Still fighting the cold, but itching to train…

So I’ve been battling this cold since Saturday, and while the worst day was Sunday, it has really wiped me out.  Meanwhile, I daydream of bricks, hill repeats, transition layout plans, and my next long run.  OK – maybe bricks are a bit extreme, but you get the point…

That bowling ball is a fair representation of how my head feels…








My head still feels like a bowling ball, and the congestion is moving out and into my chest and throat.  I know this is positive, but it’s still going to sick for a while.

My immediate plan is to head into the weight room and rock some resistance training this afternoon.  My breathing will be less affected and at least it’ll be something.  I’m going to focus on good solid healthy eating and some planning for the next training phase.  I’ve got my next sprint triathlon on 10/14, and I finish up with my first half marathon (on my 40th birthday) on 11/11.  Rock on.

OK – enough pity-party.  I hate blog posts like this, but it was a necessary catharsis.


Training while sick…

About 10 days ago, my 8 year old brought home a gift, in the form of invisible pathogens presumably borrowed from her BFF at school.

First my wife came down with it HARD.  Then my 6 year old battled it.  I left on a business trip this past Saturday morning for Denver prepared to work out hard (one swim and one long run were on the schedule).  I came ready and prepared, and even thought ahead to slot the swim workout on my arrival day – I thought the run would be more profoundly affected by the thinner air.  My swim workout was just “meh” in the shorter 20 yard pool.

Then the symptoms set in.

I ended up in bed for most of the day yesterday (Sunday) – no way I could attempt to run with my sinuses and head the way it is.  I slept fitfully and woke this morning with a 1:30PM flight back to Philly.  It causes me to wonder how other triathletes and runners deal with illness and training?  My next race isn’t until 10/14, so I have some time.  I expect to be back into the groove on Wednesday with a weight training workout and a run Thursday.


How do you all deal with getting sick while training?

“Engage Maverick, Engage!”

So in the week following my first triathlon, I took a coupl e of rest days, followed by a spin class, a couple of nice outdoor runs in beautiful weather, and two terrible pool swims.

All I’ve been able to think about is (a) how dreadful my first mass start swim experience was last week, and (b) this open water OCEAN swim coming up in my next race.  My enthusiasm for multi-sport is very high, and I am really excited to grow and get stronger for longer races in 2013, but I have a bit of a monkey on my back when I’m in the water and that needs to be dealt with.

In short – I’ve got a confidence problem.

I went into that first swim so confident, and it all went to crap as soon as I drank my first gullet-full of lake water.  I’ve got to figure out a way to buck up and get this thing done.  I’m almost thinking that some sort of over-compensation needs to take place – maybe “heavying-up” on swimming (masters swim team, lapsters, etc)?  I’m sure other endurance competitors have faced similar feelings after biking following a crash.

There is a local yoga studio that also offers spin classes taught by triathlete/cyclists.  I went to one on Wednesday morning and it kicked my ass.  My biggest issue was standing in the saddle, especially at the lower resistances.  I’ve got a long way to go, but I think the spin classes might make it fun.

The day after the triathlon…

I feel like I’m slacking, but I made a promise to myself that I would rest until Wednesday.  I had been training hard for yesterday’s race since June (when I bought my bike off Craigslist), and my triathlon is actually part of a larger journey I began way back in 2011.

I’m still feeling a little rattled about how monumentally BAD the swim was yesterday.  I’m hoping that just experience will help this, and I’m sure a trillion pool laps won’t hurt either, but that odd feeling of not-being-able-to-breathe is a bit haunting.  Cape Henlopen involves an ocean OWS, so it’s not going to be any easier.  The good news is that the bike and run are flat as a 2×4 (both legs are a bit longer).  I’d happily trade some mileage for hills though.

