Sunday, September 23, 2007

Baboo’s Got Bank!

I was thinking of the title of this post on my ride today but thought it best to leave the song smithing to other more capable bloggers and I’ll just stick to forging iron. I have been eager to get back into the swing of iron training in preparation for Silverman, which is just two short months away. I have been considering the course that lays ahead and trying to devise training that will prepare me to face a courts that has 9700 feet of climbing on the bike followed by 2000 feet of climbing on the run.

I haven’t ever done that much before though I thought I saw somewhere that the IM Louisville bike had something like 6700 feet of climbing and that was a pretty tough bike. I know I will need to get some long shallow climbs in for Silverman, something like 10 mile climbs at 2 to 3% grades and that means the mountains for me but today I decided to hit some big rollers and steep climbs because there are some jagged rollers at Silverman and that requires a bit different riding style. I decided to call today’s ride the Placitas Punisher because the name says it all, location and route description.
All in all I got in 109 miles with 8815 feet of climbing. I’m a bit disappointed with my overall time, which was 7:42:09, a sluggish 14:15 mph average pace but I console myself with three facts…I was unfamiliar with the route so I spent a lot of time slowing down to get my bearings (it is a very winding route during the climbing sections), my total time includes two pit stops and a 10 or so minute breather at a convenience store and also another 10 or so minutes screwing around with the GEEKGRL’s cell phone when I was receiving calls while riding uphill into a stiff wind. Oh yeah, I failed to mention that it was very windy for large chunks of the ride and at one point I was riding in a rain storm and I also ended up doing a bit of distance on dirt roads, not more than a mile or so but enough to suck down another few minutes considering I was going slow and wondering how well my tri bike would do climbing and descending rough dirt roads.

Anyway, the tough thing about this ride is that the first 13 miles or so is almost perfectly flat (the long straight line area, that's the first 13 miles...the narly area, I did two laps of that and that is where all the climbing is), all the climbing is packed into 83 fun filled miles. The area I rode pretty much contains the largest foothills of the Sandia Mountains and well as some far fling foothills of the San Francisco Mountains. The area is also rural and very scenic with huge vistas…views of the mountains, the high desert mesas and the Rio Grande river valley.

Saturday I did my run. My run and bike schedule are flipped from the usual Saturday ride, Sunday run so that I can get in the best quality runs and rides possible. My training doesn’t need to be focused on running on tired legs right now it is building as much climbing strength as I can and dropping as much weight as I can. Anyway, I did 18 miles mostly cross country on sand and dirt with a few stretches of pavement. The total elevation gain was 1492 feet and my time was 2:56:40, w whopping 9:48 per mile pace! I was very happy with those results especially since I felt pretty good after the run and just took a quick ice bath and then went out and ran errands. The conversion to running nothing but hills is paying off.

So, as I said, Baboo’s got bank! I am packing away those miles to draw on come November 11th. I am already seeing some good improvements. Last weekend I did the same run route but only 15 miles and my pace was a pained 11 minute mile. Last weekend I also did a shorter 65 mile version of the bike I did today and by the time I hit mile 60 I just pulled over into a convenience store and laid down right on the sidewalk and closed my eyes for like 15 minutes. My weight is also creeping downward. I am sitting at 213 right now fully hydrated…that’s 10 pounds down from IM Louisville. I am taking it easy on the dieting so as not to interfere with recovery but I think I have cut out a lot of the “Hey, I NEED to eat this because I’m training for an Ironman B.S.” and I’m eating light during the week and eating for recovery on the weekends.

Extra! Extra! I just loaded the Placitas Punisher into my Motion Based account and it reports 10, 195 feet of climbing! Whoo Hoo! almost 500 feet of climbing more than Silverman in a shorter distance! Unbelievably my steepest climb was a 23.6% grade...holy smokes. I love motion based.

On the other hand my run was only 1303 feet in gain...oh well, still plenty for Silverman prep.

Friday, September 21, 2007

They Call Me Mr. McGu

I'm sure you all can relate to having dreams about your wife or husband, dreams where you are having a good time with one another, where the excitement is high. Well, I am no different and I have my share of dreams about the GEEKGRL. As a matter of fact I just had one last night. The GEEKGRL and I were together having a good time and then…we were in a local warehouse type store where we ran across some boxes of Gu…made my McDonald's. They had grape and vanilla and about 5 other flavors that seemed pretty unusual. We were pretty excited because it was like 1/10th the cost of regular gels and they came in big cases.

As far as I'm concerned, that's just sad when romance turns to Gu.

