Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thank You, February!

February was a kind month to me. In a nutshell, it "brought me back." 

Oh God, is he gonna make another reference to his knee injury that occurred 6 months ago? YES! 

I was so devastated by that injury that I figured once I made my come back that I would be doing nothing but playing catch up all season. Thank God for accumulated base and muscle memory!

Not only have I made my come back, but I have exceeded a goal I had planned for this Fall: Breaking 20 mins in the 5K. I unofficially did it during a 4 miler Super Bowl Sunday down in Central Park.

Now? An upcoming goal is to break 40 mins in the 10K!

In the pool? I have become more and more confident with flip turns and have started to regain some of that speed that I had this time last year. The 500 I swam at the Sweetheart Tri with zero warmup showed that my swimming form is returning...slowly.

Its hard to say how things are progressing on the bike. I am holding higher wattage on the CompuTrainer, but without long outdoor rides, its hard to quantify those results.

Strength? Last year I did a paltry amount (almost laughable) amount of strength workouts prior to my knee injury. This year? Heck this month alone! I have been doing a LOT. Mostly to keep strengthening my knee (because I am paranoid of another relapse) but also I am noticing that I am not getting as sore after long runs or races while holding faster run averages and bigger run volume.

As my coach keeps telling me, "You will thank the strength workouts 8 hours into your Ironman."

Waffles? I am totally PR-ing my waffle intake over last year. :)

Next month? A number of goals, #1 is PR-ing my Half Marathon time by a freaking eternity at the National Half (or whatever its called now) and doing all of my long rides outside.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Kicking Revenge in the Teeth!

Does my post title suggest that I am seeking revenge upon revenge? So confusing....

What I am really trying to suggest is that I got revenge upon a run that I did last August....THAT run that figuratively (even though it sure felt like it!) hammered a hot poker through the center of my knee cap and dashed all hopes of running my first stand alone marathon last Fall.

I returned to what I call "The Scene of the Crime" where I was 3/4 of a mile from my car and could barely walk because the pain in my left knee cap was burning so bad during that ill fated run. This was in Rockefeller State Park, an awesome place to run with roughly 27 miles of running trails. This is the last place you want to get injured!

I ran 10.62 miles that day. I remember it was 1000% humid and my legs felt pretty good, but my knee kept getting crankier and crankier and crankier then suddely BAM! It's like someone planted a container of napalm under my knee cap and LIT.IT.UP! Ouch.....

Since then I have ran there once, but it was an off season run for enjoyment trying not to get lost in the maze of trails.

But yesterday? I got revenge! Coach gave me a progression run to do, where every 30 mins I was to increase my HR every 10 bpm. The run went very well, though very hard fought!

See, Rockefeller has lots of ups and downs. I wound up with 13 miles flat, but NOT on flat terrain, considering it was almost 1500 feet of elevation. Woah!

I didn't realize it was that much elevation, and I surely didn't remember that last long hill from miles 9 to 11.

Even though it wasn't my fastest long run to date, I think it was one of the most rewarding long runs because it was so hard fought to get. Holding an 8:05 pace average over such variable terrain is only increasing my confidence in my run ability, and is very very welcome, especially what that run in August, over the same terrain, did to my confidence when I got injured so bad.

I think this run closed a chapter on that knee injury.

I then rewarded myself (and my friends), with a waffle EXPLOSION!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sweetheart Aqua Triathlon Race Report

I withheld something from you all. It was my A++++ race of the season, The Sweetheart Aqua Triathlon down in DC. The race itself is done WITH a partner and the distance was a 500 yard swim, 200 yard kayak (split between you and your partner), finishing with a 200 yard aquajog. I had THE best partner, Beth, who is a fish in the water, expert kayaker, and literally wrote the book on aquajogging. I was in good company :) (you can read her race report HERE)

I didn't want to publicly disclose this race ahead of time because I figured the pressure of this race would be too much on me, that you all would have too many expectations for me, and that if I had a bad race my performance in this race might affect your future performance in triathlon. I was this serious about it!

So I stayed silent, trained hard, and tapered well.

This race........WAS my season!!!

Here goes (I considered breaking this up into a 4 part race report. It is my A++++++ race of the season, after all!):

I used the Jeff Irvin approach of doing an all protein diet for three days followed by 5 days of carbo loading. I think I ate every form of pasta known to man during those 5 days. I was loaded!!!

Before the race, I knocked off 3 hours on the bike to get my legs warmed up and then replenished my glycogen stores with about 15 homemade snickers cookies.

