Wednesday, February 27, 2013

IM: the most cruel mistress of all

Ahhhhh....IM. No, I do not mean that as an abbreviation for "Ironman." You wish.  Ironman is easy comparatively.  I'd rather do an Ironman than be forced to race a 400IM long course in front of a crowd.  It would certainly be less embarrassing.

"IM" as Jenny tells me stands for "individual medley."  I am a little sad I did not know that.  Pathetic James, pathetic.  I guess I'm not as much a swimmer as I thought.  Still, all that being said, the crux of this post is detailing why medley sucks, but why it is also awesome.

Step 1: Butterfly
The bane of many a triathlete's existence is definitely the first medley stroke: fly.  Wait, actually...back up.  The bane of most triathletes' existence is just swimming in general.  But that's a whole NOTHER issue (can people please stop saying that? It makes you sound really...slang-ish).    Anyway, back on track: butterfly starts off the medley and it usually ends it for most adult-onset swimmers.  The most difficult part for most is just figuring out what to do.  It looks so easy and smooth on TV when you're watching world-class athletes do it, but so does running 4:40/mi pace for a marathon...and we all know how EASY that is....?  But when you're actually faced with the prospect of swimming 25 yards of fly (or, God forbid, 50 meters) most are generally at a loss.

"Ok, I push off and fake dolphin kick a couple of times then what?"

Mostly it seems to involve a lot of flailing.  I was told once that to improve my rhythm I needed to pretend like I was humping.  No, this was not told to me by a man; this was told to me by a girl.  I took it to heart and immediately conquered fly! Just kidding, not true at all.  But for me, figuring out the "rhythm" of the stroke is the most important part.  If you get your hips and core moving correctly the rest of the stuff seems to fall into place. Arm movement is secondary to me in terms of importance.  I don't know if this is true for actual swimmers but for me the key to a successful lap of fly is lower body movement and the arms serve to just get you to the next lower body movement.  Unfortunately, the shoulders tire pretty quickly on this stroke and that becomes the major limiter for most triathletes attempting fly.

But, once proficiency is attained, it is possible to look somewhat cool for - at most - 25 yards and for those short but intense moments feel like a true swimmer... Awesome!

Step 2: Backstroke
Once both of those hands hit the wall after that last gasp stroke of fly, it's time to switch to the other front-quadrant stroke and do work on your back.  Now, there are times when back isn't so bad.  You know, you "accidentally" catch your hand on your lane-mate or the hot swimmer in the lane next to you...that part isn't so bad, right?

But, the other side of that coin is the not super attractive and awesome lane-mate.  But, the good with the bad, right?  Back is an area most AOS (adult-onset-swimmers) really struggle with due entirely to body position.  I feel as though the arms mimic the freestyle so THAT part should come relatively easy for tri-geeks...but the problem is primarily with the lower half of their body.  Watch most peeps swim back and you'll see feet nearer the bottom of the pool than the top.  When I first started really doing a decent amount of back at SwimMAC back last April I really struggled at first.  My timing, catch and body position all left a lot to be desired.  Back requires all things to be working in concert to produce a successful lap (after lap, after lap, after lap...).

Step 3: Breaststroke
Well, from one of the most useful and complimentary strokes we move to the worst.  It took me a long, long time to figure out the timing of this stroke.  I probably still don't do it "right" but I don't suck at it anymore, which is key.  Off the wall, one arm pull, one quick dolphin and bring the hands up under you to a streamline front before popping up for stroke number one while also pulling your legs up to a "ready" position.  What took me a while to "get" was the rhythm in between strokes.  A nice, streamlined glide with a powerful kick and sculling action.  A lot of tri-guys streamline with their head looking forward (kind of like how I swim...).  For a good example of why this is bad, read this blog post by Jenny.  Free speed is free speed.  One of the few cases where it's actually free (not like with bike stuff!).

The important thing in my mind - at least when I'm working the breast stroke - is maintaining a solid and patient rhythm.  It's surprising to me how tiring it is.  The kick is more tiring than "regular" (free or dolphin) kicking to me.  In a 100 IM I end the 3rd leg feeling significantly more tired than either of the other two.  This could be partially because I am further along in the interval but breast just really wears me out (yea, I said it).

Step 4: Freestyle
Well, every AOS and tri-geek can at least do this part.  In fact, most of them ONLY do this part.  Obviously, this discipline is certainly my strength but it is definitely the more boring of the four strokes.  No more explanation needed.