Anyone out there think my season is stretching on a little too long?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Own Personal Rehab

I have been very sluggish in my bolg activities, both reading and writing and it is mostly because I am currently working on living in a slightly different world. Unfortunately I plan on this being the case more often than not over the next few weeks and I can only hope nobody takes offence. Taking on training for Silverman has really put the screws to me but it is screws that I require right now. I have entered an ascetic period in which I am doing penance for my laziness. Let me explain.

My training for IMAZ was pretty good and my training for IMKY was, well, let's say adequate, but I think that I let myself off the hook too often, got sloppy or just didn't focus. My swimming was good, my running was high volume but not exactly challenging and my cycling was, well, pretty much multiple hours of joy riding.

I kind of scared myself away from serious hill running after fracturing my hip at the beginning of last season and that was further complicated by fracturing my foot at the beginning of this season even though I had lowered my intensity and pretty much cut out my old hill routine. Ever since that second fracture I have felt vulnerable and my race times have paid the price. I did a sprint distance triathlon just before I fractured my hip and my average pace on the run was 7:08 per mile, which isn't bad for a Clydesdale. I think it was also that same race where my average bike pace broke the 23 mph barrier. I have never been that fast since.

I have consoled myself with statements like, "Well, I'm still fast enough to beat every other clyde racing in my region" but I'm not all that interested in being "fast enough" I want to be as fast as I can be.

I also console myself with the idea that I have been focusing on my long course performance this year and that will take the edge off your speed. True, but the fact of the matter is that both my half-IM and IM PRs came from the end of the season in which I broke my hip. This entire year I have been going with lower intensities and easier workouts and everything has suffered including my weight. Prior to my fractured foot I began my year at 208. I raced IMKY at 223.

So here is how it works for me, here is what I think. I must pay…seriously. A while back Brent posted about people traveling great distances to find small races where they could place well and someone left the comment "Beware the metric you measure yourself against" or something very close to that. That comment has been resonating with me, getting under my skin and I know that regardless of what is going on around me I have not been meeting my own standards. My standards are tough and even I do not like to have to face up to them.

When I was in the Marine Corps as a younger man I kind of developed this alter ego that I refer to as "the machine." The machine does not admit much in the way of emotion or any of those basic human qualities that makes someone enjoyable to spend time with. The machine is a solitary device that just moves forward. The machine confronts those ugly and weak places inside your mind and body and runs over them dispassionately. The machine rejoices in hardship, pain and deprivation. In short, the machine is something trained into young infantrymen so that they can survive combat. Bigun knows of whom I speak because the machine lives within him as well...I have a certain familiarity with his prior training.

It is long past time that I reacquaint myself with the machine and my blowout at IMKY was the impetus for that decision and my registering for Silverman is the penance.

Now before you start worrying that I'm on the verge of popping through a door with an ax snarling "here's Johnny!" I can assure you I'm not…it's not like that it's just hard to explain. I am in full possession of my wits and my humanity it's just that I have some business afoot and I mean to take care of it properly just as I should have done in the first place.

Consistent with my current journey I did not want to get on the blog rolls all whiney and "determined" issuing confessions for sympathy. It is not where I'm coming from and is not what my journey is about. Lord knows it's not what I need; I've provided myself ample sympathy in the last year. No, I wanted to come with something to say about the results I have achieved in this new journey which I have undertaken.

Last week I reinstituted my good old hill running routine with a 9 miler, 9:30 pace and hills, hills, hills. Last weekend I did a 15 mile cross country hill run on sand and dirt roads that included 1500 feet of climbing and the next day I did a 65 mile bike that included 3700 feet of climbing, most of which was squeezed into just 30 miles of the ride. This morning I weighed in at 214, nine pounds down from IMKY.

There is much more rehab to come between now and Silverman but you can be assured that regardless of my final results it will have been the machine that ran the race because, after all, this is combat.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Giddy as a School Girl

You only get one chance to make a first impression, or so I've been told. With that in mind I strive to make a good first impression despite any personal characteristics that may militate against my success. I believe I was successful at my USAT official's clinic, either that or I was just darn lucky…well, ok, I was darn lucky too.

One of the top race officials in the country, Jurgen Heise, is interested in having me on his team of officials at some large scale events. He was the head ref at Ironman Canada this year and does a ton of other stuff. He tried to see if I could help out with the upcoming RedMan Iron Distance triathlon in Oklahoma City but the time is growing short and the RD is busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest so it isn't going to work out. He was also wanted me on his crew for the Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon next season but alas, I will be racing at IMCDA (YEA!). This is a relationship I need to cultivate.

