Wednesday, April 30, 2008

First Race This Weekend

My first race of the season is this Sunday so I have been tapering a bit this week - nothing too drastic, just taking the rides and runs easy. Tomorrow I will get in an additional swim and after that I think I'll just plan on doing an easy ride or two and another easy run (running tonight after work).

I am a bit anxious about the swim portion but I'm going into it realizing that the 1/2 mile is going to take me around 15 minutes. If it's a bit faster, great, but I'm not too hung up on it. I guess this is a good time to lay out some goals since I'm talking about the swim so here we go:

C goal: Have fun, race smart, finish the race feeling good
B goal: 15 min swim, 16mph avg on bike, 31 minute run
A goal: 14 min swim, 17.5mph avg on bike, 30 minute run

Surprise myself goal: sub 14 minute swim, 18.5mph avg on bike, sub 29 minute run

(And of course the goal I always have when racing, no flat tires!) :)

Next week we will go to our first masters class and I'll ramp up my training for the Showdown at Sundown in June. Not really sure what my goals will be yet but it is a shorter course so I can hopefully go harder in all three disciplines. After that I don't have any other tri events on the schedule, just the Half Marathon in July and then it's a clear calendar for the rest of the year. I might take some time to focus on swimming and running with some long moderately paced rides thrown in the mix. There are a couple of events I have thought about in the late August to early October time frame but haven't committed to them yet.

Recent workouts:

Saturday - ran 6mi on the Iron Horse, avg pace 8:20; Swam ~300m OWS in wet suit
Sunday - rode 25mi, stopped for lunch with Maritza and Jen
Monday - swam 1000m in am 18:58, rode 17mi in pm (Jen's first ride on her new bike)
Tuesday - swam 1000m in am 18:14, ran 3mi easy in pm 9:12 AP

Friday, April 25, 2008

Back in CA

We returned from Boston Wednesday evening after relaxing for a couple of days after the marathon and doing some sight seeing. There is so much cool old stuff in Boston - it's amazing to stand in the exact place where something historic happened and picture the people and sights around at that time. I find it fascinating that I could have leaned against a wall where someone else leaned while listening to the Declaration of Independence being read for the first time. Whenever we are at historic sites I try to imagine what it would be like for someone from that time to see the world as it is now; could they even have imagined the things we see around us every day?

I only managed to get one run in during our trip, 6mi along the river. The first mile was in Boston, the next two in Cambridge, and the last three back on the Boston side of the river - here are a couple of pictures from the first bridge I crossed:

After the run I met up with Jen's friend Deana and we headed down to the finish area to watch the finishers come in. We wandered around for a bit then posted up in a good spot to watch the race and look for Jen. After cheering for a couple of hours we saw Jen in the crowd of runners looking great and smiling from ear to ear.

I'm always so amazed after Jen finishes a marathon - every time I have run a HM I can't imagine having to turn around and run back to the starting line. I guess I just like to get my suffering over as quickly as possible, that's probably why I choose to run HM or less and for tri I'll go with Oly or less (although I still have yet to do an Oly, but it doesn't seem far off). I'll choose OMG I'm going to throw up over OMG my legs feel like they are going to fall off any day of the week.

Last night I rode 17 miles on the Iron Horse Trail by our apartment and this morning I was up at the gym for a swim. I was feeling so sluggish in the water and just wasn't in the swimming mood so I did 750m (13:42). When I finished the lady I had been sharing a lane with was up in the shower and she said "you're a pretty fast swimmer". I looked around to be sure she was talking to me and sure enough she was. It made my day after feeling like crap in the water. Sometimes swimming is so freaking boring - I am really looking forward to joining the masters group.

On the book front I just finished All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing, both by Cormac McCarthy. He is one of my favorite authors and so far I have not been disappointed by any book of his that I have read.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Off to Boston

We're heading to Boston tomorrow where Jen will be running her second Boston Marathon. The bags are packed (pretty much), the local eateries and bars have been mapped out, the co-worker orders have been placed (a jar of Fluff and a box of Dunkin Donuts), and the hotel has been confirmed.

