Thursday, July 19, 2007

Now's a fine time to tell me!!

I've been training with the same nutrition for months....and months. Not once was I toppled over in my running shoes with my stomach in knots. Rarely did my stomach even grumble. And so I jump jump into this final month of the most physically stressful training of my lifetime. And now, something ain't working right. Tuesday I had another run where my second Vanilla GU, about an hour into my run, caused me to stop (for a few minutes) rather than helping me to push onward. This has happened before and within the last month. I have 3 weeks to figure this out. Man, seems so strange that I handled the GU so well and now........ugh!! If I do go with a different gel, I don't so much like the idea of trying it out over my taper. I need to know how it works when I'm pushing limits. I feel great about my training to this point. The swimming has come around. The bike has been there from the beginning. The first half of the run I'll be fine, and the second half of the run I'll finish on willpower alone if I have to. But stomachache', not something I want to pop up at this point. But I suppose since it did, I oughta do something.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No Rat, Nor Dog.

But rather goggles and running shoes.

Ratdog played in Cleveland last night. Steve Kimock, guitar master, sat in doing what he does best. In years past I would have went to the show in Cleveland, and as long as Kimock was around, more than likely one or two others. I would have joined my friends to revel in the sounds. I would have thought about quiting my job, quiting my "life" as I was living it (the mantra was, "I'd rather have a life than a living"). I would have drank stout and ate the best vegetarian meal and goo-balls to be found in the parking lot. What fun the journey is......spending time with the traveling circus of concert dwellers, where each waking moment is a celebration of life. One night in Cleveland then on to the next city, and the next. Sure beats the 9 to 5. If you are a deadhead, phishead, spreadhead, partygoer, or music lover you probably understand. Last night, I missed seeing my old friends. I missed getting to know the new ones. I missed the celebration. I missed the journey.

But still I celebrate yet another journey which has brought me new friends. A journey to an unknown destination to share with some old ones. A journey that will see me cover 70.3 miles swimming, biking, then running. A journey that has no limits other than those I put on myself.

It kind of reminds me of Phish tour, without being chased out of town by the police. Instead the police block traffic as I race my bicycle through the streets of Northeast Ohio.


Instead of being asked how I travel without a job, or if I pay taxes, I'm asked how I manage to ride my bicycle so far.

It was hard for people to believe I traveled from city to city selling vegetarian burritos out of the trunk of my station wagon.

It is hard for people to believe I can ride my bicycle so far by simply getting on it to ride....often.

I never would have thought I could travel such distances without leaving Northeast Ohio. My first half-iron, up on Lake Erie......miles upon miles away from the homeless traveler.

I used to keep track of set lists. Look them over and mention the rarities to my friends. The anticipation of the next Tweezer, Simple, or Harry Hood led me to many cities, nearly broke but with a concert ticket in hand. And there was, eventually, that Harpua at Star was not New Years Eve and Toad was outside with our dogs. Something just wasn't right.

On to the next adventure........Last week was somewhat a recovery week before my final big volume push and then taper. Rather than setlists or concert dates, this is what I kept track of last week:

Mon: Swim 2000M Bike 17.66 miles
Tue: Run 4.1 miles
Wed: Bike 28.68 miles(intervals)
Thu: Rest
Fri: Swim 1500M Run 7.2 miles
Sat: Bike 50.35 miles
Sun: Swim 1000M Bike 24.55 miles

Swim: 4500M
Bike: 121.24 miles
Run: 11.3 miles
Ben & Jerry's: One pint. mmmmmmmmm, Americone Dream!!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

NCN Summer Triathlon

Two weeks ago when I did the Summitri I felt awful during the run. I needed another triathlon, and soon, so that I could prove to myself that I was able to handle a sprint distance tri. Why did I need to prove this to myself? There is another reason, other than my vainglorious ways, and I'll tell you about it if you continue to read on. But first, redemption day.......

It's 5:00 A.M. and the alarm goes off to start my morning. I lie in bed until 5:05 staring at the pattern on the ceiling, and then I get moving. This morning I am eating breakfast!! I start the coffee. I take Sage outside to tend to his business. I eat a bagel, with Strawberry Rhubarb jelly, and a banana. I pack the car and put Amaterasu on the roof. I take an apple with me just in case I want it. I grab my Equal Exchange coffee mug, full of Green Mountain Coffee's Peruvian juice, and I hit the road at 5:40. I arrive at Paul and Julia's house within no time, stick my bicycle on the back of their station wagon and we're off. Today is the second triathlon for all 3 of us.

