Saturday, September 29, 2012

9 Tools For Boosting Mental Toughness

9 Tools For Boosting Mental Toughness

I am learning that the mental part of racing is probably just as important as the physical. Train for those difficult moments!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Importance of Weight Training

Things have been really busy for me since I completed my first two half marathons early this year. I have worked a lot of overtime and there have been a lot of family things going on as well. Recently I have started marathon training too. Running with my friends and pushing my running during the week has been great for my running! I just finished the Toughest 10K Kemah which is four bridge repeats in 1:09:25, which I am really happy with. Since then I have also run a whole hour with no walk break, something I thought I would never do.

I have also bee eating about 80% on the Paleo Diet, dropped a pants size, and got under 200 lbs! Most days anyway.

BUT... I have not been lifting. I know from past experience this is not good for my body... and in my race photos from Kemah I could actually see the difference. Check this out.

Lucky Trails Half Marathon - March 2012
Toughest 10K Kemah - Sept 2012

Call me crazy, but I look better and fitter in the old picture where I was heavier. The difference? I was lifting before the older picture, but not before the newer one.

After seeing my race pictures, I headed back to the gym this week. First up: Squats of course! I started with 95 lbs... which I thought would be easy since my warmup weight back at the beginning of the year was 135, then I'd work up to 185. By the 4th set my hamstrings were cramping so much I had to call it a workout.

So, lesson learned! Don't quit lifting! Running is no substitute. Lifting is even MORE important during times of weight loss, not to lose muscle mass.

My plan is to keep running, training for the marathon but re-introduce lifting at least twice a week. Three times if I can fit it in. The added strength is only going to help carry my through the marathon!



Just a quick post on something I have found useful. For the last few years I have practiced balancing on one leg to do things such as get dressed and put on shoes and socks. I don't always do it for shoes, but enough that I can still get by. I should work on that more. I found that if you make it part of your daily routine, after a while you don't need to hold onto things to do it. I see several benefits in this:
  • It build the stabilizer muscles in the legs, and the neural pathways to control them. This at least theoretically could help you to not fall in a tripping situation, etc.
  • It allows you to get dressed at the gym without touching the benches, at least until you have your pants on. :)
  • In a triathlon, you can transition without sitting down. Yankz on your run shows make this super easy.
To do it, just practice crossing the lifted leg across the knee of the other leg. Then you can bend and reach it. You'll probably need something to hold onto to start with, but not after a while.

It's part of hacking me by integrating something useful into your daily life. :)


Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Little Science Behind Propulsion

A Little Science Behind Propulsion

Interesting article on how propulsion is just as important as minimizing drag. Complete with a graph for us data geeks! Its interesting that slower movement is less efficient, even for fish. But that makes sense to me, I have noticed it is easier to move in the water when pushing hard, it just requires more swim fitness. So, swimming harder should be in the plan, not trying to make it feel 'effortless'.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Patience Is a (Training) Virtue

Patience Is a (Training) Virtue by

This is a pretty cool article on training. It really steps back and puts things in perspective. It's what I keep telling me daughter over and over when she says she is not good at something... practice and you will get better.

Here's an excerpt:
One of the best training analogies I’ve ever read is by Mike Boyle. He said training is like farming. You do all these things today that you can’t see producing a result in the hope of a future payoff. You plant the seeds, water and fertilize, and scare away the birds, all in the hope that one day some little green shoots will pop through the soil.

And another interesting one:
Lance Armstrong has a saying that if you’re training over seventy percent you’re not building yourself up, you’re breaking yourself down. It’s like putting money in the bank. Each session done right builds your fitness bank account up - slowly accruing fitness session-by-session, day-by-day. Go too hard too often and you wind up having to use your credit card. The only problem with using your credit card all the time is sooner or later you wind up in debt. The problem becomes that in training terms “debt” means injury, illness, and burn out. You can’t deficit spend on fitness.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hacking the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is a fantastic bike trainer. Donna uses it for club "mad spin" classes during the winter, and I do the occasional Spinervals workout. She also takes it to work to get in lunchtime workouts. In the spring we put the kid's bike adapter on it for Cassie, and she gets to use it as part of our club's "Next Gen" youth development program. Fantastic!

BUT, there is one thing that makes this a pain in the butt to transport. When you fold it up, the resistance device contacts the frame. This scratches the frame and rattles as the car goes over bumps. Not cool!

The spring doesn't have any limiter to keep the resistance unit from moving in to touch the frame.

Enter the hacker.... 15 minutes and a piece of scrap PVC later... This will let you tighten the resistance unit down so it won't rattle or contact the frame.

 I had to smush the PVC a little in the vise to make it fit into the slot in the resistance unit.

I cut out a notch to fit around the slot where the end of the threaded rod goes.

No more contact!

Tightened down and read for non-rattling transport.

Next, we will be trying this with Trainer Road, which will provide estimated power while you are using it. For the fellow techno-geeks, Kurt publishes the power curve here. I'm sure this is a general estimate, maybe one day I can borrow a power meter and compare it to see how close it gets. Anyway I am sure it is better than nothing!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Swimming and the Crossfit Games

Swimming and the CrossFit Games: Why Is It Everyone's Weak Link?

