over 3 hours at a time, you get a little bored. I don't use an iPod or any other device that spits out music during my runs, so it's just me and my surroundings. Running the same route is beneficial because you recognize landmarks and mentally know how far you have left to go, but a change of scenery is nice. I usually do my long runs in St. Matthew's and Seneca/Cherokee Parks, but there's been a few times that I just had to switch it up and run somewhere else - even if it was inconvenient.

6) Heart rate training is very important for endurnace. For the last year or so, I've been a big believer in training based on heart rate zones. Building a solid base in your aerobic zone will make your heart stronger and more efficient. This philosophy has been driven home over the last two months. I've been doing one long run a week, based solely on my heart rate - not letting it get our of my aerobic zone, paying no attention to the pace that I was running. My first few runs were at a pace of 8:30-8:45 min/mile, now I can run a pace of 8:00 minutes per mile or faster without my heart rate getting out of my aerobic training zone...making my heart an aerobic machine!

1.32 mile warm-up run to the track in 10:08 (7:39 min/mile pace)
2 x 400m sprints w/ 1 min. rest
1) 1:28
2) 1:28
4 x 800m at marathon pace w/ 1 min. rest
1) 3:49
2) 3:47
3) 3:52
4) 3:45
2 x 400m sprints w/ 1 min. rest
1) 1:29
2) 1:25
1.32 mile cool-down run back to the gym in 10:42 (8:08 min/mile pace)
Total workout: 6.08 miles in 53:06

Workout graph:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

News Flash: Don't Run A Marathon Without Training

According to a shocking study by a cardiologist, marathon runners who lack proper training can temporarily damage their heart. Lack of aerobic fitness may impair how the heart copes with the stress of running a marathon.

The study looked at 20 marathon runners with varying levels of fitness (based on their VO2 max). Those in the less fit group showed abnormal functioning in more than half of the 17 segments in the heart's left ventricle, unlike their fitter competitors. Other areas of the heart had to work harder to compensate. The good news is that the heart damage was not permanent. After only 3 months, the damage was no longer visible.

So in case you didn't know, don't try and run 26.2 miles without training properly!!

45 minutes of light weight, high reps - worked shoulders, back, biceps and abs

888 yards (1/2 mile) in 15:38
After a quick warm-up, I did a half mile at a pace slightly faster than the pace I swim during a half-Ironman (1.2 mile swim). Felt pretty good the whole time and tried to focus on hand entry and body rotation.

5 minute warm-up, 45 minute Spin Class and then a 5 minute cool-down
I really pushed hard the entire class. This was just a steady effort mixing in some hills, but no intervals. My heart rate was pretty high the entire time as you can see from the chart below (almost half the time was spent in Zone 4).

30 minutes of legs with some stretching mixed in

Friday, October 22, 2010

Marathon Simulation

With 2 weeks to go until my first attempt at a full marathon, I really needed to get in one last long run. I had planned on doing a "Marathon Simulation" run with about 3 weeks to go, but the injury to my foot really messed up my training plan. I figured that I would go ahead and make this last long run a simulation. If all went well, I would get a boost of confidence and also know what I was capable of doing on my foot if it still hurts come race day.

So I did some research and came up with several "Marathon Simulation" workouts. I landed on one that seemed to be a good one for "advanced" runners - not that I'm advanced, but I like to push myself. It's called a 30/50/20. So here's the workout: Total distance is 18 miles. The first 30% of this distance (5.4 miles) is done at a pace that is 20 seconds slower than your goal pace. My goal pace for the race is 8:00 min/mile. So I did the first 5.4 miles of this run at a pace around 8:20. The second phase of the run has you run 50% of the distance (9 miles) at your race pace. The third and final segment (20% or 3.6 miles) is done at 20 seconds per mile faster than your goal pace, which for me is 7:40 min/mile.

I secured the tape on my foot and headed out this morning - fully expecting to have to stop at some point due to pain in my foot. First few miles went by really slow, but my foot felt good. Once I made it to that 5.4 mile point, I increased the pace...and still felt strong. Today was one of those days that I was really thankful that my wife got me the Garmin watch with GPS. I was able to look down and keep my pace where it needed to be for the entire run - something that I wouldn't have been able to do two months ago!

I really had no problems keeping the 8 minute per mile pace for those 9 miles. But once I got to the third and final segment, it was really tough to increase the pace. This is the whole point of this run. Those last 3.6 miles of pushing it hard are meant to replicate the true demands of those last 6 or so miles of a marathon....I'm expecting lots of pain!!

