Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas

As part of Team Marathon Bar 2011, I'll be participating in one of the Rock 'n' Roll Series events.  I've chosen to run the Las Vegas marathon.  It goes on sale today, so head on over there, sign up, and let's all head to Sin City and run the strip at night together!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Inspirational Videos

Every now and then, throughout a training season, we all eventually hit a wall.  We start to lose a little bit of motivation and find it very easy to find an excuse to skip a workout.  And I'm definitely no exception.  I find myself going through this scenario each season.  Most of the time, for me, it has to do with just wanting to get more sleep.  I end up battling with myself over whether or not to just sleep in rather than get up and workout.  The funny thing is, when I do skip a workout, I usually regret it for the rest of the day.

One of the best things that I've learned for this season is to not beat myself up over a missed workout.  Chances are, if I skipped a workout, it was for a pretty good reason.  If I'm lacking motivation, it is probably because I've bee spreading myself too thin.  Now if it gets to be a usual thing, then of course I need to re-evaluate my training plan.  But hopefully it never comes to that.

A good way to get motivated is to search for videos on YouTube.  Here's a couple of videos that I've found to be pretty motivating:

This one takes a while, but this girl is freakin' amazing!


That's all for now.  If the videos didn't show up, you'll have to head on over to my page to see them.  They're pretty good, so you should check them out!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 18

So far, so good still in regards to my legs not hurting.  That is a good sign!  I'm going to continue to take it relatively easy on the running for another week, even though I'm gradually increasing the duration of my runs.  Other than that, week 18 is another BASE week (week 2 of BASE 3, to be exact).  So it's pretty much business as usual.  Here's the skinny:

Monday: Bike 1:30
Tuesday: Bike 1:30.  Run 1:00.
Wednesday: Bike 3:00.  Swim 1:00.
Thursday: Bike 1:30.  Run 1:00.
Friday: Bike 1:30.  Run 1:15.
Saturday: Swim 1:00.
Sunday: Bike 1:30.  Run 1:15.

Holy crap that looks like a busy week!  Again, keep in mind that a lot of those bike rides are commuting rides to work.  For those rides, I typically keep my effort quite easy (at least the one's going to work...coming home is a different story sometimes!).  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Update on My Running, and My Pain

Just a few days ago, I jumped on the treadmill for a super laid back run, just to test out the ol' shins.  I took a completely different approach than I normally do when running, but it was all in an effort to baby my left shin.

I started off with 10:00 of walking and running, alternating every minute or so, and never running faster than a 10:00/mile pace.  After the warm up, I did three sets of a run/walk structure, at a 4:00 run to 1:00 walk ratio.  For this part, I bumped the speed up to 7.0 on the treadmill...still not too fast.  Once I was done with those three sets, I cooled down with some walking for another 5:00.  All together, it was only a 30:00 run.

So far, my plan is working.  I rested my legs for two weeks, and was able to ease back into running without any pain.  My plan for the rest of the weeks is complete two more runs, each lasting about 45:00.  I'm trying to be extra cautious as I build myself back up because I don't want to have to take any more time off.  I've sort of come to grips with the fact that I won't be able to push as hard as I'd like to at my first race that's coming up (the Disneyland Half Marathon), but that's ok.  I have my goal race to stay focused on.

Thanks for keeping your fingers crossed, and if you would, keep them crossed just a little longer.  I won't really have peace of mind until I'm able to build myself back up to a point that at least resembles where I was about two weeks ago.  But hey, progress is progress!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Practice Your Nutrition

Welcome to another wonderful installment of my new weekly training tips!  Continuing on the same theme as last week's tip, this week is again about nutrition.  More specifically, practicing your race day nutrition prior to race day.  It may seem obvious, but trust me, a lot of people don't put much thought into their race day nutrition and end up suffering greatly for their lack of thought.

My personal recommendation is to find out what the race will be offering at their aid stations and train with those items.  It's not as important in shorter races, but once you get into the half iron and iron distance races, it's really important to make sure that whatever you are going to eat will not make you sick.  By making sure that your stomach will agree with the provided drinks/nutrition, you will be able to use the aid stations as either part of your plan, or your back up plan should something go wrong with your plan (dropping your food/drink, GI issues, not bringing enough food/drink, etc.).

As I said last week, I don't use anything other than water if my workout is less than an hour and a half.  If I have a workout that is planned to be longer than that mark, then I use my basic nutrition plan.  Through trial and error, I've found that if I'm only doing one sport in training, my nutrition plan is slightly different than when I'm racing.  For running, I'll alternate drinking water and Gatorade, and eat a PowerGel every 4th mile (this is what I did during the Disney World Marathon and it worked great).  If I'm just cycling, my nutrition depends on the length of ride I'm doing.  Anywhere under three hours and I'll just do water and Gatorade, and a PowerGel every 30-45 minutes.  If I'm going on a longer ride, I'll structure my nutrition more like a race: alternate drinking water and Gatorade every 15 minutes, and when I drink water I alternate eating a PowerGel and half of an energy bar (as you now know, I'm in cahoots with Marathon Bar, so that's my bar of choice!).