Good to know I am not the only one with a  not so wonderful view of swimming. LOL

But  Shana Alverson puts it very well here:

    I think, based on my experience, I've done all the wrong things by avoiding an unpleasant goat. I am going to have to quit being such a whiney little bitch and really have to resolutely attack it, just like any other weakness, this year. And I guess I would suggest that to anyone in the same boat.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hacking Me: Bruce Lee Style!

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”- Bruce Lee

I think Bruce Lee would approve of my "Hacking Me" approach.To me, that is really what he is saying here... figure out what works for you.

Bruce didn't just find a great style martial art, master it, and stop there. He looked at other styles and incorporated elements to make a style all his own. His base style Wing Chun was pretty damn kick ass on its own to begin with!

Wing Chun has an interesting story you can go read at that link. Since it was designed for a woman to protect herself against a man, there are no high kicks... the women at the time wore long skirts. So Bruce Lee adapted his famous kicks from another style. 

So does this have anything to do with training for triathlon/running/cycling/whatever? Sure it does! You hear a lot of opinions on what the best way to train is... much of it is 'bro science' based on gym heresay. So I say follow Bruce Lee's advice... try it for yourself and then "adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own."


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Intervals Vs. No Intervals

I was talking to my buddy about the marathon training the other day about running intervals. He only runs without walk breaks, I was trying to convince him otherwise. He says he feels like he has given up if he stops to walk. OK, we'll see how long that works for him...

Anyway, per my usual engineering mentality I did a little test of my own. Disclaimer: this is only two data points under not exact conditions so yeah it may not always produce the same results. There are lots of variables. But its a start.

Run 1: Saturday 8/4 8:52 PM No Walk Breaks 44:31 3.80 mi 11:42 min/mi
Run 2: Monday 8/6 8:32 PM With Walk Breaks 44:48 3.89 mi 11:31 min/mi

So, not that much different in time... slightly better with the breaks. Mentally I was thinking I could run harder since I had the break coming up on Run 2. I was always trying to conserve on Run 1, but that is also the furthest I have run with no walk breaks... so there is lack of experience there.

Anyway, I plan on keeping the breaks for the most part and just extending them longer... to say one mile. It would be nice to just run between the water stations in a race.


Saturday, August 4, 2012


My buddy Tom was a cross country runner in high school. He rarely runs now, but once in a while we do a 5K together. Of course he still beats me. He IS several years younger and probably 50 lbs lighter too though. LOL

So out of the blue the other day he says he wants to do a marathon. He even looks up a training program online, which really surprises me. He doesn't spend much time on the internet. And as the father of two boys under 10, it isn't like he has a ton of free time these days.

I had really never thought about doing a marathon. But since I managed to do my first half marathon this year, I don't consider it outside the realm of possibility. Yes, I have been wishy-washy about what kind of racing I want to do, but running is something I know I like doing. So why not? One more thing I can do and say I have done!

Is it a 'hell yeah!'? The race itself, probably not. But I see it as a means to propel me further toward my 'hell yeah!' goal as long as I do it right! :)


Hacking Me: Hell Yeah!

I'm a hacker by nature. I can look at just about anything and start thinking about how I could make it better, or use it for some other purpose. I guess it is natural that I turned out to be an engineer. Even though I am an electrical engineer and do software development now in my day job now, I still have an interest in the mechanical stuff too. I have lots of ideas for projects, though I rarely have time to apply the ideas.

Take my major project for example, I have a completely stripped 1970 Mach 1 in my garage that I am doing major rust repair on. Major being probably half the metal on the car unibody shell itself will be replaced before I am done. If I ever get done... no time... no money... etc!

Then there's my new bike Venom... can I just go out and buy a bike? Nooooo, I gotta buy a frame, parts, and put it all together myself! (update coming soon)

One of my favorite web sites is Lifehacker. Recently they had an article that I really liked about how we say 'yes' to things that we really don't want to do. I know I am really bad about that. Check out the article here. Basically we need to get better about not saying 'yes' unless we can say 'hell yeah!' This has really started me to rethink about my venture into triahtlon. I have never been able to definitely say why I want to do triathlon. Is the next race a 'hell yeah'? No, not usually. So why? Why do it?

Then I read Donna's view on the same article... maybe that hits it closer, I just have not been hungry for it.

Enter Lifehacker again with a post about mind mapping. Wait, what? Mind mapping? Now THAT got me thinking! Maybe the brain is hackable too. At least taking the time to see how something ticks is the first part of modifying it. :) I ended up not liking the software from the post, but it at least got me thinking and that is good. What are my goals? What are my reasons? What makes me tick?

Then something finally came to me... it isn't so much the race itself that flips the 'on' switch in my brain... it's things like seeing improvements in my body, feeling my clothes get looser, feeling that sense of accomplishment when I do finish a race, seeing my distances get longer in my training logs, and seeing my times drop for old distances. Maybe that is why I have not fully enjoyed most of the races I have entered, I always felt pressure that I wasn't quite 'ready'. Maybe I was just looking for the wrong feeling.

So, moving forward I need to focus on the things that give me the good feelings and avoid the negative pressure feelings about 'must get ready for race'. Life is the race, nothing else really matters. Don't laugh but this reminds me of one of my daughter's favorite Hannah Montana songs: The Climb.

Now I am thinking about the athlete I want to be... not just a runner, not just a triathlete, not just a weightlifter, not just a cyclist... but a hacked creation all my own. HELL YEAH! (a much more Darren-like song!)

