Thursday, December 30, 2010


I've made a few references to goals in previous posts:. Here, here and here.

So what are they and how did I come up with them.

I have to preface this all be saying I have no idea as to whether or not I'll even come close to meeting these. I've never prepared for any event with any goal more specific than "I just want to finish" or "I want to run it faster than last year." 

It's more than a little ballsy for someone who's never done a tri before to decide where he wants to finish in the pack--but that is what's driving this.

The first event I'm running is the Summer Open Sprint Triathlon. I looked at last year's results and found the middle of the pack. Then I took that bottom half and looked at the average time for each event and transition. So far, so good...right?

All right. Those averages are thetimes I'm aiming for. Then there is where I am now. In between is the gap I'm aiming to close. So for example, right now I'm swimming about 40 yards a minute. By the time the tri rolls around, I'd like to be closer to 49.50 per minute (stretch goal, I know). There's about 19 weeks between now and the race so I need to swim at an average rate of half a yard faster each week. It makes a chart like this one:

I have no illusions about actually meeting these goals in a nice straight line. In a future post I'll show how I'm doing vs. the goal.

For now, I'm off until my swim on Saturday. We're headed up to Red Feather Lakes tomorrow (weather allowing) to have a late Christmas celebration with my folks. No, I'm not working out up there. High temps of 5, 14 and 24 are going to keep me in near the fire!

I am going to swim on Sunday after we get back home and that will be my first time to try the Finis Tempo trainer.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Eleven weeks into my "pre-training" regimen and I'm dealing with a few frustrations. Nothing devastating or even demoralizing, but I know they're there.

1) Weight Loss - I've been actively tracking my calorie intake and aiming to keep my daily average 500 calories below what I need just to maintain my weight. Yet I've only lost about four pounds. After a couple of months I was hoping for twice that.

2) Speed - I still feel slow as hell. Tonight was the first time in quite a while that I was close to a 10 minute per mile average, but it's only one run. Overall, my average is much higher and I'm not seeing much improvement.

3) Stamina - Last Saturday's run on the beach was hard. That's evident in my average HR of 158 and a max all the way up to 173. That was at see level or 6000 feet lower than where I usually train.

Dealing with frustration is, of course, a significant part of preparing for any race. The hardest part of training for me has always been the mental aspect. Fear of exhaustion, fear of failure, fear of giving up--they hang out with me before most workouts. Healthy? No. Constructive? Definitely not. But there it is.

So how do I deal with it. Considering none of the above is particularly rational, that's a good place to start.

1) Weight loss will come. But being over 40 means it takes longer.

2) Being slower is kind of inevitable. Though I won't be as fast I was five years ago (probably) I still will improve.

3) Stamina is inevitable too. You can't keep doing this stuff  without building up a tolerance for it.

I know I'll struggle with frustration even more (wait till I fall short of one of my goals) but overcoming it is just about as satisfying as finishing a race or getting a PR.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Back in Colorado

One long drive, two flights and another shorter drive saw us home last night. It was a nice trip to Florida, but to be honest, if I'm going somewhere like that, I'd prefer it to be warmer. As I pumped gas before returning the rental car yesterday, it was freezing. Forty degrees damp degrees feels a lot worse than forty dry.

Yep, even if makes my skin feel like this.... still beats being cold. Kind of ironic to come home to Colorado to warmup from Florida.

No workout yesterday and none today either. Planning on a strength workout tomorrow and then a run on Wednesday before it gets really cold here (even colder than Florida). As I mentioned before, "real" training--that is tracking my performance vs. my goals--starts next week.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Run

Every Christmas Day in each of my 41 years has been a low-key, fairly lazy day--which suits me just fine. But spending the holiday in Florida isn't exactly a normal Christmas for me either. I'm here, it's in the sixties, so why not.

After watching my nieces tear into their Christmas presents (high entertainment itself), I got myself ready for a point-to-point run south along the beach on Anastasia Island down to the river delta by Fort Mantazas.

The weather changes along the north eastern Florida even more often than it does in Colorado. While not as strong or cold as what I dealt with on Thursday, there was nevertheless a head wind today. No question it slowed me up, but it also helped keep me cooler.  That was a good thing because I was not running with any water.

As I headed south, I was reminded a little bit of my treadmill runs. This was still better, but there were similarities. The scenery was basically the same the whole way, the surface was softer than the streets and sidewalks I usually run on and most of all, it was flat. Still though, it was more interesting than a treadmill and I do appreciate being able to run outside in shorts (I won't be doing that back in Colorado for a while),

One of my Christmas presents was a Finis Tempo Trainer. This is a about the radius of a half dollar and maybe 1/4 inch thick. It sits under your google strap or swim cap and beeps a cadence in your ear. Like a lot of people knew to this sport, swimming is my weakest areas so I'm hoping the tempo trainer will help me out with the swim technique.

I was also pleased to get a Garmin quick-mount kit for the FR305. It will make is really easy to transition from bike to run in T2 (and if I bring it on the swim, from water to bike in T1).

Though the trip to Florida has been enjoyable, I'm also looking forward to getting back to Colorado to resume my full compliment of training including getting back to the biking and swimming workouts. This upcoming week marks the last one of my "pre" training before the plan begins in earnest. It's a that point that I officially start "keeping score" on my progress vs. my goals.

Another long travel day tomorrow so probably no post until Monday or Tuesday....till then.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Against the wind....

Unlike yesterday's pleasant sea breezes, today there is a steady 20+mph wind out of the north. The sea is also much rougher and the tides were further in (not sure if that was normal tide of the weather front is pushing it in more).

