Thursday, October 16, 2008

2008-2009 Begins Tomorrow Officially

Well I am back into the swing of things. I am looking at 2008-2009 in a similar manner as perhaps I would have looked at business school a few years back. I am now officially over the "hey, isn't this great I am working out" sensation. I am more looking at this upcoming year as an opportunity to build off of last year's base and get better at multisports.

After the last race in mid September, I relaxed for a few weeks, got back into my work, spent a lot of time with the kids (giving Adrienne a break), and drank a few dozens bottles of wine. The time off helped me heal up the knee and seal up the preceding. I then started thinking about what I wanted to improve upon this year. I need to get stronger, faster, and be in better shape for my races. This seems simple enough, but in the sport of triathlon achieving those goals requires a lot of work. While last year I was seemingly holding on for dear life during my races, this year I would like to attack the races and push through my previous times.

Right now I am in the weight room for about an hour three days a week (M,W,F) for the first time in a few years. I am just working on basic movements such as bench press, squats, chin-ups, dips and a few others that work muscles I need for the race. On off days I am in the pool working on kicking drills for the swim. Although the swim is my strength, my kick is weak. I basically do a breast stroke kick right now, which I would like to correct. If I can get more proficient with my flutter kick and get stronger I think I can be a lot faster in training and that will translate to faster in the race. This my third week on the program and I feel a lot better. I am constantly sore, so I am certainly doing the right thing and I am starting to get better at the kick.

This is what I am calling my pre-training phase. Once I get comfortable at this level I will begin bringing actual workouts into play and maintaining what I have done so far. But that should fall into place later. In the meantime, I have my first phone conversation with my coach for 2009 so wish me luck.

Song in my head: Shimmer by Fuel

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Season Rewind 2008

I am about a month removed from my final race of the season, the Black Diamond Half Ironman in Enumclaw WA. This race, unlike the July race was a success. I spent the intervening two months getting on my bike and getting some great long rides in. I also did some solid runs and even some bike/run bricks.. I didn't do much swimming, however, but had a few lake swims, so I was okay.

The portion was pretty hard and although I finished with a respectable 42 minutes, I suspect I was a little slower than normal. The bike was a daunting task but I was up for it. I got through the first 34 or so miles in an hour and a half and made it through my second loop in three and a half hours. I was extremely happy to finish the bike and I felt in great shape to start running. I was a little nervous because of a painful IT Band problem in my left leg. That forced me to run/walk the 13 miles but I finished in 7 hrs and 19 minutes.

The race capped a long season of training and stress but surprisingly I was in decent shape in the following days. I learned that I had to embrace my training and try to tackle the tasks I did not want to do. I also learned that a triathlon is a long race with lots of problems and pitfalls. It takes a clear head and a mentally prepared mind to get through it. But it is well worth the effort.

Stick around in the upcoming days to find out what 2009 has in store. Thanks for reading. Dennis

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Couple days to think about things.

After time to think things over, the race autopsy (nee racetopsy) results are in. Due to my carelessness and stupidity, my bike had tires that were severely underinflated. Usually racers with brains keep extra tires, tubes, and CO2 cartidges to handle these mistakes during the race. I did not. I was too focused on the racing itself that I neglected my equipment. Therefore, I was forced to do the 58 miles at an unbelievably slow pace while being passed by nearly every rider. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I believe I will be stronger for it.

The last few days have givven me an opportunity to get more acquainted with the wonderful world of tire inflation as I have spent time inflating, deflating, and then, re-inflating my tires. I will soon be getting back on the bike and working on some technique drills that I have been neglecting as well.

As for the race itself, it would have been nice to finish. But I was nearly dead after getting off the bike. A 13 mile run after that would have been a 13 mile walk, at a very slow pace and would have taken all night. Instead, I have two months to think about what happened and make sure it does not happen again. In the meantime I will be resting for a few days and then back at it as soon as I can. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

70.3 minus 13.1 equals 57.2

Tough day today at the race. I completed the swim in 40 minutes. Right on target for the best race of my life. That's the good news. From the second I got on the bike it was a nightmare. I had trouble getting in my shoes and was messed up for a good 15 miles. Then I had trouble getting my brand new Rudy Project glasses on and they fell off never to be seen again. By the time I took my first sip of water, my water bottle fell off the bike never to be seen again as well.

Then the real fun happened. I looked down at mile 30 and notice my tire was FLAT. With no spare or pump or help in site I had two options: quit in the middle of the course or gut it out on the flat. I somehow finished the bike but was past the cutoff and didn't run. I was okay with that since riding 40 ish miles on a flat killed me.

