Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy holidays!

Gosh, the past few weeks have been busy ones! Pardon the relatively scrambled nature of this post -- Kristine and I have been running around all week/weekend trying to tie up lose ends and get packed for our upcoming trip. We're gearing up for a long haul: we're on our way to the Philippines to spend Christmas and New Year's with Kristine's family. It'll be my first trip to that side of the world -- I'm excited!

I think I last wrote in mid-November, before Kristine and I set out for a thoroughly enjoyable twelve-day trip to New York and Pennsylvania to visit family and celebrate Thanksgiving. I'm happy to report that the trip was a total success on all fronts: we were able to catch up with so many friends in New York City, see a Broadway show (and a taping of SNL!) and then spend time with both of my parents' families in good ol' Bucks County. And I managed to run over 70 miles during that time!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Shoe Experiment Update #1

Several weeks ago, I decided to put two new pairs of shoes - Newton Sir Isaac S's and Hoka One One Stinson Tarmac's - through their paces. I've now logged 30-35 miles on each shoe and have come to at least one preliminary conclusion: my Hokas were the wrong size.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Running (an) experiment

I’ve also decided to start experimenting with some new footwear this off-season, so that I can (hopefully) roll into 2014 with a bit more confidence. I’ve been running in Brooks Trance shoes for years now, and while they’ve gone a long way toward minimizing injury over the years, they definitely haven’t been perfect.

Before I get into any specifics, I should mention that regardless of the shoes I'm running in, I always swap in custom insoles/orthodics that are intended to help support my pancake-flat feet. It's been a few years since the molds were made, so I might try to get a new set in December or January.

Anyway, on to the shoes.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ahhhhhffseason

It’s only been six weeks since IRONMAN Lake Tahoe. It feels like it's been months, but at the same time, it the days have flown by. Kristine and I have been so busy! What have we been up to? Well...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Alex’s Ironman Lake Tahoe Report!

Behold! My long overdue, much anticipated, actual contribution to this blog! This has been a crazy, incredible, amazing year, and I would regret it deeply if I didn’t document it while it is relatively fresh in my brain. Also, Andrew would probably kill me. Lets do it!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Race Report: Ironw00t Nike Women's Marathon Edition

We did it for that Tiffany's box
In the lead-up to June’s SF Marathon, I developed tendonitis on my right foot, which physically and mentally benched me for the race. My entry into the Nike Women’s Marathon gave me a 2nd chance to show myself “I. Can. Do. This.” In July, I started training in earnest and my number one goal was to get to the start line uninjured. If you want to make the marathon gods laugh, tell them that’s your plan…

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

IRONMAN Lake Tahoe 2013 (Race Report)

Last year’s IRONMAN Zurich Switzerland was a disastrous outing in many ways. Sure, I had a great swim… but I paid for that effort on the bike and the run. What’s worse: I was under-nourished and bonking, which lead to a veritable tailspin during the marathon. It wasn’t a fun race, and I was determined to learn from those mistakes heading into IRONMAN Lake Tahoe.

“Race your own race,” I said to myself. I didn’t want to get caught up or competitive in the swim. I knew I needed to race within myself on the bike, and not push myself too hard or too early on the run. And most importantly, I needed to be sure I was eating early and often throughout the day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#IMTahoe: Bears and Battlestar Galactica

My race report can wait, but this news can't. Two TOTALLY AWESOME things happened to me on Sunday.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

#IMTahoe: Here we go!


It's officially go-time. My alarm's set for 4 o'clock in the morning and we'll be hitting the water at 6:40am tomorrow morning. The forecast is calling for temperatures in the mid-thirties until nine or ten. It's been a busy (and rainy) day, but it's finally over and things are winding down at the house.

Tomorrow's going to be... in a word... epic.

The swim is going to be absolutely frigid and the bike won't be that much better. If we can make it to the run, we'll be all set. By that point, all that's left is the marathon! Everyone's worried about the cold and the wind. Our plan is to bundle up as best we can and just take the race as it comes.

I don't have much time - that alarm clock's gonna ring early! - but here are a few predictions:

  • Swim: 1 hour. It's too cold to expect anything quicker.
  • Bike: 6.5 hours. There are four massive climbs on the course and they're gonna be killer.
  • Run: 4.5 hours. The run's pretty flat, and though I haven't had the best training to date, I think this is the leg that I'm least worried about!
  • Total: 12 hours. But we'll see what happens...