What's your 'hell yeah'?


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swim Tip: Coordinate Your Breathing With Your Stroke

Swim Tip: Coordinate Your Breathing With Your Stroke:
When a triathlete has difficulties with breathing during freestyle, the problem is usually starting the breath too late in the stroke cycle. This degrades the swimmer’s ability to breathe, ultimately limiting performance in the water.
Coordinating your breathing movement to your stroke can be tricky to master, but with practice, it can make you more efficient in the water.
A great way to learn how to better coordinate your breath is with the Early Breath Drill. This drill establishes an easy-to-follow progression of movement for your breath and stroke.

How to do it

Step 1: Begin by swimming the freestyle Catchup Drill holding a kickboard extended in front of you. Insert a pause into your stroke each time your hands “catch up” to each other on the board.
Step 2: Start your breathing movement during the “pause” between strokes, before your hand leaves the kickboard. By initiating your breath early, you give yourself extra time to both inhale and get your head down before your hand begins moving forward into the recovery phase of the stroke.
Step 3: Ditch the kickboard and continue the drill, focusing on keeping the same progression of movement for your stroke and breath as in step 2.
Practice Set: 8x25s

Early Breath Drill (with or without kickboard)

Regular freestyle
Focus on getting an early breath and then quickly returning your head into the water. Follow this set with an easy 100, focusing on a controlled, coordinated breathing movement.
Jonathan Cain is a coach at Denver-based swim school SwimLabs (
RELATED – Swim Tip: Maximize Efficiency While Breathing

Saturday, July 28, 2012



I thought this was a good read,a different perspective on swimming that I get from the local coaches or Swim Smooth. I picked up one of the TI videos to begin with... I think it has some good points but I am not sold on it really.


How Our Brains Stop Us From Achieving Our Goals (and How to Fight Back) [Goals]

How Our Brains Stop Us From Achieving Our Goals (and How to Fight Back) [Goals]:
How Our Brains Stop Us From Achieving Our Goals (and How to Fight Back)As admittedly wonderful and fascinating as the human brain is, it can also feel like the brain is out to get us sometimes. In some circumstances, our brain's natural reaction actually does more to sabotage than help. Here, Sparring Mind founder Gregory Ciotti explains how to combat your brain's own brilliance, overcoming the instinctual reactions which often have devastating effects on your long-term goals.

Your brain can hurt your goals by fantasizing too much

Would you believe that fantasizing is the #1 way your brain unintentionally ruins your goals? It seems unlikely, right? The thing is, the proof is in the pudding (or in this case, the research): psychologists have found that while positive thinking about the future is broadly beneficial, too much fantasy can have disastrous results on achieving goals. Researchers tracked the progress of how people cope with four different types of challenges.
As an example, in one of those challenges (trying to find a fulfilling job), those who had spent the most time fantasizing performed the worst in a variety of critical data points:
  • they had applied for fewer jobs
  • they had been offered fewer jobs
  • if they were able to find work, they had lower salaries.

  • Why? Why could fantasizing about a positive end take a turn for the worse?
    Jeremy Dean, a psychological researcher at UCL London and the owner of PsyBlog had this to say about the researcher's conclusions:
    The problem with positive fantasies is that they allow us to anticipate success in the here and now. However, they don't alert us to the problems we are likely to face along the way and can leave us with less motivation—after all, it feels like we've already reached our goal.
    It's one way in which our mind's own brilliance lets us down. Because it's so amazing at simulating our achievement of future events, it can actually undermine our attempts to achieve those goals in reality. Our poor brain is thus a victim of itself.
    Again, this is not to say that visualizing goals is necessarily a haphazard strategy for achieving them, it's just that we need to be aware of the dangers of excessive fantasy. Instead of being entranced with what the future may bring, we need to learn to love the work here and now. Enjoying our day by day progress and realistic ‘checkpoints' is a much more practical way to create our future; getting lost in grandiose dreams that focus on the ultimate end is not. As they say, don't give up on your dreams, but don't fall under their spell either.

    Your brain procrastinates on big projects by visualizing the worst parts

    Procrastination, of all of the things on this list, is likely the most recognizable: everybody realizes that they procrastinate from time to time, and it's something we are forced to battle with every day. How can we fight this persistent opponent?
    Interesting research from Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik (of whom the Zeigarnik Effect is named after) reveals to us an interesting tidbit about the human mind: we are better at remembering things that are partially done. Ms. Zeigarnik came to this conclusion by testing the memory of folks doing simple "brain" tasks like puzzles or crafts. She then interrupted them and asked them to recall (with specific detail) the tasks that they were doing or had completed. She found that people were twice as likely to recall more detail about the tasks they had been interrupted in than in the tasks they had completed.
    What does this have to do with procrastination?
    Before we get to that, know this: in a study by Kenneth McGraw, participants were given a very tricky puzzle to solve with an "unlimited" amount of time. The thing is, all of the participants were interrupted before they could finish, and then told that the study was over. Despite being told they were done, nearly 90% of participants continued working on the puzzle anyway.
    What both of these studies teach us is that when people finally manage to start something, they are much more inclined to remember the task and finish it. The Zeigarnik Effect and the subsequent McGraw study assure us that the best way to beat procrastination is to start somewhere…anywhere. Our brain has the habit of envisioning the impending huge workload of an upcoming task. It also tends to focus on the most difficult parts or sections, and this is where procrastination begins to set in: as we try to avoid the "hard work," we find ways to skate around it and trick ourselves into thinking that we're busy.
    Just starting though, triggers our brain in a different way. It's the same way that cliffhangers are utilized to keep us coming back to our favorite TV shows; we're primed to remember the last episode because the story was interrupted, and our brain wants a conclusion. It's the same with your tasks: start, and your brain will overcome the first hurdle.
    This seemingly small milestone appears to be the most important one to overcome if you wish to defeat procrastination. After starting a task, your brain will be more enticed to finish it to it's "conclusion." You also tend to see that it's not as big a mountain as you initially imagined, and that the work involved in completing this task won't be so terrifying after all.