Here's a skeleton of my Ironman race day nutrition plan:

1 bottle of sports drink in the morning, prior to entering the water
1 PowerGel prior to entering the water

At the 15 minute mark, I drink about a quarter of a bottle of sports drink, maybe a little less.
At the 30 minute mark, I drink about a quarter of a bottle of water, and one half of an energy bar.
At the 45 minute mark, I drink about a quarter of a bottle of sports drink, maybe a little less.
At the one hour mark, I drink about a quarter of a bottle of water, and one PowerGel.

*I aim for about 1 bottle of fluid per hour, 1 PowerGel per hour, and one half of an energy bar per hour.  From here, I can adjust my needs and consumption based on the weather and on my energy output.  During the last third of the bike portion (last 2 hours or so), I stop eating the energy bars and use replace them with another PowerGel in hopes to not have a bunch of solid food built up in my stomach when I begin the run.

Every 2 miles, I alternate getting a mouthful of water with a mouthful of sports drink, with sports drink being used first.  Then, every 4th mile (which should be every time I drink water), I also take in a PowerGel.

*Again, this is my basic plan.  During an Ironman, it is pretty common to need more nutrition than this.  Typically I will begin taking a swig of Coke at about the half way point through the marathon.

Everyone's needs are different during longer triathlons.  It really is a trial and error type of thing.  I recommend going out in the middle of the day during the summer to see how different your body reacts to the extreme heat, just in case that is what the weather ends up being on race day.  Experiment with different foods, drinks, gels, etc.

Gatorade Endurance (which I will now be using PowerBar's Ironman Perform instead), S!CAPS (electrolyte tabs), PowerBar (which is handed out on the IMAZ course), PowerGel, and Marathon Bar Protein/Marathon Bar Energy
This is what I take out on every run with me.  I fill two bottles with water and two bottle with sports drink, then I stuff the pockets full of PowerGel.
There are just a couple of the bottles that I use on the bike.  The funny looking one on the left is an aero bottle (it fits perfectly between my earobars!).  The one on the right is an insulated bottle.  And the little flask in front is used (by me at least) to hold up to 5 PowerGels so I don't have to open them on my bike.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Energetic Rick Challenges You to a Duel!

I only know one person, personally, who does ultra running.  I think it is crazy, and inspiring.  I've read all of Dean Karnazas' books, and each time it makes me want to sign up for an ultra.  But, I have other plans on tap right now.  An ultra doesn't really work into my training plan at the moment.  This one guy that I know, Energetic Rick, is crazy!  My legs always feel like garbage after a marathon, I can't quite figure out how he runs farther than that.

Energetic Rick is a pretty motivation guy.  He's always putting up inspiration quotes or videos on his Facebook page.  Recently, he issued a challenge.  He did this last year, and it was a pretty great success, so it's back for a second year.  The challenge is simple.  It's called the "30 Days of June RUNNING Challenge".  All you have to do is challenge yourself to run, or walk, at least three miles every day during the month of June!  If you do the minimum, that's at least 90 miles...that's pretty sweet.

Energetic Rick's 30 Days of June RUNNING Challenge!
So click on the picture (hopefully I set the link up correctly) and "like" the challenge on Facebook.  I signed up.  Even on rest days I can walk three miles!

*Here's the link again in case the picture isn't working...
Or you can go to Google and type in "Energetic Rick's Challenge" in the search bar.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Groupon for Athletes!

I'm sure you've heard of Groupon, or livingsocial.com, or one of the other "group discount" websites.  They all claim to offer steep discounts on popular items and goods.

I didn't know this, but there is a "groupon" for active people, like you and me!  I was just introduced to this website last week by a fellow blogger of mine (thanks Karen!), so I haven't had much time to see what type of variety of products are offered, or how sweet the deals are.  What's the website you ask?  Well, I'm not telling you because I want to keep these awesome deals all for myself!  Oh, come on!  You know I'm much nicer than that!  Here it is...Schwaggle.com.

Schwaggle is run by Active.com (who also runs a favorite website of mine, ActiveAmbassadors.com, the website that lead me to a Team Marathon sponsorship for two years now!).  Active has done a pretty good job with the companies and brands that they affiliate with, so I'm fairly certain that this Schwaggle thing will be a great deal.  I'm just hoping that they put an awesome triathlon bike up as one of their deals so I can get one for a great deal!  Or maybe a discounted race entry?  Who knows.  Only time will tell.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Training Naked. Well, without GPS.

Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I am currently without my beloved Garmin 310xt, and have been for about a week (I'll have a post explaining what happened with my Garmin and with what is being done once it's all said and done).  I'm definitely one of those guys who thought, before I owned one, that I didn't need a GPS watch.  I thought they were just kind of an expensive gee-whiz toy and weren't really necessary.  I'm only going to say this one...I was wrong (<-----that hurt!).

The Garmin 310xt.  Isn't it beautiful?
There are a lot of people who use GPS watches.  It's almost like a prerequisite for during triathlons.  I've been using mine pretty solid for the last year or so.  In fact, I almost guarantee that I would not have qualified for Boston had I not had my watch to train and race with.

