Sunday, July 29, 2012


Elle: So family matters have forced us to re-arrange training lately, but you have to be flexible, life happens, you have to go with the flow. Which is a good lesson in life and also in racing. You never know what's going to happen, so you need to figure out how to deal with things as they come at you. Luckily we're not heading to Timberman to win, we're just going to have a good time. Because that's how triathletes have a good time: suffering.

WEDNESDAY: Public Body?
Hello, storm!
Elle: A huge New England storm complete with thunder & lightning blew into town, causing the cancellation of Public Body, which I'm really excited to start doing. Can't wait to get my strength on - but it will have to wait until next week. Damn you, storm! (shaking fist in the air)

THURSDAY AM: Sufferfest - Angels
Elle: I really like this workout, as I've said before (is there a Sufferfest that I don't like? No.). I never tire of getting the thumbs up from Schleck, or seeing Contador getting dropped on the sprint, and then watching him dance up the climb. I've been missing Contador this year at the Tour. Half way through the workout I had a serious bout of verping, but I didn't throw up all over the living room, so score. Of course the best thing in any Sufferfest workout is the cartoon at the end of Angels. Classic.

Webb: I didn't do a morning workout. Instead I did another first: morning laundry. Training for this sport makes it nearly impossible to keep up with the laundry. Right? I may not be stronger on the bike, but our clothes look and smell better now.

THURSDAY PM: Track Workout

Elle: I did the SEAC workout on the track with the group.

Webb: I did my own thing for a change. I had fallen behind on my running volume so I wanted to mix some longer total duration with some speed work.
w/u: 30:00 jog to track followed by 4x 100m tempo with 100m jog recoveries
main: 6x 1200m on 8:00 at 5k effort
c/d: 15:00 jog to SEAC for social times
Total miles: 10.25

This workout was brutal. I arrived at the track as the SEAC crew was in the later stages of their workout. I sorta exchanged hiya's with people while i was doing the 4x100m tempo warm-up. Then all of sudden they were gone, jogging back to the store beer, storytelling and merriment. And there I was alone on the track staring down 6x 1200m. Ugh.

My goal was to run each 1200m at just faster than a 5k effort or 5:10/1200m. I would then leave on the 8:00 mark. So if I ran a 1200 in 5:10, that would provide me 2:50 of recovery. I wanted to jog the recoveries and I tried that after the first two intervals. The problem is I went out way too fast on the first two coming in at 4:58 and 4:53 respectively. I was gassed. Doubt began to creep in whether I could handle the workout and worse, whether I was ready for a Half Ironman. I told myself what I always tell myself in tough interval workouts: Just do the next one.

I approached intervals 4-6 with the notion to negative split them. Ideally I would have run all six intervals at the same speed from start to finish. Since I had nearly burned out on 1 and 2, I had to resort to this method to finish the workout. Survive and adapt, if you will. The next interval I came in a little slow at 5:13 and my strength came back a little. The second half was closer to where I should have been at the beginning: 5:07, 5:11 and 5:11. Oh yeah, there were no jog recoveries. Mostly walking to the water fountain and then back to the start line. Maybe next time.

Allez Wiggo! Au Revoir le Tour de France

Elle: I am currently mourning the end of the Tour de France. July is my favorite month. Here are some of the reasons why:

Top 10 Tour de France Stuff
10. Waking up to the sound of Phil Liggett's voice
9. Paul Sherwen's commentary on the french countryside
8. Peter Sagan's finish line celebrations
7. Cav (the world road cycling champion!) acting as domestique
6. Jensy's daily blog of his thoughts and the inner workings of the peleton
5. Phil Ligget commenting on the 'slowest sprint finish' he's ever seen
4. A big black dog going for his shot at competing in the Tour de France (aka Gilbert v. the dog)
3. Road ID commercials Hinca-what?
2. Some clown drawing chalk road tacks on the course after some ass hat actually threw real tacks the day before
1. Wiggo's podium speech

