Sunday, December 8, 2013

Running on the Brain

Since I created this December challenge of running every day, I have been trying hard to listen to the feedback from body.  I want to make sure that I don't over do the stress.  There is plenty of literature available stating the benefits from increased mileage.  Such as a higher VO2, better lactate clearance and improved running economy.  For every article there is another, warning about overtraining and its signs and symptoms.  If you're a seasoned runner or a beginner, you more than likely have read about the 10% rule.  Basically it states that you should increase your weekly mileage by 10%.  If you're currently running 10 miles a week, then next week you could run 11.  It's a safe way for your body to adapt to the increased stress.  It also helps those overzealous types from doing too much too fast, something I have done in the past and believe me, it hurts.

Back to my main topic.  Like I said, I'm trying to be very conscious of how body feels.  Typically, with increased mileage there are little twinges or niggles in certain parts of the legs.  Maybe tight hips, soreness in the arch or a tingle on the outside the knee.  Sometimes a little extra stretching may alleviate the feeling and other times rest is the solution.  The more we listen the better our communication becomes.  I haven't heard much but I'm keeping my ears open.

Since my mileage is increasing this month I was curious what the rest of the year looked like.  So I went through my Garmin account and counted my monthly running totals.
January        46   
February      17   
March           40   
April             56   
May              52   
June             41   
July              50   
August          77   
September    116   
October        39   
November     62   
December     63- to-date

Yes, that's right I've run more miles in the past week than my third longest month.  This is even more reason to listen closely to my body because if I'm not careful, injury may follow.  Back in September I had the idea to run my first marathon at the end of the year.  I began running more but a slightly sore left knee and school starting forced lacing up the shoes to the back seat.  I could still run that marathon but not at the pace I'd like so the half might be a better choice instead.

After two years of getting back into the sport, I still feel like a beginner.  The biggest difference between now and then, is I am much more educated and motivated.  Challenges like this month will eventually lead to the achievement of goals.  If you're out there putting one foot in front of the other, you're moving forward.  Dang, I'm so cheesy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

31 days of Running

December may not be the best month to try and run every day but I'm giving it a shot.  So far I'm on track.  I might even set a monthly record but I'm not trying.  Tomorrow will be tough because I ran further today than I planned.  I had to keep going to make it back to the truck and I was definitely getting close to hitting the wall.  My legs weren't moving as fast as I wanted and I started singing "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" except with the words "Bonking Around the Chuckanut"  I even got in a few verses between gasps of air.  Tomorrow will be an easy day, 5-6 miles around Sehome with the Klicks crew.

12/1-  6  miles, 1,000ft
12/2- 11 miles, 800ft
12/3-  3  miles, indoor
12/4- 17 miles, 3,000ft

Monday, November 25, 2013

Holidays and Reflections

I almost don't know where to start.  It's been over a month since I posted here.  Sometimes I sit down to write, think about what I've been up to and it seems not worth mentioning.  All I seem to do is stick my nose in physics books, papers about forces on the body, psychology articles and analyses about how to run more efficiently.  Actually, those are all pretty cool to me.  Maybe I've never mentioned it here, but I'm in the process of obtaining my B.S. in Kinesiology with the goal of sharing what I've learned with others.  Two years ago, I fell in love with running, found the sport of triathlon and discovered a passion for healthy eating.  Everything I've done since then has been focused on learning as much as I can about those parts of my life.   

Yeah, I'm still a noob (that's gamer talk for "newbie," funny, I don't even play video games) when it comes to triathlon and there's a whole history about the sport that I love learning about.  It's great reading about the legends of triathlon, like Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Paula Newby-Fraser, Scott Tinley and many others.  Check this out for a bit of tri history Triathlon Legends.  

These were pioneers who were out there pushing their limits.  Not for money or fame but because they knew they had more inside of them to discover.  That is the most appealing aspect of this sport.  No matter your age, experience, PR time, or ability, there is always more to discover within yourself.  Everywhere I look, someone is striving to be more.  They are inspiring, whether they know it or not.  Sure the medals are great but what remains is the memory of digging deep, overcoming obstacles and sharing the experience with friends.  That's why training can be as fulfilling as the race.  How does it go?  "It's not about the destination but the journey."

Huh, this was meant to be a short blurb about a PR in a recent 5k I did and some photos of what I've been up to but it's turned into a bit of reflection.  Upcoming finals can have a strange effect on me.  Since the holiday is right around the corner, I'm thankful for my family who supports my decision to go back to school, strangers who write comprehensive blogs, classmates who help share the load and my great friends who work toward their goals and share their time.  You are all amazing and inspirational people.  Thank you for being you.

Well, I guess I can leave a few photos:
Lake Whatcom
Bellingham Bay

Falls on Stewart Mountain
The Sisters, North Cascades
Beaver chips, Lizard Lake, Blanchard Forest
The Salish Sea & the San Juan Islands

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Xterra Harvest Half

Yesterday I took part in the first race of the 2014 Xterra Washington Series.  Even though it is still 2013, the Nationals took place last month in Utah, so the points from this race go toward next year.  Now you may ask, "why should I try to accumulate points in the series when Nationals is open to anybody?"  Well, how about a free entry.  Xterra is giving free entry to all those who win their age group regional series championship and that is what I plan to do.  Who doesn't like free stuff?
On to the report.

It was a crisp Autumn morning.  Fog crept through the valleys, leaving the ground and surrounding foliage wet from its passing.  Men and women clad in fluorescent clothing lined up to receive their bib numbers.  I pinned mine to my shirt, jogged back to the car to drop off my jacket and did a quick warm up.  The race director went over a few rules about the course markings at the start line.  This was a fairly small race, so it was our responsibility to pay attention to the many turns along the course.  I positioned myself on the start line with the assumption that the trails would be narrow and difficult to pass on.  A five-second countdown and we were off.  10k runners would do one lap and the half marathon two.  I went out fairly hard just to get in the front.  The course description called for 2,000 feet of elevation gain over the race but I wasn't sure where and how I'd come across it.

