Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fishy, Fishy, Swimmin' in the Water

Tuesday, April 19, 2011  at 9:52 PM
Jenn and I just got back from our first swim in over a year.  It was AWESOME!  I was pretty nervous about getting back in the pool, but everything went really well.  The seminary that I go to is a part of Andrews University.  They have some cool stuff like a frisbee golf course and a dairy farm, but they also have a sweet pool!  Jenn and I had checked it out a month ago, but tonight was the first real test.  We met one of our good friends on the way in, and he showed us the ropes.  The water was pretty warm at 85*, but it was pretty nice on a cold icy night.   
There were a whole bunch of people there swimming laps, so the lifeguard had us circle swim.  That was fine because I got a chance to do something I had never really done before...drafting.  Jenn is a much better swimmer than me, so I let her lead and tried to stay on her toes.  It was pretty awesome, although I didn't really see much of a difference in my time.  I wanted to take it easy tonight as I'm just getting back into it, but I thought my times turned out pretty good.  We did 300 yards of warmup, followed by 5x100's with 15 second breaks, and cooled off with 200 yards making a total of 1000 yards.  My average lap was right at a minute.  I know that's slow for a lot of you, but I think that is a great place to start.  It feels good to be back in the water again.  Since I've officially lost over 30 lbs since December 26, I can totally feel a difference.  It was a lot easier tonight than ever before!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Let the Training Begin

Monday, April 18, 2011  at 9:15 PM
Yesterday marked the official start of training for Steelhead 70.3.  Jennifer and I took last week off (excluding a couple rides on the bikes), and we started training for our next events.  We're both doing an Olympic triathlon on June 26, but that will work into my training for my half-ironman.  Jenn created her training schedule on beginnertriathlete.com, but they only allow you to do free ones for sprints and olympics.  So, I'm too cheap to drop $30 to get the "Bronze" membership, and I decided to look around on the internet to find a free one.  There are a bunch out there if you look hard enough.  They all are pretty similar, so it's a matter of what you really want.  I ended up with this one if you care to check it out, or you can see the first week's right here:

I liked how it was laid out and the different workouts it incorporates.  Those parentheses by the swims represent different workouts for the pool.  The only thing that I am frustrated about, and it was this way on all the training plans, is that the run workouts are by time and not distance.  It makes a big difference to me how hard I'm going to run depending on how far I have to go.  Any wisdom on figuring out how to do these runs better?

I'm sticking with the workouts but not with those days.  I plan on moving them around a bit to work with the weather, and taking Saturday off.  Yesterday's workouts were pretty awesome.  Josh and I decided to brave the INSANE wind and go for a 20 mile ride.  Both of us are decent riders, but we struggled on the way out.  We more or less did an out and back that went straight into the wind and then right back out of it.  We were cranking pretty hard and only averaging 11mph.  The wind was crazy!  Then, once we made the turn, it was amazing to hardly even pedal but be flying down the road at 23-24mph.  It was so much fun.

After the ride, I decided to go for a run.  I ran my favorite 6 mile out and back, and I felt pretty good.  That was the first run since I busted last weekend on the half-marathon.  Again, the wind was a factor, but it was just opposite than on the bike.  At the turn, I was running just under 8 min/miles.  Then, after plugging away for the next three with a major headwind, I ended with a 8:18 pace.  I thought that was pretty decent considering I was just going for anything under 9 min/miles.  I couldn't let the wind beat me, because Mary @ trilikemary.blogspot.com did a the Southern Footprints Half-marathon in the wind this weekend and smoked my time from last week.  She was a big encouragement on this run!  Check out her race report...

Today, my legs are pretty tired.  They're not sore, but they are just "used."  It's a good feeling.  Tomorrow will be the first swim that I've done in a long time.  It's time though, because Steelhead is in 17 weeks!  We got snow this morning, so hopefully the weather will be decent for outdoor runs and rides in the upcoming weeks.

I have enjoyed reading all your race reports from your races this weekend.  It looks like you all have had a lot of fun!  Maybe one day we'll race together.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Insert Title Here"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011  at 9:17 PM
I've waited till today to give my race report for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is because the results were supposed to be emailed to us by today, and I wanted to give you "official" results rather than just what I've got on my Garmin.  But, they still haven't arrived, and I'm feeling bad for not giving  you a race report.  The second is for embarrassment!  I thought of several titles for this post, and you can pick any one of them:
"Fail, Smitty, Fail!!!"
"Holy Half = Holy Hell"
"Hoorah for Run/Walkers"
"Bad Run, No Fun, Lots of Sun"

Any one of them will do.  It's just a matter of what part of the race you would like to focus on.  As you know from my last post, the weather for Sunday was very much on our minds this last week.  It kept changing and changing, and I wish it had stayed at 69* and T-showers.  Instead, it ended up being a blistering 85*.  Now, that's not really that hot, but it was such a huge change from all our training runs, that it cooked us!  I learned several lessons from this race, and I'll summarize them below.  But here is how the race went.