SATURDAY: Timberman Bike & 1/2 Run
Webb gets the bikes ready.
With no shirt on. Yeah.
Elle: We parked outside the gate this time (smart!) with all of the other triathletes. And we had the correct directions, no getting lost and no flats. Hey, we're getting good at this! To pass the time I started to count the number of motorcyclists I saw not wearing helmets - I stopped counting after 100. That's right. 100 motorcyclists not wearing helmets. Unbelievable. Anyway, nutrition-wise I only had one Clif bar on the ride, plus water & Skratch drink. The only problem I had today was some bike fit issues that need to be fixed before August 19. And I didn't draft off of Webb, like I usually do, so I got more of a simulation of race day. All in all, a good bike workout.

Webb: I started off the ride seriously grumpy. That is not like me. I don't really have bad training days. My approach is like that old bumper sticker: A Bad Day Fishing is Better Than a Good Day Working. Except I do fish. I swim, bike and run. When I have bad days training I remind myself how lucky I am to be in a situation where I can choose to go out for a 4-hour bike ride or 1.5-hour run. On this day, I was having a hard time shaking it. Then I remembered reading somewhere that many times when you are feeling grumpy or impatient during a workout it is because you are sugar-deficient. We sometimes forget that our brains burn calories too and the brain feeds on sugar they way zombies feed on ... forget it.

This was going to be my solid food only test ride. So I moved my Clif Bar schedule up a bit. Within 10 to 15 minutes or so, I started to relax and get into the workout. I sure wish I had done that sooner because one of the climbs before that was massively difficult on my tri bike and its stupid 53/39 front chain rings. Who tries to climb in those? Apparently this guy.

To make the climb more of a challenge, this was another day we were trying to keep our HR low. I know that simply standing on your pedals will automatically raise one's HR, but I also knew deep down in the muscles of my quads that if I tried to climb in the saddle I would burn my legs out faster than my heart. So I stood and methodically walked up the hill trying to keep my HR from spiking. It was a good experiment in body awareness.

On the other side of things, meaning the descent, my tri bike is ludicrously fast. I figured I'd descend faster on an aero bike, but I was surprised how much faster. On the penultimate summit I looked back and saw Elle was a little ways behind me. I decided to coast to allow her to catch me on the downside. I ended up reaching 49mph without turning the pedals at all. I mean not at all. The last time we did this descent on my road bike, I may have hit 40. That's free speed! (Only if you don't count how much slower it is climbing.)

The Run Part: 6 miles

Post-workout shake
at Sawyers
Webb: Before we even returned to the car I knew I was not going to attempt the brick. My hip/glute problem was definitely back. I had taken the tri bike out on this practice run specifically to see how my body responded. It did not respond well. So I'll definitely be riding my road bike at Timberman. It will make the climbing and running significantly easier. As such, I'll also be less likely to abandon the race.

Elle: I really wanted to get an idea of what the run was going to be like, even if it was just a small portion of the course. So while Webb took a break, I put on my headphones and jammed out for 6 miles. The run route is pretty along the lake, with some nice views, but there are some good hills in there, for sure. I felt pretty good, and ran an average of under a 9-minute mile pace. On race day I'll try to go a little slower on the first half, then kick it up for the last 4-5 miles if I'm feeling good. I didn't do the whole course, and I know that there's a monster hill that I didn't get to, but I guess I'll just have to leave that for race day. After I finished my 6 miles, I was most hot and sweaty. So I just had to go for a refreshing swim in Lake Winni (that makes all the difference). What a strange lake! I walked all the way out to the far buoys of the swim area, and my knees didn't even get wet! How are we supposed to swim in this? It's barely a foot and half feet deep! I've never seen anything like it. But it was still refreshing.
We left the park and went to our new favorite post-workout Timberman stop, Sawyer's, for a meal before driving home - fish & chips and a vanilla shake. Yum.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: XX2i Sunglasses

Rocking my new XX2i sunglasses
Webb: The people at XX2i Optics sent us their France1 Dual Pro Sunglass Kit. Some of you may be thinking, "hmmm XX2i, that sounds familiar." Well, if you are member of USAT, then you probably received a number of offers when you signed up or renewed your membership. The kit was provided to us free; however, our review will be candid and, we hope, helpful.

