Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Report: Merced Gateway Triathlon 2010

Total Time: 2:49:17
Overall Rank: 26/34
Age Group Rank: 2/3

Pre-race routine

Started the day before by staying hydrated. When it was time for my usual 5 o'clock Subway sandwich, I could only finish half of the foot-long.

Then the fun began. See, the night before the race was my high school class's 30-year reunion. I didn't want to eat anything but I did keep up with drinking water. However, I was quite the dancing fool. You only have one 30-year reunion so race be damned, I was going to boogie, and boogie I did.

Naturally, having that good of a time left me wired. Even though we left a bit early, I couldn't settle down and sleep until well after 1 am. At 4:05 I woke up wide-awake and I knew that I wouldn't be getting back to sleep. I made some toast with Nutella and drank a little water. Experience has shown me that I do not want to be over-hydrated going into an oly race lest I have to take a bathroom break during the run.

I sat listening to the rain coming down until it was time to bike to the race, around 7. Got to the venue, got a nice spot in transition, and set up.

Event warmup

They opened the pool up about 15 minutes before start time so I got in and swam 100 meters.

Note that all split times will be approximate as they (STILL) don't use timing chips in this race. Lame, I know. No, I don't know why they're so lame about them.


I didn't much care for the swim this year. It seemed like the traffic was much worse. Then again, last year I was coming off a shoulder dislocation so maybe I was just lucky that people were passing me but this year I had to do the passing. Anyway, I never felt great during the swim so it was just a matter of getting through it.

What would you do differently?

Get faster.


There was no mount line so once you cleared the racks you hopped on your bike. Everything went like clockwork. Tossed my goggles down (no cap), put gels in my back pocket, glasses, helmet, go! I left everybody I entered transition with behind me, and passed another guy as I was hopping on the bike. There was another guy right in front of me and I used him to pace getting in my shoes. I got up to speed and when I could I would slip my feet into my shoes and get them fastened. As long as I stayed with the guy in front of me (not drafting, of course), I knew I wasn't losing time. Once my shoes were all set, I passed him.

What would you do differently?



I was really happy with the pace I was setting. However, at six or seven miles in I flatted. I wasn't happy but I tried to, as calmly as I could under race conditions, change the flat. I'm not the fastest flat-changer in the world but I am thorough so I did find what caused the flat and got it out of the tire. I'm guessing that I lost five minutes.

I had two goals this race. The first was to beat the friend I came to the race with. He passed me on the side of the road as I was putting my back wheel on. After a few miles I passed him. However, on the way back there is a long, gradual hill. Nothing to get exhausted over but hills are the enemy of a clydesdale so he passed me again. I didn't panic and stuck to my game plan. It took me ten miles but I did re-pass him.

It was sprinkling a bit during the bike so it wasn't too wet but it was damp enough that I couldn't take the few corners on the course as fast as possible.

What would you do differently?

I was thinking about getting some Open Corsa Evo CX race tires but decided not to. I wonder if they would have prevented the flat. Other than that, keep losing weight so I can go up those hills faster.


I was a bit cautious coming into transition because of the wet ground but that would have only cost me a second so no big deal. Everything, including putting the shoes on, went really smoothly here.

What would you do differently?



I decided to take the Garmin with me on the run to help me with my pace. Immediately it told me that I was going out way too fast so I dialed it back to a reasonable pace. I was in or just over my target pace for most of the race but at mile four the wheels started coming off. I think at that point a heart rate monitor would have been helpful. My pace slowed down a lot and I felt really tired. The sun was out by this point but it didn't feel very hot at all. I tried walking tiny bits and that seemed to help. Finally, I decided to shut off the pace alerts and slow way down and that got me through the rest of the run. By the last half-mile I felt better and was able to finish strong-ish.

What would you do differently?

Do more race-distance runs at my goal pace. Especially bricks.

Post race

Warm down

By the time I started walking after the finish line, sweat was just pouring off me. I downed three sports drinks pretty quickly. When I saw white things were getting too white, I recognized that as I sign I was going to get a little light-headed soon so I downed one of my gels and sat down. That passed and things were good. Very tired afterwards.

What limited your ability to perform faster

If I want to get faster in the swim I'm going to need to swim more than two days per week. That's not going to happen anytime soon, though, and I'm okay with that.

I've lost a bunch of weight but I'm still a big guy so any inclines on the bike slow me way down. The weight is coming off so that's getting better.

I'm still slow on the run but way faster than last year. I'm fairly pleased with my performance there. However, I do need to do more 10k runs at more of a race pace than at a slower pace. My lunchtime runs lately have been four miles and that was where I was strongest. After four miles is where things started going bad so I need to up those lunchtime runs to six miles.

Event comments

Timing chips, timing chips, timing chips.

I think the organizers should consider a time trial start for the swim. Up and down each lane, then turn under the lane lines and do the next lane. That would give us 800 yards. It's better than jamming us all in lanes at the same time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Countdown to Merced

With my high school class's 30-year reunion happening the night before, obviously the Merced Gateway Triathlon isn't my big "A" race of the season. However, I'm not so elite that I'm hoping to podium in my "A" races so it all comes out in the wash. The weather forecast says it should be perfect racing weather Sunday morning and I'm looking forward to the race.

The Swim

800 meter swim in a 50-meter pool so I don't have to worry about wetsuits, freezing, or overheating. Ideally I'll be swimming at a 1:40/100 yd pace but, really, I'll be swimming at a 1:50/100 yd pace. Prediction: 15:00. Note that last year they didn't have timing chips so I'll be taking the Garmin along on the bike and run and derive my swim and T1 time from that and my overall time.

The Bike

24 miles of flat and rollers on country roads. I recall one significant roller but nothing steep. The race is also draft-legal so I hope I can do some wheel-sucking. Ideally I'd average 20mph but, really, I'd be happy to have a 19mph average. Drafting could really help this, though. Prediction: 1:15.

The Run

Six miles on a pretty flat course through neighborhoods and on a neighborhood jogging trail. Since the run is much flatter than San Dimas I am not going to save my legs so much on the bike. That could be a wise calculation or a disaster. Only one way to find out. Ideally I'd like to do this in under an hour but, really, I'll be happy to hit an hour. Prediction: 1:01.

The Race

Adding those times up plus throwing in two minutes for transitions and we end up with an overall race time prediction of 2:33. My race predictions tend to end up being really optimistic because I always neglect to take into account the cumulative effect of a triathlon so take them with a huge grain of salt...especially since that time would have won second place in my age group last year. I don't think so.

I do have two goals and one wish for the race:

Goal #1: Beat my friend Von. It's his second tri in ten years so this seriously needs to happen.

Goal #2: Beat my friend Lisa to the turnaround on the run. She can pass me after that. This might actually be do-able. I worry that I'll fry myself on the run trying to do it but sometimes you need to do that.

Wish: Come in 30 minutes faster than last year's time of 3:01:22. This one I'm really curious about. I doubt I'll hit that but my time should still be a huge improvement over last year.

It's good to have wishes. It's one of the things that separates us from chimps.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time To Get Mental

As the triathlon season winds down and I move closer to my first half-marathon, my weekend long runs are actually getting long. I had my first 10-mile run two weekends ago and my first 11-mile run was last weekend. I am starting to get a small glimpse of the world of long-distance running (half-marathons and longer) and, at my level, how it differs than the usual 10k and 5k runs.

I have decided that I have to do these long runs non-stop. Not for physical reasons. Frankly, if I did break these runs into smaller chunks with short walks in-between, I might even do them faster. No, the reason I need to not stop is because it's becoming clear to me that running for over two hours is quite a mental challenge.

I'm doing these runs nice and slow, in the 12 min/mile neighborhood. When I'm running my lungs aren't on fire and I could easily hold a conversation with someone (not that I actually run with anyone, heaven forbid ;-). My legs, while they're taking quite a pounding, are holding out quite well at these distances (I'm told it's a whole new ballgame at 18-miles, though). So, physically I am holding up well (where "well" is defined as "being a zombie the rest of the day"). My biggest challenge seems to be the voices in my head telling me to stop:

"Do you really need to keep running?"

"Ooh, look. A shady patch under that tree."

"Wouldn't breaking this up into intervals be more effective?"

"Walking sure would feel great about now, don't you think?"

"I think you should stop and stretch your quads."

"You started your run at 9 instead of 7. Nobody would blame you for walking in this heat."

You get the picture. I'm starting to think that all that "talk" on the run is like inclement weather on the bike. See, my belief is that big earthquakes, fires, and floods are about the only reason to not ride your bike in Southern California. Rain? Bah! Put on a rain jacket and learn how to ride in the rain. Cold? Bah! The worst it will get is the upper thirties so throw on some layers and a pair of full-fingered gloves and learn how to suck it up in the cold. It's not just a macho thing, either. Someday there will be a race where it's going to be a bit chilly and, while your competition is putting on arm warmers in T1, you're already a mile ahead of them on the bike (this actually happens). Or you've plunked down good money for a 70.3, only to find out that the weather forecast is for rain but you already know how to handle that.

It's the same thing for running. By pushing myself through the training runs and not walking, I am preparing myself to face much worse out on a race course. Or so I'd like to think. I won't be hitting 18 miles for several more months so we'll see how it goes then.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Merciless Eating

One of the best things about starting this triathlon stuff in my forties is learning how my body reacts to all this training. When you're a kid, everything works. Five-day-a-week workouts twice a day? Yep, that works if you're 16. Eating everything in sight for dinner? Yep, that works if you're 16. Things are a bit different when you're 47.