#IMTahoe: Race Week Recap

Lake Tahoe is gorgeous
Race week is always an adventure in and of itself. It always seems like there are a hundred tiny race-related tasks to check off and dozens of short little workouts to do. You're watching your diet, trying to adjust to a new location and trying to rest as much as possible. And being in Tahoe adds another bit of complexity: altitude. Adjusting to 6,225 feet is no simple feat!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Greetings from Tahoe!

Car: packed. Rack: installed. Hair: long.
Hello from Incline Village, along the north shore of Lake Tahoe! I over-packed the car this morning and hit the road. Traffic wasn't bad, and it's relatively quiet up here right now. I'm sure that'll change as the weekend progresses and several thousand triathletes pull into town. "Race week" doesn't officially begin for another few days, but for all my intents and purposes, it'll be in full swing starting tomorrow.

In a few minutes, I'll head over to King's Beach to test the waters (they're cold) and I'll aim to ride one loop of the bike course tomorrow morning. Taper is nice. Bring on the board games!

Kingdom Builder, 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, Bang!



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Race Report: Lake Merced Half Marathon

[This is a guest post by my wife, Kristine!] A few months ago, one of my college friends, Katie, posted a challenge on Facebook: "Let's run the Lake Merced Half Marathon!" She sweetened the deal by also inviting our favorite Salt Lake City denizen, Michelle. The three of us lived together in college and it had been years since we'd seen each other. What better way to celebrate our reunion than to test our bonds of friendship over 13.1 miles!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pop!

After almost three weeks of ginger movements, periodic muscle spasms and continuous pain, I went to see a new physical therapist on Friday for some massage, ice and ultrasound. After a few minutes poking, prodding and pressing, the PT looked at me and said, "Oh dude... this isn't a muscle strain. You dislocated a rib."

He applied a bit more pressure to the requisite location. I heard a "pop!" like a cracking knuckle. The sharpness of the pain subsided almost instantly. He pushed the rib back into place. The surrounding muscles, which had been in spasm for weeks, could now finally begin to relax and heal. It's been a few days and my back has been feeling better. I'm still a bit wary of pushing too hard and - eek! - re-dislocating the rib, but so far, so good.

Less than three weeks 'til race day. At least now I can breathe deeply without wincing!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hello Better!

Last year, I stealthily completed my first half-marathon. It was a secret mission because between wedding planning and Europe traveling, I lacked the discipline to train - and in turn, the faith that I would actually finish. But this year, having no projects to direct my energy towards, I decided to double down!

I signed up for the SF Marathon, my fair city’s flagship course and the one on which I had completed my first half. Midway through my training season, I started experiencing a sharp and shooting pain through my foot. Long story short, it was tendonitis and I could not continue with my training. Bummer. Demoralized, I half-heartedly ran the half-marathon instead.

Luckily, I was given a second chance when I won an entry to the Nike Women’s Marathon! But as I started my training, I discovered that although the tendonitis was gone, a new and exciting repetitive strain injury was present: runner’s knee. My future in running looked grim.
whoa!
Enter Newton Gravity’s (seen here in all of their technicolor glory). The first I heard of Newton’s was in a triathlete store in Portland. I thought they were a cheap Nike ripoff. Well, I was wrong on both counts. They are not at all like Nike’s and they are not at all cheap. I revisited the shoe again at the Vineman Expo and tried them on. The shoes are unique in that they are designed to make you a mid-foot striker by way of these large lugs in the front of the sole. It seemed a little out there (aka hype) but I was desperate for anything that promised relief for my knee pain.
Tell me again how amazing these shoes are?
Well folks, I’m now a believer. These shoes are amazing. Almost overnight, I went from runner’s knee to pain-free. And I’ve not only been running faster, I’ve been doing so consistently! The biggest difference the shoes have made has been to my form. The lugs really do help correct my strike from heel to mid-foot. I’ve been running more with my feet under me, at a higher cadence, lessening the jarring impact on my knee. The soles provide just enough structure and support, but the 3mm drop (the difference in height between the toes and the heel) maintains a minimalist feel to the shoe.* 