I was looking through the race data from my Garmin 910xt, and nothing jumped out at me.  The autolap setting on the bike was for 5 miles, so there really aren’t enough good data points available to draw any solid conclusions.  One thing that I forgot to mention was that I momentarily panicked in the OWS yesterday – while treading water at the start I inadvertently LOCKED the screen on my watch!  I just hit a few buttons blindly and magically unlocked it.  I need to spend some time with the manual again!

Race 1 – In the Books (and I lived)…

Sunday – September 16th.  Marsh Creek State Park in Downingtown, PA.

My alarm went off at 3:45 AM.  I had packed my transition bag Saturday, briefly before heading out to attend my cousin’s wedding.  You might question my sanity for scheduling a race for a morning following a wedding, and as soon as I have a cogent answer for why I did that, I’ll be sure to get back to you…

I arrived right at 5:10AM, and saw a line of red brakelights.  Apparently the park police did not want to grant access to the growing throng of insane racers appearing out of the darkness.  After about 15 minutes of watching more headlights appear in my rearview, they finally relented and allowed us in to the parking areas.

I unpacked the car and immediately realized I left my hoodie at home, and considering the pre-dawn temp was 50 degrees I was not a happy camper.  I headed over to check in and begin to stage for the race in the pitch black.  In a few minutes I was checked in, race packet received, and body-marked with a Sharpie (for the uninitiated – they stencil or write your race number and age class on your leg and arm).  I also had to visit the BikeLine tent for a bar endplug, since on of mine wiggled loose during the ride.

So as the sun came up, I laid out all my gear in a logical way that would make for easy-pickin when “transitioning” (the time to transfer between swim and bike, bike and run).  The gentleman to my right was a great guy and was also doing his first tri.  He was an experienced swimmer and rider and said that his run was his weak part.  Going into this race I felt confident in my swim and a little leery of the bike, given the terrain.

No matter how much I tried, this was the neatest I could manage.


So as the race got closer, the transition area began to REALLY fill up.  The photo above looks like ample room, but there was another bike that came in late that squeezed between our bikes above.  He could have been a little nicer about it, and come to think of it that guy was the only borderline poor attitude I encountered all day – in fact the overwhelming helpfulness of folks at this race is very much like the other runs and bike rides I’ve participated in this year.

As time drew close, I put on the wetsuit, grabbed my yellow cap and goggles and began the walk over to the swim entry.  I was in the 2nd wave, and I tried (unsuccessfully) to get over to the far right side of the pack.  Once the word was given, the “washing machine” started.  Within the first 30 seconds I knew it was going to be rough going.  I was slammed in the arms a couple of times, took a kick to my right hip, and then someone decided to swim ACROSS the line-of-march and swam ACROSS MY BACK, forcing me under water and swallowing about a quart of the lake.  I couldn’t get my heart rate under control and my breathing was panicked.  I have swum 4-6 times this distance in open water and haven’t had any problems, but in a race all bets are off.  I survived well enough and made it to the other end (this was a point-to-point swim) and into the transition area for T1.

T1 was good.  I gathered myself since I was so freaked and calmly made it to my setup.  I forgot the gel pack I planned on taking about 2 miles from the end of the bike along with my sunglasses (which sounds frivolous, but at speeds over 30 mph your eyes tend to dry out and catch bugs!).

I had trouble with my flying mount (which I practiced quite a bit), but the combo of an immediate hill along with chopped up pavement and an oncoming ambulance made this tough.  I dropped a shoe out of my pedal clip and just ended up pulling over and remounting.

The bike was hellacious.  The hills were tough, and those 12 miles was a tougher ride than the 45 mile 49.8 mile LIVESTRONG ride.  I got passed a lot, but I also did my share of passing as well.  I made it a point to gear down on the hills and I think I rode a very smart bike leg today.  I even kept it light and pedaled rapidly with low resistance to loosen the legs for the run, and I think it worked.