Knowing that I'm spending the afternoon and evening in the old town (and that will probably involve visting a pub or two) I knew I needed to get today's run in this morning.

First thing I noticed when I stepped outside was that it was cold. Not Colorado cold, but definitely chilly in a short sleeve tech shirt and a pair of compression shorts. Half a mile in, I was sucking wind (literally) and struggling against the gale which was constant. I wasn't feeling all that spry to begin with and this sort of clinched it. No time improvement today.

One and a half miles up the beach, I turned around and enjoyed the benefit of having the wind at my back. I definitely ran faster, but I was also pretty spent at this point and my heart rate was up into the 160 range. I still managed to keep up a sub 9:30 pace on the last mile, but I was feeling it.

This chart sort of shows the contrast between the first and second half of the run:

Saturday is looking less windy and a little warmer but wet. Might have to see about a point-to-point run with my wife providing transportation back to the condo afterword. Something to think about.

I'm going to see what I can do to get another strength workout in tomorrow. At the very least, it would be good to keep strengthening those core muscles.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

St. Augustine

Much as I thought, no post last night. It was about 1:30 am by the time we arrived here last night. Needless to say, posting to my blog was the last thing on my mind.

This morning, I woke to mostly sunny skies and a headed for a high of 70 degrees. A slight breeze was blowing on the beach, but nothing too annoying.

 As you can see, these birds were enjoying the beach as much as I was.

Funny thing about northern Florida beaches, they're not soft and squishy like what you might find on the west coast. In fact, my bare feet started to get a little sore standing on it after a while. That said, I think it will make for good running conditions tomorrow. On top of that is the sea level altitude which ought to feel like I;m drinking air compared to the 6000+ feet that I'm used to.

Despite rolling up and then hiking up my jeans...I still managed to get them wet when I waded into the water. By the way, no swimming. Local reports say the temp is around 52 degrees.

Not much else to say tonight. I ought to have a training report tomorrow. Until then...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Strength Workouts

It's especially true, I think, that after one gets in decent cardiovascular condition, it's easy to overlook the importance of strength training. I'm no expert in this area, but everything I've read says that stronger core muscles lend themselves to better running and swimming.

With that in mind, I have been dedicating my non-cardio days to strength training. This evening that included planks, crunches, scicssors (what I call lying on my side and lifting my upper leg) and some free weights (bench and curls).

All of these activities fall into the toning category which means it takes time to see results. Slowly but surely, though it's yielding results. At the start of my strength work outs, I was sporting some love handles that were making me none-to-proud. This is not to say that they are gone, but they are noticeably reduced thanks to the planks.

With the workout done, my abs are sore from the crunches and my arms feel like someone has been punching them, but I guess that's a good thing.

Tomorrow is an off day with travel so most likely, no post. Not sure what the Internet connection status is at the place I'm staying but I'm hoping I can post while I'm in Florida. I'm particularly interested in doing my runs on the beach.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


It's not easy to say why I felt compelled to blog about my experiences as I train for my first ever triathlon. I've always enjoyed keeping an active log of my exercise endeavors so I suppose this is a natural extension of that. In any case, if you are actually reading this, thanks!
I'm planning on chronicling my training and competition in my first ever triathlon. That happens to be the Without Limits Summer Open Sprint on May 22. It's the first of about five events I plan on doing this year.

So where do things stand with me? Well....

I'm nearing the end of what I would call a pre-training period. Since October I've been consistently swimming, riding and running to get myself in some kind of basic condition to start what I think is a fairly aggressive training schedule. I've also set some stretch goals for myself in the hopes of finishing with some respectability. We'll see if that works!

Today's activity was a very enjoyable bike ride along the Sulphur Gulch and Cherry Creek bike trails here in Parker. I had planned on doing just 15 miles, but curiosity got the better of me as I neared Cottonwood Drive. I know there's been some expansion on the trail since last I rode this way, but I didn't know how much.

To my pleasant surprise, I was able to ride well past Broncos Parkway before reaching the 10 mile turnaround point. If not for the distance I was willing to ride, I suspect I could have gone much further. Having a great network of trails around is a real plus. I'm not comfortable riding on the roads--mainly because I don't trust drivers not to hit me! Sad but true, I just don't think the average driver is paying enough attention to notice the cyclist on the side of the road. Fortunately, I'm able to do a lot of riding without having very much interaction with cars.

As for what kind of equipment I'm using, it's still pretty rudimentary at this point. My bike is a Trek 7200 Multitrack. It is not a triathlon bike. In fact its not even a respectable road bike. What is is is the bike I got about eight years ago when I wanted something to ride around. For now, it suits my needs. In the next two to three months, I am looking to purchase a new road bike. More on that in future posts.

I'm running on a good but aging pair of Brooks Addiction 8. They'll need to be replaced soon after the first of the year. No doubt with another pair of Addiction since those have always been best to my feet.

I also do all of my bike and run training with a Garmin 305 which I think is one of the best GPS watches you can have. I'm a bit of a tech geek so I love gadgets like that and I love the data they can produce. In the course of the next few weeks I'm hoping to add a cadence sensor (for the bike) and a footpod for treadmill runs.  I'm also planning on sharing a lot of the data I generate from my various training activities.

For today, I can tell you that my slow self and slow bike completed the 20 mile ride in 1 hour, 20 minutes at an average riding speed of 15.1 mph. This caps a pretty good week of training that saw two runs totaling seven miles, two days of strength training and a 30 minute swim.

I'm off to Florida on Tuesday where I expect to be able to run but the biking and swimming will be on hiatus until after the first of the year. I'm hoping to be able to post while I'm on that trip and include some of the blog's first pictures as well.

Once again, thanks for reading and talk at you soon.