Jennifer and I woke up much earlier than needed to get down to South Bend, IN to the registration because we hadn't pre-registered.  We really wanted a race shirt, but we had heard that you could arrive on the day of the race and FOR SURE get one.  So, we busted our butts down there to be some of the first in line only to find out that the shirts were GONE!  What a bummer.  So now we had a couple hours to waste.  It was kind of nice to pick any port-a-potty that we wanted and be the first to use it.  We just people watched as the crowd began to grow.  Some of our friends, who had pre-registered and got a sweet tech shirt, arrived, so we got to hang out with them for a bit.  Nick knew his ITB's were not in shape for this race, so he came as the cheerleader for his wife, Taryn, who ran the 10k with one of her friends, Carolyn.  Josh, (you might remember him from when we worked on our aero position in this post), came ready for the race too.
We got all stretched out and ready.  I ended up wearing just a cotton t-shirt instead of a wicking shirt which was a bummer.  It was nice to have my new running hat to keep the blazing sun off my balding head.
 After everyone gathered behind the timing line, we heard the gun go off, and the Holy Half-Marathon had begun.  This was a much smaller half than my first which was the Atlanta Half-Marathon that Jennifer and I ran together on Thanksgiving day 2009.  There were about 1200 people at this one, but that might have been a few too many for the course.  We started on a road, but were soon directed to sidewalks.  I ended up running around people in the grass to get by them.  It was jammed!  The course ended up being a majority on sidewalks, some gravel trail running around the two lakes, and a little asphalt road running.  Here's what the two-lap course looked like:
People were everywhere, which I didn't really care about as long as I had a place to run.  I was super confident going into this race because I had smoked ALL of my long runs with great times and great paces.  All I had to do was run the pace that I knew I needed to get my goal of breaking 2 hours.  That's just 9:05's.
 As we were cruising along, I really was feeling pretty good, but as the sun warmed from the mild 65* when we arrived up to 85*, my body started to really feel it.  At mile 4, I was starting to feel a little drained.
 Jenn was feeling it too, but I'll let her tell you about it on her blog (HERE).  She'll be putting up her race report soon, so check back to here her side of the Holy Half.
 Taryn (on the right) and Carolyn (on the left) finished their 10k, and they looked strong...too bad I wasn't feeling so strong.  I was wasted and was just getting to the half-way mark.  Of course, I smiled for the cameras, but I was hurting!
I was already trying to figure out how much further I could go.  I had planned on the water stations and gatorade stations to satisfy and replenish me even though we were expecting such hot weather.  That was NOT happening.  I didn't have anything left in my body to burn up!  So I started trying to figure out what to do.  I had seen the back of this one guys shirt for most of the race, so I knew that he was running a similar pace to mine, so I decided to chat it up with him.  He went to Notre Dame, and we talked for the next two miles.  At mile 8.6, I basically ran out of gas.  What a failure!  I was totally jacked up in the head and didn't understand what was going on since I had dominated 12 miles the Sunday before.  I couldn't figure it out, but I had had about enough, so I decided to run/walk the rest.  I thought I might be able get a little recovery and then keep running.  My overall pace was about 8:44, so I had a little bit of time that I could recover with.  A really nice girl had stopped running at the same time I did, so we talked for a minute and then ran a solid chunk as we pushed each other along.  Again, I was overcome and slowed to a walk.  This went on for awhile.  Finally, I hooked up with a guy that was having the same trouble I was.  He had trained hard for this race but couldn't handle the crazy change in temperature.  Jenn and I had trained in 30's, 20's and even the teens, so this was insane compared to those runs.  This guy, Chris, and I pushed each other along, but I watched my goal disappear beneath the ticking digits of my watch.  It SUCKED!  I saw several people laying on the side of the road with paramedics and oxygen masks, and I felt lucky that I wasn't one of them.  Chris and I cranked up the pace for the last bit to rumble across the line with a sickening 2:12 at a 10:04/mile pace.  It was pretty crushing to have trained that hard and not even come close to my goal!
 Jenn was still on the course, so after a long drink, banana and bagel, I walked back on the course to find her.  I found her in about the same shape as me...walking!  We walked a bit and then ran on in to the finish line.  Josh grabbed someone's poster that they had made for another Jennifer.

