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Posts Tagged ‘triathlon training’


Today is Thanksgiving and I am sitting on the couch at my wife’s parent’s house enjoying being around everyone.  Our kids and grandkids will be here later to enjoy food and family.  Yes, this is a cliché Thanksgiving post.

Not everyone is here though.  There has been loss and there is also separation. So, it is not always as easy as it seems, but then for many, holidays are never as Hallmark-y as they make it out to be.

In our bible class at church we are studying John’s gospel.  He’s that “other” guy in the group.  The one that didn’t write like all the rest.  One of John’s repeated motifs is the “I AM” statements from Jesus.  “I AM the Light that has come into the world,” Jesus says.  “I AM the Bread…”, “I AM the Good Shepherd“, and “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”, are also statements of Jesus.  I suppose these hearken back to when Moses was at the burning bush asking God what His name was so that the Hebrews would know whom it is that Moses is talking to them about.  God’s only answer was, “I AM THAT I AM“.  He needed nothing more.

I think that at this time of year, it is good that we see that same simple statement in ourselves and the kind of spiritual power those small words have.  I am…

I am…thankful.  That is the biggest thing for this year.  It has not been easy for me or my family.  Since losing my former job in 2012, I was finally hired after five months of searching by a nearby hospital.  I am thankful for being able to keep a roof over our heads and food upon the table.  My new situation doesn’t allow for much more than that, but we have still been blessed and cared for every day of this past year.  Regardless of how little we had in our pockets, God provided for us all year.  I am thankful for these blessings because I know that others have even less and are still thankful.

I am…a runner.  Didn’t think I would stick that in here, did you?  No matter what has happened this year in other ways, I am still a runner.  I still get up twice during the week to run before the sun is up, and every Saturday I still go out for my long run.  My only race of the year will be in a week at the Dallas Marathon, where I am running the half.  I was fortunate to register back in the Summer and I am looking forward to the race. Yes, I am still a runner.

I am…a cyclist.  Well, we have to keep it going don’t we?  Cycling  is an expensive sport.  However, it can also be simple.  I managed one organized ride in May, but I have still been riding.  I have friends that have gotten up early on Sundays to ride a few miles and when they aren’t available, I realized I could still get up early and ride for myself.  While I don’t ride as many miles as in past years, I still ride and have made a few good routes around town.

I am…a triathlete.  Well, this one is just on faith.  I stopped swimming about a month ago just because it got very boring.  I did manage to make my distance up to a mile a week for a while this year from mid-Summer until Fall.  However, 1800 yards in a 20 yard pool can get very old.  So, I will just sit out for a while until I just have to go back.

I am…still in ministry.  I thought that when we started over at a new church that I would just be “around”.  That isn’t the plan I see.  There have been opportunities all year for ways that I can serve and I have been glad of the opportunities.

Yep, it’s been quite a good year after all.  And, just think: Christmas is just around the corner and many new adventures await.  Happy running, and happy thanksgiving!

 

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Yep, I’m back.  No, I didn’t go anywhere.  I’ve just been busy.

Since the first of this year, my family’s budget has been much more strict.  That can be problematic when you’re a triathlete, clydesdale or otherwise.  It’s kind of normal that in the 21st century, everything is an industry these days.  So, yes, there is the running industry, the triathlon industry, and I even work in the healthcare industry.  Side note: In my own personal opinion and belief, healthcare of any kind should never be considered an “industry” in any sense.  It should always and only be considered ministry, regardless of your religion.  We should be working ourselves out of a job, not creating permanence and profit. That being said, industries have one primary goal in mind: setting their followers free from the green stuff in their pocketbooks and making them feel good about it.

That’s not cynical, people, it’s just true.  Industries are in it for making money.  They exist because they have constituencies; followers.  Runners need shoes, shorts, shirts, gels, sleeves, compression gear…and the list goes on and on.  Get it–runners NEED this stuff (feel free to substitute cyclist, triathlete, etc.).  And, it’s true that there are times when we do need the stuff, or it may help us in one way or another.  However, many times, we just want it.  Of course, for many triathletes, what we  most want is the next race, or ride, or whatever event there is down the pike.

Previously, during most of the year, I was budgeted to one event per month (except for special instances). One race or one ride.  Now, even those will be hard to come by, so I am doing with less of them.  I attended one ride this Spring, primarily because it was inexpensive and we didn’t have to travel far (and there was something for sweetie to do while I rode).  I was able recently to sign up for the Dallas Half Marathon in December because of a birthday gift.  No, I am not complaining, but I am learning a lot more about what it means to be a runner or a cyclist this way.

I’ve learned I can do without Clif bars.  I’ve learned I can do with just Gatorade.  I already reported that while funds were available, I pre-bought two pair of running shoes so they would last.  I’m keeping my 400 mile pair in service for short runs to make them last even longer.  I’ve also learned to get more out of my workouts than just a notch up for the next race or event.