I was mad a myself and disappointed in my performance but I was able to take some good experience and look ahead to my September race. Lessons learned - Always inflate your tires, carry spares and train to your weaknesses. I am dead right now but I will be back to follow-up in a few days. Thanks for your support and I am sorry I could not finish. To all those who donated, we'll get them in September

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Couple Days Away

Just wrapping up the final days before the race. This are going well. The short run was a little longer than I thought and I felt a little sore from it. My goal now is to prepare myself mentally for the race. I have been getting my ear together, been planning out the route, getting directions, and all the other afterthoughts so I don't have to worry about things. Tomorrow I plan to head to Lake Tapps for 4th of July BBQ with the relatives. At that time, I'll head into the water for a final swim whilst dodging all the jet skis and boats. No better time than at the last second to practice sighting in the water.

I found out the race has a couple pretty large hills. I am a little nervous but I just need to rely on my training and realize the race just represents the equivalent of a really tough training day. With that in mind, I should be in good shape. As long as I keep focused on that and not get rattled by little things, it should be a fun day. Ideally, I would like to finish the bike at about 3hrs 30 minutes and in good shape. If I can do that, I can run 13 miles at a comfortable pace with stops worked in if necessary, and I'll be ready for a final push in the last few miles. Sounds easy right? We shall see.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Short Run

My last real workout was a long, long run last Wednesday or Thursday (I can't remember anymore). After that I realized I needed to rest my body and get myself ready for the race. Well after eventually popping all my blisters, getting a pair of shoes that fit, doing actual work, and going out of town for a wedding; I was ready to get a few light workouts in. The days off were good because they let me cool down and rest myself in preparation for the race. But today it was back at it for the final push.

I got back on the road because I wanted to reconnect with what it feels like to be running up and down hills in the hot sun. I did about 5-6 miles near my house and up and down some nice hills. The new shoes feel great although I re-blistered a certain tender area. I ran very well though and am very excited with my progress. If only the race was a 10K I would be all set. Alas it's not, but I am not worried. Tomorrow I get on the bike for a few miles, rest on Thursday, Swim a bit on Friday with a warm-down run and then I prepare for the race.

The mental preparation is the most challenging because I need to overcome all my thoughts of self-doubt and everything. I find myself always second-guessing and whatiffing instead of shutting up and racing. I'm never happy its over, I am most happy when the wait is over and I am "doing it." Back tomorrow with my bike post.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Less Than A Week Away

My blog reporting has gone dry in the last few weeks. I am frankly shocked at the response from a few of the readers. Yes thats right I actually had readers.

To get you up to date, the training has been going well. I am either training or sleeping from training. These last few days has been a lot of "not training". On Wednesday I had a really long run of about 10 miles. I was very sore the next day or two and had some blistering problems and whatnot and decided to take a few day of so that I can begin this week with some light workouts in preparation for Sunday's race. My days off were fine, I had some business meetings and got some new shoes and made one last adjustment to my bike in preparation for Sunday.

In addition I am scaling back my workouts in an attempt to avoid something I always have done in my life...cramming. For my last race I ran 6 miles two days before my race. Which is ludicrous especially since I was sore for my race. This time I am taking it easy, squeezing in some light workouts and working on preparing myself mentally. I will be blogging all week and thanks for reading

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Progress and Lessons Learned

Today's workout was tough. I was scheduled to swim 2600 at race pace in a series of drills. I decided I would use flipturns as much as I could from now on so I had to work real hard. Making things more difficult, I was going to do so without a warmup. A warmup is a great luxury to have because it allows you to get accustomed to the water and start off on the right track.

I started off with 4 200s with flipturns. It was okay but I felt real sluggish and even muffed a turn. To execute a flipturn you have measure a certain distance from the wall, flip over, push off the wall, twist your body and begin your stroke. As the set goes, on and you get more tired, it becomes harder and harder to execute the turns properly, plus you lose your technique and all sorts of other things happen. It feels really awful to mess up, lose your stroke, have water go up your nose etc. etc.

My next set was 500 yds with flipturns. I screwed up a turn early in the set and lost my stroke. I wanted to stop the whole workout but I pressed on, gather myself and vowed to finish the set. It stunk though, I had snot all over me, water in my nose and it took me about 45 strokes to get to each wall.

My final set consisted of 6 200s. After doing one of them without flipturns I was able to complete six of them. I went from wanting to quit and almost walking out of the pool, to finishing the set strongly and even doing an extra 200. I kept thinking to myself 'is this ever going to be easy'. I guess the simple answer is, 'as long as I keep working on them'. It doesn't really feel like I have made progress but the flipturns are going much better. I can easily complete them on 100s, 200s are getting better and as seen today, I can survive on doing them over 500. Plus I am pretty much doing them throughout the workout, so I am not far away from doing them as a rule.

