Monday, December 28, 2009

Offseason, Onseason

Well the Offseason officially ended yesterday. I celebrated it with a hill workout that had me cursing and wanting to walk the bike home. In an anti-climatic fashion I started the season with a day off today. Now that is the way to do it! Maybe I should go a step farther and head to McDonald's for lunch to celebrate.

I think two words describe this offseason. Short and Relaxing. Last year I did not start the season training unitl February. This year I am having to start early because of my Ironman in May. As of today I have 18 weeks. I am a little nervous about the training and wondering if I am going to be ready. I also know that I cannot go into hibernation during the cold weeks in January. I actually have to get out a brave the cold weather. At least there is not 2 feet of snow on the ground. My offseason was more relaxing than last year partly because of the shoulder surgery. For 4-6 weeks I could not do anything except run and bike and you can only do so much of that. To tell you the truth I am not quite ready to start training. I am enjoying my time off, but I also know that if I take too much time off it will be that much harder to get started again.

I though about posting all the graphs and spreadsheets that I keep on my training so that everyone can see the actual numbers comparison between this offseason and last, but does anyone really care besides me. Plus it would just show how much of a Trigeek I am.

Have a great New Year and if I don't end up posting before January 7th. Hook'em Horns!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

1200 meters of bliss

Don't tell my doctor about this, but this morning I swam 1200 meters. It was the first time my toes have touch the swimming pool in 8 weeks. The doctor said to wait until I see him for my checkup in January but that is not until late January. There is no way I can wait that long. Originally he told me 8 weeks out of the pool so I have obeyed his orders and now I need to get back into it, or at least test the waters, so to speak. I need to know how my shoulder will react. If it feels fine now it will only get better. If I wake up tomorrow and I can't move my shoulder then at least I know I am not quite ready.

Swimming will always be my first love. At my gym when you check in at the front desk there is a window that looks directly into the lap pool. Every time I go to the gym I see that pool and my heart sinks knowing that I cannot join the other fish. Well today I was feeling like a kid the day after school lets out. Ready to jump in and stay all day.

I took it easy, 4 X 300M, at a slow easy pace. The shoulder held up well. I expected a lot of tiredness but there was very little of it. I did feel some deep muscle soreness in the front deltoid but I have been feeling that even out of the pool. So I conclude that swimming is back in the workout rotation. It will be slow and limited in distance for a couple weeks but it feels good to be a fish again.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Random thoughts

Supposed to snow today in Austin. It happens every couple of years and its always exciting since we don't get to see it a lot.

I have been lazy about keeping up with the surgery recovery but honestly there is little to talk about. It has been almost 6 weeks and I only feel it every once in a while when I try to lift something too heavy. I am getting anxious to start strengthening the shoulder, even if it is just bands. I see the doctor next week and hopefully he will clear me for at least some light strengthening and if I am lucky, swimming. I have a couple of weeks until I start training for IM St. George so I am not too concerned yet. I have been on the bike and running regularly so I may loose some speed in the swim but I know I can still do the distance.

I am kind of sad that I still only have one person whom has become a follower of my blog. I have a lot of people that read it because it is linked to Facebook but no one has come over to the Blogger site and registered as a follower. Hint, Hint... I would love to see names up there even if you do not actually read all my crap. Of course does anyone really care what I talk about? Some blogs are useful but others, like mine are really just to satisfy my own desire to have people love me. So where is the love people?

As I said above not that any cares but I have recently been dealing with a foot issue that is causing some stress. About three weeks ago the lateral side (outside) of my foot went numb. It has been diagnosed as an entrapment of the Sural Nerve but even the podiatrist is perplexed that I have no obvious signs of trauma or specific pain. It is annoying when I run but no pain and it has not gotten worse. Doctor injected the site with a local steroid to reduce inflammation but I am still unsure if that is going to do the job. We'll see.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Surgery +16 days

So I said that I would update more often on the shoulder but there is always something. This time it was my computer. My original was infected by a rogue email and it took me 3 days to get it to even turn on. This was OK because it gave me a reason to get a new one, which I had been contemplating for a while anyway. So here I am, back in business.

Recovery has been faster than I would have expected. I spent the first 3 days in a sling. Then I ditched the sling and started doing some doctor prescribed exercises. The pain was awful!! At day 9 I saw the doctor to get my stitches out. That was a painless procedure but while there I asked him about my range of motion and he decided to help me by forcing my arm above my head. I swear that I had tears in my eye when he did this, but he then said, "If you don't deal with and work through the pain now you will be in even worse shape a week from now." Made sense, I just wanted to be sure that movement was not going to jeopardize recovery.

The doctor cleared me to run and to get on the stationary bike so the next day I was on the bike. It felt good after 11 days off from doing absolutely nothing. Now I am 16 days past surgery and if I did not tell you that I had it you would never know. Is there still pain? Yes. Sometimes it is really annoying, but my range of motion is close to 100% even with the pain.

Still no swimming and no upper body weights but I have known that all along. I see the doctor again in about 2 weeks and he says that that will be the big turning point. He says this is where most people are finally feeling normal. I will hopefully be back on the bike at that time but I know there is still no swimming until January.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Needles, Anesthesia, and Bright lights

Well it has been 8 days since I had my shoulder surgery. Despite my muscles not wanting to work because of the trauma I think everything is going well. Let me catch everyone up and then I will try to post about my recovery over the next few weeks.

As you probably know I have been putting off surgery for some years now but I finally exhausted all other options and went for it. The procedure is known as Distal Clavicle Resection. I think the animation here shows it best:

I have never had surgery before. I cannot remember the last time I was at a hospital for that matter so I was really nervous. So nervous that I made Jenn get to the center about 30 minuted early. She probably wanted to get rid of me anyway because I was not a very friendly post op patient. In fact at one point she made a comment that she could not wait until I got old and started falling apart, talk about being a complainer now, just wait a few years. When we got to the surgery center I had to sign all kinds of paperwork that listed all the BAD things that could possibly go wrong. Honestly that scared me more than the thought of feeling severe pain. What if they botch it? What if I wake up and its 5 days later because something went terribly wrong? What if they cut into the wrong arm? At some point I just had to let it all go and hope for the best and decide to deal with anything that happened the best I could.