Here's my spilts from today's run:

As you can see, I did pretty good at keeping my pace where it needed to be during the first two segments, but that last one was tough. In my defense, I had to slow down several times while crossing streets in order to let traffic go by. It's really hard to get back up to speed once you slow down. My average heart rate for each was 154 bpm, 163 bpm, and 170 bpm. If I can hold a heart rate around 163 and run 8 minute miles, reaching my goal of a 3 hour, 30 minute marathon should be attainable.

I was ecstatic that I was able to not only complete the 18 miles with only minor foot pain, but that I was able to do it at the paces required by the workout. I now plan to take the next two weeks easy and only do some short runs with some longer bike sessions and swims mixed in. I plan on being fully rested and ready to rock come November 6th!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Plantar Fascia Failure

The Plantar Fascia is the tendon that runs under your foot from the toes to the heel. This tendon can become strained if it is overused or stressed. A combination of the extra miles I've logged during my marathon training and my run-in with the hickory nut have left my planta fascia begging for a break.

I first felt a pain in the sole of my right foot after a 21 mile run on October 6th. Since then, I've run a grand total of three times and never more than 4 miles. Each time, I've felt varying degrees of pain. With only 16 days left until the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, I do not have the luxury of letting my PF rest and heal properly.

With the clock ticking and my mind telling me that I need to get in another long run prior to race day, I decided to head over to see my buddy Kevin at the Rudy J. Ellis Sports Medicine Center yesterday. After a thorough examination of my foot (which is never pretty), he determined that  there are several factors at play in my injury. The factors that are out of my control involve the structure of my foot. I have very flat feet (no arch) and I overpronate (my foot naturally rolls to the inside when I walk or run). These are things that I have known for years and that is why I am adamant about replacing my running shoes every 300 miles. I need the arch support and stability that the shoe provides. The other factors that came into play were the increased stress on my arch due to the long runs and straining the tendon my stretching it as I landed my foot directly on that damn hickory nut (this just sound ridiculous).

So Kevin fixed me up with a tape job that will help support my arch and let is rest while the plantar fascia is healing. This tape job will also hopefully stabilize my arch enough that I can get through one more long run that I have planned for tomorrow. If I can make it through this run, I will rest for the next two weeks and only do some short, high intensity runs leading up to the race. Fingers are crossed!

Here's the tape job...if feet gross you out, you may want to skip down past the pictures. I'm sure I will catch some heat from my wife for putting these pictures on here for all the world to see, but I thought it might be useful for someone else that may be experiencing similar injuries.

The black tape is the magical (I'm not joking) KT Tape and the tan tape is called Leukotape P tape and it's really strong, non-stretch tape that is used here to support the arch itself. This stuff is also apparently super adhesive, so it has to be applied over the KT Tape because it would literally rip my skin off if it was applied directly to my foot!

 The light tan tape going over my heel and achillies is also KT Tape.

4.00 miles in 29:59 (7:29 min/mile pace)
After taking an entire week off from running, and a recipe of ice and elevation at night, I honestly felt zero pain in my foot when walking and assumed that it was healed. Reality kicked in about mile 2 of my run when I started to feel a dull pain in my arch. I immediately turned around and headed back.

30 minutes (9.5 miles)
Once I got back from my run, I hopped on the bike for a quick, easy ride before doing some stretching. 
Avg HR = 125 bpm

1 hour of hard work on the bike, covered around 22 miles.
Goal was to do a 5 minute warm-up, the stay in Zone 4 (143-155 bpm) for 40 minutes before a 5 minute cool-down. This was a tough workout, but one that I needed to do to keep my fitness up. I ended up spending 61% of my time in Zone 4 (66.7% was the goal). 

20 minutes on the elliptical and then about 20 minutes of weights to finish off the workout.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sugar Alternatives

So by now we all know that High-Fructose Corn Syrup (or Corn Sugar) is BAD. As in it affects the levels of insulin that your body releases and leaves more sugar in the bloodstream...which translates to fat. Look for it on labels - it's in nearly everything you buy that is processed.

Table sugar, while a better choice than artificial sweeteners (I'm talking to you Splenda, Sweet N'Low, NutraSweet, etc.) is still not good for your body. Table sugar (even the organic type) has the same affects on the body as HFCS described above. Table sugar also interferes with your body's absorption of lots of important minerals and can cause constipation among other things.

So what should you use as an alternative to sweeten food or drinks?

Raw Honey - Make sure it's raw...otherwise it's lost a lot of it's nutritional value through processing (it may even have HFCS in it!). That means don't buy the little bear shaped bottle of honey. It's especially good to buy raw honey from your local area to assist with allergies.

Stevia (pictured to the right) - This comes from a flower and has up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar....with negligible effect on your blood sugar and zero calories.

Date Sugar - This is basically ground-up dates. This is especially good for baking when you want to substitute brown sugar in a recipe. This doesn't dissolve in water, so don't try to use it in your coffee or tea.