Usually, by now, I am into full swing cycle mode for the Summer.  That hasn’t happened this year.  I have switched to doing long runs on Saturdays instead of going out and riding.  Mainly because I can’t get any medium length ones during the weekdays.  I was finding that if I got up at 4AM and did 6 to 8 miles, I was wasted for working that day.  Also, by waiting until Saturday, I can run longer and get into better condition, all while seeing the sun come up.  Much better, I think.

But, I’ve gotten some riding time in as well.  I’ve just had to be creative.  I’ve loaded up the bike on the car and driven out to a large trail where I can ride safely on Sunday afternoons sometimes.  Yes, that may be anathema to some, but it is better than nothing.  A friend recently started up his Sunday morning group ride around town.  Since I don’t have to be at church at 7AM any more, I can now ride.  Also, much better.

I’ve been working on a better running workout that is doing me some good right now.  My weekday runs are limited to about 3 and no more than 5K at a time.  Then on Saturdays, I’ve been working from 8 to 14 miles.  I just finished the first cycle a couple of weeks ago and now I’m going from 9 to 14, then 10 to 14, then 12 to 14.  After I finish that cycle, I’ll go back to 8 and start over again.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far it has felt very good to get out and do the longer runs like I was doing for the marathon.

I’m trying to hold 1,000 yds. in swimming, but I waffle some.  I’m down to just one day as Mondays are seniors only at my pool.  It’s a lot less busy that way and I can swim better.  An Ironman friend of mine had been doing a workout where he ran to the pool, did his swim, then ran home.  I’ve started doing that some.  It’s a killer workout, to borrow a cliche, but well worth the effort.

I hadn’t really been a running clothes horse.  My only few important things I’ve had for a while; a couple pairs of compression shorts, and some really good socks, plus a pair of winter woolies and running pants for Winter.  Almost all of my shirts are race shirts or were bought at Wal Mart or Target.  You can get decent stuff there.  I haven’t need any clothes this  year, but if I did, I know where to look.

It’s been different not racing or going to rides as much.  I’ve been blessed with more great runs this way than usual.  I am still getting to do new things.  I’ve noticed I am running much faster than I used to run.  It’s decently exciting to finish a long run on Saturday and discover you didn’t take as long as you thought.  It’s also good to be able to run by the grocery store on your run and see folks you know.

Running and working out is about a lot more than just the events.  You really don’t have to have a lot of money to do it.  You do need to have really good shoes though.  There you cannot scrimp.  That just requires planning and budgeting to make it work.  I’ve been reminded a lot more lately of just what it means to be an athlete (or “late onset athleticism as John Bingham calls it).  At my new job, I have been able to put into practice all those things I believe in about being a craftsman such as doing a good job just because it’s the way you do a job.  Now, I’ve been able to apply those lessons to running, biking, and swimming.  Doing them well just because you should and because  you can.  Triathlon training on a budget does work.  Happy running, ya’ll!

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The past week or so has been good for running, though in a weird sort of way.  I thought I’d relate my week to you all because as I reflect on it, I realize it’s time to take down my shingle as a “newbie“.  I write this to encourage anyone that can still safely and proudly display their shingle as a “newbie” runner, cyclist, or triathlete.

It’s February in North Texas and that means I am completely ready for Spring to be sprung, but the weather just doesn’t cooperate.  We go from warm humid days to freezing and raining overnight, it seems.  It can make one’s planning for morning run preparations quite difficult.  In addition, I usually try to ride early on Saturday mornings right now, but have found that below about 40 degreesF is just too cold. So, what to do?

Last week, I got in a full four days of running as is my usual bent.  On Thursday, it was the coolest of the week, I think.  I had to run a four miler to finish out the week and thought I’d run an old route I used to run.  It has a few hills and I discovered via an achilles problem that it’s not good to run hills every day.  But, my usual route is so flat and boring I just needed the change.

Being a cool morning, I could take out fairly quickly but figured I’d lose it pretty soon.  I’ve been working on pacing since last Fall during marathon training.  I’ve always tried to run by feel, but have found out that I can get lazy.  If my fitness, distance, and time is going to improve, I need to keep my pace in a range that keeps my body challenged.  So, I’ve been working on finding a pace that is comfortable, but at the edge.  It’s a bit like threshold running, but without going quite that far.  I am doing this so that I keep my pace improving as my fitness improves, and that I don’t get lazy.

This was a good morning for that.  I know that if I feel myself speeding up during a run and that it’s not correspondingly hard, then I am doing well.  On that morning, despite the cold and the hills, I was speeding up.  During the last mile, I was wondering if I would break a goal of mine, 4 miles in under 45 minutes.  For the longest time, I’ve been a 50 minute 4-miler.  During the last half-mile, I did my best to run nearly as fast as I could.  My final time was a little over 44 minutes.  Just a little over an 11-minute mile average.