Now that I've been without it for a week, I am starting to see again that it is not something that I need to own.  KIDDING!  I almost feel like I can't ride my bike or run without it!  The first time I got on my bike without my Garmin, I almost fell off because I felt so awkward!  

Seriously though, I definitely miss it.  I do have an old Polar heart rate monitor that I'm using in the mean time, so I can still do my training based off of my heart rate and perceived effort.  It's just much more fun with the Garmin and being able to look at all the maps and splits of my workouts.  I do think it is good for me to do some of my workouts without all the gadgetry, and in fact, there's a certain professional triathlete who claims that he never races with any (Chris McCormack).  Macca says that one of the best things that a triathlete can do is learn to pace themselves without actual numbers to look at.  If an athlete can go run, and know when their pace is at a specific point, then that athlete will be far better able to pace themselves during a race.  I'm personally not sure I buy into this.  I mean, the guy has only won Ironman Hawaii twice...he can't know what he's talking about, right?

After winning his second Ironman World Championship, Chris McCormack was the first Ironman World Champion to be featured on the Wheaties box.
 I guess he's probably right.  So, on account of his advice, I'm going to take these next two weeks to really pay attention to my body and try and learn how to pace myself without my little wrist computer.  It should be fun, but I sure hope to have my Garmin back soon!

Monday, May 23, 2011

2 Weeks of No Running = Me Going CRAZY!

Today is exactly two weeks of me not running.  I decided to take a short two week break from running due to feeling some pain in my shins.  My shins are feeling much, much better, and I'm going to begin cautiously running on a treadmill tomorrow, with a slow progression to get back to where I was in my training.

During this two week reprieve, I have been seriously antsy.  On my second day of no running, I was already considering hopping on the treadmill, just to test things out.  But, my brain got the best of me and I decided to stick with my original plan and not run until at least two weeks had passed.

I'm sure hoping that everything goes well tomorrow...I'm going to start with a very short, easy jog to make sure that there's no pain.  If everything goes to plan, I'll be back running in no time!  And once I'm back to running, I think I'm going to implement a new training regimen, based off of this video:

Looks like I'm moving somewhere that has an abundance of lions roaming around so I can get the best results possible!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 17

Hopefully this week I'll be easing back into some running.  It's going to be slow going for the first week, just to make sure that there's no lingering pain (or at least not bad enough pain to make me think that I should take more time off).  If there is still severe pain, I'll be sidelined for another week before I re-evaluate.  Here is week 17's plan (week 17 is the first week in BASE 3 for me...):

Monday - Yoga 1:00.
Tuesday - Swim 1:00.  Run :30.  Bike 1:30.
Wednesday - Bike 1:30.
Thursday - Run :45.  Swim 1:00.
Friday - Bike 1:45.
Saturday - Bike 3:30.
Sunday - Run :45.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that my legs are pain free!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Beach Cruisin'...minus the beach.

Arizona is a pretty sweet state to live in.  On our absolute worst day of the year, including our worst possible weather, we can still leave our homes and go about our daily lives.  In a lot of other states, that's not so true.

During most of the year in Arizona, the weather is nice enough that just about everyone should be walking or riding a bike if they are traveling anywhere less than 5 miles.  I know, that's a bold statement, but it's true.  There's absolutely no need to drive your car when you are traveling such a short distance!  Obviously, there are exceptions.  But for the most part, we all could walk or bike.

My wife and I are pretty lucky.  We have two grocery stores within just a couple of miles, our church is only about five miles away, and we have some family that only lives about a mile away.  And just about any time we are going to one of these places, we go beach cruisin'.

My baby
There she is.  My glorious beach cruiser.  If you're new to the geography scene, then you may not know that Arizona doesn't actually have an beaches to cruise, so it's more like dirt, or sand cruiser.  Whatever.  This set-up has actually proven to be quite useful for us.  The basket up front serves for quick access, or a larger water bottle holder.  Note that there is a cup holder, but it's pretty small.  The bags on the rear of my bike can actually hold a lot of stuff.  Between my bike and my wife's bike, we can go to the grocery store and get all the groceries we need, and be able to get them home with no problem!

But what about my daughter?  Well, one of the great things about my job is that I have a lot of very nice coworkers.  One of those coworkers in particular was nice enough to loan us a Cougar bike stroller (which is a very nice bike trailer).

The bike trailer
This trailer is very comfortable, breathable, and super easy to get on and off of my bike.  My daughter really enjoys riding in it, and I think it's a great way for her to see my wife and I getting outside and being active.  Soon enough she'll be riding her own bike, but for right now we're going to stick with the bike trailer.

If you do a lot of short trip driving, I seriously recommend you look into getting yourself a cheap cruiser bike.  The one's we bought weren't too expensive (I think around $100 on Walmart.com).  In the long run, it will save you money, and get you outside and active!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - H2O!

I'm going to attempt to post a weekly training tip every Friday.  I know that not everyone reading this is a triathlete, and I apologize that you will have to suffer through these.  I'll try and make them at least somewhat entertaining so you can still enjoy them.  So here we go, my first ever weekly training tip!

