Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's time to take a step back and reassert some goals for July. Lately I've found myself slipping in my eating habits. You know how it goes. I'm in a hurry I'll just slide into the McDonald's drive thru. I've been drinking a lot of water I'll just have one Mountain Dew. Pretty soon I've had 5 Mountain Dews in 5 days and been to McD's more times than I care to admit. I've got all sorts of excuses I could use and ways to justify but let's not do that.

Instead of making excuses let's just move forward. For the month of July I am setting 4 goals for myself.

1. Soda - no more than 2 per week
2. No fast food
3. abs & core workout 2-3 x wk. each
4. Track food on SP

This is not an all or nothing deal. I'm not going to consider my goals a failure if I slip a little. I realize July is going to be a tough month for these goals. We'll be going to parties for the 4th. I'll be doing some traveling to race and visit friends. If I find myself in a Taco Bell at 3 am on July 5th I'm not going to call it quits for the month. It's a sliding scale.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rebuilding the core

How time flies. It's been almost a month since my last strength session. We discontinued our membership for the gym at the end of May, and ever since that time I've been busy with my daily life as well as running and biking. All the time I've had it in the back of my mind that I need to do something at the very least for core and abs. That has been moved abruptly to the front of my mind as I've started to get some of those back pains in the last few days that I was experiencing before I started my strength routine.

I found a workout program as I was flipping through a special issue Outside magazine section that came with my normal July issue. There are a couple different workouts created by a water polo coach. I've done some of these or variations of these workouts before. They definitely work. I'm going to start off with the core program and the abs program. They are both short and intense, so I'll just do it first thing in the morning or tag it on to the end of a bike or run workout.

Here are the workouts that I'll be doing. I'm going to start off alternating days. One day I'll do abs, the next core, and so on. I'm going to shoot for at least 2 per week of each, and hopefully 3 per week of each. I just don't want to set my sights to high from the start.


Lower Back Pushes - 2 sets x 10 each - lie on back with legs extended on the ground, tighten stomach muscles and push lower back firmly against floor

Swimmers - 2 sets x 10 each - lie on stomach, with clenched fists & thumbs up, raise & lower opposite hands and feet, hold each rep 3 secs.

Supermans- 2 sets x 10 each - raise both legs and arms, hold each rep for 3 secs.

Front Bridge- 2 sets x 45 seconds each - weight resting on your toes and forearms (hands clasped on the floor), hold in a plank position 45 seconds

Side Bridge- 2 sets x 45 seconds each - Keeping body in a straight line, balance on the sides of feet and right forearm, with left hand reaching straight up toward the sky for 45 seconds, switch sides


Crunches - 2 sets x 20 each - with feet on floor and hands behind ears, crunch up & hold for 3 secs.

Ankle Touches - 2 sets x 20 each - Lying on back with feet on floor, crunch up & reach right hand toward right ankle, then left hand toward left ankle

Toe Touches - 2 sets x 20 each - Lying on back with legs extended straight up into air, reach fingers toward toes as you crunch upward

Side Toe Touches - 2 sets x 20 each - Like toe touches, but reach each hand toward the opposite foot to work obliques

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Big K 5K

I had one goal for the 5k I ran this morning. The goal was to run it in under 20 minutes. I had no specific goals for how I wanted to place. I wasn't racing anyone except myself...and the clock. I think it is fair to say that I don't train for 5k runs specifically. I run 5k's during the sprint duathlons, but I never run the first one all out, and the second one isn't really just a 5k anymore is it?

The course started in Covington, Kentucky at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center near the Ohio River. This is significant because the course runs about a 1/4 mile up the road and takes a right turn to the bridge into Cincinnati. A nice little run around the block and it's back to the bridge into Covington and to the finish. With the exception of the bridge it was a fairly flat course. But that bridge just sucks.

Before the race began I decided that I wasn't going to hold back anything. I'd go out fast at the start, and go as fast as I could go the entire race. I wanted to leave it all out on the course. I made sure to get a good warm up beforehand, so I wasn't struggling the the first mile to find my stride. That first mile felt good. We hit the first bridge crossing very quickly, and mile one was over right as we crossed into Cincinnati.

Mile 1: 6:04

Wow, how quickly a race can turn on you. This second mile was brutal. The creeping, nagging voices of doubt came out to play today. "Come on Adam slow down. Honestly does breaking 20 minutes really mean anything?" Followed by, "Now that I think about it what is the point of all this training? Up early in the morning to run and bike. On your days off you go to races. What an idiot! You could be sleeping in!" On and on it goes round and round in my head. As the swirling voices of doubt yammered I just remembered those things I can control: breathing, arms, posture, and turn over. By the end of mile 2 I was really just ready to stop running.

