Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ride for the Donuts, Take 1

Homer Simpson would be proud of me. Today's mission? Ride to the donut stand. It was our 25 mile reward.

I met up with fellow blogger Kristin @ The Lazy Marathoner today (she ain't a lazy rider! she pushed me both up the hills and on the flats) and we knocked off a 50 miler, including knocking off three donuts each up @ Outhouse Orchards. We both agreed this was possibly the last day of good riding this fall before the inevitable happens. There were SO many other cyclists out this morning. I have never seen that many before and I would ride this same route every weekend! We also saw tons of hordes of motorcycle peletons and tons of Ferrari's (new and old) and other classic cars.

I think everyone was on the same wavelength: It is getting colder outside and now is one of those last chance days to get that last ride or drive in before hibernation occurs :(

But man oh man lemme tell you that those donuts were totally worth the trip up there! :) I am convinced those are the best cider donuts in my area.

For those of you who don't know or follow Kristin, she is a three time Ironman finisher, including doing two (yes two!) Ironman this year, Lake Placid and Wisconsin. It is always great to ride with an Ironman finisher especially when you are an Ironman virgin. I still haven't wrapped my brain around what it takes to do an Ironman yet, so getting answers & suggestions from an experienced Ironman finisher is totally invaluable.

Some of her recommendations? Stop and smell the roses...aka stop and great your family on the course. For being out there for 12 hours, is stopping for 30 seconds really going to hurt your day? Probably not. She kept mentioning the energy you receive from the crowd and your family that gets you through the race. I was at mile 56 of the Lake Placid course seeing folks hit the halfway mark on the bike. One guy stopped, got off of his bike, and greeted and hugged every member of his family who there waiting for him. The surrounding crowd went WILD! He probably wasted a minute, but was probably 10X happier with his day.

She also recommended that you try to enter the finish shoot alone, else Mike Reilly doesn't mention you specifically or your finish line photo is of you and others.

Drinking liquids? If it is going to be liquid, at least let it have some calories in it. (this is of course personal per person). I was only doing water by the end of the season. Gonna rethink water only and experiment with this as 12 Gu's & water is going to make me gag on the bike @ Placid. I also have to rethink Gu. It will remain in the regimen, but I need to find something to supplement the Gu, something more solid. Bananas agree with me well.

So thanks Kristin for the ride and sharing your experiences with me!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Triathoween! Volunteering is a good thing

Took me all of 2 seconds to figure out what kind of pumpkin design I was carving this year.

Now, mind you this was carved before The People went all 18th Century French Revolution style on the Monarchy. Not gonna go into that topic....

Ok, I will. It is getting increasingly harder and harder to sign up for an Ironman. If I were to do 3 different Ironman races in a given year that were spread all across the world and they usually were to sell out onsite, I would have spent the $1000 to get first dibs in signing up for any race I wanted a week before it went on sale to the general public.

But then again, there is that "giveback" side of me. The traditional way to get into an MDot branded Ironman is to pay your dues and volunteer the year before (unless you are racing the race that year). Doing this builds a sense of comraderie and you  and everybody else who volunteers knows that they helped out a bunch of other athletes at a race.

Now lets jump forward to race day. Who are those volunteers who are helping YOU out on YOUR race day? They are in the same shoes you were in the previous year.

What else does volunteering do for you? It fires you up!!! When I volunteered at Placid this past July, I was soooo revved that weekend. I wanted to do that race THAT day. In fact, the broken HIM that I did that weekend was soooooo easy because I had that inner fire within me burning bright.

Volunteering is a good thing and a positive way to sign up for an MDot branded Ironman.

Wow, didn't mean to turn this post into a PSA. haha!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dangling that Carrot out in Front

Jeff, I am jealous of the name of your blog, "Dangle The Carrot." The concept of chasing a carrot is really appealing right now.

I have fully embraced the "off season" this year. When you hit all of your goals for an entire season, the burning drive and desire disappears.

I ate that damn carrot that I have been chasing!!!

I met with my coach today and when he asked me how things were going, I responded with, "For the first time in 2 years, I have NO idea what I am doing right now." He responded with, "Ah, yes. Limbo."

Since Timberman and dropping out of the Marathon (I officially canceled it yesterday) I have had ZERO desire to do any racing until Placid next July.

A race for me in the near future is that Carrot dangling in front of me = motivation. No race in front of me = NO motivation.