The kit includes two pairs of sunglasses, 3 sets of interchangeable lenses,  3 small micro-fibre bags to store the lenses, two micro-fibre bags to store the individual pairs of sunglasses whilst on the move and a beefy case to hold them all. The sunglasses come in two colors: black (with laser black lenses) and demi-tortoise (with laser brown lenses). The interchangeable lenses come in transparent, yellow and "orange." (I wouldn't call it orange, but more on that below.)

Elle: So we've been wearing the new XX2i Sunglasses during training sessions (running and biking). I'm really liking them. They're lightweight and look good (if I do say so myself). My favorite thing is how nicely they fit over my bike helmet straps - something I've had problems with while wearing other sunglasses. But only for CervĂ©lo (road bike), not on the Trek Speed Concept (tri bike), since my aero position can make it harder to see, due to the thicker frames. And since there are two frames, one black and one brown, you have color options, which is nice. It's great to have the set that Webb and I can share, although he's partial to the brown ones. Since I got these, I haven't been wearing either my Oakley's or my Rudy Project sunglasses. But I like having options, and it's always good to have back-up sunglasses.

Webb: You might want to know where I am coming from, because quite frankly, the things that are important to me may be very different than your wants and concerns. With that in mind I have categorized my review, in order of importance:

1. Protection. This comes in two flavors: UV and physical protection (e.g., bugs, debris). I'll skip over the UV protection because I do not know if these block none, some or all UV rays (A, B & C). As for physical protection, they seem to be fine. Will they stop a bullet? Don't know. Will they stop a rock fired from the back tire of passing car? Also don't know. There was nothing about the lenses that made me believe they would not provide adequate protection from flying debris.

2a. FitHey, if it doesn't fit well, you are not going to wear them, right?
I have an oddly shaped head. Thankfully it is not immediately noticeable to people. When I wear a pair of sunglasses for more than 2 or 3 hours during exercise, pain develops in the boney regions in front of and above the ears. I have purchased several sunglasses over the years looking for a pair that won't give me a headache.

Glasses & Case
I wore both the black and brown frames (which are identical) over a variety of occasions: cycling (training), commuting by bike, running, walking around and even a sporting event as observer (i.e., Red Sox game). Both pairs were comfortable at all times. I did not have my usual problems around the ears. They are light, don't seem to trap heat around the eyes and stay put on the nose. I was very happy with the fit, whether for 30 minutes or 4 hours.

(Elle: I have a normally shaped head and have no problems with the fit.)

2b. Functionality. For what purpose am I buying the sunglasses? Do I want or need multi-purpose lenses or interchangeable lenses?

My go-to sunglasses are a pair of Specialized somethings or others. (I'm terrible about remembering the names of some products.) I love the lenses because they adapt to many light conditions. One lens to rule them all sorta thing. I'm not crazy about their style (see category #3 below); more importantly, they are among the culprits that induce the pain. For these reasons, I am open to sunglasses that do have interchangeable lens.

I tried all of the lenses except the transparent lens. All of them had very good clarity. At no point on any ride or run did I feel like I had to squint or remove the glasses to see better. I can't say they are excellent because one day I hopped in the car to drive somewhere and put on my Maui Jim sunglasses. I could definitely tell the difference between the two. I don't count this as a negative though. First, my Maui Jim's cost more than this combo pack. Second, I don't want to see if they could withstand the ballistics of a flying pebble.

The default lenses for both the demi-tortoise (laser brown) and the black (laser black) were good. I don't like dark sunglasses. I want to be able to see. Both of these hit the sweet spot of cutting light and glare without making me feel like I was trapped in a box. I put the orange (more like rose-colored) lenses in the demi-tortoise and really liked those. They are a little brighter and don't cause eye fatigue. I have not taken them out since.