    Your brain will "abandon ship" at the first sign of distress

    Anyone who's fought the good fight with dieting will likely recognize this phenomenon. Envision this:
    You're on a diet, and have been doing well for about 2 1/2 weeks, but you know your defenses are at risk. To make matters work, you're having dinner with friends tonight. Instead of the healthy meal you could have made at home, you're forced to use a restaurant menu.
    The problem is this: At the bar before dinner, you had a little "cheat" moment by ordering snacks and drinks, after all, you're with your pals tonight, right? You know that those drinks and snacks, combined with the bread you had before dinner, leave you with one option to stay a bit over your caloric intake goals: you must eat a salad. The thing is, your brain is yelling out "BURGER!". Instead of finishing the day a tad over your 2000 calorie goal, you order the burger with fries and don't look back.
    The crazy thing about this scenario?
    It's much more than a momentary act of weakness: psychologists have observed that this is much more likely to happen as a result of you missing a previously set goal. Specifically, in research by Janet Polivy and her colleagues, people who were actually on diets were tested with pizza and cookies. In the study, two groups of participants (those on diets and those not dieting) were told not to eat beforehand and then served exactly the same slice of pizza when they arrived to the lab. Afterwards, they were then asked to taste and rate some cookies.
    The thing was, the experimenters didn't really care about the cookie's rating, they just wanted to see how many people ate. This is because they tricked some of the participants into thinking that they had recieved a larger slice than the others (using framing and false information). This was to make them believe that they had most certainly "ruined" their diet goals for the day.
    The result?
    When the cookies were weighed, it turned out that those who were on a diet and thought they'd blown their limit ate more of the cookies than those who weren't on a diet. This doesn't paint the true picture though: they ate over 50% more! On the flipside, the dieters that did think that they were in their caloric limit ate the same amount of cookies as those who weren't on a diet at all. Truly, our brain is geared towards a call of "Abandon ship!", whenever we come short of our goals.
    Don't let this happen to you!
    The best way to combat your brain from signaling ‘Mission Abort!' after you've missed a short-term goal is to re-frame what just happened. Yes, you did fall short or maybe mess up this time, but remember the progress that you've made. With the diet example, you could look at all of the "good days" you've accumulated thus far: even if you fell after only a few days of starting your new diet, it's still an accomplishment to have started one and to have set long-term goals for yourself.
    Short-term lapses in your end-goal are not like a bad apple spoiling the bunch: you have gotten things accomplished so far and you need to stay focused on the long-term, not become distraught by a single mishap. Research tells us that this is the best mindset to take for misfortune and failure in general: your progress and achievements go so much farther than that slip-up; don't let your brain convince you that all is lost!

    Your brain loves mindless busy work disguised as progress

    One of the ways in which your brain continues it's trickery is through busy work: work that gets "something" done, but not something that produces any measurable results.
    In fact, research by John Bargh and colleagues reveals that our brain loves to become robotic and to mimic people out of habit. I shouldn't have to tell you that this is disastrous to achieving long term goals! This busy work is often a mechanism our brain uses in cohesion with avoiding big projects (mentioned above): instead of diving into the difficult tasks we KNOW we should get done, we'll instead float around doing semi-related (read: barely related) menial tasks to make ourselves feel productive without actually getting anything done.
    Here's the thing: you're not going to build a thriving business or a successful blog with that kind of busy work. It takes doing the hard work and it takes deliberate practice, there's no way around it. The thing is, your brain knows this, that's why you have to remind it that the challenging stuff is often the stuff that produces the results you desire. Also remember that you can fight that procrastination by just getting started.
    When you look back at what you've gotten done by the end of the day, make sure you're proud of what you got accomplished, don't let your brain ruin your goals by diverting you from what needs to be done!

    Your brain is not good at "winging it" when it comes to planning...ever!