So the coach meeting got my butt in gear. It is time to get running, and running often and running fast. I can do as many short running races as I want this winter. Fortunately I have the NYRR down in NYC. If you are in the NYC area and you haven't done a NYRR race yet, do one. They organize races so well and the support is wonderful. For $18 a pop, how can you complain?

So I am proud to announce my next race, the Joe Kleinerman 10K around Central Park on December 5th. Gotta get in one more race before I turn 28!!!

I am almost done with 4 weeks of consistent running since injury-ville. I am starting to feel like my old self again!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Reflection on the 2010 Season

Since I wrote yesterday's post, my brain instantly went into "reflection" mode over what went well this past season, and what didn't go so well this past season.

Without reflection and learning from our mistakes, we will never improve.

So here are the biggest things that I learned, grew from, made mistakes etc:

Train like you race
I am a member of I have learned mostly everything about triathlon from that site. Fast forward almost three years and you start to see the trends of the successful and speedy athletes. One trend that I started to see over and over again, especially for long course triathlon, is to train like you will race.

For me, that meant on the bike that I had to up the ante! I was reading more and more about folks literally holding their HIM wattage from start to finish on their training rides. I thought that this would lead to too much recovery time from a hard bike ride. But I gave it a try anyways.

My results? The first long 56 milers hurt, but I felt stronger as the rides progressed. I started to understand what it felt like to sustain a goal wattage for 3 hours straight. It helped not only increase my wattage FTP, but it also made me mentally stronger. Suddenly a ride that took 3:30:00 now took 3:00:00. Training with Power was working, because it kept me honest, but also held me back so that I could finish a strong ride and still have enough juice left over for a run.

Eat like you race
Race day, I learned from Timberman '09, was NOT the day to figure out race nutrition. So this year, I practiced, tested, refined, and repeated my nutrition on the bike until I got it right, and I got it simple. What started out as a complex eating method early in the season became a simple eating regimen of a Gu every 30 mins and drinking plain water with a dissolved Nuun tablet every 5 mins. This worked like dynamite on the bike. On the run, I ate a Gu every 3-4 miles and drank when I took a Gu or was thirsty.

Races are great places to practice
So my goal for this year was to do Mooseman 70.3 and Timberman 70.3 with Timberman as the A++++ race of the season. That schedule turned into adding New Orleans 70.3 and Rhode Island 70.3.

A funny thing happened. I could never what I call "complete the trifecta".....aka have a perfect swim, bike, and run.

@ New Orleans, I had a bad swim, but good bike and good run.
@ Mooseman, I had a good swim, bad bike, excellent run.
@ Rhode Island, I had a bad swim, excellent bike, terrible run.

So I made my mistakes in all three disciplines in various combinations. I got "it" out of my system. I knew what it took to have a good swim, good bike, good run. From these mistakes, I learned pacing and nutrition. Now I just had to put it all together!

And my result? A 47 min PR @ Timberman. I PR'ed EVERY single part of that race, including transition times.

Make time to recover and injury prevention.
I never spent time to recover in years past. I would workout, eat, shower, and move onto my day. Well when my volume increased, so did the risk for injury, and guess what? I got injured. Almost a year ago I set a new 10K PR at a running race down on Long Island. I didn't stretch, foam roll, or take it easy after that race. I ended up getting injured.

After Timberman 8 weeks ago I set a huge PR and figured because it was the last race of the season that I didn't need to stretch or foam roll. Guess what happened? I got injured.

Notice a trend here? Stretching and foam rolling is a necessity for me after hard workouts.

Both injuries were the result of over tightening muscles after a super strenuous race. After the 10K, my right quad became so tight that it was pulling on the attachment point in the inside of the knee. Deep tissue massage, lots of stretching and foam rolling was the remedy to fix that injury.

After Timberman, my left calve muscles were too tight. That resulted in the pulling of the attachment point at the bottom of the foot. Again, deep tissue massage, lots of stretching and foam rolling was the remedy to fix this injury.

So lesson learned! Even if I don't think I need to stretch & foam roll, I SHOULD.

Swimming breakthroughs
Swimming is like the ugly cousin of biking and running. To go faster on the bike, you spin your legs faster. To run faster, you increase your stride rate. To go faster in the pool? Windmilling your arms faster might actually make you go backwards, but will mostly make you sink like a rock.

How about swimming long and slow to build up a massive base? Well, you will became a very proficient long, but SLOW swimmer. That was my mistake my first year of triathlon.

