Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Itch

On ten of the past fourteen days, I've saddled up for a ride of at least forty miles. The first one felt terrible. The second one, much the same. By the third ride, I started to find my legs again. The fourth was a Style I ego-check that left me reeling. But with every subsequent ride, I feel a bit better on the bike and that's a good thing. But the most important thing to come out of this return to riding?

The Itch. It's back.

Remember, like, last post, when I complained about not having the motivation to get myself back into shape? Well, that didn't last long. Two weeks have passed, and at some point during those two weeks, the Itch came back. Ten days ago, someone would pass me in the hall and ask if I'd thought about doing another Ironman. My eyes would glaze over and I'd mumble some kind of half-hearted affirmation. I was definitely enjoying the laziness. Now, the pilot light's been re-lit and I'm ready to start burning.

I'm not sure if the Itch is a good thing or a bad thing, an angel on my shoulder or an imp, but I do know this: every athlete has one. Some people are good at controlling theirs. Others, like myself... not so much. I'm like Dexter, only instead of a Dark Passenger, I've got a Harsh Mistress (rhymes with 'fitness'). And instead of telling me to kill people, the voice in my head tells me go to bed before 9 PM, wake up before 6 AM, and ensures that I spend any and all available free time running, swimming or cycling - or thinking about running, swimming and cycling.

Time to cobble together a plan. I'm feeling motivated.

Monday, January 17, 2011

And the Winner(s) is (are)...

A few weeks ago, I asked for some help settling on primary target for the 2011 season. Some of you voted, which is awesome. I've spent the past two weeks mulling the options over and, while I appreciate your opinion...

Despite more than half of you hoping I'd do Ironman Canada, I'm going to have to pass. The reason I want to do a race in North America this year's so my friends and family could come out and support me. The more I learn about the Canada course, the more un-spectator-friendly it sounds. Each discipline's only one lap. From a competitor's perspective, that sounds great! But to someone who's just in town to watch, that's miserable - they'd only see me pass by three times over ten hours. I'm not going to make my parents fly all the way to British Columbia for that.

On top of that, Canada's expensive. It'd cost me over $1,000 just to sign up! I'm going to take the money I save by not signing up for Canada and use it for flights to, say, Ironman New Zealand or Florianopolis in 2012.

Silverman is also out. It's just too late in the season; November won't give me enough time to recover before I'm forced to jump back into the routine for an early 2012 race. The timing might be perfect for a late 2012 race - I just can't fit it into this year.

That leaves two options: Napa Valley's Vineman in late July or Cedar Point's Rev3 in early September. Both of these have a lot of upside. I know the Vineman course already. It's so close to home that I could almost drive up the morning of  the race. I'm hearing great things about Rev3 and it's basically in my parents' backyard. Neither race is perfect - both will be hot, and Vineman's swim is slow and slimy - but you can't be too choosy when you're picking races off of the sale rack.

More on these races in a bit!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Super hard ride tomorrow, WHO'S IN?!!1!

Dear friends, 

Except for two miserable hours on Wednesday morning, I haven't been on my bike in six weeks. My diet has been composed mostly of liquid bread, and chocolate, cheese and bacon. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to ride to the bridge. It's going to be rough. If I make it that far, I'll think about shooting for Sausalito. I'd like* to make it all the way to Tiburon. The ferry may very well be the only way I make it home. 

Are you as fat and/or lazy as me? Then maybe you'll join me for the most painful(-ly slow) Paradise Loop imaginable. Not fat or lazy? You can do a hill repeats while I try to avoid having a coronary on Camino Alto. (Someone should probably bring a defibrillator. We'll make the fit person carry it.)

At the pace I'm predicting, if I leave my house in Russian Hill at 8:15, I have a good shot at making it to the bridge in time for the regular 9:30 ride. Cross your fingers for me. And maybe see you there!


* - Term used loosely. I don't think I'm going to "like" much about the physical act of riding my bike. At all. Ever again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


At the end of every day, I think to myself, "Maybe tomorrow I should go renew my swim club membership," or "Perhaps tomorrow I'll take my bike out for a spin." And then I start thinking about the logistics of actually doing any of those things and I quickly get discouraged.

It's not that I don't want to swim or want to ride my bike. I just don't want to deal with the mental burden of fitting those activities into my day. Last year, that was a fun puzzle. Right now, however, it feels more like a chore. This is normal for people who spend the better part of the year training for one singular race, right? Post-race (post-post-post-race, at this point?) lethargy?

Anyway, to swim, I'd have to get my gear together. I have to figure out when to swim and how I'll get there - how it'll fit swimming around schedule that now includes long trips to and from Mountain View. I'd have to be mentally prepared to swim in the cold and in the dark... Yuck. I'd also need to renew my membership at the club, which is expensive enough that I need to be ready to really commit before I start racking up bills.

Cycling doesn't have the expense factor (though M2 spin classes do), but there is some work I'd like to do on my bike before I hop back on it. It is probably past time for a new cassette and chain. But for the most part, I don't really feel like putting myself through frigid, windy morning rides or broiling, sweaty spin classes. Meh. Extremes in temperature are overrated!

In my defense, it's not like I haven't been doing anything. I've been out for short runs every other day since the year began, and now that I have easy access to a weight room, I'm trying to take advantage of it. But yeah, compared to what I was doing in October or November, 90 minutes of running every week's not much to blog about.