So after spending 20 minutes trying to put on those hideous hospital gowns I was laying in a bed with an IV of fluid to keep me hydrated. honestly, in this day and age can't someone come up with a more stylish hospital gown? One that is not right out of the 1970's. The 1070's look was so 1990's, come on already. At this point Jenn was allowed in to sit with me as they preped my arm. Jenn did ease the tension by making a comment about the very fashion challenged socks that they put on my feet, light blue with white grippy things on them. Kind of like the ones you get at Gymboree for kids. So as I sat there they scrubbed my arm in a warm soap bath and wrote a big YES on the right shoulder. This was to signify the correct arm to operate on. Not only did they put a YES on the shoulder but my doctor had to put his signature underneath it to show he agreed. Everyone that I talked to made me tell them the procedure and the arm that was supposed to be involved. This made me feel better because there was no way they could get it wrong at that point. After the scrub it was all a waiting game. There were other people getting procedures done so I had to wait my turn. I think I sat for about an hour before anything else happened.

Finally the Anesthesiologist came over and started my sleep medicine. Boy that stuff is powerful. It is like having 4 glasses of wine in 20 minutes. This was good too because I was going to have a nerve block done on the right arm. This procedure was kind of scary just because before hand I had to sign away all kinds of liability and there were two pages of possible side effects. Then on top of that the Anesthesiologist shows up with this giant needle. I remember a nurse asking him, "Is a 2 inch needle going to work"? I am sure my eyes were as wide as dinner plates at that comment even with the anesthesia. The idea of the nerve block was to temporarily kill the nerve in my neck that sends signals down the arm. My arm was going to be asleep for up to 24 hours but I would feel no pain. This gives time for me to get other narcotics in my system so when the Block wears off I am more ready to take on the pain.

So the anesthesiologist started messing with my arm trying to find the right nerve. They hooked me up to some machine that send electrical pulses down the arm and made me clench my fist. That is the last thing I remember clearly. I don't remember the 2 inch needle and I barely remember being wheeled into the OR. Even 8 days later I still have a large bruise on my neck where they stuck me with the giant needle. There were bright lights above my head and someone put a mask on my face then the next thing I know I am waking up in recovery and Jenn is siting with me.

The whole procedure from walking into the center to the time they wheeled me out was about 4.5 hours but only an hour of that was actual surgery. I hope I never have to do something like that again and if I do I hope that it is never more complicated than what I am going through now. There are so many worse things I could have done to me and I am sure all of them hurt worse than this so I feel for those that have any kind of surgery no matter how small.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Longhorn 70.3

To start with this years race was a completely different race. The bike course and the run course were changed making this a much faster race, I think. The transitions were the big change this year. Two separate transitions were set up. T1 was in a different place then T2. I was a little nervous about this because everything had to be set up on Saturday and you were not aloud to layout the run gear on Sunday morning. This caused me some anxiety because I like to check and double check everything on race morning. I figured everyone was going through the same thing so I should not worry about it and just execute.

This was a big race for me. I changed up my training after Buffalo Springs and needed a good race to prove that it was a good choice. Plus it was my last race of the season and it is likely my last long race before Ironman St. George next May so a good race would be a great confidence builder.

The Swim..

The air temp was cold. About 60 degrees. The water temp was 75 but felt cooler because of the air. When I got into the water for my warm up swim I started to worry about getting on the bike while still wet and getting hypothermia. Once the gun went off though all my focus went to racing and I would deal with the weather as it came. The swim was uneventful. I actually swam it just as I wanted to. As I exited the water I did not feel the weather at all because the adrenaline was flowing.

The Bike..

The bike was what made this race for me. I had worked hard since Buffalo Springs, upping my bike workouts dramatically and I hoped it would pay off. I managed to pace myself well. I told myself that I had to keep my pace steady no matter what happened ahead or behind me. Early in the race two guys in my age group speed past me and it was temping to chase them but I let them go. I was a little mad because my bike computer was not reading correctly. The speed kept jumping around so I really had no idea what my average speed was. Then at mile 40 I also discovered that the odometer was reading incorrectly an my distance was 4 miles off. This was a little bit of a demotivator but I fought it off. I do need to do something about my aero bottle that sits on the bars. I sat for the last 30 miles waiting for it to just fall to the ground but it never did. I had come up with this little plastic support that I Velcro between the aerobars and I use large rubber bands to hold the bottle to that. Well as the Velcro got wet it slipped off and then I noticed that the rubber bands were so dry rotted that they could break at any moment. The whole thing just held on for dear life for 30 miles. I just new it was going to fall apart and I would be mad that I was going to have to go buy another one. With 5 miles to go I was passed again by 3 people in my age group but I let them go as well. I knew that I would see them on the run and running has become a strength of mine this year. Besides I had managed to race my own race the entire time and I was entering T2 14 minutes faster than my personal best. This was a perfect situation going into the run. I was so excited to be doing so well that I got a great energy boost in T2.

The Run..

Transition was a little longer than i would have liked. Because I had to set up everything on Saturday I was not able to fill my fuel belt with my usual Hammer gel and Accelerade because I did not want ants to get it or have it spoil on me overnight. I decided that I would put powder in the bottles and then when I got to T2 I would use my bike water to fill the bottles. This worked beautifully but took me an extra 30 seconds or so. The other thing that held me up is that I really had to pee. This is a good sign that my hydration was right on but it is also annoying to have to stop during a race. I feared that standing still for too long my legs would freeze up. I went anyway, there was no way I was going to run on a full bladder. Out of transition things got a little confusing. The route was not marked real well for the first 200 yards. You actually had to enter the finish arena and run around the outside edge. Confusing but kind of a cool feeling seeing all the spectators in the stands.

I did my first 3 miles in 6:30/mile. Awesome but not smart so after 3 miles I started to slow the pace down a little to just over 7/mile. it was hard to slow down because I was on such a high from my bike time but I managed it eventually. The run was a three loop course. I have a love/hate relationship with these types of courses. Love because there are always people cheering the entire course, but hate because they tend to get crowded with runners and you have no idea what place you are in. If someone is in front of you are they on their first, or second lap? Anyway the run was very easy this year. Partly because last year I was suffering from leg cramps and had trouble even walking, but also because the big hill they call Quadzilla was gone. My stomach was not doing so well for the first 40 minutes on the run. All I could take in was water but after a while I had to force something down and surprisingly it stayed down. In the end my run was also a PR for a half marathon so I was extremely happy about the race overall.

