Sunday, March 30, 2014


OK--bummed about the Spartans....

Yesterday saw me travel down to Baltimore to hang with Jen and help here in her move.  sunday, up at 3:45 and down to Manassas for my first tri of the season.  Exceptionally challenging weather and unexpected competition.  Still, a very encoouraging start to my 2014 campaign.  I'll post a race report either Monday or Tuesday.

Back in DE before noon and went and saw Pentatonix in Philly tonight....all good!

more soon

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tri pre-season coming on strong!

Ok--it's thursday 3/27 and my ill-prepared 2014 Triathlon pre-season is well nigh!

On Sunday I race the Tune-Up Tri in Manassas, Va on one of the George Mason satellite campuses.  It's a "Reverse Super-Sprint"....In other words, we run 1.7 miles, bike 4.4 and swim 250 yards (in a pool).  About a 30-35 minute affair.  I did it last year and came out on top vs. 11 other guys in my AG.  This year I'm up against 14 other guys and on paper I should be favored to defend my title. (LOL).

Of course the paper doesn't take into account that I'm not ready to race but if you go down to Argentina and play in the mountains this is what you should expect.  Anyways--I'm looking forward to it and I'll give it my best shot--should be a hoot!

Before I head south, tomorrow I'll get up and ride my BMC TT bike for the first time this year--just to make sure it works.  Then I'll head north and witness the mighty Spartans taking on Virginy in the Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden.   Should be awesome.  I'm calling it here.  Spartans win 71-65!

Then down to Baltimore on Saturday evening to sleep at Jen's place and continue her process of moving out of Baltimore.  Sunday at 4 I'll head to Manassas and do my thing.  It will further the process of transforming me from an old mountaineer to an old triathlete--bring it on!

Today I went to my ortho and got yet another (I think at this point my 109th injection) into my knee.  for the record it hurt quite a bit but since I had purchased some new racing flats I did head out for a pretty satisfying 6-miler in the afternoon post shot.  Dr. G also checked out my very painful right arm/elbow and once again I'm being consinged to Rudy and Hash's expert PT care.  I'm a little bummed about being injured since I really didn't so anything "wrong"  (I mean besides climb Aconcagua)

Oh well, Upward and Onward!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Aconcagua slide show!!!

My buddy Lew--one of the climbers on my Aconcagua climbing team just put together a pretty cool slide show.  It's long but I think it's pretty cool--especially the end.  Check it out:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bringing the Intensity!

So yesterday kicked off a pretty intense 22 days of multisport racing for me!  In addition to my continuing training build I have the following races over the 22 day period between 3/23 and 4/14:

3/23: Caesar Rodney Half-Marathon: 13.1 mile run

3/30: Tune-Up Tri: 200 yard swim/4 mile bike/1.7 mile run

4/5: Smithfiled Tri: 300 meter swim/ 10-mile bike/3.1 mile run

4/6: Cherry Blossom Run: 10 mile run

4/14: IMNOLA70.3: 1.2 mile swim/56 mile bike/13.1 mile run

For these five events I'm looking at racing:

Swim: 2,640 yards
Bike: 70 miles
Run: 39.3 miles

Oh yeah--gonna be hurting on 4/15 for sure!

Onward and Upward!

The Year of Yes I Can

Moving a bit stiffly this morning after my Caesar Rodney Half-Marathon adventure yesterday.  As I mentioned earlier, I decided to "shock the system" a bit and just jump into a half.  The last time I had ran more than 7 miles was on 9/22/13 when I competed in the Ironman at Lake Tahoe.  So, over six months without a run of any length.  Further, I'm really just 6 weeks or so into triathlon training after I arrived back in the states in early February from my climbing adventures in Argentina during January.  One last complicasting factor, I had 45+ hours of training over the prior two weeks in my body and my legs were heavy and tired come Sunday morning.

However, with a 4/14/14 H-IM looming (NOLA), I decided I needed to get at least a couple of longer runs in before it.  I have very modest expectations for IMNOLA70.3 and I know my run will not be in good H-IM form from just a couple of long runs, but at the least I'll probably endure less discomfort at that race by "putting money in the bank" in the form of some longer runs.

On Saturday night before the race I compounded my lack of race readiness by having some friends over to watch my two Alma Maters (Michigan State and Harvard) play for a NCAA Sweet 16 birth (how cool is that?).  This late night affair was accompanied by 2 IPAs and half a bottle of Tiganello and 4 slices of pizza.  I awoke Sunday morning feeling all of the above but happy for the fun of Saturday night--btw, I was hoping for the mighty Spartans to win and win they did--bring on Virgina!

