Monday, February 28, 2011

I'm a Runner (for a week anyway)

Oops!  Has it really been a whole week since the last post?  You'd think with the kids out of town all week there would've been plenty of time to write blog posts.  Instead, work and training carried on as usual while life threw a curve ball at us.  That curve ball resulted in a new car which is only a Yakima roof rack away from being the official Tri4Success event vehicle.  The last week also included a lot of post-duathlon pains and a hilly bike ride with my wife.  The week ahead?  Well, it includes the Trinity River Levee Run which will mark the first time Angelia, Julian, and I have all raced the same running event.

The week in review:
1)  So outside of the car fiasco, this week was all about pain - in the glutes, groin, and hamstrings (the tendons, not the muscles).  During physical therapy for my knees last year it was discovered that I am one super-tight individual.  My IT bands and hamstrings are so tight that I stuck out like a sore thumb even amongst those who were recovering from recent major surgeries.  Masseuses marvel at the fact I'm capable of movement.  The nasty thing about being this way is in the case of injury there's no way to speed the healing process which is typically 2-6 weeks.  Anti-inflammatories can help manage it in the early healing stages but full strength and function simply takes time.  For this week, that meant I was able to stay somewhat active but anything requiring a burst of power was just not in my repertoire.

2)  The kids being away provided a rare opportunity for my wife and I to do some workouts together.  On Wednesday, I joined her at the running track where she's helping a Rockwall Running Center Couch to 5k class.  Essentially I warmed up with them but took off at my own pace for 30 minutes when it was time to run.  So I guess we didn't really run together but we did run at the same place at the same time ..... that's something.  In the process I set a new best over 5k at 28:02, a full 2:16 better than the prior week.

the Rockwall hill route
On Sunday, I had a hill route on my schedule.  This is a 20+ mi route that hits some of the best climbs in Rockwall.  We might not be the hilliest place around but when you get by the lake you can string together some quarter-mile 10% grades to get a solid workout.  Well, as it turns out Angelia had a 2-hr ride on her schedule with the note "make it challenging".  After some talking she was convinced to come along with me and ride the main vein of the route (which still has several really solid climbs) while skipping the back and forth repeats in a couple neighborhoods.  It turned out to be a really good ride.  The wind was at our backs for the 8.5mi warm-up stretch before hill time arrived.  She did a great job on the climbs --- I think better than she expected, but much as I felt that first time, the predominant thought was "no more, please".  It couldn't have hit her too hard though because once we were back on our normal flat roads she got in the drops and pushed the pace.  I knew there was a cyclist hiding in there!

3) Happy Birthday to the youngest member of this team, uh, I mean family.  Connor is 4 years old now and sprouting like a weed.  In fact, he's growing so fast we had to change out some of his gear.  This little surprise is in the garage awaiting his return.  I wonder how long before he'll notice it ..... we're not saying a thing.

The week ahead:
A strange thing about runners versus cyclists --- when a cyclist has ridden over a 100k on a ride, ANY ride, he can say he's done a metric century, when a runner has run 5k it doesn't count unless it was in a race.  Seriously, you can find this discussion on a number of endurance sports forums.  So, since I seem to be running over 5k every time I step out for a training session I thought it was time to make it official.  Angelia was already planning to run the Trinity River Levee Run put on by Dallas Running Club as her first official 10k and now I'm signed up to do the 5k route at the same event.  To round it out for team Tri4Success we signed up Julian as well.  He'll unknowingly serve as my rabbit to chase.

So there you have it, all caught up.  Till next post ......... (in less than a week, I promise)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Texas Motor Speedway Duathlon

Perhaps I should title this post "A Trifecta of Bling".  It's a heart-pumping, leg-cramping, hand-numbing tale of the family that participated in their first ever duathlon and returned with identical 2nd place awards.  The event was The Texas Motor Speedway Duathlon put on by Ironhead Race Productions and the story ..... well, it's likely to get a bit lengthy.

I've been to Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) many times in the past and walked through the garage area and such but this was the first time I ever drove through the tunnel to park inside.  How in the world those big rigs for the race cars get through there I have no idea.  They are very narrow tunnels.  When we emerged we found a nice parking spot on the south side of the garage area.  As we got out and started to unload we spotted Jessica, a fellow Cheesy Riders member.  Julian is always excited to see her as he "finds her amusing".  Gotta love that!  Then just a few spots over, fellow Rockwall cyclist Keith and his family pulled in.  This event was a new experience for all of us and excitement was in the air.

Once we had our gear together we rolled over to check-in where they proceeded to mark us and issue timing chips.  As Julian and I were doing the relay, the timing chip acts as the "baton" by getting transferred between us during transitions.  After that we racked our bikes in the transition area and began mental preparations which for me translated to waiting in the bathroom line, missing the first few minutes of the pre-race meeting, and chugging down some water with a Blackberry Jet GU.  Angelia actually managed to make it to the meeting while taking her Espresso Love GU.