This year the weather looks to be a tad bit better than it was last year which will be a nice change. Sunday we will watch the Olympic trials, head over to the expo, stop by the Pour House for lunch, meet one of Jen's friends for dinner, and watch the Sharks play game six against Calgary, and do a few other things I'm sure I am forgetting.

I hope to get in at least two runs along the river which should be pretty cool. I'll try to bring the camera along so I can get some pics but if not I'll take a couple with my cell phone.

Other than watching Jen kick butt in the race I am looking forward to having a few days off of work. The last time I had more than one day in a row off I spent the majority of the time in bed taking Darvocet and watching movies (not for fun mind you but to dull the pain from my hernia surgery).

Last night I rode a 25mi loop by my house in 1:21:41 - I think the avg mph was around 17.9. This morning I ran two miles with Jen and Martiza then took off for a couple of faster miles on the way back to the house while they kept an easy pace. I think my average was around 8:14 for the four miles; the first two were 9:18 and 9:22 - the second two were 7:22 and 7:11.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Birthday Brick

Woke up a bit earlier than normal today to get in a brick workout. I will be going out after work for some birthday drinks and dinner so I knew a workout was not in the cards. It's still too dark to ride at 5:30am which meant I was back on the trainer for a 40 minute ride before heading out for a four mile run. Jen had seven miles on her schedule today so she woke up and got dressed right as I finished up my ride and I joined her for the first two miles of her run. We kept a nice easy pace for the first two miles (average was 9:02) then I picked it up a bit on the way back to the house; 8:08 for mile three and 7:35 for mile four. Overall I felt good and wasn't nearly as stiff or sore as I remember being on my brick workouts last year.

Last night Jen joined me on a road ride which I think was really good for her. She gets a bit nervous when riding on the roads so I thought it would be good for us to do a couple of road rides together on her hybrid since her feet are not clipped into that bike. She did great on the ride and I know that with more rides she will be more comfortable and confident. We rode 14 miles total and it took us 1:02:36.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Swimming why do you hate me so?

Saturday am - run in Phoenix w/ Jen - 1:12:05 - 9:01 AP
Monday am - 1000m at the pool 19:06
Monday pm - ran 6mi w/ Jen on the hilly loop - 49:24 8:14 AP
Tuesday am - 750m at the pool - 500m 8:52 - 5x50 on 1:00 - :44avg

Often when reading I notice people talking about their swimming drills and they throw out things like 5x50 on :40 and 5x100 on 1:30 and I think to myself "holy crap self, that would kill us if we had to swim those drills". The other day I averaged 1:32ish on 100m drills but I was resting for 1:00 after each 100m. Same deal with a 50m sprint, sure I can do it in around :40 but that would leave me with no recovery time before the next set and after 200m or so I would be dying.

Recently Jen and I have been talking about joining a local masters group; and lately that idea seems better and better every day. I know it will be really tough for the first few weeks, especially when you consider the fact that we will be swimming as much in one day as we have been doing all week. However, the benefits far outweigh the initial suffering and in the long run I'm sure it will pay off.

Overall the training has been going well and I am looking forward to the first event. I haven't been out in the new wetsuit yet and won't have a chance to until the weekend after we get back from Boston (which is also the weekend before the race).

Friday, April 11, 2008

Taco Pizza on my Mind

Tonight I fly to Phoenix to visit my grandparents, see some friends, and have some Taco Pizza at Godfather's. Jen is already in Phoenix for work so when she picks me up at the airport this evening she will have a taco pizza waiting for me in the car. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMm - I can already smell the delicious combination of delectable flavors. While growing up in Montana we had a Godfather's in my home town and I would enjoy the beauty that is taco pizza at least twice a month. Almost every birthday party I had in my youth was held at Godfather's where my friends and I enjoyed all the pizza, video games, and soda our little bodies could handle. Whenever I go back home (which admittedly is not often enough) I always make the rounds eating at the places I used to frequent and Godfather's is at the top of the list. I still enjoy a taco pizza, a soda or two, and some adult video games (aka video keno).