This is what it two loops of it looks like.
Within the first mile I told some walkers there was a big group behind me and in that moment I missed a turn.  Luckily another racer yelled, "Hey, guy in the red!  This way!"  I turned around and laughed to myself a bit. (I thanked him at the end)  The two climbs in each loop were pretty tough.  I was taking little steps to keep my HR down.  Trying to get the legs going on top was difficult.  My quads felt like jelly and my hams were quite tight but they loosened up eventually.  I had a couple of limiters I used to pace myself.  Keep the HR below 190 on the climbs and aim for an average between 170-180.  That pretty much went out the window right at the start but that's ok because I've learned I can go hard for two hours without blowing up.  There was a lot of pressure in the first half with the 10k racers all around.  We were coming down the first descent and I was hot on the heels of two guys, sitting in 7th.  Down at the lake (the only flat portion) I made a move on the guys.  Then the climb started and I immediately slowed down.  It was 40% at one point.  My heart jumped in my throat and I felt like power hiking but didn't want to get passed either.  So I pushed through even though I was burning up energy fast.  They must have slowed down even more because I never saw them again.

Two loop course.

The next guy came into my sights around the end of the first loop.  I sat on his shoulder for about 4 miles.  He put in some surges on the rollers and the downhill sections that I had to push for.   As soon as we hit that first climb, I saw him touch his hand to his stomach and that's when I made my move.  I consider myself a decent climber and being the second half, I put some pesto in my step going up.  On the top I actively tried to shorten my step and increase my leg turnover to flush some of the lactic out.  It helped, if only psychologically.  

After that I had to push myself down and up a few more times.  I kept my ears open for anyone coming up but no one did.  My calves were starting to cramp up a little but I pushed through knowing I was almost done.  In the end I came in at 1:44:37 for fourth place.  I missed third by 25 seconds and first by 14 minutes.  It's crazy to think someone ran that course that fast.  Incredible!

Since I was first in my age group, that's 100 points for me going into next year.  Woo hoo!  Now, time for more stretching.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Race Weekend

Want to know how excited I am for the Ironman World Championship tomorrow?
  • In the past week I've watched enough YouTube videos to equal the amount of time for me to finish one. 
So in spirit of racing, I'm running in the Xterra Harvest Half Marathon.  It's being held partially on the greens of Bastyr U. in St. Edward state park and apparently there a few hills as the total elevation is listed at 2150ft.  Not too shabby for a park sitting on the shore of Lake Washington.

I'm curious how my body holds up.  I have some small growing pains in my knees and hips.  Some of you would call them repetitive-use injuries from ramping up volume too quickly and I would agree.  So I've taken it very easy the last couple of weeks.  Not really the taper I planned for but my body is telling me to lay off.  I hope that when I call on it tomorrow it'll feel ready to rise to the occasion.

Side note:  Running Totals this year.
Jan      46mi
Feb      17mi
Mar     40mi
Apr      56mi
May    52mi
Jun      41mi
Jul.      50mi
Aug     77mi
Sept  116 mi
Oct.      8 mi

See that three-digit number in September?  It shouldn't be that big.  Ask any coach or seasoned athlete and they'll tell you the same.  I'm proud of it but I'm paying for it too.  85 would've been right on target but 116 is asking for some pain.  Sometimes pushing the limit is what life is all about.  It's how we learn what we're capable of and become aware of our strengths and weaknesses.  Opportunities for failure are all around but knowing where they lie gives us the power to steer clear and move further down the road.   On that note, time to get that last IM video in before the weekend starts.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Holy spin class Batman!  I forgot how kick ass these classes can be.  The rec center at Western offers a variety of hour-long classes throughout the year.  I think it's great how they provide structured workouts that introduce students to new ways of staying active, like yoga, Pilates, crossfit, and other sculpting classes. I thought this was going to be a typical spin class where we do hill climbs, endurance intervals and up-downs for an hour.  So I planned to make it a tough bike workout for myself, based on HR zones but, after 30 minutes the instructor had us put the bikes away and grab mats.  She proceeded to destroy our quads and core with a HIIT workout consisting of jumping lunges, burpees, planks, pulsing squats and mountain climbers.

Now I've mostly been logging long runs and lactate-threshold runs lately, so this blew me up big time.  It was amazing and I'm still riding the endorphin high hours later.  Seeing a double rainbow through the liquid sunshine and changing leaves also had an impact.  I made sure to tell the instructor how tough and fun the session was.  Taking a day off from running is what I needed as my IT has been finicky the last couple of days.  I'm probably gonna feel it tomorrow.  So I'll probably stick to a long swim and a yoga class or two.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Marathon Build

I'm sitting here during my lunch break thinking about my run yesterday.  It was a south-north route along the eastern side of Baker Lake.  I've been wanting to get on this trail all summer but the mountains with their peaks and views pull me another way.  It seemed fitting that this trail is 15 miles one-way and I had a 20 miler planned.  I started out with the intention of going 10 and turning around. At my turn-around there was this trail heading upslope called Noisy Creek.  I had to see what it was about.  One mile and 1,000 ft later I found the inspiration for its name.  The slow moving creek must have encountered a rock slide at some point in time because there I found a dam of trees, limbs and boulders.  Water like life, finds a way (cue Jeff Goldbloom.)  The falls wasn't grandiose like Niagra but it contained power nonetheless.  I welcomed the break from running and listened to its sound for awhile before gathering my energies for the return trip.  I haven't checked off half of the places I planned on seeing this summer but a friend once told me, we leave reasons to come back. Next Spring I'll do the whole trail and report back.  

Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention.  I'm tackling my first marathon this year.  I haven't nailed down which one but it'll be in December.  Either the Seattle or the Yukon Do It.  The training has been fun and it's great having an excuse to explore new trails in the area.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summer Riding

It's been almost a month since I updated the blog and for a good reason.  A few days after finishing the Ocean Shores Half-Iron a friend visited me in Bham.  We took a drive up to Artist Point to get a view of Mount Baker in all its up-close glory.  We hiked around, threw rocks off cliffs and even did some butt-sledding down a few snowy slopes.  One of them was extremely steep and long.  Below is a clip of Brett sliding down after me.

You see that big rock on the right, sticking out through the snow?  Well, I started drifting toward it, so I used my hands to direct myself away from it.  In the process I hyper-extended my elbow and I've been in pain since.  Even now I can barely curl a ten-pound weight without some pain.  Needless to say, I haven't swam once since and I'm just now getting out of my depressed funk.

Since I can't swim, I've been really focusing on my bike and run workouts.  In the past I always had a hard time dialing back the intensity on long rides/runs but, lately I've taken a more disciplined approach to my training regimen.  Oh I still skip days when I'm not feeling up to it or when my legs don't have the zip.  I think it's a good thing to not blindly follow a training plan.  Duties get in the way and stress occurs.  In the end it's better to enjoy the workouts than have them be sub-par.  Which brings me to two bike rides I did this week.

Tuesday I drove down the North Cascades Highway (SR 20).  It's an stunning road, traveling from Sedro-Wooley, through wilderness and eventually making its way to the Methow Valley.

I parked my truck in Newhalem and made my turnaround at Rainy Pass.  It's 38 miles one-way and it climbs about 5,000 ft in elevation.  Every way you look there are mountains, waterfalls, rivers and lakes.
Diablo Lake
Frisco Mountain.  Rainy Lake is tucked in off to the right.
Don't know the name but this is just from the road.
Newhalem to Rainy Pass and back.

The ride was beautiful but also difficult.  There are two climbs on the route.  The first one is through the Skagit gorge and tops out at Ross Lake.  It's only 15 miles of 2-3% grade.  It's a nice warm up and the views of Diablo Lake are distracting from the work.  The second climb is a doozy.  It's about 20 miles with an average 3% grade.  There are a few short sections of 6% and 7% grade tossed in there.  The length of the climb is really the tough aspect.  If you're training like me, staying mentally strong and keeping a steady rhythm is difficult.  If you're on a leisure through the park, a a break or two at one of the many trailheads would help.  I definitely recommend cruising through the park.  Try a weekday when there are fewer cars.  Remember to bring plenty of water.  More than you think you'll need.  I ran out at the top of the pass.  Luckily, a hiker I was talking to at the trailhead filled all four of my bottles up.  They barely made it back to the truck.  I'll bring my camelback next time.  All said, the total trip was 75 miles with over 11,000 feet of elevation gain.  Easily the biggest training day of my life.  I was feeling so good the next day, I was dreaming of the next adventure.

And it happened during yesterday's sufferfest up to Mount Baker.  This glaciated volcano in the upper North Cascades lies at the end of SR 542 from Bellingham.  I parked my car at Silver Lake, which is a few miles north of Maple Falls.  It's rolling hills along the Nooksack River until the beginning of the Mount Baker climb.  It's 10 miles of switchbacks with an average 6% grade.  There's a few 10% sections from Heather Meadows to Artist's Point.  At the top, you're treated to some close views of Mount Shuksan to the East and Mount Baker to the West.  Tough stuff, that's for sure.  Since I rode easy early on I wanted to give this climb a good effort.  I was spent once I reached the top but, it's all downhill from there.  I now know what it feels like to bomb down a mountain like the pros in Tour de France.  Finding the right line speeding down a switchback takes a hard nerve and lots of focus.  Don't let the bugs distract you because the slope on the other side of the guardrail looked very unforgiving.
Mount Shuksan
Silver Lake to Artist's Point and back.
There will be some more epic rides like these before Summer ends, that's for sure.  But before those I gotta see what Idaho has to offer next weekend.  Five days of golfing, trail running, mt biking, oh yeah and a wedding thrown in there too.  I'm pretty excited to meet up with a bunch of HS buddies for the celebration of my friends Kyle and Katie.  Let the dance battle begin, if my legs hold up.

Monday, July 15, 2013

2013 Ocean Shores Half Iron Triathlon

My race at the 2013 Ocean Shores Half-Iron Triathlon is by far the hardest I have ever pushed myself.  The headwinds on the bike were a curse and a blessing.  They put my head into a hole I wasn't sure I could get out of but left me with a lot of energy for the run.  When people talk about breakthrough performances, I now know what they mean.  A five-hour event leaves a lot of room for disaster to strike, but it's how those unpredictable events are handled that let us learn something deep about ourselves.  

Swim 1.2 miles: 37:47
This was an out-and-back course in Duck Lake.  Funny how a race on a peninsula in the ocean has a freshwater swim.  Though I didn't hear anyone complain, including myself.  I was really hoping for a better time but I was having a hard time getting back into a rhythm after the turn-around.  Plain and simple, I was tired, so my form fell apart.  Sounds like a pattern here?  Well it is.  Biking and running are just more fun.  "Go to the pool!," is what my inner competitor yells at me all the time.  

T1: 1:17
Stripping the wetsuit off was quick and my shoes were already clipped in.  Said hi to my dad and off I went.

