Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ode to the MINIVAN

S - 12,500 yards
B - 266.2 miles; TSS of ~1000
R - 60.4 miles

Time - 25.08 hours

The main thing I've been thinking about this week is how awesome it is to drive a minivan.  I had the great pleasure of driving my mom's minivan back in high school when I first got my learner's permit and then (oh the joy) my intermediate license.  In Louisiana an intermediate license allowed you to drive by yourself but not during certain times (or something like that) and was my first taste of "freedom" and "independence" (or at least what I thought those terms implied).  At the time - the tender age of 16 to 17 - I was much too young to fully appreciate the beauty that is a minivan.

Times have changed, however, and so has my life in a great many ways.  I thought I was built for speed but am now built for comfort.  I demand practicality over sprightly.  I ask for more volume and less trendy.  Is it too much? Some would say yes, but I staunchly believed that no, twas not too much.  My answer came in the form of a unique situation that arose over Christmas.  I was talking casually on the phone with my mom and asked if she'd be interested in trading cars: my 2006 Mazda 3 for her 2006 Mazda MPV.  It was one of those times where I was playing the "half-joke" game (everyone plays this game but many fail to recognize it's awesomeness).  If she said "sure" then I'd be all over it and if she said "no" then I'd say that I was kidding and didn't REALLY want a van anyway.  My bases were covered.  She seemed mildly intrigued by the possibility but the conversation moved on and all was forgotten.

My dad - who was listening to my mom's end of the conversation - did not forget, however.  He called me from his office the next day and asked if I was serious.  I responded that I thought I was serious, but why do you ask? Well, he had secret plans for Christmas and needed help with the execution.  He had already test driven and picked out a Prius V and wanted to surprise mom and needed my help with picking up the car for Christmas morning and with the "disposal" of the minivan.  I was able to help with both and on Christmas day my mom got an awesome surprise (it was really fun to watch her try and figure out what was going on when she got a key fob in a small box; she said "but no one in our family drives a Toyota!" It was great.

So that leaves me with a minivan and without my awesome car of the past 5 years.  It was a great car and was in good shape for 80k miles and had nothing more than a few dents and some obvious signs that someone who partially lives out of their car and works out constantly used to drive it.

This was the most basic model MPV you could get as my parents just wanted to get a car ASAP off the lot (this was four-ish months post-Katrina and they were moving back to New Orleans after a stint in Lafayette) so there aren't a whole lot of features.  One of those was a crappy stereo.  Umm, not acceptable.  If I am to be the PIMP I see myself as being I gotta have a badass stereo.  Problem solved.  The third row of seats (bench) fold down into the floor of the van and the middle seats (captain) can be removed easily and folded down and also are able to slide side to side.  Amazing.  I can just load bikes in the back completely standing up.  I don't ride a very small bike so that's an awesome feature.  The windows are tinted, further inducing the appearance of being a completely badass vehicle.

Long story short, the minivan is an amazing personal vehicle but ESPECIALLY for a triathlete and/or cyclist.  The ability to transport people, bikes, luggage and crap (hopefully not too much of that though) is of paramount importance in my current life.

Oh, I trained kind of a lot too. It was awesome.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Running more, good!

S - 8700 yards
B - 184.8 miles
R - 66.2 miles

T - 20.3 hours

This week saw some rather haphazard training.  I drove from New Orleans to Charlotte on Friday and was only able to run that day and the weather was crappy on the weekend so my bike volume again suffered.  Sub 200 miles/week is not acceptable!!  The run miles, however, are awesome so I'm pleased with that.  I haven't run this much in two weeks since 2009 I think.

This next week my nose will go further to the grindstone.  No more distractions of driving between NOLA and Gulf Shores; no more pansying about with my swimming; no more excuses.  My training has been acceptable these past 3 weeks, that's it.  Now it's time to make it more better.  Swimming will see a jump and biking will see a big jump.

I haven't yet, but I'm probably signing up for a bike race on Saturday: the Triangle Velo Winter Speedway Series.  The course is a .4mi banked oval and I can race in the Pro/1/2/3 for 60 minutes or the 3/4 for 50 minutes... The question is whether I really want to destroy myself and try and hang on for the workout or win some cash and get some points (presumably, if I can stay in and win).