Mile 2: 12:40

Going into mile 3 we were back on the bridge heading back toward Kentucky. I fell into pace with a woman who seemed to be working as hard as I was. It made me feel a little bit better, and helped pull me out of my own head. That seems to be the trick some days. You just need something to help pull you away from the voices that doubt your every step. I've heard one suggestion of using a rubber band around the wrist. Just give it a little snap when you need to be put back into the moment. It's not a bad idea. The other thing that brought me back was seeing the finish line from the bridge. It was at this point that I actually said out loud "bear down". I had to finish strong.

Mile 3: 19:30

After passing mile 3 I realized that 20 was slipping away. But, by this point it didn't matter. I had dialed in on the finish line and was giving it everything. My pacer, or maybe I was her pacer, was right with me heading into that final stretch. With a final push I hit the finish line at 20:08. I turned and gave her a weary "good race". I felt like puking, and that's a good thing. When I ran track in high school that was how I knew I ran a good race. If I feel like I'm going to blow chunks at the end of the race I knew I gave everything. Today I gave everything, and I can't ask for more than that.

Based on that one goal this race was complete failure. As far as failures go, I could not be happier. I finished 3rd in my age group out of 29 other runners, and 29th overall out of 320 runners. How could I possible complain when I won a bottle of chocolate syrup, and a bottle of strawberry syrup for my 3rd place age group finish? I guess that's what you get when one of your major sponsors is Kroger grocery store. A shiny medal is nice, but it's no chocolate syrup. You better believe I'll be having myself a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup award tonight!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Run Like Hell!

The other night I attended my third meeting with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's committee putting together their fundraising 5K and party the Run Like Hell. It's starting to get exciting as we approach the event's official kick-off date of August 21st. I don't think I should say too much right now as all the details aren't hammered out, but it's going to be a great kick-off event. I was able to secure a couple of pre-registration prizes to give away, and hopefully there will be even more prizes to give away before the time comes.

Keep checking the website and our new myspace page at:
Some very exciting changes are coming soon!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Waited so long

"I've got two tickets to paradise, won't you pack your bags..." *bang* That's the sound of me blowing my brains out to the golden oldies at work. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against the golden oldies or classic rock, but this has been the longest, most stressful work week I've had in a long time. All I'm saying is like David in the 40 Year Old Virgin, "If I have to hear "Yamo Be There" one more time, I'm going to "Yamo" burn this place to the ground." But I see the light at the end of the tunnel. The end of the tunnel where the door goes to the outside world for 3 much needed days off. As soon as I step out that door I'll take a deep breath and blow all the work stuff out like the dude did with disease in The Green Mile.

What am I going to do with my 3 days. Most of all relax. Maybe we'll go swimming. It's supposed to be extraordinarily hot over the next few days, so some pool time is due. Besides hanging with the family I'll be doing some riding and running of course. After a rough week and a couple of missed workouts I look forward not having to get up at 5 am to squeeze in a workout. I may actually sleep in until 7 am. woo hoo.

In addition to running and cycling I need to get my strength training regiment back in order. It's been 2 weeks since my last workout at The Healthplex, and I have no gym and no plan in place to go forward. It looks like I'll be doing it from home for the time being, which I'm not thrilled about, but I guess I gotta do what I gotta do. The problem with doing it at home is that there are too many distractions and too many easy excuses not to do it. I'll take a look at some options over the next few days and work something out. At the very least I need to start doing some core work again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

I have some tough decisions to make about some upcoming races. I knew this moment was coming, and like the true procrastinator that I am I put it off until the last minute. Well, the last minute is here for some of the decisions that need to be made.

  • Do I really want to (and can I afford to) do the trail runs?
  • Which half marathon will I run for the World Wide Half?
  • Am I slightly deranged for scheduling so many races this year?
The first question is the most pressing, since the first trail run is coming up this Sunday. I convinced my buddy Rick to get out and do this race with me, but I'm doubting that it is a good idea at this point. He brought up a good point the other day. To quote him he said it's "a sprained ankle waiting to happen". I laughed it off at the time and called him a sissy or something along those lines, but he has a good point. Do I want to risk an ankle or some other injury in the middle of a duathlon series? By not doing the race I could get some much needed sleep, save some cash, not get injured, and still get out for a good day of training. Right now I'm leaning toward skipping both trail runs, and finding a 5k to run sometime. Maybe I'll run the Big K 5K next weekend. I'm itching to get out and set a sub-20 minute p.r. 5k time. I know I've got it in me.

