Wednesday, March 17, 2010

rainy weekend and Ballou Skies photo shoot

Last weekend started off on Friday night with Jocelyn and I hosting Kim at our master's practice. We had a longer than usual sprint night and then afterward we went with some teammates and family members to Pizza Roma for some carbs and brews. As usual, the service was insanely slow and we didn't get home terribly early to prep for next morning's workouts. I was holding out hope that maybe the rain wouldn't come in the overwhelming quantities that they were calling for, but after seeing about 10 straight hours forecasted with a 100% chance, I was preparing for another long indoor ride. Saturday morning came and Jocelyn and I took a drive out to Irwin to meet up with Chad, Jen, and Co. Kim and Matt were also in attendance, and a 4-4.25 hr ride was queued up. Matt, Jocelyn, Kim, Jen, and Chad (lt>rt) getting started below.
Kim, Jen, and Chad a couple hours in I think.
After the ride, the girls were the only ones to head out for a transition run as the rest of us grabbed a bite to eat and prepared for the afternoon swim. Emerging from Chad's, it looked as if it hadn't rained at all in Irwin during our whole 4 hour+ ride. Just our luck! We shot on over to the Greensburg Y and did 4000 yds, with a 30 x 100 main set. I felt surprisingly good for this, and came in under 1:20 for almost all of the 100's (only over for a handful that I did I.M.). Lovely ladies and Chad, pre-swim.
After the swim, a relaxing soak in the hot tub. Some would argue that this is not the best post-workout choice (inflammation), but I don't think its too bad after a bike and a swim. You wouldn't catch me in here after a long run though.
The rest of Saturday was spent relaxing at home with some sushi and wine despite some appeals from friends to go out for St Patty's Day. No thanks to lots of standing, smoky bars, and overpriced drinks. Sunday morning started with a long run with Joe, running a bit more than 16 miles as a progression run, building to a pretty solid clip by the end as I tried to crack my cyclist turned runner companion. He hung tough though and we rewarded ourselves with a breakfast buffet at Montecello's. I gorged for about a half hour, and then after a quick turnaround at home, Jocey and I were off to the South Side for a Pittsburgh Tri Club meeting at the Over the Bar Cafe. More Chad, Jen, and Kim, who was presenting on nutrition at the meeting, plus plenty of other friends like Ryan, Lisa, and Garvin, and then some new ones that were made. After a couple Fat Tire Ale's and East End Snow Melt's, it was up the hill for a BallouSkies photo shoot on top of Mt Washington. The whole team was there, and all together for the first time I believe, to take some team photos and promotional shots. We had race bikes, race kits, jerseys, Peanut Butter, everything on hand for a great photo shoot but the weather. The rain held off though and a great time was had by all, until we were too cold to stick around any longer in the sharkskin one pieces in damp, 50 degree conditions! Below, the team, from lt>rt: moi, Kevin, Ty, Kim, Ryan (foreground), Merett, Troy, Jocey, Joe, and Steve.
That pretty much wrapped up the weekend, and then a new week was underway, albeit one that was much darker in the morning and lighter in the evenings thanks to Daylight Savings Time. More typical training ensued, with sights set hopefully on better weather to come this weekend! Thanks for reading my hyperlink heavy post - I hope you enjoyed it, but now get ready for some more! Its time for action, check out BallouSkies online, join the group or cause on Facebook, and get involved in the fight against DMD!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