Now, what does it all....MEAN??? I've really enjoyed stroke workouts this year for the simple pleasure that it's something different.  I know I don't swim much compared to 12 year old girl swimmers, but I do swim a lot compared to most triathletes. Swimming 30k a week of freestyle, pull freestyle, and kick would suck.  Really suck.  Therefore, some variety is paramount in order to maintain sanity.

I was asked recently whether I felt as though doing more stroke (and not just faking it, but sometimes I do...) helped fitness-wise as much as doing freestyle during those intervals would have.  My first response was "no" but the more I thought about it I think that's actually not true.  Specifically, doing freestyle is probably the best in the context of the sport I'm choosing to pursue (triathlon, for those unaware of my hobby...) but I definitely have to work pretty hard doing medley.  So I'd consider that a wash mostly.

There is, however, a large bonus that most people don't think about right off the bat.  Fly, without a doubt, greatly increases overall strength.  It is a very, very demanding stroke.  After a while, your shoulders will really thank you and you will marvel at your ab and arm definition.  PLUS! You will look awesome if you do it when fresh and perfect when people are watching.  It intimidates other AOS/tri-geeks like you wouldn't believe.  Backstroke is - in my opinion anyway - far and away the most directly helpful to your freestyle stroke.  Body position is absolutely paramount in this stroke and getting better at it definitely (I think so anyway) helps your freestyle body position.  A good, rhythmic kick is also really important which can pay dividends in your freestyle as well.  So, don't neglect the back!! Breaststroke is definitely the least useful of the medley strokes.  The only benefits I can think of are an increased feel of the water because of the sculling stroke one does and a better streamline overall.  That's it.  It is the most hateful of the 3 alternates for me.  But I do it anyway; partially because it has the word "breast" in it, which is a funny word.

Work on your medley and you will improve as a swimmer.  Guaranteed.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Monday through Thursday

Feb 11-17
S - 20,600 yards
B - 29 miles (1 mtb ride)
R - 37 miles
Time - 13.47 hours

My week of training existed wholly between Monday morning and Thursday evening.  By mid-day Thursday I could tell something was a little "off" and Friday morning brought with it a pathetic excuse for a swim and a no-work-I'm-sick day.  Saturday was the worst, with sinuses crammed shut and a throat that refused to cooperate.  Sunday was a little better but I still didn't work out at all this weekend+.  So it was a negative end to what would have been a very positive week.  I was on track to improve last week's numbers but unfortunately fell about half-way short.

All that being said, there are worse things... I don't get sick particularly often; in fact, only twice that I can remember in the past 4+ years.  Oh well, onto next week.

Feb 18-24
S - 12,600 yards
B - 127.8 miles
R - 53.9 miles
Time - 16.81 hours

Unfortunately the sickness kept me mostly out of commission for the first couple days of the week as well.  I was pretty lack luster in terms of awesomeness this week.  Now before you ask...yes, this is different than most weeks.  My usual self is a fountain of epic-ness.  'Twas not to be.  I'm still producing a whole lot of snot, which is pretty disgusting.  Not awesome.  Disgusting.

On a fun note, my replacement 2013 P3 frameset arrived this week and I put it together in spurts over several days.  One of the great things about working in the back at IOS is all the knowledge that is back there.  Greg knows more about Cervelos than just about anyone else out there I'd imagine.  If there is a fix for something, he knows it.  Learning from him and Steve over the past year about working on bikes has been extremely helpful in many ways.  While I may be the "Bike Manager" my role is primarily involved in talking about bikes, bike equipment and anything involving bikes as well as fitting people on said bikes.  Working on bikes was (fortunately, and potentially BECAUSE it's me...) not in the ol' j.o.b. description.   Anyway, I digress.  I put it together and it looks positively MEAN.

Now, tell me honest, does that not look spectacular? I, for one, am a huge fan of the new 2013 colors that Cervelo offers.  Obviously, an opinion is an opinion, but mine is worth more than doubt.  Just kiddinggggg!! ;)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Don't shirk, put in tha' work

S - 30,900 yards
B - 125.6 miles
R - 62.6 miles
Time - 23.53 hours

With only 6 or 7 hours on the bike this week, the bulk of the time was definitely spent on the two weaknesses: the swim and the run.  Perfection.  Lots of aerobic goodness.  Miles of trials. Trials of miles. All those cliches.

