Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We Can Make Him Better Than He Was Before

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology...We can make him better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster." Opening line from "The Six Million Dollar Man."

When I first committed to the "Wild and Crazy" venture of a full ironman, buddy Wayne Crayton kept saying: "You guys are going to be in the best shape of your life." Let me say that until recently, I had my doubts. I've trained for many marathons and shorter distance triathlons. I kind of felt that my body had reached a fitness plateau. If anything, having turned 50 in January, I kind of thought that I had probably gotten as far up the fitness plane as I was going to get. I figured I'd be lucky to simply maintain what fitness gains I had achieved over the years.

Well, I think Wayne might be right. The increased workload seems to be making a difference. I went from struggling at the 45 to 60 mile bike ride range to feeling pretty fresh after last weeks 70 mile ride. Yes, the 10 mile run the next morning got a little difficult at the end, but I chalk that up to heading out too late in the August heat and getting behind the hydration curve. On Monday, I was able to swim 2 miles in an hour and 5 minutes, something that was clearly beyond my capabilities not too long ago.

I'm sure improved technique has something to do with all this, but I think the overall fitness level does improve with the increased workload required for a full ironman. It just that until it actually starts happening to you, you wonder if you can get better.

I also have to give some credit to my trainer, Penn. Penn comes from a body building background and is a former body building champion from Europe. What makes Penn different from most guys with his background is that he went on to become a pretty good cyclist. He got leaner over the years so that he could be aerobically fit as well as muscularly fit. He is also always analyzing what works and what doesn't in fitness training. He provides athlete specific workouts for different sports activities Not just that, but he modifies my personal workouts depending on where I am in my triathlon training and events. I only work out with Penn once a week, but I think those workouts are a key element in my overall progress. Check out this You Tube video of Penn showing proper pull-up technique. Even though I can only do a couple of these killer pull-ups unassisted, Penn is part of making me better than I was before.

Buddy John questions my doing weight training during the build up to an ironman event, but I have to refer him to what has become our bible: "Going Long" by Joe Friel & Grodon Byrn. John quotes these guys chapter and verse. Bilateral breathing, frequency of training, focusing on technique and your limiters; I never hear the end of it. Well, in Chapter 9, starting at page 187, Apostles Joe & Gordon recommend once a week weight training. So I don't want to hear any more questioning about my weight training.

In any event, I've got no doubts that John is getting more fit. On our Olympic brick this evening he was strong on the bike and strong on the run. I don't know if it was the Red Bull he drank before the workout, or if he was just "on" tonight. I expect the later. I wasn't as strong as John tonight, but I feel pretty good after what previously was a pretty taxing workout that would leave me pretty tired. Let's just hope the progress continues.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Looking good, Billy Ray!" "Looking good, Lewis!"

The above exchange from "Trading Places" summarizes where John & I are in our training. We both had solid workouts during the week and had a very productive weekend. My long runs are in the 12 to 13 mile range and my last two long rides on consecutive Saturdays were of 60 and 70 miles. John rode 60 on Saturday, swam an hour Sunday and did a long run today. I did a 10 mile run on Sunday and a 2 mile open water swim this morning.

We are trying to read up on technique for each event from the book, "Going Long" by Joe Friel & Grodon Byrn. One of the main concepts we both seem to have gotten from the book is frequency of training for each discipline. I'm working on my kick for my swim, which seems to have done wonders for my distance in the open water.

One tricky spot in this August heat is making sure I get enough hydration, both during and after workouts. I seem to stay down in my fluids a bit and need to focus on rehydrating after a workout.