In the end I cannot say anything was bad about this race. I pushed as hard as I could and still finish and I had the fastest race day I have ever had at an HIM. Great race and a great season.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Longhorn 70.3

Season is over and what a season ending race it was! I will work on the full race report and get it up soon but I am going into surgery tomorrow morning ( yes I am finally doing it instead of complaining here all the time) so who knows when I will feel up to typing. I will have a lot more down time for a few weeks so we'll see.

The short of it was that I had my best race results at the HIM so far. Everything went as planned, nothing went wrong despite my mind trying to insert negative thoughts every 5 minutes. that negative thinking scared the hell out of me. I guess I just needed a good race to validate all time spent this year and I just got scared that if was all going to go down the drain. If I had to fault myself for anything it would be that I had to make a pit stop in T2 which took an extra minute or so. Running on a full bladder does not feel good at all so it was a necessary 60 seconds.

Thanks to my family for putting up with me this year. I can be single minded during the season.

Stay tuned for several posts on the seasons ups and downs and training pros and cons.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


It is amazing to feel the body get stronger. Sometimes when training you are so tired that it is hard to see the end goal. You start wondering if you are pushing to hard, your body is getting run down, and the last thing you need is to get injured or sick right before your taper. Then, out of nowhere you come through the fog. You start into your peak week just before race taper and realize that your body has responded amazingly. You see the miles tick off but your body does not get tired. You look down at your watch and realize that your pace, even after 5 or 6 miles is faster than you have ever been able to hold before. You do your last long ride, a route that destroyed you 4 or 5 weeks earlier and when your done you feel fresh and full of energy. This is what makes all the training time and sacrifice worth it.

I am racing in 4 days and I feel physically more ready for this race than I have at any other. Stories will be told and maybe a legendary race will be run. Lets hope for the best.

An acquaintance of mine posted an answer to a questions about what he did differently for his IM this year than last year. I like that idea and think that I will post something along those lines after my race this weekend. My training this year took on two very distinct phases. The first half of the season was a build up to Buffalo Springs in June. Then I made a few changes and followed a different training schedule for Longhorn. It will be interesting to see what the results are. I want to wait to post the specifics until the race is over so that I have some results to refer to though.

Hopefully there will be more regular posts throughout the off season. I will have a lot to write about as I get ready for IM St. George starting in January. I will also be recovering from shoulder surgery during November and December so I will have a lot more time to think as I sit and get fat.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Star Struck

It has been a while since my last post. I have been struggling with something to write. I did not want to just fill the page with meaningless dribble but this weekend gave me something to write.

I am not normally the type of person that gets star struck but that is what this weekend was full of. It all started on Thursday night when I was invited to ride (along with anyone else in Austin) with Lance Armstrong. Stupid me, I decided that it was going to be crowded, I figured on 1000 people so I did not go. I did not want to be one of those that says, "Yeah I rode with Lance". When really I was 2 miles behind him and we just happened to be on the same route. Later that afternoon a friend sent me the pictures and it was really an intimate group, 100 people at the most, almost everyone I ride with on a normal basis was there except me. The stories of break aways by Lance and friends sound awesome. I would have loved to be able to say I drafted off Lance. I will be kicking myself for a long time for this one.

On Sunday I did not pass up the opportunity to ride with another couple of local pro triathletes. Sure they are not as well known as Lance, but I enjoyed the ride and I learned more riding with them than I would have if I was dropped in the first 5 miles by Lance. It was a ral confidence booster knowing that I could hand with 2 people that are recent Ironman winners.

Maybe next time?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Revenge of the shoulder

It has been over six months since I even felt so much as a sting in my shoulder. So long ago that I almost forgot anything is wrong. Back in February I had another steroid shot and all has been well but about two weeks ago I started to feel small twinges of pain, especially after a hard swim.

Now I have a dilemma. Do I get surgery in October (as planned) and risk recovery before Ironman St. George or do I put up with the pain so that I am able to keep my swim volume high. The doctor says I will be back in the pool in 4-6 weeks and at about 8-10 weeks I should be feeling all normal. 4-6 weeks out of the pool is not going to ruin me. Is it? Living so sedentary might drive me crazy. I may lose some base endurance, but during that time I will not be specifically training for anything anyway. So by May I should be my old self again. Besides, a week or two off from training completely and then I can get back on the bike or go for a run. Maybe it will be just the thing I need so that when training for IM St. George gears up I will be fresh and excited.

Is is such a hard decision and one I have to make now. If I am having the surgery I will do it right after Longhorn 70.3. That is only 7 weeks away.

Its not that I am scared of the surgery. I am more scared by the prospect of recovery taking longer than it is supposed to. For now nothing hurts except every once and a while but I know that in a month it may be a different story and I will regret postponing the surgery again like I did last year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Things I love about morning workouts

This morning I got in the pool for the first time in 10 days. (See previous post about bike accident if you wonder why). As I stood at the end of the empty pool preparing to break its pristine surface I had to pause and stare at its beauty. It occurred to me that this beauty, the glass smooth water, the quiet hum of the pumps, the smell of the chlorine (or what ever chemical they use these days), this is one of the things that I love the most about morning workouts. I almost hated to mess it up with my thrashing and kicking, uh..I mean swimming.