Bike 56 miles: 2:41:43 (20.9mph)
Like I said earlier, the headwinds were killer.  This was an 2-loop out-and-back course.  Every time I turned West or North, I watched my speed drop from 22-24 mph down to 17-19.  It was very discouraging.  My lower back was tight during the first out and I wasn't sure if it was going to ease up but after the turnaround the pain went away and never came back.  More than likely it was from holding my legs up near the surface during the swim.  I counted nine bikers in front of me during the first lap and I passed one right before the end of the second lap but in the last 10 miles a couple of aero-wheel/helmet guys cruised past.  Every 15-20 minutes I ate 100 calories of either a Honey Stinger Gel or a Stinger Waffle followed by two big swigs off my water bottle.  The Stinger gels are my favorite for hard efforts because they go down so easy.  They have that honey sweetness and aren't thick like other gels, so they wash down quickly with water.  The second lap was similar in pace but I could feel my hips and upper thighs starting to fatigue.  I began to get discouraged and I found myself standing up a lot in order to find some power in my legs.  Prior to the race I aimed keep my HR between 155-170.  I averaged low 150s instead.  There are a lot of factors that could have caused a low HR.  Most likely, the effort just wasn't there.  The last five miles felt like an eternity.

T2: 1:35
 My armpit felt a little chafed from the swim so I opted to run without my shirt.  Slipped the shoes on, grabbed my hat, said hi to my dad again and took off.

Run 13.2 miles: 1:29:43 (6:44min/mile)
As usual the legs felt stiff and wobbly for the first mile though I was surprised by my pace.  Just like the bike leg, this was an out-and-back with turnarounds for all three races.  Prior to the race I expected to hold a 7:30min/mi pace for the first 5k to let the legs warm up and make sure I don't blow up later on.  It is a half-marathon and all.  But I was rocking a 6:30 pace and it felt good, so I rolled with that.  At mile 2, I passed a couple of guys who overtook me at the end of the bike.  We exchanged positive words then I continued on my merry way.  Seriously though, I was feeling strong.  It was a huge confidence booster knocking out those fast miles.  My calves were a bit sore and crampy but on I sped.  
Around mile 4 the lead runner and I crossed paths.  Racers 2, 3 and 4 weren't far behind.  Down the straight 2/3 of the run I saw number 5 coming towards me.  I noted the time and place we crossed.  After turning around and coming to the sign where we passed one another, I realized he had about 4 minutes on me.  This isn't much time in a race this long so I figured I'd try and catch him.  Where I would overtake him, I wasn't sure, but I put my head down and dug deep to maintain that 6:30 pace.  The phrases, "reel him in, reel him in," "keep it up," and "stay strong and light" kept flowing in and out of my head.  I was saying them out loud too.  I didn't care if the other races thought anything about it because it worked!  It took 3 miles and a lot of self-motivation to catch up.  A mile after passing him I let myself look back, he was way back there.  I knew I had fifth place locked up, bearing in mind nothing catastrophic occurred.  I could feel my hamstrings and quads starting to seize up and my calves were burning bad at this point.  The sand wasn't making it any easier.  With 2 miles left I did some math and thought if I stay under 7 min/mi I might be able to log a sub 1:30 run and give myself a better chance of achieving my true goal of coming in under 5 hours.  The next 13 minutes was all out.  Foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, fire in my legs all out.  Oh but was it worth it.  A fist pump across the finish line and I was done!  I couldn't believe what I had just done.  A huge PR of 55 minutes on the race and a PR of 4 minutes in the half-marathon.  Cloud nine. 

Total 4:52:02  Fifth OA, Second AG

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lake Padden Triathlon Race Report

This is going to be a two-part piece as I competed in the morning competitive division and also the run leg of a relay in the afternoon recreation race.  Firstly, I want to say "Hats Off' to Lance Romo, the race director, and all the the volunteers.  This was by far the smoothest local race I've competed in.  The fan support and small-town vibe let me focus on my best-executed race to date.  Let's just get into the thick of it already.

Overall 1:47:51  18th Place

Swim 800 meters-12:09 (1:31/100m) 47th
Being a small venue, the swim started in self-selected waves of 50 participants.  I knew I couldn't really hang with the top guns on the swim, so I opted for a later wave.  I used the facilities one last time and migrated down to the crowd funneling towards the water.  My lack of haste put me in the 4th wave.  The first 200 meters was somewhat chaotic as it seemed everyone on my sides wanted to swim on top of me.  I threw in a couple of hard bursts to get out of there.  After the turn-around I got into a good rhythm and found myself passing people from the previous waves.  I knew this because they were treading water.  A quick run up the grassy hill and it was go time.

T-1 1:03  9th
Prior to the start a spectator gave me a couple of rubber bands to hold up the heels on my pre-clipped bike shoes.  It probably saved me 10 seconds.  I did a flying mount for the first time and I was off.

Bike 21 miles - 1:00:15 (21mph) 23rd
This course is beautiful but challenging for the distance.  It starts and finishes with climb.  There's also one leaving Lake Samish right in the middle.  I've ridden this course a few times, so I knew what to expect on the hills.  I stayed aero on the flats and spun an average 100rpm cadence.  Even on the hills I hovered around 90.  I burn out quickly when I mash a hard gear because my legs aren't super strong but I can spin fast so that helps.  A couple weeks ago I lowered my handlebars to make a smaller wind target but didn't put in a lot of time in the saddle for my body to adjust.  I felt my lower back tightening up on the rolling hills heading West but it went away or I ignored it on the flat going back to the Lake.  At that point I thought I could make it under an hour but I wanted to run hard so I didn't push it.  Next year it's getting crushed.

T-2 1:04  84th
I'd never worn these shoes w/o socks before.  They say don't try anything new on race day. 
Dang socks.