This week, I was hopeful for a full week of running, but the weatherman wasn’t.  After two good days, I had to stay home on the trainer for Wednesday and Thursday because of cold and rain.  Although, the weatherman’s doom and gloom forecast for Thursday morning was behind schedule and I could have run.  Since Saturday was forecast to be sunny but cold in the morning, I thought I would console my missed runs with a real long run.  Cycling down near freezing is just uncomfortable to me and running is doable. I planned an 8-miler, longest run since December.

The first three or four miles seemed normal for this distance, but that was probably the hills.  At about 3.5 miles, I hit a flat spot that holds for a while.  I felt that same increasing pace again.  I was able to hold it and it was doing fine.  I was expecting to see another 11-minute or so average.  Imaging my surprise when I finished out and looked at the Strava reading: 1:30:29 and a 10:30-ish AVERAGE pace.  I cannot ever remember or believe I could have run this distance that quickly.

No it’s not real fast, relatively.  Yet, for me it’s speedy.  It hasn’t been that long since I was just doing 13 minute miles and if I had a really good day, it might be a 12:30. So, 11’s and 10’s of any sort seem like I’m burning rubber.  I guess after four and a half years of running, I might better quit considering myself a beginning runner.

Someone I know that just started a fitness regimen recently asked me, “How do you run for 26.2 miles?”  They couldn’t imagine running that far because it hurt so much to run just a little.  Well, when I started, it hurt then too.  But, I didn’t quit.  I adjusted and my body adjusted also.  If we keep going our body will continue to improve and prepare itself to improve even further.  But, we also have to watch out for plateaus where we become content with what we have done and forget to continue to improve.  If you’re a beginner or a “newbie”, then be proud you are.  Carry that title with honor and just keep going.  Tell yourself that one day, you will have to take that title down and put up a new one.  But, until then, even though it’s just a cliche’, you’re lapping everyone still on the couch.  You’re a runner.  You’re a cyclist.  You’re a triathlete.  Those are much better titles and having beginner beside them is no problem.  Happy running or cycling!  Remember, Spring will be here soon.

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Gray.  Cool.  Wet.  Three apt adjectives to describe Saturday morning of the 2012 Rose City Triathlon.  This was to be my second tri and it was at the same event as my first.  I did the 2011 Rose City Tri last September.  However, last September was sunny and warm.  The two different weather events would have a lot to do with how my triathlon turned out.

I felt fairly confident with my training as I set up my transition area.  Once again, I had drawn a small number (19) and would set up on the main line in and out of transition.  I had done my work and was hoping for a good improvement over last year’s first one.  But, as I stood there in a hoodie waiting for time to go up to the dam, I didn’t feel as confident.

Swimming first in cool weather could mean a very cold swim followed by a cold bike.  Add in that I really don’t like biking in the rain and it wasn’t making me ready to go.  However, the light rain didn’t last too long and when the water temp was called, it sounded better.  No wetsuits allowed today because the water temp was 80 degreesF.  Whew!  Somewhat better.

However, I was a little too confident on the swim part.  Last year, I had only gotten off course a little and then got back on and did fine.  However, with overcast skies, my poor vision and blue swim goggles, I should have done something different to prepare.  As the siren went off, I put my head down and took off.  However, when I first looked up, I was way off course to the left of the buoys.  I corrected and got it back on path but was then going too far right.  I finally switched to breast stroke just so I could aim in on the buoys and get around the corner, but that is slow.

I thought once I got round the turn that I would be alright on the line to the shore.  However, I couldn’t see any markers on the shore.  Nothing was standing out except the big white pavilion.  If I had been smarter and gone down to the swim exit and looked around, I might have had a better line, but no, I didn’t do that.  So, since it was the biggest thing around and should have marked the left of the exit (or so I thought) I aimed for it.  At least I could see it.

Nope, that wasn’t right either.  The swim exit was way to the LEFT of the big white pavilion.  The lifeguards on the kayaks kept trying to get my attention and move me back to the left and finally I could stand and see the shore.  Sure enough, I was way off.  When I finally got in line and got to the exit, I was certain I had been in the water longer than 30 minutes.  Way too long.

I changed in the first transition well, but with the rain, I knew I needed to put on my shirt.  It would be too cool to comfortably bike without it.  That takes extra time.  My choice of using my older shoes was a good idea, though.  I was worried the Speedplay cleats would fill up with sand and make it hard to mount.  My older road shoes use a different cleat and didn’t fill up with dirt.  I mounted well and took off for the highway.

The race director made note of the crappy highway with the monster sized rocks in the chip seal.  He wasn’t joking.  I don’t think I have ever seen one as bad as this.  We were extremely fortunate to only be on it for a mile and a half, and that was plenty enough.