It's not just the pool either. On the bike or out on a run I relish the quietness that comes with it. When I head out for a ride the air is calm and quiet, and all I can hear is the distinctive hum of the wheels spinning. It is mesmerizing and hypnotic. It is a sound like no other. When I get up at 5AM on a Saturday morning there is no one else down at the lake, in fact there is no one even awake yet. As I run a long I occasionally am greeted by a raccoon fishing in the lake or I hear the trickle of the water as it flows around the columns that hold up Congress bridge. All this is like therapy for me. The workout becomes just as much about my physical health as it does my mental health. I don't need the distraction of an ipod, the company of another human, or the television blaring while I ride my trainer. My morning workouts are calming and centering. You might say it is my form of meditation. There is nothing like it and I hope to keep it all to myself.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jack's Generic Triathlon Race Report

Man it has been a while since I wrote anything. I had to post today though because I had a race today and although it was not a bad race it wrapped up the best and the worst performances of the year all in one race and within about 1 hour. Todays race started with a pretty bad bike crash, see pictures:

There are more pictures but they may not be appropriate for some viewers because I have to get naked. So after the wreck, which happened at about mile 3 on a 14 mile ride I lost my groove and was a little skiddish. My bike leg was the worst of the year. I was off my goal about 5 minutes. Determined to make up the time I pushed hard on the run and ended up with my fastest 3 miles I have ever run, sub 19 minutes.

Now to the race report.

This was a sprint race and one of the few where the race director lets non pros/elites sign up to be in the Open wave and race against the best. So I decided that I would either be humiliated or prove I belonged in the group. What this meant was that no matter how well I did in my AG I was not eligible for AG prizes. OK by me if it means getting better by racing against some really fast people.

Swim: The swim started out awesome. I ended up gaining a great position on someone and was able to draft for at least 200 meters. I could really feel the difference in speed while drafting. At the halfway point I ended up all alone but still did not lose any position. I came out of the water in 8th place. Not bad out of 40 people in the Open Division. At the conclusion i ended up with the 28th fastest swim overall.

Bike: I think I got into a good rythm on the bike. For the first few miles I was averaging 25MPH. I kept thinking, this is only 14 miles so I can hammer it the entire time. Then at mile 3 there is a sharp turn to the right. The road goes from crapy asphault to even crapier chip seal gravel. I lined up for the turn and slowed to 18 or 20MPH and all of the sudden I felt the bike slip out and I heard the gravel under my tires. the next thing I knew I was on my side sliding down the road. It took me a few seconds to get my bearings and throw out a few curse words. Then I did a quick scan of injuries (both me and the bike) and hopped back on. i have no idea what the total time was but I do remember 4 or five people passing me while I was on the ground. Once back on the bike I figured that if anything was seriously wrong I would know soon. All seemed OK except for the stinging pain. From this point I just was not able to get anything going on the bike. Partly because of nerves and maybe my body was expending energy elsewhere to stop the bleeding and keep me out of shock. Whatever it was I had a hrd time from that point just maintaining 20MPH. Turns out that I averaged barely 20.7MPH overall. At my normal 22 or 23MPH I would have been at a minimum 3 minutes faster. This is the difference in about 10 spots. Oh well, can't change that.

Run: Once Off the bike I knew that my strength would be on the run so I resolved to run down as many people as I could. I pushed hard on the run picked off 3 runners and ended up with the fastest 3 miles i have ever run in my life.

My overall time was 1:08:28 which is slower than expected but it loked like it was a difficult day for a lot of people. Only 3 people went sub 60 minutes and no one else went below 1:03. I learned a lot at the this race. One always wonders what will happen when things don't go right. Not only that but when something happens that could result in a DNF.

I am stronger for the experience and I also have something better than a plaque that would probably just go in the closet. I have permanent scars to carry around forever.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Ever since Buffalo Springs (3 weeks tomorrow) I have felt disorganized. I have found it really hard to get back into my scheduled training. I have been following the schedule but I feel that I have been doing only that, mindlessly following the schedule. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am trying to change up my schedule and try some new things during this next 12 weeks until Longhorn 70.3. I have spent every night for the last two weeks studying my results, evaluating my training plan and even looking into the value of hiring a coach to consult with. My performance at Buffalo Springs did a couple of things to me. First it showed that I still have some potential for more speed. Second it showed that my training has been doing some good. Third it exposed my weaknesses on the bike and made me realize that I need some more specific training in that area.

So here I am three weeks later about to race again, albeit its only a modified Olympic distance, and I can't help but think about what my strategy should be. Should I push the bike leg to the limit just to see what happens? If I blow up on the run I could lose the race. Should I play it conservative knowing that I will finish top 10 and if I have the legs maybe push it on the run and finish a little higher? I have two more races before Longhorn. I should be viewing them as training and try some different tactics. I will hopefully discover something about myself and my physical ability that will help me at Longhorn. Maybe I will have a breakthrough on the race and realize the secret to my speed. What ever happens I will give you a report soon.

What does all this stem from anyway. Is it normal to never be satisfied with your results. Should you always be striving to finish first. It seems that no matter how well I do it is not good enough for me. I know that there is more in me. If that is the case then why is it not coming out. What is limiting my performance. Two things can be at fault, training approach or mental blocks and self confidence. Enter the coach. A coach can tell me if my training is correct or not. A coach can give me specific workouts to improve weaknesses, or a coach can tell me that I am doing the right thing and I need to be better prepared mentally. If it is mental then what stops me from pushing farther? Why do I lack the self confidence to push myself beyond that comfort zone?

Aha and there lies the connection between life and triathlon. The never ending and frustrating search to be a better person, father, employee, triathlete, etc... Joy in disguise.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lubbock Report

Things are finally getting back to normal after this weekend. I felt like I got back from Lubbock and had a thousand things to do. Now that the situation is under control I can sit and write my race report for Buffalo Springs 70.3.

Starting on Friday. The family drove to Lubbock. Long drive, not unbearable but long. I found it fascinating that there are so many wind turbines being built out there. These things are 200 feet tall and have blades that are 80 feet long. In some areas they go on for as far as you can see. It's kind of like a science fiction movie, but also beautiful at the same time. I'm sure its not beautiful if you live in the area and have to see them every day though. We got a late start so we did not get into Lubbock until 9PM. Hotel and bed.

On Saturday I rose early and did some stretching and a short 20 minute run. I wanted to get on the bike for about 30 minutes but I was kind of lazy. It was important to get some exercise in because I had taken the previous 2 days off. Spent the rest of Saturday in Lubbock hanging with the family, checking in at the expo and driving out to see some of the course. I was a little worried that I would not get enough sleep Saturday night because we were all in one room as a family but I managed to get in bed about 9PM.

