Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Taper Madness

Oh taper madness, you have me firmly in your grip. It seems like I have an awful lot of free time, and I already miss the pounding workouts. I'm taking plenty of recovery and getting lots of rest. I know that a week from Sunday I'm going to be as prepared as possible to tear up that course. The nerves are not really rocking yet, so everything is proceeded as it should.

What I don't know right now is how I'm going to feel a week from Monday. This will likely be my last attempt at 140.6, so I'm about to have a lot of free time. Free time doesn't sit very well with me, I get antsy and anxious about it. Ironman has been the goal, the destiny, for a long time now. After this one I'll have to find a new goal, and I'm not sure what that is going to be yet.  Athletically, yes, I'm going to be chasing some more trail ultramarathons, and I'll still have the 50 state thing going on. But I still feel like this is a major chapter in my life that is ending and I'm not sure how to feel about that.

I'm also pretty sure that I'm going to project that wind of change into some other area of life, so I have no idea how that's going to play out or what's coming up next personally or professionally.

So now you know how destructive a mind can be during taper. Don't let it go to waste!  I'm going to try and focus now on turning in the best race I possibly can at Rev3 Cedar Point and having a great trip to Ohio.  Be sure and let me know if you're coming! Trying to line up some social events for Saturday, since there will be so many of the Rev3 age group team and other friends in town.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Vegan Up!

There is a crowdsourcing fundraiser going on right now for a new vegan cookbook that I wanted to bring attention to.  The good folks at Vegan Up! are pulling a nice project together. It does take some crowdsourcing though, and I'm hoping we can help him out!

Vegan Up! on Twitter

Vegan Up! cookbook - order now

You can order the book now, they are trying to raise $50k to get the book self-published. Again I don't know how these things work, and they don't sponsor the old blog here, but he asked if I would write something and post a few links. I gladly obliged because I fully support his cause! And it's a fully funding project, so if he doesn't make the goal everyone gets their donations back.

This is more than just a cookbook. Terry really teaches the benefits of eating like this. How nice it feels to truly be non-harming, and how nice it feels to give your body true health and energy. When the body is truly and fully nourished it cannot be sick. This book is going to be a great way to get started learning about how delishious it can be!

You know I love my vegan meals, vegan days, but weeks are the best. It's not always easy to break old habits. The cleaner I eat (all fruits and veggies) the better I feel.  that's how it goes.  Step up if you can! This is a really great project.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wordly Thursday

I feel like I'm still in another time zone

It's not easy to keep eating clean during taper. I don't have to keep the 4000 calorie a day intake anymore. But with this much goodness coming out of the garden it's getting easier! When I got back from St Louis we picked the largest one-day harvest I think I've gotten out of a garden since we moved to Raleigh! Then yesterday Kelley went to make a pizza and picked the most perfect pepper I have ever seen. The pizza was amazing too.

Last night at swim practice we finished the main set with 30 x 50 y on 40 seconds each with descending rest intervals. This is a really hard sprint set. I hit most of the swims on 37 seconds with energy to spare, and was able to lower my heart rate during the rest interval (total was 1:10 then down to 1 minute). By the end, everyone was flopping around like they had rubber arms, and I felt ok.  To finish, we had to do a 50 sprint - all out. I nailed it in 34 seconds. it felt great. Most of the time I was clearing the lane in only 13 strokes. I'm all leaned out, in the taper, aerobic endurance is peaked, my swim form is right on point, and I have to assume the bike and run form are the same.  I think they are. 

This can only mean one thing. 17 days until Rev3 Cedar Point Full Rev 140.6! Bring it on.  Daddy is fueled up and ready.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recovery week with style!

Boy I did that recovery week right. Monday was a complete rest day. Tuesday I did yoga in the afternoon, then tuesday night's swim workout got rained out after only 600 yards - so basically nothing. Then on Wednesday I flew to St Louis for a work trip, so the rest of the post is going to be about the trip!

View from the plane

Upgrade! View of the Arch from the plane! That's Illinois on the other side of the river.

We flew into St Louis, then rented a car and drove out to Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri. Now I love Jeff City, but not for why you might expect. It's a tiny little town, about the size of Anderson SC if that gives you any reference. It's in the dead center of the state so there is nothing there. It's a tiny little shithole of a place, and only in MO do they punish the corruption required to become an elected official by making you move to Jeff City.  Ha!!  Love it.