One interesting thing I've noticed is that if I train really hard (a hilly century ride, two brick workouts in a day), I can end up with a feeling like a cold is coming on. I have found only one thing makes that go away: what I call "merciless eating". This came up again last week when I felt very tired. The same feeling I had the whole week after my last triathlon and which followed me on our family vacation the week after that. There I was, the week after that and I was still tired. Rest wasn't working (I didn't train the week after the race and only twice the following week) so I figured I would see if merciless eating worked on that. It appears to have done the trick.

What is merciless eating? It's pretty much what it sounds like: you eat a lot. Two breakfasts. A snack. Lunch. Maybe another lunch but at least an afternoon snack. A snack when you get home. Dinner. Dessert. And maybe a snack before going to bed. Don't laugh, it's been working for me. Makes that cold-like feeling go away and it got me un-tired last week. I don't even feel full when I'm doing it, either. Weird.

I would prefer that I just eat the right amount after my workouts but I feel like I'm walking a fine line. On the one hand, sure I want to recover from heavy workouts so I do eat liberally afterwards. On the other hand, though, I don't want to be a pig because I am trying to lose weight, too. Also, you should know that I'm not exactly weighing my broiled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli so I know exactly how many calories I'm taking in. I made fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy last night (steamed squash, too). I'm much better about eating lots when I need to, though, so I don't have many merciless eating days. However, this post-race fatigue thing was something new. I didn't have the cold symptoms at all. It was just fatigue. And the race was just a sprint--it took 74 minutes!

Oh well. Live and learn. That's what makes this sport so interesting.

Hills In The Heat

I learned a valuable lesson over the weekend. At least I think I did. I don't do steep hills in the heat so well. Cycling in the heat? No problem. I just drink more and the breeze blows the sweat off me which keeps me cool-ish. I can do that for quite a while. Going up steep hills for a few hours when it's over 90 degrees? Not so good. Especially on tired legs. I'm thinking that not having the cooling effect of a breeze is something I'm just not equipped to deal with these days.

The plan was to do two Little Tujunga Loops (if you click on the map you can see the elevation profile):

The first loop would start at 6:30 and go clockwise. At the end of the loop is a 7-Eleven so I'd fuel up, turn around, and do the loop counter-clockwise. I think it's actually a pretty good plan.

On the first loop I took every hill easy. If I felt like I was working my legs at all I dropped down into lower gears until it got easy (or until I reached first). On downhills, I coasted as much as possible. The idea on the first loop was to save my legs for the second loop. Much like in a longer-distance triathlon: save your legs on the bike for the run.

I got to the 7-Eleven and felt tired but good. I bought a Slurpee, Gatorade, a Snickers, and some potato chips, went to a nearby park, and fueled up. By the time I got back on road again it was pretty hot out. I had to stop a few times while going uphill and, finally, after seven miles I had to turn around and call it a day.

So the lesson here is either: long, steep rides need to wait for the winter OR I should have put ice water in my second water bottle instead of Gatorade so I could have poured that over my head. I'm leaning towards the former. I will need to test out that latter theory at some point, though, right? ;-) In any event, I will try this loop-de-loop again in November-ish so I'll know for sure if the plan is a good one or not.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Report: Hansen Dam Triathlon 2010

Total Time: 1:14:14
Overall Rank: 141/424
Age Group: M45-49
Age Group Rank: 13/27

Pre-race routine

My pre-race routine actually started two days before when my family went to a local carnival. Note to self: do not eat carnival food two nights before a race. You feel funky the next day.

The day before I just had this tuna and rice in a bowl dish throughout the day. Makes sure my digestive tract is nice and boring (and that the carnival food is out of the picture, as it were). Had a sandwich from Subway at 5pm and a glass of Ovaltine milk just before I went to bed.

Set the alarm for 4am the night before the race but my body woke up at 3:25 and I knew it wasn't going to let me go back to sleep. Sigh. I did see them putting cones along the course at 3:30, FWIW.

Went right down and had some Nutella on toast and Gatorade. Breakfast of champions! Watched some TV while waiting for things to clear out. Got on my bike a bit after 5 and rode to the venue. Got there well before opening time and, of course, they had already opened transition. While I didn't get a maximum primo spot, I was happy with the spot I did get. It didn't help that the bike in/out was not clearly marked. Still, it was a good spot.

The neatest thing of the morning was walking along the lake to check out the run course before the sun came up. Did you look at the lake and see all those birds flying around, eating bugs? Those weren't birds. They were bats. Lots of them. Cool!

Event warmup

Got in the water about 6:30 to do some swimming. Nice! The sun was coming up and I found that it was going to be right in our eyes when we made our first turn. I got out of the water, traded my clear googles for the smoky ones, and got back in. Swam around maybe 100 yards, and then it was time to get out. I felt tired but I knew (?) that was just sluggishness from taking the last week off.


Distance: 500 yards (so they say)
Time: 11:51
Age Group Rank: 11/27

I have to say that I am surprised by this time. It is only 11 seconds faster than last year's time and last year's swim was lousy. I'm not convinced the course is the same length as last year's.

We started off down a ramp and into the water. Lots of bunching up because, right away, we had to make a left to go around the first buoy. Still in traffic but nothing bad. This new sighting I've been practicing, where I pop my head straight up, look, then swing it back to the left to continue my stroke, works SO MUCH better than the old way (which was the reverse of that). I was able to sight a lot in traffic while still maintaining my speed. Consequently my sighting was very good. For instance, I actually touched two of the buoys as I rounded them while most were swinging way wide. Then, from buoy #3 to #4, a lot of people were swinging wide (following others) while I was on a straight line.

While I wouldn't characterize this swim as fast, I was happy with my effort. I'm still breathing every stroke (still haven't figured out why) but my sighting was great and I knew that I was towards the front of my wave down the home stretch.

What would you do differently?

Just keep training to get faster.


Time: 0:46

I felt pretty tired coming out of the swim but I pushed through that to get to my bike. Threw the cap and goggles in my backpack, quickly put my glasses and helmet on, grabbed my bike, and I was gone. I entered T1 in 11th. I left in 8th.

I smushed my right shoe, somehow, and had a really hard time getting my foot into it. Fortunately, this is my home course and I know where the uphills and downhills are. I waited for a downhill before I finally worked my right foot into the shoe. In all that time, one person passed me (he was just fast) and I actually passed a couple of people.

Ended up with the fastest T1 in my age group by 14 seconds and the tenth fastest overall. I improved on last year's time by ten seconds, too. Don't let anyone tell you that fast transitions are not free speed. They're wrong.

What would you do differently?

Run faster.


Distance: 11 miles (officially--really more like 10.17 miles)
Time: 31:12
Age Group Rank: 9/27

The course is actually just over ten miles long, which makes everybody look faster than they are. I was hoping to average 20mph but realistically expected to average 19.8, and that is what I did. Since this is my home course I know exactly where I want to shift, push, and rest. I was pretty tired by the end so looks like I pushed just right, especially since I ended up almost three minutes faster than last year.

I passed people, I was passed. I didn't get chicked (from the following wave) until the run, though, so I was humming along.

What would you do differently?

Keep working on the engine and get faster.


Time: 1:04

T2 actually started on the bike course. On the downhill after getting off the dam, I got one foot out of its shoe. After the turn into the park, I took the other foot out. Both downhills so no speed lost. After that I downshifted to get my legs ready for the run. Stretched, too.

Hopped off my bike, jogged to the rack, helmet and glasses off, shoes on (quicker than usual, too), grabbed my visor and race belt, and was off. The race belt was already connected so I just slipped it over my head, then the visor. I don't know if it made me any faster but at least I didn't have to fuss with trying to close it while running.

Eight seconds faster than last year.

What would you do differently?

I wish I could figure out why my T2 times are so average. T1 I have down but I don't know why my T2 isn't in the same league. Must think...


Distance: 3 miles
Time: 29:19
Age Group Rank: 21/27

Ah, the run. Faster than last year but still my achilles heel. Still, I was fairly happy with it.

I don't remember running around the lake first from last year's run. That and there were a couple of places on the course where we went a bit wider than last year. That leads me to believe that this year's course is closer to three miles than last year's course. That or I just have a bad memory.

I didn't feel great on the course but I knew the training would take over and I'd run well. A 9:46 pace, while not great, is not bad on a trail run after a hard bike. For me, anyway. 2 1/2 minutes faster than last year, too, and, like I said, I think this year's course was longer than last year's.

This year's motto is "I'm not fast but I'm faster." So I'm satisfied with my run. I kept thinking I wasn't running fast enough but when I tried to go faster I started feeling like I was going to ralph so I guess my effort was just right. :-)

What would you do differently?

Be a faster runner.

Warm down

Walked around, ate lots of oranges, drank lots of water. They had these Bonk Breakers to eat (one of the sponsors). I have to say that they weren't bad at all. I can see me taking these on my long bike rides.

They immediately had results on a big screen just past the finish line. While the times were wrong, the placings were right. That was pretty cool.

What limited your ability to perform faster

Just me. I was faster in everything compared to last year so I just need to keep on with my training. It's only my second season of doing these so I'm still a noob.

Event comments

Almost six minutes faster than last year. Gotta be pleased with that. And I finished in the top half of my age group. Such a nice change from my recent placings in longer races.

I felt sluggish and tired the whole race. I was hoping that that was because my effort was greater than last year. Given the times I ended up with I'd like to think that was the case. I sprained my knee a few weeks ago and it didn't bother me at all. That was because I have been resting it. It's hard to balance training for a race and resting a knee. I hope I hit it just right.

