Monday, March 28, 2011

March in Okarche Duathlon

First of all, I want to apologize for the lag time between posts.  This past week was a blur and I never had a chance to sit down and write.  I thought about my blog a lot.  I even wondered if this once-a-week posting was going to be the new norm.  I hope not.  The worst thing about not having time to post is that I haven't had a chance to read any other blogs either.  I feel behind in the blogosphere.  I'll catch up eventually.

This last week was extremely busy with work, my birthday, and other obligations.  I didn't have a chance to sleep much and I was completely wiped out by Friday.  I'm not meant to stay up late and get up early.  I just can't function.  I know this, but quite often my schedule doesn't work out to allow me to have my optimal sleep schedule.  This past week just happened to be the worst week of sleep I've had in a long time.  I finally made myself skip my run on Sunday so I could sleep in and catch up on rest.  My mind needed it.  My body needed it even more.  I slept a solid 12 hours and didn't move.  It finally put me back on track and I now feel like I'm back on schedule.  Hopefully this week cooperates.

Saturday was my first ever duathlon race.  I raced in the March in Okarche Duathlon which is the first race of the TRI-OKC season.  It's known for cold and windy conditions and this year's event didn't disappoint.  For two weeks the forecast was showing mid-70s, sunny, and nice, but of course, the day before the event, the forecast shifted to 40, cloudy, and windy.   If this had been a running event, I would have been OK, but when you throw in a bike leg, it just complicated matters.  I didn't know what to wear because I knew I'd be burning up on the run and freezing on the bike.  I don't own many cold-weather cycling clothes or accessories, because I've only owned a bike for a little over a year.  I didn't bike outside at all this past winter so my options were pretty limited.  I made my best runner's attempt to layer in some warm clothing and just prayed my feet would stay warm enough to get off the bike and run the last leg of the race.  Overall, I was pretty pleased with my race.  My run is in good shape at the moment and both of my 5K's were around 22:30 which is not far off the PR I set a couple of weeks ago.  I definitely think I have some faster 5K times in my legs, but we won't find out anytime soon.  The bike leg was pretty lackluster.  I ended up logging a 1:03:30 time for the 30K bike.  The first and last 4 miles of the course were very, very rough with a lot of potholes and uneven roads.  I struggled to keep in a rhythm and the stiff crosswind made the bumps and rough roads even more treacherous.  Every time I hit a bump the wind would catch my wheel and push it sideways.  I was incredibly tense the entire bike ride and my shoulders and neck showed the wear the most.  I heard from several people that they experienced the same thing on the bike course so it made me feel a little better.  I definitely have some work to do on the bike, but the good thing is that I learn something on every ride.  My official time for March in Okarche was 1:52:11.  I'll take it.

The rest of the weekend I spent time celebrating my birthday with family and friends.  It was nice to catch up with everyone and enjoy some time together before my life turns into a whirlwind of biking, swimming, and running.  My schedule for this week is now laid out in front of me.  The good news is I don't have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning.  Thank goodness.  I'll try to be better about updating this week.  I think I'll be back to a semi-normal routine for a few days.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Slice is Nice

First of all, thanks to Patrick and Big Daddy Diesel for the bike comments.  I stole the title of today's post from Patrick's comments and I'll book a bike porn shooting session with BDD in the future.  I know I could use some help in that aspect of my bike/triathlon skill set.

After a week of staring at my new beauty in my apartment, I finally took the Slice for it's first ride yesterday (Sunday).  I originally had planned on riding Saturday morning with the Team-in-Training cycling group that's training for the Lake Tahoe Century Ride, but the forecast was iffy at best for Saturday morning.  There was a 60% chance of rain so I opted to go ahead and run Saturday morning because I like running in the rain and I knew I needed to get in both workouts this weekend.  Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day in OKC with no rain (of course - because it hasn't rained in like 6 months) and very light winds.  While this provided for phenomenal running weather, it would have been even better biking weather.  Regardless, I had a killer run and saved my bike ride for Sunday.  Sunday turned out to be really warm (low 80s), but extremely windy (25-30mph).  It probably wasn't the best conditions for biking, but I had to get out and give the Slice it's opportunity to impress me.  It didn't disappoint.  I always knew a tri bike would provide some bike benefits, but the extent of how much stronger and faster I felt was much more than I imagined.  My legs felt great and my ride felt pretty effortless even in a stiff headwind/crosswind.  I managed to stay in aero for a good portion of the ride, only coming out of my aero bars when I had a nasty crosswind and the bike was trying to come out from under my body.  I'm sold on the benefits of a tri bike and can't wait to get out and ride some more.  My only complaint so far is the amount of room between my seat and my water bottle cage.  I guess when you have long legs, your arms are supposed to be equally long.  Well, my arms must come up a bit short because trying to grab my water bottle is quite the chore.  I'll have to work on that aspect of my riding skills.  For now, I'll have to slow down quite a bit to prevent any potential mishaps while I'm learning.  I'll give the first ride an A+!!