I shattered all of my swim records this year by swimming lots of short, but intense swim intervals. Before Timberman I was doing a 500 yard warmup, then hitting the 100 yard intervals. A set of 5 x 100 on 2:00 quickly followed by 5 x 100 on 1:50 to 5 x 100 on 1:40 would absolutely obliterate me, but boy oh boy did I get faster in the pool! I would mix these sets up with 200 yard and 300 yard sets. I NEVER went above 300 yards, unless it was the 500 yard warmup.

My result? I shaved off over 2 mins off my swim @ Timberman. Intervals is the way to go in the water!

So I hope that you have some revelations during this off season. Its great when you have a "Eureka" moment!

Monday, October 25, 2010

8 Weeks later it finally makes sense

Timberman was 8 weeks ago this past weekend. Wow how time flies!

So I can't remember if I mentioned this during my race report, but during the bike portion of that race I got REALLY hungry towards the end of the ride and had to resort to eating an emergency Gu and going off of my eating schedule.

This emergency strategy worked and the rest of the race was PR-city.

But this has remained in the back of my mind as to "why" this happened. Why worry about it? Well when you practice something over and over and over again and you keep getting the same results and then suddenly the last time you put it into action and something isn't right, then that is troubling because I don't want to repeat that ever again, because that next time will most likely be during a 140.6 mile Ironman where slight mistakes are reflected exponentially.

I wrote it off as I was cold during the bike because it was raining and my body used up extra fuel to stay warm. That didn't make sense because I put out not that much wattage that day and from training through the winter, I know I don't need much extra fuel when it is cold, and it didn't get THAT cold that day.

So what was it that caused me to become hungry on the bike?

Last night it hit me. The time span between eating breakfast (3:30-4:00 AM) consisting of my usual 3 bowls of Cinnamon Toast crunch and my swim wave going off (7:45 AM) was almost 4 hours. I ate a Gu @ 6AM and 7AM that morning. 200 Calories was NOT enough fuel to keep me held over for a 4 hour wait where nerves do in fact eat up fuel.

Then I ate up a bunch of fuel on the swim and only got down my first Gu 30 mins into the bike. So over a 5 hour span, I only ate 200 calories. No wonder I was playing catch up in regards to nutrition that resulted in emergency eating on the bike!

My lesson learned 8 weeks later? PLAN BETTER  & Eat enough fuel between breakfast and my swim wave to keep the tank topped off. On a long bike training day, I usually pound the cereal and am biking within an hour and am starting the Gu within 30 mins. NO WONDER I am never hungry on the bike during training.

Fortunately for Placid next year, I am a 1 mile walk to the swim start and my wave will be @ 7AM with everyone else.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What? ANOTHER blog giveaway? Yes SIR!

What a week! I am doing ANOTHER blog giveaway! Sorry for you non swimmers, but this giveaway might not apply to you....although, me thinks you could stir some food with them? Dig with them?

I am giving away a pair of the Finis Forearm Fulcrum.

I did a quick review of them here. They work, but not as whizz-bang as the Finish Hydro Hip (I am keeping that one as it REALLY works!). Regardless, since this is a FREE giveaway, throw your hand into this one and hopefully you will get lucky! These help with keeping your elbows high. Swimming with fists will give you the same feeling.

So to enter this giveaway, you will have up to 3 chances to enter. Write a comment on this post and tell me which ones apply:

#1 Be an already follower
#2 Become a new follower (click on the FOLLOW button to the right. This is worth 2 entries)
#3 Tell me who your favorite swimmer is OTHER than Michael Phelps.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

And the winner is!!!

MissZippy!!! Congrats! You won my latest giveaway for Bart Yasso's book, "My Life On The Run."

She wound up being the 17th slot and that was number picked on  An email is coming your way soon asking for an address. Enjoy!

Thanks to everyone else who participated. 

But don't feel left out! ANOTHER blog giveaway will be coming up soon. So stay tuned! *hint* this will involve the pool (and no, I am not giving away A pool).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bricks-hurt-more-than-they-used-to. But Apple Sauce is still sweet!

No, not the actual brick-and-mortar-the lets-go-build-a-building-type-brick, the bike to run brick.

This past Sunday I did a 40 miler on the road bike scoping out some new roads, which I found some new TT territory followed by an honest climb followed by a rewarding-flat-well-paved-slightly-downhill-road.