Yes, I know. A short boring entry about our workouts without much in the way of humorous insights. Sorry folks. With all the training, I don't have much energy left over for interesting insights. But we are happy with our progress and focus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

Well, the wind is blowin' harder now, fifty knots of there abouts.
There's white caps on the ocean, and I'm watching for water spouts. "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season" Jimmy Buffett

My son John was home this last week from his first summer semester at the University of Florida. He was scheduled to return to UF on Sunday morning for a week of marching band practice. Thus, a party was scheduled for about 150 of his friends at my house on Friday night. I didn't get to bed until 1 AM, playing the authority figure keeping things from going off the deep end. With a 60 mile ride scheduled for Saturday morning, my 5:15 AM wake up alarm left me with short sleep. Of course, with my son and his fraternity brothers staying in the pool at the after-party throughout the night, even that sleep was not a sound one.

As I get my water bottles filled and start applying sun tan lotion, I start to hear water running. I come out of the bathroom fully lotioned and ready to go, I realize its pouring hard. I turn on the weather channel and call riding buddy Tony to discuss the situation. The rain is a cell from a tropical wave moving through the area. Tony tells me he's going back to bed. I sit and watch the radar on the Weather Channel and note that there doesn't appear to be another cell for a while. I decide to go out for a solo ride for as long as the weather permits. As I ride north along A1a, the street dries fairly quickly. There is a cross wind that is blowing, but not so bad as to effect my speed. I'm good until the turn around 30 miles out.

As I turn to head south, I realize that cross wind was a little more of a wind out of the SE, which is now kind of in my face. Its not too bad for the first 10 miles of the return, but the wind starts gusting increasingly strong. My ability to ride at a steady speed is all but gone. The gusts blow me down to about 12 mph. Not only that, but the gusts make it hard to hold a steady line. But what's a rider to do? I see many small groups of riders pulled to the side of the road, but figure the front will be blowing through for several hours. So I ride on. It was real work getting home, but I got it done. I guess I can expect more of these conditions over the next month or so. It goes to show, its not just the rain you've got to worry about. Those winds blow a lot longer than the rain falls.

The other elements of training are going well. I've upped my overall workout load and have moved the long run to Wednesday evening. I got in 12 this last week and will probably stretch it to 14 this week. I'm working on my kick in my pool sessions, which were virtually non-existent in the past. My body is still adjusting to the higher work load. I'm also experimenting with different nutrition mixes to see what the body handles the best. Experienced IM buddy Miranda advises to separate hydration from nutrition by mixing the protein drink mix to a gue like consistency. I'll have to try this.

From an events standpoint, it looks like I'll have to scratch the Publix Sprint Tri in Miami on September 12th. Its the same weekend as parent's day with the band up at UF. I've got to support my son by watching a Gator game in the stands with the band. Twist my arm. Salome & I will have to bring the bikes for a ride to Micanope. Perhaps I'll squeeze in another sprint somewhere along the line before the Clermont HIM on September 27th. Yes, the "Upcoming Events" list is getting shorter, but harder.

With no athletic events on my personal schedule, I'm reduced to reporting on the exploits of my friends. On Sunday, when the winds let up a bit (but were still blowing), running buddy Jen Jones decided to do a sprint triathlon on Key Biscayne after a couple years hiatus from the tri scene. She did exceedingly well given the little swim and bike training she put in. Jen came in 4th in her age group based primarily on a killer run. I expect with a little more bike and swim training, Jen will start to compete for an age group win. As I told her, her Cervelo tri bike missed her. She had a blast doing it and I expect she is reinfected with the tri bug.

Finally, buddy Wayne Crayton surprised us all by completing the Humpy's Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska. As you may know, Wayne was coming back from a triple by-pass operation back in January. He had run a couple of 5Ks and 10K. He had announced he was doing the half marathon for Humpy's and had two 13 mile training runs under his belt. Well, the guy goes off and runs the full. He gave himself the option of cutting it at the half, but felt good at that point and decided to go the whole way. Not a personal best time, but he is back in the marathon saddle. I now consider his recovery complete and await his tempting e-mails and blog entries about his marathon tour of Europe planned for the Spring 2010. A couple of friends expressed interest in doing the Paris Marathon in early April, which is one of Wayne's planned Eurothons. Humm, this could be a nice coordinated group event. April in Paris anyone?