Blackstrap Molasses - Two tablespoons of this stuff will give you your required Iron intake for an entire day. However, this stuff tastes like black licorice...so if if you are not a fan of Good & Plenty, you might want to look elsewhere.

Keep this in mind - ALL sugars, even the alternatives listed above are simple carbohydrates. While the natural sweeteners are less detrimental to your health, they should still be used sparingly.

60 minutes on the elliptical trainer. In an effort to heal up my right sole, I'm letting my running shoes collect dust and I'm turning to some alternative cross-training to try and maintain my fitness. I'm not sure what 60 minutes on the elliptical at level 15 translates to, but it was a good workout.

912 yards in 17:09 (33:05 min/mile pace)

Approx. 2 hours (including a 10 minute warm-up and 10 minute cool-down) on the indoor bike. It's been a few weeks since I was on the bike and I could tell. I thought two hours would be easy, but this was a tough one...my legs are pretty tired. Probably covered around 40-42 miles.
Avg HR = 140 bpm
Time below Zone 1 = 26 minutes (warm-up and cool-down)
Zone 1 = 12 min.
Zone 2 = 27 min.
Zone 3 = 39 min.
Zone 4 = 16 min.

Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 Ironman World Championship Recap

This past Saturday was the Ford Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii. It started around 12:30pm Eastern Time and I was able to watch it online on and off all day. I could go off on a tangent about how stupid it is that we can see poker tournaments and Canadian Football live on TV all the time, but no one will show a live triathlon! Sure it's an 8+ hour event, but doesn't each round of a golf tournament take that long? Ooops, looks like I'm starting to derail...back to the point.

While 1800 age-group athletes competed, the online telecast focused just on the pro's, so that's all I'll address here. The swim start is always crazy. As predicted, the former college All-American swimmer Andy Potts had a lead out of the water. He had almost a 2 minute head-start on the bike, but was caught by a group around mile 18. Chris Lieto (pictured below), who was my favorite to win, took the lead on the bike at the half-way point, but a large group was only about 3 minutes behind. Going into T2, Lieto had over a 2 minute lead on the closest competitor (Maik Twelsiek) and over 7 minutes on everyone else. Andy Potts finished the bike 15 minute behind Lieto.

Starting the marathon, the two-time defending champion, Craig Alexander was over 15 minutes behind Lieto...that's a lot to make up in the run! Among those in the top 10 starting the run were Mario Vanhoenacker, Raynard Tissink, Chris McCormack and Norman Stadler.

Chris McCormack went out very strong on the run, making up a minute on the leader in the first two miles! Chris Lieto was also running strong and holding onto the lead....but by mile 6, McCormack had moved into second and was only 4 minutes behind Lieto. At mile 11, McCormack cruised past a struggling Lieto to take the lead. Hot on his tail was Andreas Raelert, who was only a little over a minute behind.

By mile 18, McCormack's lead was only 40 seconds on Raelert...and everyone knew he was going to catch him. By this time, it was about 7:30pm Eastern Time and I was back in front of my computer. It was perfect timing, because I was about to see one of the best Ironman finishes in history!

In a race this long (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run), it's rarely close at the end. A race lasting over 8 hours tends to allow someone to pull ahead and cruise to a victory with no one else in sight. This year was clearly going to be different. By mile 21 of the marathon, only 5 seconds separated the two men. By mile 22 they were running stride-for-stride (see picture below). Raelert had worked hard and caught McCormick, but McCormack wouldn't let him pass easily, it had become a mental battle. I couldn't get over how comfortable they both looked, running at a pace around 6:15 per mile!

As they approached the last aid station (between miles 24 and 25), Raelert slowed to grab some water...McCormack passed on the water and when he noticed Ralert had slowed, he took off! McCormack punched the gas and gave it all he had. You could see him grabbing his right side fighting off a side stitch. During the last mile, he continued to open up his lead as Ralert didn't have enough left to catch back up.

Chris McCormack ended up crossing the line with a time of 8 hours, 10 minutes and 37 seconds. Andreas Raelert came across 1 minute and 40 seconds later for second. It was an amazing finish, which you can watch by clicking on the video below (I dare you not to get chills):

The women's pro race took and interesting twist when the 3-time defending champ (Chrissie Wellington) withdrew from the race just hours before it started. Apparently she had flu-like symptoms. I felt really bad for her and a whole year of training was lost due to something out of her control. Julie Dibens set the pace early with a fast swim and bike. She was finally caught at mile 16 of the marathon by Mirinda Carfrae, who ended up having the fastest marathon ever run by a woman at Kona - a 2:53! After taking the lead, Carfrae pulled away and ended up winning by over 7 minutes.