Song in my head "PDA" John Legend

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Freaking out, well, sorta

Yes its been a while since I wrote. I have been away. I went on vacation to Boston, Cape Cod, and Martha's Vineyard. Good time, but with work and family obligations I could not find an opportunity to work out. I thought I could but it was not in the cards. So I spent my time re-calculating my workouts so I could be on track for the race. I realized that when I got back home, I and screwed unless I stick to the program to the letter until race time. No excuses anymore. Work will take a backseat, family will have to wok in conjunction with training. I am not about to repeat the madness that was my first Olympic race, where I was severely under-trained, and thus suffered during the bike and run.

This week was good. I got back on Monday and cycled, ran, cycled some more and swam. Tuesday was a tough one. I was scheduled for an easy 50 minute run. But it was raining so I went to the gym and did a 30 minute run; 20 minutes less than needed. When I finished the run I bumped into some of my triathlon friends and started chatting just as they went into the spin room. Although I did not need to spin that day, I went in anyway and did 30 minutes easy. I then followed them to the track and did a tough 30 minutes on the track. It amounted to 90 minutes and my legs were dead (a good dead). Very happy I did that. There is a big difference between finishing a workout okay and finishing a workout gassed. I experienced the latter, and hopefully it pays off in the race.

Wednesday was a hard, yet short bike. Thursday I intended to skip, however Mary Anna needed to get out of the house. Therefore, I put together my stuff and instructed my wife to bring Mary Anna to the pool after my workout so we could swim together. It worked out great. I did the workout and swam with Mary Anna. I used all flipturns and set myself up for a nice rest day on Friday. Saturday is a monster day but I can rest easy knowing I totlly brought it all week.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flipturns and more Flipturns

My last post was in reference to the fact that I have started using flipturns in my swim training. It is no secret that swimming has been my most successful event so far and my preferred training event. My running has been virtually nonexistent (that changes when I go back to Boston) and my cycling can be described as a work in progress. But I am pretty much there for my swims. I started using flipturns a bit last Tuesday.

Last Friday, I hit the pool again with a long workout of 4 x 300s using all flipturns. It is much much harder to do a full flipturn workout. By not coming up for air at the wall, you increase the stress of the set tremendously. You are constantly gasping to get more oxygen, thus your output decreases, causing you to lose form and go slower. As your body adjust you get more comfortable and normalize. As mentioned before it will not help in the race on that level, but by not touching the ground and not getting the extra breath, you better simulate the sensation of being in the middle of the lake.

Yesterday was another milestone. I had 5 sets of 500s with 200 warm down after each set. I continued to try flipturns. I was much better yesterday for the first 300 but started to tire and have difficulty heading for the last 200. I really wanted to quit and my upper body was throbbing, but I kept at it and completed 3 500s and 2 200s with flipturns. I was really beat down by the end but the confidence I have now is extraordinary. I am going to rest today because I am tired. Tomorrow I am scheduled to cycle, and swim again on Friday. Friday will be a short time trial of 1000 yds continuously. I will be using all flipturns on this set. It should be very difficult but I am up the challenge.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Kaizen - Continuous Improvement

Tuesday was a shorter swim than I have had as of late. I focused on technique, breathing, and flipturns. My goal is for a smooth day out on the water. Although flipturns are useless in a race situation, I want to be able to train in a way that simulates the seemlessness of racing. Oftentimes, in training I will be doing a long set (say 400 - 800 yards) and I will take a breath and touch my feet down when I hit the wall. This works against the feel I am trying to achieve since I will not have that opportunity to touch bottom in the race. Therefore, my goal now is to swim using flipturns as much as possible, and to avoid touching my feet when I hit the wall. It will take some time and will be a huge, painful adjustment, but when I am through, hopefully my swim workouts will be much more effective.

Wednesday is my first bike/run brick. I have not run much this season, so I am a bit nervous. My goal is to cycle 15 miles and run for three or four. It's about the distance of a long sprint and will be a great challenge. I think I am up for it.

Monday, May 5, 2008


It usually happens on the golf course. But this year my first sunburn happened while hitting a new high on the bike. Today I rode 30 miles in 2 hours. A new personal distance best, and yes, I have my first sunburn of the year. It was one of those Ferris Bueller-type days where the whether is sunny and perfect and a great opportunity to blow off work. I got out there and rode to E. Puyallup and back (twice). No real breakthroughs as far as technique or speed, just distance. But I felt great. I am gradually getting more and more comfortable with the bike and my base is building nicely. Tomorrow I swim.

On a side note, I have been delaying my run workouts to get my bike distance dialed in. But now that I have hit my numbers as far as bike times is concerned it is time for me to start running. Plus, I will have plenty of opportunity to work on running when I am in Boston over the Memorial Day holiday since I will have no bike.

In work news, I was interviewed today via an deal that I thought I was disqualified for. It seems that I may not have been disqualified and my group were one of only a few competing for the contract. Not sure if I want the job or not, but it was fun talking to a reporter from a paper I read all the time. I am sure I will be misquoted but at least I will have a clipping to show to my Mom.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tired but making progress

There are times when I think I am ready for the race. That is usually followed by an overwhelming reality check that I am NOT EVEN CLOSE to be ready for my race.....But I am making progress.