Three sweet things happened this week and I will go through them in sequential order.

1) Much to our surprise on early Monday morning immediately post warm-up in the pool Jonathan leaned over our lane and said 7 little innocent words:

"Now we're doing a 2000 for time"

Uhh, didn't expect that.  Given how I felt in the warmup I didn't expect too much but very surprisingly I slashed over 30 seconds off my last time to come in around a 24:00 dead.  With pacing that was very even (6:01, 6:02, 6:01, 5:56, give or take) I was exceptionally pleased.  That is pretty darn fast and I feel like with a clean lane it could have been a bit faster.  Next time...

2) My 2013 USAT Elite member card arrived.  Sometimes, I don't really believe that I am a pro.  But, then I look at my sweet muscles and realize that yes, you sir: you deserve it.  So then I'm ok with it.

3) I first noticed this last year when I was preparing my P3 for race season but this year these two anomalies appear to have grown so I submitted a query to Cervelo to ask their opinion.

In their gracious, infinite wisdom they decided that in all likelihood it was cosmetic but they'd replace the frameset with a 2013 edition.  The performance will be no different, but aesthetically it is WAY more awesome.  In my opinion.  So my two-year old race machine will be replaced in the next week or two with the new go-fast edition.  Boom goes the dynamite.  My guess is that the 2013 bike + James will be faster for a couple of reasons:

a) cleaning up the front cable routing.
b) installation of a TriRig Omega
c) fastest front and rear wheel combination commercially available that is also legal
d) faster aero helmet with my position

All of these improvements may only add up to 10-15 watts.  But 10-15 watts is basically a butt-load.  Should be interesting.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A little look into the history of ME

Once, long ago, I was a newbie.  A noob.  A beginner.  I know that given my current level of awesome (it's high; you don't have to say it I just know this) it's tough to tell the me that used to be but rest assured, huge n00b alert.

Is it a bit presumptuous of me to think people will be interested in a post like this? Perhaps.  But, one thing I've been reminded of a lot lately is to never forget the people that help you along your chosen path.  The group that I've become a part of has changed over the years but almost always for the better.  You learn over time to associate with people that are good people, and remove yourself from people that are not.  This is true in real life and in triathlon life.  I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am today without the support of my friends and family.

In looking back at my athleticore, this time of year in 2008 preparing to embark on a trip with other AmeriCorps and HfH Charlotte peeps to El Salvador for 10 days.  Fearing losing fitness (running fitness, as I had been running 30mi/week for a month or two) I purchased a jump rope and used that on the roof of our hotel some nights.  I did this because I had no desire to run around in San Salvador at night.  Not only did I not want to die, we were told it was basically a horrible idea to be out after dark.  So I jump-roped (word?) 20 minutes or so every day while I was there.

Anyway, when I first started running in Charlotte I ran a lot with a fellow William and Mary alum and ex-collegiate XCer.  Little did I know that even though 6:50 was an aerobic training pace for Anna, it was definitely NOT an everyday running pace for me, a new runner.  Pretty much everything I did was a tempo run or faster.  It was, however, inspiring to run with someone like her in the sense that it was so effortless! It was my first real taste of performance anxiety.  I didn't want to suck while running with her! So I proverbially sucked it up and suffered.  I think my first ever running race was the Greek Fest 5k in the fall of 2007 or 2008.  Alana Hadley, I will always remember because of how fast she's gotten, at the age of 10 or 11 or something, beat me.  I will never, ever forget that.

I pretty much only ran through the spring of 2008.  I mainly did the Plaza Midwood 4 miler (called the "Plaza Prowl" back then I think) that was formed by a meetup group.  I think that run has evolved rather significantly in the past years to become a pretty huge group run.  Back then it was much smaller and I didn't really know anyone so everyone probably thought I was kind of weird and standoffish.  So...pretty much like they do now.  At that group I met the first guy that I'd really call a "running buddy."  Tim was an ultra runner who was somewhat polarizing in the Charlotte community.  He was always nice to me though and was a fun guy to run with; he always had good stories.  I shifted to the "Sharksbite 4 miler" (or something pretty close) that Tim got together out behind the CRC Dilworth location.  This was a fun way to spend a Thursday evening and through this I met a bunch of people I still know today.  Jocelyn (no blog to link to, sadly...jeez Jocelyn!!) and Cummins showed up to one of those and for no particular reason other than to be nice said I should run with them more.  I knew them both as "triathletes" and not just "runners" so was interested to get other perspectives on working out; plus, variety is the spice of life!