One hazy/foggy night I went out for a run around 10:30PM. I took the opportunity to test out the yellow lenses. I popped them into the black pair. Ok, let's be honest: I did not pop them in. It is a little trickier than that. The lenses are easy to swap in and out once you get over the fear you are not going to break them. The lenses were fantastic. They really brought out the light in the city. This is why I have not tried the transparent lenses. Between the orange/rose and the yellow, I'm not sure I need the laser brown, laser black or transparent lenses. Those two meet all of my needs.

3. Style. As much I as I would like this to be higher on the list, I have reconciled with my DNA. Unlike Elle, I look good in only 2 or 3 styles. If you add in my priority (i.e., protection), that limits me further. There aren't a lot of hip safety glasses out there. So far, I am pretty happy with these. They seem to look good whether I'm running around in shorts and a t-shirt or in my 9 to 5 costume. Although I don't think anyone is whispering "oh man, I gotta get a pair of those"; likewise, I don't think anyone is giggling behind my back.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Morning Workout? And STEINERBrick!

MONDAY: Recovery Run
30:00 easy, shake-out

Old Colony - Finish Line
Elle: With it being the day after our Olympic-distance Triathlon, we decided to do a nice, slow recovery run. As we headed out to the Charles River, we ran into our friend Melissa near Boylston Street and stood around on the corner discussing nutrition and other stuff for what was probably too long. That's the thing about Boston, it's a small place, and you never know who you're going to run into.

Webb: Two words: Ugh. I wanted no part of that run. My legs felt rotten. The race should have been better for as bad as I felt.

WEDNESDAY x2:  The Morning:'s The Hunted

Webb: I woke Wednesday morning with my usual desire to do nothing but go back to sleep. I woke Elle and asked her if she still wanted to do the bike workout. She said "workout," not "ok" or "if you want to." She said, "workout." With a heavy sigh I got up to pull out the trainers.

Elle: I wanted to sleep in soooo bad! But I had a feeling that I was making a decision for the both of us. With my eyes still closed, I willed the following word to come out of my mouth: 'workout...'. Partly because I knew I should since I skipped my bike workout the night before. Partly because I wanted to see what would happen. Would Webb accept my challenge? Indeed!

The Night - Boston Common Hill Repeats 8 Hill Repeats (approx. 1/4 mile) at 70.3 Race Pace

Old Colony - Swim Exit
Elle: I was supposed to swim, but oh well. It was a really nice night. We headed out just after 8pm (waiting for things to cool off). We ran around the Public Garden to warm up as we headed to Boston Commons. Then 8 repeats up the hill. I had music and was chilling out while I 'explored the space'. We mostly stayed shoulder to shoulder. Until Webb said it was the last climb, and I busted out with excitement up the hill. I felt good about this run. We should do more hilly runs. We had to hustle, though, to get back home in time to see the great finish of the day's stage of the Tour de France (go Jensy!!!).

Webb: Hill repeats weren't really in the workout schedule. I added them spontaneously because I am afraid that all of our runs are on flat courses. The real challenge was to keep the effort moderate. This is the same hill where we do winter workouts with SEAC at significantly higher intensity levels. We had to work hard on not working hard; every memory in every fiber of my muscle wanted to drive that hill.

SATURDAY: STEINERBrick - Return to Concord & Walden Pond

Elle: As usual, we got off to a late start. But we wanted to make sure we were fully rested for a big brick workout.

Old Colony - Bike
Webb: The plan was to be out for five hours. I found a bike course that would give us roughly 60 miles or 4 hours at an easy Zone 2 pace. We would then run for the balance of time to get us to five hours. Again, this would be another nutrition-focused workout. We need to dial in what works (or doesn't) before 8/19.

Elle: We parked at Walden Pond. We were getting all of our gear ready, and I was already sweating like mad. I was ready for the post-workout swim now! I was jealous of all the folks making their way down to the water, where I wish I was headed. But no, I had 5 hours of working out to get in first. Ugh.

