Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Get Started

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

    Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)
Nobody wants to be obese.  Nobody wants to be out of shape.  Millions of people make new years resolutions each year and abandon them within a month.  Lots of people have goals, but most people don't make plans.  A goal without a plan is just a wish.

The way to get started is to set your goals and then plan on how to reach them.  Without breaking down the work into smaller steps, the overall task is too daunting.  Most people are too intimidated to take the first step.

Do you want to lose weight?  You need to eat less and exercise more.  Each day, every day.  You monitor your progress by tracking it daily.  That means counting what you are taking in, and what you are exerting.  You can do this in a spreadsheet or using any of the myriad of web sites and or mobile phone apps out there.

Can you reach your goals without a plan?  Maybe, but not likely.  If you don't break it down into smaller pieces, the odds are that you'll never figure out how to start.

Where to start is not as important as how to start.  How do you start?  Start walking.  Take that first step.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 Blaine Triathlon Race Report

There were a lot of weather issues with this race, it was nearly turned into a duathlon (I guess that it's OK to run and bike in lightning but not swim). In the end they delayed the start by an hour and we had the triathlon as planned. I had to swim in a cheap ¾ length Dick’s Sporting goods wetsuit because I did not do my homework.  I had a 24 hour reservation on a full-length wetsuit from a local store, but I did not notice that they close at 6PM on Fridays.  I discovered this to my horror when I showed up at a quarter to eight & found the doors locked, and the lights turned off. 'Doh!

(550 Yards, Open water)

Water temp:  59°.  If not for the cheap ¾ length wetsuit (See above) I probably would not have gotten into the water to warm up.  ‘Warm up’ is really a misnomer, as all I really did was immerse myself and take some strokes to get the shock out of the way.   I highly recommend getting into the water before a cold water open swim.  How much actual warming up you should do probably depends upon your wave start.  Compared to the previous year (when the water was much warmer) I think that it helped.  A thought that I had common to both years was when my wave moved up to the line and was next - that was the oh crap moment where it all got real and I had a full understanding of what the next two hours had in store for me.  

The swim itself seemed to be OK.  I passed through several guys in my wave and caught the stragglers from the previous wave.    I did not have the same initial issues with the water that I had in 2012 thanks to getting into the water before the race.  What I did have a problem with was tracking in a straight line.  in the first 200 or so yards I had to make several hard course corrections when I lifted my head and found that I had veered hard to the right.  I made a single attempt to switch to bilateral breathing, ate a wave at the outset and promptly abandoned it.  From there I started a rotation of 10 strokes freestyle followed by a few strokes breaststroke to regain my bearings.  By about 350 yards or so I switched the rotation to 10 strokes freestyle and 10 strokes breaststroke to both regain my bearings and my wind.  In the final 50 I did a lot less breaststroke.
My time:  12:50 (40 seconds slower than 2012)

  • Technique:
    • Self analysis tells me that I am not pushing all the way through on my power stroke and that I am starting recovery prematurely.  I need to drill for this and really focus on refinement.
    • I need to develop an alternate breathing pattern that helps me to go straighter in open water
    • I need to practice head lifting in freestyle rather than slowing down to breastroke
    • I need more practice in open water
  • Conditioning:
    • I need to strengthen my core (My extremities are hard as rocks but my gut is like a jelly donut)
    • I need to strengthen my arms (esp. my triceps) to be able to handle pushing all the way through on the power stroke.
    • I need to continue drilling my bilateral breathing to try to be as comfortable with it as possible
    • I need to get faster
      • (On top of everything else I need to lose about 50 pounds just to do this)
  • Gear:
    • The second swim cap worked great - plan to do that again next year
    • Earplugs worked great - plan to do that again next year
    • Next year I will make sure that I don’t screw up my wetsuit rental
    • Go with wider angle goggles (My pool goggles put me at a disadvantage in open water)

T1 was about the same as last year.  100 yard dash with soft soggy feet on an asphalt trail plus a trot in a parking lot full of gravel and tiny rocks.  It was raining so everything was soaked.  I decided not to waste my time putting on the cycling gloves and left them behind.  Also I forgot to take the Gu during T1 & skipped it entirely as later I was reluctant to litter on the cycling course. My Time:  0:04:34 (1:24 faster than 2012)

(16.7 Miles)
As mentioned in T1 above I did not refuel during the race.   I could not get my heartbeat down to save my life.  I said the hell with it and rode my ride the way that I wanted to, with it all hanging out.  I paid for it dearly later, during the run.  It was a lot less windy this year, and it felt good to go faster, despite what I was doing to myself.  I passed a lot of people with heavier bikes and/or heavier bodies.  

Performance-wise, the cycling segment was the high point of my triathlon.  But towards the end I was ready for it to be over just the same.
My Time:  0:55:39 (6:59 faster than 2012)
  • Technique:
    • Average cadence was 84 rpm.  
      • This seems about right, but the only problem was that the average speed in my splits varied from 17.3 mph (Slowest) to 20.3 mph (fastest).  
      • If I could choose I would prefer a more varied cadence and a more consistent speed.
    • Trouble holding my line using DT shifters and during hydration.  
    • Had an awkward experience when I was overtook by one of those TT bike dudes while I was passing someone myself.  
      • Look over your shoulder before passing next time, dummy!
  • Conditioning:
    • I need to find the magic formula that allows me to maintain a desired speed yet at the same time allow me to get down into a more manageable heart rate.
    • I need to get faster
      • (On top of everything else I need to lose about 50 pounds just to do this)
  • Gear:
    • The Garmin FR 610 worked like a charm!
    • Skip the gloves next year
    • I should consider picking up some clamp-on aero bars, since it looks like I will be riding this bike again next year.
    • I should also investigate mounting hydration up in said aero bars to eliminate unnecessary movement

T2 went really quick and smooth this year.  Going with my running shoes on the bike really cut my time down (It also helped that I didn’t need to use the porta-potty this year).  

It could have been a lot worse:  in the first half mile or so of the run I got passed by a guy who had forgotten to take off his helmet & had to run the entire 3.5 miles with it in his hand.
My Time:  0:01:32 (1:32 faster than 2012)

(3.5 Miles)
I knew that I was in trouble before I was even out of T1:  my heart rate was in the mid 140’s at the very start.  I had trained to run in the mid to high 130’s and slowly build up, running negative splits each mile.  There wasn’t much I could do but take it slow from the outset and try to get my heart rate down.    During the first ¾ mile I was able to hold it in the high 140’s but there was a slight incline after the first water station and from there I jumped up to 150 and before I knew it I was 155.  Bam, first of 8 walk breaks.  

My negative splits strategy was out the window, and my improvised strategy for the remainder of the run was simple:  Walk breaks to get my heart rate down to 130, begin running my slow steady pace until it got back up to 155, repeat.  Anybody who has ever tried nursing home an overheating car would know the drill.  My heart rate was like the temp gauge, run it up to the red, then let it cool off so that you don’t crack the engine block.  The last .4 miles or so I ignored my HR and went for it until the finish.  
My time:  0:44:17 (1:29  slower than 2012)
  • Technique:
    • There really wasn’t much to consider here - I was at the end of my rope, so the only real technique I was employing was to tie a knot and try to hold on.
    • IF I don’t have the same problem again next year, I will revisit my strategy to run negative splits.
  • Conditioning:
    • I need to be better conditioned to switch from cycling to running
      • Definitely do more brick workouts
    • I need to get faster
      • (On top of everything else I need to lose about 50 pounds just to do this)
  • Gear:
    • I was really happy with my gear.  The Garmin FR 610 worked like a charm!