Watching this race really gets me excited to compete in Ironman Louisville next year! I can't wait until they show the NBC production of this race on December 18th. This will coincide perfectly with the start of my Ironman training, which begins on December 20th!

I've been trying to nurse the strained tendon on the bottom of my right foot since I injured it last Wednesday. After my short run Saturday morning, it felt good the rest of the day and all day yesterday, so I figured I was good to go for my speed work this morning. I started to feel some pain towards the end of my warm-up, but I went ahead and did my first 800 meter repeat...the pain increased. I struggled through two more slow intervals and then called it quits and jogged back to the gym. Looks like I have some RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) in my future.
Yasso 800's (800 meter runs at a high intensity, with 3 minutes of easy jogging between each)
Warm-up (ran to the track) - 1.32 miles in 10:12 (7:44 min/mile pace)
1) 3:07 (Avg HR - 155, max - 165)
3:07 jog
2) 3:20 (Avg HR - 160, max - 167)
3:01 jog
3) 3:21 (Avg HR - 162, max - 170)
3:01 jog
Cool-down (ran back to the gym)- 1.32 miles in 11:49 (8:58 min/mile pace)
Total Workout: 5.09 miles in 43:59

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Running In The Dark

During my long run on Wednesday I went a few miles into Seneca and Cherokee Parks. I like running through parks because it takes you away from civilization. I run through neighborhoods and populated area's all the time - it's nice to run amongst the trees. One of these trees produces what I believe are hickory nuts. While on the tree, the nuts are housed in a nice shell/husk about the size of a racquetball...and hard as a rock!

More on the hickory nut in a minute. As you probably know, I do all of my runs early in the morning for several reasons. I love getting up early and getting my workout out of the way. One of the issues with running at 5am is that it's dark - especially in the parks. It's pitch black. I carry a small flashlight with me, but I usually just turn it on if I see a car approaching. Running down a road in complete darkness is strange. Not being able to see the road or trees as you run past them almost makes it feel like you are running in place...kind of cool.

So while I was running in Cherokee Park, in the dark, I stepped directly on a hickory nut. It looked something like the picture to the right. I obviously didn't see it and my first thought was that I was thankful my foot didn't roll off the stupid thing and twist my ankle. I felt a slight twinge in my arch during the next few strides, but then it went away...until about an hour later.

Once I got back to the gym and got out of the shower, I felt a pain in the sole of my right foot with ever step. I knew exactly what it was from. I've been icing it on and off in the evenings and trying to stay off of my feet as much as possible, but the dull pain is still there.

I went for a short run this morning and felt a minor amount of pain during the run. Hopefully it will subside before my speed workout on Monday!

4.32 miles in 30:48 (7:08 min/mile pace)
I just wanted to have a solid run a little bit faster than my comfortable pace. I also wanted to test my right foot and see how my sole was healing. This run, while short, has over 300 feet of elevation gain, so it's nowhere near flat. My heart rate stayed mostly in Zones 3 and 4 with a few minutes in Zone 2. Here's the breakdown:
Zone 1: 6% of the time
Zone 2: 18%
Zone 3: 43%
Zone 4: 31%
Zone 5: 2%

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Happy Ironman World Championship!

The 2010 Ironman World Championship is this Saturday in Kona, HI.

The top athletes in the sport of long-course triathlon will race for the title starting at 6am (12pm EST) on Saturday. Although I have never yet to race in an Ironman distance triathlon, I do know that it takes a special athlete to qualify to race in the World Championship...yes, that's right, you have to be invited to Kona.

How do you qualify? It's very difficult...and somewhat confusing.

Athletes qualify by earning a spot at one of the qualifying events - which are open to citizens of all countries - held throughout the year. Qualifier races include a few half-ironmans and full distance races.

Each event awards Ironman slots to its top 3-4 age group finishers (depending on the race), with some races also awarding professional qualifying spots.

Athletes may also gain entry by being selected through the Ironman Lottery.

1800 spots are given to those who quality, only 200 spots are given to lottery winners. With close to 100,000 people racing in the 24 qualifying events, it's VERY tough to qualify to Kona!

So needless to say, it takes a very gifted (or extremely lucky) athlete to make it to the Championship.

Craig Alexander is the two time defending champ on the men's side, but my money is on Chris Lieto this year. In the women's race, Chrissie Wellington should walk away with her third straight title. Barring an injury or mechanical issue during the race, no one will be close to her...again.