Decisions decisions...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Guys and Girls can't be friends...

S - 4,500 yards :(
B - 241.4 miles
R - 63.8 miles

Time - 21.18 hours

I happened to watch "When Harry met Sally" this evening and one particular scene got me to thinking.  No, it wasn't THAT scene (but that does make you think...)
It was a scene where Billy Crystal (Harry) had done a lot of walking around and thinking in an attempt to figure out how he really felt about Sally.  That made me think about one of my favorite parts about triathlon: the loneliness of the endurance athlete.

I don't mean that in a sad way at all and by no means would consider myself lonely but I love training by myself (most of the time, but I'm really hating swimming by myself lately).  It gives me so much time to just THINK.  Not about anything in particular; over the course of a 3 hour ride or a long run pretty much every topic runs through my head.  Most of the time it isn't particularly focused but I get a clearer idea of my thoughts and desires after a long, solo session.

The longest, straightest, flattest road.  Ever!

But I guess it's not really all that bad...
I've really had some good training lately, it just feels like it's been a bit inconsistent but I think it's mainly because I'm REALLY slacking on my swimming.  Something needs to change in my head because I'm just not loving it right now.  I think it's a combination of being out of shape, swimming in an unfamiliar pool (that's also hot), wearing a drag suit (but I'm not giving that up because it's sexy), and being solo on almost all swims.  It's making it hard to WANT to go to the pool.

Other than that I've had some STELLAR running and my biking is improving pretty quickly.  I'm a completely different athlete than I was a year ago.  Yes, I'm still relatively out of shape but I'm out of shape compared to what I was at the peak of 2011; compared to Dec/Jan of 2010/2011 I'm a horse of a different color.  I've been logging some serious run miles the past 4-5 weeks (with one week of a missed run or two), this week being no exception.  It's easy when you're out of shape this time of year to feel like you have an insurmountable task ahead of you to get back to what you call "in shape" but I forget that I have around 800 hours of swim/bike/run that's lying dormant in my body right now, just waiting for the right time to come out and play.  That's a lot of training.  It's exciting to think about this year (finally).  I think my run is going to be a pretty serious weapon next year and adding that to a bike split that is typically the best or very close to the best (although when Kenneth and James Duff race it'll be a more interesting test) is a great combination.

Also something that's been in the works for a while (and is still being fully fleshed out) is a new racing team that will be making its official debut sometime in the near future.  I.C.E. Racing will be a small team sponsored primarily by Inside Out Sports and Blue Seventy with support from each team member's coaches, PTs, Chiros, printer (thanks Paul!) and others.  Exciting stuff from this team fo sho.  No holds barred, self deprecating, astonishingly good looking, spectacularly powerful, HTFU type team members.  I only fulfill one of those characteristics.  Just kidding all of them! Bahaha

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another year

S - 11,800 yards
B - 218.6 miles
R - 53 miles

Time - 21.03 hours

I was reminded recently by a question posed on facebook by "Run with Theoden" of a thought I'd been having recently.  The question was posed through Theoden's page by a runner asking if crossfit was a good "cross-training" option for a runner.  The response was mostly mixed in terms of positive, negative, or no-impact but it made me realize how many misconceptions there are about training.

I responded with "the best way to get better at running is by running" which, for the most part, is completely true.  ChuckieV (a well respected triathlon coach) recently tweeted "for an Ironman it's simple really; train more and you'll become faster.  If you're already training as much as you can, train faster.  Voila."  While obviously not quite as simple as that, most good triathlon coaches would probably recommend using your available training hours to train for the swim, bike and run portions of the event.  There is no cross-fit portion of a triathlon.  There is no yoga involved in your T2.  There are no pilates requirements on the run.  It may sound like I'm painting a black and white picture and, to a certain extent, I am.

I've read a lot of blogs recently and many of them revolve around years' in review.  This has happened several times but I'll frequently see something like this: 600 hours of swim, bike, and run training this year.  50 of "XX".  Or maybe broken down more specifically: 100 hours of swimming, 200 hours of running, 300 hours of biking, 50 hours of "XX".  Seeing that on serious triathletes is always surprising, especially among ones with glaring weaknesses.  Say you're a really bad swimmer, how can you justify saying you take it seriously when you [basically] wasted 50 hours of your year in terms of your development as a triathlete?  If an athlete had spent 40 of those hours swimming instead of farting around in the gym or on a yoga mat (maybe literally in the case of the latter...!) they would have increased their swim totals by almost 50%!