Have you ever seen a Gatorade commercial?  Me neither.  Ha!  I'm pretty sure everyone has seen a Gatorade or Powerade commercial.  If not, here's a Gatorade one for your viewing pleasure:

That's actually one you probably haven't seen, since it's being used in the UK.  Anyway, these companies do a great job making you think that you have to drink them while you're working out.  That's pretty much not true.

As a registered drinkatitian (just a step above a dietitian, and completely legit...trust me), I can safely say that while working out, you do not have to drink a sports drink.  Sports drinks do serve their purpose, but for most people, and most workouts, they are not necessary.  They aren't going to hurt you any, however, other than hurting your wallet.

For workouts lasting one hour or less, you should not need a sports drink.  Of course, there are exceptions such as excessive heat/humidity.  Typically, that's not the case though.  As long as you have been hydrating properly before hand, and eating a relatively healthy diet, your body will have enough electrolytes and carbohydrates stored up to last for an hours worth of working out.  Now, if you're not sure about whether or not you've been hydrating/eating well enough, it's up to you if you want to use the sports drink.  I would say go ahead an go without it.  Personally, I don't use any sports drinks unless my workouts are over an hour and a half.  There was a time when I used Gatorade Endurance for every cardio workout.  I now realize that I was basically wasting my supply of Gatorade.

These sports drinks do a great job at delivering the necessary carbs and simple sugars to your body when you are working out, but you only need them during longer workouts.  So today's tip: try to use water more often.  Not only is water healthier for you than a sports drink, but your wallet will thank you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Triathlon Tattoos

The other day, I was bored.  I know, crazy, right?  Well, I decided to do a little search on the ol' Google for triathlon tattoos.  Holy crap!  There are tons!  After searching through about a gazillion of them, I found something very interesting.  My own tattoo!  Pretty funny!  It was on some guys blog about Ironman tattoos.  I picked out some of the ones that I thought to be more interesting/creative, and have compiled a short list below.  Trust me, this list could go on forever, and maybe I'll do another one of these at a later date.  So drum roll please!  I introduce: Super Awesome Triathlon Tattoos!

This is just a collage of some tattoos.  Some of them are featured below.
From what I gather, this person has done 9 Ironman's.  I may have to start adding notches to mine!
Just a nicely done tattoo for the ladies.
I love this one.  I assume it is colored in so it can be seen in normal light, just outlined with the black-light ink.
Looks like a painful place for a tattoo.
What the heck is that?  Oh, this person is a "half Ironman"!  Awesome.
Pretty cool design inside this M-dot.
Ironman tattoo resembling iron.
This one might give me nightmares.  But I will say, I felt like death more than a few times during my Ironman's.
It's pretty much all spelled out in this tattoo.
Very well done triathlon tattoo.
This one is just a very cool design.
Another collage.  Again, I have some of these individually shown.
By far the coolest tattoo in this list.  Anyone looking for an Ironman tattoo should definitely look at this one!
Another cool concept.  Swim/bike/run all included.
Was the tattoo artist drunk?  Nope!  This is an IronWOMAN!
This one is awesome.  The lava running down making the M-dot.
Like I said, I could probably go on forever.  It's actually pretty entertaining looking at all of the different tattoos that are out there.  I will say, a majority of the people have just a simple M-dot on the back of their calf.  Mine isn't quite like that...did you find mine in the list?

I'm always on the lookout for my next tattoo idea.  I'm hoping some day to get some Kona related, but that is definitely wishful thinking (since I won't get that unless I race there!).  Other than that, I'm not sure what I'll get next.  Maybe I'll run an ultra marathon and get a permanent belt buckle tattoo'd on my belly! (Wife, I'm only kidding...I'd never get a tattoo on my belly!)

With that, enjoy the tattoos.  If you're a tattoo person and would like to one day get the M-dot emblazoned on your body, all you have to do is cross that finish line!  It's definitely a good conversation starter...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

OH SNAP! Sin City, Here I Come!

Back on March 11th, 2011, I submitted my application to hopefully be selected for the 2011 Team Marathon Bar.  I had the pleasure of being on the team during the 2010 season, and had such a great time that I reapplied in hopes to be able to have another crack at it.

Last year, as part of the Marathon Team requirements, I had to race in four endurance events between June and December.  This year was advertised slightly different.  This year they were looking specifically for runners, and more importantly, runners who would be participating in a Rock 'n' Roll Series event between June 5th and December 15th.

This past Tuesday, I finally heard back from ActiveAmbassadors.com.  I made the team again!  So what does that mean?  Well, for me it means a few things.  First, I will be signing up and running in the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas event.  I haven't yet decided if I'm going to do the full or the half marathon.  Also, it means that Team Marathon will be sending me out some more branded apparel to wear at my races this season (at least the running events, but I'll probably sport last year's Team tri jersey for IMAZ), as well as sending me out a box-load of Marathon Bars to hand out as samples!  For them, I will be talking to a gadzillion people about Marathon Bars, both at races and just on a daily basis.  There's also going to be race reports, sampling reports, and some other surveys that I'll be doing along the way.