In case anyone is wondering if there was some kind of placebo effect or if the timing of my knee recovery matched up perfectly with my Newton purchase, let me tell you of my semi-scientific experiment. I actually also purchased a pair of Nike Pegasus with a similar feel and comfort as my Newtons. In fact, I love the look of the Pegasus more than the Newtons (they have lightning bolts on them! I was so motivated to prove that they were just as awesome so I could justify wearing them during the actual marathon).
glitter (left) or lightning bolts (right)
Well, unfortunately they are not. Since I had to ease into my Newton’s and the mid-foot running style, I alternated shoes between runs and invariably, my Nike’s would have me limping after 6 or 7 miles, while my Newton’s would carry me through the end of the course. After one particularly painful 7-mile run, I put the Nike’s away and have been running exclusively on my Newton’s. The past two weekends, I was able to complete the longest runs I’ve ever done with only some soreness and stiffness afterwards. During the runs, I’ve been able to be as pain-free as one can manage on 13+ miles.

I didn’t think shoes could make that big of a difference in performance (and I naively thought they were all pretty much the same). But, the Newton’s have converted me and I’m counting on them to carry me through the last weeks of training and the 26.2 miles on October 20th! In fact… I might be so in love with the Newton’s that I may actually run regularly, post-marathon. Like... for fun? (What?!)

Disclaimer: This post is in no way affiliated or sponsored by Newton, but I would not object to a pair of 2014’s Gravity’s to try out and review :)

*Incidentally, I had done a running assessment at UCSF in early summer, and they had recommended exactly that format of shoe. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Counting down


I've been feeling like an old man lately, and I finally know why. I turned thirty (30!) yesterday. Despite my best attempt to fly under the radar, Kristine wrangled up a bunch of my friends and surprise me with a small birthday celebration.

She and I had spent the weekend before celebrating our first wedding anniversary. Yay! We ate and drank well in Napa, that's for sure. Next time you're in town, do your best to enjoy some "temporary relief from hunger" at Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc. #raceweight


Alex, Bo and I have each been dealing with injuries, allergies or other unforeseen distractions, so no one's really feeling prepared for Ironman Lake Tahoe in just over three week's time. Fortunately, we're booked for a week-long "training camp" next week, where we'll hope to gain back some lost (or never found) fitness. Me, I'm just trying to figure out how to swim, bike and run without further aggravating this back injury of mine.

(On the back injury, by the way... I'm starting to think it's a rib thing. Dislocation? Thoracic sprain? Something like that. All I know is I'm sick of walking/running/riding on "eggshells". Go away already, back pain!)

Two and a half more weeks of hard, focused training before a short, one-week taper and then the season's over. I had pretty high expectations this year, you can't win 'em all. Time to finish this thing out (limp or no) and take a few months to get healthy again.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Murphy's Law & One Month to Go!

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that my hip pain has subsided and is nearly gone. I notice it only early in the morning, or after I've done a bit of running.

Unfortunately, the bad news outweighs the good news: as I was starting to get back into running, I managed to give myself some kind of insanely painful back muscle strain. I've never had to go home from work due to pain before, but when I tweaked this thing last week, the spasms were excruciating.

I should have been riding long and running long last weekend, but thanks to this new injury, I found myself laying on the sofa and popping ibuprofen on a regular schedule.

A week has passed and the acute pain has subsided. I still feel an ominous twinge back there, as if any errant movement could cause all kinds of muscles to fire in the wrong directions. It's a really scary feeling.

For that reason, I've been afraid to ride my bike on the road. I set up the fantastic indoor stationary trainer that Kristine's parents bought me for Christmas and I've been trying to pound out interval workouts and maintain what fitness I have. Swimming's slowed down drastically, and running has halted again.

One month to go!

I think I might be okay to ride - and maybe even run! - this weekend, and if not this weekend, definitely by next weekend. Gosh. One month 'til race day and I haven't logged nearly enough hours on the bike or on the run. This race is going to be a slog. And you know what that means?

It means I'm going to need all the help I can get.

I'm so glad this race is close to home. My parents will be there, and Kristine, and tons of friends and friends of friends. I feel like I'm going to recognize half of the field out there. To get through this race, I'm going to need every ounce of support from those friends, family and fans as I can get.

I've been forced to drastically adjust my expectations. All I want to do now is finish this thing. And I really think I will, but damn... I'm gonna need your help, folks!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Shasta

This past weekend, +Kristine Marigomen and I packed up the car and set off for Siskiyou County to tackle the renown (yet largely undiscovered) Shasta Summit Century ride. It was a long drive, and I-5 is flat, straight and boring until we got closer to Lake Shasta. From then on, the drive was very pretty, and Siskiyou County (home of the towering Mount Shasta) was absolutely gorgeous.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Seconds and Thirds

Ahh well, another week has passed and my hip is only showing the smallest signs of improvement. I've now seen three separate doctors and received three separate diagnoses. Take that, health insurance deductible!