Run 5.2 miles - 33:20 (6:24min/mi) 14th 
I left transition hard and didn't let up until the finish.  The course is 2 loops around the lake. The first 1.5 miles on the south lakeside of the 2.6 mile loop is hilly then it's flat coming back around to the start/finish.  I am the most proud of this part of the race.  I've been working hard on the run lately and it really paid off.  Below I highlighted the flat parts of the race.  I knew there was only a mile to go so I jumped on the pain train, kept my shoulders down and pulled every last drop out of my legs.  It hurt, bad, but it also felt great to finish strong. 

It should say Comp: 2 laps, Rec: 1 lap

As I said before, this is a two part report.  I met up with a couple of guys who also competed earlier, well one did, the other thought the races were the next day.  At least he remembered in time for the recreational race.  Tom swam the 1/4 mile and Jon biked the 10 miles before I got the timing chip.  My goal was to run another sub-17 minute lap but within 1/8 mile my stomach rebelled.  I could maintain 6:45 min/mi but anything faster and the bouncing really cut into my side.  I realized later it was probably the one hard-boiled egg white I had in between races.  It was still fun to be part of a team.  Also we were the first relay team to finish and fifth overall, so not a bad shot in my book. 

Now on to the next challenge.  Probably Ocean Shores 70.3 July 13.  Since I must have slightly rolled my ankle, it's time to jump back in the saddle.  With Summer finally here, I'm thinking some new bike rides are in order.  Mount Baker, I'll see you soon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

PR and Lake Padden

For those who don't know, PR stands for personal record.  I still use Strava as a training and motivational tool for my many of my workouts.  When planning a bike ride or run, I like to use certain loops and segments as fitness tests within the workout.  After downloading my watch data to Garmin Connect and Strava, I can analyze my effort on two platforms.  Both have unique positive characteristics.  For example, Connect has a calender of uploaded activities and planned workouts.  Strava has a network of running and biking segments where I can compare the day to my previous times and against others on a leader board.  Since I do most of my workouts solo, it brings out the competitor in me on days when I need that external motivation. 

Another aspect about Strava is the challenges section they offer.  I'll talk about the most recent which was called 10k Any Way.  The challenge was to run your fastest 10k (6.2 miles) and upload it to a leader board and see where you stack up.  The minimum distance was 10k but if you ran further, they would take your average time/kilometer.  In fact three ran fast enough half-marathons to get on the top 10.  In all 14,283 people from around the world ran at least 10k in one day.  I happened to be the 99th fastest of them.  This was me putting the hammer down and hoping for the best.  I planned to PR since it's been two years since my last stand alone 10k but landing in the top 100 was something I didn't expect.  It's the exact motivation I was hoping for, a week before this Saturday's triathlon.

Oh did I mention a triathlon?  That's right folks, my first of the season and right in my backyard.  Lake Padden, Bellingham, WA.  It's gonna be a blast because Amanda and Chad are coming up to race too.  I have to give big credit to Amanda for how I've come to this point.  We ran XC together in high school and when I got back from Europe, she was leading track workouts for West Sound Tri Club.  After just a few nights of being around triathletes, hearing their stories, I knew I had to give it a shot.  Thanks Amanda for the introduction!

This Saturday's morning race starts with a 800m swim, a 21 mile bike and 5.2 mile run.  The bike leg will be a challenge for people who have neglected hills because there are 2 climbs that are nothing to laugh at.  The run leg is two loops around the lake.  There is also a recreational race starting in the afternoon.  It's more or less half the distance.  Somehow I got wrangled into doing the run leg as part of a relay.  Our name is Team Second Wind, because all three of us are doing the competitive in the morning.  I'm curious how well I am going to run after giving it all in the morning.  Like Lance Romo, the race director, said to me this morning,"It is only one lap."  With some downtime and lots of recovery fruit, I'm sure I can hold my weight for another 18 minutes.
It should say Comp: 2 laps, Rec: 1 lap
With all that being said, I'm excited to kick off the season and some.  I've been feeling strong, even though finals and landscaping has really cut into my training time.  There is less than a month before Ocean Shores 70.3.  I get a little anxious thinking about my lack of consistency but I'm hoping the century training will let me ramp it up here for the next two weeks.  One week of tapering should be just about right to dial everything in.  On that note, I'm off to the pool.  Catch ya next week with a race report.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It's All About Your Perspective

It's funny how we as Western humans tend to focus on the negative.  The local news is filled with up-to-date segments on the bad happenings in the area and anyone can spend hours watching "Fail" videos on Youtube.  It's no wonder that I was feeling down about my lack of training the last few days.  For one thing, it is not at all in tune with my "70.3 Plan" and that is always a concern because it's planned out with specific purposes.  But then again, I don't have a typical nine to five job and listening to the body is important.  So after a look into my training log, I realized I didn't hit the trails or jump on the bike because my back and legs were asking for a break.  Well that and I've been putting in 6-9 hours of landscaping in everyday for two weeks.  Back to the point, I'm slowly bringing the bike back on-line after a major break.  That century training really made me miss running.  Here's a photo breakdown of what I've been up to since my last post.

May 30 Thursday
The original plan was to ride the Padden Triathlon course but after a dropped chain on the hill coming into Fairhaven, the wind left my sails.  I just cruised on home past Boulevard Park in the late afternoon sun.

 May 31 Friday
The swim was uneventful, really just going through motions there.  On the run I wanted to explore some of the outlying trails at Lake Padden.  I was not disappointed.  I'm putting this area on my top lists in the area.  Soft trails, mud pits and silence make for a lovely time.

June 1 Saturday
I called this 14 Herons because that is exactly what I saw during the section where I turned north on Lummi Point.  Most were standing around but a few must have been disturbed by me and made long swooping arcs away over the water.  They are quite graceful birds.  Then I dropped my chain and I was pissed but also bonking.  I was not a happy camper when I walked in the door.  Reminder: don't bonk on any ride, nonetheless 30 miles.