Today was also the start of my Ironman Kansas 70.3 and Ironman Louisville training plans.  As most, I started today with a rest day!  Woo hoo!  I took the opportunity to make several meals and finish my "chores" for the week.  I made a huge bowl of fruit salad with pineapple, blackberries, blueberries, oranges, red grapes, and cantaloupe for my snacks throughout the week.  I also grilled some pork chops and made a pot of spaghetti with meat sauce.  I'm going to try and make Monday's my food prep week during Ironman training to alleviate the bad eating habits/poor nutrition problems I can foresee creeping in if I'm not diligent.  One thing I've noticed so far is that this new training schedule makes me more efficient and organized.  I plan out even the smallest tasks now to make my time more useful.  I'm sure that will all come to a screeching halt at some point, but it's my goal to make it last.

I will admit I had a minor freak out on the phone with my Mom today.  Nothing major, but I just went on this rant about how I feel overwhelmed with work, training, family, friends, and life in general at the moment.  It's not a bad thing, just something that's been stressing me out.  Every time I turn around I have another meeting request, customer visit, birthday party, event, or something else fill up a spot on the calendar.  I knew it was coming, but sometimes when I get weak mentally I let it bother me.  I sent a text to my Mom after I hung up and apologized for ranting, but it was good to get it off my chest.  It lets me hear how dumb I sound and then I tell myself I just need to suck it up and make it happen.  I'm sure I'll have many more of those moments over the next 4 or 5 months, but I signed up for this and it's my job to manage it.  I love my life and I really can't complain.  I know I'll manage and I know I'll make changes to my schedule as the calendar requires.  It's nice to live in this dream world where I can get in every workout, stay healthy, and still be a good friend and family member, but I know I'll have to miss a workout or event from time to time.  My goal is to minimize the downtime and make efficient use of my time.  Hopefully everyone else will understand if that means skipping a dinner or a party from time to time.  Finishing this is a huge priority and all of you who make sacrifices along with me are a part of the journey too. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March : The Perfect Month

I'll admit I'm a bit biased here, but March is the perfect month.  Spring brings with it new life, new goals, and renewed dedication to the year ahead.  We all set New Year's resolutions, but even the best of us get sucked into the doldrums of winter and her bitter grasp on our world.  Spring hits us with a breath of fresh air and suddenly nothing seems impossible.  We jump into action and start knocking off tasks on the to-do list.  We tackle our workouts with renewed vigor and passion as the weather outside warms.  Spring forward let's us take back our evenings for training rides and runs in the broad daylight.  We suddenly feel alive again!  Ok, maybe it's not quite that great, but it's pretty dang close.  I love March.  It's the first time of the year that I really feel like everything is just right.  The temperatures are nearly perfect.  The extra daylight in the evenings makes it easier to be productive after work.  March Madness greets us with all of it's wonderful drama and excitement.  The grass starts to turn greener, flowers start to bloom, and my birthday caps out the best month of the year.  While in college I loved it even more because of Spring Break, but now that I am a working man, it's not quite as cool.  The problem I run into with March is that it seems like it's the busiest month of the year too!  This past week has been nothing short of hectic and I don't see any reason that pattern will be disrupted for the next 5 months.  I'm finally accepting the fact that I'll probably always be in a state of fatigue and incredibly busy.  I guess that's what I signed up for when I paid that fee for IM Louisville.  My goal is to not let it get the best of me and take it day by day. 

My goal for today was to get my swim in before work and then join up with some friends for some March Madness viewing tonight.  I set the alarm for 4:45 AM this morning and hit the hay at 9 PM last night.  All was going well until my mind decided it was time to wake up at 2:45 AM.  It was up and it didn't care what the rest of the body was doing for the next two hours.  Needless to say, I laid there for 2 hours contemplating life and stumbled out of bed at 4:45 to the dinging of the iPhone alarm.  It wasn't what I would call a good night's sleep so I opted out of March Madness festivities to spend some quality time with my couch.  I'm sure my absence didn't affect the outcome of any of tonight's games so please don't hold it against me if your team lost. 