21.29 miles in 2:58:08 (8:22 min/mile pace)
Once I got about 4 miles in, I started to feel strong. I was running at a pace between 8:00 and 8:15 per mile and feeling good (heart rate was in the mid 140's). I was smashing hills and cruising on the flats. All was well until I hit the last hill coming out of Seneca Park around mile 17. It's tough, but I've run it many times without issue. This time was different. My legs stared to burn going up the hill and I knew when I reached the top I was done. I struggled to keep my pace under 9 minutes per mile the remaining 3-4 miles. Not sure why my legs gave out, but pushing to finish strong was a good mental test! Check out the chart below showing elevation and my pace.
Avg HR = 148 bpm
Max HR = 164 bpm

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Different Type of Recovery

A few times a year (last time being in May), usually after a big race, I move away from my typical healthy eating habits and "splurge" for a week or so. I refer to this week as my "Week of Gluttony". The Boilerman Triathlon last weekend was my final triathlon of the year, so while I am still training for a marathon next month, I shoveled a bunch of food into my body this past week that I would normally avoid. Some of my indulgences included strawberry ice cream, pizza (courtesy of CiCi's buffet), a couple of Dr. Pepper's, biscuits and gravy, a Kit Kat Dark candy bar, a Chinese buffet, some lots of Jessica's famous banana pudding, Outback's Baby Back ribs, a chicken quesadilla from Taco Bell, a glass of the new Maker's 46 and a few other things that I can't remember.

Towards the end of the week (as in last night), my stomach was telling me to stop with the sweets. It's amazing how just changing up my diet for one week can effect not only how I feel, but how my body responds when I run. I try to view food as fuel. This helps me to make good decisions when eating. If I expect my body to perform what I'm asking it to, I need to fuel it with high-quality foods, not junk. Garbage in = garbage out.

My long run last Wednesday was early enough in the week that the unhealthy food I had been eating hadn't had time to effect my performance. But that wasn't the case on Saturday or this morning. I could definitely tell that my body wasn't feeling as good as it normally does...and not just because of the 5 pounds that I gained last week!

I'm definitely ready to get back to eating right. Stuffing myself full of pizza and Kung Pao chicken at buffet's is out of my system, and I have no desire to grab a candy bar next time I stop at a gas station.

Hopefully my body is on the road to recovering...

10K (6.2) mile Tempo Run
15 minutes at an easy pace (approx. 7:45 min/mile), 16 minutes at an increased pace (around 7:15 min/mile) and then 16 minutes at an easy pace (7:50 min/mile). My legs felt heavy and I never really settled in. Believe it or not, quads were still a little sore from Wednesday's long run.
Total workout: 6.2 miles in 47:06 (7:35 min/mile)
Avg HR = 162
Max HR = 172

Yasso 800's (800 meter runs at a high intensity, with 3 minutes of easy jogging between each)
Warm-up (ran to the track) - 1.33 miles in 9:51 (7:28 min/mile pace)
1) 3:08 (Avg HR - 155, max - 166)
2) 3:14 (Avg HR - 162, max - 171)
3) 3:21 (Avg HR - 163, max - 169)
4) 3:17 (Avg HR - 165, max - 171)
5) 3:16 (Avg HR - 166, max - 172)
6) 3:16 (Avg HR - 167, max - 172)
Cool-down (ran back to the gym)- 1.33 miles in 10:51 (8:14 min/mile pace)
Total Workout: 7.38 miles in 1:01:30
I hadn't done Yasso's in over a month, so I had my mind set on getting in 6 of them. I really wanted to quit after the third one was so slow, but I sucked it up and pushed as hard as I could for the last three and never fell back to the pace of #3...only feeling like I was going to vomit once. Speed workouts are not my favorite, but they are just as important as the long runs. I've noticed an increase in my "comfortable" pace since I started doing these track workouts...so they are successfully teaching my legs how to run faster!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


In the world of running, the term LSD has nothing to do with tripping on acid and having flashbacks of Greatful Dead concerts. For runners, it stands for Long-Slow-Distance. While these runs aren't all you should be doing when training for half or full marathons, they need to be in the training plan somewhere. Building your aerobic engine is going to be key if you expect your body to run for 2, 4 or even 6 hours. I've been slowly building up the distance of my LSD runs over the last few months. The distances have been 10.8 miles, 12.4 miles, 14.3 miles, 15.0 miles, 16.8 miles, 8.54 miles (plan was 18, but I was very ill), and then today I did one of 21.0 miles.

These runs have all been in my aerobic heart rate zone and the pace has varied, but I never pushed it. I save the speed for my interval and tempo runs. As the distance has increased, I've found the need for hydration while running. I've tried carrying a bottle (not fun) and leaving a bottle at various spots along my route (too difficult to plan). Neither option worked, so I decided to invest in a fuel belt.

The picture above shows the exact belt that I am now the proud owner of. I used it for the first time this morning and it worked out well.  I was able to carry 18 oz. of Gatorade as well as a gel and my car keys with me during my run. Did I look like a geek? Yes. Do I care? No. If it's good enough for 2-time defending Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander (see below after crossing the finish line in 2008 - nice fuel belt!), it's good enough for me!