I was so nervous when I arrived at the pool. The competition looked FIERCE. They were all giving us the evil squint eye. Not just the evil eye, the evil SQUINT eye. So much worse! I had to guard my goggles in anticipation of them sabotaging them. But Beth and I were ready!!!

The Swim:
500 yards is a LONG distance. I had to pace this smarterly so as to not blow up. Fortunately I was using my Trislide to prevent chafage, so armed with that my pacing strategy is as follows: First 200 yards, Zone 1. Next 100 yards, Zone 2. Final 200 yards, ratchet it up from zone 2 to zone 5c. I was hoping to be cooking by the end!

Awesome flip turn, right?
(I actually just jumped in and hit the gas and held on for dear life for the entire thing, but! I nailed every single flip turn (really!). It was a true 6 week test of me learning flip turns. I am getting there with them! Beth dusted me with a 6:45 and I finished in around a 7:30-7:45)

As soon as I finished the swim I was gassed! (This is all true, btw) I had to haul myself out of the pool, help get the kayak into the water, keep it stable while Beth hopped in and she did the first 100 yards.

My arm tan lines clearly hastened our T1 time. Tandynamics!

She took off, did her first turn, and our referee said, "That is THE best Kayaking I have seen all day!"


The Kayak:
Once Beth finished, I hopped in and took off with the rage of the DEVIL!

My turns......uh.....well.......sucked. Haha! I should have practiced them more in training. But once turned? I FLEW!!!

The Aquajog:
Um, what is aquajogging? I soon found out! Uh, I mean, I trained sometimes up to 6 hours a day for this leg of the event. Yes, thats what I did!

We donned our belts, and hopped in.

Gonna guess that splash is Beth's? Where did she go?
I quickly learned that aquajogging is a LOT harder and a LOT slower than you think it is. I also had a bad habit of NOT staying vertical, which are the rules. Oops!

But I hung with Beth as best as I could. I may have given us a penalty...(sorry! first timer here...)

It was a SUPER fun race! That swim was a real breakthrough for me since I have been struggling a lot with my swim since I (stupidly) decided to take off 4 months from swimming last Fall. This swim brought together my flip turns and the endurance that I have. I am quietly confident my swim times will improve more.

Beth is an amazing swimmer. Her goggles filled with water, so she stopped at 200 yards, adjusted, and continued on and STILL put up an awesome time.

After the race we continued swimming (she knocked off another 3300, while I squeezed in another 2200. Then we ate some celebratory BBQ (it was so good!) and some more homemade snickers cookies.

It was a good day :) I mean, 3 hours on the bike + a bunch of swimming in the middle of February is enough, right?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hello sponsored Tri products!!! SBR Sports, Inc. Trislide, Triswim, Foggle

I am very proud to announce that I have a product sponsorship for the very first time in my triathlon "career." I have accepted sponsorship from the generous folks over at SBR Sports, Inc, the makers of Trislide, Trimswim, and Foggle.

SBR Sports, Inc puts out three main product lines, which can be perceived as triathlon specific, but should be viewed as being used for many many applications. I think its viewed as triathlon specific because the sport itself marries three different sports into one.

ITS SO FREAKING CONVENIENT TO USE!!! For years I had used a stick applicable product for anti-chafe purposes, which has worked, but its messy to use sometimes, and a pain to wash off in certain areas. When I made the switch to Trislide, I used it in the normal places: arm pit areas for swimming, on the arms where I know my arm warmers chafe, and down in groin area for saddle chafing. It takes way too quick to apply (which is nice!) and I have had zero chafe issues when using it, which means it lasts, but didn't need to glop it on like a stick applicable product. For my 3 hour ride this past weekend, I used it down in the groin area, and only pain I got was the pressure of sitting on the saddle for 3 hours, which is merely a "ride more will fix that problem" issue. No more raw skin!!!


When I first started swimming seriously 4 years ago I noticed that my hair got all "crunchy" and it would sometimes take 2 applications of shampoo and conditioner to make it feel normal again, yet still never fully got the "crunchiness" out. Some folks recommended putting conditioner in your hair then putting a swim cap on then hopping in the pool. Uh, no.

Now with the Triswim products, it gets that "crunchiness" out of my hair on one go. BAM!