As a side note, I spent a lot of time on Saturday worrying about how the family was going to get to the race site. The hotel was 15 miles away, we only had one car and I had to be at transition by 5AM. Poor planning on my part. I realized too late to be able to find a ride to the race, plus I did not know anyone that was racing well enough to just ask a stranger for a ride. I was hoping that there would be someone at the hotel that I could bum a ride from but the only people I saw already had 3 bikes and 3 people stuffed into a small rental. So reluctantly the family had to settle for an expensive cab ride to the race later in the day. The race takes place at a camp ground but I was afraid that it would be full of people and we would tow a camper up there and not be able to find a spot. Turns out we probably would have been OK. Good to know for next year.

So how did the race go you ask...Here are the stats:
  • 5:15:43 198th Overall
  • 30th in AG
  • Swim 33:34
  • Bike 2:52:13
  • Run 1:46:29
In transition at 5AM the wind was blowing and it was threatening to rain. I was nervous and disorganized. Not because of the race but because I realized I would be getting wet before the race even started and I would probably stay wet all day. Racing wet sucks! and swimming when there is lightening is not smart. I half expected the swim to be cancelled. Riding in the rain is scary and dangerous on hills, and running in wet shoes is just miserable. despite this I set everything up and headed to the swim.

Swim: Looking back I was probably too conservative on the swim. I could have hit it harder and cut a minute or two but I relaxed and conserved my energy for the bike. I think this was because I knew the bike leg would be tough and had a few big hills. I came out of the water a little surprised by my time. I thought I would be faster and I felt that the swim was long. If fact there is ongoing talk about how the swim may have been 100M or 200M long so that eases my mind.

Bike: The bike was the best part of this race. The ride is awesome. If I lived in the area I would probably ride it all the time. The wind was blowing pretty hard the whole ride (well at least until it started raining). The wind was not that big a deal because when it was at my back I was cruising, fast. I found the hills challenging but I took them on with a purpose and it paid off. For me the rain was on and off for most of the race and did not start pouring down until I was at about 40 miles. At this point I was done with all the hills except the last one coming into transition.

T2 was a blur and really soggy. There was nothing I could do so I put on my soaking wet shoes and headed out. I was in good spirits because my legs felt good. I was a little nervous after my last HIM when I cramped up on the bike and could barely walk for the first couple miles on the run.

My first few miles I was holding a sub 8 mile. Awesome, I thought, but then at mile 4 I hit the first hill. I was determined to pass as many people as possible on the hills so I cranked it out and continued on passing a lot of people who were walking. At the turn around I was at 51 minutes. Not bad after 4hours of racing. The course is out and back so all the hills that you run out you know what you are getting on the way back. I remember being scared that I would not make it up the last hill around mile 9. I had been trading places with this younger kid, age 23. He would sprint ahead a few hundred yards and then have to stop to stretch out his hamstrings. I kept thinking, here I am slow and steady and in the end I will prevail. Anyway, at mile 9, the last of the big hills I saw him walking up the hill. I knew that it would kill me but I had to prove a point and win a small victory so I picked up the pace and overtook him on the hill. Never saw him again. I lost track of my pace in the last two miles, I was too worried about finishing. It felt like I was crawling. With 1 mile to go I saw my family. I almost missed them because I was zoning out trying to keep the legs moving. Seeing them made me proud and excited that they were willing to come and watch. I pressed on and finished uneventfully at BSLT 70.3 2009.

Overall it was a great race and the best part was that it was a confidence builder. The training has been paying off and I am gaining confidence in my ability to push harder and still finish. I don't think I will be doing BSLT next year because of IM St. George. It was such a fun race that It will feel sad to miss it next year.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Race of my life

I am not sure why or how Buffalo Springs 70.3 became one of the premier races in the country. Every time I mention it people give me this lost look and say, "Really, a triathlon in Lubbock?". Yeah, and not just a triathlon, one of the premier Half Ironmans in the country. I think it is because it is one of the few HIMs that gives out qualifying spots to the World Championships in Kona but it would have to have been popular before that in order for the organizers of Ironman racing to allow this. Whatever it is all I know is that on Friday I will be headed that way for the biggest race of my life.

Last week I was very nervous and even doubted myself. I shouldn't though, I've done the distance. Yet again this course is tougher and more hilly (contrary to what people think about Lubbock). I think that I was nervous because of what is at stake. First there is Kona, which would be a dream come true, its a long shot but there is a shot. Then there is a bid to Clearwater and the 70.3 championship, not as long a shot but still out there. I am also nervous because at Longhorn 70.3 back in October I was disappointed in my performance. This always makes a person question their abilities. Throwing that out and trusting that I have learned and grown stronger my ultimate goal is to be able to have a good age group showing. I am looking for 5 hours. According to last years results that would put me in the top 20 in my age group. Solid showing for me and anything better is just the icing on the cake.

Today I am just excited. The nerves have calmed. I have had a few good training days and I am feeling ready. Now it is time to organize, do some light training and try not to panic!

Monday, June 15, 2009


For the past year I have been going through a transformation. Lets call it a food transformation. For 34 years of my life I did not worry too much about what I ate. My views on diet consisted of eating everything in moderation. Then as I started to get more serious about triathlon I was overwhelmed with information on diet and performance. So without ever really trying I started to gather information and started trying to make sense of the convoluted, controversial, and confusing industry of food. Now, almost two years later I am still learning and trying to make some sense out of the endless contradiction we call food, but I have learned a lot, which only scratches the surface, but awareness is the key and knowing all sides of an issue is what allows us as humans to make an educated choice.

Anyway, I am not an expert, or even remotely qualified to tell anyone what to eat but I have started to develop a philosophy on food and the other day I did come across a quote that I think sums up my entire view. It is from The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. In his opening chapter there is this line. "A great number of the health and environmental problems created by our food system owe to our attempts to oversimplify nature's complexities". So what does this quote mean to me? It means eat as natural as possible. It means pay attention to where your food is coming from (i.e, preparation, origin). It means that we all know what food is better for us than others so just know that your health is a conscious choice that YOU make. It means eat variety and never an overabundance of any one type of food.