I know I want to do another epic triathlon this year - at least, I know I'll regret it if I don't do another epic triathlon this year - so I've got until mid-February to shake this malaise. I think I'll deal with that deadline the same way I dealt with them in college: by procrastinating.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Work-Life Balance

Next week, my employer is relocating my desk to the HQ, 40-ish miles south of San Francisco.

I currently enjoy a 10-minute commute (by bike) from my apartment to my workplace in downtown San Fran. With the relocation, my commute will increase significantly to an hour (or more) each way. I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to fit training in yet - I'm going to make it work, for sure, but I haven't figured out how. It's going to be hard.

I don't know that I'll be able to swim as regularly, but I hope to replace swims with runs and keep my ride frequency the same. I think the swim/run substitution is going to be okay - I have tons of room for improvement in the latter discipline and it shouldn't be hard to compensate for a slight decline in my swim performance.

I'm definitely not going to have the flexibility to log 20+ hour training weeks this year. Adjustments will be necessary and I'll have to focus more on quality than quantity. But again, I don't know how the puzzle's going to fit together yet. Thinking about this balancing act is stressing me out quite a bit more than it should, especially considering I haven't even having signed up for a single race in 2011.

I think I'll just continue loafing around and slacking off... it's kind of my version of sticking my head in the sand and ignoring it! Besides, it's not like I really have to start training for anything until the end of the month, right? RIGHT?

Anyway. I suppose these are the sacrifices you've got to make in order to keep the lights on and the fridge stocked. Shame I didn't win the lottery last week; it'd be nice to retire to a life of professional triathlete-ism!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What's next? Help me decide!

Alright, after all of that Ironman Western Australia fun, all of the relaxation and vacationing, all of the Christmas spirit and family time... it's time to sit down and really figure out exactly what I'm going to focus on in 2011.

I'd like to do another Ironman-distance* triathlon this year, then another (or perhaps two?) in 2012, and then retire to a tropical island, where I will get fat on spam and pineapples. I'm going to have to be on top of sign-ups for the big 2012 Ironman races to ensure I've got a spot on the start-line in New Zealand, or Nice, or whatever glamorous location I eventually settle on. But that's neither here nor there, and I need to bridge the gap with a 2011 race that's not yet sold out.

The way I see it now, I have four options for 140.6 races this year. They all have their pros and cons. I'd appreciate a little bit of help making the decision. When you're done reading through the options below, voice your opinion via the poll on the right-hand side of the screen. Feel free to elaborate on your decision in the comments section.

Without further ado, my options are...

Vineman Triathlon

July 30 - Santa Rosa, California - Link

This is the race that I did as part of a relay team this past July, where I came in second on the swim. Our relay smoked the competition, finishing in just over nine hours. The bike course was lightly rolling but otherwise awesome. The run sounded hilly and super hot... but it's close as heck to home.
Pros - Inexpensive entry fee ($350) and only a short drive from home means very little travel cost. (Saves money for a more epic race in 2012?) Lots of friends from CA would be able to come out and cheer me on.
Cons - Swim's a bit murky, can be very warm. Does it have the same weight as a real Ironman? Too early in the year to really allow for any improvement over my performance in Busselton?

Ironman Canada
August 29 - Pentincton, British Columbia - Link

I know a few people who are doing this race and a lot of people are selling it as one of the few remaining "pure" Ironman events. M2 won on this course twice in the 90's and knows it very well. Unfortunately, general admission slots have been sold out for a while now, so I'd have to fork over a boat load of cash (over $1,000) to secure my entry via the Ironman charity foundation.
Pros - Probably a beautiful location & beautiful course. "Pure" course, meaning just one lap of each discipline. Several M2 spin class folks headed up to participate. "Official" Ironman race.
Cons - "Pure" course is not spectator friendly. Would require flights, etc. VERY high entry fee ($1150).

REV3 Cedar Point
September 11 - Sandusky, Ohio - Link

I just found out about this today. Rev3 is a new triathlon organization looking to compete with Ironman. It's USAT sanctioned and completely legitimate. Cedar Point is one of the most ass-kickin' amusement parks in the world, by the way.
Pros - Inexpensive. Driving distance from my parents' home in Ohio means my parents (and even some family from PA) would be able to come cheer. Close to Cedar Point, which is awesome.
Cons - Potentially hot/humid in Ohio in September. Not the most glamorous location. Still requires a flight. Same Ironman concerns as Vineman.

Silverman Triathlon
November 10 - Las Vegas, Nevada - Link

So this is probably the most difficult 140.6 that I'm aware of and reminds me a lot of the Auburn "World's Toughest Half" Triathlon that I did in May. The 112-mile bike course includes almost 10,000 feet of climbing! Holy crap. The marathon includes 2,000 feet on it's own. Damn. This wouldn't really be a race for a time; all I'd want to do here'd be finish.
Pros - Inexpensive entry ($300). Late in the year means lots of time to train for it. INCREDIBLY hard course means it's actually one of the most bad ass 140.6 races you can do, which eliminates Ironman authenticity concerns.
Cons - INCREDIBLY hard course. Lateness in the calendar year means limited time to turn around for spring Ironman races in 2012. Did I mention, it's really hard? Might be a last-resort race.

* - Aside: Ironman, if you don't know, is just a corporation - an Ironman 140.6 is in no way more or less difficult than any other 140.6-mile event. Others are just put on by different race organizers. They're still Ironman races in distance and difficulty - just not in branding.