Seriously though, by 9 pm every restaurant in the city was either closed or had stopped serving food. We did meet up with some company folks and find an Irish Pub to knock down a few pints, then moved to a different bar for another round or two.  The fun thing about getting drunk with work people is that I can't totally make an ass out of myself. I have to be funny without being embarrassing? come on man. Ok that's not as much "fun" as it is "sucks", but you know I managed to pull it off.

Me in front of the MO State Capital Building

an incredibly good locally brewed IPA
Thursday we had to meet with the state officials to go over some laws that apply to my work stuff. I don't talk about work stuff on here, but I write code that deals with data, and they wanted to give us more information about data and explain some laws. it's really boring stuff.  All you need to know is that I'm really smart and it's smart-person-work. We had lunch at a fantastic greek buffet, then Keith and I headed back to St Louis.

Daytime selfie in front of the capital building

Back in the Lou, we drove towards the Arch

My hotel room had a view of the arch!
I was absolutely fascinated with the Arch - the Gateway to the West.  This structure is amazing when you see it in person. We didn't have time to explore, but apparently you can climb inside it all the way to the top, and there is some kind of gift shop at the base. I must research the history of the arch. could. not. stop. staring.

Keith (the co-worker I was traveling with) is a huge Cardinals fan, so we got tickets to the Thursday night game against the Padres. It was his first time in the new Busch stadium, and my first game in any Busch stadium. I love baseball, so I couldn't wait for this. And the game did not disappoint. We got to see a home run in the 2nd inning and the game ended up being a real nail biter. 

I was still slightly hungover from Wed night, so I didn't throw back as many beers as I could have. Keith tied it on pretty good again though.  ha! We hit a few bars in downtown before and after the game - they had a great setup right across the street from the stadium so a good time was had by all.

Walking up to the staduim

I found the Mets game! This was the bar across the street

Outside of center field

There are no bad seats in Busch Stadium, but we were high up

The Arch is 5 blocks away and you could still see it from the stadium!

Everyone was happy the Cards pulled out a win

Love it! Go Redbirds!
Friday ended up being an adventure as well. I woke up at 5:05 am, made it sitting on a plane by 7:20 am. Shortly after 11 am we got off of that plane, and it never moved an inch thanks to some mechanical problems. The company travel agent got us onto a different plane that stopped in Philly, so we grabbed a cheesesteak for lunch and made it back to Raleigh about 5 pm, instead of our intended 12 noon arrival time.  Oh well, I got to take 2 naps on the different planes, and actually flew into Philly next to John Anderson - one of the hosts of Wipeout. so that was pretty neat.

Saturday I got a couple of hours on the bike, and Sunday was a brick - 45 minute ride and 10 mile run.  Now I'm solidly into the taper and out of the build phase. I hope that was the right way to do a recovery week, it sure was fun!

One final note - last Tuesday would have been my grandfather's 91st birthday. He passed when he was 75 from lung cancer and that doesn't feel like it was 16 years ago. He was a huge Cardinals fan, so I had to bore Keith through most of the game with stories about him. I still miss him every day. It was a work trip where we were able to squeeze in a game, but the timing could not have been better.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lake Logan Half Iron 2014

Man, what can I tell you about racing Lake Logan that I haven't already said before. If you live in NC, SC, or Georgia and like to race triathlons you need to race Lake Logan. If you like destination races and want to come to NC, you need to race Lake Logan. The venue is amazing. For August in the deep south, it's always cool. The mountains are beautiful. The bike course is flat (for a mountain course), and you will be amazed at how fast your bike splits are no matter which distance you pick.

 2014 is the first year that Setup Events has done a half iron distance at Lake Logan. I had to jump in on that as soon as I saw it on the schedule, and sure enough it sold out pretty fast. I've done the oly out there twice, in 2011 and 2012, and set PR's both times. The best part about it was the bike course, which was incredible. And for a total bike hater like me to admit that it had an amazing bike course is really saying something.

We arrived in Maggie Valley on Friday night. I tried to be sure we got there early in the evening, so of course it was about 11 pm by the time we arrived at Kelley's mom's summer house. I pretty much went straight to bed after that.

Race day came dark and early Saturday morning. I got up about 5:30, ate some breakfast and got out the door. This is when the fun started.

I underestimated the drive time.  I thought it was 15 something away. Turns out, that was 15 miles, not 15 minutes. And 15 miles in the mountains takes 45 minutes to get there. So the GPS said I would get there at 6:25, and I knew that packet pickup closed at 6:30 so I was cutting it close but could still be ok.