Before we knew it, the time to start had arrived.  Women and all relays started in the 3rd wave with a 4 minute delay.  That meant Angelia, Julian, Jessica, and Keith's nephew Tyler would all be taking off together.  As the final wave started I snapped these photos then made my way over to a fence to watch them on the first lap.
In particular I was keeping an eye on Julian for 2 reasons.  First, he's my relay partner so I needed to be ready when he completed the 2 mile run.  Second, he was the youngest, smallest competitor in the field and could receive no help as it is a sanctioned event.  Actually, being the smallest dude out there gave him quite a following.  A lot of strangers were cheering him on and congratulating him by name throughout the day.
Julian did exactly what we had discussed when we made our race plan by completing the first 2mi leg at his 5k pace in 16:46 (a 8:23min/mi pace).  Nice job!  The transition went well as we got the timing chip moved from his ankle to mine and I passed the bike mount line in 55 seconds.

The bike route was outside the speedway so we exited the garage area through the north tunnel --- kinda cool to ride a bike through there.  There were three 5mi loops to complete for a total of 16.27 miles including the part in and out of the speedway.  My plan for this segment was to maintain a heartrate (HR) around 165bpm for 2 laps then ramp it up a bit on the final lap.  I also wanted to keep my cadence in an efficient range, preferably 85 to 90rpm.  The challenge on this particular day was the wind which was strong and consistent not to mention the fact that riding on a street around TMS meant there were never any kind of trees or structures to break up the wind.  The portion with the wind at your back is all too brief when compared to the headwind and crosswind sections.  All things considered I had a very successful bike leg.  My HR average was 165bpm as planned, average cadence was 86rpm, and I was only passed by triathlon bikes, never another road bike.  I did see Angelia while on my final lap and told her she was doing great.  Shortly after that I made the turn back into the garage area and almost had a major mistake as I dismounted at the last possible second before crossing the transition line.  My foot actually hit the ground on the line --- much too close!  The official bike time ended up being 55:16 for a 17.4mph average.  Not what I had in mind originally but good for the conditions.

4 minute delayed start equals finish of 1:31:16
The second transition went equally well as Julian removed the timing chip from my ankle while I racked the bike.  I made sure the chip was secured to him and he was off on the final 2 mile run leg in just 54 seconds.  The plan for this leg was .... there was no plan.  I told him to run it as fast as he could.  As it turns out that was right around his 5k pace again.  Not surprising as this was the first time he's ever had an athletic effort followed by nearly an hour of rest and then suddenly had to run again.  It's a tough thing to ask the body to do.  After his first lap of the mile loop he definitely kicked it up a notch and there were a number of "go Julian!" cheers to be heard.  By the time he crossed the line he was in a dead sprint.  Key word is "dead" as walking a straight line was a challenge for about a minute afterwards.  Second 2mi run leg time was 17:22, very close to the first leg time.  Our total for the event - 1:31:16.  My hope for us had been 1:25 which with a more cooperative Mother Nature would have easily been achieved.  The difference was definitely lost on my bike leg.

As Julian and I made our way to the post-race refreshment area (a.k.a. the garage) we were looking for Angelia's bike in the transition racks to see what her status was.  At that precise moment we spotted her dismounting the bike and heading into transition 2.  Perfect!  We were going to get to watch her run the final 2 miles and complete her first duathlon.  I took the easy way out by relaying with my 9-year old.  She took on the full challenge.  It showed a bit as she had a bit of trouble unclipping her right foot at the dismount line, a sure-fire sign of tired legs.  She's never been a fan of the wind and I knew the ride was a true test.  When asked later she verified that she wasn't all that happy with the ride.  The wind was a big factor in that but it also paved the way to some calf cramps, a numb hand, and even numb toes.  In fact, the numb hand led to her peeling off her gloves with her teeth while riding!  Not sure I could do that though maybe I should have.  My hands numbed on the last lap as well, a product of holding on for dear life in the crosswinds.

Right around this time, Jessica found Julian and I and we walked over to the fence to watch Angelia's run.  Keith and Tyler were over there already having beaten Julian and I in the relay by 6:06.  Angelia appeared to be running fairly well initially but her hamstring tightened after a mile and she had to walk a bit to work it out.  She resumed pace soon enough and found enough energy to surge towards the finish.  In fact, each of her run segments ended up being at a better pace than any prior race of hers.  She met her main goal of finishing and just missed her goal time by about 5 minutes (that darn wind!).  Congrats Angelia!  By this time the last competitor had exited transition so we immediately began gathering our stuff up and rolled the bikes back to the car.  We had to hurry back to the garage though ...... word is there was an award in someone's future!
Tyler, Keith, Angelia, Julian, me, and Jessica
This was where the surprises came in rapid fire fashion.  We missed the first part of the awards ceremony saying bye to Jessica in the parking lot.  Then all of a sudden we hear, "Athena, 39 and under, 2nd place ..... Jessica".  We tell the race director she had left but was a friend of ours and we collected her award.  Angelia frantically texted her about her result.  No sooner had that happened then we heard, "Athena, 40 and over, 2nd place ..... Angelia".  Wow, both of them managed 2nd place finishes - awesome!