Webb: Both of us prefer a high cadence during both training and racing. This can sometimes be a challenge when doing outdoor workouts while trying to keep our HR low because our vanity can't stand what the speedometer says. On this day, I wanted us to stay in zone 2 the entire time. I told Elle to ignore cadence and speed. We were to pick whatever gear and cadence combo was needed to stay on task. HR was the only thing that mattered. Well that and overall time.

Old Colony - Finish Line
The results were markedly lower RPM numbers and surprising leg fatigue in the last hour. The energy was there; I didn't feel tired. I mean, I was, insomuch as my legs are part of me. It was almost as if I could feel the capillary networks building in my quads. It was also interesting to see how RPM and gearing affected HR. Quite frankly, it caught me off guard how often I was able to lower my HR while pedaling in a bigger gear (at a lower RPM) and maintain or increase my speed. After awhile my HR would begin creeping upwards again until I shifted to an easier gear and increased my cadence. Next year's base period will definitely see more big gear work.

From a nutrition standpoint, I experimented with mixing gels and solid food. I split a Clif Bar, eating each half on the even laps. On lap #3 I had a gel. This worked ok, not great though. The Clif Bar felt much better. I was drinking a lot more than I usually do - a good thing - so I'm sure that was a big part of it. On our next big brick I plan to eat only a Clif Bar or two.

Elle: We're still trying to figure out how to get the camera working properly, so Webb was giving it another try today. It was surprising how many people were really interested in it - other cyclists came up beside us to ask about it, and I could hear people talking about it as we passed by.

This bike workout was good for me, I need to get more time in the saddle. The best part was watching Webb stop traffic to save a turtle who was crossing the road. Video to come shortly...

Webb: We rolled into the parking having ridden a shy more than 60 miles in under 4 hours. Cool! Wait! That meant we needed to run for more than 1 hour. I broke this news to Elle thinking she may tell me an extra 5 minutes is silly. But no, she was ok with it. I think this high-volume training is starting to feel normal.

The run was a simple out-and-back: Turn left out of the parking lot, run for 32:00, turnaround and run back. I grabbed a bottle of water and we set out. I felt great. My legs were strong. I had energy. My turnover was quick. My HR was ... kinda low? I was definitely below threshold. As the run wore on, my HR kept creeping. No matter how good I felt, I knew if that HR kept going up things could get ugly. Thankfully, the HR leveled off a few beats shy of threshold for the final 2.5 miles of the run. We came into the parking lot tired. More importantly we were not dead. I know we both had another 6-7 miles in us. This was undoubtedly a confidence-booster for 8/19.

Elle: This run was much better than last week, probably due to the fact that we stayed in zone 2 for the bike portion. And wearing headphones on the run didn't hurt. Things were going really well, I was super happy with the bike AND the run. We were both tired, hot, dirty, sweaty, all I could think about was the glorious dip in Walden Pond that was about to happen. And that's when the hammer came down. As we rounded the corner of our run into the Walden Pond parking lot, we saw the police cruiser, slowly driving around. There were no other cars in the lot. Apparently it closes at 8pm. It was 8:05pm. We got a ticket, and no swim. Uncomfortable, hot, sweaty, filthy, we climbed into the car and headed home. Cool down fail.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Race Report: YMCA Old Colony Olympic Triathlon

YMCA Old Colony Olympic (Olymp-ish) Triathlon (Race organizer: F.I.R.M.)
Swim: 0.9 miles
Bike: ~24 miles
Run: ~6.5 miles

Elle: Sleep fail. I don't know know if it was nerves, or what, but I didn't get a lot of sleep. Great. But the good news is that we both got up nice and early. I really didn't want to get to the race late like last time. The ride down to Middleboro was nice and quick, not a lot of traffic at 5:30am on a Sunday, as you can imagine. So we got to the race site early and nabbed a sweet parking spot. And since we were some of the first to arrive, we scored nice spots in the transition area too. Speaking of the transition area, we both couldn't believe how small this race was - the smallest we've ever done, that's for sure. And laid back too. There was basically no security getting in and out of the transition area where there was probably over $1,000,000 in stuff (wetsuits, bikes, helmets, shoes, Garmins, sunglasses, etc.). Also, no bike helmet numbers, which is a first for me. And the timing chips were pretty used and abused. Hey, F.I.R.M, I think it might be time to spring for some new timing chips.