Anyways, it's probably a legit question to ask if I'm crazy to do this race on such little training (it's probably always legit to question my sanity!).  In my defense, I'm in my 14th year of serious triathlon  training and racing and with that I believe I have developed a deep endurance base that safely allows me to do things like this half-marathon.  I had no illusions about my performance or about how my legs were likely to feel during and after the race, but I felt confident the race would on balance be a good thing for me both mentally and physically.

This is The Year of Yes I Can and I vowed to continue the positive mental attitude that I copped on Aconcagua and continue to apply it to my life and all of my athletic endeavors this year.  Who knows, I might make it my new modus operandi long-term (no snickering allowed!).  So I "hopped" out of bed and eagerly made my way to the starting line.

This was the 51st edition of this venerable race.  I had done it once before in 2005 (back when I could run pretty well) and finished in 1:37 (btw, as you will see, this is one heck of a tough run course).  Today, my goals were to finish (with a smile on my face) what I was treating as a training run with some 1,400 friends.  I expected to finish somewhere in the low 2s...

The race had a late-ish start at 9:30 and the temp was 37 degrees with a modest (10 mph) wind and overcast skies.  I had a long sleeve technical top, some running tights, a baseball cap and light gloves.  I plugged my urbeats into a killer Armand mix and bopped a bit to stay warm as I waited for the gun.

Off we went and my plan was to keep my HR in my high z2/low z3 range (150-160) and hopefully run between 9:00 and 9:30 miles.

  The first part of the course is much faster than the last half as the course is generally flat to down hill through the first 6+ miles where a series of challenging hills kick in.  Here is a course profile:

I hit mile one in 8:29 and my HR averaged 148bpm.  This seems too fast but was probably pretty reasonable given the downhill nature of the first mile.  Miles 2 and 3 were 8:53/155 and 9:10/156 so a pretty good job of tactical control.  However, my legs were noticeably heavy from my recent training surge and I knew tougher times awaited me.  A great song spooled up on my iPod and I just smiled and cruised through the next couple of miles: 8:58/158 and 8:56/158.

After heading down to the river and crossing the 6th mile in 9:18/159 the real fun began.  We began the long climb up the hills to Rockford Tower, the highpoint of the course just before nine miles.  It was tough work and my legs really felt it but I was pumped because this training stress was precisely what I was looking for on this Sunday morning.  Miles 7-9 were very challenging and I slowed considerably: 9:42/156, 10:20/154, and 9:52/153.  My declinning heart rate is a clear indicator that my legs are not as enduranced hardened as my cardiovascular system--my legs were unable to stress my CV system enough...this also means that with some more investment in longer runs I'll be able to go quite a bit faster.

After Rockford Tower the course was considerably easier (not to say easy) and I was content to cruise along in the mid 9s.  Miles 10-13 were: 9:03/155, 9:36/152, 9:40/151 and 9:43/151.  The last part of the race actually has one of the toughest hills as we ran up from the river and back to the center of Wilmington.  It turned out that the course was 0.1 miles long (by my Garmin) and I crossed the finish line with a final time of 2:03:44 (my official time).  Here are some more summary reports from the run:

Tough course for sure--my GPS had the elevation gain at 1,850 feet, which seems a bit high to me but there was a lot of climbing for sure.  I was pleased with my decision and my effort yesterday.  Even though my run is the weakest of the three triathlon sports I was thinking (positively) today that in one sense it's my best discipline.  Nine years ago my orthopedic told me I had to stop running due to the deterioration of my meniscus and articular cartilage in my left knee.  Since then, I completed numerous tri, running and biking races.  I've done another 10 Ironman races and climbed some pretty big mountains.  It's hard for me on the run--especially in LC triathlons when I start the run so fatigued.  I endure more pain than most (I believe--given my knee) but I'm still out there doing it.  As the old saying goes: "Someday I won't be able to do this, but today was not that day".  This is a source of pride, satisfaction and optimism for me.  

Days like yesterday fill me with positivity and optimism--even though I'm an old, slow runner.

Onward and Upward! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Getting into it now!

I did the Caesar Rodney Half-Marathon today and I'll post an update tomorrow--lot's to talk about.

For this post I'll just update you about my weekly totals:

swim: 6,600 yds
bike: 230 miles
run: 28.2 miles
time: 21:14

so, good progress here.  Over 45 hours the last two weeks and my biggest running week of 2014--in fact the last time I ran this much was the week I did IM Lake Tahoe (3rd week of september, 2013--6 months ago).

