Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Week #4

You can dance if you want to, you can leave your friends behind; cause your friends don't dance, and if they don't dance well, they're no friends of mine.

Christmas week was an interesting little test, not as much of physical fitness as it was fighting the demons of going home. I haven't stayed at home for as many consecutive days since 2005 (Tues night-Sat afternoon) and frequently I have trouble getting my training in while I'm up there. Most of this is due to being there for a short time, not feeling like dragging my bike up there and the fact that none of my friends run anymore.

In order to counteract this, I actually brought my rollers home. I was determined to ride no matter what, even if it meant riding inside. Fortunately it didn't come to that, and the week yielded my 2nd highest week by hours of 2008!

I ran fairly easy Monday, and despite feeling like ass put in a decent 3600m in the pool on Tuesday. This would be the only swim of the week. Wednesday morning I was home and ran at Hartshorne, site of my ankle's destruction back in 2003. Conditions were rough, with ice and frozen mud all up on the trails, and it was sleeting. I muddled through 11 miles, and called it a day as I then had to begin Christmas shopping.

Thursday was Christmas, and as tradition prescribes, I strive for at least a 50 mile ride. I headed out toward the beach in 50 degree weather, and in spite of the wind managed a decent ride to the end of Sandy Hook, and then up Scenic Drive and back through Middletown. Of course, I left my house at 2, so as I rolled back in at 5 it was dark.

Friday I got out at 12, it was about 10 degrees cooler but I was still rocking short gloves. I was actually really cold, but was too lazy to go back to the house in the first quarter mile. This day I headed south and west, towards Manasquan Reservoir. Some great roads exist out there; little traffic, long, slightly undulating stretches make for fast riding. 3 hours later I was back home, and met up with Pereless at Tatum for an easy 7 miles. He had just eaten at Five Guys so needless to say it was not a fast run. Again, finished in the dark.

Saturday was a little warmer again but this time was actively precipitating. Because it wasn't raining at the start of the ride, I left at noon and headed out for the same ride as Thursday. As I neared the beach, it was super foggy and so humid there were just raindrops in the air. Wind wasn't bad, but I was really cold and wet. But, I managed the 3 hour ride again.

I drove back to Baltimore and due to a housekey fiasco did not go for a run, but when I woke up on Sunday morning it was 65 degrees! Really windy, but 65 degrees. Pretty awesome. I headed down to Columbia and met up with Scotty, and we rolled (on very wet roads) towards Centennial Park to meet Zero. We had a sweet tailwind for the first half of the ride, but then we turned into the wind and it was brutal. We picked it up a little towards the end, then with 3 miles to go Tom got a flat. Another 50 mile ride, making 4 straight - 200 miles in 4 days on 3 hours a day. I was tired.

Since I had only run 3 days this week, I had to run in the afternoon, so after dropping my bike off at TriSpeed (I am working on coming up with a female name for my bike, as I will be spending considerable time with her this year) I headed back down to Patapsco to meet Jake. This run turned into a tough run, the trails were sloppy and I was beat to the street. We crawled through a challenging and slow 11+ miles. At this point I was totally worked and it was 5 o'clock - I had been out since 8.

The week wound up looking like this:

Swim - 3600m (only had access to the pool the one day really)
Run - 37 miles (4 runs)
Bike - 200 miles (4 rides)

18.25 hours. That's a huge week for me and a great way to end 2008. I need to recover a little over the next few days, and then bang from Thursday through Sunday again. Then I plan on taking the following week pretty easy.

In other news, Terps play their bowl game tomorrow at 4:30, so GO TERPS!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Celtic Solstice 2008

Celtic Solstice is another one of my favorite events, and definitely my favorite end-of-season wintertime race. Normally I can't stand racing in the cold, but this race is worth it. First, it's grown by leaps and bounds in its nearly 10 years of life. There were 2800 registered competitors for yesterday's edition, and even though only 1800 were officially timed (some people forget to pick up the chip, etc), that's still a ton for a late December 5 miler.