The organization of this year's race was SO MUCH better than last year's. Our race packets were complete so no lining up race morning. The bike course had marshalls all over the place so we didn't have to worry about traffic or pedestrians. On top of Hansen Dam the gate was open and it was coned off so we didn't have to dodge pedestrians. Three water stations on the run? You gotta be kidding me (in a good way)? I wished I would have used them, since they had gone to all that effort. They didn't run out of food the whole time. Kudos to the organizers.

It looked like the race wasn't going to happen this year, and they mentioned this morning that they only started working on it seven weeks ago. I do hope they find a way to keep it going. The organizers are already posting on Facebook that they're working on having an Oly next year so I take that to be a good sign.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Knee Thing

I have this weird knee thing going on right now. It started about a week ago behind my right knee. I figured that I somehow had hyperextended my right leg during last Tuesday's ride to work. It wasn't a sharp pain. I didn't feel anything pop when it happened. In fact, I didn't even feel it happen. This dull pain just sort of appeared.

I did swim on Wednesday but skipped Thursday morning's run. However, I did ride to work on Thursday and Friday. Liking active rest, I did make the rides easy ones. The pain was still there on Saturday but it had moved to the outer edge of my knee. It now felt like a bruise (i.e. tender to the touch) but there was no bruise there. I did a five-mile run Saturday morning with no problems. Still wanting to rest it, though, I skipped Sunday's planned bike-run brick workout.

I swam on Monday and today, rode to work yesterday, and will, likely, ride to work tomorrow. We'll see about Friday. This weekend I had planned an easy run on Saturday and and easy bike on Sunday. We'll see. Since I am taking next week off from training for the big race, I am hoping that that will keep me healthy and heal me up.

I suspect this was caused by a change I made to the cleats on my cycling shoes. I rotated them a bit to point my toes out a bit. I did this a few weeks ago and hadn't had any problems. My thinking is that I did something (unclip, etc.) that, because my feet were in a funky angle, caused a little strain. I have un-funked my cleats back to their previous positions and we'll see if that helps me get back on track.

Then again, because the pain has been moving, maybe I have worms in my knee.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Countdown to Hansen Dam

Now that Le Tour is over, I can go back to writing in this thing. I've been training all along but no time to write here.

The Hansen Dam Triathlon is two weeks from today and I'll be as ready as I can be. My training has been building up to a peak this weekend and it looks like I hit it--I'm exhausted. Easy training next week followed by no training (save for an easy bike ride Wednesday morning and some transition practice on Thursday or Friday) and I'll be all set.

The Swim

500 yards in a man-made "lake" (more like a big pond). I did this in 12:02 last year. LAME! Definitely under ten minutes this year. Can I hold a 1:45 (8:45) pace this year? That would be nice but we'll see. I think I'm finally getting comfortable in these race swims and have even been pacing myself pretty well. No wetsuit in this race so I don't have to worry about overheating, too. My workouts have been more productive lately, thanks to the advice of an old friend who is a much better swimmer than me, so I should be quite a bit faster.


I had the fastest T1 in my age group last year and 19th overall: 56.1 seconds. Let's see if I can better that this year.

The Bike

Better shape. Better bike. Last year I did this in 34:04. Can I come in under 30 minutes, which is around 20 mph (the course is really just over ten miles)? I don't know if it's realistic but it's what I'll be shooting for.


Last year I did this in 1:12, which is so-so. I don't know if I can get it under a minute but I'll try. Rack bike, take off helmet and put on shoes, grab the race belt and visor, and go!


Last year I did this in 31:55 which, if you believe the course is three miles, is a 10:38 pace. Problem is, the course isn't three miles. More like 2.5 (I've been running it with a Garmin the past few weeks). That comes out to be a 12:46 pace. Hmm. Maybe I'm cutting the course short somehow. Not by a half mile, though, so, for now, let's just go with that 10:38 pace. I want to do the run at about a 9:10 pace, which should knock at least four minutes off my time, and bring me in around 27:30 if the course is three miles, or 23:00 if the course is 2.5 miles. Hmm, that 23:00 figure looks pretty fast compared to all the results for last year so maybe I am cutting the course short. We'll find out soon enough.

My triathlon slogan for this year (and the next few years, no doubt) is: I'm not fast but I'm faster. So let's add up those times. 10:00 for the swim + 1:00 in T1 + 31:00 on the bike + 1:00 in T2 + 25:00 on the run = 1:08 overall, which would have put me in the top 25 in my age group last year. Possible? I'll just go and do my best.

Oh, I do have one other goal for the race. Towards the end of the run there is a short but steep hill. After that there is a not-so-steep uphill followed by a run alongside the lake and then onto the finish line. My other goal is that once I get to the stop of that steep uphill, nobody passes me. If I do get passed I stick with that person and try to re-pass by the finish line. I didn't like being passed on that last stretch last year so I don't want it to happen this year. I've been practicing on that stretch, too.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Running Towards the Rest of the Season

Four triathlons down, two to go plus a half-marathon in November.

For the rest of the season, and the off-season, my training emphasis is going to be the run. Because of that upcoming half-marathon, of course (my first), but also because it is the weak link in my triathlon (and I cannot emphasize that enough). Time to bump up the training from twice-a-week to four times-a-week. This should get me faster for my triathlon runs and get me to the finish line of the half-mary.

Saturday - The Long Run

Moving my long run from Sunday to Saturday to move it up in priority. Last Saturday I started with a long run of seven miles and I'll be bumping that up 1/2 mile each week until I hit two hours-ish, which will get me around Hansen Dam at the very least.

Monday - VFF Training

Thanks to my REI dividend and a well-timed 20% discount (if you want to know how to do triathlons on a budget, just ask me), I am now the proud owner of a pair of Vibram Five Finger Sprints. Way back during my one season on my high school's cross country team, we did most of our training barefoot. It seemed a bit odd at the time but the other guys were doing it so what the heck. No problems were encountered then. After doing a bit of reading on the subject of barefoot running I thought I'd get back into it. Having recently done a bit of forefoot running in my shoes, though, I know I need to take it slow. Very slow. My first shot at it this past Monday made my calves, predictably, very sore from just one mile of running. I even cancelled my planned Wednesday run because of it. It will get better over time. It is interesting to note, though, that my feet came through just fine.

The run on this day is just to build up this aspect of my running. We'll see where that eventually takes me.

Wednesday - Intervals

After giving my calves two days of rest, it's time for intervals. I usually overdo these by turning them practically into sprints but I want to be smarter this time. I'm still doing reading on intervals and haven't picked an exact workout yet but I suspect it will be something along the lines of 4+ miles (out and back) with a couple of intervals each way plus hard charging up the route's biggish hill.

Thursday - Easy Form

A nice and easy run of 5k to 4mi where I focus on improving my form and increasing my cadence as I work my way up to 180 steps/minute.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Report: L.A. Tri Series #3

Total Time = 3:35:11
Overall Rank = 223/312
Age Group = Clydesdales
Age Group Rank = 14/15

Pre-race routine

Studying my training logs from my last race, I decided that I trained too much before my last race so this time I cut out all training one week out. MUCH better. All the fatigue had left my muscles by the day before the race.

Stayed hydrated and ate small meals the day before, including my usual Subway sub at 6pm.

Woke up at 4am. Ate a Nutella on toast with Gatorade. I had packed up the night before so all that was left to do was Chamois Butt'r my trisuit, get dressed, put the bike on the car, and wait for 5:15, the time to go. Got to the site at just the right time.

Event warmup

Did an easy 1/2 mile-ish jog a little bit before 7 to wake things up. Did a short warm-up swim about 45 minutes later.


Distance: 1500 meters
Time: 39:23
Pace: 2:24/100 yards
Age Group: 12/15
Overall: 222/312

We started from a wade and it turns out I positioned myself perfectly. When we got swimming I wasn't passing many people and many people weren't passing me. Best I could hope for. The sun was in my eyes so I couldn't see the far buoy so I just followed. After a few hundred yards I took a look around and I was solidly MOP. Cool!

Then I started to feel bad. I couldn't figure out what it was right away. Seasick? Maybe I'm just not cut out for long swims?

I was overheating in my wetsuit. Sigh.

Before the swim I kept hearing people describing the water as the perfect temperature for wetsuits. That should have been my first warning sign. I'm a warm guy and perfect pool water for others is too warm for me. I had actually been wondering how the water temperature was going to be, given that a month had passed since my last race in the lake and THAT seemed like it had the perfect temperature (though, in hindsight, I realize that I was starting to overheat in the last 150 yards of that).

Ugh. I kept pulling off to the side and tugging at the wetsuit neck to get some cool water in the suit. Finally at about 1000 yards I stopped and unzipped the back. I kept the suit on my shoulders because I didn't want to deal with the drag, of course, but I swam with the back unzipped. It helped but not much.

Oddly enough, even with spending about five minutes floating or breaststroking, I had my best placing in my age group on the swim compared to the bike and run. Double sigh.

Did I mention that my wetsuit is sleeveless? I'm a warm guy.

What would you do differently?

No wetsuit or maybe a thinner one.


Time: 02:52

Still feeling bad from overheating during the swim, I walked most of the way into transition. When I got to my bike it was business as usual. I even tried the wetsuit off/helmet on thing. One leg came off great and another got stuck. Oh well. Ran the bike out, did a flying mount, pedaled away, and was in my shoes before I hit the hill. I passed people up to the mount and nobody passed me until we were climbing up the first hill.

What would you do differently?

Run all the way from the swim to my bike instead of walk most of the way.

I really need to get some tri shoes for the bike. I am tired of the tongue getting mushed when I put my foot in and having to fish it back out again. It's starting to really annoy me.