After the 40 miler, I put on my running shoes and went out for a 3 miler. I did a 1.5 mile out and back; the first mile felt like it should and felt fast, but at the turn around I didn't feel so great. For a doesn't-matter-brick, I guess finishing up the 3 mile run in 23:35 for a 7:49 pace meant that I still had "it" from this past season. I am very happy and my confidence is happy that I still run faster off of the bike rather than starting off cold.

And! I am proud to say that I have ran 4X for the last 2 weeks injury free. I wrapped up this past week with 16 miles of running, an increase from 13.5 a week earlier. Hopefully I will be back, comfortably running into the 20's/week in a month or so. That last foot injury and then back spasm really took a chunk out of my overall confidence!

Some of you asked me about that granola bar recipe and how it turned out. They taste great! 1/3 cup of peanut butter goes a long way in terms of texture and taste. HERE IS A LINK TO THE RECIPE.

I am finding that they are not that filling. Maybe I got my calorie report wrong? Eaten with a banana fills me up enough for a workout. I was able to mash out almost 2000 yards yesterday at the pool after eating the above.

Other than granola bars, I have been making apple sauce. Macintosh Apples are my favorite, and they make the best apple sauce since they fall apart so easily. If you leave the skins on, you get pink apple sauce.

This is really easy to make. Chunk up some apples, put em into a pot with 1/2 to 1 cup of water, and cook em down till they become a chunky sauce.

The one necessary piece of equipment that makes the apple-sauce-making-process the easiest is with a Foley Food Mill.

Mill the chunky sauce into a bowl until you get through all of the apple.

Add sugar 1/4 cup at a time until the taste is desirable.

But I don't stop there. I grew up eating Ginger Bread Cake topped with Apple Sauce. Sorry folks, I can't reveal the Ginger Bread Cake recipe. :(...its a family secret...but! Use your friend google, I am sure you can find one.

Ok, ok, ok, I lied. My mom just informed me that the recipe comes straight out of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. So as to not commit any sort of copyright infringement, I won't post it here, but there is your hint, as obvious as it is :)

Doesn't that just look good! Been eating a slice covered with apple sauce every morning this week after a run. Total recovery food!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marathon Season is upon us! Time for a giveaway! Your entry is needed!

Besides apple sauce and baked apple goods and pumpkin picking and apple cider donuts, I think of the Fall season as all about the Marathon. New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, and other cities hold their annual marathon.

AND WOW! Did a LOT of you fellow bloggers either run a half marathon or full marathon this past weekend! Too many to list here, so CONGRATS! on whether it be your first at that distance or your third.

So in celebration of those uber distances, I am giving away a copy of Bart Yasso's book, "My Life on The Run." Surely you have heard of Yasso 800's? The Track method of predetermining a possible Marathon time? THIS is your guy who thought up the method.

Other than Yasso 800's, this guy has run everywhere in the world. If only I could have half of his running resume one day. A great read and gives you inspiration to run in other parts of the world.

I won this book from a giveaway done by Aneta @ Confessions of a Rambunctious Runner. Aneta JUST completed her first marathon this past weekend @ the Toronto Marathon. Congrats Aneta! Head on over to her blog and give her some props on this monumental achievement!

So to enter this giveaway, you will have up to 3 chances to enter. Write a comment on this post and tell me which ones apply:

#1 Be an already follower
#2 Become a new follower (click on the FOLLOW button to the right. This is worth 2 entries)
#3 Tell me who your favorite marathon distance runner is (you may include yourself....)

Friday, October 15, 2010

The 4000 Calorie Bomb

For some reason fall equals baked goods and apple sauce. Something about the way the trees smell?

So I made some homemade granola bars last night. I followed THIS recipe and based upon the ingredients this recipe looked pretty tasty. The batter turned out to be just that. So I stick in the oven and headed over to to build the recipe and see how much caloric info is in this granola.


 Pre cut loaf

So cut it up into 10 bars, making them ~400 calories each 

In other words, these are potent little suckers. For their size, they are on par with the store brand, just these are 2X more potent.

I made these because I am looking for alternate forms of fueling before a midday workout, which is usually a lunch time swim or bike ride. I guess it is one of these and some water and I am ready to rock! These remind me of these 7 layer bars we would eat in high school. I don't know what was in them, but after one bite you didn't have to eat for a month! haha!

Have you ever made granola bars? Have you found a recipe that is tasty, doesn't break the calorie bank, and is easy to make?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The UBER swim post. Oh this is a fun one!

It is the off season; what do you do in the off season? A smarter person than I answered that question perfectly:

"Work on the things that need improving the most that is hard (as in finding the time to do or recover from) to improve during the race season."