    Every night before I go to sleep, I like to write a simple to-do list that I group into two categories. I put some in category ‘A' (must be done tomorrow) and some in category ‘B' (must be worked on or done in 2-3 days). I do this because when I sit down at the computer without a plan, I tend to fall flat on my face. My so-called "work time" turns into the not-so-productive "check email time" or "browse Reddit" time; nothing of any importance gets done. It seems that I'm not alone!
    In research by Gollwitzer and colleagues, the subject of "if-then" plans was discussed in relation to how we set and stay consistent with out goals, and the results are not surprising but reveal a lot of insight into how our brain reacts to planning (and even some great tips). The thing is, researchers found that not only do well-laid plans seem to get accomplished more often, but planning for failures along the way ("In case of emergency…") helps people stay on task under duress.
    Let's continue our diet example from above.
    Say you did have that lapse and go over your calories for the day. Instead of "winging it" and letting your brain crumble to it's likely response (discussed above), you should have a backup plan ready to know what to do when failure strikes. This could be something like: "If I go over 2000 calories in a day, I'll finish the day as close to 2000 as I can, and then the next morning, I'll go for a 15 minute run as a ‘penance,' make sure I eat an extra healthy breakfast, and then continue the rest of my day as normal." You are likely no stranger to feeling ashamed about getting off track; we've all been there.
    Having those "In case of emergency…" plans help us to have a gameplan in case we do falter, and including a small ‘penance' like I discussed above can help us get over it quicker. If you failed on your diet for a day and then ‘punish' (again, just with a quick run) yourself by running in the morning, you can go about your day knowing that you got what you deserved, instead of sliding down the slippery slope of guilt through the rest of the day.
    So remember to include an "if-then" plan for your next big goal—you'll be able to beat back your brain's guilt over slipping up now and then and you won't have to ever "wing it" in case something goes wrong!
    How our brains stop us from achieving our goals (and how to fight back) | Buffer Blog

    Gregory Ciotti is the founder of Sparring Mind, the blog that takes psychology and persuasive marketing and makes them play nice together. Download his free e-book on ‘Conversion Psychology' for more research or follow Greg on Twitter.
    Buffer makes your life easier with a smarter way to schedule the great content you find. Fill up your Buffer at one time in the day and Buffer automagically posts them for you through the day. Simply keep that Buffer topped up to have a consistent social media presence all day round, all week long.
    Image remixed from Ioannis Pantzi and Leremy.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Overtraining Can Kill You: The 3 Stages of Overtraining, Part 1

Overtraining Can Kill You: The 3 Stages of Overtraining, Part 1:
People joke about workouts that "nearly killed" them. But what does overtraining REALLY look like? And how deadly is it? In this series we take a look at the three stages of overtraining.
Overtraining can kill you.

read more

Friday, July 20, 2012

Moments of Greatness

Yet another swim workout with the swim smooth program! Well, really I am still working on the same one. It just focuses on better breathing and rotation, both of which I am definitely in need of. Today it felt tough to begin with, but I finally took off on a lap or two where I finally felt like I was making some progress. I just need more of those moments of greatness to happen in a row!

I am happy to see some amount of progress in really such a short time, so this its looking promising so far.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


My swimming sucks. So I just don't like doing it.I think there is a chicken and egg problem there. I think I would like it better if I didn't suck so bad, but I just hate working at it.the main issue for me is just the struggle to breathe.

I ran across and took their 'swim types' test. It says I am a 'Bambino'. An my friend Howard complains about being labeled a'Clydesdale'... LOL

I broke down and bought the stroke correction guide for $20... Hoping that could do me some good.
I tried the first workout on Monday and again today. I'm just using fins and pull buoy so far, working on getting my breathing and rhythm better.I am seeing a little smudge of improvement already...will post more later on my progress as I go.

Sunday, July 1, 2012



We re talking about going to Redman Triathlon in Oklahma City this September. My wife's training buddy 'Hombre' is doing his first 140.6 distance. Last year he was signed up but couldn't race due to an injury. He still came up to cheer on my wife in her 70.3. So, she is going up this year to cheer him on, as well as some of our other club members. This is a popular race for our club.

Just yesterday she asked me if I wanted to do the sprint... they don't usually have a sprint distance, but some years when it is a championship race they do add the sprint for some reason. This is one of those years. The question kind of caught me off guard, as I had not planned on doing a tri this year. I am mainly focusing on running with added lifting... so only run races and duathlons were on my radar. I do like Redman though, it is a nice race to spectate. I am also thinking it would be nice to visit my old boss, who now lives in Oklahoma City.

What was my answer when she asked? "I wouldn't be ready for the swim!" Is that true? Well now that I think about it... it is a wetsuit race... it's in September I could be ready if I wanted to be. Heck, I could be swimming sprint distance in a wetsuit in a matter of weeks... not fast but "get through it" swimming. Saying I couldn't is a crock.

So I think I will plan on going to the race... and start working on swimming in the meantime. We'll see where that takes me. :)  Venom should be ready for some racing by then!


New Bike!: "Venom"

I finally pulled the trigger and bought myself a new bike! Well a frame. It's a 2009 Fuji D6 Matt Reed Edition. Since my wife got her 2009 D6 Pro, I have had bike envy, I admit it. The old Frankenbike has served me well, but it is time I just ponied up and got a decent bike. This one already received its name: "Venom"!

The Purchase

I missed out on one Ebay auction for one of these frames, as it just went higher than I wanted to pay for a bike frame. This one ended up going about the same but after consultation with the wife, she finally placed the winning bid for me and I won it! 

The bike came in packed in a standard bike shipping box from a Trek Madone. Nicely done by the seller! It even has the original manual and bag of small parts packed in there too. This includes an extra rear derailleur hanger and special cable housings and adjuster for the front brake.