On Sunday, I decided to stop making excuses already and get out on the bike. On the road. Before, there was always an excuse. "It's too cold." "It's raining." "I need new wheels so I don't have to waste time changing around tires." "I have too much work." These were all excuses used by me within the last month. Finally I went to the Foothills trail for the first time. I almost died. There is no possible way to properly train for a race as well as being on the road or in the lake. I only made it a few feet before I nearly panicked. First, I barely got on the bike (my seat is so high I have to literally jump on the saddle). Second, I couldn't get my feet in the shoes for a good mile or so. Third, when I did get my feet set, I could not reach down and adjust anything because I was so uneasy on the bike. This was a real wakeup call. I thought my time on the trainer was sufficient. It wasn't by a longshot. Just like during my boxing days, the only way to train properly is trial by fire.

After that setback, I vowed to get on the bike as often as possible until the race. So I was on it for 10 miles on Monday and 15 miles today. I desperately need to get as much roadwork done as I can (at least on the bike before the race).

My fitness is improving gradually. I have been doing my swim workouts to the note. With that out of the way, my next goal is to focus on hitting the cycling goals (on the road this time). I really am not sure how much running I will be able to do before the race time. But now, as I write this, I will make an effort to at least run a little before the race. My lack of running was a detriment back in 2006 so I know I have to get out there.

Until next time...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Big week so far

First off, we have the baby, which puts the training in a tailspin. Then everyone gets sick for about four weeks. Finally work intervened keeping me really busy.

But I'm back this week with a vengeance. I had snuck a couple rides in along the way. Tuesday I got in the pool for the first time since early March and went roughly 1200 yards. It was a short workout but I felt really good. The swimming tires me out like crazy. Wednesday I went out to the garage and spent an hour and a half on the trainer. Finally on Thursday, I did the entire 3100 yd. swim workout which equals roughly 1 and 3/4 miles. That is a little over the race distance so I am in shape for the swim portion of the tri.

Today or tomorrow I am going to head outside on my new $600 racing wheels. First time outside in a couple years I'm very nervous but it is supposedly a long path. I'm psyched.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday Triathlon

I woke up at the gawdawful hour of 4:30 and joined my gym's triathlon training group for our weekly session. Its a great idea. We start off at 5:45 and swim for a half hour, then quickly head to the spin room for a half hour, and then run outside for roughly a half hour. The timing is always a little off, but it works out to a decent swim (especially if you get there early and warm-up). A brief, but effective bike. And finally a very good run of about 3-4 miles.

Today was much the same. These workout are the next best thing to actually doing a sprint race because it gives you the feel of what it is like to work all three muscle group in succession. The best part about it is the run since it has always been the portion I give the least attention to. So far in my racing experience I have had horrible runs. It is usually because I am under-trained for the bike and then basically dead when I run. This workout is going to be great for helping remedy that.

Very tired now but fired up. A little update on my shoulder: I still feel the pain a bit but I spent a good ten minutes before my workout warming up with weights and felt very little pain in the water. I will rest it for the rest of the week and see how it feels next week. Perhaps a little ice as well.

Song in my head: "Ridin' the Storm Out" REO Speedwagon

Monday, February 25, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Greetings bloggees. My last post referred to me resting my shoulder. Well, the injury, the ensuing holidays, turned me into a fat mess in very short time. Basically I fell awkwardly playing hockey and did something to my shoulder muscle. After a couple x-rays and some time on the couch, I eased back into things in early January and February. I still could not swim; as every time I got into the pool, I immediately felt the familiar pain. So I started focusing on light weights and lots of shoulder movements and began training the other two disciplines, by far my least favorite.

So now I am back. Last week I spent Tuesday doing all three with a group at the gym. Thursday was weights and running. This week should be more of the same.

I learned some good lessons from the experience. I was following a workout program a little too strenuously and not allowing enough time in between for rest. I'm not out there to win the race, I am out there to compete in it. I feel like my body was telling me to slow down, give yourself an off-season to recharge, and get back at it. Last week's pool workout was pretty easy even though I was out of it since Dec 1. Plus the running and cycling have caught up so I am in good position to move forward. I also learned to try to give myself plenty of rest. I never really though of myself as over-training. But, I would feel really bad if I missed a workout Now, if I need an extra day for rest or I need to focus on work for the whole day I will take it and re-charge myself for the next day.

I am in a much more confident place with my training now than I was last fall and I am totally excited for this year.

So tomorrow I will get in the pool at a nice easy pace, do my cycling and then its off for a run. I can't wait. As long as I can get up at 5AM. Pray for me.

Song in My Head: "Lazy Eye" Silversun Pickups