Well, I need a LOT of improvement in all areas of triathlon, but really what that means is working on technique or strength or things that you just don't have time for when you are racing every other weekend. Mostly my improvement is needed in the pool. You can't just swing your arms faster in the pool like pedaling faster or turning your legs over faster to go faster; its mostly technique based in the water. There is some golden swim-technique-formula out there and I am bound to find it!

Which means playing with new pool toys!!! Why not? I don't have to break my 100 yard PR for another 5 months. I have time to muck around and see if any of these gimmicks actually work.

So I ordered two new swim toys.

#1 The Finis Hydro Hip

After reading the reviews on the Hydro Hip and watching the video, I was very skeptical. All of them said that it will ride up your hips and detach. Whelp, they were right. After my first 25, it did just that. But I wasn't giving up! I readjusted it, stuck it really low on my hips and tightened it up right and went again. The belt stayed put! So now it was time to figure this thing out.

I had to really try hard to rotate with this thing. Eventually I got the hang of it and it forced me to work my core to rotate my body. After 200 yards I took them off, then chaos ensued. I pushed off the wall sans Hydro Hip, rotated and WHOOPS! I over-rotated to a full 270 degrees and found myself staring up at the ceiling. Holy WOW this thing actually works!

I did 200 yards swimming freestyle and my rotation was incredible! I was finally able to feel what it meant to rotate my core to rotate my body. All along I was using my shoulders and upper body to rotate and it was so hard.

Lesson learned?
Rotate from your hips/core and the rest of your body will follow.
It is easier this way to swim.
I felt like I was "getting after the water" for once.

#2 The Finis Forearm Fulcrum

This was a strange toy to get used to. They immediately came off my wrists when I pushed off the first time. I soon learned you have to wrap your thumb around it to hold it on. The point of the Forearm Fulcrum is to keep your hand and forearm from bending. You have more surface area when this is the case; more surface area = more pull = more speed. You have to work to keep your elbows high. Dropped elbows = bad juju!!!

Took me a few alternating 100 yard intervals to get the hang of it, but like the Hydro Hip, you don't feel the full effects until you take them off. Once off, my pull felt MUCH stronger and I was engaging my lat muscles, which are those giant broad muscles on your back which are much stronger at pulling than your arms.

I would say the Forearm Fulcrum is an alright toy.You can accomplish a similar effect and water feel by swimming with fists.

Lesson learned?
Don't bend your wrists and keep your elbows high.
Engage those lats to pull!

Besides playing with new toys, I have 3 off season goals for the pool.

Dolphin kicking (check!)
Backstroke (check!)
Flipturns (uhg)

Learning dolphin kicking took all of 5 mins and the backstroke took 45 mins. My new swimming technique confidence was sky high! I figured flip turns would take 15.....boy was I wrong! Flip turns.......yeah......have NOT  been agreeing with me. So I turned to my good friend, for help :)......I swear you could earn a degree off of youtube....

I found this great 5 step flipturn instructional series.

Step #0: Admit that a flipturn is harder than it looks

Step #1:

Step #2:

Step #3:

Step #4:

Step #5:

I got through step #2 alright, but as soon I removed the pull buoys, I was pushing off and hitting the bottom of the pool. Am I not tucking enough? Dropping my arms?

Does anyone have any other easy to learn it yourself flipturn methods? I know I don't have to learn flipturns, but its a goal that I have wanted to accomplish for a long time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kona and Weekend Wrap Up

October is my favorite month. It is apple season and I loooooove apples, especially cider, but MOSTLY Cider Donuts!!! mmmmmm......the best around here are up at Outhouse Orchards, which is off of my personal HIM bike course. I am wanting to do a ride for the donuts one of these weekends.

First, Dogfish Head from Delaware brings out their seasonal beer, Punkin Ale, which if you haven't try it yet, is in my opinion, the BEST Pumpkin spiced beer out on the market. I recommend taking a pint glass and dipping the rim in shallow water then dipping it in cinnamon sugar, then pouring the beer in. It is seriously heaven!


And more on the beer front. Friday night my friend and I brewed an Apple Triple. Go HERE to read about the Tripel Style. In short, it is a high gravity Belgian Ale that involves a shit-ton of malt which means a LOT of alcohol, usually between 7 & 10%. Well, because we added apples, and because there was NO rain this past summer, the local apples this year are small, but PACKED with sugar.