The good thing about staying home is that I get to write to you and I finally registered for my first duathlon.  I'll be racing the March in Okarche Duathlon next weekend in Okarche, Oklahoma.  The race is a 5K run followed by a 30K bike and ends with another 5K run.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed mother nature decides to cooperate and keep our weather delightful and give us a tad less wind.  It will be the first race on my new bike and the way things are going, it may be my first ride on it as well.  I'm almost ashamed to admit I haven't even taken the new bike for a spin.  My one night on the bike this week was spent on the trainer and I just opted for the road bike since it was already set up and ready to ride.  I'm still waiting on my new shoes and some small accessories for the tri bike anyway.  That's my real excuse.  After the race, some friends and I are going to stay in Okarche and celebrate my 29th birthday at the famous Eischen's Bar where the fried chicken and beer are tough to beat.  It's probably not the wisest option, but hey, it's my birthday so I'll take advantage of the small slice of freedom in my training schedule and roll with it.  If you happen to be in Oklahoma, come on out and join us after the race.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tri Bike Purchase and 5K PR

It was a great weekend here in OKC.  Perfect weather.  Team-in-Training practice.  Tri bike purchase.  5K PR.  There really isn't much more you could ask for in a early spring weekend.  I would say that's a pretty good start to a race schedule full of new adventures.

Saturday morning started with a great TNT marathon training run followed by a pancake breakfast with our honored heroes.  We heard stories from leukemia and lymphoma survivors and reminded ourselves of why we give of our time and money to help fund the research for a cure.  It's truly a humbling experience to hear from the survivors and those directly connected to the disease.  It really puts my own life in perspective and makes me even more thankful for the opportunity to help.  While I've never directly been affected by blood cancer, I'm fully invested in the cause and those who struggle with it everyday.

After the TNT breakfast, I made my way over to my local bike shop : Schlegel's Bicycle.  Steve, the owner, is one of the TNT triathlon coaches and Ryan, my tri coach and TNT coach as well, works there so my business will always go there for as long as I'm buying bikes and needing gear.  I feel like I'm one of the family and I know they will take good care of me.  I bought my road bike from Schlegel's last year so all of my measurements were on file and immediately I was told I'd be a really hard fit for a triathlon bike because I'm all leg.  My proportions are very asymmetrical.  Most of my friends ride a Cervelo and I kinda thought that's what I would end up with due to it's popularity and availability.  After rechecking my measurements, I was immediately ruled out of the Cervelo brand due to the reach being too long.  I run into problems with the stack and reach requirements not fitting my body style so it basically came down to 2 bikes in my price range that fit my body type.  The first was the Cannondale Slice which is also what Chrissie Wellington rides and a Look bike that was on the upper end of my price range.  I tossed around the idea of buying the Look due to it's upgrade in components : all SRAM Rival vs the Cannondale's Shimano 105.  I honestly don't know that I would ever be able to discern the difference between component sets so I ultimately opted for the Cannondale Slice which saved me about $700 and left me some room to buy some triathlon gear and possibly uprade my wheels later in the year.   I'm sure the Look would have been a great option as well and given me a bike that's not extremely common in the triathlon world, but I like the budget-conscious decision I made with teh Slice and I really feel like I got the best bike for my buck.  I'm really happy with the purchase and can't wait to get out on the road and start logging some miles.  Here is a pic of the new baby:

To top off an already great weekend, I ran the inaugural Run Lucky 5K.  It was a race put on by several Team-in-Training members and all proceeds went to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  They ended up raising over $43,000 and had over 1500 participants.  It was a race that I really wanted to run to support the cause and it just happened to be the first 5K I've ran in almost a year and a half.  I really didn't know what to expect time-wise so I just started running and let my body feel it out.  I do very little speedwork and mostly focus on pacing for much longer distances so my speed isn't something I consider as my strength.  I was pretty confident I could keep a 7:30 pace, but the fact I ran in the 7:04 range was kind of a surprise.  I felt strong at the end of the race too so I think I could have pushed even harder and broke the 7 min/mile pace.  I ended up with a chip time of 21:56 so I broke my previous record by over 1 minute.  It was a great way to end my first official weekend of spring.  After this weekend, I'm even more excited about the year ahead.  Only one more week until the full Ironman schedule kicks into full gear.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Forward

It's almost time!  I'm really excited for this weekend when we set the clocks forward an hour.  I'm ready for 2+ hours I'll have after work from now until October to do as I choose : run, bike, or both.  Oh I'm so ready.  Spring is near!