All good!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Continuing on my typical pre-season quest to develop enough fitness to train and race like a triathlete.  Given my 14 years of going through this process I know that miracles don't happen (at least fitness ones) and while my progress is generally pretty slow, it is progress that is consistent with my past experience.

Today, I decided I needed to do two things given that IMNOLA70.3 is looming on the horizon (4/14) and (in my view) I've never done as little training in a run up to a H-IM as I have for this one.  Firstly, I decided I needed to do a long run or two and so have decided to enter the Caesar Rodney Half-Marathon on this Sunday--this despite not running longer than 7 miles since September 22, 2013 (IM Lake Tahoe).  I know I'll be slow but I figure it will be a good training experience--catered run and lots of energy all about--it's kinda a shock to my system that seems to make sense given how far behind I am given my adventures in Argentina at the outset of this year.

Secondly, today I decided to nix my scheduled interval session in the pool and instead do a H-IM swim TT. I jumped in, no warm-up, and went after it.  Result? 34:35!  Pretty surprising given how little I've swam in the last 6 months and the fact that I've really only put 4 weeks of "semi-serious" swim training in.  OH, I forgot to mention that my H-IM swim PR is 32:59.  Now, I know swimming in a pool does not necessarily translate well into open water swimming but I have found through the years that these pool TT efforts are pretty good indicators of H-IM swim potential so I do take this data pretty seriously.  So what's the quandary?  Well....

- I really underinvested in swimming last year compared to the previous 5 years and my OA %-tile fell from 90+ %-tile to 80th %-tile or so.  This was more than acceptable as I saved many hours which was helpful for Motivation and for chanelling into other more lacking areas of my fitness.
- Still, this year I thought I would up my investment in swimming a bit and raise it back up a bit.
- I'm very early into the training season and have done very little real speed work and it shows in my 100 repeat times (1:27-1:31/100) vs. when I'm on it (1:16-1:20/100).
- Given that, I'm surprised that I did a sub 35 today--wouldn't have been surprised to do 37-38 minutes
- Conclusion: while I'm not sprint race sharp, I'm probably aready pretty close to being ready for my IM-specific swim training block which starts in July.
- Logically, given my focus on Kona this year, I should (already!) really put swimming on the back burner and focus my precious Motivation dollars on running and biking, which are clearly way behind.
- A nice problem to have for sure but it illustrates how if you really focus on technique and get it pretty dialed, your swim will be there for you even if you're not super fit.

I wish the run and bike were like that!  Anyways, I'm going to keep on my higher swim investment for now and then depending how my 3 pre-season races go, re-evaluate...

Onward and Upward!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bigish Week!

Pretty "muscular" week considering the early stage of the season and my paucity of training load to date in 2014.  Put in highest weekly totals on the bike, run and overall training time:

Swim: 7000 yards
Bike: 279 miles
Run: 25.8 miles
Time: 24:55

I definitely feel the big jump up in training stress in my legs.  I had no trouble jumping up to near 25 hours but my legs are letting me know that this is a significant deviation from recent training stress levels.  I'll probably need to back off just a bit next week but see no reason not to go above 20 hours again.

My swim is improving nicely.  Even though my swim volume has been and continues to be relatively modest, I have been hitting 4-5 sessions per week, which is critical during the early season.  I'm much more focused on frequency than I am on either intensity or duration at this point.  I feel definite improvements in my "feel"/technique and my 1500 yard times have dropped from 28 to 25 minutes (this is a steady z2 effort as oppossed to a z3/z4 TT effort).  Pretty confident my swim will round into form by May and my intention is for my swim to be better in 2014 than 2013 as I plan to up my swim investment relative to 2013.

My two z3/z4 interval sessions on the bike were encouraging.  I can feel my FTP starting to rise (off an admittedly very low base).  While this week's volume is pretty high for mid-March, it's for the most part in-doors due to weather challenges here in DE (it's going to snow again tonight and tomorrow).  I need to get outside on my z2 efforts to have the fitness improvements I need and I need to start doing this yesterday.  I sense that I'm still quite behind on my bike fitness.

My run is steadily improving.  My better body composition (for March) is helping and I'm methodically raising my weekly volume.  Should be able to bang out 30+ mile weeks in the relatively near term.  All of my running in 2014 has been z2 efforts so I'm sure I'm quite slow, even by my modest standards.