The cool news, the "giddy as a school girl news" that I received this morning is the following:

"Brian: Could you do Toyota USAT pro rules race on 10/14? You would need to be here Sat for a pro rules clinic...Charlie Crawford is HR. It would be excellent opportunity. We never get pro rules races in our region."

So, my name has been forwarded to Charlie Crawford for consideration and with any luck I will be selected.

Now I know you are all asking "Who the #@&% is Charlie Crawford?" Well, let me enlighten you. Charlie Crawford is the Big Cheese, the Head Honcho, the Big Kahuna (no, not THE Kahuna) he is the head USAT race official in charge of the entire USAT officiating program, in short, my top boss when I am acting in my capacity as a USAT official. So…as you may surmise that is a pretty exciting position to be in for a neophyte like myself.

In addition to getting to work for Charlie in a race the event is also big doins'. You may not have heard of the Toyota USAT race before and that is because this is the first time it is being held. It is Triathlon's FIRST U.S. Open and it is the Life Time Fitness Series Championship!

I am holding my breath and crossing every appendage I have!

In other news, I've decided to end each of my Ref related posts with a rule and explanation, preferably a more obscure rule, so here we go.

Article III – Genera Rules of Conduct and Penalties

Rule 3.4g – Unfair Advantage: No participant shall use his (or her) body, head, arms, or legs to gain an unfair advantage, or to push, pull, hold, strike, or force through one or more participants. Any violation of this section shall result in a variable time penalty.

So, charging the finish line and shouldering past someone in your age group for the win…don't even think about it because you will not get that one second lead, you will be penalized. I was trying to think if this has happened to me in a race and I came up with a few examples but the first one I thought of was when fellow Outlaw Miguel "Sharkbait" Sanchez grabbed my ankle at the end of a pool swim and tried to pull me back. Now that was all in good fun but if an official caught it an Unfair Advantage penalty would be assessed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It’s Official, I’m an Official

I have yet another vantage point from which to enjoy triathlon and I must say that I am newly impressed with the amount of work that it takes to pull off one of these events but more on that later.

I have spent the past few weeks pouring over the USAT rule book, interpretations of rules, codes of conduct, forms, regulations and the history of USAT officiating. I have taken my test and have attended my certifying clinic and have officiated in my first race. I think the first thing I would say is that while officials do give out penalties the idea behind the officiating is not to give out penalties but to try and ensure a race that is safe and fair for everyone involved. It’s pretty cool that, as athletes, we have such a support system behind us.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the certifying process other than I would really be learning the rules of the sport. I now know that many of the rules do not have anything to do with making the race fair, such as no drafting on the bike. There are rules that are mostly for the protection of the individual athlete such as wearing a visible number at all times on the swim bike and run so the athlete can quickly be identified if they become incapacitated and unable to tell the race officials who they are. There are rules to protect the race venue and the volunteers such as the rule against abandoning equipment on the course. This particular rule actually serves many roles, it protects athletes by limiting the number of water bottles you have to dodge on the bike, it protects the venue by keeping it much cleaner and it protects the volunteers by making it easier to clean the course after the race.

Anyhow, I know you are all dying to know if I, the Sweet Baboo, handed out a penalty. The answer is…yes but just one, well, almost two but in the end just one so let me tell you how my day went down. The ref crew was at transition EARLY but still the race management was there first along with several volunteers. We held our pre-race meeting and then watched the first wave of athletes hit the water. There were a couple officials monitoring the swim, which at this race meant on the shore with binoculars since the swim never went terribly far from shore and what we are mostly looking for is course cutting and athletes who may be in trouble.

The rest of us headed over to coordinate with our motorcycle drivers and then headed out onto the bike course where the real work of officiating is really taking place. There are numerous penalties that can accrue on the bike mostly because in addition to thins like equipment abandonment and unsportsmanlike like conduct you can get hit with a variety of position fouls. The race I did, the Prairie Man, was run very cleanly and the athletes were on their best behavior. I could tell that, for the most part, penalties such as drafting and other such penalties take place when people aren’t paying attention. You could tell that sometimes people would creep up into the draft zone and then realize that they were to close and so would either fall back or look around and then pass. I never saw anyone look like they were settling in for a nice draft though I did have a couple of cyclists yell out asking me if their distance was ok…and it was.

One thing that I saw clearly out on that bike course was the toughness of those athletes at the back of the pack. I know that I suck mightily on the run portion of the long course but I do not suffer on the swim or the bike. The people at the back of the pack look tired, their helmets are all cockeyed, they are standing and shifting in their saddles, stretching their necks, hanging their heads and grinding away just to get to the next aid station but they keep going and it gets VERY empty out there…very empty.