More Ebay!  Well not all Ebay, but also Amazon.
Here's my current list for the build.
  • Front Derailleur: SRAM Red in black.
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red in Team Liquigas color. This is a takeoff from a Cannondale team Liquigas bike. It is all back with a splotch of lime green. Not quite the color of the bike, but it is small and the color is close. Photos later.
  • Cables: Jagwire cables in Organic Green. This color is pretty close, particularly to the darker section below the seatpost. I ordered the Racer cable kit but that is not nearly enough cable for this bike! I had to order additional rolls of the housing. The rear cable housings run full length inside the bike.
  • Brake Adjusters: Shimano inline. The bike came with one adjuster for the front, but I want them to be the same. There is not room for adjusters at the brake on this bike since the brakes are tucked into and behind the frame, so it has to use inline adjusters.
  • Brake Levers: I have Vision brake levers on the aerobars currently, but I have already run into an issue. These require special cables! I cut the cables when I took them off my old bike, so I think at least one of them will be too short. For future maintenance I am thinking I should go with ones that use the standard cables. I'll figure this one out later, I may have to stick some old ones I have on there for now.
  • Aerobars: Existing Vision fixed aluminum bars. Maybe this will be upgraded to carbon in the future. Maybe sooner if the fixed length bars aren't the right length for me!
  • Stem: Existing aluminum short stem. This one also has a high angle... we'll see if it works. Once I find the right length and angle this might go carbon as well.
  • Crankset: SRAM Red carbon that was original on Donna's bike. This is 172.5mm where I may need a 175mm though. I will find out for sure when I take the bike for a professional fit after I get it together.
  • Bottom Bracket: Another issue here. My new SRAM Red ceramic bearing bottom bracket got scuffed when the tool slipped taking it off my old bike. DOH! But the red color isn't right for this bike anyway. I am thinking I will strip off the anodizing and maybe paint it black. It is SO smooth! For now I had an old black GXP bottom bracket that originally came on Donna's Trek Equinox. Another option would be to upgrade this one with Enduro hybrid ceramic bearings. The holdup here is having to pay $120 for the tool to change the bearings, or come up with my own bearing press. A man can never have enough tools. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sylvan Beach Duathlon

I did a multisport race! Yeah it has been a while. No, it wasn't a triathlon, it was the Sylvan Beach Duathlon. This is now the second year I have done it, even though I did not post about it last year. It's actually kinda sad that I didn't. I love that there is no swim, but it seems like a lot of fast people come to this race. Last year I had an awesome race (for me) even though I made some mistakes, and still was next to last in my age group. That just kinda takes the wind out of my sails. I know, at least I am doing it, what difference does it make where I place, right?

The Week Before

As per my usual, once I sign up for a race I feel extra pressure to perform my best... so I go do some crazy workout that ends up with an injury or something. This one was no exception. This time one week out from the race I go for a run and try to push to my pace from last year's duathlon. Last year I did the first two miles with no walk break at 10:11 pace! So I went out and was running intervals at 10:00 pace for 6 minutes, then I noticed my knee started bugging me. DOH! I rested it most of the week and had Dr T. work it over a bit with some cold laser therapy and Graston. Turns out I had a little tendonitis where the top tendon attaches to the kneecap. I took it a bit easy on the first run, but had no issues in the race!
Laser action!

Finishing touches on Frankenbike were borrowing the wheels from Donna's Fuji D6 Pro and installing a new Torhans Aero 30 drink bottle. I took it for a test ride and adjusted the seat height more from the crank change.


The Race

Part of the reason I did this race was honestly because I had talked a guy from work into doing it... he is doing his first triathlon soon and I thought this would be great experience for him. And it was, as he did the ride on tires about half flat and only brought one gel pack for nutrition. Poor guy was 'livin the dream' for sure! But he still beat me on the second run, dangit! Never mind that he is 29 and a runner... LOL


Run 1: 2 Miles

Official: 21:16.1 10:38/M
Garmin: 21:13.4 10:30/M
Last Year: 20:22.2 10:11/M

I managed to stick fairly well with my plan on this segment this time. I took it fairly easy and didn't let adrenaline get the best of me. I stopped to walk a couple of times even. I figured I'd be able to race better later on if I didn't kill it here, particularly my knee!



Official: 1:25.6
Last Year: 1:25.9

Wow, I am surprised how close the numbers are! I was racked in a similar location this time, but that close? Last year I remember that I forgot to remove my visor and had to shove it in the back of my jersey as I put my helmet on... no issues this time!


Bike: 18 Miles

Official: 1:00:25 18.4 Mph
Garmin: 1:00:33 18.0 Mph
Last Year: 59.18 18.8 Mph

It's hard to judge the bike from year to year with weather differences. I have not been training on the bike much this year though, so I am happy with this! I had the added benefit of the bike upgrades, borrowed race wheels, and aero helmet this year though.



Official: 1:18.5
Last Year: 1:40.5

Not sure what I was doing in T2 last year, baking a ham?


Run 2: 8K (5 Miles)

Official: 56:28.8 11:31/M
Garmin: 56:10.6 11:27/M
Last Year: 53:37.5 10:54/M

This is IT, the famous run of the Sylvan Beach Tri/Du. Well famous around here for being freaking HOT! It is June after all, and temps are well in the 80's if you are lucky by the time you get to this run. There is one long straight stretch where you're running on the road on the sunny side and there is just NO shade. There are just enough trees to cut down the breeze too. Fortunately there is a guy in the middle with a water hose being an awesome neighbor and spraying the runners. Whoever you are dude, you rock!