More importantly, Jim Adams does a great job with the race premium. No "free" t-shirt, just an optional premium for $35. In years past we've received Brooks technical shirts, then a pretty cool half-zip long sleeve thing, then last year it was a really sweet jacket. This year I think is the best so far, being an awesome and totally comfortable fleece. There are a ton of people who only sign up for the race to get this premium.

The first two years I ran the race, in 2005 and 2006, I magically ended up with the same time and place. Last year I raced it, feeling pretty good for some reason heading into December. This year I wasn't sure what to expect. I feel like a 30min 5 miler has got to be pretty standard for me now, assuming I'm running, but to go much faster than 29 at this point was going to take a lot of effort, seeing as I've run about 100 miles in the last two months, with most of that coming in the last couple of weeks.

I toed the line next to the squad of Justin, Dr. J, Scotty and MGP, and as the gun went off, the race went tearing up the first hill. It's about a quarter of a mile up before taking a right hand turn, and I felt like I was sprinting. My HR skyrocketed before finally settling in. I was keeping most of my friends in sight, but just couldn't bridge up. I hit the first mile in a surprisingly slow 6:03. Either it was long, I thought, or man am I out of shape!

The 2nd mile last year I remembered as being short, so I think things may have been adjusted this year, as I came through in 5:55. At least I was heading in a better direction. The cold was taking its toll and I was really not feeling comfortable. Another thing I love about this race is the number of people that shout me out during it, since it's got an out and back at one point. It's always fun to spot your friends and it helps pump you up. I hit mile 3 in 5:54, so at least I was consistent. I headed down around the lake and was caught in the middle, just running by myself. Someone behind me was making a terrible sound, like they were dying. I then caught up to Weems McFadden of HoCo (interestingly enough he possessed the number ahead of me) and we came through mile 4 in 5:58.

I was still quite uncomfortable but knew the race was almost done, if I could just get around the Moorish Tower and back onto the road I'd have a nice downhill. I get to that point and deja vu prevailed - Eric, Will and Pete are standing there alerting me that if I don't run faster I'm going to get "girled" (act of getting beat by a girl). The same thing happened last year. So I made sure I sprinted in, and put it out there with a 5:35 last mile, crossing the line at 29:28.

At first glance, this is 22 seconds slower than I ran last year, but I had also been running for a while last year and had somewhat of a base underneath me. I had already done the NCR Trail Half and then run 16 miles in the Metric Marathon (not to mention the little xc meet) - so I was definitely more race ready than I was yesterday.

Dave kept his stranglehold on the race, winning for the third straight year in a most excellent time of 25:08, while Kyle was 2nd in 25:18. Collin Anderson had a great race, crossing in 27:55, and then it was Justin, Mike and Tom Stott (28:10, 28:15, 28:46).

Weekly Wrap-Up

And now for the weekly wrap up.

This week was even less by volume than last, but I'm okay with it. Just under 8 hours I think, but I haven't taken any days off.

Swim: 9,000 meters
Bike: 0 miles
Run: 41 miles

I was really tired this week, and the current work situation is getting more and more stressful with the state of the automotive union, so it was a pretty rough couple of days.

However, I had a great swim on Friday night, rolling 2000m straight in 34:05. By 500 I went 8:45, 8:38, 8:30, 8:10. I felt pretty good, and was pleased with the effort.

I had a "good" week running, going over 40 miles for the first time in two months. Monday was real warm and we got after it on the run. Wednesday was a little more chill, and then I ran with Kip on Thursday in Mt. Washington for some slow hills. Saturday I raced, and then today I did our Wednesday Night Run in one of the slowest times I've ever done it, which was good.