Distance: 40 km
Time: 1:34:39
Pace: 15.75 mile/hr
Age Group: 13/15
Overall: 201/312

The word of the day here was "spin". I knew the run would be tough so I wanted to spin up hills in lower gears rather than try muscling up them. That made me a bit slower than last month's race on the same course but I knew I'd be better prepared for the run.

On the nutrition side, I wanted to take all of my race nutrition on the bike. I took my first gel after the first hill leveled off, then drank a sugar water/Endurolyte mix every fifteen minutes. When that water ran out, I had a plain water/Endurolyte mix bottle. I took my second gel about ten minutes before the end of the last lap.

What would you do differently?

Same old story: lose weight, get faster on the hills. I'd also throw in get stronger on the run so I don't have to save so much for it.


Time: 02:17

After last month's experience with rubbing, I brought socks this time. I got them on reasonably quickly and had a fairly respectable time here. I decided to take the Garmin with me just to get some feedback. I had no intention of letting it dictate my run, though.

What would you do differently?

Should have just grabbed the Garmin off the bike and put it on while I was running. I don't know what I was thinking.

I saw a neat trick on TV yesterday where Hunter Kemper, I believe, had his race belt already connected and he just slipped the whole thing over his head and down to his waist while running. I wanna try that.


Distance: 10 km
Time: 1:16:00
Pace: 12:14/mile
Age Group: 13/15
Overall: 233/312

Run started off okay. I felt better than last month but I still felt tired. Kept my cadence high and motored along. After a mile I was into a good rhythm. I felt much better on the flats this month than last month. I only walked three steep hills. I wanted to walk more but somehow I talked myself into keeping going, much to my surprise. I ended up doing this run 30 seconds/mile faster than last month. That three minutes saved on the run means that the two minutes slower on the bike netted me a whole minute of faster. Woo hoo (I need all the help I can get ;-)!

Not even a hint of cramps this time so my nutrition plan on the bike seems to have paid off. I also poured water on my head at every water station, which helped keep me cool. By the halfway point I could feel the water coming off my head was warm so I did need the cooling. It was nearly 80 degrees when I finished the race yet, ironically, I only felt too warm in the water.

What would you do differently?

Wish I didn't have to walk any of the hills. Maybe next year.

Post race

Warm down

The last two races I had a bit of a dizzy spell right after the finish so this time I went straight from getting my timing chip taken off to grabbing some oranges and from there, back into transition to grab a gel and some water. It seems to have helped.

What limited your ability to perform faster?

Today's big story was overheating on the swim. I figure that if the water isn't cold enough to take my breath away when I get in up to my neck, it's not cold enough. Maybe I just need to get a thinner suit. DeSoto talks about their suits being good for people who overheat. I need to do some more research.

Event comments

Definitely a challenging course. I'm not planning on doing all three again next year. Right now the plan is to do this Oly-distance race again but maybe I'll do one of the sprints, too.

I do wish they had some Gatorade at the finish line. The oranges really hit the spot, though.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Not only is the Amgen Tour of California coming to town this weekend, it's also Bike to Work Week. I have a need to geek out about this so I will be riding to work on Bike to Work Day this Thursday. Last summer I cycled to work while my son was on summer vacation. I drive him to school each morning so it's not practical for me to cycle to work during the school year but I make special accommodations for this day.

Next up is Friday, Stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California. I'll need to pick my son up from school that afternoon, which isn't the usual routine, so if I want to see the tour, I have to make quick work of it. The plan is to drop him off a bit early, then haul ass up to Palmdale (I've taken the day off), cycle up to Mill Creek Summit, which is the first climb of the stage, ahead of the race, and do some spectating with my cowbell and camera. Once the caravan has passed I ride back to Palmdale and my car, drive home, do my long run for the week, pick up Ian, and watch the stage finish live on TV.

Here is Friday's ride:

Short but steep. Click on the Trip Details and check out that elevation profile. I'll have about a 1:15 head start. That should be enough.

Saturday is the time trial in downtown Los Angeles. I have volunteered to work that and I just got my assignment email saying that I'm a course marshall, which means I'll be someplace along the route making sure nobody wanders onto the course. I should be able to spend some time at the "Lifestyle Festival" they have there before heading to my spot. Should be a fun day plus I get a free lunch and shirt.

On Sunday, the plan is to ride with the SFVBC to Stage 8, watch the race, then ride the course. We're talking 80 miles with some serious climbs, where I will surely be dropped. At least we're getting a break halfway to watch the race.

Here is Sunday's ride:

Should be a fun weekend. I suspect I will be completely wiped out for work on Monday.

Report: L.A. Tri Series, #2 2010

Total Time = 3:02:48
Overall Rank = 219/258
Age Group = Clydesdales
Age Group Rank = 8/10
Pre-race routine

Woke up at 4am. Had Nutella on toast right away. Drank just a little water as I was already well-hydrated. Everything was already packed so I hung out until it was time to get dressed and go. Left at 5:25, which was a ten minutes later than I wanted to leave. Still got to the site in good time. Picked out a great spot in transition. Once I setup my area in transition I found that my Garmin was DOA. D'oh!
Event warmup

I went out for an easy bike ride, which did feel good. However, there was a bit of an incident when I got back into transition. As much as I liked the ride, I think it's better if I don't do one to warm up again. I wanted to do a short run, too, but I ran out of time. In the future, I'll stick to doing just a warm up run. Got on my wetsuit and did a short swim in the lake.


Distance: 1km
Time: 23:15
Pace: 2:08/100y

Water temperature was perfect for wetsuits. Not too cold, not too warm. I wonder if it's going to be too warm for wetsuits next month.

There were fewer swimmers this month so the start was better set up. I was in the front and since we were spread out on the beach, I was about halfway down from the inside, a good place to start. The race started and I got out fairly well. Instead of having to swim past people, a few people were swimming past me. Maybe I should have started farther out? After about 200 yards I started feeling good. Just like last month, I don't think people were using their heads sighting but were just following everybody else. The course had a first buoy, then we turned slightly to the left. There was a second and a third buoy. The third buoy was what we would make a full left turn on and the second buoy was just on the way. Problem was, the second buoy was in towards the left of a straight line from the first to the third buoy so if you went to the second buoy, you were adding to your swim. That's what most people did. I know because as I got closer to the third buoy, I met up with people who would soon pass me (again).

As we got closer to shore, we met up with one of the sprint-distance waves. Much congestion so the last fifty yards into shore were pretty slow. On the other hand, I did breaststroke in to shore, flexing my feet to work on my calves before getting out of the water. That seemed to have worked because my legs did feel better than last month's race.
What would you do differently?

I was trying to do some heads-down swimming (i.e. not sighting so often) but when I finally sighted I often found that I had drifted off course. I'm going to give up on heads-down swimming and sight more often.

The drifting and the congestion did contribute to my slower-than-expected pace. However, I think the length of the swim was the main reason. Can't do much about that other than keep training.


Time: 2:25

Your basic T1 here. Everything went well here except the slow run in and a dropped a water bottle when putting it on the bike after squirting my feet.
What would you do differently?

Nothing. Well, maybe I should try that taking the helmet off while removing the wetsuit thing. Looks like fun!


Distance: 40km
Time: 1:32:20
Pace: 16.15mph

Mostly the same course as last month but with an additional hill thrown in and three laps instead of two. Since this race is longer, the plan was to not go as hard so I'd have something left for the run. Looking at my pace, I did a good job of that. I didn't have the Garmin with me so I relied on how I felt for pacing so that worked out well. The second half of the last lap I went one gear lower than usual on the hills so my legs would get ready for the run. Also did some stretching as I got near the end of the course. This helped transitioning to the run.

I wanted to take in all my nutrition on the bike. I had some sugar water w/ electrolytes (it's an experiment), water, and a gel. Sugar water the first hour, water and a gel after that. That all went according to plan. Man, when that sugar water hits you, it's a weird feeling. I need to keep playing with that.
What would you do differently?

Just get stronger on the bike. I pretty much did what I wanted to on the bike. I was slow in the group but it was a good ride for me.


Time: 1:23

Really good T2.
What would you do differently?



Time: 1:03:25
Distance: 8km
Pace: 12:46 min/mile

I felt pretty good starting the run. Good, not great, but I didn't feel horrible, which is how I have felt in my other races this year so the bike-run bricks are working. Hilliest run course I've ever been on, which I wasn't expecting. I had to walk the two steepest hills--there would have been no point trying to run up them. It would have been no faster than walk pace anyway. I felt good on the flats but those hills really did me in. I took my metronome with me to help with my cadence. I wasn't able to keep up with it so after a couple of miles I shut it off.

On my recent training runs I have noticed my feet slip-sliding in the shoes from the sweat coming from warmer days. That peaked today and the result was a spot on my left foot that rubbed raw in the last couple of miles. Oh joy. It didn't slow me down but it was annoying. Next race I'm going to have to bite the bullet and put socks on since I can't go a full 10k like that. If the course was flat there probably wouldn't have been a problem.

So, it was my typical slow run but I think I actually did better than usual on it. There is hope!
What would you do differently?

I felt my left quad edge towards cramping the last couple of miles. I need to take in more electrolytes on the bike and maybe actually drink water on the run course rather than just pour it on my head (which felt really good).

I need to do lots more hill work.

No metronome. I wasn't able to take the Garmin on the run but next race I'm not even going to bother.

Wear socks...or get better-ventilated shoes.

Post race

Warm down

After experiencing light-headedness after the last race I immediately went to town on the oranges and water. The light-headedness did return (along with the light sensitivity) so I found a bench to sit on and it went away after a couple of minutes. I wonder if it's a sugar thing? Maybe I need to have some Gatorade in my bag and go straight from the finish line to the bag and start guzzling. I sure would like to know what's going on.
What limited your ability to perform faster?