All I know is this: my hip hurts, on the outside (top of my TFL/IT band) and on the inside (groin/flexor), and the whole region has felt mostly sore for a while now. Anyway, here are the current theories:

Friday, July 19, 2013

[Update] Prognosis Negative

Be warned: I am not happy, and this is a whine/rant post.

I had my MRI follow-up yesterday, and now I find myself in poor spirits yet again. According to the images, my hip is completely fine. There's no apparent tear, strain, fluid or irritation. No bone bruise or callous. To quote the doctor: "What we're looking at here is a surprisingly healthy hip, especially for a runner!"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A few random notes from Vineman

I'm going to use this post to collect a few random thoughts that didn't quite fit into my race report. There's not a whole lot, but eh, I guess a few of these are worth mentioning (or at least recording for my own reference later on)!

Good Stuff

  • Staying so close to the race start was incredible. We were able to stay pretty loose in the morning, and Kristine and I even caught the pros swimming downriver before walking to the start.
  • We had perfect weather on race day -- a marine layer until 10:00 and then manageable sun through the afternoon. It definitely started to heat up by the back half of the run, but it could've been a whole lot worse!
  • If you're ever in Guerneville, grab dinner at Boon Food + Drink and try the Brussels sprouts! Delicious!
  • Kristine bought me some snazzy new shoes in February and I raced in them for the first time today. They're awesome! Getting into and out of these puppies is super easy. I even went sockless on the ride for the first time ever.


Other stuff


  • My hip was so tight coming off the bike that I really didn't expect to run at all. I was pretty close to just calling my race right in transition, so I took my time with things. Had I known I'd be able to scrape together a decent showing, I might have gone through that transition with a bit more urgency!
  • I need to incorporate some more intensity into my swim workouts. It's been mostly easy, recovery-oriented stuff up until this point, and I could tell during the race.
  • The two-piece triathlon suit I've been wearing is kind of irritating, as the top is longer than my torso and makes the back pockets on the shorts difficult to get to. I may need to make a change before Tahoe -- pockets are super important in long races like that!

Food

Most of what I ate on race day came from my kitchen drawer that's stuffed with random sports food, including odd handouts from various event expos and the like. Here's what I ate:
  • Breakfast: three eggs and a Rise bar.
  • Immediately before the swim: one Gatorade Prime and a Clif Shot.
  • On the bike: two mini Bonk Breakers, a One bar, an Accel Gel, half a pack of Clif Shot Bloks (Margarita!), two salt tablets and about 30oz of water.
  • On the run: one pack of Clif Shot Bloks, small cups of water (5), cola (2) and Gatorade (5), five Oreos.
  • Immediately after: 32oz of chocolate milk, a few grapes and some sort of Osmo recovery concoction.
Needless to say, I was in fairly significant calorie debt that evening!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Guest post: Bo

The extreme ironw00t team dominated this weekend! Thanks to the support crew, especially Kristine, Orlee, and the Rosens two, who made for an excellent weekend.

The couple weeks before were a bit stressful for everyone. Andrew's hip, Alex's knee, and Bo's inability to solve Sunday's crossword were all causes of great consternation. Combined, these forces threatened to sink the team's chances in the murky shallows of the Russian River.

Andrew giving Alex a swim lesson
Saturday morning began bright and early, courtesy of the ebullient water heater. "Vroom, vroom" it kept saying - not realizing that Vineman didn't start for 26 more hours.

After signing in, which proved to be a tortuous process for Alex, team ironw00t went for a shopping trip at the athlete's expo. The extreme team and fans decided to try on shockingly bright Newton running shoes. Against all odds none were purchased, but many bonk-breaker bars were eaten; did I mention they were free?

Alex returns the favor with an uninteresting story
The tension peaked on Saturday afternoon. After searching all morning for scrambled eggs, Andrew's hopes were dashed when the team walked into a dainty little cafe. The team feared a meltdown, but the arugula salad defied all expectations and returned Andrew to his usual self.

Finally, the extreme team decided to jump into the river. A great day of water and frolicking ensued. Several team members (including yours truly) were astonished to learn that actual inner tubes are a real thing you can float on.