21.00 miles in 2:45:09 (8:17 min/mile pace)
I thought that my legs would still be tired after having only two days to recover from the Boilerman Tri, but they felt good after the first few miles. I knew that my heart rate was lower than I wanted, but I was running a good, comfortable pace, so I didn't push it. The only problem with adding on distance is that I have to keep getting up earlier to get these runs in before work. Alarm went off at 4:15 this morning!!
Avg HR = 150 bpm
Max HR = 162 bpm

Monday, September 27, 2010

Boilerman Triathlon Race Report

Is there such a thing as a perfect race? I doubt it, but what I managed to put together yesterday was as close as I've ever come to achieving one.

I wasn't too optimistic while loading up the car and leaving the hotel to head towards the race site. It was 52° with a light rain. Here's some proof:

It continued to rain as I drove to the site but then let up once I got to the parking area (which was approximately a mile from the site). I pumped up my tires, loaded my bike on the trailer and climbed on the shuttle bus that was taking athletes to the race. The race was in a remote location with hardly any parking, so they asked everyone to park at a "nearby" high school and ride the shuttle over. It worked out ok for getting athletes back and forth, but not so well for spectators (more and this later).

As usual, I was one of the first people to arrive on site. I had picked up my race packet the day before, so I was able to skip the registration line and head straight to transition. It was an open transition, so I was able to pick out a prime location on the front row, farthest from the swim in and closest to the bike out. This way, I wouldn't have to run very far with my bike and I would have extra time to get my bearings after coming out of the water. I took my time getting my transition all set up and then took a walk down to the water to see how it felt. The water was pretty comfortable, but the air temperature was still pretty cool, creating a cool-looking fog on the water. I took a picture of it, but it's hard to see:

They announced that the water temperate was 75° F, so I decided to go ahead and wear my wetsuit. Not so much because of the water temp, but because of the air temperature. I didn't want to come out of the water and be even slightly cold getting on the bike. This turned out to be a good decision.

I ran into my parents shortly before the race started. They had also parked at the school and taken the shuttle over. Jessica and Kate were supposed to be there as well, but due to the fact that they were not going to run the shuttle during the race, Jessica would not have been able to take Kate back to the hotel for her nap (which would need to happen during the race). Being the excellent Mom that she is, Jessica decided that trying to keep Kate on her normal schedule was the most important thing (which I agree), so she just drove back to the hotel and didn't get to see any of the race. I hate it that she missed out on the race, which was the main reason she made the trip. I'm not happy about the logistics of having to shuttle people back and forth to the race site. It really threw a wrench into our weekend plans!

Back to the race. The swim was in Rainybrook Bay, a nice little lake just south of Lafayette. The swim started in three waves. Collegiate athletes first, the Open Division Men (that's me), then Open Division Women. The waves were separated by 5 minutes. I hadn't had my wetsuit on since the Taylorsville Lake race in May, so it took me a few minutes to climb into it and get it comfortable on my shoulders. The course only had 3 turns, so I felt like my sighting was much improved. Once I got clear from the craziness associated with a mass start, I was able to get into a good groove and saw the first buoy pretty well. Here's a picture from the swim start:

I made the turn around the first buoy and then had trouble finding the second one - which was much further away. I just followed some guys in front of me and kept looking for the yellow buoy. I finally spotted it and started to swim towards it. It was only when I was around 100 feet from it that I realized I was swimming towards a swim marshal sitting in a yellow kayak wearing a yellow life jacket! Once I realized this, I quickly found the actual yellow buoy, which was about 100 feet to the right, and picked up the pace to make up for lost time. I looked down at my watch when I climbed out of the water and saw that it was 27 minutes and some change! Holy crap - that's fast! This was by far my best swim in a race. I exited the water and started to make the run up to transition, which was about 500 feet away.

I pealed my wetsuit off as I made the uphill run through the uncut grass. The swim time listed on the results includes this time to run to T1. I got into T1 with my wetsuit around my waist. I headed over to my bike and started to put on my socks before realizing that I still needed to finish taking my wetsuit off! This is what happens when you do lots of races without a wetsuit and then use it again. I got my suit off and was out of T1 in 1 minute 31 seconds.