Yesterday after work it was beautiful in the Bay Area; high 70's, no clouds, and very little wind. I considered going up to the gym for a swim since I had already done a recovery ride on the trainer that morning. The problem with after work swimming is that plenty of other people have that same idea. I hemmed and hawed about it for a bit then decided with the weather being so great I would head out for my first post surgery outside ride. I took my bike off the trainer, changed out the rear quick release, and headed out on the road for a short ride. 14 miles later I was back at the house and feeling great. It was nice to be back out on the roads where the terrain and scenery are constantly changing. I'm not sure what my average speed was but I hit 30 mph on a flat section near my house which surprised the hell out of me. Previously the fastest I had gone on that stretch was around 25/26.

14mi - total time 47:04

I stayed up a little later than normal last night because I wanted to read after watching the hockey game (Sharks won!) and I also needed to get my stuff ready for my trip so it was a little difficult dragging myself out of bed this morning. I eventually got up around 5:55 and headed up to the gym for a swim. I felt so so for most of the swim, not really tired but not really great either. I stopped after 750 and took a nice long steam.

750m - 13:40

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Time Keeps on Slippin

Tuesday pm
- 50 min on trainer - 1min sprint every 10
Wed am
- 1000m at pool in am 18:05
Wed pm
- ran 5 mi w/ Jen - 2mi warm up 8:52AP - 3x1mi; 7:04, 6:47, 6:54
Thurs am
- 30 min recovery ride on trainer

This morning when I was climbing on the trainer I noticed it is starting to be light enough to ride outside at 6am - I think I will start working in some morning brick workouts starting next week. My first event is fast approaching and I would like to get in three or four more bike to run bricks in before race day.

Last night's running felt good - we ran hard for three of the miles with short breaks after each one; I never found myself really hurting during any of the miles so I'll take that as a good sign that my body is mending well.

Not sure what the plan is for this evening; the Sharks play at 7pm so whatever it is I will try to be done by then.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Weekend cont. along with the first part of this week

Saturday after waiting for Jen we went out for some breakfast at our LBS (Local Bagel Shop) then I convinced her to join me at the gym for a swim.

500m 9:15
5x50m hard w/ :45 rest - average :40 per 50m
50m breast
50m back stroke
150m free

The next day we took care of the grocery shopping then went for a short hike near our apartment. The wildflowers are coming out everywhere and Jen wanted to take some pictures - you can check them out here. After that we met my buddy Chris at the Sports Bar we frequent for some lunch and to watch the Sharks play their last regular season game. They didn't end up winning the game but it didn't really matter because they have already clinched the Pacific Division.

That afternoon I baked a strawberry pie then climbed on the trainer for an hour and a half ride. To kill the time I watched Hit Man and it definitely made the time fly by (well, as much as time can fly by on the trainer). Not the most original storyline (elite assassin betrayed by the organization he works for) but a good flick none-the-less.

Monday morning I was back up to the gym for another 1,000m - this time I just swam the distance and didn't do any drills. I completed it in around 18:25 then worked on my floating drills and did some flips to practice flip turns (not as easy as one would think).

Monday evening I ran with Jen - I had four miles on my schedule, was planning on doing five, then ended up running six. Total time was 51:55 for an AP of 8:39.

This morning I was back in the pool:

500m - 9:00
5x100m w/ 1:00 rest - average 1:32

I tried and completed one "successful" flip turn after the first 50m then decided to try it again after the next 25m - didn't really work out all that well as I ended up at the bottom of the pool (granted it is only like four feet deep but still). I tried a couple more throughout the swim but none really worked out that well - oh well, I'll keep practicing after each swim and get it eventually.

My kicking definitely needs some work as well - today there was a young girl (high school or college) that seemed to have a really powerful kick, mine not so much. I kicked 25m w/ the board and I felt like I was hardly moving at all.

Tonight I may take the bike out on the roads - we have been having some serious wind late in the day around here so that may keep me inside on the trainer. That sort of sounds like a cop-out when I type it so we'll see.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Saturday - and I go off on a book Tangent

Saturday morning Jen headed over to Crystal Springs for 16ish miles so I decided to run near the house since I was only doing six. This was my longest run since my surgery but for some reason I decided to also make it my fastest run since; not sure how that logic formed in my head. I started out feeling a bit sluggish and choppy in my stride but after warming up I fell into a good pace. My first mile came in at 8:17, I didn’t know that was the pace at the time because I decided to not look at my watch for the first couple of miles. Mile two was 8:03 and the only reason I noticed that pace was because I looked at my Garmin to see how far I was when I turned off of the sidewalk and onto the trail. Lately I have been running on the Iron Horse trail and I decided to run a course that I have done with Jen in the past. I could feel that I was holding a pretty strong pace through the next four miles but I didn’t look to see what the pace was until I finished up. Those four miles came in at 7:50, 7:52, 7:47, and 7:47; the last mile felt tough and that’s when it dawned on me that I hadn’t ran this far since my surgery but I kept pushing to the end.