Jun 2 Sunday
Since I always find my HR hovering in Zone 3, I thought I should work on my pure aerobic system while building a stronger foundation in my legs.  Prior to the run I was dreading this long, slow run w/o music but it allowed me to focus on my breathing and form.  I usually up my effort on hills but this time I made a conscious effort to keep the HR low. 

June 3 Monday
This was the first time I swam with anyone all year and it goes to show that it should happen more often.  I saw a post on FB Bellingham Tri Club and thought it a good chance to meet some new folk.  I love open-water swimming.  There are no excuses to quit when in the middle of a lake and I have no discipline in the pool by myself.

June 4 Tuesday
I was craving a test on my climbing ability so I rode over the campus and did three laps up to through the arboretum.  First lap was in the lowest gear and I stayed seated throughout.  Second lap was lowest gear but I stood up on some of the steeper spots.  Third lap was in second gear and shifting up/down when necessary.  No HR but I was breathing hard on every lap.

June 5 Wednesday
This was by far the most fun I've had running.  Fitting for National Running Day.  No shirt or HR monitor, split-shorts and cool temps in the shade of the trees.  See that big hill in the middle.  It was tough and I loved every minute of it.   I was even able to knock some quick miles out afterwards too.

 June 9 Sunday
I really wanted to do a long ride the day before but after shoveling dirt most of the day, all I could think about was food and resting my back.  So this morning I squeezed this in before another day of back-breaking(stengthening?) work.

Overall I am happy with my progress the past few months.  I'm chocking it up to the fruits, veggies, and stretching.  Even with all the landscaping, I've been able to keep inflammation in check.  Self-massage and hearty doses of vitamins help me put in work w/o getting burned out.  It's a feather-light balance of too little and too much.  The key is listening to the body and pushing it when it is able but backing off at other times.  It is difficult to describe the relationship between mind and body and expect others to understand because we all have our own way of communicating.  What I'm trying to say is, focus on how you feel, quiet your mind and tune into the unspoken language of your personal energies.  Too often we are distracted by external forces and fail to see the signs of over-training.  So, have some tea, sit on the ground and chat with your body.  You may learn something.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Catching Up

Oh it feels to good to run fast again.  The two weeks prior to the TDC I ran one time.  It was a seven mile loop up to Whatcom Falls and back.  I felt pretty good after putting down a 19:11 for the first 5k and cruising through the park.  Then I slammed on the mileage and elevation on the bike in those two weeks in preparation for the century.  333 miles to be exact.  Let's just say I haven't been on it much since.  The focus lately has been on my run.  The week after the ride I was able to get four days and 25 miles in.  One day I ran two comfortable laps around Lake Padden for 5 miles.  The next day I ran from my house, through the Sehome trails, to the school gym for a swim.  On the way back I followed the waterfront back home for 7 miles total.  Two days later I went back to Padden for some fartlek work and managed 10 miles of hard/easy laps based on time and HR.  Since this location is where my first triathlon of the season will be on June 22.  I felt it necessary to feel out the course.  I was surprised how well me legs felt during the week and even got a 7 mile hike in with my friend up to Fragrance Lake.  But as I tend to do, it was probably too much too soon.
San Juan Islands
Last week my legs felt lethargic and unresponsive.  I took three days off completely before I felt some energy pour back in them.  Thursday I went up the Cedar & Pine Lakes trail in the Chuckanut area.  It was so steep in the first two mile I found myself power hiking most of it and even that wasn't easy.

Cedar Lake is the first flat spot.  1,400 ft in 2 miles.  That's an average 26% grade. 
Once I got up there I looped the lake and headed back down the trail to intercept Lost Lake Tr so I could get up to Raptor Ridge.  I read this was a nice viewpoint and it did not disappoint.  I eventually made my way down for 10 miles and 2,800 ft in a little over two hours.
Raptor Ridge Viewpoint

For a brief moment on Sunday the rain stopped falling.  I drove to the gym for a swim workout followed by 6 miles of trail running on Sehome.  It was a blast moving through the wet ferns and hearing my shoes squelch in the mud.  There was only a few people rustling through the woods like myself that day because the popular Ski to Sea was going on.  Last week was only 16 miles but it was necessary for that time off to let my legs fully heal.  I need to remember this for when the race season really kicks in because even though I felt great those two days.  The rest of the week they were a little tired.

What I'm really the most excited about was my track workout this morning.  It was not a beautiful day for running intervals.  The rain was coming from all directions and the backstretch on the track felt like a wind tunnel.  But hitting my splits boosted my confidence and has me excited for racing.  After a mile warm up with some high knees, butt kicks, dynamic stretching and strides, I got into the meat and potatoes of the workout.  400m, 800m, 800m, 1200m, 800m, 400m, 400m, 100m, 100m.  The 400s and 800s were at a targeted 18min 5K pace, the 1200 was 38min 10K pace and the 100s were all out.  Let me tell you that was some hard work but I hit every split.  I'm pretty excited about my progression so far and that it's early in the year.  My goals for training are to stay healthy and to not over-train.  Which means a little more core work and continuing my daily yoga/stretching routine.  I put a race schedule up earlier this year but due to being a broke college student again, I've had to prioritize the most important.  As of right now this is how it should unfold.