The main portion of the bike course runs north up the side of Lake Tyler.  It is a quite typical hilly East Texas ride.  Rollers most of the way and you are also gradually climbing on the out portion.  I supposed it must be 6 to 6.5 miles on this section, but it will use your legs.  The Fuji isn’t my best bike for hills, but it was riding well.  I’ve had good practice with hilly routes in the past and know how to tackle them; lower gears, and higher revs.  No reason to set any high gears on even the more flat portions as it just uses up your legs too much.  I was pushing harder on the out portion hoping to make up my crappy swim time.  It was working as I passed several riders.

I backed off a bit on the return to save up my legs, but since you are in a general downward direction, it lends itself to easing up.  Coming back, there was only one or two major hills and I found them easier to tackle by just getting out of the saddle and grawnching it out.  Got them over with quicker.  Then another mile and half on the chip seal and into transition.

I changed quickly into my shoes and picked up my hat.  I brought a hat this time because I thought it would help on the sun, then I thought I would need it for the rain, but there was neither.  One rider asked while I was putting on my running shoes, “Now where is the run out?”  Huh?  It’s over there, and by the way, didn’t you check when you set up?  But then again, I hadn’t checked on the swim exit either.

My legs felt good on the run out and I set an easy but quick pace to start.  I would plan to hold this pace for the first mile and see what I could do afterward.  I passed a couple of slower runners early on and that made me feel good.  I was setting a good pace and I wasn’t hurting.  The run course is a 5K sort of out and back.  You start at the center between transition and the food tent (where the finish line is), run out to the highway where the bike course is then u-turn back to the center.  You turn right away from center and run down and back again, then turn right and go across the dam.  After a right turn and about 100 yards of trail running (yes, off the road), it’s back across the dam and into the finish.

You have to give it to the run course designer.  If you’re a spectator or family member, this is the best viewing spot of all.  Three times each runner comes to the center of this ‘T’ configured course.  The runners are only out of view for a slight bit across the dam.  Pretty spectator friendly, I think.

I turned into the T with a good pace and started to pick it up as I saw the 1-mile sign.  Each time I passed someone, I could pick out the person in front and gauge if I could pass another.  Strangely enough, the run was getting enjoyable.  I knew I needed to run well to make up for the swim, and I was doing just that.  After I finished the second time back to center, it was out across the dam.  I began to pick up my pace some more.

After the run through the woods a bit, I took a drink from the aid station and set off for the finish.  Runners come out of the woods and look across the dam and can just barely see the finish.  There were still quite a few out running.  I felt good so I went for a good ending.  My only worry, and the only place on this course I don’t like is coming off the dam road into the grass for the final 100 yards or so.  It’s steep and it was wet.  I slowed way down and was careful.  I didn’t want to fall here in front of everyone and waste my excellent run.  Yes, it was an excellent run, I just didn’t know by how much.

Made it back into transition and cooled off and got everything together.  The volunteers at the Rose City Tri are really cool.  They put roses on our bikes while we are out on the run course.  Tyler is known for its roses and rose gardens.  I still have to applaud these guys.  They put on an excellent competition, but are always willing to help out first timers, and even second timers that get lost.  If you’re looking for a triathlon to start on, this is the one.  Nobody makes you feel bad or inept.  They work to help everyone have a great time.

I loaded up my gear and wanted to see how it had turned out.  However, they hadn’t posted any times.  The East Texas Triathletes that put on the event really do a good job of rolling out the party for the athletes.  There is great food, but after getting up really early, I just didn’t want to wait.  I had to leave not knowing how well or not well I had done.  Regardless of the time, I felt like it was a success because the bike and run portions felt like they worked just fine.

After getting some great BBQ at Duke’s Plaza on I-20 (yes, I didn’t miss any good food, just went down the road) and getting home, I cleaned up and waited for the results to post.  2:03:28 was my total.  About six minutes faster than the previous year.  I was shocked when I noticed my swim time was only 25:21, only four minutes longer than my first.  Somehow, I hadn’t done too poorly, though I know I need to work on some things.  However, my bike time was 59:08 and the 5K was 31:01 (a 13 second PR!).  A 14.7mph average on the bike is a good improvement from the previous year, but the run was outstanding.  To PR my 5K time after the swim and the bike really felt good.  Success, thank the LORD!

I was 10th out of 12 in the Clydesdale division.  Ironically, that is about where I end up usually.  I was 12th on swimming (of course), 10th on bike, but 9th on running.  I have to know that at my weight and level, it’s unlikely that I will move up easily.  I am competing against a lot of guys that weigh in at 203 to 220 (I weigh 247) and some are much younger.  However, it’s not about really trying to win, but about succeeding at what I planned to do.  I wanted to improve this year and I did that.  My biking and running have improved a lot over last year’s work and that carried the day.