I was taking pictures of Angelia when they began announcing the relay results.  "In 2nd place ..... Tri4Success!"  All of a sudden I'm shoving the camera into my wife's hands and picking up my own award along with Julian who received a very loud cheer.  There we are celebrating when, yep, you guessed it - "in 1st place ...... Rockslide".  That's the team name for my riding buddy Keith.  Amazing, each and every one of us walked away with some bling.  Now I'll admit that there may not have been many competitors in our divisions but who cares?  It always feels good to get some bling!

Relay success!

Jessica received Angelia's text and got her bling too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Unplanned 5k and a Brick

Yesterday was a bit of a milestone for me.  It was the first extended run I've done outdoors since probably high school.  The training plan called for a nice, easy 30-minute jog, and my last jog was 5 days ago for 20 minutes on the treadmill with a pace of 11:57min/mi.  Clearly I have no sense of pace outdoors because my jog turned into a  5k in 30:18.52.  That's a pace of 9:47min/mi.  Wow, that was unexpected!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Running vs Cycling Stats

Garmin FR60 Men's Red Fitness Watch (Includes Heart Rate Monitor and USB ANT Stick)
Garmin FR60
So yesterday after a week of ice-induced UPS delays I finally got my Garmin FR60.  I chose this particular fitness watch to track my runs and strength workouts due to its compatibility with my existing Garmin HR monitor and GSC10 speed/cadence sensor.  This will give me the ability to better track my overall training load and predict performance.  During a discussion about HR zones relative to perceived running paces (i.e. jogging vs running), I was presented with the phrase, "cyclists and their darn heart-rates!"  The implication was clear, as a cyclist I tend to be too focused on heart-rate which is definitely true to some extent.  However, it's a false perception that I thought could use some clarification.  There are inherent differences in training for the 2 sports that someone newly venturing into the multi-sport arena should be aware of.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kicking It Up a Notch and .... a Family Duathlon?

Definitely NOT me.
Snow and ice storms can't stop us!  Training is really starting to intensify in our household.  My wife is now less than 2 weeks from her first duathlon, and so am I ..... well sort of, more on that after the jump.  The last 4 days have seen Angelia and I both tackle a treadmill + plyometric workout, my longest bike ride in 3 months, and her first bike/run brick.  The remainder of the week for us has the normal runs, swimming for Angelia, plus a variety of cycling intervals for both of us.  Oh, and the return of the hill repeat route I used to prepare for the Livestrong Challenge last autumn.  Phew!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

On the Road Again

Thank you Sun.  Your appearance saved me from yet another day on the trainer.  As soon as I saw the neighborhood streets free of ice and the current temp climbing faster than anticipated I set my sights on bundling up for a (gasp!) outdoor ride!  I took off as soon as it was 45 degrees and it felt great to be on the road again.  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Taking Over the Gym

Angelia, Julian, and I all hit the treadmills today at Ridgepoint Athletic Club.  I got in a 20 minute jog covering 1.44mi.  Hey, don't judge, it's only my 2nd time running since high school P.E..  Julian was comfortably cruising along next to me.  Angelia, well she had a bit more on her plate today combining runs with plyometrics.  She still managed a smile while on her cool-down jog though.
If you're in the area and haven't checked out Ridgepoint, you should --- even if you already have a gym membership.  Why?  As of today Rockwall Running Center has officially opened for business inside the club. Come by and check them out.  Oh, and see if you can spot the photo of my wife who was part of their first Couch-to-5k program.

Friday, February 4, 2011

More Snow = Race Cancelled

The DRC Tal Morrison Classic has been cancelled.  What a bummer.  Angelia, Julian, and my sister Racing It Off (aka Lesley) were all planning on running the 5k.  As you may recall this was the event a year ago that Julian pushed Lesley's pace till she crossed the finish line drooling.  Recently, she had clobbered that old PR time only to have the favor returned by Julian a week later (by a mere 14 seconds).  Now that their paces were so closely matched I was really looking forward to how their race would pan out.  Oh well, on to the next event ..... Angelia's first multi-sport adventure is scary close.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting Intimate With Your Trainer

With so much of the U.S. under snow and ice, it's safe to say it's not safe to exercise outdoors.  I've heard several tales this week of runners who attempted to do so, slipped on ice, and injured themselves.  While mountain biking in the snow is an absolute blast, any kind of cycling (especially road cycling) is extremely dangerous on solid sheets of ice.  So, here we are left with no choice but to pull out the indoor torture devices trainers.