Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Big Swim Week (for me) and Some New Toys

Totals for last week:

9,100 yards swim
34.5 mi bike
21.5 mi run

Another week in the books and only two weeks until my next race. I'm hoping to add at least one more tri this summer/fall but I'm not too hung up on it since I will be starting a run focused program to build up to CIM in December. I have a half marathon coming up in July then another one in the fall; throw in a couple 5k's and my schedule will be pretty full.

While everything is full steam ahead on the training front things on the work front are stagnant. I think I've finally come to realize that while I enjoyed the concepts I learned and the work I did in my finance and accounting classes in college, the real world application is pretty freakin BORING. Of course there are plenty of positives to the job I currently have; good hours, close to home so I can ride my bike to work, flexible, and my co-workers are pretty cool. What I notice is missing from that list is exciting work or something along the lines of how I enjoy going into work to find a new challenge or work on a new project. There are plenty of challenges at my current job but none of them are exciting to me. I could go on and on about all of this but I think the jist is that I'm not going to do anything radical and quit but I am going to start looking for something that sounds interesting in a different field - what that will be is still sort of a mystery.

Oh yeah, new toys - last week I picked up a pair of Zoomers Swim Fins which I love. I am now longer struggling to kick 25 yards for every 50 that other people are doing (well, maybe it's not that bad but it sure feels like it). This weekend I picked up a pair of Paddles which have both wrist and finger straps. The ones I was using at masters just had a strap for my middle finger and my fingers would be really sore after using them for just a few hundred yards. I haven't had a chance to use them yet so I'm hoping for some pull drills this week.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Swimming is fun - Kicking, not so much

Weekly stats:

Swim: 6,580 y
Bike: 91.5 mi
Run: 18 mi

Masters class has been great so far but it has shown me just how poor of a kicker I am. When it comes time for kicking drills I go from one of the fastest in my lane to the slowest. Instead of letting this really bother me I let it get me mad which in turn motivates me which makes me want to work harder to improve. I figure if I can get the kicking down it will help my speed in the water quite a bit. We've also been working on rolling, high elbows, reaching out, and a few other things that I'm sure will all come together in the coming weeks.

Biking is coming along well, I've been slowly increasing my weekly mileage but with running and swimming to fit in I am usually riding three times a week. The good thing is that Jen will start increasing her mileage in the coming weeks for her HIM training so my mileage should also increase as I continue to ride with her. On Sunday we rode with the Cyclepath group and Jen did really well. We were towards the back of the pack in the beginning as the A and A- groups took off ahead but eventually we settled in with some other riders and kept a good pace for the rest of the ride. There was about three miles of climbing followed by another ten miles of rolling hills and Jen did really good on those. I tried to stay in one gear for all of the climbing and was pleased to see that I could do it; I think I only got out of the saddle for one little stretch.

My running mileage will start to creep up over the next few weeks as I start ramping up for the Jungle Run Half Marathon on July 13th. Jen is running it with me and I've also convinced someone I work with to give it a shot. Jen made him a training plan and so far he has been sticking to it. His nutrition is somewhat questionable but that's another topic all together and I figure if he is sticking to the training and getting in the miles then that's good enough.

This weekend we attended a tri skills clinic put on by a local racing club - the main focus was swimming but we did a "mini tri" at the end where we rode a half mile and ran about a half mile. The purpose was to practice our transitions so the distance was irrelevant; still, I'm proud to say I won the mini tri :) In the water we practiced group deep water starts and knee deep water starts, drafting, and sighting. Overall it was a good class and I picked up a couple of things to use in the swim portion.

Here is a group photo taken when we were practicing the knee deep starts:

(As you can see I clearly did not get the "squat down" message)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Goodbye to an old friend; A year in books; and a week of non-schedule

First and foremost I said goodbye to an old friend this weekend. It wasn't a tragic loss; it was a decision I made after thinking it over for a few days. He had been with me for a few months now and I knew it was time to say goodbye, at least for a while. I know that I can always welcome him back whenever I choose although he does take a while to come around.