 We grabbed another couple pictures with the runners (above) and the whole crew that came to support us (below).  What great friends we have!
 After a stop for something cold at Sonic, Jenn and I headed home to rest and recover from our grueling run.  I had been feeling a little pain at the end of my foot during the last half of the race, so I was interested to see what the problem was.  I found this when I took off my sock.




I found out that I pinch my toes every time I take off from the ground.  It's going to take some work to train myself not to squeeze my toes every time I lift off.  This blister, and the one under the nail of the next toe, were pretty painful.  They have gone down a bit now, but I've got to try something different.

So here's the deal...  Jenn and I have lost all confidence in ourselves to run.  We want revenge on the half-marathon, so we're trying to figure out what to do.  This Sunday is supposed to be a high of 46, which is just about right to run 13.1 miles.  We're thinking about just running a route here in Berrien Springs and calling THAT our half-marathon.  What do you think?


  1. Don't ever rely on the water/gatorade stations at any race.  ALWAYS bring your own and plan better for nutrition.
  2. Pre-register for events to get the shirt and avoid carrying around 5 extra pounds of sweat in your cotton t-shirt
  3. Don't be too confident going into a race, because the downer if you suck, sucks!

I hope that you all had wonderful weekends and rocked your races!  I was thinking about you all during the race and only ran as far as I did because I didn't want to report to you that I wussed out.  Thanks for the motivation to get that far, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Taper Week, Here I Come!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011  at 10:18 PM
It is officially taper week for the Holy Half Marathon this coming Sunday!  Jenn and I are pretty stoked about it and are praying for good weather.  Right now, weather.com is predicting awesome temperatures, but a little wetness...
I hope they are right about the temps and wrong about the rain.  That could suck, but their predictions change all the time, so hopefully they really are wrong this time!

Sunday was our last long run.  We did 12 miles!  That's the longest I've run since our last half marathon back in 2009.  Instead of mapping a new route that we didn't really know, we decided to do two laps of a 6.2 mile course that we knew pretty well.  The weather was supposed to be super rainy all day except for about three hours from 10am to 1pm.  So, out the door we went at 10 o'clock.  Since we were running two loops, we dropped our water bottles at the start so we could pick them up on the second round.  The first lap wasn't too bad.  In fact, I passed my buddy, Josh, twice as he was doing his last run of 10 miles.  That guy is a beast!  As I got back to the start of lap two, I grabbed my bottle of Powerade and kept running.  That's when it hit me like a hurricane in the gulf, like a tornado in the midwest, like a leaf blower on a lady bug...THE WIND!  Sometimes I just hate Michigan because of the wind.  The same route that I had run just a few miles before had become tornado alley with crazy winds blowing head on.  I struggled through the next three or four miles till I got back into town where the wind died down some.  The ONLY benefit to the wind was it carried me up the last hill.  I found myself almost leaning back on it as I ran with it pushing at my back.  12 miles was enough running for the day.  I had passed Jenn going the other way, so I hopped in the car and drove till I found her to run the last mile with her.  The run was rough on both of us.  The good news is that I feel pretty ready for this Sunday.  My goal for all these runs is to be faster than 9:05min/miles.  I finished the 12 miler with an 8:39min/mile average which I think is just fine.  I'm pretty sure I can hold that for another 1.1 miles!

I had been patiently waiting and tracking a certain package of goodies from Nashbar that finally arrived yesterday.  Jenn and I have burned up our rear tires on the trainer this winter, so we thought we deserved a new set.  Her chain was also ready to be replaced as well as some new handlebar tape for me.  So last night, I got busy cleaning and repairing.  Jenn's chain was a cinch with the masterlink that came with her chain.  She said all her shifting woes are gone and it runs super smooth.  I slapped on new tire on my front wheel.

Hopefully I won't have to change one in a race...I was SLOW!

Then it was on to a totally different look for the ole Felt.  It was time for a change!

New Handlebar Tape!
I had thought about staying with the yellow, and then I had thought about going with white (just because it looks so hot!!!), but I ended up going with black, and I think I'm glad.  Here are some "in-progress" shots.
Before - Old tape coming off

One Side Done 
Both Sides Done

Aerobars Done!
I was so stoked about how she looked that I threw on the bike shorts and did a power ride for 30 minutes.  It was so sweet.  I took some of the old handlebar tape and put it along the tops of the bars for extra padding, and it is really nice.  The temps are looking better, so I'll put that other tire on the rear wheel and start spending some quality time on the asphalt.

Tonight, Jenn and I did an easy 5k around town.  Both of our legs are feeling pretty good, and we are really looking forward to Sunday.

Good luck to all of you as you train for your races, and thanks for reading!