June 22  Lake Padden Triathlon Bellingham, WA
              -Hilly bike and run
July 13  Ocean Shores 70.3 Ocean Shores, WA       
              -Flat as a pancake but with winds
August 11 USAT National Championship Milwaukee, WI
             -Urban waterfront on Lake Michigan
September 8 Tri Turtle Tri Seabeck, WA
             -West Sound Tri Club local sprint
September 15 Kirkland Triathlon Kirkland, WA
             -Hilly bike
September 22 Portland Triathlon Portland, OR
             -Flat bike and hilly run

Until then I'm going to keep working on my run, get in the pool more often and set the bike trainer up so I won't have an excuse to not ride when its raining.  I do live in WA and should not use it as an excuse to run in glorious trails instead of mind-numbing trainer intervals.  We'll see what happens.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tour de Cure Report

It's been almost a week since I rode my first century for Tour de Cure in Redmond, Washington.  Not only was it my first crack at 100 miles but prior to the ride, my longest day was 68 miles in 4 hours.  Let's just say I was a little bit nervous.  I knew there would be some serious climbs and I had my concerns if they would put me into survival mode.

Not once did I suffer during the ride.  There were aid stations every 15 miles, give or take, and each one had super supportive volunteers handing out a variety of snacks.  There were bagels spread with PB or jelly, energy bars, gels, gatorade, water and lots of bananas.  I think I ate four or five during the ride and that's not including the one at breakfast with my oat bran at 5am.  Having a few minutes to get off the bike did wonders for my feet, saddle and spirit.  Each volunteer was cheerful and light hearted.  It went a long way on a long day.  Thanks volunteers, your presence was fully appreciated.

My expectations prior to the ride were that I would meet some folks either before the ride or during that I could ride with for a significant time.  Though I did ride a few miles with a single rider or a small group here and there.  Overall it was mostly a solo effort.  Which wasn't so bad because of rest stops and the glorious weather.  I found myself thinking about all sorts of random thoughts.  Normally during a race, I'm tuned into listening to my body.  This time, images of my family kept popping into my head.  Without them this wouldn't have been possible.  They supported me last summer in Boulder at my first half-ironman.  It was 98 degrees out there.  To this day I have never felt so terrible while running (I ran a 2:30 half-marathon, when my PB is 1:33, yeah, it was bad), but knowing my parents, sister, and Denver cousins were out there cheering, gave me the motivation to push back my pain and finish what I started.  Thanks Pops for the work ethic.  Once I get started, it's hard to stop.  Getting started is another thing.

This isn't much of a report, I just felt like babbling I guess.  Back to the subject at hand.  I ended up finishing in a little over 6 hours 15 minutes.  Which was on the fast end of my predictions before the ride.  Though my computer later told me it was 5 hours 37 minutes of moving time.   Did I really stop to talk that much?  I have been known to hold a good conversation.  Overall it was really fun and I'll think about doing it again.  A group effort would be a lot of fun.  I kept seeing all these bike clubs and I have to admit I was a tad jealous.  Maybe that can be motivation to join a team or two.    

Well being Friday evening, I might as well pack my wetsuit up and go get my first outdoor swim of the year in.  So what if it's raining, I'll already be wet.  Plus I'm going to drive there.  Ooooooh.  Good luck to all those this weekend at their first race of the year. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Make Some Vitamins

The bike is all shiny, the chain is sparkling, the tubes and nutrition is packed and my gear is laid out. Tomorrow I'm helping those dealing with diabetes by riding 100 miles for Tour de Cure. I should be sleeping (4:15 wake-up call) but I'm excited to ride with a great bunch of people.  Diabetes is tough because it's chronic.  Once someone finds out they have diabetes or are pre-diabetic the damage has been done.  But, and that's a big but because the body knows how to heal itself.  If we give it the right medicine, damage can be halted and even reversed.  This my friends is why the Tour de Cure exists, because it brings attention to the disease.  The more eyes and microscopes, the better chance we have of understanding it better.  So tomorrow for me is a challenge of my body and my spirit.  I could have chosen a shorter route, raised the same amount and had no problem with the distance.  But it's important for me make this bigger than a just a ride.  It's a ride for awareness and understanding.  I'll be thinking about my family and those dealing with this disease.  I've found there is an endless well to gather strength from in everything we care for.   

It's been almost a year since I've ridden within a group.  My handling skills have gotten better with the daily rides to campus.  The long rides in aero work my core where I'm sore the next day and I'm stable in all the hand positions though I will miss resting on my aero bars.  I took them off because it's not safe to use them in groups due to the reduced handling.  I'm aiming for somewhere between six and seven hours, though a part of me wants sub-six.  I crunched some numbers earlier;
14.1mph = 7 hours
16.5 mph = 6 hours
19.8 mph = 5 hours

My last ride was 67 miles with an average pace of 17 mph.  Tomorrow there will be introductions and inquiries on speeds and goals for the ride.  It would be fun to find a group to work with.  Drafting is great for recuperating after hard efforts while maintaining a decent speed sitting in the middle or back of a pack.  Around mile 62 there starts a 20 mile flat section until the next big climb.  I'm predicting this will be the most challenging part of the course.  At this point three serious climbs and four hours will have gone by.  It would be nice to have someone to pass the time with.  Either way it will be a big nutrition test.  The stomach cannot digest enough calories to replace the ones being used.  The goal is to ride at a level where fat is primarily being utilized so as to not fully deplete glycogen stores.  In this case it means I'll probably put down about 1,000 calories from bananas, gels, Heed/Gatorade mix and PB&J sandwiches.  And whatever the aid stations have.  It will be a glorious feast. 

It'll be fun getting down with my buds Saturday night.  A celebratory IPA will be high on the agenda list post-ride.  And of course a trip back to the folks house for some Mother's Day brunch.  Gotta give mom the love she deserves.  Get on out there and make some Vitamin D this weekend.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Checking In

It's been a week since I last posted and for good reason.  I've been riding my bike like a madman (at least for me.)  A week from tomorrow I'll be riding 100 miles in one day (well 98.8, but who's counting?) for the Tour de Cure in Redmond, Wash.  It will be my first century ride and all for a great cause.  Speaking of that, I received an email this morning from the organization stating that in order to participate in the ride I need to raise a total of 200 dollars.  I found this notice a bit concerning because I've raised just over a hundred and I'm not sure how to ask for more. 