Body structure wise my tennis elbow continues to be a real pain (literally) and my biggest concern.  My knee is also starting to flare up a bit, which is expected.  I'll be seeing my ortho this week to get my next injection cycle started on the knee and discuss options for my elbow....

The life of an aging triathlete....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What's your average training day look like?

This is a question I get from time to time (not really that often as my training doesn't come up all that often and when it does, most folks aren't really that interested).  When it does come up, I tend to deflect the question because most folks who ask are just politely humoring me for the most part--I mean who really cares what my training volume is?  lol

Anyways, when someone does ask I usually respond by saying there is no average day--every day is different and it depends on the time of the year, when my next race is, what my next race is, how tired I am, what else I've got going on, etc., etc., etc.

However, this isn't really true because by definition I really do have an average training day, week, and month.   Simple math!  And because I worked with Peter Reid back in 2007, I have faithfully recorded my training volume every day since.  I now have 7+ years of such data.  If I just look at 2007-2013 I have 84 months or 2,557 days of data to calculate averages from!  And medians and modes, etc.  So what does the data say?


My daily averages for the 2,557 days from 2007 to 2013 are:

Swim: 916 yards/day
Bike: 25.1 miles/day
Run: 3.5 miles/day
Time: 2:31/day

I do think this is somewhat atypical--how many people do you know have averaged 25+ miles per day riding their bike for the last 7 years?  Perhaps this has something to do with the strength I enjoy on the bike.  Also, I think 2.5+ hours/day on average is pretty solid for training time...

On a weekly, monthly and yearly basis the averages are:

Swim:  6,400 yards/week----27,900 yards/month----334,000 yards/year
Bike: 176 miles/week----763 miles/month----9,154 miles/year
Run: 24.5 miles/week----106 miles/month----1,274 miles/year
Time: 17.7 hours/week----77 hours/month----921 hours/year


Since my training is not (for the most part) random, the distribution does not follow a bell curve.  Here are the monthly volume distributions for my S/B/R/T measures for the last 7 years:

First for the swim I broke the 84 months into increments of 10,000 yards:

What you see here is a pretty broad distribution.  The mode (or most frequent increment) is between 30 and 39 thousand yards per month.  The median turns out to be 30,000 yards/month, which is higher than my mean (or average) of 27,900 years/month.  The reason the median and mode are higher than the mean is the seasonality of my approach to swimming.  After my last Ironman each year I typically take some time off from swimming as I find I can pretty quickly (a couple of months) recapture my swim stroke--this is because swimming is more technique oriented than fitness oriented (at least relative to biking and running).  BTW, the most swim volume in a month for me has been 56,000 yards back in April 2007 when Mr. Reid had me frequently in the pool!

Next, the bike where I used increments of 200 miles/month:

 On the bike, my monthly volume is more tightly concentrated in the 400-800 miles/month increments.  Admittedly, these are pretty broad ranges....  The mode is 600-799 miles, which is similar to the mean of 763 miles.  However, because I do quite a few very heavy months (typically the three months before an Ironman) the mean (763 miles/month) is considerably more than the median at 653 miles/month.  My biggest month was 1,212 miles back in August, 2011.

For the run I used increments of 25 miles/month:

Here we see a very prominent mode between 100-124 miles/month.  We also see a more classical bell shape curve.  Not surprisingly, the median (110 miles/month) and mean (106 miles/month) are very similar.  My biggest month was 181 miles back in December of 2007.

And finally the total training time (including cross-training) broken into increments of 10 hours/month:

Here the mode (70-79 hours/month) and mean and median (both 77 hours/month) are all very similar.  Interestingly, in the 84 months between 2007-2013, I've never worked-out less than 40 hours....  My biggest month was 111 hours (March 2008).

So there you go--certainly more info than anyone would ever expect or want.....

Monday, March 10, 2014

Interval Inversion

Punched my "time card" and officially reported for triathlon "duty" today!

Quick recap: June-Sept of last year I spent getting ready for my 2013 "A" race--IM Lake Tahoe.  This IM specific training block was principally focused on volume--lots of it.  I let my speed work go by the wayside and dialed back on my racing so I could focus specifically on the IM.  I then took three months (Oct-Dec) getting my body ready to climb Aconcagua--this further "detuned" my high speed engine as I was focused on going slowly (with a lot of weight) for a ling time--trying to be diesel like.  In January, of course I was climbing.

February was dedicated to "transitioning" from all of this longer, slower mountaineering stuff to genuine triathlon training.  I just finished a slight interlude where my bride and I went on a 10-day trip to the West Indies to celebrate our forth-coming 30th wedding anniversary.  So, today I officially became a triathlete again!  Yea!