Webb: We are not usually among the first to arrive. I don't know if I have ever had such a sweet spot on the bike rack. Meanwhile, there was a guy walking around telling anyone who would listen (or pretend to listen) about his PRs and recent races. Generally, that doesn't bother me, but there was something about his manner that was really annoying. Other than that, what I really noticed was the number of beautiful, pricey-bikes. This was definitely going to be a competitive field, even if it was small (about 200).

Elle: While milling around in transition I ran into Beth, a triathlete I've seen at other races. She's in my age group and always beats me. She came in 3rd overall for women at Escape the Cape. Oh, and her brother was a pro cyclist (cool!). It was nice chatting with her. I really like that about racing around here - you can go to races and recognize fellow athletes, it really gives you a sense of community. And the weather was nice, not like our last 2 tri's this year, which were both cold and rainy. Another plus: No port-o-potties! There were actual bathrooms, which was a real treat. Another treat - my new favorite pre-race snack - Gu Chomps Peach Tea flavor, yum!

Webb: The vibe was definitely laid back. Since we arrived much earlier than normal, I was all set up and kinda bored. I kept thinking I should squeeze into the wetsuit and go for a warm-up swim. With about 30 minutes to race time, we walked down to the beach front. No one was in the water. The crew was setting up the buoys so we couldn't even get a visual of the swim course. We wandered back to transition to get ready.

Elle: Webb came over to spray some of his wetsuit spray on my wrists and ankles which, later, proved to be super-duper effective - my wetsuit slid right off in T1, I'm using this stuff from now on! The water was super warm but they said the water was 72-degrees, so it was wetsuit legal. Hey, I'll take it. We put on our wetsuits to do a little practice swimming.

Webb: As anyone could have predicted, this race was not going to start on time. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad thing because everyone was loose and relaxed. (Although if there were any newbies in the ranks, it may have stoked their anxieties.) The race staff brought out a speaker & CD player to play the national anthem. It didn't work. They shrugged it off and offered an apology. A few people shouted to the poor woman for her to sing. And then something really cool happened. Everyone began singing the anthem. I'm not going to lie: I am a practioner of Schadenfreude. I was waiting for the part where everyone was going to all of sudden start getting quiet and mumbling when they realized they didn't know all the words. It didn't happen. And no one tried to outshine anyone else. It is easily my favorite national anthem moment. I'll take that over any superstar vocalist or 7-year old prodigy any day.

SWIM: 1500m (0.9 miles)

Webb: The swim was ITU-style, which means two 750 meter laps. You have to exit the water, run under an arch, do a u-turn and re-enter after the first lap.  There were only three waves, sent out 3:00 apart: Wave #1 Men 44 and under; Wave #2 all Women; and Wave #3 Aquabike (all six of them) and Men 45 and over.

Elle: The swim is 0.9 miles, but the way I swim, it was closer to a mile. And the waves were only 3 minutes apart, so I definitely got caught. It would have helped if I hadn't been consistently swimming off to the right. Who knows how much extra I swam, due to my poor open water skills. I did like the ITU style, swimming 2 laps instead of one big lap. But seriously, I really need to work on open water swimming!

Webb: Ditto that. I was zigging and zagging so much I was getting super frustrated. It had nothing to do with being in a race. Had it been a training day I would have stopped to try to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. As it was, I just kept swimming.

The one thing I did consider doing was taking off my wetsuit after the first lap. It was too warm for me. The water was warm and I think the black neoprene and rubber were soaking in all of the sun's early morning death rays. I seriously played through in my head the risks and benefits of losing the wetsuit between laps instead of in transition. I finally decided just to keep racing.

BIKE: 24 miles?