Today was my dress rehearsal for my full Ironman training schedule that officially kicks in on March 21st.  I wanted to get the timing down for a pre-work swim and make sure I was going to give myself enough time to get in a full workout.  Last year I tried to run before work, but I've found it difficult to get in a proper warm-up and cool-down when my mileage increases.  My plan for Ironman training is to do all of my swims before work until the yardage gets too much for me to fit it in as well.  I have no idea what I'll do at that point, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.  Dress rehearsal started this morning at 4:45 AM and I was at the gym by 5:30.  My gym opens at 5:30 so it's going to be the earliest I can get in the pool.  Today's workout was only 1800 meters so I fit it in pretty easily and felt like I had plenty of time to get ready and into the office on time.  I'm a little concerned about the availability of showers in the locker room.  This morning there was a very fine line between no one in the locker room and people standing in line to get a shower.  I'll need to make sure I err on the side of caution and get in the shower early, as opposed to 5 minutes later.  Overall, I really think I'm going to like getting my swims out of the way in the AM and focusing on my other two disciplines in the evenings.  I'm also not too terribly tired this evening which I'm sure is the result of my 8:45 PM bedtime last night.  I'm almost positive that won't happen every day of the week.  It never hurts to try though. 

Due to my pre-work swim, I had the evening off to get a few things done.  I'm not doubling up on workouts yet so I took my car and gave it a good wash and put the bike rack on.  You know it's getting close to springtime when the bike rack is being put back on the car.  I'm really excited to go get my triathlon bike this weekend and taking it on it's maiden voyage.  I'll be sure to post pictures of the new toy sometime this weekend.  I guess I probably need to make some room in my apartment too.  This is one instance where spring cleaning will actually be fun!  I'm outta here for now.  Run happy friends!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Marathon Envy

This morning I laced up the running shoes and joined the masses for the OKC Landrunner marathon training run.  It was a brisk morning and a group of about 150 runners decided to unite together to rule the early morning streets of the OKC Memorial Marathon course.  The start of today's training run was the entrance to the OKC Bombing Memorial and the old starting line of the marathon.  I went into this run only scheduled for 7 miles and I had every intention to stick to the plan since I've been skiing for a few days and haven't ran since Monday.  I figured my legs would be heavy and sluggish.  Something about running with that group really energizes me though.  I don't really know anyone in the group and I don't do more than small talk with those around me, but it's nice to be among other people who share the same passion.  It's also nice to be in a training group where I can learn and be tested.  The skill levels range from people who win marathons to those who will have to opt for the early start option for the full marathon in OKC.  Almost every time I run with them I find someone who is nearly a perfect pace for me to run with or test me.  Today was no different.  About two miles into the run I met a guy named Shane who was training to run his 3rd marathon.  I struck up a conversation by joking that some of those lead runners sure know how to blow up a pack pretty quickly.  It's interesting to note the speed of runners early in the run because almost everyone goes out too fast and about 2 or 3 miles in you notice a dramatic slowing of pace.  Shane and I  quickly realized we were running about the same pace so we stuck together and shared stories, goals, and observations.  It made the next few miles go by very quickly and I enjoyed the small talk.  I ended up having to go on by myself after Shane made a pit stop for some bathroom relief.  His goal is to break the 4 hour mark at OKC this year.  Good luck Shane, I'll be cheering for you!  After parting ways,  I looked down at my watch and realized I was nearly 6 miles into my run and not anywhere near my car.  I decided to go ahead and run to the 6 mile water stop and turnaround to make the trek back to my car.