sunny weekend and slow swim meet

Last weekend brought the rides and weather I had been waiting for since late November/early December of last year. Saturday morning (3/6) dawned cold, but brilliantly sunny. The day had promise. I waited for the temps to warm up a little before I ventured out solo at about 1pm. Some typical training partners had other events on the schedule or were out of town, but I was stoked and wasn't going to let the lack of company bring me down. Plus I had a new gadget to try out in my cadence sensor that was to be compatible with my Garmin Forerunner 305 and also a new water bottle cage that I was going to try out torpedo style between my aerobars. My steed pictured below, just pre-ride.
I set out on the surprisingly clear roads in about 34' sunny temps on a familiar route, starting first into Beaver county, then Butler, and finally back into good ol' Allegheny for a solid 4 hour, clockwise loop over some favorite roads (except route 68) that were just waiting to be cruised on again. Northbound on Spang Rd...
Self portrait on Spang, prior to the incredulous senior-citizens who pass me about 10 seconds later...
Cool view looking west out over some glistening farm plots abutting the PA Turnpike alongside Glen Eden Rd...
When it was all said and done I got in a very solid ride and sufficiently toasted my legs in preparation for the following day's swim meet. Sunday started with a radio interview with Ty, Ryan, and myself, speaking with Rob Pratte and Ted Arneault of KDKA Radio's Black and Gold Sunday. We gave them a great update on the work of Ballou Skies and the upcoming season for the tri team, and other projects that are in store. I did the interview from the parking lot of Cornell High School, and then in was inside for warmups for this last regular season AMYMSA swim meet. After getting in about 1000yds for warmup, it was time to prepare for my first event, the 100 free. Teammates Katherine, Bill, Bill (& coach), and Mark below...
Video from my 50 freestyle - I'm second from the right wearing the yellow cap and getting left in the dust coming out of the turn...
Teammates Bill (closest) and Ben (2nd from left) getting ready to start the 200 back...
Teammates Bill and Jim....
For the day, I did a 54.29 in the 100 free, 24.36 in the 50 free, a 2:18.66 in the 200 I.M., and a 12.01 in the 25 fly. Not too pleased with my sprint freestyle events, but I'm ok with the 200 IM. Training for ironman and sprint swim events is a difficult balance :)
Sunday afternoon I snuck back out on the bike for another 2 hours and brought the weekend to a close. Hypoglycemic here and acting goofy, Jocelyn said I looked like an elf...
This week has been going pretty well on the training front, getting up every morning to run before work and then swimming and cycling in the evenings. The weather has been awesome, but of course it had to be while trapped indoors and now the rains are supposed to come in earnest this weekend. Maybe that will melt away the last of this winter's snow. Train safe and I'll be back blogging soon, god willing and if the cricks don't rise...

Friday, March 5, 2010

bowie knives, beards, and stones!

This is what I'm talking about! I came across a very amusing and inspiring article yesterday on Xtri, but unfortunately it came about a month too late for me. This would have certainly helped with keeping me in the right frame of mind had I read it when it was published, about three days prior to the Blizzard of 2010, Snowpocalypse, etc. Still, I think I did ok even without it.This article captures the essence of ironman training through a Pittsburgh winter, when you just have to knuckle up, HTFU, or embrace the Winter of the caveman ala Duncan Larkin, and just get out in the cold and suck it up. Less time spent in the presence of this kind of crap....
And more time spent doing things that leave you looking like this....
Hopefully now this mentality may be stored away until next December, as the spirit of this post is certainly at odds with my last, but if not, I will be sure to reach into my shorts to see what I can find.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the final push?

Could we now be in the final throes of winter here in Pittsburgh? Dare I say it, or would the mere utterance of this miraculous possibility jinx us all? Maybe there is reason to hope, after all spring is officially only about three weeks away, daylight savings time less than two weeks away, and according to Accuweather, my neighborhood has some temps forecasted in the FIFTIES within the next week.Maybe I should shut-up, lest I curse us all. My earlier, optimistic blog forecasting for the winter didn't turn out so well...

At the start of what I hope becomes the final push through winter, last week around the time of my last posts, I was quickly getting over my cold by way of massive ingestion of vitamin c, vitamin d, zinc, airborne, echinacea, green tea - anything I could get my hands on. You see I had planned on racing on Saturday (2/27) in the Spring Thaw to kick off my racing season and I wasn't going to sit this one out. Last Thursday night I did my "long ride" of the week by myself, as circumstance was conspiring against me to have any company for the ride. I built in intensity through three hours and by the last 30 min I was hanging on for dear life, suffering to Coach Troy and the Spinervals video he was dragging me through. I had planned to run then Friday morning as my running frequency was a little low last week, but with how my legs were feeling I decided to skip it and try to rest my legs for Saturday. I took Friday night's sprint swim workout easy and pulled and paddled quite a bit to rest the legs.