Dear Alex: Andrew is not impressed
Sunday morning, the extreme team woke up at 5:30. (Take that, water heater!) A bountiful harvest of eggs, bacon, and avocado provided the sustinence for the extreme team. Andrew, realizing that his publicity stunt slash hip injury wasn't fooling anyone, realized he would have to run after all.


642 Vineman participants saw this face pass them
I will end here, the mind aflutter with inner tubes on the Russian River, as thinking about the run makes me hurt. Ow. Epic rides from the extreme team, and awesome racing with you guys. Tahoe or bust. SICK.

Race Report: 2013 Vineman 70.3

Vineman begins
The team tackled Ironman 70.3 Vineman up in Sonoma yesterday! Needless to say, I am painfully sore today; stairs are the enemy. Bo and Alex seem to be doing a bit better, though I don't envy Alex in the slightest: he was forced to wake up at 5:30am this morning to escape Bay Area traffic en route to Los Angeles. Anyway, here's the report...

Bo, Alex, Kristine, Orlee and I drove up to Guerneville, where Kristine had booked a nice little riverside apartment, on Friday evening. We enjoyed a low-key Saturday by the river before preparing our bikes, organizing our transition gear and grilling up a pre-race feast.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A familiar sight


As I said, it wouldn't be a triathlon season without some time spent in a giant, magnetic tube! I hope to hear more tomorrow or Monday.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Prognosis Negative

It's been a few days. My attitude has improved, but my hip strain hasn't. I'm still hobbling around quite a bit, especially when I first wake up in the morning or after I've been sitting for a long while.

Running is an impossibility right now. I'm making peace with the fact that I may not be able to complete Vineman 70.3 next weekend. When it comes to serious injuries like these, I've got to pick my battles and pick them wisely. I was really excited to test myself on the Vineman course, but I've got bigger fish to fry come September.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

#@$^&*!

Well, I'm injured. 

It was bound to happen, honestly. Training was going too well. I was feeling really great; in the water, on the bike and on the run. And if you're a long-time reader of this blog, you know that I'm not lucky enough (or build well enough) to make it through an entire triathlon season without a significant structural breakdown.

Two or three weeks ago, my hip flexors and glutes started to tighten up. This was almost expected; my training load had increased slightly, as had the intensity. After a little while, I decided to go see a chiropractor for an adjustment and massage. Instead, the guy tried to stretch cold, tight muscles more aggressively than I've ever been stretched before.

I could barely walk when I woke up the next morning and it hasn't improved much since (4 days). It feels like my femur wants to pop forward out of my pelvis with every step I take. My online self-diagnosis is a moderate-to-severe left hip flexor strain. It's quite painful.

Two weeks 'til Vineman, which, as recently as Wednesday, I had really hoped to dominate. Now I don't even know if I can finish. Or if I even care to.

Excuse me while I go smash something.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Getting Through It!

ironw00t!

Guess who ran the San Francisco Half-Marathon last weekend?! It started bright and early along the Embarcadero, where thousands of runners enjoyed a stunning summer sunrise before the starting gun fired. Kristine overcame a tough foot/ankle injury to pound out the miles and earn herself her second finisher's medal in as many years. Is this the start of an annual tradition?

Congratulations sweetheart!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ohio and Sequoia

The Ritchey at home in Ohio!
When my Giant TCR Advanced SL was thoroughly crunched in a silly accident back in March, I replaced it with a Ritchey Break-Away. The Break-Away frame is designed to come apart and fit snugly into a regulation-sized suitcase, making it the perfect travel bike! And as if to justify the purchase of such a travel-able bike, it wasn't too long after taking delivery that I booked my first trip with it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The scenic route


Just to close the loop, Saturday's ride was absolutely fantastic. It started very early and involved lots and lots of climbing; I basically climbed up to Four Corners or Pan Toll as many was as I could. Route 1 along the coast was especially gorgeous, especially while the sun was rising.

The past two weekends have really been fantastic. It seems like the Bay Area is trying to build up some good will before the summer fog settles in.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Get busy

I can't put it off any longer, folks. It's time for me to start riding long on weekends. If all goes well, Saturday will be my first ride of over 70 miles since January 1.

I'm thrilled to have kept my saddle time under control this far into the year. Last season, I started riding long and strong MUCH earlier. It was mostly okay, though, because my big race was in July. This year, that race is in September... so I've had to restrain myself. Fewer miles now mean fresher legs later, or so I hope!