This is last year's Team Marathon running shirt, along with my 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon medal
I'm pretty excited to be able to have this opportunity again.  It adds another perspective to the training/racing that I do.  Not only am I trying to make sure that I improve for myself, but I also want to make Team Marathon look good. 
This ActiveAmbassadors.com thing is really a sweet deal, especially if you're already doing the races.  The basically give you free apparel and product in payment for going to races and spreading the products name!  If you have never heard of this website, be sure to click on the link and go create yourself a profile so you too can have the chance at being part of one of these ambassador teams!

Monday, May 16, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 16

This last week was depressing.  Ok, it wasn't that bad.  I'm just bummed out because I awoke the sleeping giant in my shins, known as Mr. Stress Fracture.  We're not good friends.  Because of this, I only did one run this last week, last Monday.  I've been letting my shins heal for a whole week now, and they actually feel pretty good.  I'm itching to get back on the running bandwagon, but I'm going to force myself to take at least one more week off, just to make sure everything is all good before I get going again.  So, this week has no running in it.  Booooo!  Here's the schedule for week 16:

Monday: Yoga 1:00.
Tuesday: Swim 1:00.
Wednesday: Bike 1:30.  Elliptical 1:00 (my poor substitute for running...)
Thursday: Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.
Friday: Bike 4:00.
Saturday: Bike 1:30.  Elliptical 1:00.
Sunday: Bike 1:00.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Well That Was Weird

Last Wednesday night, I was able to meet up with the Captain for a little swim session.  I normally do my swimming early in the morning, in hopes to avoid overcrowding at the small, three-lane pool, but today was not one of those days.  It just worked out that we would be meeting up at about 6:30 pm, which is prime workout time for most gym members.

As we pulled up to the gym, the parking lot was pretty full.  Already a bad sign.  However, as we walked in, we were able to catch a glimpse of the pool and saw that there was only one other brave soul using the pool!  Perfect!  So we quickly changed into our swimming attire, luckily avoiding any awkward situations in the locker room, and headed over to the pool.

The other guy that was in the pool was finished and left after we had only been in the pool for about five minutes.  So it was the Captain and me, with nobody else to race, I mean swim with.  That is, until another guy came in.  I was swimming in the first lane, the Captain in lane 2, so this fellow hopped in to lane three.  All was peachy.  As we were swimming, though, I noticed that this new guy wasn't really swimming.  He was sort of walking around in his lane, and would stop and hang out on the while for long periods of time (picture someone sitting in a hot tub with both their arms extended out on the hot tub ledge).  No big deal, to each his own.  That was just the start.

A little while later, another guy came in, fully clothed.  He proceeded to go to the end of lane 3 and sit on the storage box at the end of the lane.  I've drawn this handy dandy diagram to make things a little more clear:

So the first newbie is denoted with the black background, while the second newbie is denoted with the red background.  The Captain and myself are the super awesome looking athletes holding the Olympic torch (don't question it, just accept it and move on). 
So now we have two other dudes in the pool area, neither one of them swimming.  Mind you, the Captain and I haven't said anything about what is going on.  I'm not even sure if he's noticed.  There was a few times when our little friend with the black background came over into my lane.  He never got in my way, but he was being quite odd.  He would go over to the steps, go under water, and lay down on the bottom step.  He did this about four or five times.  He would also stop half way up a lane, at a light, and go under water and look at the light.  Very odd.  The broseph with the red background just sat on his storage box, for about twenty minutes.  I assume, since he was a bit younger, that he was the son of Mr. Black Background, but I don't know for sure.  And now we get to our final guest, Mr. Yellow Background.

This guy came in about half way through our swim workout.  He sat down on the storage box at the end of my lane, in shorts, flip flops, and dog tags.  I spotted him and assumed he was waiting for an opening so he could swim.  Being the kind gentleman that I am, I moved over in my lane so I was up against the lane line, providing Mr. Yellow with plenty of space.  He never came in.  So, after three laps, I moved back over to the middle of my lane.  Yellow then stood up and walked toward the hot tub.  A few minutes later, he returned to the end of my lane, completely dry.  I'm not sure where he went, but he did not go in the hot tub.  He sat at the end of my lane for another few minutes before leaving.  What was going on in here?

When we finished up our set, we rested for a minute or so before exiting the pool.  Mr. Black and Mr. Red were still in the positions, not really doing much.  Upon us walking out of the pool, Mr. Yellow returned!  He kicked off his flip flops as we walked by, and I assumed he was going to be getting in the pool.  Well, after a quick shower and after getting dressed, I turned around to see Mr. Yellow walking through the locker room, still sporting his trendy flip flops, shorts, and dog tags...and still dry!

The Captain and I made our exit, walking by the pool and seeing that there was now nobody in the pool.  As we were walking out to our cars, the Captain said to me, "What the heck was going on in there?"  I started laughing and told him that I had no idea, and I was glad that he noticed something weird was going on too.  At one point I thought that maybe I was just imagining things, and there was nothing odd about what was happening.  But, the Captain confirmed my observations, and there was definitely some interesting characters at the pool that night.

Friday, May 13, 2011

What's Up Doc?