Longer distance, slower pace. That's just how it goes. I'll get faster the more I train.

I'd love to use the "I was one of the two oldest Clydesdales, give me a break" excuse but the other 48-year old took second. So much for that. :-)
Event comments

It's funny. The race organizers sent out an email earlier in the week touting the casual nature of the race, including no body marking. However, this time we were bodymarked and our bikes numbered. Why? Apparently some people walked off with bikes they weren't supposed to last race. Nice to see they're addressing the problem.

Oranges and bananas were nice but I wanted to guzzle some Gatorade and all I could find was water. Oh well, I guess I'll have to bring my own.

Challenging course for me but do-able. Next month's full Oly should be interesting.

8th Clydesdale in the swim, bike, and run. I'm Mr. Consistency. It does explain why I didn't see any Clydes passing me.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Countdown to the L.A. Tri Series #2

All I have left to do is pack, write this, and sleep.

This is the first triathlon I'm going to treat like an actual triathlon. While on the swim, get ready for the bike. While on the bike, get ready for the run. Then have my run benefit from the earlier stuff and from my bike-run bricks in training. I'm also using this as a rehearsal for the full oly triathlon next month.

First off, I'm actually going to do a warm up! I'll stake out my transition spot, then go for an easy small loop of the course (7mi), then an easy 1mi run. This will give me plenty of time to rest, take a gel, get into my swimsuit, and do a swim warm up in the lake. After last race I felt that a warm up would have been helpful. We'll see how it goes.

This race has a 1km swim, which might include a run after a 500m lap. I'm not sure because there aren't any details on the race's website and the course they show for the swim is the same one for the 500m swim last month. Whatever. The plan for the swim is to start middle-front and just swim my race. I'm hoping that by being middle-front instead of my usual towards the back will help me by not having to swim past so many people. It's not that I'm fast (I'm not) but was faster than many of the people in my wave last race. I've been practicing breaststroking a bit so I need to remember to do some of that towards the end of the swim so I can stretch out my calf muscles before I start running from the water. I'm hoping that will keep me from having that calf pain I had at this place in last month's race.

Once I get on the bike I need to get into my shoes sooner than last race because there's a good uphill shortly after leaving T1 and I want to be in my shoes for that. See, I leave my shoes on the bike for my transitions and, usually, I want to get some pedaling done before I get in my shoes so I can do it with a clear head and no wobbling. This time, though, I'm going to have to rely on my transition training to safely get into my shoes before the hill. Once I crest the hill there is a short flat and a great big downhill for me to catch my breath (I'm thinking I should easily reach 45 mph). The bike course is three laps, adding up to 40km, so I'm thinking that my first trip up that hill on the first lap, I will spin up in the saddle while my legs gets used to being on the bike. The next two laps, though, I'll see about getting out of the saddle and hammering up for them (I've been working on that, too). We'll see how I feel. I'll be drinking sugar water (literally--more on that in another post) on the bike the first hour, followed by water and a gel the last 20 minutes. Towards the end of the third lap I need to downshift to spin, stretch, and get my legs ready for the run...better than I did last race.

Get off the bike, take off my helmet and sunglasses, put on my shoes, grab my visor (with metronome attached) and race belt and go. Ah, the 8km run. Last race, my run was horrible. This race I hope to improve! I've done several pure bike-run bricks and I hope they result in a better run. I am totally going to geek out, though, by having the Garmin on my left wrist and the metronome attached to my RoadID on my right wrist. Yes, I'm going to do a race with a metronome keeping track of my cadence. I think I'm going to run without drinking anything. So, keep my 164 cadence through 2.8 miles of the run and then cut loose the last two miles, upping the cadence to as much as 167 if I'm up to it.

Predictions? A conservative 19:00 for the swim, 1:20 for the bike, and 48:00 for the run. Toss in a few minutes for transitions and I'm in the neighborhood of 2:30. The weather looks great so it should be a fun morning. Oh, and Tommy's is test marketing pastrami at a location that's on the way home. Mmmm, pastrami and chili fries after a race...

Friday, May 14, 2010

I've Made a List and I Check It At Least Twice

How do you know if you have packed everything you need for a triathlon? By having a checklist, of course. You add to it and tweak it as you go but you always use the checklist. Below is mine, which I keep on my iPhone. I may not need everything on it for every race (e.g. I won't need a wetsuit for my August and October races) but better to see something and not need it than need something and it not be packed. The only thing that isn't on this list is my transition bag, which is what everything (but the bike) gets packed in:

Tri suit
Bike shoes
Frame pump
Bike bag
Run shoes
Race belt and number
Transition towel
Timing chip
USAT card
Shorts & shirt & belt
Cut Rubber bands
Kids scissors
Race pack
Swim cap
Water bottle
Bike pump
Body glide
Ear buds

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Brick By Brick

Along with my campaign to become a better runner is my campaign to become a better triathlon runner. What's the difference? Runners just have to run. A triathlon runner has to run after the bike.

To that end, the last two weekends have found me doing dedicated bike-run brick workouts. That's where I ride a 9-mile loop around Hansen Dam, do a reasonably fast transition, and immediately head out on a 2-mile run. Because of the quick transition I do these in my trisuit (triathlons are great for overcoming one's self-consciousness :-).

Last week was the first and it was pretty tough. I took 15 minutes between sets and I could only squeak out a 1-mile run on the second set. This week I took (at least) 30 minutes between sets and made it the whole 2 miles. Times on the run were pretty good, too. The awkwardness of switching from the bike to the run is dissipating with each of these. I'm spinning a higher cadence towards the end of the bike and learning to pace myself. Of course, race day is a totally different animal but I'm trying to be a racy as possible in these workouts so I hope race day is not too different. These workouts are really tiring so, with the next triathlon in two weeks, today's workout is the last brick until after the next race, where I hope to have a better run report than my last race.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Metronome Arrived Last Week

I finally realized that I need to learn how to run. I don't know what took me so long. I have cycling books and magazines to help me learn how to cycle. I even have a book on swimming, despite being on swim teams in my youth. I figure since I've been running since I was a wee one, I must know how to run, right?

A few weeks ago I did a hard 5k training run and I just wasn't getting any faster. It didn't make any sense. How could my cycling and swimming be consistently improving and my running continue to suck? The answer I came up with is that it must be technique. So I headed over to Amazon and, after a look of review reviewing, I purchased "The Triathlete's Guide to Run Training" by Ken Mierke because many of its reviews mentioned technique.

One of the first ideas he presents is having a high-cadence run, ideally in the 180 strides-per-minute (spm) range. He strongly recommended that I get a metronome to help me in this quest. I would need to decrease my stride-length so I could move away from being a heel-striker and use the metronome to find out what my current cadence is. From there, I would gradually build up to the 180 range. Fortunately, they make these little electronic metronomes that are perfect for what I need so I bought one on eBay.

I went for my first runs with it over the weekend and what a difference! First, I could comfortably run at 164 spm. I had done a few runs the past few weeks where I decreased my stride length but having a metronome was interesting. It sure does keep you honest in the form department because you can't be turning over that quickly and have bad form for long. I did a five-mile run on Saturday and, only paying attention to cadence and form, turned in my fastest pace on a run over 5k. I wasn't even wiped out afterwards, either. There must be something to this cadence thing. Take a look at a marathon on TV and count out the cadence of the lead pack. They're at least 180 spm. It's something I hadn't noticed before.

Ideally I think I would like to move to more of a forefoot striker. Way back when I was briefly on my high school's cross country team. We ran barefoot for almost all of our workouts and the only way to run barefoot is by landing on your forefoot. We were all fine (and 100 pounds lighter, natch) so there must be something to this forefoot thing. We'll see later but, for now, I am just concentrating on getting the cadence up. I dabbled briefly with forefoot running but it trashed my calves so I will wait until after my June triathlon to play with it some more.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Report: Los Angeles Triathlon Championship Series #1 2010

Total Time = 1h 34m 12s
Overall Rank = 162/245
Age Group = Clydesdales
Age Group Rank = 6/11

Pre-race routine

Had my traditional Subway sandwich the evening before at 6, with some Ovaltine before bed. Woke up at 4am and downed some Nutella on toast. I had packed the night before so all was set to go. Left the house around 5:2t and arrived at a great time. Got a good parking spot and an aisle spot in transition.

Something different this time was I put some chamois cream in my trisuit. On longer courses, this suit (Garneau) caused some discomfort on the bike so, while I wasn't expecting that on this shorter course, I wanted to try out the cream in a race environment (i.e. with a swim).

Event warmup

Got in the water, got used to the temperature (which took faster than it usually does), and did a bit of swimming. Given my calf problem (see below), I wonder if I should start doing some running beforehand.


Distance = 500 meters
Time = 9:06
Age Group Rank = 7/11

For some reason these OWS really wear me out at the beginning. I think it's the nervous energy of the start of a race plus bumping into people. I really need to get over that. I also need to get over the need to start towards the back of the pack. While I'm not a FOP swimmer, I'm not BOP and I spend too much time passing people during the first hundred yards.

Once I got in the clear, things were okay. It looks like I have tendency to drift to the left so I guess I need to work on swimming with my eyes closed to fix that. Sighting was okay--better than in the past but still needs some work.