Rolling into the late spring of that year, I can pretty much given Jocelyn full credit for planting the seed in my head of doing a triathlon.  I had raced bikes in school, so surely I would still be good at that, right?  She and Cummins got me to go to the Inside Out Tuesday night ride.  If I'm not mistaken, this is around the time frame when Donny first moved to Charlotte, and when all the big dawgs were in really good shape.  Cummins, Lat, Wattie, Donny, Nick, Lisska, Hawk, Woodbury, etc. I got hammered.  I've never been dropped quite that hard in my life.  Needless to say, the former bike racer was chagrined.

BUT, it did inspire me to sign up for my first triathlon: Patriots Olympic in Williamsburg, VA. Jocelyn, Kelly, Woodbury and Hawk were all signed up for the half and I figured I'd make the shorter distance my "debut." This meant one, very important thing, however: I'd have to learn how to swim. It probably took Jocelyn a month or two just to convince me to show up for a swim with her.  She crushed me.  She crushed me real bad. My first masters practices were in the far right lane at the Dowd YMCA, in the back of the lane.  I was slow.  Everyone starts somewhere, right?

Looking back on some of the logs I have of those workouts is a fun comparison tool.  To see times that "amazed" and "surprised" me back then and to see where I am now is a great confidence boost.  Jocelyn and, later on, Jackie were great motivators for me in this early months of swimming.  Unfortunately, that first "triathlon" ended up being a "duathlon" because of a hurricane so my anxiety over the swim portion would have to wait until next April.  Over the fall and winter I ended up getting some swim lessons from Lance Leo.  While I initially liked what he did with my stroke, in the end I was not a big fan of how hard it was to implement (reallyyyy long glide; almost like swimming catch-up; I was simply not strong enough to hold this stroke at the time) but I learned some great pointers from him, the main one being the concept behind an early vertical forearm.

Before New Orleans 70.3, which would be my first triathlon in 2009, I went to Inside Out Sports to get a wetsuit.  Scott had suggested I go there and it was during this fateful time period when I first got to know Melissa and Bob. Melissa lent me a rental long john wetsuit to test for sizing before NOLA and I took that and some trepidation to the Harris YMCA pool.  I knew nothing of wetsuits and nothing of their benefits so when I swam 2500m in 36:13 (1:26/100yd pace) I was massively surprised.  That was significantly faster than anything I'd ever done before and gave me a HUGE confidence boost before my first 1.2 mile open water swim.

Driving down to New Orleans and back with Scott (and others obviously, but the point of this tangent is Scott) was definitely a great way to get to know the guy.  22 hours in the car within the span of 5 days is quite a bit and it was the start of a great...relationship? Back then he was just doing his second 70.3, had an afro, and lived in Charlotte working for Kimley Horn.  Now he's done several Ironmans, run sub 3:10 off the bike, has a buzzcut, and works somewhere else in the middle of nowhere working for a company that I don't always remember the name of...

Mid-way through that year I also met the Behmes.  John, Carrie, and Scott would without a doubt become my closest friends for the foreseeable future.  Learning how to ride a bike properly with John at White Lake (no, there was zero drafting), getting beat-down by Scott in running and learning how to always have fun from Carrie.  I had so much fun that year that it's tough to remember a negative.  I still didn't really know what I was doing when it came to training; I just did what everyone else was doing.  That's how I ended up doing Beach to Battleship full that year; I had been doing long runs and rides with all the guys doing Ironman Louisville that summer so figured I might as well just sign up for B2B.  Might as well, right?

Luckily before the race I met two of the most awesomest people in Charlotte: Lori and Ashley Ackerman.  Not only did I get to stay with them race weekend, but training with Ashley was like icing on a cake to end a perfect year.  You'll never meet a more laid-back, humble, and very fast dood.  It's just not happening.  Despite getting a bee sting on his face during the bike ride he still screamed past me before 10k of the run and soundly beat me.  It's funny because despite having some pretty miserable memories of the run I remember that weekend very fondly and I think it's due primarily to the great friends I had around me.  Fishy, Behme, Wattie and the Ackermans were all there.  It was a pretty sweet end to a first year of doing triathlons.