I still have to realize that the glory of the event goes away quickly.  Monday morning, I’m just plain old Dave back to work.  But when things look a little tough, these are the kinds of things we look back upon and realize that it’s not so tough and we are tougher.  We cannot control the weather.  Instead, we can control ourselves to overcome what the weather dishes out.  I still have some work to do on swimming.  I’ll have to start working on sight lines and figuring out why I pull to the side so much.  But, for now, I am glad that my training has paid off for the most part.  Now, with Summer events over, I can concentrate on my running for the Dallas marathon in December. Happy Running!

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Yep, it’s that time again — randomness.  A day when writing is just a collection of what’s going on rather than any coherent topic.  It also means I have lapsed too much time between posts.

On the triathlete front, I have started some ride/run bricks on Saturdays.  Or should I say run/ride since the heat is just getting too intense to run at 10:30 AM even.  They didn’t start on purpose, but I added a run one Saturday when I couldn’t get in a 50-mile ride and it not only stuck but allowed me to get back to 20-mile weeks in running.

Which segues nicely to running.  I have almost finished a six week stint at 20 miles per week.  Just two more short runs tomorrow and Saturday.  That’s pretty significant since I haven’t been able to consistently get over 20 miles a week.  Also, I have been able to run five days a week without any real problems.

While I’m talking running, I signed up for Mizuno’s Mezamashii Run Project.  It seems that Mizuno is proud enough of how well runners will do in their shoes that they are giving out shoes to lots of runners (through a weekly drawing).  Ostensibly, it’s to get runners connected with Mizuno’s philosophy on running, and also to sell more shoes.

Now, I am perfectly happy with my ASICS gel-Nimbus, but it’s important to have a second option.  Single sourcing anything is not a good idea.  Case in point that I had to wear a lesser brand last Winter as I wasn’t able to get a pair of Nimbus.  I thought that the gel-Cumulus would be almost as good and they were serviceable.  However, they kind of hardened up quicker than I’d liked.  So, we’ll wait to see if I get picked or not.

Also on running, I thought I’d add in a couple of tips this post.  I have been plagued a bit by catching my foot on uneven ground when running lately.  I’ve noticed that this often happens when I run over a rough spot where the ground is higher under one foot than the other.  Watch out for these little changes in elevation and go around.  If not, you might fall.  Also, if you have to run a lot of sidewalks, it’s better on driveway approaches to run up near the driveway side of the approach.  This is the side closer to the house/building than to the street.  Running this way keeps you almost on the same level with the sidewalk and you can avoid some of that up and down and slanted running you get from the angled driveway approach.

Hotter-n-Hell Hundred will be here in a few weeks.  I am looking forward to that ride this year.  I will try to finish the 100-mile route again and this year, it’s a new route.  Usually, all the routes less than 100-miles go through Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, but the century riders didn’t.  I have heard that the AFB rest stop is a real highlight and a thrill to the riders.  This year, the organizers altered the 100-mile route so that we will all get to go through the AFB rest stop.

Yep, that was cycling again, but I said it was random.

I will also start marathon training right after HHH in preparation for the first Dallas Marathon.  OK, it’s still really the White Rock, but they changed the name.  It also has a new route for this year and we’ll get to cross the new bridge over the Trinity River a la NYC’s Verazzano bridge.

Random is just that — random.  However, I have been having a really good time since I put together this new schedule in June.  I am getting to run more and with better quality than before.  I am riding consistently on Saturdays and not having to worry about whether or not I’m getting enough long runs or long rides.  I put my long runs on Wednesdays and stuck them at 8-miles, which is the longest I’ve run on a mid-week run since I started.  Though it’s hot outside (and here, I do mean HOT) I am happy with where I’m at right now.  I certainly hope that your Summer is going just as smoothly and consistent.  Happy running/cycling!

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I waited an extra day to write this post, just to be sure.  I thought I felt this way last week, but haven’t experienced “the training groove” in a while; so, I waited to see if it would pass.  But, it didn’t.  I’m in the “groove”.  It’s a dorky term, but I don’t know a better one.  Training grooves don’t happen often, and if you’re new to running or cycling, they may take a while to show up.  The training groove is a little similar to the ‘runner’s high’ except that it happens over a period of weeks (months if you can make it last).  It’s that phenomenal kind of time when all your effort and persistence starts to pay off and instead of tiny little gains, you see big ones start to happen.

During most of the Spring, I was rebuilding my running and riding mileage; mostly due to an injury in January.  I have finally cleared that hurdle and have made some adjustments to my training schedule to work with Summer heat and get ready for Fall races.  I just finished signing up for the Dallas Marathon in December and I have the Hotter-n-Hell 100 that happens in late August topped off with a tri in September.  Therefore, I needed to get my running mileage back to 20 miles per week and make sure I had at least one good, long ride each week as well.