Of course, somebody who was apparently not involved in the race was going incredibly slow, you know, just to piss me off. Then they stopped on the bridge to have a casual conversation with the cops who were directing traffic into the parking lot. at 6:25 am. when I'm 100 feet from the airstrip where the race participants are supposed to park. that was a lot of fun for me.

Eventually I did make it into the parking lot. And then it filled up.  An airstrip that is so huge they have no need for overflow parking actually filled up. The volunteers were scrambling trying to find enough spaces for all of these people and I was about 10 cars back in line. The truck in front of me suddenly had 3 people jump out, grab the bikes off of the back with bags and a pump, and get all of the prep work done while somebody's girl parked the truck.  That was fun for me to watch.  All of this time I'm thinking "there's no way I'm going to race today" and "well, there goes the packet pickup closing".  Finally, about 6:45 I get my car parked, throw some air in my tires and run towards the race site.

There was no line at the packet pickup so I was able to get my stuff quickly, grabbed a timing chip, hit the body marking on my way into the transition area and threw my bike on the rack.  I did get to unzip my transition bag, dig and find the chip strap, throw the chip on my left ankle and run to the swim start.  On the other side of that bridge, I hear "The first wave starts swimming in 15 seconds", and I get to see this:

I'm one of those yellow caps
Incredibly beautiful venue & day
So I was in time.  I would get to race today.  My yellow cap got to start in the 3rd swim wave, and nothing else mattered at that time. There was no warmup, there was no wetsuit. But I could still swim.  I could still get my splits and try my speed in the mountains. ah, relief.  Find my zen, it's time to race.

Swim 1.2 miles: Goal under 30 Actual: 32:30

The water was freezing. Actually it was about 63*, certainly wetsuit legal and I was maybe the only person not using a wetsuit. I actually brought it, but left it in the transition bag since I didn't have time to suit up. Fuck it, it's time to roll with whatever today gives me.

Some swimmers coming into the bridge

Beautiful lake! Amazing day!
I was in the 3rd wave of swimmers. As soon as I jumped into that water I was missing the wetsuit, even though I usually prefer not to use it. I kind of ended up towards the front, and when our wave started I drafted off of the leaders for the first few hundred yards.  Once I started passing people from the wave in front of us I settled back into my pace and just tried to stay on course. The swim had 2 turns, then you go back past the starting dock. I've mentioned this bridge a few times already, and when the water goes under it, the lake turns into a river and the water magically drops another 10* because it wasn't cold enough already.  That's the marker, though. Once you feel the water get really cold, you can make a nice fast sprint under the bridge to the dock for the swim exit.  It's a quick run into the TA.

This is one of my favorite lakes to swim in, and the bridge and cold water never disappoint.  Thanks to my friend Susan for getting these pictures. I didn't even see her on race day but she said I could steal these from her facebook post.

T1: 6:06

yea, that whole "no time before race start" thing came into play here. I still had to put the stickers on my bike and helmet, get the new bike shoes on, and get everything ready to ride.  No way I was going to hit my 90 second target this time, and I knew that going in.  I decided not to let this bother me. The whole point of the day was to test my nutrition and pacing, not to test my ability to prepare.

Bike 52 miles: Goal under 3 hours, Actual 2:53:53, 18 mph, Good!

What did I just say about testing my nutrition? Well normally when I'm setting up my TA I use electrical tape to secure some gels to the top bar of my bike, and I didn't have time to do that this time. So of course right after I hit the mount line, I realized that I also didn't grab them out of the bag.

I call this is called the Hungry Hungry Half because I was kind of hungry when I got into the park after forgetting to grab a granola bar when I left the house. So when I was swimming, I was hungry. I hit the bike and I was hungry. As soon as you leave the park, half a mile into the ride, you hit the first climb. It is steep and quite a challenge. For the oly course, you crest that climb and get a nice descent, and the next time you face a steep climb is going back up that nice long descent. For the half course, they threw in a shitload of hills.  I had 2 bottles of sports drink and 1 bottle of water and I was already hungry. This is not a good situation.

When I first started out I thought the bike was geared up a bit high, again something I should have set pre-race. I geared down to make the first climb, then in the flats played leap-frog with another guy for a while. Then I finally realized after about 5 miles, that I was in the small chainring! Gah! it wasn't geared up too high after all.  So of course I pushed up to the big chainring and left that dude in the dust. 