This week is a bigger week, thanks to a few days off from work. I need to see if I can get my bike fixed up on Tuesday before I head home, and then knock out 5 days of rides. I won't get to swim much, so running and riding will be the staple workouts for the week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ironman on TV

For the past few Sundays, VS has been televising some of the Ironman events from the past year. I watch most of them knowing the results, but interested in seeing how the races have unfolded on camera. I've watched the half from St. Croix, and the fulls at Louisville, Arizona, Lake Placid and Wisconsin. It's amazing stuff to watch.

Last night I attacked the big one that taped from Saturday - NBC's coverage of the Hawaii Ironman. Normally you can't watch this without tears as they tell some over the top story of the person who overcame some terrible tragedy. This year was a little different. Gone were the Dick Hoyts, or the Brian Boyles. There were a couple of inspiring tales, mostly serving as fodder to get you to join the Navy I think.

But a large part of it focused on the pain of this race, and how it affects even the most seasoned pros. The two winners, Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington, both owned their races and looked cool doing it. Just about everyone else seemed to get crushed by it. As a professional, whose season and life centers around this race, I just don't get how they can all be destroyed by it. But, I understand how they can be destroyed by it, having gone through a few terrible experiences this year myself.

So Arjun and I watched the coverage and were pretty amazed at the race, and then it got me thinking - what am I doing?? This is going to really hurt, and I've got a year to get ready for it and the course doesn't seem all that challenging. I suppose that's relative, because the distance is the same, and flatter courses pose the challenge of having to pedal the whole time; 3 lap courses get boring; Arizona's pretty warm.

We'll see how things go. I'm on track for a pretty decent week, hoping to get in another 100 or so miles of riding this weekend, with about 45 miles of running and 12,000m in the pool. Next week with Wednesday through Sunday off I'll look to make a big week on the bike, so I need to make sure I get my bike problem worked out quick!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Week (Weak) #2

I finished up the week yesterday and was mildly disappointed in retrospect. The numbers looked like this:

Swim - 9,000m
Bike - 100mi
Run - 31mi

Looking at it, it's pretty weak. I only managed to get in the pool twice last week, and only rode Saturday and Sunday. I managed an additional day of running and increased my mileage there to a more respectable amount, but it's still low.

Timewise, however, it really wasn't bad. 13h45m of total training, down an hour from the previous week, but I decided to take a look at how the rest of this year has gone for me. What I noticed was that I only had 6 weeks higher than 13:45, and the last time I was above 13 hours (before last week) was the week ending July 7th.

My two swims were largely uneventful, mostly because I felt terrible all week in the pool.

The two rides I put in weren't bad, but my knee hurts, my bike is falling apart and my computer isn't working. Saturday I was riding before 8am with Dean and his friend Rob, managed 3h15m and then Sunday I headed out solo for 3h45m. I left late in the day (1:30) and was definitely shrouded by darkness once back in the city. My knee was killing me, which could be because if I'm a freewheelin', my rear hub's a squealin. It's an annoying sound so I just keep pedaling. Minor overuse. All told, though, I'm proud that I've gotten out both Sat/Sun the last two weekends for rides totaling 13 hours.

Running wasn't terrible, but it was all pretty slow. Wednesday I was pretty beat up from my first leg session in the weight room, and I still felt the effects on my slow Friday run with Kris. Saturday I got out a little after my bike ride and put in 6 decent miles, and because I got home so late Sunday I opted for not running.

Looking forward to the week ahead, with some fun activities planned for the evenings. Saturday will mark the return to racing at Celtic Solstice 5M, a favorite event around here. The first two years I ran it, I finished in the exact same time AND exact same place (30:56, 47th). Then last year I actually kind of raced it and went 29:06. This weekend we'll see, guess it depends on how I'm feeling race morning. I'd certainly like to run well to remember what that feels like, but I also don't think I'll run poorly.

Oh, and a BIG shout to the Terps Men's Soccer National Championship team, they won the NCAA Title yesterday after beating UNC 1-0. This is their 2nd title in 4 years, and the Terps' second fall NCAA Championship (Field Hockey also). Go Terps!

Friday, December 12, 2008

What Race Are You Training For?