To accomplish these short-term goals, I changed my workout schedule about three weeks ago to more aggressively work on running mileage during the week and leave my Saturdays for rides.  That meant more running days per week than the three I had been doing.  My schedule went from the following:

Mon: 5K, Wed: 8 miles, Thur: 5K

to this:

Mon: 4 miles, Tue: 5K, Wed: 8 miles, and Thurs: 5K.

At first, it might appear that looks like too many miles to add.  However, I didn’t do it all in one week.  I added the extra Monday mile during one week and then hit a ‘cut back’ week where I didn’t run.  After that week, I added the extra 5K to Tuesday.  Because my routes aren’t perfectly measured on those runs, I was then at about 17-18 miles per week.  That left me with all morning Saturday to devote to riding.

I started getting up early on Saturdays so that I could be on the bike at first light, just when it got light enough to see.  I rode with a tail light and a bright yellow jersey.  The roads at 6AM were almost bare and by 6:30AM, the sun was up.  I also went north in my city to a long trail called Campion and rode there to cut down on road miles.  Campion is a 12 mile round trip on the bike.  Combined with getting there and an additional extension, I can do 40 to 50 miles easily before traffic builds too much.  However, with Summer getting later, the sun is also becoming tardy.  I’ve cut my ride back to 40 miles or so to compensate and will probably have to move it lower as time goes on to the Fall.

Two Saturdays back, I got a little bored on the bike and came home a little early.  I didn’t feel the workout should be over, so I put on my shoes and went for a short run.  At 10AM, it’s starting to get hot here, but I’d already been out for three hours and was acclimated.  I put in a good 5K that morning and decided it’s time to add in the brick miles.  In addition, I’ve moved my weight training up another notch, so the whole week goes something like this:

Mon: 4 miles running, Tues: 5K morning, weights and swim in evening, Wed: 8 miles running, Thurs: 5K morning, weights and swim in evening, Fri: Rest, Saturday: 40 mile bike/5K run brick, Sunday Rest.

Weights and swimming I was already doing and with no events until late August, I have a good long time of just working out.  So, where’s the groove, right?  I’ve felt it mostly in my runs.  My paces are picking up even though I am still running easy most days.  I mean, really picking up; like a minute or two of faster pace.  Additionally, the running is getting easier even with better pace times. And, this is all happening during a warm Summer (average morning temp 79 degrees).

On top of things just in general being better, I am also more ready to work out when it happens.  I do admit that last week was a struggle some days because we were working extra hard at work.  However, over the past three weeks, I have been more ready for my runs and rides than previously.  These things are the ‘groove’ that I am talking about.  I have noticed it mostly in connection with my running, though I also feel it when riding or swimming.  I have the feeling that improvement is really happening instead of just keeping up with the motions.

I have no idea if anyone else experiences these training grooves.  This is at least the second one I can remember and I think there have been others.  The most recent groove I felt was late last year when I was doing my marathon training.  A training groove probably isn’t an official term or phenomenon, but I know they exist and they are nearly as good as a ‘runner’s high’.  Possibly they are even better since they last a while.  I am hoping this one carries through at least until it turns cooler and I am working on my marathon training.  Tell me if you have experienced a similar groove in your training.

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Back this January, I injured myself while swimming.  Yes, while swimming.  The injury put a real cramp on my training; no running, no swimming, no cycling for a few weeks.  I didn’t want to stop training altogether and looked for something that wouldn’t aggravate my injury while it healed.  I found I use our city’s senior fitness center’s machines and work on strength training.

In my distant past, I had tried weightlifting on a couple of occasions.  It seemed boring and I didn’t have a way of measuring the effectiveness.  I tried and then quit.  I figured I could use strength training as a filler for not getting to swim, bike, or run and then dump it when I could go back to my previous workouts.

I don’t use a complicated workout.  Our fitness center has four machines that work on different upper body areas and another four that target legs.  I start with one of the machines for upper body and then switch off to one that works legs; back and forth until all are done.  I only do 10 reps (repetitions) of three weight levels.  The top weight level is just about at exhaustion for that machine.  It’s hard to lift all 10 reps of the highest level.  I only move up in weight when I can lift 10 reps on the highest weight with facility (not when it’s easy).

I kept that up for a month or so while I healed up.  Because my injury was a little complicated, it took a little longer and I’ve had to slowly work back into full workouts.  So, I kept doing the strength training twice weekly.  Then, I started to notice something.

I noticed that my running paces were starting to get quicker.  I noticed that I could run my longer distances a bit easier.  I also noticed that my swim speeds were getting better and my strokes were more true to form.  My swimming was getting easier.  Apart from the fact that I liked the improvement, I wanted to know what was going on.