"In a week I'll be in gay Paris; t
hat's a mighty long airplane ride."

Monday, August 10, 2009

More Training, Less Blogging

For the last week, I've been thinking about my training schedule leading up to the Half IM in Clermont in on September 25th and the final push to the full IM in Arizona on November 22nd. This weekend I did a 10 mile run with our triathlon group followed by a 1.5 mile run to the ocean with wife Salome and a 20 minute open water swim. Sunday was a 45 mile bike ride with Salome. Later Sunday, I realized that I need to space out my long run and long ride from each other. It just tired me out to do them both on the same weekend.

Meanwhile, buddy John was at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, RI listening to the likes of Tony Bennett and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Between sets, he was reading "Going Long" by Joe Friel and Gordon Byrn -- Training for Ironman-distance Triathlons. John's e-mail comment to me was as follows:

Holy cow Bill -- what have we gotten ourselves into! Seriously though, we both really need to get our training focused if we don't want to crash and burn in Arizona. I'd highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book for yourself so you can mark it up and go back to it for regular reference. The major points that I'm picking up are that I have to improve the frequency and consistency of my workouts, identify and execute my "key" workouts, not worry too much about the running, put more effort into my "limiters" -- swimming and cycling", refocus my workouts on time vs. distance, be smart about active recovery and, pray that I survive this monster.

I couldn't agree more. I ordered the book immediately from I'd been thinking about what I needed to do to up the workout schedule. I think I need to move my long run to Wednesday evenings to get separation and recovery from the long ride on the weekend. I also think I need to get in 2 during the week 20 to 30 mile rides to get saddle ready for the ever longer weekend rides.

With few weekend events coming up and a higher level of base building training on the calender, I think I will have less to blog about in the coming weeks. So, as I increase my level of training, I'll probably post fewer blog entries. Its time to stop thinking and blogging about this venture so much; its time to do the training.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


"You knocks me out, right off of my feet." This line from John Lee Hooker's song "Boom Boom" expresses how I feel coming off Sunday's Olympic Triathlon. I don't know if its the summer heat or the combined effort of the swim, bike, run of the triathlon, but I felt beat up after this Sunday's triathlon. The sprint triathlon 2 weekends ago didn't drain my energy levels, but the Olympic distance seems to have drained me for a couple of days. I'm like a boxer laid out on the canvas not wanting to get back up.

When this happened to me last summer, I went in to see my doctor sure that I was iron deficient. While my blood work came back slightly low, I was not iron deficient. Perhaps this is an indication of an inefficiency in my training or racing. Perhaps its just an byproduct of being 50. I don't know if this happens to any of the rest of you. If so, I'm curious to hear you explanation of what is happening. Am I just digging deep, or is it due to the heat?

I know how to treat the problem. Take a couple of days off and rest. Recharge those batteries, then get back out there and train. Last night's sleep seemed to be the magic night where my body is finishing up repair work and I awake feeling ready to start training again. So, I'm back off the canvas and ready for the next round. I did my weight training this morning and plan a long run this evening after work.

As an interesting aside, I read in the paper this morning about a study that says that cursing seems to increase our pain tolerance. I know I've blurted out a few "sh*ts" and "f*@ks" when I've cramped up late in a marathon. I had no idea it might be doing me any good. I kind of doubt it, but who knows. The run portion of triathlons may start to get very colorful in the future. If word gets around, ear plugs may be useful in more than just the swim.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Huntington's Disease Olympic Triathlon

This weekend was a very busy weekend coming off a busy week. Salome & I were scheduled to be at the Breakers in Palm Beach for the Real Property, Estates & Trust, & Probate Law section meeting of the Florida Bar. Knowing Thursday & Friday would be taken up with section meetings, receptions and parties, we decided to squeeze in short brick workouts Thursday morning before heading up to Palm Beach.