Once I got home and stretched out I made a fruit smoothie (vanilla yogurt, frozen berry medley, and a splash of cranberry juice), brewed some coffee, and knocked out some chores. Jen sent me a text saying she hit some traffic on the way to her run so she got a bit of a late start; since I had some extra time I sat back with a cup of coffee and read for a bit.

I am working on the last two R.A. Salvatore books left in the series I have been reading. These two are an offshoot of the main series but are just as good. I have a bit of Dungeons & Dragons/Forgotten Realms fantasy dork in me and I really love these books. The main series starts with the Dark Elf Trilogy and introduces Drizzt Do’Urden, the main character who is present through all of the books. The tale of Drizzt goes from the Underdark where he forsakes the evil ways of his race (Dark Elves or Drow) and ends in book two when he makes his way to the surface world. He survives in the Underdark for years using his skills with the blade, finding many exciting and dangerous adventures as well as a couple of friends of other races that see past the evil reputation of his people (eventually – it definitely takes them some time since the other races of the Underdark have first hand experience with Dark Elves). His adventures on the surface pick and continue in book three as he struggles to find acceptance in a world that judges him solely on the reputation of his evil race despite never having actually met or seen a Dark Elf (Dark Elves are cruel, wicked, and very powerful and have rightly earned their reputation as one of the most evil races). He eventually finds a niche and a friend, a human ranger, who helps him come to embrace his differences and teaches him to use his skills (Drizzt was the finest Drow warrior in the city of 20,000 where he lived and is arguably has no match on the surface world) to defend those that can not defend themselves and to fight for what he believes is right in his heart.

The story picks up in the fourth book which is the first book of the Icewind Dale Trilogy and finds Drizzt making his way to Icewind Dale, an inhospitable land full of rogues and adventurers where only the strong survive. The three books in this trilogy introduce several characters who will join Drizzt on his many exciting and dangerous adventures in these and other books in the series; they include Bruneor Battlehammer, a Dwarven King, his adopted human children Cattie-brie and Wulfgar, and a Halfling named Regis. This group will come to be known as the Champions of the Hall and their adventures and battles against the evil races (giants, orcs, goblins, and evil humans) will play a large role in many people on the surface coming to accept Drizzt despite the reputation of his race. This trilogy also introduces Drizzt’s mirror opposite, Artemis Entreri, a human assassin that symbolizes what Drizzt would have become if he hadn’t fled the city of his birth. Even though Artemis is human and has only been alive for thirty years (vs. 70ish for Drizzt (Elves can live upwards of 1,000 years)) he is considered by many to be Drizzt’s equal with the blade and the battles they fight are amazing and terrifying at the same time.

One character that is present in all of the books (there are 18 in the main series so far) and deserves mentioning is Drizzt’s loyal companion and friend Guenhwyvar. Guenhwyvar is a magical panther from the Astral plane who can be summoned to the Prime Material plane through a magical figurine Drizzt obtained in his home city. The panther is with Drizzt through all the years and is his closest and most trusted companion. Even though they can not speak to one and other Guenhwyvar “understands” Drizzt and in the years he spent in solitude he would spend countless hours talking to the panther to sort through his own thoughts and inner turmoil. The panther has saved his life many times over and it was noted in one book that although Guenhwyvar has served several masters over several thousand years, Drizzt is the kindest and holds the panther’s loyalty above all others.