Now, after saying that, I enjoy yoga a lot.  One of the main reasons I rarely do it is because it makes me too sore done as frequently as I do it.  I do not think it benefits me in any way other than as a bonus strengthening session of certain (never used) muscles.  I do not become more flexible from yoga, I do become sweatier and dehydrated.  If I desired increased my strength (including core) I'd probably add a quick, <30min program after a run at home once or twice a week.  I'm sure that is all that would be necessary.

Anyway, my rant is over.  If you want to get better at running, you run.  The only people that need other stuff are the ones that are already running as much as they can and are looking for that extra %.  The best way to get better at biking is by biking.  Weights have been scientifically proven to have no impact on endurance cycling.  Swimming is a different story to a certain extent, but the best way to improve is by swimming more. Obviously with this one there are more limiters and technique is exceptionally important but still, getting in the pool more is a GREAT way to start your improvement...

ChuckieV is a relatively unknown (unless you follow triathlon very closely...) coach but has produced some great articles about training.

ChuckieV - There are no secrets
ChuckieV - Miles make champions

My week was fairly boring and it involved a great deal of training and some travel as well.  I started off the week in Charlotte and got some good training done there despite the frigid temperatures the first couple of days.  On Friday afternoon I made my way down to Atlanta, GA to visit my best friend from college and meet his girlfriend and spend the night there before heading down to Fort Morgan, AL on Saturday afternoon to spend some time at the beach house doing some work on the rental house.  I woke up on Sunday and got motivated to ride really far to make up a bit for missing Saturday's ride and ended up doing a huge out and back, which was fun.  I need to get my tri bike set up again as the flatness of the terrain here makes my back sore on the road bike...

And a late addition to include one of my new favorite songs from a sadly underappreciated band

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome to the jungle

Well, well...the ol' blog master has been absent of late, hasn't he?  Yes, I am referring to myself of course.  Because that's what all triathlon blogs are: discussions of yourself and how totally awesome you are.  Whether it be quirky, thoughtful, crazy, or whatever, blogs are an exercise in self-promotion.

My attempt at being artsy. Sand is awesome. As long as it isn't where it shouldn't be!
I digress, but I've always found blogging to be an interesting exercise.  When I first started this one I was beginning my foray into running and it's pretty amusing to go back and see what I found interesting enough to write about way back in the day.  I like it because in some ways it's cathartic; it helps me think through things that have been on my mind and analyze events (of any kind,  not limited solely to races) better than I can in my head.  Anyway, on to the more important matters of a little update!
The abode in AL

Talk about a sunset!
When last I left you, my faithful reader, I was coming to the end of a long (really long) "offseason" and was about to start running a good bit.  In the three weeks since I've put in a hair under 150 miles and I really should have had a good bit more.  My second week I missed a long run of 90 minutes on Christmas day that I just couldn't get out the door to do (that plus we traveled from NOLA to the beach made matters a bit more complicated) so that would have been ~12 miles.  This week I had a lot of inertia holding me up at the beginning of the week and missed out on some miles.  It's unfortunate to miss workouts but I've learned it's not the end of the world.  I would like to have those miles in my legs but I have plenty of time to get in some good miles in the upcoming months.  I ran a good bit, swam a tiny bit and biked a bit.  All in all, the three weeks weren't so bad as they included three very awesome things:

1) My 27th birthday on December 19th
2) Christmas, duh!
3) A visit from this girl, which was spectacular.

We also went skydiving (a first for me, not for her) and hopefully at some point I'll have some video of that RIDICULOUSLY awesome experience.

Now that I've gotten my first real schedule of 2012, it looks like I really am going to get back in shape.  For the past 2+ months I've felt a bit aimless, soft, and generally unfit but that will soon be changing.  I will spend most of January in Gulf Shores, AL doing some work on my family's beach house so it will be interesting to train down there.  Not varied, but warmer for sure.

I'm bad about putting pictures in to blogs, so hopefully I can make up for it a bit this time...

This little guy was in the Gulf Shores pool locker room.  What's up little man?!