It was actually my sweetie that noticed the connection.  It was the strength training.  Because I had kept my strength training up, I had increased my weight levels three times over a few months.  As I increased the lifting, my upper body and legs were better able to help me swim, bike, and run.

I have read a good many articles touting the good results of strength training.  Guess what? They’re right.  It does actually work.  With only a half hour of strength training twice weekly, I have improved my running pace by two full minutes per mile on a good day (11 min/mile down from 13’s).  My swims are still getting easier to do and more close to form.  I am currently working on getting a total of 600 meters with only freestyle.  I usually only was able to do that distance with half freestyle and half breaststroke.  I am almost there.

Therefore, my injury and the subsequent downtime did me a lot of good in my training.  Not that I would wish any injury on anyone.  It just took the injury for me to look for something different in my training and to focus on quality instead of just quantity.  While I’ve still got a ways to go to get back to my original distances, I know now that when I get there, I’ll be doing them faster and better than before.  Don’t leave out the strength training if you can help it.  Happy tri-ing.

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AAAAAAAAAHHHH!

Things are just a little too hectic right now.  It’s very difficult to set aside time to write.  Hence, this quickie update.

I am slowly getting back into my routine with running, cycling, and swimming.  However, I am also keeping up with my weights workout on Tuesday and Thursday as well.  I do believe there is evidence that the strength training is improving my runs at least, if not other things.  Two weeks ago I put a four-miler on my Wednesday run (the longest since — ‘the injury’) and ran it with a 10:21 pace.  That’s really fast for me, folks.  My other 5K runs have seen similar improvements as well.

I have my swims back to mostly normal and up to thirty lengths (20 yds. each).  I am doing them slowly and leisurely, but still doing well.  I’ll stick at this distance for at least a couple weeks before moving forward.

It’s April and cycling is going.  I’ve signed up for the Ride for Heroes in Aledo, Tx again.  It’ll be my first ride this year.  I’ve also signed up for the Head for the Hills Rally in Cedar Hill again.  I like both of these rides for various reasons.  I’m going to take the Trek to Aledo, but I’m getting the new and improved Fuji prepared for Cedar Hill.

Work’s been very busy of late.  But, things are headed in a good direction.  I actually have a building to care for again, even if it’s not completely mine to care for.

Tomorrow, I’ll add a 5-miler on Wednesday.  I’m meticulously watching the increase by only 10% rule.  I’ve had a few more incidents with the knot swelling up on the foot and causing pain, but they are lessening in intensity.  So, I think things are slowly on the mend.  I apologize for the quick post, but it’ll have to do for now.  Hopefully, I’ll find better time to write soon.  Happy cycling!

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It’s been busy round here.  And, dealing with an injury that comes and goes makes things more fun.  My work has been busy.  It’s actually moving.  No. Really.  My job is moving its location.  I work for a church and we are moving soon.  Lots of things to do.

Yes, it’s true.  I do something besides just run, ride, and swim.  I have a life.  I have a family.  I even have grandkids.  Folks like us aren’t odd or different.  We are people just like everyone else.  Except, for some odd reason, we like to do things that “normal” people don’t even think of doing.  Or at least, it seems that way some times.

With all the things I do regularly, it often takes extra effort to stay motivated, stay patient and work out when I’m supposed to. Now, I have an injury that I’m not 100% where it came from and it doesn’t seem to match up exactly with anything known.  So, I’m working on figuring out how to manage both.  Or all three.

It seems that the one thing that doesn’t affect my foot is running.  I haven’t done any speedwork lately, but some of my runs have been at 11 minute/mile pace.  Even those don’t seem to be a problem.  I am slowly building miles and will add a 4-miler this week.  If I have had struggles in running, it has been things other than my foot.

Last week, I had one morning on the trainer that set my foot pain off.  But, now I recognize the onset and get my foot in some ice and wait for a while and the pain goes down.  I thought maybe that was the trigger, but I’ve been out on a bike and not have any pain.  Go figure.

I’m still only swimming a little, just 16 minutes at at time.  I’m doing roughly 300 meters at at time and most of that is breast stroke.  I’ll add some more freestyle this week and see if I get any changes.

My most recent bout of pain with the foot happened just like the one that sent me to the ER.  Sitting in my chair and move my foot just so (whatever that is) and there it goes.  The knot swells up on the top, near the ankle.  The pain is horrible.  I can’t put weight on the foot at all, but just get it in some ice, give it some time, and I’m fine again.

Yes, of course–I should see a doc.  And, I probably will eventually.  However, even that seems like a hit-n-miss situation.  I’ve had two docs look at is so far and several x-rays.  Nobody seems to know anything.  Since it appears and disappears, I need to be able to see the doc when it appears.  Not that I want to make that happen.  For now, if I manage the pressure on the foot, it seems to keep it at bay.

I’m going to build things slowly and continue to manage the pain when it appears.  Maybe, if I keep watch on it, I’ll find the actual trigger.  Then, I’ll have something for a doc to check.