The next few weeks are going to be busy ones. The Tour of California is passing through San Francisco this weekend. Next weekend, my bike and I are flying home to Ohio for some humidity training. The weekend after is an absolute beast of a ride: the Sequoia 200K. (Do I have the fitness to tackle a 124-mile ride right now? That remains to be seen!)

After June 2, the focus will be on mileage until a short, two-week prep period before Vineman 70.3 in mid-July. That's not to say that things will quiet down, though! Kristine and I have a camping trip planned, her marathon weekend, and I'd love to get up to Sonoma (to pre-ride Vineman) and Tahoe (to pre-ride IMLT again) some time in June.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine is!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Halfway hair!

I stopped cutting my hair this past December in anticipation of the 2013 triathlon season and the intent is not to cut it again until IMLT in late September. That means we're halfway between haircuts. And judging by this photo, taken just before the start of Wildflower this past Sunday, it's going to be AWESOME by the time the big race rolls around. And by awesome, I mean very, very long.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Race Report: Wildflower Olympic

TL;DR -- I completed my first Olympic-distance race in more than five years yesterday,  beating my expectations by a mile. Fourth in 30-34 age group* and 12th overall. Bo finished his first-ever triathlon in less than three hours. We ate lots of great camping food!
After an incredible weekend of camping and triathlon, we've returned to civilization! +Kristine Marigomen and I set out for Lake San Antonio on Thursday afternoon and we've been off-the-grid for days. For those of you who may not know, Wildflower is called "the Woodstock of triathlon" for it's remote, grass-roots, camp-centric nature. It's about four hours south of San Francisco, an hour from the nearest grocery store and miles from decent cellphone reception. I should also note that the weather was crazy: it was in the 90's on through Saturday afternoon but dropped down into the 50's on Sunday.

+Alexander Curtis+Bo Boghosian and I signed up for the Wildflower Olympic-distance race months ago, thinking it would be a perfect early-season fitness test -- and even more perfect first triathlon for Bo. It delivered on all fronts.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

One Week Summer


We've had some fantastic weather here in the Bay Area lately. I even managed consecutive rides without a base layer, and that's damn near unheard of in these parts. It's been easy to get used to, and unfortunately, it will only make the impending foggy months (June-August) feel even more bleak.


On the bright side (literally and figuratively), I should still be able to get my daily dose of Vitamin D despite the fog, thanks primarily to this new (and underused) swimming pool near my office. Hooray for swimming laps in a sunny outdoor pool!


I want a dog.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wild n' Short


We're a little over a month into the "formal" triathlon training season and just over two weeks from my first race of the year: Wildflower Olympic. It'll be my first race shorter than Ironman distance in over 18 months and my first race shorter than Half-Ironman distance since 2008! Crazy. I've spent so many years thinking about races as long, day-long affairs that I'm not totally sure how to tackle a shorter race like this one.

Pacing for an Ironman is pretty straightforward: you just ride at a consistent pace, keeping your heart rate in a comfortable place until the back half of the run. You're never trying to redline; your heart rate spikes should be short and well-managed. If it sounds boring, that's because it should be. If you want to survive a 10+ hour race, you need to keep the excitement to a minimum.

Now, this Wildflower race is going to be completely different. It'll be filled with faster-twitch swimmers, cyclists and runners who are going to put the hammer down from the time the gun sounds to whenever they cross the line. This is not what I've really spent the past five years training for, or even practicing. I'm intrigued and curious to see how my mind and body will respond to the demands of racing at that increased level of intensity!

I'm starting to formulate a battle plan and set some split goals based on recent workouts.

Swimming. I finally started swimming real laps in an actual pool this week and have managed to eke out about 10,000 meters this week. I hope to repeat that next week, but the speed I've enjoyed in the past definitely isn't there yet. I'd like to be in the 20-22 minute range here.

Cycling. Riding is going well, though I have not spend a ton of time on my time trial bike, and I haven't been putting in any rides over three hours. Hopefully this means I'll be rested and ready for a strong 80-minute effort when the time comes. Previewing the course a few weeks ago was very informative: it's a fast course, but comes with it's share of irritatingly long climbs to disrupt pace. I'm hoping for 76-80 minutes here.