Saturday morning dawned, but not to as much snow as the weathermen were calling for. It seemed like the majority of the snow came earlier on Friday and hopefully the park staff at North Park could get the roads reasonably clear for the race. According to Elite's website the race was on and I set out with all of my gear, breakfast on the go, and Ballou Skies paraphernalia. I got to North Park and didn't have too much difficulty finding a reasonable place to park, met up with Joe, and proceeded to run a scattered two mile warmup between pre-race venues, even getting in about a quarter of a mile at open-marathon/~HIM run pace. Joe and I got our packets, timing chips, and met up with our other Ballou Skies teammate Kim, and recent/regular training partner Heidi. We had just about enough time to greet one another, pose for this picture, and then take our marks for the start.
I started the race a little too fast, as I seem to be prone to in pure running races, running the first mile in 5:50. I wasn't sure at all what I might be able to hold for this race, and I told myself that I would be happy with anything under 6:15 pace, but secretly I was hoping that it might be somewhere around my half-marathon pace (5:55). Time would tell where I was at and how well I might hold up, as I have really only run aerobically since Eagleman last June. This race would be a reintroduction to pain. The first three miles or so were pretty uncomfortable until I settled into my groove and started to adapt to the tempo effort. This would equate to about 5:53 pace and my heart rate was roaming through the mid-170's. This felt about right and I just tried to stay steady and run the tangents of the course while staying light on my forefeet with a quick turnover.
I came through the halfway point in 29:50. The second half of the race didn't seem that much more difficult, although I did remember a bit of a painful patch between miles 7-9 as I really tried to buckle down and surge away from a nearby runner. I think this picture was taken during this stretch. It looks worse than it felt, I promise.
I managed to come out of my funk as began to listen closely for the call of the finish line, and powered up the final hill on Pearce Mill road and let my heart rate climb over 180 for the first time of the day. I pushed down to the finish line and crossed in 9th place overall and 1st in the men's 30-34 division, for a second half of 30:08 and finishing time of 59:57 in the 10 miler. I liked what my garmin was telling me more than the official race timing, supposedly running 10.12 miles @ 5:55 pace.
All in all I was very satisfied with my performance, surprised that I ran so well with no speed or tempo running of any kind, but I guess this is just even more proof of the value of a good base and high volumes of aerobic training. Looking more closely, I think I still need to get tougher mentally and should have been running closer to HR 180 or above, but then again the capacity to do this only comes from more speed, tempo, and racing agonizingly short distances, rapidly. What to do? Do the Just a Short Run half marathon on March 27th, that's what.

Team Ballou Skies was represented very well in this first race of the 2010 campaign, with my aforementioned result, then Kim took 2nd overall woman just by a hair in a finishing sprint, and Joe taking 3rd in his age group in his leadup to Boston. Here is a shot of the team and most of our hardware (before Joe was awarded his medal)-
Heidi also did very well in the race, coming in third in her age group for the ten miler. After the race Kim, Joe, and I handed out some Ballou Skies bracelets and some informational cards, spreading the word about the charity, how to get involved and donate, and just making ourselves and the team known. Look for us again at future races and to be a major presence and player in events to come!

The rest of Saturday was all about relaxation, plus a little bike and gear shopping at the annual Trek of Pittsburgh V.I.P. warehouse sale. I got some sweet new tires for my mountain bike and I look forward to testing them in the slop this spring. And it's pretty much guaranteed that there will be plenty of that once all of this snow melts. Saturday evening Jocelyn and I decided to join Chad, Jen, and Co again at their place on Sunday for another long trainer workout. Having run the race the day before, I capped the day at a mere 3:15, but it was another good spin and definitely a challenge on tired and tight legs.From l to r: Chad (partial), Jen, Lisa, Ryan, Heidi (hidden behind my arm), and me. Jocelyn is shooting. Jocelyn, Jen, and Chad were going long again, and I just sat aside and watched the USA/Canada hockey match. Thanks for hosting once again guys, but hopefully that will be one of the last times and we will all be meeting up outdoors very shortly!

After the previous rough four days on the legs, yesterday's morning run and evening swim didn't feel so hot, so I just took it easy and then did the same this morning. Next up is another trainer ride this evening and then some much needed zzz's. The plan is to get through this week and hopefully to head outside Saturday for a long ride! As it stands now the forecast shows the weekend's temps approaching the historical averages for this time of year, and then even exceeding those averages next Monday and Tuesday. We're talking low to mid fifties! Keep hope alive, we're pushin' through.