Here he is before we parted ways:

And here I am without him:

This week also marked a year from when I started writing down the books I had read. I started doing this when I was working in San Francisco and riding the train into the city every day; I had about an hour and a half in total ride time every day so I got quite a bit of reading done. In November I started working closer to home but I was surprised to see that I kept up with the reading. I'm not sure if I will read another 62 books this year but I will try my best to get close. Here are the books I read in the last 12 months in order and with the date finished:

05.10.07 - Suttree - Cormac McCarthy
05.13.07 - Forever - Pete Hamill
05.16.07 - Sick Puppy - Carl Hiaasen
05.21.07 - This Book Will Save Your Life - A.M. Homes
05.23.07 - White Fang - Jack London
05.24.07 - The Call of the Wild - Jack London
05.29.07 - Time Stops for No Mouse - Michael Hoeye
06.04.07 - The Children of Men - P.D. James
06.07.07 - Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salenger
06.11.07 - The Invisible Man - H.G. Wells
06.18.07 - Meet Mr. Grizzley "A Saga on the Passing of the Grizzley Bear" - Montague Stevens
06.26.07 - Last of the Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper
07.03.07 - The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffinger
07.09.07 - Slaughter House Five - Kurt Vonnegut
07.11.07 - Triathlon 101 - John Mora
07.18.07 - No Country For Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
07.27.07 - Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
08.07.07 - Young Men and Fire - Norman Maclean
08.14.07 - Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
08.23.07 - The Judas Strain - James Rollins
08.28.07 - Cannery Row - John Steinbeck
09.05.07 - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
09.12.07 - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
09.17.07 - The Prince and The Pauper - Mark Twain
09.24.07 - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - Mark Twain
09.25.07 - Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
09.26.07 - Alice Through The Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
09.27.07 - The Pearl - John Steinbeck
10.02.07 - The Red Pony - John Steinbeck
10.08.07 - The Giver - Lois Lowry
10.18.07 - The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
10.29.07 - Time and Again - Jack Finney
11.01.07 - Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
11.07.07 - The Orc King - R.A. Salvatore
11.14.07 - Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
11.16.07 - I am Legend - Richard Matheson
11.28.07 - The Golden Compus - Philip Pullman
12.14.07 - The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman
12.20.07 - The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman
12.20.07 - Homeland - R.A. Salvatore
12.23.07 - Exile - R.A. Salvatore
12.28.07 - Sojurn - R.A. Salvatore
01.19.08 - The Crystal Shard - R.A. Salvatore
01.21.08 - Streams of Silver - R.A. Salvatore
01.23.08 - The Halfling's Gem - R.A. Salvatore
01.26.08 - The Legacy - R.A. Salvatore
01.28.08 - Starless Night - R.A. Salvatore
02.01.08 - Siege of Darkness - R.A. Salvatore
02.06.08 - Passage to Dawn - R.A. Salvatore
02.10.08 - The Silent Blade - R.A. Salvatore
02.16.08 - The Spine of the World - R.A. Salvatore
02.28.08 - Servent of the Shard - R.A. Salvatore
03.09.08 - Sea of Swords - R.A. Salvatore
03.14.08 - The Thousand Orcs - R.A. Salvatore
03.20.08 - The Two Swords - R.A. Salvatore
04.01.08 - The Promise of the Witch King - R.A. Salvatore
04.11.08 - The Road of the Patriarch - R.A. Salvatore
04.19.08 - All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy
04.23.08 - The Crossing - Cormac McCarthy
05.10.08 - Cities of the Plain - Cormac McCarthy

I found it to be a strange coincidence that I started tracking the books in May '07 with a Cormac McCarthy book and 12 months later to the day I finished a Cormac McCarthy book. In that time he has definitely become one of my favorite authors (if not my favorite). I also have to thank Jen for turning me onto a new style of book as I used to read action and adventure type books most of the time. Without her influence I most likely never would have read many of the books on this list and definitely would not have read The Time Traveler's Wife which ranks among the best books I have ever read.

If I was to recommend ten books from the list they would be: The Time Traveler's Wife, Forever, Time and Again, Water for Elephants, The Grapes of Wrath, Last of the Mohicans, Cannery Row, Suttree, Blood Meridian, and All the Pretty Horses.

Tomorrow I start book one of the new tracking year - At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Peter Matthiessen.

This week was a week of non schedule since I start my training for Showdown at Sundown and the Half Marathon in July on Monday. I still got in a few workouts and went to my first Masters swim class which was awesome. We swam the same amount of yardage in that one night as I usually do in a week. I got out with Jen on the roads twice, one day she was a bit nervous due to the traffic but still did great and the other day we went with the Cyclepath group and she did awesome. On the second half of the ride she was setting the pace for our small split off group and we were maintaining an 18-19 mph average.

Totals for the week: 3,750 swim - 53mi bike - 8mi run

Tomorrow I plan on running four miles in the morning and going to masters in the evening.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

NAPA Valley Sprint Tri

Sunday morning I was up at 4:45am and in the shower at the hotel for a quick wake up rinse off. I had packed up everything the night before so at about 5:10 we were heading out the door and driving up to Lake Berryessa.