More sugar = more happy times for yeast  = more alcohol. Our final gravity? 1.095. What does that equate to?
13% beer!!!!!!

Yeah buddy!!!!.....might need to shock it with some more yeast in a few weeks to kick start it again. Those yeast cells are gonna be tired after chomping through that much sugar.

On the workout front, running is SO FREAKING EASY right now due to the 0% humidity we have in the mornings with the cool temps. I love running in this weather! I knocked off an easy 4.5 miler Saturday morning.

Sunday morning I set out to find some new roads and knocked off a 40 mile ride. I made it to tony New Caanan, CT and found a few good roads that are perfect for some time trialing. Here is my route. I just loooooove my S2.

Finally, let's talk about Kona.

The day was somewhat ruined when Chrissie Wellington pulled out before the race even began. Bummer. She got the flu. Major bummer! Chrissie is a class act and thought it to be best to let the healthy folks duke it out. So the #2 woman who was expected to be Chrissie's competition, Mirinda Carfae, let it rip on the Marathon and won. Next year is going to be an EPIC battle for the women's race, something we haven't seen since Chrissie started dominating Kona.

On the men's field, I didn't expect Macca (Chris McCormack) to pull out a win like he did. And what a way he won it!!! He pulled some gutsy moves on the bike and they paid off. He had to get as much time on Crowie (Craig Alexander, the past two year winner) as he could on the bike so he could hold him off since Crowie is the best runner out there. His strategy worked, but not without some fireworks! The 2nd place finisher, Raelert, caught Macca within the final 10K, then Macca basically mind fucked him and pulled out the win. Raelert's lesson learned? DONT hit the aid station with 2 miles to go. Boy did Macca exploit that stupid move! It was game over from that point on. BEST men's finish I have ever seen since I started following Triathlon and Kona.

Congrats to Mirinda Carfae and Macca! If Macca returns, its going to be one heck of a 2011 Kona, especially if Lancey boy shows up to lay down the law on the bike.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's a Religious Holiday in the Triathlon World Today: KONA!!!!

The Ironman World Championships are TODAY out in Kona Hawaii. This is the Superbowl of Triathlon events. No race is bigger or harder than Kona. It is every triathletes dream to go to this race and it is the HARDEST to qualify for. You can't just run a certain time and get in, you have to usually finish in the top 3 of your age group. Talk about high stakes!

My picks for the winners are:

#1 Crowie (Craig Alexander)
#2 Raelert (my dark horse pick)
#3 Chris Lieto

Other guys I want to see really well and sneak a podium spot are:
Andy Potts (expect to see him first out of the water!)
Terenzo Bozzone (dude is younger than me and finished no less than 2nd ALL year!!!)

#1 Chrissie Wellington (duh....)
#2 Mirinda Carfae
#3 Sam McGlone (she ran right past me @ Mooseman like I was standing still!)

Go Chrissie! Just remember our moment together....haha!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Learned the Backstroke! Why (I think) it is important for Freestyle

I learned the Backstroke tonight! It really wasn't that hard, you just had to break it down to its core elements and then build it up.

Kicking on your back is all about balance and propulsion. Balance is keeping yourself perfectly horizontal in the water and propulsion is kicking from your hips to MOVE.

Here were my steps to learning the backstroke:
  • #1 Kicking on your back with fins
  • #2 Kicking on your back with fins, one armed backstroke
  • #3 Putting the two arms together and doing the backstroke with fins
  • #4 Kicking on your back, NO fins
  • #5 Kicking on your back with NO fins, one armed backstroke
  • #6 Putting the two arms together and doing the backstroke with NO fins
So basically I started off with the fins for confidence, propulsion, and flotation aids, especially when introducing the arm elements. The flotation aid and confidence thing go hand and hand, since worrying about sinking and getting water in your face and up your nose distracts you from your shoulder rotation and arm swings. Take that out of the equation, and you can concentrate on what your shoulders and arms ARE doing.

The added propulsion you get with using the fins also aids your balance. The faster you go, usually the more balanced you go. Its kind of like riding a bike. You know how if you go REALLY slow that your balance is more unstable? And once you get moving pretty quickly its really easy to balance the bike? Same thing in the water.

So once I graduated to doing the one armed backstroke, I concentrated on leading and following action: aka you use your shoulder rotation to garner the movement to get that arm out of the water. You aren't simply swinging your arm straight up and out of the water, its a WHOLE body movement. You are using your core to drive your body's rotation to get your arm out of the water. The more shoulder rotation, the easier the arm is going to come out of the water.