One thing that really helped was that I listened to the instructions at the beginning of the race. We were told that the round buoys were what we needed to pay attention to, not the oval ones. During the last leg I was sighting on the round buoy but I noticed that the vast majority of the pack (and by "vast majority" I mean "everybody I could see") was swinging wide around an oval buoy, further off to the right. No lifeguards told me to get back on course and as I was getting out of the water I heard the announcer tell an upcoming wave to use the round buoys (I think I was being used as a positive example). This saved me a bit of time.

I wasn't so happy with my effort (I felt slow and tired) until they posted the results and I saw my time. My timed pace was almost exactly my pace during a practice 500 that I did in a pool earlier in the week. Maybe the course is short but that pace would explain why I was so tired at the end of the swim.

What would I do differently?

I need to place myself more towards the front of the pack to avoid having to pass so many people. I'm handling swimming in traffic just fine (thank you high school water polo!) so I need to work on going out quicker to hang out up front.


Time = 2:32

I was so tired after the swim that I pretty much shuffled up (a hill) into T1. Wetsuit came off fine--only one foot got stuck. Hopped on the bike and went.

One weird thing was that as I was shuffling into T1, I felt a pain in my right calf. Calf pain after the swim? I've felt that pain before and it didn't bode well for the run. I hoped that the bike would warm it up for the run (it did).

What would I do differently?

Run instead of shuffle from the lake. Would have saved some seconds but I just couldn't do it.


Distance = 24 km
Time = 48:41
Age Group Rank = 8/11

I am so glad I previewed the course last weekend. I knew which hills to get out of the saddle for and which to stay seated. No turns surprised me. My gear changes were great. Despite my relatively low placing, I was very pleased with how I rode.

At the end of the ride I downshifted and spun, as well as standing up to flex my calves, so I could prepare for the run. Seems to have helped my run and the aforementioned calf pain.

I flaked in the fluids department, drinking only once. Didn't matter so much for this race but the coming races in this series will be longer and I'll need to drink on the bike because there will be consequences if I don't.

Chamois cream seems to have worked (i.e. survived the swim). We'll see for sure on the longer course.

What would I do differently?

I'm just not a 20 mph cyclist yet but I am 2 mph faster than last year so maybe next year? I'm sure a TT bike would have helped, too. Just gotta work more on the engine.


Time = 1:20

Not bad. I didn't have really good focus here, so that didn't help. I also need to practice getting my Garmin off the bike--I was kind of a mess doing that. I got into my shoes better than usual, though. I'd like to think it was the Body Glide I put on the shoes that morning.

What would I do differently?

Practice more than getting off the bike for T2. I have that part down. I need to do the "grab the belt and Garmin" thing better.


Distance = 5 km
Time = 32:33
Age Group Rank = 9/11

I just sucked here. The spinning and flexing I did on the bike, as well as my brick training runs, seemed to help me get going--I didn't feel exactly great but I didn't feel as awful as I did at UCLA last month. I did my high-cadence thing that I've been working on but I didn't feel all that good until two miles in. By then I had been so slow that it didn't much matter. Probably my worst (not slowest) run ever.

What would I do differently?

The next two races in this series are in the next two months, with bike legs of 40k. Since I don't need to do so much prep for those bike legs, my focus for the next two months is going to be the run. While I'm not going to get fast, I plan on getting faster.

Post race

Warm down

This was an odd one. I had some oranges, drank some fluids, and walked around. The weird thing was that I was a bit light-headed and my pupils appear to have dilated. I looked around and the whites were glowing white. It was weird because I didn't have to squint, so everything wasn't bright like that, but all the white t-shirts and white cars were intensely white. I'm guessing my pupils were dilated because of the exercise but I can't be sure. The light-headedness did go away after a while and I didn't faint (or feel like I was going to) so I guess all was well. Weird.

What limited my ability to perform faster?

The run (as usual).

Event comments

Nice race. Loved the swim in a lake, since I get seasick in the ocean. Challenging bike course (somebody in the clydesdale group cheated and only did one lap). Nice run course (wish I could have enjoyed it). The volunteers were awesome! Screaming teenaged girls! I felt like one of the Jonas brothers.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Report: Santa Clarita Century 2010

Time in the Saddle: 7:13:33
Elapsed Time: 8:30
Distance: 100.93 miles

So...many...hills. The event's website describes the course like this: "This is not an easy century. While not the hardest event on the calendar, it is still challenging with one lengthy climb, three shorter, but extended climbs, and several smaller hills." That's an accurate description and it tells me I'm not ready for Breathless Agony yet. ;-)

The plan was to draft as much as possible--shamelessly. In that, I was successful. I can really tell my gains from last year's half-century. I've moved from the back-of-the-pack to the middle-of-the-pack. On hills, too! Even in the last 20 miles I was able to go up hills slowly but faster than some of those around me.

I might have gone out too hard but I think it was just the difficulty of those hills. I asked at the top of Alisa Viejo how steep the climb was. Somebody said that at its steepest it was only 14-16%. Only?

I plan to have compact cranks installed on my bike at the end of this season so we'll see how that helps next year.

Though it got windy in the afternoon, the winds weren't grabbing my wheels on the downhills. Plus I sat up on a lot of them so I wouldn't be going too fast in the winds. That seemed to help. On the big downhill after the course high points I did hunker down. I was sad to see that I only hit 48 mph, though.

Working on my cornering definitely showed in the Mint Canyon part of the course. I didn't need to hit the brakes at all.

What would I do differently?

I made a mistake by not eating so much at the first SAG stop. It didn't affect me right away but it did later. I ate more at the next two SAG stops, though. Next time, eat a lot, including a coke, at every SAG stop.

On a supported ride like this, I think it's best if I leave the Snickers at home and put my gels in the Bento Box so my jersey pockets have more room for clothing layers as they get peeled off.

Forgot sunscreen. Though I did burn, good thing it's only April.

Event comments

Loved the course. From the start under a banner to the tough climbs that just kept coming on after another, to the last mile through neighborhoods, over a bridge, and down into the mall. We even had a police escort out of the city. Okay, I didn't love the climbs as I was doing them...

The expo seemed kinda lame but that will get better in the years to come (this was only the second time they've done the ride).

Lots of helpful volunteers at every water and SAG stop. They even cheered us when we reached the finish line. The volunteers were really great!

I look forward to doing this ride again next year.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Report: IronBruin Triathlon 2010

Total Time = 1h 33m 25s
Overall Rank = 104/303
Age Group = 40-49
Age Group Rank = 16/42

Pre-race routine

My routine started the evening before, by finishing a deli sub by 6pm. Then it was time to pack my bag. It was raining really hard, too, so I decided to practice T1 with a rain jacket and gloves thrown in the mix, just in case.

Woke up at 4am on race morning. Had a piece of toast with Nutella right away to get the digestive system moving, since I wouldn't be starting for another four hours. Left for the race site about 5:20. Got there in good time.

Brought my gear into T1 and mostly hung out. No porta potties this year, we needed to trek to Pauley Pavillion, which wasn't a bad thing at all; I'll take well-lit bathrooms anytime. I got the T1 spot I wanted, making getting there early so worth it. The big question was the weather but it soon became clear that the rain was not going to re-appear so I kept the jacket and gloves in the bag.

When it came time to head up to the pool and T1, I noticed a bunch of people taking whole backpacks with them. What's up with that? Goggles, cap, helmet, bike shoes, glasses. Why do people need a whole backpack?

I should mention that in T1 I discovered I had a "wardrobe malfunction". My new trisuit was popping open when I zipped it up. Guess I didn't lose as much weight as I thought I had (it fit when I tried it on a few weeks ago, I swear). I would have to do the race with the suit unzipped. The sad thing is that I had brought my old suit (i.e. the one that fits) just in case something like this happened but by this time it was too late to change. I'm guessing that pictures of me throughout the race aren't going to be so flattering...

Event warmup

I popped upstairs to the family pool for an easy 100 warm up. No bike or run warmup. Why would I? That warmth would all go away waiting on the pool deck for the swim to start.


Distance = 400 meters
Time = 8:54
Age Group Rank = 15/42

Due to a shoulder dislocation and the closure (until this past Wednesday) of my workout pool, I have had two swim workouts since last September, so I did not have high expectations for the swim. I just hopped in and started swimming. The first hundred felt good. The middle 200 was tiring but I kept a pretty good pace going. The last hundred I decided to pick up the pace. By the time I got out of the pool I was breathing pretty heavily (something that would continue through the end of the race). My time was actually 9% slower than last year so while I am not happy with my performance, I am happy with my level of effort. I pushed harder on this swim than on any previous tri swim.

I must say that whatever the organizers did differently this year compared to last year worked very well. There was absolutely no bunching up at the lane ends. I don't know if it was more time between starts or better attention when seeding or what but the swim was all good.

What would I do differently?

Train more. Heck, how about just "train". Barring another shoulder dislocation and pool closure, I'll be much faster next year.


Time = 00:44

I had gotten a good spot for T1 and the rain gear wasn't necessary so this was going to be fast. I was pretty foggy getting out of the pool but training took over and I got to my bike just fine (cap and goggles were off right after getting out, natch). Glasses, helmet, and unrack the bike. One of the shoes caught on the rack as I rolled the bike forward, so that cost me a second or two. The run out of T1 was muddy because of the rains so some slight slowing there. I was running pretty fast and, thanks to transition practice on Friday, I hopped on the bike very well (passed somebody, too). I pedaled on my shoes until after the first downhill, to allow the fog to clear from my head, which eliminates that T1 weaving.

1st in my AG. Tied for 4th overall. 43% faster than last year and just 4 seconds slower than Kate Major. Woo hoo! I hereby proclaim that I have mastered T1. Only four more disciplines to go. ;-)

What would I do differently?

Pay more attention to rolling the bike out so it doesn't catch the rack.