Before I had even finished B2B I had signed up for IM Louisville '10.  That is one way to go about dealing with post-IM "depression:" make sure that you have a "next step!" Up until the new year I had been working full time with Habitat for Humanity, primarily as an AmeriCorps then as a full-time staff member for a couple of months with rehab project.  In 2010 this was no longer on the docket so I had a lot more time to train and - much more importantly - not do physical labor.  Looking back, I have no idea how I worked out 15-20 hours a week (some weeks, not consistently mind you, which was probably part of my problem...!) and did physical, hard labor through all kinds of weather.  I am much, MUCH weaker than I was back then... Pathetic.

Anyway, 2010 had one, singular goal: Louisville.  I started working at Inside Out Sports and back then I think Melissa may have actually liked me! Probably because I wasn't around as much.  I'm much less entertaining the more you are around me.  It's a curse.

Little did I know that the real, underlying goal of 2010 would be about deciding what I'd do with the upcoming years of my life.  You may expect this to be some sort of revelatory discovery, but it was much more subtle than that.  It was during this year that I had both the biggest letdown of my athletic "career" in Louisville, but also experienced the ultimate "let's see where we can go" moment later in the year.  Having so many friends at Louisville was both amazing but doubly sad as I felt as though I had let them down as well as myself.  Luckily I was able to recover from this and move on but the rest of the year felt a bit as though I was trying to make up for lost ground.  Thus, the amazing accomplishment and fun weekend that was Triple-T NC in White Lake with Fletch seems lost.  It's silly because that weekend was awesome.  Hanging out with Fletch, Woody and Lisska and running my best ever half-ironman half-marathon with Fletch pulling me along after two days of hard racing should be viewed as a major accomplishment! But it's almost as though it never happened because of the massive disappointment that preceded it.  We learn and move on, always.

The end of 2010 brought with it the end of Version 1 of James the Trihacklete.  I would soon go from taking it somewhat seriously to taking it very seriously.  2011 would bring a world-renowned (well, he should be) coach, a new focus, and a new housemate.  All these things would combine to propel me into a new division of taking-myself-too-seriously, for better or for worse.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Quality vs...well, something else.

I'm confused.  Now, this is different from my normal state of "confusion" in which I perpetually live.  But that's another blog post.  One which I will likely never get around to writing.  But anyway, I digress. What confuses me right now is why people think they are getting a "deal" when they purchase certain products.

There are several examples of this type of "deal."

1) Rudy Project - RP CONSTANTLY has huge "sales" on their products.  The Wingspan, a helmet that normally "retails" for $300 can frequently be had for 50% off using a special "coupon."  I've even seen purchases made for over 75% off "retail" pricing.  Sunglasses can frequently be had this way as well, though the pricing differences don't amount to enough to really "get my goat." So, when you purchase a Wingspan TT helmet, what exactly are you buying? Are you buying a $300 helmet that is miraculously on sale at a steep discount?  Or are you buying a $150 dollar helmet?  The quality of the helmet remains the same, obviously, but if you purchase this helmet at $300...well, we should have some words.  RP is terrible, terrible for retailers.  They tend to "sponsor" anyone who requests a "relationship" and constantly undercuts their (if they even have any anymore) retailers by offering such "discounts" on their "sales."

That's not to say the products aren't quality; I've owned several pairs of RP sunglasses and used a helmet or two in the past and there's nothing wrong with them.  They are quite nice.  What gets me is the pricing structure.  It makes no sense.  Well, it makes sense if you look at it from RP's perspective: they get tons of people in their product.  To them, anyone that buys one of their products at full "retail" pricing is just basically a sweet "bonus.''

2) Xterra - Xterra, in some ways, is even "worse" to me than RP.  I've owned (and liked) an Xterra swim skin. Guess what? I got in during a crazy "sale!" Surprise, surprise.  Xterra sells a "top of the line" Vendetta full-suit for $800.

800 bones is a LOT of money to pay for a wetsuit.  That eclipses Blue Seventy's Helix by 150 bucks.  But, ask yourself, what ARE you buying? If you fork over $800 for that wetsuit, are you getting $800 worth of wetsuit?  Xterra would tell you that since you're buying directly from them you are saving money and eliminating the evil "middle-man" (i.e. the retailer).  So to say that and then sell an $800 wetsuit is a little ridiculous to me.  If I were to, "xterra wetsuits," what do you imagine would be the first result of that search?  Well, here you go:

Wow! Surprising! It's actually difficult to buy the wetsuits at full-price with so many sale links/codes/coupons all around your search results!