On of the features of my early season training on the bike is too place a heavy emphasis right at the start on high-intensity intervals.  This is different than the way I trained for the first 10 years of my triathlon career.  I used to follow a standard periodization approach where the early season was focused on long-slow stuff as I tried to build my base.  As the season progressed I would over-time add in more higher-inensity workouts to "sharpen" my self for my goal races.

Four seasons ago I relalized that after 10 years of training and racing I always had a pretty good base in place due to the cummulative effect of long-term consistent training.  I made the decision to "invert" my interval pattern over the course of the season.  I decided to do my highest intensity/shortest duration interval work right in the beginning of the season and over time gradually increase the length of my intervals and simultaneously reduce their duration.  This pattern would feed directly into my late-season IM focused training where I was principally focused on lots of volume.  This approach seems to have worked well and because I was not trying to do high-intnesity intervals and high volume at the same time (end of the season) I have been a bit fresher for my "A" races and seemingly less prone to injury.

Some people call this approach reverse-periodization.  I should also point out that I do not follow this approach for running as the wear and tear of high-intensity running has greatly curtailed my speed-work over the last few years....

In any event, even though it was nice out today I spent 2:40 on my computrainer (mostly doing high z1/low z2 work) and in the middle of the workout I did the key part of the ride: 12 X (1 min@300 watts/2 min easy).  300 watts is high z4 for me (above threshold but below VO2max) which is obviously intense but with only 1 minute work sessions, relatively easy.  I drift the volume and intensity up a bit when I'm confident I can absorb the training stress.  I'll pretty much stay on this shorter, higher intensity stuff for the next 3-4 weeks and then begin to lengthen work interval duration.  I'll hit these sessions 2-3 times/week....

Here we go!

Back in DE--time to get busy!

Fantastic 10-day vacation down in the Turks & Caicos and then sailing around the West Indies.  Obviously the sailing trip cut into my training, especially biking.  I'm now back for an extended time and the weather is finally starting to get a little nicer--time to get to work.  I'm especially far behind on my bike so need to address that straight away.

Last week's totals:

Swim: 10,550 yards
bike: 21 miles
run: 22.3 mil;es
hiking: 4 hours
Time: 11:46

Friday, March 7, 2014

Last week

Quick report on last week:

Swim: 9,250 yards
Bike: 193 miles
Run: 20.7 miles
Time: 19 hours

Judy and I are celebrating our upcoming 30th anniversary and we are currently doing so sailing around Antigua in our friends 90 foot sailing boat.  Fantastic time but no chances to cycle of-course.  I am however, doing a fair bit of running and swimming.  I'm also building motivation to hammer when I return to terra-firma.  All good!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

February totals

February was a good training month for me--given the modest goals and expectations I had for it.  February, in a big picture sense, was all about recovering from my Aconcagua expedition and then transitioning into a regular schedule of triathlon training---all without getting injured and while maintaining motivation for the coming triathlon year and my build to Kona.

As noted here earlier, my legs and body were very fatigued in early February from the climb.  By the middle of the month that climbing fatigue seemed to have mostly left my body and I was just facing the normal early season training challenges.  Having essentially not been in the pool for three months and having done zero running or swimming in January I have the challenge of scaling up my SBR volume after an extended period of not doing those specific activities.  The other major challenge of course has been the horrendous weather here on the East Coast, which has especially impacted my bike training.

My race schedule calls for three straight weekends of racing commencing on 3/30.  These races will be a sprint, an intermediate and then IMNOLA70.3 in mid April.  Obviously, this is a tough challenge to go from essentially no SBR training to doing a H-IM 10 weeks later.  Fortunately, I do have 13 years of "base" in my body and I really intend NOLA to just be a long, high quality training day as oppossed to a goal race.

IN any event as I sit here on the first day of March, I am back into the swing of things and I'm motivated to build my triathlon fitness.  With the exception of tennis elbow in my right arm (which I developed from climbing--using my treking poles), I'm in pretty solid shape physically.  My knee is doing well and my body weight is less than it normally is at this time of the year.  My numbers in February were modest but acceptable:

Swim: 23,000 yards
Bike: 664 miles
Run: 61 miles
Time: 62 hours

For March, as I gear up for my early season races I would expect these numbers to grow to:

Swim: 35,000 yards
Bike: 900 miles
Run: 110 miles
Time: 80+ hours

Onward and upward!