Over the last year or so, I've been plagued with some pain in my shins, or more specifically, my tibia bone, on both legs.  It started around last February, when I decided to try a new, highly intense run program, without really building up to it first.  That was mistake number one.  Mistake number two was not allowing myself the proper amount of rest between runs.  I would typically do my runs, as well as play around three hours of basketball a couple times per week, on a tile court.  Mistake three was not recognizing that I had developed a pretty severe case of shin splints, and should have taken time off to heal, which I did not.  So this leads me to where I am today.  Having to hang up my running shoes for at least two weeks, hopefully not any longer.

Last year, once I had realized that my shin splints had lead to a more serious problem, I stopped running for about three months.  I was fairly positive that I had developed tibial stress fractures in both of my legs.  I went so far as to have an X-ray done, which came back negative (side note: X-rays are not an appropriate way to diagnose stress fractures, as they typically do not show up.  The more appropriate way is through a bone scan.  Unfortunately, it's pretty difficult to convince a doctor that you should get a bone scan, as they feel an X-ray will suffice.).  The reason I believed I had stress fractures was because of the associated symptoms.  Unlike shin splints, which cause pain along most of the shin, I had paint at one specific point on my tibia/shin bone.  It didn't typically hurt when I was walking around, but when I started running, it would hurt for the first five minutes or so, and then the pain would dissipate.  From all of the research I did, I had a classic case of a tibial stress fracture.

Through my research, I also found that there isn't really any treatment for stress fractures, other than rest, which is why I took those three months off.  And taking those three months off seemed to have worked.  I did all my training to qualify for Boston without any problems.  Last Monday, however, I started to have some pretty severe pain in my left leg, at the same exact place where I had the previous stress fracture.
Right where my finger is touching my leg is where I feel discomfort.  It's basically at the same spot on both legs.  If I push on my shin bone at that exact spot, I feel pretty awesome pain.
I've been in contact with a Physical Therapist (we'll call him Doc), and he made me not so happy.  Doc confirmed two things - that what I described to him did indeed sound like a stress fracture, and that there really isn't any treatment, other than rest.  Tibial stress fractures are typically pretty slow to heal, so I have to be committed to my rest.  Doc advised that I not participate in any activities that cause me pain.  This means that running is most definitely out.  The good news is that cycling and swimming don't cause me any pain, so I will be continuing to participate in those sports.  However, if at any point I begin to feel pain, I will stop immediately.  On the running side, I'm going to be using an elliptical machine to at least get some sort of running-type activity in.  If, after two weeks, I feel that I'm pain free, I will begin some light running on a treadmill.  If I'm not better, then I will continue the non-running for another week and then evaluate.

Needless to say, I'm pretty bummed out about this.  The run that I did on Monday was a great run, even with the pain (I did twelve quarter-mile sprints in 1:19 each, which is about a 5:16/mile pace), so it sucks to have to take at least two weeks off, maybe more.  But, I recognize that it's much better to take the break now and miss the training while I still have a lot of time before the big dance, instead of not letting myself heal and compromise being able to race at all.

So if you see me and I look depressed, this is why.  Hopefully things will be back to normal in a few weeks!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

And Finally, the Big Announcement!!!!!

Can you believe it?  The day is finally here for me to make the big announcement!  I know you probably didn't get much sleep this last week, trying to piece all five of my wonderful clues together.  It's ok.  Neither did I!  No more waiting.  Here's the explanation for each clue:

Since I did my first Ironman Arizona, this is the progression of my participation.  I did my first in April of 2008, next in November of 2008, next in November 2009, I sat out in 2010, am racing this year (2011), and will be sitting out in 2012.

The year I'm sitting out of Ironman Arizona is Arizona's 100th birthday!

The year I sit don't race Ironman, I will obviously be saving money...but for what I wonder?

For one of these beauties!  Well, not this one, though it would be awesome to see someone do an Ironman on this.

And I will be racing again in 2013 (Mayan calendar symbolizes 2012, +1 = 2013), hopefully with a new bike!
So the big announcement?  I plan on buying a bike for the 2013 Ironman Arizona!  whether or not this actually happens depends on a lot, and I mean a lot, of things.  But, 2013 will is a ways out and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Did you think that was an anticlimactic announcement?  Me too.  The point of all of this was to show how annoying the RunDisney process was.  I'm pretty sure it worked.  I promise to never to this again...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 15

Alright, alright, alright!  This Ironman training is moving right along.  Fourteen weeks are now in the books, with twenty-eight more to come.  I'm currently in BASE 2.  I'm continuing to add time to my workouts, both by adding either another workout or by making workouts longer.  On that note, here's week 15:

Monday: Bike 1:30.  Run 1:00 (#1).
Tuesday: Bike 3:00.
Wednesday: Swim 1:00.
Thursday: Bike 1:30.  Run 1:00 (#2).
Friday: Bike 1:30.
Saturday: Swim 1:00.
Sunday: Bike 1:30.  Run 1:30 (#3).

This week I'm going to start back into the Run Less Run Faster run training.  I wrote a blog a long time ago on my old blog site here.  I'm doing a half marathon plan right now, and will change to a full marathon plan about 18 weeks before the Ironman.  If you want me to explain any part of my training in further detail, just let me know!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

9.5 in the Dungeon

Last year, I did quite a lot of running, training specifically to finish the Disney World Half Marathon and Marathon on consecutive days (plus a fun 5k thrown in on the day before the half marathon, just for kicks!).  At some point in my training, I realized that there would be a small chance that I could finish the marathon fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  However, I wasn't completely expecting this result, since was running a half marathon the day before the marathon.