Now, to reiterate as I did post RP "rant," this is not a diatribe against the quality of the products.  I have owned Xterra and liked it fine.  BUT, there's an important distinction between thinking you are buying a top of the line and nearly $1000 wetsuit and buying a good wetsuit that is usually marked-up significantly over what it's actually worth...

I guess I have a slightly different perspective now working in the retail business.  That is, without a doubt, a bias.  But I don't think it's a mis-placed bias.  Companies that focus on consumer and retailer education end up for the better in the long run, I think.  Xterra rants against "poor sales people" but what they've really done is refuse to educate the people who COULD sell their products and offer IN-PERSON advice to the consumer.  As a buyer, who would you trust more if you were purchasing a very expensive product: the person who makes the wetsuit itself or the person who has no "dog in the fight" other than to put you in a wetsuit (that you came in asking about)?  If you walk in and ask about wetsuits at any major triathlon retailer in the country, you are likely to be able to choose from a selection.  If you ask Xterra a question about wetsuits, you're going to get an answer whose goal is primarily intended to get you in an Xterra wetsuit.

Just to use Blue Seventy as an example (and yes, I've developed a relationship with them over the past two years, so if you want to read bias into that, feel free): if you wanted a 2013 Helix, you will not find a discount code promoted by the manufacturer.  That's because Blue Seventy doesn't undercut their retailer.  It's also because when you buy a new, current year Blue Seventy product, you know that you are paying the "right" price for it.  You'll never second-guess yourself or worry that a huge discount code would appear out of nowhere.  Now, retailers themselves can offer discount options but that is very, very different than the manufacturer themselves doing that.

So basically, buyer beware.  I would ALWAYS rather pay for something I WANT and know is QUALITY and worth my money than get a discount on something that is clearly a compromise.  And no, I have never gotten a Blue Seventy wetsuit for free.  I have paid for all of them.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What are YOU made of?

S - 25,200 yards
B - 57 mi (3 mountain bike rides)
R - 38 miles
Time - 17.48 hours

Earlier this week, Brian asked me - ever so innocently - via email what my yearly hours had looked like the past four years.  I did a little training log research (my favorite kind) and came up with some numbahs

2009 - 650 (year of first dance with the devil aka triathlon)
2010 - 730
2011 - 800
2012 - 830

Brian used his special coaching mind to do some thinking and asked if I was happy making some improvement with a continued, slight progression (say 845-850 hours in 2013) or if I wanted to have no social life (I already don't have one), less free time (idle hands are the devil's tool), and be more tired constantly (amazing.).  In short, despite working 35-40 hours a week, did I want to really push my own limits and discover how much I can truly train?

Obviously, the answer is going to be "yes."  Maybe not an emphatic YES! but everyone needs to figure out what motivates them to answer a question like this.  Doing this takes time.  I'm motivated by small improvements, patient progression, race results, training buddies, pace clocks, powermeters, etc.  I get to experience MORE of this motivation the MORE I train, so I guess my YES becomes more emphatic.

Next week will see a nice increase in volume.  Back up to lots of swimming and lots of running.  Cycling will still remain on the relative back-burner, it looks like.

This week, I managed somehow to only ride my mountain bike.  I really, REALLY want a powermeter for that thing though, because I'm pretty sure two hours on the trails is equal in TSS to at least 2.5-3hrs aerobic on the roads.  Regardless, I'm definitely improving from a skills standpoint.  More confidence in my bike + more confidence in my own abilities = more faster trail riding.

I ran a lot more this week than I have in a while.  I felt surprisingly fantastic and my paces reflected that; most runs were well under 7:00 minutes/mile pace with no forcing and that is super sweet. Per Brian's suggestion, I've been incorporating some hill efforts into normal runs.  A more fun way of doing hill repeats than going out and banging my head against the "wall" several times.

I got a slight reprieve from swimming frequency this week, only swimming five times.  But I tried to make each of those swims count by getting in at least 5000 yards.  The only exception to that was Saturday, where the main set was exceptionally short.  Luckily, I had built up some yards in the bank and was able to end up over 25k off just those five swims.  Next week will see a bump back up to more "normal" volume ;)