I did finally bum a gel off of another guy around mile 35, and that changed my entire outlook. I remembered his bib number and gave him back one of my gels after the race was over, and thanked him profusely. The hungry hungry half was not quite so hungry anymore!

Mile 31 had a hard climb thrown in.  Mile 39 had one of those gut wrenching, throat pounding climbs that is so steep and so long you think it's never going to end.  Since I am training for a full iron I kind of made my way up that sucker like a billy goat. But it was a really hard climb. and 39 miles into a 52 mile ride is a pretty tough place to put a climb that hard.

The Garmin was giving me splits, and you could tell it was a mountain ride from the speeds. Up and down, up and down, up and down. There were a few mile splits that were over 4 minutes, those miles had the hard climbs in there. A first for me was getting a mile split at 1:58! I've never broken a 2 minute mile before. THAT was really cool.  I also had a 2:08 and a 2:04 mile. 

Overall this bike course was beautiful, challenging, and FAST. This is the best reason to come to Canton NC and do this race.  This incredible bike course did not disappoint.

T2: 3:31

Again, I got out of the bike shoes before running into TA, so I had to find my running shoes, put them on, tie them, find my bib belt, and I attached my bib while I was on my way out of T2. This took forever. Oh the dangers of pre-race prep time!

Run 13 miles: Goal under 2 hours, Actual 1:55:15, Success!

The run course is an out and back on one road. It goes straight uphill for 5k, then straight downhill for 5k, and that's it for the oly course. There was supposed to be a turnaround to make it a 2 lap course for the half. This is finally when I started to see my friends, since they are all faster than I am.

On the first lap, that uphill is manageable. I clocked an 8:08 for the first mile. By the time you hit that turnaround, you're ready to cruise back.  They say you have to turnaround and go back up that hill for a second lap.

they tell lies.

Really what you have to do is go down the hill, make the turn through the finishing chute and go all the way to the finish line. Then, instead of taking that last step to the finish the race, veer to the left for a "turnaround". Only that's not a turnaround either. You have to take a lap around a field, cross a timing mat at the halfway point, hit an aide station (where I stopped for a gel) in the middle of this field 20 feet from the finish line and 30 feet from the TA, then go back out for a second lap.

Nothing in triathlon hurts worse than the run in a half ironman. Even in a full iron when you run out of gas you know what's coming. In a sprint, you know how much pain you need to eat to push that 5k run speed. But in a half it's pure torture. And the uphill leg of lap 2 did not disappoint.

Eventually you hit the actual turnaround again at the top of that hill, and get to cruise down to the finish line. I still knocked some miles in the low 8's coming back down that hill. 

There was also rednecks shooting off shotguns on some land near the road.  They weren't a threat to anybody, just rednecks doing redneck shit. I made a few jokes about it to other racers that seemed a bit more nervous.

Finish: Goal under 6 hours, Actual 5:31:13 Success!

I finished this race and collapsed pretty hard. I know that I left everything I had out on that course. I brought my zen into the day, and I gave the day everything I had to give. I took everything the course could throw at me. And at the end of the day, I ended up with a 15 minute half PR on a slightly short course.

The post race food was incredible. I got plenty of water, protein drinks, and solid veggie food. Couldn't find any of my friends at the finish line, but that was ok. I saw them on the run course. Lots of people from Greenville, Raleigh, and Atlanta were there. The day itself was just beautiful, cloudy and in the low 70's.  insane.

I finished 26/42 in my age group. The M35-39 podium spots went to times from 4:21 to 4:31, so that is some serious competition.

snapped a couple of selfies while I was packing up my stuff
Getting out was easy, I didn't stick around for the awards.  I did snag a few more pics on my way out of the run course, athletes, and finishers area.

The airstrip that filled up as a parking lot

Athletes walking back to their cars

That's TA in the background

The finish line in the background and the infamous bridge. We had to swim under it and run over it twice.

My happy place. Drinking coffee, sitting on the deck listening to those waterfalls after a hard days racing.

And this fine honey was waiting on me when I got back to the house!
We finished saturday night with a mountain of food. Not anywhere close to vegetarian, I have to admit. There was a country restaurant in Maggie Valley with family style all you could eat that really was all you could eat.  I had 2 fried chicken breasts, 3 huge fried salisbury steaks, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, gravy and hot sauce on everything.  it was pretty impressive, even by my standards.

So to recap, Lake Logan Rocks. This was the innaugural half iron, and I hope they make it a regular event. I also hope they make the bike course 56 miles instead of 52 and avoid that climb in mile 39.  Come do it next year! this place is amazing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday Picture Update

We start in the garden!