Food is a very personal choice, people eat for many different reasons. Mine are for the long term health of my body and my performance at a race. Identify yours and follow the steps above.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cap Tex Tri 2009

Well, it is done. The Cap Tex Tri is in the books for 2009. Talk about improvement over '08. I cut 14.5 minutes off of my time from last year. (2:19:00 Vs 2:33:30) The biggest gains came on the run and the swim. I know that I have said before that I don't do race reports and I keep doing them but I have discovered that it is a way for me to assess the positive and the negative and organize my thoughts for the next race.

The swim: 23:14 excellent swim. Fast swim. About 400M in I was able to catch site of only one other person in my wave and he was even with me most of the way. Then at the halfway point I noticed that I was all alone in the water. For a second I thought that I may be way off course but it turned out to be a clearing between start waves. This allowed me to put on some speed. As I made the turn to the last buoy I was able to pull ahead of someone in my wave (not sure if it was the same person as before). Coming out of the water I knew that I was fast and figured I was at least in the top 10 of my wave in the swim. Turns out I was 6th in my wave and 11th in my AG and ended the day with the 65th fastest swim overall.

T1 is a long run. So transition times look huge but the majority of that is the run. I am not happy with my T1 time. My goal was 2 minutes and I ended up with 3:05. I guess the trouble with my wet suit was bigger than I though. My transition time from last year was 10 seconds faster. Looking at the T1 times of others in my AG I was 29th. There is definitely room for improvement there.

The Bike: I was a little disorganized on the bike. I waited until I was up the hill to put my shoes on but when I did my left shoe strap came completely out of the stay so I had to spend extra time putting it back on. This is not easy on a bike at 15 mph. Then my right shoe would not cooperate and it took me extra time. After about 3 tenths of a mile I was off but had lost position to at least 5 people. Then I realized that my helmet was loose because it kept slipping down and blocking my vision (another unnecessary adjustment to make)! The bike course has a lot of turns and 2 short hills so I would suspect my average speed would be low compared to an open course like back in April at the Lonestar. Even with the adjustment problems I was able to maintain a 22.4 mph average. A little under what I wanted but not bad. It put me at 1:06:23. This is 3 minutes faster than last year. but 4 minutes faster than I was hoping. The only other eventful thing that happened on the bike was that on my last lap I had an elbow rest on my aerobars come off somewhere. Not that big (except that I now have to replace it) of a deal just a little uncomfortable. Luckily it was my last lap.

In T2 I was still slow. I could have cut about 30 seconds at least but I remember mentally checking everything and making sure that I had everything with me. Kind of a mental lapse that should have been second nature.

The Run: Once out on the run course I quickly picked off a few people. I knew that anyone I could pass on my first lap moved me up but after my first lap I would be mixed with people who were still on their first lap and it would not be possible to tell who was ahead of me. I started strong on the run. I ran my first two miles sub 7 minutes, then I started to feel the legs and slowed down but only slightly. After about mile 3 I realized that my legs were cramping and I was cautious. I forgot to bring my e-caps so I was left with water and Gatorade on the course and I made sure not to pass any of them up. After mile 3 I set my sights on a runner in front of me. He was in a younger age group so I was not concerned if he beat me but he was looking strong still and I figured if I could hang with him I would finish strong. He and I battled for position and even exchanged a few words of encouragement for the next 2.5 miles. Then with about a half mile to go he came up beside me and said, "lets see how much energy you got", as he picked up the pace. I wasn't going to let that happen so I took the bait. As we came to the last 400 meters he dropped back and said, "take it". So I sprinted to the finish. I ran a 44:14. Just what I expected it to be.

Overall a great race. Finished 10th in AG and 63rd overall. Solid performance but the competition was a lot faster this year too. Last year my time would have won second in my AG. This year it was only good for 10th. Next year I will just have to be faster.

Back to training.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Training update

It has been a long time since I have posted. Between training, working and moving my family to a new house I have had little time to write but I think I can crank out an update to let everyone know that I am at least still here.

It has been 45 days since I raced and I am itching to get out there. Luckily I have a race on Memorial day. I have been looking forward to this race for a long time. This is my first 'A' race of the year and I hope to be on the podium at the end of the day. The weather looks like it will hold up and it will definitely be cooler than last years 100+ degrees, in the shade. I did a little race prep last night at the Pure Austin Splash and Dash. Just a short 750M swim and a 3K run and it went well for my first of the year. I love doing these. Its an all out sprint for 20 minutes or so. The competition is fierce and the hot dogs afterward are good. You can always count on several local pros showing up. Last night there were more than usual and it was the biggest field yet. 200 people and it could have been 300+ according to the race director. I finished 11th overall. I struggled on the swim. I felt heavy in the water. It was not my fastest swim but it was respectable. The most exciting part of the race was that I ran my fastest split (not my fastest ever but my fastest at this race). The reason this is good news is because it was the first time I had pushed my speed that high since my injury almost 2 months ago and I felt no pain!! There is some soreness today but not pain and this is exciting. I have not been running much and when I do it is reserved because of the injury. I will probably still be a little scared for a few weeks but at the race on Monday I will not hold back. If something happens I will have 4 weeks until Buffalo Springs so I should be fine.

Well I am off to do another taper workout and get ready for Monday. It should be a great race. I will have an update on Tuesday.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Injuries are not fun. A lot of times athletes wonder how they even got to the point of injury. One minute your running your best times ever and the next day something hurts. This is exactly what happened in my case. I was feeling great, running some of the best times in my career and one day I went for a run and my calf started hurting. It was a familiar hurt, I felt it about 2 years ago while training for my first marathon. My first thought was, not again, last time I was not able to run for 5 weeks. What did I do to hurt myself this time? The answer to that question may never be answered but there does seem to be a pattern. Up to the point of injury I had been training hard and fast to increase my speed. I had a 10K coming up and my goal was to go under 40 minutes. Things were looking real promising. In my training I was doing a lot of speed work and not very many LSD (Long Slow Distance) runs. I think that my body was not quite ready for the jump in speed and that I was on the brink of injury for a while. Last time I had this injury I had increased not only my speed but my volume not to mention that I was running more a week than I had ever run in my life. Anyway, this is probably typical of most athletes. The ones I know are impatient and overconfident sometimes. We try to push our limits not only in racing but in training and often ignore our bodies tell tale signs of needing rest.
So again, just like last time, I have learned some valuable lessons:
  1. Listen to your body. It knows when it is over trained.
  2. Be patient with gains. They never come as fast as you want them to but they do come.
  3. Have a recovery plan and be religious about it.
As a side note: I did run my fastest 10K although it was 1 minute over my goal. 41 minutes is not too shabby I think.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