I knew that it was going to be cool, so I brought gloves. I can ride in cool weather, but my fingers get numb, so gloves are a must. I put my gloves on as I started the ride and settled in. My heart rate was still in the 160's from pushing it hard on the swim and it took me almost 6 miles to get it to settle down to the low 150's...where it needed to be. The course was flat. What they call hills, I call speed bumps. After the huge hills I've been riding this season, the hills in Indiana are nothing. I only stood up twice just to move around. While there were no hills, there was another obstacle....the wind! I remember it being winding from my time at Purdue, but I never tried to ride a bike in this wind. When heading north-south, the cross winds were rough. But when the course took me west, the wind was right in my face, making a flat road feel like a hill. I was reeling in a lot of the college kids on the bike that had the 5 minute head-start on the swim. I also passed several guys in the open division. I was only passed by one person on the bike and after looking at the results, this ended up being the guy that won my age group. Here's a picture of me getting as low as I can in my aero position fighting the wind:

My legs were burning coming into T2, but I was ready to get off the bike - the wind was getting the best of me and I was getting angry. Seriously, I was pissed at the wind. I took my feet out of the shoes while still on the bike heading into T2 and had a lightning quick T2 time of just under 45 seconds. I headed out on the run feeling strong.

My heart rate was in the high 150's for the first few miles of the run, but I felt like I was pushing it as hard as I could without going too fast. Since there were no mile markers on the course, I really had no idea what kind of pace I was running. I was only passed twice and I passed a few more people. The run took us through a neighborhood with concrete streets - not asphalt - concrete streets. Then it looped back around to Rainybrook Bay for the last 2 miles which consisted of a lap around the lake...which was a combination of a gravel path and running through grassy fields. No doubt that this slowed down the run times some, but it was kind of fun to get off the road and onto a softer surface. I pushed it as hard as I could during the last mile and got my heart rate all the way into the 170's. I crossed the finish line with a 10K time of 45:51, good enough for third best run time in my age group. The picture below was taken during the last half mile or so. It looks like I'm walking, but trust me - I was running hard.

Pictures curtosy of Brian Pomeroy and Andy Jessop.

I was even more happy with my overall time of 2:25:11, which is 12 minutes and 17 seconds faster than my best time for an Olympic Distance Triathlon! This time ended up being good enough for a second place finish in my age group and a top 25 overall finish. It was still pretty chilly after the race, so we didn't stick around to see if I had placed. I've emailed the race director to see what the awards are, then I'll decide if I'm going to try and retrieve my prize!

So I finished off the season with a 3rd place finish and a 2nd place finish. Pretty good way to go into the off-season. I've seen huge improvements this year and I'm excited to build on what I have heading into 2011. My focus now turns to my first full marathon, which is on November 6th...less than 5 weeks away!

Here's the official results of the 2010 Boilerman Triathlon:

Swim (1500 meters)
29:19.00 (31:27 min/mile pace) - 2nd out of 9 in age group (62nd out of 136 overall)
1:31.10 -2/9 (33/136)
Bike (40K / 24.8 miles)
1:07.45.3 (22.0 mph) – 3/9 (20/136)
0:44.80 – 3/9 (22/136)
Run (10K / 6.2 miles)
45:51.70 (7:23 min/mile) – 3/9 (46/136)
2:25:11.9 (2/9) (25/136)

Breakfast - 1 whole wheat beagle (plain) and 1 cup of Greek yogurt - about 3 hours before the race
Pre-race - 18oz. of water with 1 Nathan Catalyst electrolyte tablet (lemon-lime flavor); 1 packet of PowerBar Energy Gel Blasts (strawberry-banana flavor).
During Race - 24oz. of water mixed with Hammer Nutrition Heed (strawberry flavor); 1 Hammer Nutrition Gel (Apple-Cinnamon flavor). I took all of this in on the bike. I took a gel with me on the run, but never felt the need for it. I only managed to drink about 3/4 of the Heed on the bike and took water at 2 aid stations on the run.

As a side note, I beat 44 of the 56 college students that were competing. This race is one of many that college triathlete's compete in. Several schools showed up with their triathlon teams, including Michigan State, Illinois, Central Michigan, Northwestern, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, and of course, Purdue. I must say that it's a nice ego boost to beat so many 18 to 21 year olds!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Boilerman Triathlon

It's going to be a fun weekend! A little road trip up to West Lafayette, Indiana to see a Purdue football game tomorrow and then to race in the Boilerman Triathlon on Sunday. Jessica, Kate and I will be in our car with all my race gear and my parents will head up there as well to take in all the weekend festivities. Right now the weather looks great for the game (72° and sunny) and decent for the race (low 60's with a 40% chance or rain). As I've mentioned before, the weather is out of my control, so I'm not going to worry about the rain.

Being a Purdue Alumnus, this race is one that I've wanted to do since I found out about it early last spring. At the time, I was training for the Tri Indy and I didn't want to sign up for another Olympic distance race without knowing how my first one would go. Now that I've raced three at this distance and two that are longer, I'm good to go in the confidence department.

The goal for this race is to set a PR for this distance and to more than anything, just have fun. This is my last triathlon of the year and it will be at least 6 months before I get the chance to swim, bike and run in a race (wow, that's a long time!), so I'm going to have a good time.