Some of the muscadines are finally starting to ripen! These are turning purple.  This is a  sight I have waited 3 years for. Patience, gardener.  patience.

This is a ghost pepper on the bush. It's looking great!

These habs are looking ripe! Plenty of green ones still on the bushes too.
Our niece Kaileigh got to come stay with us for a few nights. It wasn't the multiple weeks that she's gotten to stay with us in the past, but we still got to spend some good time with her. Today is the day that she moves into the dorm to start her college experience. She's going to Greenville Tech, the only community college in SC with dorms, and she starts classes a week from today.  I'm so excited for her to finally be out on her own - making her own decisions and defining (and meeting) her own responsibilities. While she was in town, this happened:

The once bare arm.....

When you hang out with Tony......

Ink Happens. She's really into American Traditonal tats, and this is her first.
And finally, some pictures of the kids from our trip to the mountains. That race report is coming tomorrow, I think.

My beautiful girl

Kelley kept encouraging the kids to play "Naked and Afraid" crawling up the creek here

Evil Genius and her Nana

Getting adventurous!

Leaping up to a ledge

This is one of my favorite shots

This creek has 7 waterfalls that run right next to their deck

Ironman is 3.5 weeks away!  This is a recovery week, and taper starts on Monday. The nerves are starting to get rattled, and I'm eating everything in sight.  hang in there!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hello again Recovery Week!

Last week was actually the biggest volume week of the year. Build 2, Week 3 did not disappoint! I knew this was going to be my highest volume week, planned the workouts based on the work I did in Build 1 Week 3, and nailed almost everything.

The technical concept for the last couple of weeks of the build period is called Critical Volume.  Jesse Kropelnicki explained it best in a XTri article, but I'll give you the highlights. In one week, you try and hit the rule of thirds in each sport.  So you want to do 9/3 of the swim distance, 8/3 of the bike, and 7/3 of the run distance all in one week at race intensity.  Remember the focus at the end of the build phase is to get closer to race like conditions, and it will leave you most prepared for race day. For Ironman training, that means keeping the heart rate low and knocking down mile after mile. How many miles for Critical Volume? Swimming 11,576 meters, bike 300 miles, and run 60 miles.

Now, it is very difficult for most age groupers to hit critical volume. Practically impossible really. At professional ironman athlete speeds, that takes about 27 hours. So if you still have a job or a family, forget about it. Since I have both, my CV plan was set for 9000 meters of swimming, 240 miles of biking, and 55 miles of running.  Here's how it played out:

Monday: AM 90 minute (30 mile) ride, PM 2500 m swim - After the half ironman last Saturday, this was really an easy recovery day
Tuesday: AM 11 mile run, PM 3000 m swim
Wednesday: AM 90 minute bike (30 miles), PM 3500 m swim
Thursday: AM 11 mile run, PM 90 minute (30 mile) bike
Friday: AM 11 mile run, hey it was a rest day
Saturday: 120 mile bike (6 hours)
Sunday: AM 11 mile run, afternoon brick 45 minute ride, 9 mile run

I nailed everything until the very last workout. The Sunday Brick was supposed to be a 90 minute ride and an 11 mile run, I cut it down to 45 minutes on the bike and ran as far as I could make it.  9 miles on the afternoon gave me 20 for the day, that's really all it took. And I still got 9000 m of swimming, 225 miles on the bike, and 53 miles of running adding up to about 22 hours. That is still a high volume by any standard.  Plus I still worked 40 hours and our niece Kaileigh was in town for a few nights! Sunday night also saw the first dad's meeting with Evil Genius's Indian Princess tribe, we started setting up the year. I celebrated the end of Big Week with extra hot wings and 2 beers. It was fantastic.

So what did you do last week?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

This giant elk came into the front yard
 Some of the wildlife we saw from the house during our trip to the mountains this past weekend! We went to Maggie Valley to visit with Kelley's mom and for my nearby half ironman.  This GIANT elk came wandering up right at dusk, and kind of stayed in the shadows so I had a tough time getting a decent photo of him.  But he was about 8' tall with a huge rack of antlers.

We also had some ducks come up to the porch
The broken bike shoe that had to be replaced!

We harvested this the day before going to the mountains

And this was the harvest the day we got back from the mountains! Tons of jalepenos and the first Habanero of the year!

Sweet Ella had to have 3 teeth pulled at the dentist today. Ouch!