After spending about three hours out on the bike I headed back in to monitor the run and I got back in time to debrief a little with the head ref and then see the top pros come in and here I learned something else too. The winner was Aussie Chris Leigh with an amazing time of 3:58ish…it was boiling hot and humid out there with absolutely no shade or cloud cover, at least not at this point in the race. Frankly, it reminded me a lot of IMKY. Anyhow, even this pro admitted that he was reduced to walking a couple times on the run…amazing. Of course his walk probably was not the same as my patented shambling death trudge…oh yeah, it’s patented baby…if you want to suffer miserably your gonna’ have to find your own method of locomotion! His was probably more like a 10 second brisk trot but still, damn, I mean I thought those guys just blasted through everything. And the number two guy, 25 year Paulson (sp?) from Canada…that man SUFFERED. He, for whatever reason, did not wear any socks and when he came across the finish line he collapsed and immediately started trying to take off his shoes. The medical personnel were on him right away and he went flat and was covered in cold rags and ice. They pealed off his shoes and his feet were hamburger. Blisters that had been torn open all over, a huge black tone nail and a big flap of skin flapping off the side of his right foot. If you would have seen him running in you would not have imagined his feet were in such terrible shape.

Of all the race leaders I do not think I saw any who did not walk at least a little and many walked more than a little toward the end. And the back of the packers you ask? Well, after about 6 hours of scorching heat they were treated to a drizzling rain and then a good old fashioned Texas gully washer and it kept coming and coming. I don’t know how I would have received that downpour had I been racing in it. On the one hand it would have been a welcome respite from the relentless heat but on the other hand it would have made your clothes suffocating and your shoes as heavy as lead blocks. At this point I did feel very sorry for Andra Sue, a very cool blogger that the GEEKGRL and I hooked up with the night before. I knew she was out there on the dam, a totally exposed part of the run and it was her first half and it was a hard, hard day to do your first half.

So my first race as an official was pretty cool. I appreciate the sport so much more because I have seen so many aspects of the sport and know that we, the athletes, are very privileged to have races in which we can compete. More specifically, it is amazing that use mid and back of the packers…even those of us who are front of the pack age groupers, we are all very lucky to have a sport that allows us to play, that allows us a venue to make our goals and dreams come true and we should never, ever forget it. Indeed, not only should we not forget it but we should get our butts out there and help put on a race, volunteer, officiate anything, absolutely anything we can do to make our sport thrive.

I will be there, how about YOU?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Picture of Recovery

Ok, I’m sorry to say that I only have so much energy and I have had to choose between earning a living, training for Silverman and Blogging along with Blog related stuff like doling out the comment love. I have shamelessly and selfishly opted to train and earn a living but let it be known that I have been thinking about all you bloggy peeps.

I have been spending my time trying to figure out this whole recovery thing. I took a few days off after IMKY and then started back to training at low intensity and have been picking things up recently. I have also been monitoring my heart rate. My resting heart rate has finally fallen back down to my customary 48 beats per minute but I continue to notice that my HR climbs faster at lower intensities though this is starting to normalize a little too.

I thought that I would go ahead and post a brief series of Garmin pics just to have something to post so here goes.

The first was my first run with Garmin this last Sunday. That run felt pretty good and I took it real easy.

The next pic was my Monday run. A little longer and in the heat of the afternoon and it felt like absolute crap. I think running two days in a row that soon was hard but it seem like the crap run did serve the purpose of loosening things up and pumping out some of the lactic acid.

Next was my Wednesday track workout, two miles easy and one mile time trial. The time trial felt pretty good but was a little off pace for my usual mile time trial. It did feel good to push it though with so much slow stuff under my belt.

Thursday, today, I have had to cram in the swim bike and run because I am out of town this weekend going for my USAT race official certification. I started the morning off with a nice hill run and worked to increase my pace each mile until I was at a nice cruse in the end. There is a huge hill in the middle of the run where my pace fell off but not too badly. I was able to keep the run easy and comfortable and I think for the first time I felt my legs were coming back.

I cut out of work for a slightly extended lunch hour and hit the gym for a 2200 yard swim, about 2056 meters…I think of my swimming in meters rather than yards but I swam in a yard pool. Anyway, I was able to keep a pace of 1:45 per 100 meters, which is pretty good for me and I think that I am starting to reap some of the speed benefits of IM training.

Finally I headed out for a bike after work and had a pretty good time. It got dark well before I got home and so there I was riding along in the dark making shadow figures on the road with the aid of my trusty light strapped between my areo bars.

I hope everyone is doing well!