The second question I have a little time to think about, but I should start considering the question. I signed up for the World Wide Half Marathon officially the other day, and I'm really excited about participating this year. I found Phedippidations last year about 2 weeks before the first World Wide Half, and was in no shape to jump in and try to run the 13.1 miles. This year I'm ready to go. I have my training plan ready. Now I just need to pick a race. I was thinking of just setting up my own course to run, but I think it will be more meaningful and fun to do it in an official race. I've picked out 3 possibilities: Dayton, Columbus, and Louisville. Columbus would be fun because I have friends that live in Columbus, so there would be a free place to stay and lots of fun to be had. On the other hand Louisville is looking good. That would allow me to tick off one more state in my cross country challenge. Dayton would be good because it is the earliest, but the other two are the front contenders right now. Decisions, decisions.

As for the third question? Only time will tell.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Training Between Races & Commuting

With Deer Creek in the can I have 4 weeks until my next "A" race, Caesar Creek Duathlon. Next weekend I have a 3.4 mile trail race, but that is just for fun. I'm hoping to talk a few friends into getting out with me for that one. In the meantime it's time for training, training, and more training. I met one of my competitors at Deer Creek, who will also be at Caesar Creek, and I've got my work cut out for me.

The plan is to work on speed. I want to get in at least one speed interval workout per week on the bike and on the run. Aside from that I'm going to try to get in two other runs per week and a lot of cycling. I'm feeling good about the run, but not as much about the bike. I'd like to get my speed up another 1-2 mph. I don't know if that's possible in a month but I'll give it a go.

I've also read that cycling training translates to better run times, but the reverse is not so. I can't remember the source of this bit of info off the top of my head, but the suggestion was to do a 60/40 split on bike to run training. That sounds pretty good about now.

Right now I'm at about 80% riding and 20% running. I decided to do 3 days straight of commuting to work on my bike. That doesn't seem like a big deal except for the fact that it's a 50 mile round trip. So far, it's been pretty good. The weather has cooperated with a couple of nice, low humidity days. So far my legs are holding up, with some soreness this morning, on the second day. If I have any complaints it's about some soreness of the butt. I was full expecting it, so I prepared for it this time by trying some Udderly Smooth udder cream. I can't say that it took away all the pain, but between applying some after the ride home last night and before the ride today it felt much better than I've ever felt after consecutive long ride or commute days.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Deer Creek Duathlon Race Report

It was a bit of a rocky start to the morning. The race was at Deer Creek State Park which is about an hour and a half north of where we live, so I had to get up at about 5 am to hopefully get on the road by 5:45. Luckily everything was packed in the car, and my clothes were laid out, so all I had to do was get dressed, eat and head out the door. As I was pulling out of the driveway at 5:50 I realized I was missing something important: directions. Ah crap, that cost me 10 minutes of going back inside and messing around on the computer to print off some directions. In hindsight I am so glad that I did, because when I got off the highway there were virtually no signs for the park. I took one wrong turn with the directions, because it wasn't quite clear where I needed to turn. If I would have tried the trip with no directions I would have been wandering around the middle of nowhere cussing at nobody but myself. I live in a small town, but this was just past all small towns out into the farmland.

The weather reports had been calling for rain all week. Everyday I checked the weather on my little computer widget, and it showed the ominous black cloud with lightning coming out of it. Then I'd look outside at the glaring sun frying the grass and wonder where this ominous black cloud was hiding. Apparently it was hiding out about one hour north of our town. It was about at that point in the drive up 71, as I was looking out across the flat stretch in front of me that I saw the ominous black cloud and lightning. About 30 seconds later the rain unleashed. When I say unleashed, I mean someone just opened the flood gates. It was a torrential downpour for the next 20 minutes. The whole time I kept saying to myself: either this will let up, or I will be considered so hardcore, or crazy, for racing in this weather.

As luck would have I passed through the storm before reaching the park. The passing storm actually created perfect racing weather. It was overcast throughout the race, and the temperature didn't get above 70 degrees. The downside (although it could have been worse) was that I reached the race site with 15 minutes to: get my gear together, pick up my numbers and timing chip, and get set up in transition. Yikes. I managed to stay calm as I quickly got things together and positioned my bike in a completely full transition area. It turned out that I had to set up off to the side with my bike leaning on the fence that surrounds the transition area. It's really preferable to racking because I didn't have to worry about knocking other bikes over when in transition. I didn't have time to get any photos, because I barely had time to get ready and get to the start line. Maybe next time.