I SO wish I had this at Lake Placid last July when I started the bike. Foggle defogs any types of glasses with one swipe, from swim goggles to eye glasses to sun glasses to snowboarding goggles. The weather at Lake Placid that day was 72 degrees and dry. However, when I entered the T1 tent, it was about 3,000,000 % humidity in there and when I put on my Rx sunglasses, they immediately fogged up so bad that I had to run blind out into the field to find my bike. Not fun and I wish I could have unfogged them on the spot. This will be going into my T1 bag for Mont Tremblant this August for sure!

I use the Trislide the most out of all three products, and I am absolutely loving it. I had another great and comfortable ride on the trainer last night after using it and it didn't leave any sort of residue that stains or is a pain to wash off. I am in love with this product!!

And! Until the end of February, here is a code to get 20% off your next purchase of any of the above products:


Friday, February 17, 2012

Found my routine! Finally!

This past week I finally hit that "comfort" zone of training. Now, this doesn't mean training has been easy, I have finally figured out my routine and schedule for training, and it feels pretty good.

I also finally figured out how to tie in my workout schedule with my diet that gives me energy and keeps the hunger demons away. Since I am working out before and after work every single day, this is what my routine looks like:

6:00-6:30: Wake up, AM workout.

Breakfast: Large Belgian Waffle with Maple Syrup. Whenever I make waffles, I make an extra 8 and freeze them. They last a good two weeks in the freezer. I find the waffle and syrup get glycogen back into my muscles quickly.

I usually don't have whipped cream and strawberries on top....
10:30-11: Breakfast burrito with eggs, salsa, cheddar and 1/2 an avocado with a grapefruit and a banana if I'm still hungry. I call this my second breakfast. Its loaded with protein and fat. Yay avocado!

I make this in the morning while I am eating my waffle. Then wrap in tin foil and place in an insulated lunch bag. It stays pretty warm for three hours!
1:00-1:30: Lunch...usually its some form of a baked lean meat, steamed or baked green veggie, and baked sweet potato sticks and sometimes the other half of an avocado for extra fat.

3:00-3:30: Cookies Banana and almonds

5:00:-5:30: two small bowls of cereal and an orange. This fuels my PM workout.

6:30-7:00: Start my PM workout, usually its an hour or two depending on if I am doing strength and how much

Dinner: Its been an omelette and a couple oranges and few dozen tablespoons of peanut butter with chocolate chips. The omelette is usually two eggs, two slices of american cheese, two slices of ham, and peppers and onions. Its enough to bring down the hunger demons from my PM workout, yet isn't so much food that I feel gross going to bed, yet it gives me enough energy for the next morning's workout.

Of course the above is for Monday thru Friday. The weekend is a total crapshoot of stuffing my face with food and booze and running and biking many many many miles.

So this only took 6 weeks to figure out!! I have found that cooking a week's worth of lunches ahead of time has literally saved me, since that is the most complex meal of the day. Otherwise making egg based dishes is always super quick.

Yay planning ahead!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Speaking of Zombies....

I think I became one for 72 hours. I am hoping that I didn't infect anyone!


Speaking of sickness......

Last Wednesday when I went on my cooking spree I WAS indeed sick, just sick with exploding stomach issues. GET IT? ANY QUESTIONS? I can cook, just not eat, right?

Then Thurs I felt a little funny (I could feel a cold coming on). Friday I felt a little worse, Saturday EVEN worse (my nose was a faucet), Sunday I wanted to die (my chest was tight and my nose was still a faucet)...but! I still got in a great benchmark run for the weekend! I ran 13.14 miles in 1:45:00 for an 8:00 pace. I was told to stay within a 145-155 bpm HR range, and I did just that with HR alarms galore. Yes, I was THAT annoying guy out on the running trails. I'd say it worked because I had a perfectly negative split run:
I felt "in control" the entire time and I am pretty confident that my current "official" 2 year old half marathon PR time of a 1:45:04 is going down, considering I just broke it (unofficially) 5 weeks out from the National Half without really pushing it too too hard. I mean, my legs were hurting by the end, but when I race this puppy in March, my legs are REALLY going to hurt!

And speaking of races! I signed up for the NYRR Scotland Run 10K on April 7th in Central Park. THIS WILL BE MY ATTEMPT AT A SUB 40 MINUTE 10K!!!!

Good golly the training leading up to this is going to hurt....

AND! Speaking of Zombies! Guess what is back on the air? THE WALKING DEAD!!!! I can't wait to watch this on the trainer tonight!
P.S. Happy Valentines Day!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Need To Work Harder & THIS Is Why I Have A Coach

After Lake Placid, and now that I have kicked my knee injury, I have developed a bad habit, or probably more correctly, a bad attitude. I call it the "Eeeeehhhhhhhh, I can do it" attitude, meaning I feel confident that "I GOTS IT!" since I have already done it before (finished an Ironman). Meaning I haven't been putting the 110% effort into some workouts because, "I know I can do it..........later."