Well, it all played out perfectly, and I ran at an average of 7:15/mile for the marathon, qualifying me for the Boston Marathon by 35 seconds!  Unfortunately, the Boston Athletic Association decided that my qualifying time is not a good enough qualifying time, and changed the registration process, making it a 99.9% probability that I will not be able to register.  But that is a completely other post.

Since the Disney World Marathon, I took some time off to let my legs rest, and to start getting focused on this years Ironman Arizona.  I still can't believe that I averaged 7:15/mile for over 26 miles.  Well, I wanted to see where my current fitness is at.  During my run yesterday on the Dungeon treadmill, I decided to sneak in one-mile time trial.  Now, I was on a treadmill, so it wasn't really a time trial.  I more just set the speed at a predetermined number (which I decided upon for various reasons).  This speed was 9.5, which ended up to be a 6:19 mile.  

It was a pretty devastating mile, and it took me another mile at a much slower speed to recover.  But it was awesome!  I've run miles that fast before, but not usually in the middle of a 9 mile run.  Usually, the only time I run that fast is when I'm just doing sprint work, and happen to be running a mile for my sprint (which is pretty rare).  I also ended my run with another 1'30" done at the 9.5 speed.  It was awesome to be able to end my run at such a fast speed (for me at least) and not pass out!  I don't expect that speed to transfer directly outside, but somewhere close should be expected.

I highly recommend that you try this out.  Next time you are on the treadmill, at about the halfway point in your run, bump up the speed to somewhere near what you think is a really, really fast mile for you (well ahead of whatever your race pace is going to be).

I'm thinking that either next week or the week after I'm going to start back into the run training program that I used to qualify for Boston.  I will note that in my weekly training updates when I do.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Announcement Clue #5

We've made it to the last clue!  Can you piece them all together to figure out what my announcement is?  If not,  remember, don't get discouraged.  It may seem difficult at times, but don't worry, we'll all arrive at the finish line together, just some a little later than others.  Here's five clues:

Clue #1

Clue #2

Clue #3

Clue #4

Clue #5
 The announcement will be next week...can you figure it out before then?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And the Winning Bid Is...

It is that time of year again.  Everyone in the triathlon world is starting to plan ahead to October, when the big dance takes place.  I'm talking about the Ironman World Championship.  How does one get to race in the World Championship?  It's simple, though not actually simple to do. 

There's a few different ways to get a coveted slot on that starting line.  The most obvious way is to earn it.  That is achieved by finishing in the top of your age group at either an Ironman or Ironman 70.3 event.  The sure fire bet is to win your age group, but typically there are a couple of slots to be earned in each category.  Last year, for example, my age group (M25-29) had four slots.  The trick is, you have to be present the morning after the race to claim your spot.  If you don't claim it, then it goes down to the next available finisher.  So, for my age group, finishers one and two claimed their slot, finisher three did not, finisher four did, and finisher five claimed finisher three's spot.  Confusing?  It's not really.  Typically slots don't roll down all that far.  I'd say it's pretty rare that it goes any farther than the top ten of each age group (assuming there's not that many qualifying spots to begin with).  Not to say that it hasn't, or won't ever happen, because it definitely has rolled down much farther than tenth place, and probably will again some day.

Another way is to buy your slot.  For a guy like me, this is probably my only chance to get in.  People are only getting faster, and sure, I am too, but not that fast.  The slowest qualifying time in my age group was 9:43:46.  My last Ironman, I finished in 13:14:24.  Sure, I could cut off a few hours, and hopefully I do this year.  But mid-nine's?  No way!  There's two common ways to buy a slot for Hawaii.  One is through the lottery program that takes place each year.  Entrants purchase a "lottery ticket" in hopes of being selected.  Chances are pretty slim.  The other way is through the Ironman Charitable eBay Auction.  There are four slots available, and there is a minimum bid of $10,000.  As of this writing, this is what the bid looks like:

That's a winning bid of $45,100!
It appears that the first slot sold for just over $45k, so I figure if I bid my entire annual salary, I would have been right in there for the winnings!  I haven't told my wife yet, but I'm gonna go ahead and do it.  It's worth it, right?  I don't think she'll mind.  On second thought, I'd better not.  I do enjoy being able to eat and being able to sleep in my bed, not on the couch!

So if you're like me and you have dreams of one day putting yourself through seventeen hours of a good time in Kona, then you'd better either get really fast, or get in on one of these other ways to get a slot.  I'll probably be testing the waters of the lottery program myself.  Good luck!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Shoebacca, We Have No Future Together.

In case you haven't heard, I had quite the ordeal with the online shoe company Shoebacca.com.  If you want to get yourself caught up on this exhilarating story, you'll need to read this post, this post, and this post.  Well, big surprise, the saga continued a couple of weeks ago...