Social media and emails have been utilized, but it doesn't seem to be enough.  Now, I understand this economy isn't conducive for fundraising, but I really want to participate and any amount should be enough.  So, if any of you have some spare change lying around, I would really appreciate if you could follow the link below and donate.  It's become common knowledge in this country that Diabetes is becoming more prevalent.  Donations would fund research and clinical trials aimed at finding a cure, hence the name. 

This is the ride.  There's about 5,000 feet of elevation.

Now on to the good stuff.  First off, running and swimming are on the backburner because I had some concern about my ability to ride in the saddle that long.  I write "had" because I'm stoked right now on my bicycle fitness.  This week has been a huge ramp up in mileage.  Here's a quick recap of the differences between last week and this week.

Mon. 4/22: 20 miles (hill specific to build some strength)
Tues. 4/23: 11 mile Run (tempo)
Wed. 4/24: 20 miles (steady effort on flat ground, mostly)
Thur. 4/25: 20 miles (with a 2.5mile run after)
Sat. 4/27: 9 mile Run (long and slow)
Bike mileage: 62 miles      Bike time: 3hr 50min      Bike elevation: 3,653 feet
Run mileage: 23 miles        Run time: 3hr 17min      Run elevation: 1,228 feet
Total mileage: 85 miles      Total time: 8hr 11min     Total elevation: 4,881 feet

Mon. 4/29: 2 hours (on a trainer, watching "The Untouchables", it was raining)
Tues. 4/30: 7 mile Run (started with a tough, uphill 5k at race pace, then eased back for the rest)
Wed. 5/1: 60 miles (a heart rate ride in Zone 2 except for a monster hill)   
Thur. 5/2: 18 miles (hill specific on fatigued legs)
Fri. 5/3: 31 miles (long and slow with hills mixed in)

Bike mileage: 148 miles      Bike time: 8hr 13 min     Bike elevation: 5,325 feet
Run mileage: 7 miles            Run time: 55min             Run elevation:   367 feet
Total mileage: 155 miles      Total time: 9hr 8min      Total elevation: 5,692 feet

Tomorrow is a rest day but Sunday my plan is to do 75 to 85 miles with 3,000 feet.  Currently this week is my heaviest in terms of mileage and time ever, but I feel great.  Processed foods are out the window and most of my carbohydrates are coming from a variety of fruits, legumes, and potatoes.  It's really quite amazing what the body is capable of, if fueled correctly.  

Next week will be a lot less intense.  My plan is to run Monday and Wednesday and ride Tuesday and Thursday.  I'll rest Friday, so I should be nice and fresh for the "Big Ride."  

Have a great weekend everyone!       

Friday, April 26, 2013


A couple of weeks ago I did the Bellingham Triathlon Club's weekly time trial for the first time.  My time for the course was 42:23.  That's 47 seconds under what I predicted.  Not bad for a shot in the dark.  Last Thursday it was canceled because of rain, but today is another stellar weather day so I'm going to try and improve.  Last time I had some strange cramping in my calves about half-way through.  I was perplexed because I never have calf issues on the bike.  To figure it out I set up my video camera to record my pedal technique on the trainer.  After some analysis, I came to the conclusion my toe was always pointing down, even during the downstroke.  According to the majority of coaches, this is an inefficient way to deliver power.  Since I'm still fairly new to riding(1 year), adjusting my form was easy.  Focusing on keeping a good rhythm and staying in tune with my form is helping. 

Next day:
Last night's TT was great.  I held back on the first hill and then hammered it the rest of the way, including the long climb from the lake.  At the end I was foaming at the mouth and giving it everything I had.  I improved 25 seconds to nail a 41:58.  Even though I felt spent, Glenn, Steve and I ran one loop around the lake at a comfortable pace.  It was a solid effort, but maybe too much for a multi-sport event.  I'll have to test it out with a faster brick run next time.  I've decided Thursdays are going to be my brick days because Fridays are supposed to be rest days before big weekends.

Other than swimming, I've been putting in some solid time lately.  I'm up to 7 hours of training this week and tomorrow I'm going for a long ride(50 miles or so).  Sunday I'll help officiate the bike course at the Mount Rainier Duathlon.  Which means I better get comfortable sitting on the back of  a motorcycle real quick because I'm going to be on it for a few hours.  Good luck at the race Glenn Gervais. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Strong for Boston

The sad event in Boston yesterday is truly tragic. It was supposed to be a day to embrace the body and move the spirit. I am confused about the reasons why this happened. But I will take this chance today, like so many others across the nation, to embrace my spirit and go for a run in honor of those affected.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bellingham Triathlon Club TT

One month from today I will be riding with the Tour de Cure.   It's going to be my first crack at a century.  To get more into the cycling spirit I have decided to race in a Time Trial this evening.  It is an out and back of 14.4 miles that climbs away from the entrance to Lake Padden, drops down and circles Lake Samish.  We have to climb back over and down to the start/finish at Padden.  My goal is to finish in under 43 minutes.  That'll give me a 20mph average.  Which means I'll have to push the pace during the middle flat section to make up time for the two slow hills.  I'll keep you informed.

In no way will I be racing for 100 miles next month but the TT should be a lot of fun. This is just what I need to kick start a big month-long training block of cycling.  I've gotta get more saddle time in before May just to make sure I can finish the ride without bonking.  I hate to put running to the side, but four weeks of serious biking should turn into lower times and therefore more fun.