So, for now, I’ll be patient and I’ll be thankful to God that I still get to work out.  I’ll stay busy with my family and my work and just watch out for the foot until I can put things together so that a doc can do something worthwhile.  You have to help them out, you know.  Happy swim, bike, and run!

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I am really not sure why we humans tend to get all sappy and nostalgic at the end of each calendar year.  It seems to be a habit even if your year doesn’t end on December 31st.  However, reflection and remembrance is a part of human life.  Making resolutions also seems to be the wont of many people at this time of year as well.  I suppose all that reflection brings about regrets and memories of failures during the year.

My year has been topsy-turvy to say the least.  I have had significant changes in my work and career.  I am still trying to get used to some of the more recent changes.  I’m not one to dwell on failures so I don’t have a list of regrets.  Regrets also tend to be such a bad business anyway.  I guess the only significant foible this year on the athletic front was Hotter-n-Hell in August.  I had to DNF it because of a broken spoke.  That in itself doesn’t quite qualify as failure.  Yet, it did give me more initiative to learn how to overcome that problem through building (or rebuilding) my own wheel.  The proof in that pudding won’t show up until later in 2012, though.  I did have some sucesses as well.  I finally finished a ride that I had not completed in three years (Tour d’Italia – June).  I also completed my first triathlon and (ahem) my first marathon.  I’ve gotten to watch my kids grow up even more and learn how to deal with the world at large, and even to see my granddaughter at her school on grandparents day.  Yeah, I think there were plenty of good things happening in 2011.

I’m not sure when I decided to quit the whole ‘resolution’ thing, but I really don’t do those anymore.  I do prefer to set some goals for the year.  Resolutions are something you ‘resolve’ to do, but culturally and psychologically, they tend to be more judgmental and success/failure oriented than they should.  I also tend to think we set ourselves up with resolutions by making them unreachable then kicking ourselves for the failure.  Goals, on the other hand, don’t have to be that way.  Goals can be modified, adjusted, and reworked.  Goals can be delayed, if necessary.  One can measure efforts toward a goal as a percentage of success and then celebrate the percentage while making plans to continue.  I like goals.

I have finally gotten back to spending more time reading (grad school can really take that out of you).  I have several books lined up to read so far and I am going to try to keep at it.  I finally have back some of the desire to read more science fiction than I had in the past.  Hopefully, I’ll keep finding new works to read.  Spending more time reading is a good goal for 2012.

On the training front, I am already working on my eating habits.  I hope I can continue being diligent and will see my weight continue to drop.  I know that my speed in running and swimming has picked up because of weighing less.  I am also going to try and keep a longer long run going.  I am planning to do a 10, 12, 15-mile rotation beginning next month.  I had started doing 5-milers on Mondays.  I am not certain those will stay, but we’ll see.  I don’t plan on another marathon this year, but in 2013…we’ll see.  Running more miles with less weight is a good goal.

After ‘Santa’ brought me a Park Tension Meter for Christmas, I have succeeded in getting my Trek back together.  The rear wheel certainly feels solid and the statistics of the tension meter says I have a strong wheel.  Time will tell on that point.  It would be really nice to be able to ride my Trek all year, and my plans are to finish the 100-miler at Hotter-n-Hell again this year.  More riding is certainly a worthy goal for 2012.

I certainly enjoyed the triathlon I did this past September.  I am making it a goal to go back to that one come September 2012.  I am also going to work on the Olympic distance triathlon this year.  There is one in Waco in July that sounds good.  A 1500 meter swim in the Brazos river in July ought to be a hoot.  Two triathlons are good goals for 2012.

This next year, I will turn 52.  I do know that one of my goals for 2012 is to cease worrying about stuff.  If you know anything at all about me, you’ll know that is very hard for me to do.  But it’s a goal, nonetheless and one I am biblically commanded to do.  And, speaking of that general area, I am going to try and keep my mind open concerning theology this year.  I know that I am certainly becoming much more liberal in both theology and politics of late.  It’s rather refreshing sometimes, but it brings me into conflict also.  However, I think I am getting old enough I can just say to the…well, you know.

A new year is a time for us to reflect on the past year, and to prepare for the next.  I’m not quite sure why we do this just because it’s January 1, but it’s not a bad idea.  I do think it’s important for us to take our new year with a grain of salt.  Even with my plans to run, race, read, and worry less, I still have to factor in that I am not in control of all things.  God has designs that I don’t always know about, and it is important to be flexible.  He is the one that controls my steps and sometimes my plans run counter to His.  It’s always good to not let our goals take over everything.  Rigidity is not a pretty sight.  But, I look forward to seeing how 2012 will work out.  Some of it will be like I planned and some of it won’t.  In the end, I think I will look forward to the New Year.  How about you?

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