To quickly get you caught up, Shoebacca.com wanted me to give them another chance to get it right, so they gave me a $50 coupon.  Since I'm such a generous, and loving husband, I thought my wife could use this $50 to get some new stylin' kicks for herself.  Putting up with all of my training, I'd say I owe it to her...

So a couple of weeks ago, she went a surfin' on shoebacca.com to see what they had, and what she could get.  She ended up deciding to get a pair of shoes for work, and a pair of shoes for play.  While going through the check-out process, a window kept popping up asking for the credit card holder's date of birth.  I've ordered from shoebacca.com before, and never had that happen.  It could just be a new security measure that credit card companies are taking, but at the time we didn't feel comfortable sending that info over the highly secure internet.

Since I have such a great history with customer service over in shoebacca-land, I decided that I would just give them a call and place my order the good ol' fashioned way...sort of.  I was greeted by a very nice woman who was able to place my order with no problems, until she read me the total for my purchase.  I still had the shopping cart open online (which we had created the night before), and the total online was half of what she quoted me.  I immediately questioned the discrepancy.

Here's a screen shot of my order cart
Taken from my packing slip.  This doesn't shoe my $50 discount, but the total is what matters...more than double my shopping cart!
Well, my wonderful customer service agent was unsure of why there was a discrepancy.  Since I had the computer open, I went ahead and did a new search for the same shoes, and surprise, surprise, they came up at the more expensive price.  I asked if there was any way that the shoe prices went up over night.  She checked with her manager and was told that the price of these shoes has not changed recently.  I laughed and said, "Well, obviously there's no way I can show this to you, so I guess..." and I was interrupted, for good reason though.  I was fully prepared to just go ahead and pay the new price of the shoes, because that was the now advertised price, and these prices that I had in my shopping cart were from last night.  My customer service specialist said that if I could do a "print screen" and email it to her, she would look into granting me a refund for the difference!  Now where was that customer service when I was going through my order last month!?

So in a matter of minutes, I made a copy of the page and sent it through the magical world of the internet over to shoebacca.com.  I received a reply in another couple of minutes letting me know that she was going to review the page I had sent her, and would be getting back to me. 

About a week later, the shoes arrived and I still hadn't heard back from my new friend at shoebacca.com.  I decided to take matters into my own hands, and fired off an email, just asking what the status was on the possible refund.  The reply I received wasn't quite what I was expecting, given the tone of our initial phone conversation.  In the email, she said,
"I submitted the information over to be reviewed for a possible refund. It was denied. But I am trying to get you a  awesome coupon to use  on any future purchases with SHOEBACCA. So just bare with me and once I hear something back I will email you."
I received that email ten days ago, and haven't heard anything back.  This causes me to ask a few questions.  First, based on my history with Shoebacca, do they just deny every refund/price match?  I'm 0-2.  Second, how can the change in price be explained?  Third, is Shoebacca's solution to every problem to just send a coupon?  And lastly, why is everything so slow at Shoebacca?  I can understand that my order is no big deal, and therefor not a huge priority.  But why is it that I have to keep contacting them to get things done?

I can't really complain too much about this order.  I have no way to argue that I should have been given the cheaper price, other than sending them a screen shot (which I suppose they can assume that I altered somehow; trust me, I'm not that smart.).  I could have sent the shoes back and just ordered some other ones, but I was pretty curious to see how this would play out.  As for the customer service?  Well, it was better initially.  This time she at least offered up a solution, even though it ended up not mattering.  Overall, I still give it a 2 out of 5, maybe a 3 at the most.

In conclusion, I don't think I will be using Shoebacca.com again.  Not only have I had problems with my two most recent orders, but the customer service just wasn't up to par.  It gets pretty old having to do their job for them and solve whatever problem there is.  Plus, the shoes I've been getting lately were cheaper on other websites anyway (I had pre-paid coupons at Shoebacca which was forcing me to shop there).  If you've used them before and had success, consider yourself lucky.  If you've never used them, I recommend you stay that way and just shop somewhere else.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 14

I am feeling much better this week, after having two relatively slow weeks.  Two weeks ago I was sick, and last week I was out of town (camping, so definitely not training), so I've had some time to get back to healthy and fully recover from my sickness.  And what better way to start back up than plan a full week of training!  Week 14 is the second week of my BASE 2 training, which means I'm continuing to increase not only my weekly totals, but also my individual workout durations.  Don't be distracted by the amount of workouts I have listed.  I ride my bike to and from work, and make sure to keep those workouts pretty relaxed, but still workouts.  Here's the breakdown:

Monday: Run :45 with BRICK Swim 1:00 with BRICK Run 1:00 (crazy day, I know.)
Tuesday: Bike 1:30.  Run 1:00.
Wednesday: Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.
Thursday: Bike 3:30.
Friday: Bike 1:30.  Run 1:00.
Saturday: Bike 1:30 with BRICK Run :45.
Sunday: Run 2:00.

That's a total of 18 hours planned.  Again, I know that is a crazy number.  As usual, though, I know that I will probably have to miss one or two workouts due to last minute scheduling conflicts, or other unexpected things.  Even still, that's a pretty sexy workout week, isn't it?  I'll definitely be started off week 15 with a rest day on Monday!