At the water stop, I had an odd sensation come over me.  All the runners around me were taking in gels, shaking out their legs, and getting ready to embark on the next 2/3rds of their training run. I envied them and the next 12 miles they had in front of them.  I wanted to keep running.  I wanted to be training for the OKC Memorial Marathon.  I wanted to be a part of the journey with them.  It was then that I immediately decided I would be running the OKC Memorial Marathon in 2012.  I want to experience the course of the full marathon and run on my home turf.  I love the half marathon and I'm ready to be tested by the full marathon.  OKC can be very unpredictable weather-wise in the spring and you are almost guaranteed to have wind.  It's definitely not an easy course either.  The last 3 years, the marathon just didn't fit it in my schedule.  Year one of my running career, the half marathon here was what got me hooked.  Later that year I ran the Dallas White Rock Marathon for my first full marathon.  My downtime after Dallas was more than expected due to achilles issues so I opted for the half marathon again and here I am going into year three of my running career with the Ironman looming in August.  I think it's time I make the OKC Memorial Marathon a priority though.  I feel like I need to pay tribute to OKC and those killed in the bombing nearly 16 years ago.  I feel like I owe it to my city and those affected to run the full marathon.  Count me in for 2012.  I'm finally going to stay home and make some memories with my OKC brethren.

The run today was on the slower side of my runs lately, but I was pretty happy with the way I felt post-ski trip.  I ended up cranking out 9 miles and am a couple of weeks ahead of schedule I guess.  I'll get back to my actual training schedule this week as I get ever-so-close to the start of IM Louisville training kicking into full gear.  I'll also be running my first race next weekend as I participate in the 1st annual Run Lucky 5K to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I'm looking forward to my first event and daylight savings time which goes into effect Saturday night.  Hello sunshine after work!  I'll finally be able to get my bike outside during the week!  I'm outta here for now.  Have a great start to the week.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Deer Valley, Utah

I'm home!  I just spent 3 wonderful days in Deer Valley, Utah, enjoying the powder and slopes of Deer Valley Ski Resort.  It was my second trip to Deer Valley and it was every bit as good as I remembered.  I flew into Salt Lake City on Wednesday afternoon to meet up with a group of people from my industry.  Each year, one of my customers hosts a ski retreat in Deer Valley and invites a small group of people to hang out and enjoy some time away from the office.  It's a great chance to network with a small group and the trip is a lot of fun.  It's usually a group of 12-15 and we all stay in one cabin near the ski resort.  This year we stayed about midway up the mountain within walking distance of one of the ski lifts.  One of the great things about Deer Valley is they limit the number of lift tickets each day so the mountain is never really crowded  The lines for the lifts are non-existent and most of the trails stay pretty well groomed even late in the day.  Snowboarding is prohibited as well, which is kinda nice in my opinion.  I have had some really close calls with out of control snowboarders so to remove one more obstacle from the mountain is an added perk. 

I usually judge the success of a ski trip by the way I feel after I return my skis and head back home.  By that criteria this ski trip was a colossal success.  I made it through without any major hiccups and I'm still healthy and ready for the training week ahead.  This was only my 5th ski trip so I'm not a skilled veteran but I've finally gotten to the point where blacks are no longer daunting and I usually can make through a day without really crashing.  I still have some falls, but they are usually ones where I can pop right back up without even having to brush off any snow.  I'm not a daredevil so black moguls and any trail that has the name "Ruin" in the title is usually not on my list of acceptable runs for me to traverse.  I stick to blues and easy blacks and try to make it through the trip having a good time without any long-term side effects.  My legs actually felt great all trip and I can pretty much ski all day without feeling tired.  It's kinda funny to hear everyone else complain about how sore they are at the end of the day and I don't even really feel like I've worked out.  It's an added bonus from endurance sports I guess.  One interesting aspect of this trip was the weather on Thursday morning.  I've never skiied when it was snowing and I've definitely never skiied in near whiteout conditions.  It made for an interesting few runs because you really couldn't see more than 5 or 10 feet in front of you at times.  The good thing was that the mountain was pretty much empty, so you didn't have to worry about other skiers much.  It made from some difficult navigating though.  It's an experience I'll log in the memory book for sure.  The weather on Friday was perfect though: low 30's, sunny, and light winds.  It made for a great end to our time in Deer Valley.

Today I flew home and have my life back in normal mode.  I did my usual Saturday night grocery run (wild and crazy in OKC!) and am now about to head to bed so I can get up and join the OKC Running Club for their marathon training run in the morning.   The plan is to start at the actual starting line for the OKC Memorial Marathon course.  They are running 18 miles, but I'll only be running 7 or 8 so I'll peel off and do my own thing after 4 miles or so.  I had contemplated sleeping in tomorrow and doing my long run later in the day, but I love knocking out my run early and having the rest of the day to do as I please.  I'm out of here for now.  Thanks for sticking around while I was gone!