I was scheduled to meet with Tony, Carrie, Jerry & Miranda for a 30 minute open water swim at 6:45 AM. I decided to run the 1.5 miles from my house to the beach to meet them. Unfortunately, I didn't get out the door on time and arrived at the beach to see my friends several hundred yards down the beach in the water. Oh well, at least my shoes would get to hang out with their shoes. I got into the water and did a 35 minute swim. I was able to take a sighting of my friends doing their beach jog at about the 30 minute mark. After emerging from the water, I slid on my shoes and ran home. Once I got there, I decided to add on a 10 mile bike ride to do a little bridge work at the 17th Street Causeway bridge. Salome did a similar swim, bike, run at our friends house located on the beach.

The Florida Bar meetings were interesting, but I ended up standing on my feet too long and my calves were sore. I was fearing another calf cramping on Sunday, so I made efforts to not stand as much at receptions and parties. Saturday morning, I managed to squeeze in an early morning swim session in the Breakers lap pool. The meetings on Saturday went too late for us to make it to South Miami for the packet pickup, so we would have to get to the Miami Marine Stadium race site early on Sunday for packet pickup and station set up. While the days in Palm Beach were not particularly demanding from an exertion standpoint, we were both fairly exhausted when we went to bed Saturday night.

Salome and a couple of our friends were registered for the sprint distance, while most of our training group was registered for the Olympic distance. With both events and age group awards going 5 deep, this is a good chance to try to award in the sprint distance. We arrived at about 5:30 AM, which left just enough time to get our numbers, chips, get marked, set up and make a port-0-potty stop before getting down to the water for the start. Before I know it, I was in the water swimming.

My swim took about what I expected, but the bike was a bit of a challenge. With the small Key Biscayne bridge being shut down for repairs, the bike course called for 3 loops with each loop requiring an over and back climb over the Powell Bridge. The sprint distance called for 2 loops, making the bike for the sprint a 16 mile leg. I was fine for the first loop, but with each lap, it got progressively harder to get up and over on the return climb. Salome saw some riders actually get off their bikes and walk to the top. I didn't see that, but I definitely had to get out of the saddle several times to get over that climb. The wind didn't help my time either. No matter. I got through the bike, but wasn't happy with my pace. To add to the slower pace, I also expended extra energy on the bridge climbs that took away from my energy reserves.

Thank God the run course was mostly shaded. Being in the last start wave, I got to see most of my friends on the two laps of the 5K loop course. I really like this run course and hope that more of the Key Biscayne triathlons are held at this location in the future. However, with the extra exertion on the bike, I started to fade on the second run loop. When I realized I would not break 3 hours, I slowed on the run and did a little run/walk the last mile. My final time was better than when I did this course in March at the Miami International Triathlon, but I was frustrated with not breaking 3 hours again at this distance. Oh well, it is August and it got hot on the run even with the shade. On the bright side, my calves were fine. No cramping. It was also the last event we got to do with buddy Jacques Watters who moves onto the North Carolina running and triathlon scene later this month. Find us some good events in the North Carolina region Jacques.

As the only person in the last wave of the Olympic distance, I was greeted by most of my friends cheering me on at the finish. Salome did end up in the awards coming in 4th in her age group. Buddy Ken Merkel also awarded in the sprint, as did new friend Kerry, who was doing her first triathlon ever. Ken's wife, Ana was at the finish line giving out water. She must have done a good job, as she and Ken were going out later that day to get her fitted for a new bike. Carrie and Miranda got age group awards in the Olympic distance, so we stuck around for those awards also.

That evening we held a post race BBQ at our house for all of our friends who participated. We also included buddies John and Rodger, who didn't participate having just come off their week long dive trip. I finally got to hear friend Mandy Miller's stories of her run at the Marathon des Sables, a six-day, 156 mile ultramarathon. I love to hear about these ultramarthons. Not that I have any plans to do one. I find it hard enough to train for the events I'm doing now.