I quickly reverted to a 6 minute run, 1:30 walk interval for this one. I have not been doing bricks either (see the part about no biking), so this is pretty much what I expected to do in these conditions. Did I mention how freakin hot it was? I was adjusting my intervals to walk the aid stations and pour the cold water on my back, that helped.


Nutrition and Hydration

I felt like I did a pretty good job with that this time. We were out of eggs, but had some egg whites which I had with an Ezekiel english muffin for breakfast. I also had some cereal in a big on the way to the race, and some EFS drink. On the bike and run, I carried EFS Liquid Shot mixed in water. I picked up water from the aid stations. This usually works well for me, but I got to where I didn't want any more of the EFS/water. It was maybe just too warm. I did take in enough not to bonk at least!



I really didn't have my head in this race... if I hadn't talked someone into doing it I probably wouldn't have done it. I knew I was not well prepared, which stresses me out. I knew I wouldn't do as well as I did last year. With that said, I am still glad I did it! I got in there and pulled it out. Not exactly the way I want to race, but I did it.

My plan going into this year was to not sign up for a race unless I already feel ready for it, which I kinds broke with this one. But there aren't that many duathlons around, and I have not been swimming, so I will have to take it as it comes a bit. I'll tentatively think about 'Du The Bear' this fall! I should have my new bike built by then, more on that in another post!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Ride

This weekend I installed the new hand-me-down SRAM Red Carbon crank from Donna's 2009 Fuji D6 Pro bike that was too long for her. I got her a new one just like it. Also a new SRAM Red ceramic bearing bottom bracket and Ultegra 6700 Grey front derailleur. It came out really nice! It's funny that the MSRP of these three parts is probably close to what I originally paid for the bike in 2003... LOL

The crank is a double 172.5mm, which replaced my old triple 175mm. It seems a lot of people are shortening their cranks to get more power... which I don't quite get logically. A longer lever can apply more torque. But I figured I couldn't let this sweet crank go unused so I might as well give it a shot! I have been wanting to ditch the triple for a double anyway... not much in the way of hills here in this part of Texas, and it is just more weight for the triple. Since I am using the bar end shifters, they work for either as the left shifter is friction only.

Here's what it looks like all finished.

The crank does spin VERY smoothly! I noticed that immediately on the stand once I had it installed. The Shimano Ultegra bearings seem to spin about one revolution when I spin them. The Chris King on Donna's old bike spins only about 1/2 turn. This thing will go about two turns! I could notice how smooth and easy it spins even riding it.

I got to test the new setup on a ride with BAM! on Monday morning. We got one of the BAM teenagers to come babysit Cassie, so Donna and I both could ride. The plan was to ride out to Twin Lakes Scuba Park ~21 miles from home, swim, and ride back. I skipped the swim part, as I have not been swimming in a long time. I was continually bringing up the rear on the ride, but it was a great training ride for me. Donna and her coach Chris stayed back to keep an eye on me, everyone else disappeared. Ah well, that is the longest ride I have done in several years, and I still managed almost 17 mph average. Not complaining! It reminds me why I usually ride alone though. :)

Here's the workout data from Garmin Connect.


Knee Pain and Bike Fit

Donna found this excellent article on knee pain caused by bike fit:

I am subscribing to this blog, it looks like it has some excellent info!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Two Quick Tips If You Struggle With Breathing

Two Quick Tips If You Struggle With Breathing

Definitely something I need to work on. I have noticed my lead arm collapsing. When (if) I get back in the pool, this is something I need to work on for sure.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Training is about learning to hurt

I thought this was a fantastic article by Chrissie Wellington!
Train your brain, then your body

My wife is volunteering at Ironman Texas this weekend, and was invited by the race director to meet Chrissie... can't wait to hear how that went! She also scored a copy of her new book A Life Without Limits to get autographed.

I am starting to gain some motivation to do another triathlon. Work and home have both been so busy lately I have not been able to train consistently... but the good news is I have been getting some running and lifting in, and have lost 10 lbs with a semi-Paleo diet... I AM NO LONGER CLYDESDALE! 199.2 yesterday. And I will never be technically a Clydesdale again... particularly after they raise the limit to 225 lbs next year... LOL

Up until my last week, my runs were still improving. I ran 4 1/4 miles one week with no walk breaks, then 4 1/2 the next week... but that doesn't keep improving without running more than once a week. Last week's run was not so good. Gotta get back on track with my running... and speaking of track, my daughter is super excited that I am taking her with me to the track this morning! She is a swimmer and triathlete already at age 7, can't wait to see where she takes this. :)

My old college buddy Howard is about to do hit first tri, I am really excited for him! Go Howard!

Next potential race: Sylvan Beach Duathlon. I did this one last year, it was damn HOT. Some people were out spraying us with a water hose as we ran by, I hope they are out again this year!

I just got a great deal on a new SRAM GXP ceramic bearing bottom bracket for my bike. This thing is sweet! (WARNING: Bike part porn!)
(I am also having fun with my new camera, pretty happy about that shot!)

This will let me use the SRAM Red carbon crank that I took off Donna's new bike because it was too long for her. BUT, I am watching a bike frame on Ebay today... a Fuji D6 Matt Reed Edition... The frame is like Donna's but black and lime green. Wish me luck! Unfortunately, this bottom bracket won't match if I win that one though... LOL


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Donna's New Bike!

Welcome the new tri bike member of our family, Caddie! It's a 2009 Fuji D6 Pro.