First race of the year

I did my first race of the year this last weekend. My feelings are mixed about the results. I probably should not be so hard on myself, it was the first race of the year. After all, the idea of the first race is supposed to be a gauge to see how training has been going. So what did I learn:

I am undecided about how to take it but my bike time was not what I expected. Does this mean that my training is not what it should be or does it mean that I did not push hard enough and could have gone faster? Either way the results were good but I expected better. One of my goals this year is to average 23+MPH on the bike in all races. So obviously the bike the was disappointment. The reason is that the Lonestar race takes place in Galveston, the flattest place in Texas so the bike leg should have been the fastest I've ever done. It wasn't! in fact it was slower than my bike leg at the Austin Tri last season and that one is a 3 loop course (which are usually slower because of all the turns) and it has hills. The only thing that I can come up with is that I could have pushed harder and that I did not push because it was the first race of the year and I was afraid of blowing up on the run.

I should dwell on the positive in the race because there were several positives. The swim was fast. Not my fastest but it was one of the top three. Both transitions were flawless. The run was awesome. This was a quarter Ironman so the run was 3 tenths longer than a 10K. My time was good enough that if it had been a 10K I would have been real close to my personal best.

The next race is in 5 weeks so I have time to re evaluate my training and get ready.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It is official

Well it took me three days to talk myself into the commitment but I slept on it and I don't think that I can pass up the opportunity so I spent the money and signed up. Yes, I am now officially committed to the Ironman St. George in 2010. It seems like a long way away and a lot can happen in 13 months but this is the life of the Ironman (signing up for races at least a year in advance just to secure a spot). My plan this whole time has been to do my first full in 2010. The St. George IM is in May which is about a month earlier than ideal but I had to jump at the chance instead of waiting for Coeur d'Alene and hoping that I am a lucky one that gets into the race.

You have no idea how exciting this is. Official training wont start until December but just signing up has changed my view on this season and it's goals. I am still going for it this year with all my original goals but now in the back of my mind I will be training for the IM the whole year. It is funny how daunting of a task this feels like. Even bigger than the Texas Water Safari which was 260 miles non stop with no outside support. I had to plan for a 60+ hour race then yet this Ironman is only 140.6 miles and at the most will take a third the hours of the TWS. I have a lot of planning and a lot of dreaming to do in the next year. Oh yeah and I cannot forget all the special favors I will have to do for the family over the next year so that they will stay supportive and not regret letting me fulfill this dream.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Workouts that rock

I love those days when I am working out and I feel like I could go forever. But alas it has to end sometime and when it does I am sad but satisfied, tired but full of energy. Today was one of those days. It all started at 5:00 AM when I headed to the gym for an hour of weights. Then I ate a small breakfast and headed out the door for a 2 hour bike ride. After the ride I was feeling good so I decided to finish up with a 30 minute recovery run. That is a day that I could do more often!

I am finally reading Lance Armstrong's book "Its not about the bike". I know that I am really late reading it but better late than never. Anyway, I cannot put it down. I am typically a slow reader but this book reads easily and is a fascinating story. There is a part of his book that is very insightful and it seems very fitting to today's post. He talks about riding and how suffering on a bike for 6+ hours is painful but cleansing. It puts one at peace. This struck a chord with me. I have actually talked to other athletes about this subject and found something similar in all aspects of endurance sports. A friend of mine who is an avid marathoner says when she runs long her brain actually goes into a trance. There are periods where she cannot remember thinking. The running instinct takes over and when she is done all the stress is gone. I get this feeling when I ride or when I swim. I can shut my brain off (not literally of course, that would be dangerous). I can forget everything that is going on in the world and just workout. There is something very primal about the feeling. It is as if a survival instinct kicks in and all else goes away except the end goal. Even pain seems to become secondary.

So how does that all fit in with today's workout. Today was one of those days when I needed to shut down the stress receptors and get into that primal mode. The stress of trying to buy and sell my house has been really getting to me and it has also messed with my normally steady schedule. Have I mentioned yet that I am moving? Anyway, I needed today's workout so that I could clear my mind and be at peace. I did not think about any outside world issues the entire time and when I was done I felt ready to take on anything that had been standing in my way.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Crazy Triathlete!

Cold weather cycling hurts. Is it worth the pain? The jury is still out while my feet thaw. Here in Texas it is not that hard to avoid cycling in weather below about 50 degrees but yesterday I decided I was going to get outside no matter what. Family and work obligations dictate that about 90% of my workouts are in the early mornings so I forced myself outside at 7 AM on Sunday and the thermometer read 30 degrees. I was determined to do it because the last 3 weeks I wimped out and rode the trainer indoors. One can only take that for so long before going crazy.

The first 30 minutes were terrible but once everything went numb I did not feel any more pain. To give some perspective, 30 degrees really is not that cold when just standing outside, but if you hop on a bike and ride 17 to 20 MPH you are essentially creating a headwind of the same speed. Thus with the wind chill factored in, 30 degrees feels like about 18 degrees when on the bike.

Now to my question, is it worth the pain? I figure riding outside as opposed to the trainer is always better, if only for the scenery. I also think that it makes a person more mentally tough to ride in any kind of weather. If you can run or bike in cold weather and force the thoughts of quitting out of your mind your mental toughness increases. It is like a big hill or biking against the wind. You have to be just as mentally ready to take on these elements as you are physically. If you can do well under adverse conditions think of how much better you would do in perfect conditions. Plus, friends think that I am crazy. I probably am, but I like it that way. When people make excuses for not being able to workout I always point out that its not the time limits its the conscious decision to not start. If I can force myself out in the freezing cold then there are no excuses for not getting out of bed and going to a warm gym. Truth is I like the image of being the crazy triathlete, or is it dedicated triathlete? I guess it depends on your perspective. It's a fine line that I enjoy walking.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm Back

It has been a while since I posted anything. Mainly because I have had very little time to even think about writing. It is hard enough to train when family and job get in the mix, but recently I have been trying to get the house ready to put on the market and this is an added stress that I am ready to be done with. Such is life, right?