How has this fared? I am WAY behind in the pool compared to last year. I am not going to panic about this since it is only early February, but! consider the compounding effect of ground (or is it water?) that I need to make up if I want to achieve certain goals this season.

My coach really lit a fire under my ass the other day when he sent me my next weekly training schedule after reviewing the report I sent him. He wrote this:
"First, great PR on Sunday! The very exciting part is that we really haven’t done much intensity yet running wise. I believe that we can get you under 6 min/mile for a 5K race this spring. In fact, I know it.
Second, you sandbagged the interval run session a bit last Wed. You are racing a 4 mile race at 6:15 pace, which means your 45 sec quick intervals should be at the very least at 6 min/mile pace. Jon, I want you to stop viewing yourself as a mid-pack athlete and begin to have the mindset that you are a front of the packer."
This is why I have a coach! I can write up a pretty nice training plan, coach myself, but then I won't have anyone looking over my shoulder keeping me accountable.

This was our email conversation:
Me: Regarding Wednesday's run: I guess I still didn't have a good feeling for how hard I should have been going for the 45 second pickups. I think now that I have done the 10K at a 7 min pace and now a 4 miler @ 6:17 pace, I now have a perspective and some bearings on where my running legs are now. I can go a LOT faster for these types of intervals.

Him: You are at another level. Most of the time, that term is quite cliché. Not this time Jon. When we first began, I told you I had big plans for you. I think you are beginning to see the bigger picture of what you are capable of.

Me: I'd seriously like to make a sub 40 min 10K a goal this Fall.

Him: Fall? Try spring.


So I found a few 10K's the 2nd and 3rd weekends of April to go after this new goal.

Even if I come up short, the training involved in accomplishing this is totally going to contribute to the overall mission of this season, so I think its a win-win no matter how things unfold.

This is why I have a coach: He has that outside perspective and he is the one pushing me beyond what I think I am capable of.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: FOOD & PIZZA!!!

I'm home sick today, so I decided to cook.....A LOT!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

NYRR Gridiron Classic 4 Mile Race Report

I finally had that breakthrough race that I have been wanting my entire running "career." That race where you pass everyone, and finish with a pace that you can be damn proud of!!

Yesterday I did the NYRR Gridiron Classic 4 Miler and finished in a time of 25:06, or a 6:17 average pace. Last year I did 28:05. 3 min PR!!! I had two goals for this race: 1) Finish in under 28 minutes and 2) keep all splits under 7:00. I SMASHED both!

Mile 1: 6:12
Mile 2: 6:09
Mile 3: 6:29
Mile 4: 6:14

I also had an unexpected (yet unofficial) surprise and accomplish a goal that I had set for myself this Fall: I (unofficially) broke 20 mins for the 5K split! There was no 5K split marker out there, but I did hit the mile 3 mark at 18:47.37, and based upon my mile 3 split (since the next 0.1 was still in the same terrain area of the park) I hit 3.1 roughly around 19:26, 34 seconds under 20 minutes! BAM!!!

My warmup was actually longer than the race. I did 10 mins steady, then 10 x (20 sec fast, 40 secs easy), 8 mins steady. My average pace for the warmup was an 8:01, so my legs were clearly ready to go fast! I then stood there in my corral for 17 minutes before we got going. Oops!

I facebooked before the race:

I knew this race was going to hurt, so it was more mentally preparing myself to put my body into that pain zone of ultimate hurtness. Embrace the suckage!!

The gun went off, we crossed the start mat, and NOBODY was going for it! I was like, "This isn't a half marathon!! This is a 4 mile race! You should be running this at a 5K pace!!" So I booked it and ran outside of the cones in clear territory and all of the volunteers were yelling at me to stay inside the cones. Why? So I can run slow? HELL NO!!!

I was that guy with the obnoxious breathing problem for the first two miles. I was running so fast wondering when my body was just going to give out. It hurt so bad!!! I was clearly hating life.

When I saw the mile split at mile 1, a 6:12, I was like, "I am running 30 seconds faster than expected. Holy!!! Do I slow down? No no no no, this is a 4 miler, this is SUPPOSED to be happening. Go out hard and hang on for dear life!"