We arrive in Lorain at 7:00 as planned. I head straight to transition to rack my bike. After getting my body marked I set up my transition and do not obsess over it as I did 2 weeks prior. I know I have everything I need and that it is lying on my green towel. I head to the beach to go for a swim. The lake water is perfect, 72 degrees. It is crisp and refreshing as I dive in to swim out onto the course and check the wave situation. It is a little choppy, but not too bad. The 400 meter swim for this race goes straight out from the beach and makes a left hand turn just after passing the break wall. We then swim parallel to the beach just outside the wall, and then turn and head straight in after reaching the required distance. Easy enough. I swim back to the beach and stand on the sand facing the lake. The under 34 wave, my wave, is first to go.

The gun sounds and we're off, 40 men running straight out into Lake Erie. It is not easy swimming directly out into the lake but after a short distance I reach the first buoy and turn left.....and I begin to be lifted up and down by the lake. Once the break wall appears on my left the waves get bigger.....and I start to drink lake water.....and someone is swimming over my legs while I am kicking furiously to get him off and feeling like an ostrich reaching my head up trying to catch breathes over the waves. Up and down...everything is up and down. I try to breathe and water rushes over my head. I spit out lake water and grab a small breathe. Next breath and more waves and more water and less breathe. I see people in front of me floating stationary and I'm passing them here and there. They must be drinking lake water too. All the while the lake is lifting me up and down, I feel like I'm going nowhere in the water.....swimming against the current and reaching my head high for all the air I can get. Small breath after small breath as the waves rob me of the air above my head. I flip on my back and catch many good breaths. I ride the waves up and down and my breathing is back to normal. I flip over to finish the swim.

I'm swimming and seemingly going nowhere except up and down. Up and down. To my left is rocks. To my right is open lake, a boat, and the lifeguard in a kayak watching over us. I keep swimming. I am not panicked and I am not scared. But, this swim is INTENSE! I am dwarfed by Lake Erie. I am out of my element and I am approaching the last buoy. I feel something like an ant in a flood who is swimming upstream. I see the buoy and I turn towards land and head to shore somewhere in the middle of my wave. It felt like I had been in that choppy lake for a long time, 20 minutes, I thought. It was actually about 10.

After a long run up the beach, over a small hill and across the parking lot I make it to my bike. I am quite happy to put down my swimming goggles and cap as I donn my cycling gloves. After a smooth transition I'm off on Amaterasu. The bike course is a flat, flat, flat figure 9 out and back along the lake, 14.4 miles. The head winds are strong as we head west, typical for the lake shore. Big, big thanks to Charlie for the aerobars as the were oh, so essential today. I spun easy on the bike for 20 min. then kicked it up a bit to ride the tailwinds on the back of the course. Before I knew it I had drank 40 ounces of liquid and was arriving back at transition. Time on the bike, 40 minutes for a 21.2 mph average pace.

T2 also goes smooth. I run off while putting on my hat and race belt. Where I am running I have no idea because I don't know where the run course starts. I stop and look around. I turn right. Over to my left I hear, "no, hey...over here." Oh, that way. I get on coarse and set off on a flat out and back 5K. I'm feeling OK right out of transition. Easy pace to loosen up the legs. The legs loosen and I pick it up a bit. I'm eyeing those in front of me with hopes of reeling them in. Around 15 minutes into the run, I hit what seems to be the toughest part of the run for me. I start to feel a little overworked and hot and then.....................all is good. I fall into my pace and put one foot in front of the other. Right near the halfway point of the run there is a small steep hill. I'm up with no problems. I pass a few folks here and am feeling so much better than the last try (tri??). I also get passed but I don't care because I am not in pain. I am feeling good, even if I'm a little thirsty. I run into the finish in 1:16:10, finishing third in my age group. The AG award was not as important to me as feeling good about my swim and run. I'm not sure I actually felt "good" about the swim, but I came out alive and that was good enough. I felt plenty good about the run and was much improved over the last race. I am moving towards my bigger goal. In the spirit of motivating myself here are last weeks workouts:

Mon: Swim 2000M
Tues: Bike 29.5 Miles
Wed: Run 7.5 Miles
Thurs: Swim 1600M Run 4 Miles
Fri: Bike 70 Miles
Sat: Rest
Sun: Swim 400M Bike 14.4 Miles Run 3.1 Miles

Swim: 4000M
Bike: 113.9 Miles
Run: 14.6 Miles
Pints: 1 pint of turtle soup, tonite!! (you can find it on the Ice Cream Range)

I would recommend this race, no doubt. The swim is choppy as a result of swimming so close to the break wall. Don't believe the small waves you see because they seem to grow behind these large collections of rock. There is nothing like being put in your place by mother nature. The bike is fast and flat and the run is relatively flat. NCN ran a smooth race, even if the run entrance was a little hard to find. Next Sunday I am thinking about a last minute add to do the Milton Man Tri. I'd like to do the international distance before my big challenge on August 12th. The Greater Cleveland Tri. My big event for the summer. I have decided to go ahead and do the half-iron distance. The biggest challenges of this endevor will be: 1) keeping going for 6 hours, the amount of time I figure it will take me to finish. 2) Finishing the swim...that's it, just finishing it, and 3) the last half of the run course. I have a big month of July ahead; and before I do that 1/2 IM swim I think I'm going to find myself a wetsuit.

Monday, July 02, 2007

We are Independent

Uh boy. Movement of my arms near the shoulder joint is causing pins and needles. Yes, I got sunburned. I know better. I refrained from putting on the sunblock because I was in a hurry to get out onto the road and get riding, and now I'm paying for it. It is not the worst sunburn in the world. But, it is enough to be uncomfortable. And now my back looks like I'm permanently wearing a sleeveless shirt. This ain't no farmers's cyclists tan. No, It's cyclists sunburn and I'll be showing it off tonite during my swim.

Thanks to Charlie, Amaterasu is now sporting some aerobars. They took a little getting used to, but I like them. Yesterday whilst peddling into steady headwinds blowing off of the Great Lake Erie they were invaluable. They put a little strain on the ole back, but are relatively comfortable. They do give the forearms and triceps a bit of a workout. The best thing is.....they make you faster. As soon as I move from my basebar to the aerobars my cadence goes up, as does my pace. Ahhh yeah!!!!

I have been hella busy of late. Busy time of the year for work. Summer class. Training volume is getting heavier. Thursday, the 4th is the Firecracker 4 Miler. Sunday, the 8th is the NCN Summer triathlon. If I decide a 2 week taper is enough for the Greater Cleveland Triathlon then the 28th will be my first century with Amaterasu @ the Sweet Corn Challenge. Here is a breakdown of last week's workouts:

Mon: swim 1200m
Tues: run 7.25mi
Wed: cross train (sort of) 5 hours of moving furniture
Thurs: rest
Fri: swim 2000m bike 25mi (brick)
Sat: bike 40mi
Sun: bike 49mi run 4mi (brick)

Swim: 3200m
Bike: 114 mi.
Run: 11.25 mi.
Ben & Jerry's: 2 pints

Over the month of July I need to increase running mileage as much as possible and be careful not to overdo the saturated fat in form of pints of ice cream. Also, I'll add one long bike ride per week.....somehow I"ll find the time. Hopefully I"ll get in 3 swims per week over 1200m. The good news is that I felt good on Sunday's brick. There was plenty of running fuel left in the tank when I pulled up after 4 miles. I have set a new athletic goal for this summer. I'll tell you about it later this week. It is a somewhat lofty, absolutely spur of the moment kind of goal. I've already asked myself, "why?" a few times. I can come up with a couple of answers. 1) I like to challenge myself. 2) I want to prove that pain is a state of mind. 3) I like the look on peoples faces when talking about such things.....or in other words, I think I like to shock people. More details to come.

I have a challenge for all of you. Get a stranger to smile at you today by only using one word....hello. Or better yet, see if you can get 10 strangers to smile. I think you get the idea. This was inspired by a little piece of Robert Hunter's writing that is going through my head. "Strangers stopping strangers, just to shake their hand."

Wednesday is Independence Day.

Celebrate your freedom, friends. Celebrate your freedom.