We (me, Jen, Mom, and Step-Dad) arrived up at the lake around 6:20 and I was able to get a pretty good transition spot near the bike mount line. It would leave me with a long run from the lake to my transition but then when I came in off the bike I wouldn't have to run my bike very far. After setting up I walked over to the check in to get my swim cap, timing chip, and have my hands marked; my number was 38. We had about an hour to kill before the start so we walked down to the water and I hit up the port-o-potty while the lines were still short. At about 7:35 I decided to get in my wetsuit and head down to the water to do a quick swim and get used to the water.

I was in the water for about ten minutes before the race director came down to the dock and shouted for everyone to get out of the water and quite down so he could make some announcements. He talked about the course, directed everyone behind the timing mat, selected someone to lead the crowd in "America the Beautiful", then told those that wanted to be in the first wave to get out in the water. I decided to start in this wave figuring I would be MOP on the swim.

We swam out to the imaginary start line and 20 seconds later we were on our way. It was a water start so the initial crowd wasn't too bad; I swam with my head out of the water for about 20 or 30 feet before I was able to get into a stroke. About 150m into the swim I could feel that I was going a bit hard so I relaxed a bit and settled into a groove which I maintained for the next 650m. Sighting wasn't too much of a problem as there were swimmers all around me heading in the general direction we needed to go but I did sight on the buoys from time to time. After what seemed like a fairly short amount of time I rounded the last buoy and headed toward the shore - Swim 00:13:50.4

I ran up the boat ramp, up the road, turned right, and ran to my transition area. I was breathing hard and felt a bit discombobulated but I managed to remember everything I needed for the bike leg. The hardest part was putting on my gloves, this took me an extra 30 seconds or so but I knew the road was really choppy and I wanted to be sure I had a good grip on the bike - T1 00:03:01.2

After crossing the mount line and clipping in I headed out on what turned out to be a pretty hilly course. The hills were rolling and consistent, I was up to 34mph on the downhill and 11mph on the climbs; my average ended up being 18.2mph. I was able to drink about half of my water on the ride and found out that the best time to take a drink is right at the top of a hill before the momentum starts to pick up on the downhill side. I hit the turn around at 25:02 and headed back for the next 7.5 miles; I could see the leaders passing back by me right before I turned around and I estimated I was in the top 40 at that point. The ride back to transition was pretty much the same, rolling hills at the same pace. On the flats I was able to maintain 21/22mph which gave me encouragement for the next race where the course is supposed to be a bit flatter. I ended up passing three people on the ride back and was passed by one person - Bike 00:48:43.1

T2 was a bit faster than T1 due to the shorter run from the dismount line vs. the run from the water and I wasn't as discombobulated as I was when I came out of the water - helmet off, hat on, gloves off, shoes off, shoes on, grabbed my water bottle (had to run a quick down and back in transition to equal out the distance), threw the water bottle back to my transition area on the way back by, and headed out on the run - T2 00:01:55.9

I knew I wanted to take the first two miles easy and not go out too hard; after seeing the hills of the first two miles (pretty much uphill the whole way) I really knew that was a good idea. I passed a few people on the way to the turn around while keeping a comfortable pace; my split for miles one and two was 17:00. After turning around I had a really short uphill then it was pretty much downhill for the rest of the race. I really started picking up the pace at this point and was able to pass a couple more people; as I hit the flat stretch toward the end I kept pushing hard but knew that any harder and I would be puking so I maintained the pace I had - miles three and four: 13:22. I hit the finish area and saw my Step Dad, heard my Mom and Jen, and crossed the line - Run 00:30:22.9

Jen was there to give me a big hug right away; it was pretty cool having her there as a spectator as she is a great cheerer. This picture was taken about a minute after I finished; I'm still breathing hard:

Finish 01:37:53.6 - Sixth place in AG, 29th OA (out of 457 in Individual division)

488 Trevor Niblock San Francisco, CA ---28 M 01:27:34.1 --1 --5
378 Anthony Leonardini St. Helena, CA --28 M 01:28:03.5 --2 --7
537 Stephen Pons San Francisco, CA -----26 M 01:35:13.0 --3 --18
232 Brian Geraghty San Francisco, CA ---29 M 01:35:30.8 --4 --19
544 Lucas Priebe Napa, CA --------------26 M 01:37:42.4 --5 --27
38 -Zach Barnes Dublin, CA -------------29 M 01:37:53.6 --6 --29