T2 was smooth.  I put on socks since I had a bad blister on the top of my right foot from 3 days of tradeshow-booth-standing in poor fitting dress shoes.  I set off on the run and guess what?—MORE HILLS!  But this one was just one big uphill grade for a mile.  The good news was that the out-n-back made the last mile downhill, and I pushed it pretty good.  In fact, that last mile was the best feeling run I’ve ever experienced (including training).

I am smiling, right?

So I cruised to the finish line and I’m happy to say it was a great race!

Things I would do differently:

  • Dress Warmer for the cold early morning
  • Don’t forget the gel and glasses on the bike
  • Stock up on Dollar Store flip-flops for the walk over gravel parking lots to start the swim (tough on bare feet!)

So I’m off to watch the Eagles for a bit, and then an afternoon/evening date with my wife!

3 days to go before my first Triathlon…

So it’s Wednesday night.  I flew to Chicago yesterday to represent my company at TaleoWorld – a user conference for Taleo’s suite of Talent Management software.  My company has built a web application to facilitate online reference checking, and we bolt-onto their applicant tracking recruitment software.  It’s a neat space to be in, and my company is largely recognized as the leader of a very shot line of capable providers in this line of work.

So I’m in Chicago, and it’s your typical tradeshow environment.  Unhealthy food, lots of alcohol, late nights, and on the whole not a very positive-pre-race environment!

I moseyed-on down to the fitness center in my hotel, thinking I would get some upper body weight training in this evening, followed by a nice long run tomorrow AM (done easy) with a full rest day Friday and an easy Saturday AM bike spin…

The fitness center – which looks completely pimped out by the way – costs $15 for guests to use daily!  I was floored!  I know it’s great looking equipment, and I’m sure it’s not cheap, but having worked in the health club industry for a time, I know that most of that equipment is on lease and business unit profitability shouldn’t make a daily fee necessary.  I was so pissed!  Needless to say, I said no thanks and proceeded back to my room for some bodyweight exercises and stretching.

I am beyond excited for Sunday.  I want to keep this about having a fun race, but the part of my brain that is wired for approval-via-achievement wants to put the pedal down and go nuts.  I’m going to plan on swimming hard, maintaining a consistent cadence on the bike (trending to the lower intensity/higher RPM), and then push the last mile of the run.  The out-n-back run course is very uphill for the first half until the turnabout, so I’ll put the hammer down there.  I’m not going to make any goal times, just go by feel.

So here I sit in my hotel room in Chicago, just getting more and more AMPED up for Sunday!

New Toy – Garmin 910XT Forerunner

I’ve been experiencing several issues with my DroidX and my tracking app RunKeeper.  I like the app, and for most people it, combined with a decent Polar Heart Rate Monitor, should be all you need to get things started in terms of monitoring activity and data.  My phone has become increasingly more and more “crashy” – in fact I had to do a battery-pull-restart in the first 100 yards of a 5 miler race back in the early sprint!  I’m certain that while the app is a bit glitchy at times, the majority of the issue is with my device and it’s wonky GPS.

I needed a watch anyway, and why the 910xt looks a bit 1980s Casio – it’s not too bad.  Plus it sends the “endurance athlete vibe” – which is still a laugh riot for me but the hard work is starting to show.  There was no way I was going to mess with my phone in the triathlon races coming up over the next 30 days, and this way I can begin to get solid training data plus know and understand what’s happening “real-time” on the course.

I bought it locally at my favorite local running store – The Delaware Running Company.  I mentioned to the kid that I decided against buying it online due to the fact that DRC sponsors all kinds of great events and causes.  He thanked me, and then took 10% off my entire order (also grabbed some BodyGlide and Bungee Laces).  Sadly they do not stock the Footpod nor the Power Meter for the bike, so I’ll add those down the line.

I’ll be spending today watching football (Go EAGLES) and fooling around with the gadget.  I’m also going to play with TrainingPeaks and see how difficult the transfer is.  I’m thinking about engaging with a coach over the off-season.

If you’re considering the 910XT – read this overview –

This is getting serious!