Running. I have been having a lot of success running lately and even posted my fastest-ever 13.1 time on Tuesday morning - though this might have been fueled by Boston Marathon bombing-inspired fury. I'm starting to feel hints of the old IT band and Achilles issues that plagued me in 2012, so I'm going to have to be careful over the next two weeks to ensure I can perform at Wildflower. The run course is also hilly, and the sun will be blazing on race day. I'm hoping to push the run hard and clock in under 50 minutes.

If you do the math, this means I'm probably looking at 146-152 minutes. Counting transition time, that probably means I'll be pushing hard to break the 2.5-hour mark, provided all goes well. Bring it!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wildflower Recon

Alex, Bo, Kristine and I, along with Brent and many other members of the San Francisco Triathlon Club, trekked down to Lake San Antonio this past weekend to ride and run the Wildflower triathlon course. It was a truly spectacular weekend on all fronts; the weather, the food and the company were all tip-top!

Wildflower is a triathlon event unlike any other. It takes place in the middle of notwhere (literally) and most of the competitors camp (in tents!) in the national park before and after the race. By going down four weekends early, Kristine and I were able to do a camping "dress-rehearsal."

For our meals, we prepared some delicious pulled-pork for Friday night and an awesome potato hash and ground beef dish on Saturday night. Yum. I can hardly wait for race weekend now, just so I can eat food like that again!

As far as training goes, we rode the long course route (56 miles) on Saturday morning. It was a relatively even-paced ride with a few notable exceptions -- namely, a screaming-fast ten-mile hammerfest with Alex and Brent on Jolon Road. After we returned to camp, it was time to treat our weary legs with a dip in the lake. The water was refreshing and energizing, and I had the opportunity to give Alex and Bo a few pointers.

Sunday was a bit more mellow: we woke up early and previewed the Olympic bike course (26 miles) before lacing up our running shoes to preview the Olympic run course (10K). Bo and I completed the loop under the hot sun in just about 52 minutes; I'm hoping for closer to 48 on race day.

Few photos were taken, and those that were are probably stuck on Alex's camera until he gets his act together and actually posts them somewhere. One definite highlight: Bo boiling the water for his morning coffee in a used PBR can.

Fun times!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Season 4, Episode 1

Alright folks, it's time to get serious. The triathlon season is here.

It's going to be awesome.

Honestly, I don't think I've been this excited for a racing season since my years as a member of my university's swim team. I'm just flat out psyched to rock and roll this year! Motivation has never been higher. I feel really good right now - refreshed, fit yet rested, and mentally ready to go.

September's Ironman Lake Tahoe is going to be an absolute blast; these next six months are going to be an adventure. I couldn't be happier that Alex and Bo are joining me on this wild ride.

Thanks to all I've learned over the past three seasons, I feel much more confident and comfortable going into my fourth. And so, training begins! On tap is a three month base-building phase that'll begin to incorporate some heavy mileage, especially as we get into June.

It won't all be long and boring, though! There are a bunch of fun highlights on the itinerary already: a training weekend on April 7, Wildflower on May 5, the Sequoia 200K on June 3 and Kristine's marathon on June 16. Mission Cycling's Mad Marchness ride is always a good time, as is M2's annual Tour of California ride... so many options!

Alas, I'm getting ahead of myself. It is only March! Much more to come!





Friday, February 8, 2013

Crunch!

It's been fairly quiet around here; I've really been enjoying these past few weeks. I hit a fitness peak in November and then eased off the gas a bit into December and I've been settling into a nice routine since. This new routine includes -- gasp! -- two full rest days per week. Insanity!

I did have a bit of a setback this past weekend when, at the end of a fun recovery ride with Theo and Hobe, a driver hit the brakes and veered right, as if he intended to cut us off to make a turn. Theo quickly hit the brakes, but I was unable to react as quickly and we collided.

We both walked away from the pile-up, but our bikes did not. Mine, for example, got crunched pretty good. The force of the crash jammed the fork back and up, causing the head and down tubes of my sweet Giant TCR Advanced SL to collapse where they meet. Catastrophic.

Fortunately, my components seem to have survived, so rather than being out a full bike, I'm just in the market for a new frame. I have a few feelers out and a few ideas floating around in my head. Until I can find a replacement, though, I've been sentenced to riding my triathlon bike full-time.

I have a few more weeks of "unstructured" training before the true Ironman countdown begins in March. I'm looking forward to getting back into the water (I haven't touched a pool since August) and getting the season started.

I've got a good feeling about this one.