Distance = 13.5 miles
Time = 51:42
Age Group Rank = 13/42

After the first descent I got into my shoes just fine. Big difference from last year was that I was passing people left and right. On the downhills. On the flats. On the uphills. Especially on the uphills. I got passed several times but I did the majority of the passing. The plan was simple: go up the hills hard. I'm still not so confident cornering so I need to figure out how to work on that.

My time was 14% faster than last year, so I am pleased. I hit 35mph once on the big downhill. Downhills are where we clydesdales shine. :-)

What would I do differently?

Lose more weight. Keeping training hard on hills.


Time = 01:01

I blew through this pretty quickly. It turns out that I lost a shoe off the bike somewhere in T2 (you might have heard the announcer mention it on the loudspeaker). This is the second time that has happened to me in T2. I really need to figure out how to prevent that.

I got my helmet and glasses off, put my shoes on in pretty good time, grabbed my race belt and got the Garmin off the bike. I put the belt on while running and as I'm about to hit the timing mat I find out that my Garmin isn't attached to its velcro thing (that's how I had it attached to the bike)! I look back and take a few seconds to decide what to do. I decided I'll get it after the race (if it's still there--it was).

A 57% improvement over last year.

What would I do differently?

Need to figure out the problem with my shoe coming off and the Garmin coming off.

Looking through the results, it's clear that there is room for improvement here. I need to do some research to figure out where. There's probably a faster technique for getting shoes on, even though I'm using Lock Laces.


Distance = 5 km
Time = 31:06
Age Group Rank = 31/42

This is the first run leg of a triathlon where I really felt the bike in my legs. I don't know a way around that since the course is so hilly. Oh, I felt awful for the first half. I was still breathing heavy from the bike and my legs felt dead. It didn't help that much of the first two miles of the course is uphill. I planned to have the Garmin with me to help me keep track of my pace but I don't know if I would have been able to run as fast as planned so maybe not having that alarm go off all the time was a good thing.

I was hoping to go under 30 min on this leg. Missing that by just over a minute, feeling as bad as I felt, isn't so bad. 11% faster than last year, which is progress. And my run split wasn't DFL in my age group this year.

What would I do differently?

I clearly need to do more bike/run bricks. I've only done a few and I felt similarly dead on those, too. Nothing long, just whenever I do a short or medium ride I need to run a couple of miles afterwards.

I also need to work on my speed, of course.

Post race

This race hurt. I was SO tired afterwards. I have never raced that hard for that long in my life. I spent a couple of minutes after the race bent over, catching my breath. Then I walked around the post-race area. Muscle Milk was there giving out free samples. The chocolate was a bit much but the vanilla hit the spot. They had lots of cheese pizza so I had me a couple of slices of that.

What limited my ability to perform faster?

The run is still my big weakness. I'm faster than last year but running off the bike this year was a major issue.

Lack of swimming conditioning cost me a couple of minutes, too.

Event comments

The race was much better this year. The swim didn't have the bunching in the ends that last year did. The bike course is awesome. The run course would be fun if I hadn't been in so much pain. The post-race stuff was better than last year, too (thank you Muscle Milk!). I am so doing this race every year.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Countdown to the IronBruin

It's time to return to the scene of my first-ever triathlon, the IronBruin at UCLA, this Sunday. It's supposed to rain today and there's a 40% chance of it for the race tomorrow so I'll need to be prepared for that. I'm lighter and in much better shape than last year so I will see a big improvement in my time. Still, it's not like I'm expecting to finish on the podium.

The day will start with a 4am alarm, a small snack (Nutella on toast?), and leaving for the race shortly after 5. Packing is done tonight.


I have had a total of two workouts in the pool since my last triathlon back in October, and in that race I had a very sore shoulder from a minor dislocation. My second workout was just this past Wednesday and I was truly surprised to find myself in pretty good shape. I'm slowish and not ready to swim two miles but I don't have to for Sunday. The course is a 400 yard pool swim, snaking through eight lanes of a 50 meter pool with a time-trial start. It's hard to go fast in a setup like that unless you're in the very front and I am not. Last year's time was 8:09 because of all the crowding at the end of the lanes and I don't imagine this year will be much faster. I am toying with the idea of swimming harder than usual where I can because of all the rest from bunching up I expect to get. We'll see how that goes.


This will be ineresting. I have had a post-it on my desk for the past week where I wrote "Gloves. Jacket. Glasses. Helmet. Bike." If it's raining, I don't want to be going down those hills in just a trisuit and bare hands so I will be bringing gloves and my rain jacket. I'll be practicing putting them on quickly today (nothing new on race day, right?). If it's not raining I just put the swim cap and goggles in the bag, glasses and helmet on, and take the bike out. This past week I did some research and found that the best way to rack your bike in T1 is to back it into the rack and set the front part of the saddle onto the bar. I had been racking my bike nose in but this other way is much faster. No backing the bike out before running with it. You just push it back a little to get it off the rack and then start running with it. I should be really fast here, even if I have to put on gloves and a jacket. The shoes will be clipped into the bike beforehand, of course, but this year's rule for T1 is no putting my feet into the shoes until I've pedaled out the post-swim fogginess from my brain. If that takes a mile, then so be it (but at UCLA it will have to be faster than that because of the hills and the compact course)


I rode the course again last weekend and was surprised to find that the two big hills weren't so big anymore. They're still there but I'm a much stronger cyclist than last year. In fact, the first big hill doesn't even seem big anymore. Training on my hilly routes has proven to me that the faster I go up hills, the faster my overall time is and it doesn't really matter how tired I am going downhill because going fast up hills makes that much difference. So I am going to hit the hills hard each time I meet them (it's a four-lap circuit around UCLA). I don't know how much faster than last year's 59:55 I should expect to be but I'm hoping it will be at least 9 minutes.


Last year's T2 was a lazy affair because I was nervous about the run. I have no such reservations this year but I do have Lock Laces so I'm looking for this to be at least a minute faster than last year's 2:22. A new wrinkle for this year, though, is that I am going to take the Garmin off the bike and have it with me on the run.


Last year's run was listed as 34:53, which makes me think the 5k course is short (I was that slow). While my run is still slow compared to my competitors, it will be several minutes faster than last year. The plan is to keep at least a 9:40 pace throughout the race, even uphill (I am taking the Garmin with me so I can use the pace alarm). I want to come in under 29:00 here. Should be painful.


Simply put, I want to be 15 minutes faster than last year's 1:46. Frankly I want to be under 1:30. Even in the rain. With my run much faster than last year and my legs so much stronger uphill on the bike, I believe it is possible. Last year that time would have put me in the top 40% overall and top 10 in my age group. Sure, the run still drags my time down but not as much as last year.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dialing Down the Run

The recent review of my exercise plans also led me to cut back my long run to just 10k instead of increasing it each week. My reasoning was that all my races through June are going to have a run no longer than 10k so I should focus more on getting faster at that distance rather than going long. This insight coincided with the realization that I was trashing my calves.

That strainy/crampy thing I wrote about in January had come back and I could tell it was not going away soon. I did some poking around on the net and the cause might be weak and/or tight calves. I like the reasoning behind the weak calves scenario. Basically, the rest of your body is stronger than your calves so your strong legs are dragging your weak calves along for the ride, which causes the calves to complain. Either way, I have started stretching my calves several times a day. I'll save the strengthening for after this weekend. This shouldn't be a problem on the run this weekend, though I am sure I'm going to feel it afterwards.

This also leads me to believe that I need to learn how to run. Don't laugh. I knew how to ride a bike but I still did a lot of reading about cycling and it has helped me a lot. Why not for the run? There are a lot of running books out there, though, so finding one that's just right is taking a while. I want to have my reading done by my June triathlon so I can have a plan in place to train for my half-marathon this November that won't trash my calves for my two remaining triathlons.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Best Lay Some Plans

Two weeks to go 'til the first triathlon of the season. Four weeks after that is a century ride. Two weeks after that starts a three-race triathlon series, one per month. With all that going on, one has to get training organized. I try to put in my last hard workouts two weeks before a race, with the weekend before being easy that the days leading up to it being very easy. The Thursday before I practice transitions (which means I practice getting into and out of my shoes while on the bike).

With the races and events coming every four weeks or sooner, if I don't get organized then I might not get the hard workouts when I can or miss out on the rest I need. So I spent some time today writing down my workouts through the middle of June. No kidding. I've found that if I have things planned in advance, it's one less thing to worry about.

It's important to be flexible, though. For instance, literally while I was in the middle of writing this I ended up planning on riding the Pasadena Marathon Bike Tour tomorrow morning. It wasn't something I was planning on doing when I woke up this morning but these things happen. It'll be an easy 26 miles and when I get home I might even do the cycling workout I was originally planning on doing. We'll see.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It Fits (I Think)!

If you've seen pictures of me from my triathlons, you've seen me in my Louis Garneau trisuit. It's what I wore in every triathlon last year, my first season. However, I have a deep, dark secret I have been hiding regarding that trisuit: it is not my first. My first trisuit was a DeSoto Power Skinsuit (MPSK3). It's an XL but when I tried it on...yow! There's snug, there's tight, there's too tight, there's it doesn't fit, and there's I can't get it on. I couldn't get it on. I had to scramble to find something else that would fit and, thankfully, the LG suit did. Today I decided to dig out the DeSoto, tags still on, to see how I've progressed. It fits! Tight, but it fits. I don't know how much weight I've lost in a year but it is enough to go from I can't get it on to tight. The nice thing with it is that the lower half is black, which provides more modesty when getting out of the swim than my all-royal blue LG suit.