No, not my bike but my wife's. But I might get to keep the SRAM Red carbon crank with ceramic bearings that I had to take off to put her shorter one on! Oh shoot, she is gonna want another SRAM though...DOH!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

My First (Two) Half Marathon(s)!

Here's a really late report. But I realize I haven't had anything going on in this blog for a while. Time to wake it up!

I was planning on doing the Seabook Lucky Trails Half Marathon for a while, particularly since I got an Schwaggle deal on it for cheap! I thought it would be a good first race because it was on trails, and it usually has good schwag. But it it turned out that I reached 10 miles in my training faster than I thought! So I signed up for the Galveston Mardi Gras Half Marathon the week of the race. So here are my late race reports!

Galveston Mardi Gras Half Marathon 2/5/2012

Race morning the weather was definitely not cooperating. It was less than 50 degrees, raining, and very windy. YUK! But having signed up for this at the inflated last minute prices, I definitely was not going to skip out on this one. I wore a bike rain coat that Donna had picked up for the MS-150 before, nothing we were worried about in case I decided to ditch it along the way. With my favorite Under Armour long sleeved shirt and compression tights, the cold wet rain was really not too bad after I warmed up. I even pulled the jacket off and tied it around my waist after a couple of miles, once the rain eased up a bit. I kept it in case the rain picked up harder again and it got colder. The hardest part was the middle 7 miles along the Galveston seawall, all with a cross headwind!

Nutrition: Too long since the race for me to detail my race morning... I think it was an Ezekial English Muffin with eggs, and maybe a Powerbar. I think I also drank some Scivation Xtend, which I think is fantastic stuff. For the race itself, I took four bottles of water with about 400 calories worth of EFS Liquid Shot mixed in across the four. This worked perfectly for hydration and nutrition all in one, with roughly one bottle per 5K. A constant flow of energy since I sipped some each walk break, and no stomach issues!

Results: Not quite what I had hoped for, but given the conditions I am just glad I finished it. I am glad I did it though! 67th in my age group 2:40:37 for 12:16/M. Garmin details here.

 Seabrook Lucky Trails Half Marathon - 3/17/2012

Weather was nice but on the hot side. Leading up to the race, I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to do it. I was fighting IT band issues since Galveston. I went on a trip to visit my mom in Alabama and ran some trails back home the weekend before. That went pretty well, so I decided I could survive another half. I was hoping I would still beat my Galveston time and PR, but that didn't happen.

The trails are really tight in a lot of places, particularly with traffic in both directions since we were running two loops.That certainly didn't help things. I did and felt pretty good the first loop, but then I started fading. Between the heat and the lack of training since Galveston, I was just fizzling out.

Nutrition: Same as Galveston, but more water from the water stations.

Results: 30th in my age group, 2:42:31 for 12:24/M. No PR. Garmin results here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lift Big Eat Big: Sweat Does Not Equal Fat Loss

"Cardio in excess may contribute to an absence of fat loss, due its catabolic effects, and in some instances may cause actual fat gain." I can prove this with my own training, it's true!

Lift Big Eat Big: Sweat Does Not Equal Fat Loss

Friday, March 9, 2012

Priority One For Swimmers – Get Level

Priority One For Swimmers – Get Level:
Before you put one more ounce of effort into creating propulsion in your swim with hard kicking, a dramatic catch or a stronger pull, invest yourself entirely in reducing drag. You’ll get more speed with less effort.
The greatest technique challenge that new swimmers have to overcome is body drag. Body drag occurs when the top parts of the body (head, lead arm, shoulders) are positioned high in the water, and the hips and feet are progressively deeper. In this “swimming uphill” position, there is drag at the chest, stomach, hips, thighs, knees, shins and feet. Water is so thick that elite swimmers shave their entire bodies to reduce the drag generated by tiny hairs, so imagine the resistance created by the whole body plowing through the water.
To solve this critical issue, it helps to understand that the body functions in the water like a seesaw works on a playground: When one end goes down, the other end goes up. You have three tools to help you get level in the water.
Head: When you look forward while swimming, your head rises above the surface of the water, causing the hips and legs to sink. If your head is lowered into the water, then the hips and feet rise towards the surface. Rather than having the water line at your eyebrows, forehead or hair line, drop your head so that the water line connects with the crown of the head.
Lead arm: Once the arm enters the water and reaches forward to complete extension, the fingers should not be above, on, or even just below the water’s surface. They should be deep-perhaps three to five inches below the surface of the water.
Pressure: Thanks to the lungs, the chest cavity holds a lot of air. When the upper part of the chest is pressed down into the water, the lower part rises. Maintain this pressure on the upper chest as you roll from side to side. Think about leaning first on your armpit and then across both collarbones and onto the other armpit.
Different body types require different adjustments. A body with more adipose tissue (fat) around the hips and thighs will naturally float level with greater ease than a very lean body with dense muscle and bone. Both body types (and everyone in between) can be level in the water, but some may ride deeper in the water than others. Depth does not matter-it’s being level that is critical to minimizing drag. Generally, the leaner and more muscular you are, the more you will need to rely on head depth, lead arm depth and pressure to get level. Regardless of your body type, as you become more comfortable in the water, you can slightly reduce your reliance on these factors as all three tools work together to keep you level.
Ian Murray is a USAT Level III coach and the co-producer, writer and host of the DVD series found at