After 4 x 25 of one armed, I put the two together. It was a bit of a coordination effort, but once I figured out the timing, it became quite smooth and I was on autopilot from there.

Then I took the fins off.

And it was frustratingly slow. Fins make you go FAST.

So I started all over (step #4 listed above) and built my way back up. Other than going slower, my balance was still good and I got it figured out.

Done and done!!! (I have now accomplished 2 out of my 3 swimming goals this off season)

Things to note:
  • DONT lift your head. You will immediately sink and water will go over your face and up your nose. When this started happening to me, I looked up and the problem went away.
  • Once you cross the flags, you have about 3 strokes and then its time to flip over, else head meets wall and OUCH!
  • When you are lifting your arm out of the water, imagine a line that is going directly over the middle of your body. You want your hand to go through that line. Correct body rotation will allow this.
AND now for why (I think) backstroke is important for freestyle:

I will admit that my freestyle rotation sucks. I get lazy with it. After a 100 yards of backstroke, flip over for some freestyle and you will be AMAZED at the ease of rotation you will suddenly have. Remember, rotating that core is added propulsion!

I am a new follower of Laura @ Authentic Living and she has a GREAT post on freestyle rotation. Its a great read and has given me a lot of great swimming tips and ideas. Thank you Laura!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Workout schedule is posted

If you look to the top left of this blog ^<, you will see my updated workout schedule. Its a new form of periodization. People will be writing books about this new training regimen for years. Its going to revolutionize the fitness world!

But in all seriousness, I haven't written about any new workouts in awhile! So here goes:
  • My left foot is healed
  • My back is healed
  • I have been running 3 miles at a time taking it easy. My body is agreeing with running finally.
  • My super swimming buddy threw the kitchen sink at me in the pool on Monday with an 8 x 100 kicking set of dolphin kicks with 6 beat freestyle followed by a 4 x 200 pull set. THAT kicked my butt considering I put in a whopping 5000 yards all of last month.
  • The bike feels AWESOME. I am out on the road bike now and after getting refitted on it, it fits OH SO COMFY! I rode in the rain today @ lunch and it felt like a new baptism.
  • Its getting cold enough that the arm warmers and knee warmers are coming back out
  • I slept in by accident this morning and missed my 2nd Kettlebells workout. Doh! Gonna try for Thursday then write up my "Intro to Kettlebells" post.
Basically I am going short but frequent. Mary:IronMatron today asked what you do to transition from the crazy uber season to the off season without going mental. I thought about and I see it like a taper. As long as I am doing SOMETHING, I don't go bonkers, even if it is a short workout.

Fall is my favorite season and the smell of the woods while riding my bike is the best ever!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Had My First Ironman Lake Placid Nightmare

No idea why, but I had my first Lake Placid nightmare last night. By the time I hit T1 (or did I even make it to T1?), I think I was about 3 hours into the race. OUCH!

Basically everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Even the format for the race went bonkers! Just follow along here:

I think I showed up early to the race, but before I knew it, I was 30 mins late. They gave us these wristbands (not the usual paper ones) that had a countdown timer on it, starting at 17 hours. I remember getting into the water at 16:30. I guess it didn't matter when you started, as long as you finished within the 17 hour mark. There were no cutoff times?

Well the swim was bananas. Because I was running late, I had to park my car on the side of the road on the other side of Mirror Lake and hop in and get started. Except I wasn't the only one not starting at the official swim start. Below is the direction of how everyone was swimming (the purple arrows):

So EVERYONE was swimming from the outside in towards this island that is now in the middle of Mirror Lake. Get that? There is an island in the middle of Mirror Lake? AND! NOBODY was following the course. For some reason there was this rule that stated as long as you get in a 2.4 mile swim or longer, you can continue. I had a GPS watch that somehow worked in the water.

I remember I had this watch because I swam from my starting point to the island, looked at my watch that said I had already swam 2.35 miles in 1:35:XX. Holy crap I was slow! So I walked across the island, jumped back in and swam to the swim start.

Its a dream, I know....

Now for transition to the bike.

Well, T1 was not at the swim exit, it was on the other side of the lake. So they bussed you over to T1. Remember this is a dream?

I got to my bike and realized that I had no Chocolate Gu for the bike. So I decided to run back to my car because that is where my Gu was, then run back to T1 and get on my bike and off we go. Except by this time I was already 3 hours into the race and just starting the bike.

I forced myself to wake up because my brain just HURT.