In two weeks I will be heading to UCLA to ride the IronBruin course with the new bike to get my shifting nailed down. I think I'll take the DeSoto with me to see how it feels...and to see if the seams can take the punishment ;-).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Head for the Hills

Saturday's rainy ride was supposed to be nice and easy after last week's 111-mile jaunt. Then as I approached "Little Woodley", which is about a 10 or 11% climb, I came up with another plan: go easy except for the hills--those get attacked. Little Woodley is steep but short so I decided to attack it out of the saddle in third or fourth gear (I forget which I ended up using). It wasn't a typical "I have to finish a ride after this hill" attack, either. It was a redline up to the top where the only energy I saved would be enough to get me to the summit. I got there much faster than I ever have before but oh was I tired.

Since it was raining I didn't want to go up "Big Woodley", which is about 12%, so I decide to go up Balboa as fast as I can. Balboa isn't so steep but it is long. As I started out I noticed that I was keeping it above 12mph but I knew it got a bit steeper later. Once I hit that part I tried to keep it above 11mph and I did, for the most part. Every so often I'd drop below 11 but never below 10. I even carried that through to Balboa 2, which is even a bit steeper. Good progress for someone who, not all that long ago, was amazed that I was going up that same hill above 8mph. I'd like to think it's a combination of getting stronger and losing some weight (I haven't stepped on a scale since July).

With the IronBruin Triathlon coming up in just four weeks, and its bike course is anything but flat, my short-term training routine on the bike is now clear: hills...hard. Hard up the hills on my weekend rides. The Griffith Park loop now becomes hard Garbage Truck Hill repeats. None of this just surviving up to the top stuff. I expect my rides until the week before the triathlon to be painful and not fun, which sounds kinda fun.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Val Verde (Solo) Century

That was quite a ride.

I started out at my usual 6:30. The high for the day was supposed to be in the mid-sixties which, it turns out, is warmer than I imagined the mid-sixties to be. That meant I was dressed slightly warmer than I should have but it sure felt great for the first few hours when the temperature was still in the 40s. I was zooming along before dawn nice and cozy (except for my freezing face, natch) and when the sun started to hit the hillsides and the steam was rising off the plants, I was still nice and cozy.

Since it promised to be a long, hilly day, I stopped for each of my fuel-ups. Every 45 minutes for a gel and every 2 hours for a Snickers. Sure, it added to the time I would be out but I knew it would be worth it. Do you know what happens to Snickers that have been in a Bento Box for two hours while you're riding around in the 40s at 15-40 mph? That's right, they practically freeze. That first Snickers was kinda tough.

Things were humming along when I got a flat about 1/3 of the way into the ride. I took the tube out and checked the tire so I could remove whatever caused the flat. Nothing there. I checked the tube but I couldn't find the leak. More on this later.

The ride westbound on Highway 126 was fabulous because it was a net descent. Even the hills were great. I knew I'd go back uphill eventually but, while I was on it, it was great.

Then came the turn south to head into Simi Valley (and you always go into a valley by going over mountains). Halfway done and I had mountains to climb. It was a bit deceptive at first, though. Instead of going straight up, the route had me make a right and go for quite a while. I was happy because I thought maybe I would be going the long way around into a pass. No such luck. Once I hit Grimes Canyon it was up, up, up, switchback, and more ups. It wasn't that it was too steep but it came at around 64 miles into the ride which made it so tough (I had to take one break two switchbacks before the top). I met a couple of cyclists at the top and we chatted for a bit before heading down into Simi Valley.

I thought that taking Snickers along would hold off lunch cravings but no such luck. Maybe on a flatter ride but this one was quite hilly and I still had a few more to go so it I found a Subway for a small sandwich, chips, and a coke. Then it was back on the bike, ride, ride, ride. Finally made it home.

The stats: 110.4 miles, 7:34 in the saddle, 10:10 elapsed, 14.6 mph avg., 6687 ft of climbing, 7 gels, 3 Snickers, 1 6" turkey sub meal at Subway, 2.5 bottles of water, 1 taco asada, and 1 flat.

Lessons learned:

The next day I cleaned up my bike and checked on that flat tube. I did find the leak--on the inside wall! Huh? I looked in the rim and the only thing I found in the area of the leak was what looked like a tear in the rim tape, like the spoke had pushed through. I did some research on the net and it turns out there there is rim tape and there is high-pressure rim tape. Let's back up a bit. There is this bicycle tire pressure chart by Michelin which recommends for riders over 180 lbs (that would be me) that tires should be inflated to their maximum pressure, which for the Vittoria Rubinos is 140 psi. It appears that regular rim tape may not be so good at that pressure so I have ordered some Vittoria High Pressure Rim Tape. We'll see how that works out.

Chamois cream rocks! I thought I didn't have a problem with chafing but on long rides I did have a problem with getting sore. Guess what? That was chafing. I had tried some Chamois Butt'r on a previous medium-distance ride with no problems so I was curious how it would work on a long ride. It worked great. None of my previous long-ride soreness at all. I'm going to be using chamois cream on any future ride longer than three hours.

I like taking Snickers along on a long ride.

I'm usually really good about dressing properly for a ride but I didn't nail it this time. I knew the afternoon would be too warm for my proZERO base layer so I wore a proCOOL base layer under a long-sleeved jersey with arm warmers and a jacket plus full tights. It turns out that the mid-sixties was warmer than I thought so if I had to dress for the ride again I would wear a short-sleeved jersey with the arm warmers under the jacket and shorts with leg warmers. The jacket kept me warm enough that I didn't need the long sleeves.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Planning for a Solo Century

A Century.1, actually. The SFVBC has several rides to choose from each week. This weekend one of the rides is called the Val Verde Century. It's five weeks out from the start of triathlon season so I'm going to do it. The problem is the ride looks pretty hilly and the last time I did a hilly century with the club they dropped me in the hills like a bag of sand. It's not their fault--I'm a big guy who doesn't climb so quickly (though I'm getting better). What I usually do on their rides is start from home at my usual 6:30am, ride to the club's starting point, do the ride, then ride back home, which adds about 14 miles to a ride so I can turn a sub-century ride into a century. Do I really want to do that, or even drive to the club's starting point, and have to ride/drive back if I'm just going to be dropped in 20 or 30 miles? Another thing that got me thinking is that this ride goes into the Santa Clarita Valley on the same route as my Santa Clarita ride. Hmm.

If I'm going to get dropped and end up doing much of the ride by myself anyway, why don't I just do the whole thing by myself?

And that's just what I'm planning to do. Here's the route:

There should be plenty of rest-stoppable places along the way to fuel up and refill my bottles. Thanks to a Christmas present from my sister I now have a Bento Box so I'm planning on doing a Chris Horner and bring along some Snickers bars (I haven't been able to find any half-height cans of Coca-Cola ;-). Since I've gotten rid of my Gatorskin tires and replaced them with Vittoria Rubino Pros (which are the ones that originally came with my bike) I haven't had a flat yet so I'm more confident in that department. Eight gels. Money for food. Oh, and this cool little BarMap holder I found at REI to hold my route slip.

It's supposed to be sunny-ish and in the mid-sixties on Saturday. I'll have a 90 minute head start on the bike club so I just need to stay ahead of them for 111 miles. Piece of cake.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Still Wiped Out From the Weekend

I am still tired from what should have been an average training weekend. I don't think I paid enough attention to nutrition on Sunday. Easy to understand when the first thing I hear when I get back from my bike ride is, "Daddy, I want breakfast." Lesson learned.

Saturday was an odd run. The plan was a long run of 75 minutes with a goal pace of 11:00/mi, which I did not expect to hit for a few weeks. I get about 2.5mi into the run and this nagging calf strain/cramp/thing that had been with me all week really flared up. I had to stop and rub it and toyed with the idea of walking back home. A few minutes of this, though, and I choose to just tough it out as best I can. I start running, gimpily, and decide it's probably doable to finish the 75 minutes. I turn around after 37.5 minutes, still a bit gimpy but I'll finish. About 2 miles to go I look at the Garmin and notice that my average pace for the whole run is still pretty good. I get to the top of the last hill and I figure out that I might be able to hit my goal pace if I hustle (you think like that when you're running downnhill). Now the race is on. I ended up with an average pace of 10:59, which was under my goal, and 6.87 miles. Odd that it happened while gimpy, though. I figure it's a combination of getting fitter and not previously pushing myself enough (mostly the former).

Another cool thing about my long runs is that each one, from here on out, is the farthest I've ever run.

Sunday was a medium bike ride on my Balboa loop but with a twist. This time I would take a detour towards the end up Lopez Canyon Road. I had read about it and even driven it once but now that the rains had paused it was time to do it. It's a two-lane road that starts off with rollers but with a net incline and then you have a hairpin turn onto the last bit of the climb, which looks pretty gnarly. I wanted to have a picture to post but it turns out that when I put my iPhone in my back jersey pocket, I missed and it sat on the couch during my ride. I'll post a pic in a few weeks. So I am doing the ride not easy but more like medium because I want to save myself for this big climb. I make the turn onto Lopez Cyn and I'm still saving myself on the rollers. By the time I get to the hairpin I am out of the saddle and decide to pull over to get ready for the final push. That's when I discover the missing iPhone. Oh well. I drink some water and dump what's left to lighten the load. I take my beanie off, roll down the arm warmers, unzip the jersey, and remove the sunglasses. Time do go.

That was easy! It turns out that getting to the hairpin was the hard part and after the hairpin was pretty easy. That sure was a lot of wasted anxiety. Next time I tackle it will be from the other way, which is supposed to be a bit steeper (14%).