The next series, The Legacy, chronicles Drizzt’s capture by his sister and several other Dark Elves and their attempt to return him to his homeland to face sacrifice to the Spider Queen, Loth. Eventually he decided to return to the city on his own to face the demons of his past due to his fear that his family will always seek him out and harm those he holds near and dear. He returns to the city of his birth and is nearly killed but is saved by Cattie-brie and of all people, Artemis Entreri. They make their way to the surface where Drizzt and Artemis part ways vowing to continue their personal battle at another time. The Dark Elves eventually return for Drizzt but this time they come in the form of a large army with plans to dominate the kingdom of Bruenor Battlehammer (where Drizzt has been living all these years). A great battle ensues and eventually the Dark Elf hoards are driven back into their dark realm. Even though they are defeated they leave a swath of death and destruction in their wake. The series ends with Drizzt and Cattie-brie leaving Bruenor’s kingdom and traveling the surface world together in search of adventure.

The story resumes in the Paths of Darkness series which contains four books. This series follows the Champions of the Hall as they embark on another exciting quest and chronicles how the group falls apart and ultimately reunites. This series follows them across the surface world, onto the open sea where they battle pirates, and to Calimport the home of Artemis Entreri. A main character present from the beginning of the series to the end filters in and out of the story; Jaraxle, a opportunistic Dark Elf and the leader of a mercenary band called Bregan D’aerthe. Jaraxle is one of my favorite characters because he breaks the mold of what a Dark Elf is expected to be. He is not kind hearted like Drizzt but he is not narrow-minded like others of his race. He eventually befriends Artemis Entreri and their adventures spin off of this series into the two books I am reading now (Promise of the Witch-King and The Road of the Patriarch).

The penultimate trilogy, The Hunters Blades, chronicles the amassing of Orcs in the Spine of the World and their attempt to stake out a kingdom under the leadership of Obould Many Arrows. Obould is not what an orc should be; he is cunning, brave, thinks ahead, and has a vision of a kingdom on the surface. He is aided by a Frost Giant army and a quartet of renegade dark elves along with goblins and worgs. The dwarves band together to fight off the invasion and many great battles ensue leaving both sides reeling. Drizzt is off on his own throughout the majority of the books in this trilogy creating chaos where he can, eventually teaming up with two surface elves who begin teaching him “what it means to be an elf”.

The (current) final series begins with the continuation of the war with Obould and tells the story from the perspective of Drizzt looking back into the past. This is the first book that took that approach and it was an interesting change from the normal pattern of storytelling. The book follows the heroes as they search for the long lost kingdom of Bruenor’s ancestors, battle with the orc hordes, and ends with a surprise twist. The next book in the series, The Pirate King, is due out in October 2008 and I am looking forward to the continuing excitement and adventure that R.A. Salvatore and his cast of characters have always provided.

If you are looking for something different, something exciting, and something that will make you think (I find I can relate to a lot of what Drizzt has to say about the world around him, the way people think and act, and the different ways people view their lives); then pick up the first book in the first series – it’s called Homeland.

Since I went off on a bit of a tangent there I will save the rest of the weekend for another post.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Still Here

Haven't been posting much because my days have been full of work and when I get home the last thing I want to do is get on the computer. It's quarter close at my office so everyone has been working hard and slacking off much less than normal - oh well, I guess that's the price you pay for the easy days.

The workouts are getting better, I have been swimming, running, and biking on a regular basis and this week I did my first brick workout (30 minutes on the trainer followed by a three mile run).

This last weekend my Dad and Step-Mom were in town for a couple of days on their way up to NAPA; it was nice to see them. My Dad recently bought a new motorcycle after not riding for a number of years so he has become fully enamored of the biking culture. He walked the fine line of telling me about how fun it is to ride and at the same time explaining that it can be quite dangerous to ride (he was more on the side of how fun it can be). I of course have always in the back of my mind wanted to ride a motorcycle (chopper, not street bike) but I suppose that actually learning how to ride one is the first step I should take.

We are off to Boston in a couple of weeks where I will relax and do a couple of runs by the river and Jen will be a bundle of nerves for a couple of days then run the Marathon. Next weekend we are heading to Phoenix to visit some family; the thing I am most looking forward to is TACO PIZZA AT GODFATHER'S!!! I grew up on this stuff and they don't have a single Godfather's close to our place in the Bay Area - there used to be one down by San Jose but it no longer comes up in the restaurant location finder.

I will try to get back to posting more frequently in the next week or so once everything mellows out at work.