I think this dream was spawned from the fact that my worst fear is being late for a race, I hate bonking on the bike, I am wanting to head up to Lake Placid this fall, and the bus from the swim to T1 was brought on from using the bus so much down at Disney World a month ago.

My next Lake Placid dream better be me getting a Kona slot!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Letting Go

Over the last 12 months, when was your peak? When was your A++++ race? Did they coincide?

My peak was either at two points this past season. Around July 4th, or around August 1st, so let's just lump those two dates together and say the month of July.

My A+++++ race of the season was August 22nd. So I basically peaked about a month too soon.

I knew I peaked in July because I could have thrown the kitchen sink at myself that month and not felt a thing. I was knocking 60 mile rides out of the park and running 13.1 mile training runs and feeling like I had just done a 10K training run. My swimming was at its fastest. I felt great and my body would recover from workouts in less than 24 hours. I felt like superman!!!

I lost that peak in the beginning of August but held enough of it to knock my A++++ race, Timberman, out of the park. Revenge was made on that race; I was happy; I met my #1 goal of the season; CASE CLOSED.

Then injuries knocked ME out of the park, and my "form" declined.

It felt like somebody died. I could no longer run a 10K training run, let alone a 5 miler and feel like $50. I felt like 2 cents. On the bike I felt like I was riding on a flat tire. Why was my speed so sluggish?

I had to let go. My form of 2010 was gone. I used it all up.

Mentally I had a panic attack: "I need to maintain this form! How the heck am I ever going to do Lake Placid if I can't ride a 56 miler in less than 3 hours let alone run a 13.1 miler for fun. How the heck am I going to double that distance? I am so screwed!!!!"

Fun, right?

Then the calming side of my brain interrupted and said, "You have been out of shape before. In fact 12 months ago you were in the same position. After taking off 2 weeks from running an easy 3 miler felt more like a Half Marathon. But remember how you bounced back 3 months later and the rest is history?"

In other words, its OKAY to get out of shape during your off season. I think of it as all of that stress from this past season is just marinating inside my muscles ready to explode in 2011.

Enjoy your offseason! Drink a beer; eat a huge bowl of ice cream; stay up late; sleep in; call in sick @ work. You aren't a professional triathlete, so enjoy life!

Friday, October 1, 2010

September? Good Ridance! October? *HOPE*

September has to have been one of the WORST months in terms of working out in a loooooooooong time. Don't believe me? Look at these stats (ducks and hides!)

Swim: 5750 yards
Bike: 92.86 miles
Run: 20 miles
Strength: 1 hour

No folks, that is NOT a week's worth of work. That is a MONTH's work! (ducks and hides again!)

I think I owe it to myself to hash out exactly what happened this past month:
  • My foot bent bananas on me 4 days after Timberman (8/22). I could hardly walk!
  • Then I went on vacation for 9 days
  • Upon return, my foot still wasn't 100%
  • I dropped the NYC Marathon
  • I got back and things started to look UP!
  • Then I got a back spasm...that split second back spasm really F-ed me up!
  • The NYC Marathon was REALLY out now....
  • 5 days later I finally was able to swim.
  • October was already upon us
In other words, my body revolted on me. It was a rather injury ridden month. So good bye September!!! You WONT be missed this year!!!

Besides, aren't I allowed a month off? My body made sure of that WITHOUT the brain's consent...

But what goes down, must come back UP, right?

That is called October.

The foot is healed

The back is feeling MUCH better. Tuesday night I got a 40 minute deep tissue back massage and immediately I felt 100% better. I even did strength training yesterday morning and the back felt fine.

The goals for October?
  • Start running again. I got ONE full solid week of running in in September, or 9 miles. Otherwise it was sporadic runs here and there. Yeah....
  • Start building up run mileage conservatively. HELLO 10% rule!
  • Kettlebells!!! Gonna do a more in-depth post on this. Short story: I hate weights. But I Loooooove Kettlebells as a substitute. More later....
  • Flip turns in pool....I did a few crappy ones last month and got my confidence up to flip @ the wall, but that back spasm K-O'ed me and my back's bending confidence
  • Learn posture sucks and this stroke opens your chest up. Also, I really want to learn backstroke
  • The biking is going to be tough. Too dark in the morning, too dark after work. Basically its lunch time 2X a week and the weekend. Fortunately due to my biking background, that is the one sport that I can slack on and regain the quickest.
I hope you had a successful September! I am putting mine behind me and moving on UP!