I hit the start line with about 60 seconds to spare. It was just enough time to collect my thoughts, get focused, and scan some calves and race numbers to see who was in my division and age group. A deep breath and we were off on the first run. I marked 3 racers from my age group that looked strong, and paced off them for the first 5K. The goal was to hang back behind them throughout the first run. I was determined not to get out too fast today. I managed to stay behind one of the three. I overtook two of the runners late in the 5K, but I didn't sweat it. I knew it was because they were slowing down, and not because I was going too fast.

The first 5K split was 21:27 with a pace of 6:55. If I can match that pace on a second 5K this season I will be so happy. As of right now that is my new goal for the season: even split 5K's or even better negative split 5K's.

I ran into a glitch coming in the first transition. In my hurry to get things ready I didn't have my gloves strapped on the stem like I usually do, so I lost a good 15 seconds fumbling with them. I should have just left them behind, but I got flustered. Transition one took 1:17. It's a lot slower than where I want to be, so it's time to do some transition practice.

The bike is a bit of a blur. It was a very smooth ride, so there isn't really any big problems to focus on. It was a tougher course than the Tri For Joe course with more hills, and long stretches out in open fields with moderate headwinds. I'm happy with the fact that I managed to keep my average above 20 mph. I need to work on finding the right combination of speed and efficiency. I see many of the riders pushing these big gears. I've tried it, but I just don't feel comfortable pushing the big gears. I feel more efficient spinning faster at an easier gear. The problem is I think I'm sacrificing some speed. Most of the time I feel pretty good about my cycling until I get out on these races. When I look at the rates for the racers on results I'm dead center of the pack. I was ranked 24th out of the 56 sprint duathlon racers. It's something that still needs a lot of work, and maybe as the summer progresses and I get in more miles I'll improve on the bike. I have to remember that I spent all winter and spring running and training for the marathon, so I'm on top of the running. I'm still warming up on the bike.

The 22k bike course took me 40:05 for an average of 20.4 mph. I should be happier with that than I am. I've broken through that imaginary 20 mph average barrier that I had in my mind all last year. Unfortunately, all I can see are all the people that passed me on the bike course. ugh.

Transition two went much smoother than the first. I brought the time in transition down to 1:01 which is more respectable. I'd still like to get that under one minute. I think it's time to try leaving my shoes in the clips at least as I get off the bike to speed up the second transition.

There is always one consistent theme for any second run of a duathlon: pain. Much like a marathon where it comes down to who can persevere the last 6 miles, a duathlon comes down to who can persevere that final run. There was no doubt that the pain was going to be there. It was just a matter of whether it was going to be manageable pain or cramping uncontrolled pain. With a banana and two S! Caps before the race and two more S! Caps near the end of the bike I put my confidence in those 4 little caps and a piece of fruit to keep the cramps away. As I ran out of the transition area I felt the old familiar twitching that signals the beginning of cramping. I pushed the thought out of my mind as I knew that I was still ahead of the two racers that I had left behind on the first run, but I didn't know by how much, and I was chasing the third racer. As quickly as the twitching started it disappeared, and that was that. There was no more room for excuses. The outcome was up to me.

I was going to compare this second run to the second run of the Tri For Joe Du, but I realize it just isn't possible. These runs are so different. The Tri For Joe run was a flat, fast course on blacktop with a few short stretches on gravel. The Deer Creek run started in a parking lot and started with a slight incline, then a hard right off the road into the grass. The next 1/4 mile was a run through the grass until reaching a path out to the turn around point.

By the halfway point of the run two things were certain. I wasn't going to catch that 3rd runner. I saw him in the turn around. He was just too far ahead, and I didn't have enough gas to close the gap. That left the two racers behind. Suddenly I was thinking about how nice it was in all the previous races when I didn't know who I was racing against. Now I was acutely aware of the fact I was being chased. cool. I concentrated on smooth breathing and all those things I talked about during the last race report and let it rip. I held on to the lead over the other two racers to the finish giving myself a second place finish in the age group, 15th place overall and a new sprint distance duathlon personal record.

Despite any improvements that I think I can make I can't be disappointed in those results. Hell, I took over two minutes off my PR from the Great Buckeye Challenge at the end of the season last year!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Keys to a Smooth Transition

I'm only two days away from the official start of my duathlon season. While Tri for Joe Du was a great success I consider it a kind of warm up or scrimmage. Now we're heading into the first race of five that make up the Wheelie Fun Series. This is the beginning of a great season that starts in Deer Creek on Sunday and will end on September 3rd at Portages State Park in Akron, OH.