The pool is empty these days. I wonder why? In the past there are mornings when one cannot find an open lane and that's at 5 AM. Now I show up and sometimes I am the only one in the pool. I know this will change. It is getting close to the time when all the people who made a New Year's resolution to run a triathlon will start training for the local sprint. Even then I usually find several people at the pool. I will admit that this year I have made a concerted effort to keep my swim volume down. For one I want to keep the shoulder from getting worse, its too early to have it hurting all season. I have also been consciously heeding the advice of many and concentrating on my bike and run.

I have read it or heard it said many times that swimming is the one leg that the least gains can be made (for the average swimmer or above). It has also been said that you don't win triathlons in the water. An average swimmer can kill on the bike and run and win a race. A great swimmer can lose a race by being caught on the bike or run. So because of this I am keeping my volume moderate right now and spending more time elsewhere. during the winter I even dropped my swim days down to two a week and sometimes only one. Every four weeks I would do a 1000 yard TT and what I found was that there was no loss of speed (no gain either but I am OK with that). It is hard to stay out of the pool when it is one of your strengths and you are part fish like me.

So what is the moral of this story. Mental toughness is not only about sitting on a bike for 4 hours (although it is all mental when you try it while sitting in one place) or keeping your mind focused on running for 2+ hours. It is also about reprogramming your brain to say, "its OK not to swim today", or keep the big picture in mind by saying "I have to run today even though I want to swim because it will make me a stronger triathlete overall".

Keeping the big picture in front of you is mentally tough. This is why people stress, "run your own race". It takes mental toughness to keep pace when someone comes screaming past you on the bike. You naturally want to pursue but you know that the pace will beat you down and the run will be all survival. So you make a mental note of the guys number and vow to hunt him down on the run.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


It goes without saying that Triathletes are highly motivated. Whether you are a one time triathlete or compete an entire season it takes dedication and sacrifice of time to train for triathlon. I have even heard it said that most triathletes enjoy the training as much as the racing. From my own experience this is true. I am now in the 12th week of my off season and I can feel the itch to race again. The problem is that my first race will not be until April 5. I have about 4-6 weeks of "off season" training before I start to get more specific. Because of this I can feel myself loosing the motivation to train. Getting up in the morning is getting harder (especially when its cold outside). The garage wall is getting boring as I spend time on the trainer but its tough to get excited about riding outside when its 30 degrees. So what does one do if motivation starts to wain?

Here is my advice:
  1. Take a few days off. Not just one but two or three in a row. This is by far the best way to recharge but sometimes it is the hardest one to choose. Missing a workout can drive a person crazy when their normal schedule is to do something every day.

  2. Do some sort of activity that is not even remotely related to triathlon. I have started attending group fitness classes once a week just for a change of pace. My gym also has a rock wall that I like to climb every so often (great cardio workout, that heart rate will sky rocket when your scared of falling).

  3. Force yourself to do the workout. This one can be dangerous!! pushing your body to workout when your mind is not in it can lead to injury and can also lead to further burnout. That said sometimes breaking through that mental barrier can strengthen you mentally and physically.

Just some thoughts since this was the second day in a row that I consciously slept in (Oh! Crap did that really happen!! I better get to the gym tonight before I lose all that conditioning I've gained).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dose of Mortality

We are all aware that it could happen. We are told every time we walk out the door to be careful. We here the stories in the paper. Do we really heed the advice, the warnings, the reality that could be? Yesterday I was given a dose of this reality and realized my own mortality.

The ride was typical, nothing out of the ordinary except that it was about 15 degrees colder than the weatherman said it would be. I was sorely under dressed. I kept telling myself that this is what dedicated triathletes put themselves through, but I think I was just plain crazy for being out in the weather. The group ride that I frequent has two routes, long and short. I typically do the short ride (35 miles) but yesterday I decided to do the 60 mile route. A group of about 8 out of the 25 or so broke off at the normal split. About 20 miles in one of the riders hit a crack in the pavement and went down. I was about 1 or 2 minutes behind the group (yes I am slow) so I did not see anything happen. When I came on the scene 911 was already on the phone. The rider was unconscious when I got there and did not wake the entire time (approximately 15 minutes) even after being loaded into the ambulance. The scene itself was not as awful as one might expect but it was surreal. The scary part, and the main topic of conversation for the next hour as we continued the ride was how it could have been any one of us. It is a difference of inches when you ride in a group. Many times you cannot see the road more than a few feet in front of you. If the bike in front swerves to miss something you have a fraction of a second to react as well and this could lead to just what happened on Sunday.

As cyclists we worry ourselves over cars and trucks that may not be paying attention and sometimes we forget that there are bumps, cracks, pieces of wood, glass, rocks, etc. that can easily bring us down. Its a risk we take every time we set our wheels on the road. The old saying among cyclists is "It's not a matter of whether you will fall or not, its a matter of when". Fatal accidents and even life threatening accidents are rare but they do happen and if anything they serve as a reminder that we are mortal and the only thing separating us from the pavement is a tire that is about 1-1/2 inches wide. Thankfully I have never had a problem, several close calls with puddles of water or manhole covers but that is about it.

An additional learning experience from all this was that even though we are a group of riders that see each other on a regular basis we do not necessarily know one another. When this rider went down the only way we knew his name was because he had his wallet on him. All of us had seen him on rides before but for some reason that was as far as it went. I realized that I do not "know" anyone on the ride either. Every so often you talk to people or meet someone new but is that far enough? I forgot to bring my ID with me (which I normally do) if I had been the one to hit that crack in the road I might be laying in the hospital right now as a John Doe. Scary thought.

As a followup I did hear about an hour ago that the rider is still in ICU and is in a medically induced coma. I hope everything turns out OK and I hope to see him out on the road again soon. This time I will make an effort to get to know him and anyone else for that matter because just like in the military, if I am going to rely on the guy next to me to save my life and in turn I am to save his, then I want to know I have a friend I can trust.