Mile 2, 6:09, I wanted to die again, but I was already half way over and this was possibly going to be all over in 13 minutes.

Mile 3, 6:29, I knew I was going to break 20 mins for the 5K, but I also knew my body was starting to give out. I was in the "hanging on for dear life stage." This was also the hilliest part of the course, and those three uphills really started to take its toll on me.

Mile 4, 6:13, can only be described as copious amounts of slobber coming out of every orifice of my face. I was a mess and hurting REALLY bad. I WANTED THIS RACE OVER WITH ALREADY!!! The last little uphill by 72nd street finally did me in and for the the first time ever I thought I might puke after a race. That quickly subsided, but wow! that hurt!!!

My dear sister even came out and watched the start and finish of the race. Her eyes were wild eyed when she saw the look on my face at just how badly I hurt.

Geez that hurt....

We ran around the bottom of the park to the UES to 77th and Lex to my new favorite bagel place.

Hello ham, egg, and cheese on a whole wheat everything!

You ready for some numbers nerding out?
So exactly 4 weeks ago I did that 10K in the park, where I PR-ed my time by a few minutes to a 43:21 or a 7:00 flat pace. My avg HR for that race was a 181, wheras this 4 miler was a 6:17 avg pace with an avg HR of only 176. So 43 sec/mile faster pace and 5 bpm lower. *disclaimer* it was 48 degrees at the 10K and only 33 degrees at this race. My HR is always higher when it is warmer. * I still think I have become a lot more efficient in the past 4 weeks.

Now here is something new I experienced. I felt completely out of control over my pacing at this race. Of course for a race this short, I don't think you should be in control of your pacing because you should be running all out anyways! I felt a lot more in control at the 10K and even held back slightly in those last few miles. I felt like I was running a LOT harder with a lower HR at this race than the 10K. I guess now it is learning what sub 7 miles feel like?

I am VERY proud of my performance, mostly shocked, but very proud. I never thought I would ever break the 20 min barrier for the 5K split. My coach now wants me to go sub 40 for the 10K this Fall! *gulp!*

Oh, and I looked up the final results. I came in 147th overall, 143 for my gender, out of over 6,000 finishers. Yeah yeah, there is a giant difference between the winner's time and mine, but still, wow!!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Death by Cinnamon! Here is an ab workout for ya!

My ab muscles hurt from laughing so hard!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


January is wrapped!

I know a lot of us go stir crazy when we aren't in our normal routine, me especially. If I don't do at least something once a day, I feel gluttonous, flat, suddenly out of shape, unmotivated. I did at least something once a day, every day over the last 31 days. It feels so good!

January is my month that sets up the rest of the year.

Call me a creature of habit, but if I don't get the momentum going in January, it only gets harder to get that snowball rolling, especially into February. I find my routine in January. Which days do I do which workout? What will my diet look like? How will I schedule cooking food ahead of time? When will I have time to go the grocery store? CLEAN?!?

My knee continues to heal

Over the last two weeks, things changed, for the better! Especially on the run. I injured my keft knee pretty badly 6 months ago, and it really did more damage to my confidence than it did physically, I am now learning. My 10K PR right after the New Year was a complete surprise but I was still not satisfied that my knee was fully healed. After long run after long run and running almost 140 miles for the month, I think my knee is "mostly" healed. It acts up every now and then at the beginning of some runs, but I continue to do an hour of PT on it 2X a week to keep those supporting muscles strong.

I have found my efficiency, finally.

Again over the last two weeks, things changed, for the EVEN better! My overall HR on the run has dropped, signaling that change that I am using less energy to go faster and further. That 14.42 miler on Sunday really qualified this statement. Two years ago I couldn't get below a 155 HR for a 9 min mile. Now I am getting down to low 8's @ 145. My coach agrees and in his weekly email wrote this:
"The great news is that, as I said, you have become extremely efficient for going long. This also suggests that we need to continue to work on your intensity."
A) Gulp! B) Yay! C) This morning I woke up with some very sore and unmotivated legs, and still hammered out my 12 min WU, 12 x (45 sec fast, 75 sec easy), 12 min CD interval run. Hurt so good!

My motivation is back, baby!

Now that my knee injury is mostly behind me and a lingering foot issue is resolving itself, its smooth sailing from here onwards! I have a 4 mile race in Central Park this Sunday and I am aiming for a sub 28 min time and keeping all mile splits under 7 mins for the first time. I went 28 flat at the 4 mile mark in the 10K in early January, so I am confident I can achieve this goal.