As part of my preparation for the series I've been thinking about transitions. In duathlon and triathlon it can be one of the most daunting parts of the race. I've seen many people get flustered in transition and forget something, knock over their bike trying to rack it, or do a number of other little things that cause them to get stressed out. As if getting through transition without incident isn't enough you can also lose or gain valuable time during transition. I learned this first hand at the Tri for Joe Du. The difference between my 3rd place age group finish and a 2nd place age group finish was less than 2 minutes. The second place finisher was 1 minute faster than myself in the two transitions. That brings the deficit down to less than 1 minute. I saw that 2nd place finisher on the final run, but was unable to catch him. Shave off a minute in transition and it might have been a different story.

I don't think I'm going to shave a minute off my transition by this Sunday, but I'm working on it. As part of the process of making it faster it helps to look at what I do in transition now. I'm not too bad in transition. I've learned to get organized before hand, trust that I've got what I need, and stay calm when the time comes to do the deed. These are all valuable lessons to those just starting out. That's what I'm here to share. Since I'm dealing specifically with duathlon that is what I'm going to talk about.

The first key to a good transition is organization.

Figure out exactly what you need in the first transition. In duathlon the second transition is essentially a mirror image of the first, so it's a little easier to prepare for than triathlon. You'll be coming off the run. You'll have your bike racked with fluid bottle or bottles caged. I usually have one with water and one with a sports drink, usually Gatorade.

Helmet. I grab my helmet first. If you forget anything you do not want to forget your helmet. You can be disqualified for not having your helmet secured to your head. Actually, it's worth noting that once you are at the race site you must wear your helmet anytime you get on your bike, even for a warm-up ride or ride to the transition area. You can be disqualified from the race for not wearing a helmet at anytime before, during or after the race. That would be a crying shame to do all that training to get disqualified for something so trivial. Don't do it.

In terms of transition I set my helmet up on my aerobars upside down with the straps hanging over the rim to the outside. Upon entering transition I grab my helmet first put it on and secure it. I really can't stress enough how important this step is in transition.

Shoes. Some people have their shoes clipped in already while the bike is racked. You have to be pretty confident and well practiced to run out of transition, jump on the bike, and slip the shoes on while riding away. I'm not quite there yet, so I set my shoes up in front of my bike. I run into transition, and take off my running shoes. I be sure to untie them, because I need to put them back on in transition 2. I set them in place of my running shoes, slip my running shoes on.

Gloves. I like to secure my gloves to the stem of the bike. I jump on the bike and put the gloves on after I'm comfortably riding. Sometimes I skip the gloves all together on hot days. I spend a lot of time in aero position, so gloves aren't a necessity. I've seen other people run with their gloves on, which is a good idea to save a few seconds if you don't mind having the gloves on, and you can make a smooth shoe switch with the gloves on your hands.

Food. I like to carry a Gu pack or two with me during the bike section of the ride. I've gone about storing foods in two ways. If you are just starting out I'd suggest the first. I typically wear a bicycling jersey, so take advantage of those pockets. No fuss, no muss, and you don't have to worry about forgetting it in transition. Other times I don't feel like carrying it during the run so I'll put the pack or two of gu inside my helmet. The only disadvantage this could have is if you are nervous or rushed you might dump them by picking up the helmet or put them on your head. You still won't forget, but run the risk of getting flustered as Gu packs go spilling to the ground.

The second key to a good transition is preparation. You spend hours on the bike training, and you spend hours on the run training. All you need is minutes to train for a smooth transition. Use your brick training days to practice second transition from bike to run. Also, set aside a little time to practice first transition. Set up everything as you imagine it on race day, or at least as close as possible. Most people don't have a transition bike rack at home. Anyway, set it up. Start about 10 yards out and run as if you were coming into transition, and go through the steps all the way up to getting on the bike and riding away. Like anything else, start out slowly, deliberately, and as you gain confidence try to do it a little faster.

The third key to a good transition is to relax. On race day you are going to be excited, and pumping with adrenaline coming into transition one. As you come into transition slow down and take a deep breath before you throw yourself into your routine. That extra second to focus may make a big difference. As you come into second transition you might be a little tired, but still excited and pumping with adrenaline, so once again take a deep breath and focus. Second transition can be a little messy sometimes. People will rack their bikes in a haphazard manner. You might have to take an extra second to squeeze your bike in between a couple of quick a**holes in front of you that think just because they are faster they suddenly have the right to toss their bike on the rack at a diagonal taking up what was 3 bikes at the start of the race. People will be coming into transition on bike and going out on foot. During a large race things can be a little chaotic. If that's the case you may want to take two deep breaths and a drink of water. Just remember you're out there to have a good time and a good race!

On Sunday I'm going to try and get to the race site early to set up. If I can I'll get some photos to illustrate how I set up my transition.