I probably haven't read this blog in about 4 months, quite frankly because I was getting bored of it, but I happened across that particular post today and was completely stupefied.

Now, it's entirely possible that I missed the point, and that maybe he is suggesting what one should be doing at this time of year for an Ironman next fall, but this level of training would be nearly impossible to even finish an Ironman, let alone do well at it.

I understand people have obligations that limit their training time, and I'm fortunate that I have no family of my own to take away from my time, but to do an hour a day during the week and a "big day" of about 4 hours on a Saturday just doesn't seem enough. I'm already freaking out that the 20+ hours a week that I'll get up to shortly aren't enough to do well at the distance.

It's really not important that you read the entire blog post, as it was quite long, but the main points were basically swim on MWF for an hour, and maybe 4 runs per week, nothing particularly long, and a quasi-long ride on Saturday.

He also says in one sentence that swimming isn't all that important because it's the shortest part of the race and has the least gains to be made, yet has the athlete do it a disproportionate amount compared to the other disciplines.

It's like when I go up to TriSpeed for Saturday rides. It's chill for the first 7 miles, and then all of a sudden becomes a hammerfest until the church on Dover at mile 13. Then everyone stops and regroups, and decides how long they're going for. Most of them turn around, while some carry on for about 40 miles. Occasionally they'll do 50. I guess if you're doing sprints/Olympics as your main training that could be enough, but I'm surprised that there wouldn't be more people going longer.

I personally won't feel comfortable doing the Ironman next year without having many, many 75+ rides under my belt, and a number of 100+ rides. Additionally, I'll want to see a bunch of 20+ mile runs and probably a few 80/10 bricks.

I'm sure one day my situation may change and I have a limited amount of time to train. I just won't kid myself and try to do Ironman events in that time.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Miami and Boston Travel Plans

I'm mostly putting this on my blog cause I don't want to clutter up TWSS, but also so I can keep track of my own progress as far as making travel plans.

MIAMI HALF MARATHON, Sunday January 25

I booked my flights. I'm flying AirTran from BWI to MIA on Friday 1/23 at 10:59am. It was super cheap ($72). On the way out, I'm flying from FLL (Fort Lauderdale) to BWI on Sunday 1/25 at 5:41pm. That flight was $158. There were less expensive, earlier options, but I want as much of a beach day post-race as possible. Also on the way down you can probably find a few more flights into FLL (and also really cheap). Total for my flight was $251, booked direct via AirTran. Oh and hint, since I hadn't seen it before, don't select your seats unless you really want to, cause they charge you for that.

We don't have a hotel yet, but we'll be staying in South Beach. Rooms are probably in the $200-$300/night range, so if we have 2-4 people per room it will be about $200-$300 per person for the trip.

We may also rent a car, because we'll have a few people going back to FLL at the same time on Sunday, and also the race start is nowhere near where we'll be staying, so we'll need to get up there. That won't cost that much I feel like.

BOSTON MARATHON, Monday, April 20

It looks like we have a minimum of 14 people going up to this race (plus probably two more spectators), which is crazy. From what I understand, Alyssa and Chrissie have their own respective hotel arrangements, so that takes two out, but we'd probably need 3-4 rooms depending on what other people are doing.

My mom (who is a travel agent) has already booked a room for her and my dad at the Hyatt Harborside or something. A sample of the prices were: $600/night in Boston; $400/night in Cambridge; $240/night at this place, and it's just a water taxi ride across to downtown. To me that sounds like a good idea.

Since I would prefer to get this taken care of sooner than later, I'm going to email everyone who has expressed interest in doing this race and traveling with us to get strict counts. After the Philly Marathon debacle I just want to be sure it doesn't happen again. Hopefully we can come to some kind of decision within the next week and have it squared away.

I can already see how ridiculous that weekend is going to be trying to accommodate everyone's special needs prior to the marathon, but bring it on - how often do you get to race Boston with friends of this quantity and quality??