Here's what my previous three Olympic Distance races (1500 meter swim, 40K (24.8 mile) bike, and 10K (6.2 mile) run have looked like:

The swim portion of the Boilerman is an open water swim that takes place in a lake just south of campus. I haven't had the best of luck with open water swims due to my struggles with swimming straight (correcting this will be my #1 priority in the off-season), so we'll see what happens. The bike and run are flat (it's Indiana) and should be fast. So I'm hoping to improve on my Tri Indy time of 2 hours and 37 minutes.

57 minutes on the indoor bike. 10 minute warm-up, then a 45 minute Spin Class with some tough intervals, then a quick cool-down before hitting the pool.
Avg HR = 137 bpm
Max HR = 153 bpm

Nothing fancy, just a 1/2 mile swim at race pace.
912 yards (0.52 miles) in 16:56 (32:40 min/mile pace)

I'm taking today off completely and although I would like to get in a short run tomorrow morning, I doubt I'll have time. Plenty of rest and eating some good complex carbs is the name of the game for the next two days! It's time to Boiler Up and Hammer Down!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fast Food Lunch Deals

As Jessica and I sat down to watch some episodes of The Office on TBS last night I noticed that during every commercial break there seemed to be an ad for a fast food restaurant offering a cheap lunch meal, usually for $5 or less. For someone that is forced, or likes to eat lunch away from work, this sounds like a good deal. After all, spending $10-$15 a day on lunch can really add up!

As we watched these commercials, I started thinking about how much food these meals are actually giving you. Without exception, every single one was offering WAY TOO MUCH food for one person to eat. I started adding up calories in my head and it was crazy. Jessica suggested I write a blog post about this...so here it is. Check out some of these numbers:

$5 Buck Box
(1) Chicken Flatbread Sandwich
(1) Taco Supreme
(1) Burrito Supreme
(1) Cinnamon Twists
(1) Medium Drink (Regular Coke)
Total Calories = 1320
Calories From Fat = 440
Total Fat = 49g
Carbs = 180g

Variety Big Box Meal
(1) Drumstick
(1) Crispy Strip
(1) Indiv. Box of popcorn chicken
(2) Sides (Mashed Potatoes and Cole Slaw)
(1) Biscuit
(1) 32oz drink (Regular Pepsi)
Total Calories = 1560
Calories From Fat = 530
Total Fat = 60g
Carbs = 196g

$5.01 Combo
(1) Regular Roast Beef Sandwich
(1) Curly Fries
(1) 32oz drink (Regular Coke)
Total Calories = 1080
Calories From Fat = 370
Total Fat = 42g
Carbs = 150g

Extra Value Meal
(1) Angus Deluxe Snack Wrap (wraps are healthy, right?)
(1) Large Fries
(1) 32oz drink (Regular Coke)
Total Calories = 1220
Calories From Fat = 450
Total Fat = 50g
Carbs = 176g

Now look at all those numbers and consider this: The average man requires only 2000-2200 calories PER DAY to manage their current weight. This number is around 1800-2000 for women (sorry, your metabolic rate is typically lower). The average man only needs 40-50 grams (35-45 for women) of fat per day and 250 grams (225 for women) of carbohydrates. So for instance, the KFC meal would give you 70% of your calories for the day, 120% of your required fat intake for the day and 78% of your daily carbs....all from just one of your three meals!

I don't write this to tell you to never hit up the drive-through of a fast food joint, because all of these places have healthier options. Just don't get suckered into their latest offer...it's likely way too much food garbage to eat in one setting! 

4.72 mile Tempo Run in 35:32
10 minute warm-up at 7:35 pace, then 15 minutes at 7:00 pace, then a 10 minute cool-down at 7:50 pace. Good workout.

1152 yd in 25:32
6:00 warm-up
4 x 100 intervals with 100yd cruise between each
1) 1:35
2) 1:29
3) 1:32
4) 1:32
4:00 cool-down

Speed Workout - some Yasso 800's on the track, then I took my shoes and socks off and did some 100 yard sprints on the football field. Grass was nice and soft and it felt good to get out of my shoes and run. I was worn out after 4 of these sprints. Too bad there wasn't any oxygen waiting for me on the sidelines like the NFL guys get!
Warm-up: 1.32 miles in 10:17 (7:47 pace)
2 x Yasso 800's
1) 3:04
3:02 jog
2) 3:04
3:01 jog
4 x 100yd sprints with 45s rest in between
1) 13.22s
2) 12.72s
3) 14.02s
4) 13.42s
Cool-down: 1.32 miles in 11:14 (8:30 pace)
Total Workout: 4.89 miles in 47:37

Here's my speed chart from today's run workout:

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