Elle: T1 - The wetsuit spray was awesome. My suit slid right off. Onto the bike: There were a number of speed bumps coming out of the camp, so I had to steer into the 3 inch gap between the forest and the far side of each bump to keep from possibly flatting. As I headed out I felt that I was a bit worked up and excited, so I knew I had to settle down. The course is 4 laps with good support and volunteers. It is mostly flat with a couple of rollers, small enough that I was able to stay in the big chain ring for the whole course. The cyclists got bunched up a couple of times, and I saw some people drafting, but I made sure to make an effort not to do that (since it's illegal!). After the first lap I was pretty thirsty, but didn't want to reach down for my bottle. Then remembered that I was using my aero bottle today, woohoo! I looked under my chin and there was the straw...sweet. My heart rate was up a little high, but I worked to keep a strong, steady effort, and not kill myself. On the last lap I had a gel (today was also the first day I've used a bento box, which I purchased the day before). As I came into T2 I saw one of the best sights, a fairly empty bike rack. That surprised me. I'll take it!

Webb: I like laps and circuits. They tend to be fast and this one did not disappoint. It is described as flat and it is in a relative sense. Like Elle said, you can stay in your big chain ring the whole time. There are a couple of spots though that will keep you a little honest.

My first lap was miserable. I was working too hard for how slow I was going. My legs felt dead. I kept dropping gears to keep my cadence above 100. On the second lap my legs started to come around and on the third lap I was hammering it. My favorite part of the entire race occurred on the third lap. I came around a turn to see a line of three cars. It was pretty obvious the lead car was playing it safe with the cyclists. (Hey! Thanks!) I looked down the right side and figured it was not safe to try to slip between cars and the other racers. After a one-second thought, I shifted into a bigger gear and started to pass on the left. I passed the first car, shifted again and kept my cadence up. In aero, keeping my eyes up, I could see there was still no oncoming traffic. I passed the second car and shifted again. At this point we were going to be approaching a banking turn and I did not want to be surprised by the front end of a truck. I pressed harder and passed in front of the lead car when I had about 15 feet on him. I wish I could have heard the conversations in the cars. I imagine it was  mostly cursing at me and the lead car.

My least favorite part happened on the final lap. About halfway through, I heard several whirrrring carbon wheels approaching from behind. A group of about five people caught me. I noticed that one of them was the aforementioned Beth. (I was like, "Dammnnn, you spotted me 3:00 and still caught me on the bike.) Then I saw him. I noticed him because he was in my age group and I became a little competitive. The group that passed me was in a bunch but they were all spread out laterally. Except him. He was sucking Beth's wheel. And he stayed there. At one point I figured, I should make this guy work. I bridged the gap and passed them. I thought he might see my age on my calf and pursue me. Nope. All I did was nearly burn myself out. I backed off and they passed me again. He sucked Beth's wheel all the way until I lost sight of them going back down the road to the transition area. Drafting happens; that was full-on intentional cheating.

RUN: 6.5 miles?

Elle: I felt good heading out of T2, the route started out with a little bit of a trail run, which was kind of nice. The run course is one lap of the bike, but going in the other direction, so all the athletes were passing each other. There was good volunteer support, and water along the way. It was pretty warm at this point, high 80's to low 90's, at least. So I always took 2 drinks at each aid station, 1 to drink and 1 to pour over my head. At one point I even went off the road just a bit to run through the sprinklers in someone's lawn. That was awesome. I ran hard, but not so hard that I'd blow up at the end. I feel good about my time. After the race I looked at my Garmin run info - heart rate average: 179 (damn), heart rate max: 190 (uh oh).

Webb: Even though my T2 was under 60 seconds, I felt like I was there for hours. The trail run was a nice way to start. As usual, I had no idea of how fast or slow I was going. I tried to focus on a high foot turnover. Around the half-mile mark Mr. Cheater-drafting guy passed me. (I think I beat him out of transition because he probably racked right behind Beth and then realized he had to go to his original spot.)  I was comforted knowing I was playing it safe and would negative-split his cheater arse in the second half. Unfortunately, the Triathlon Gods had other plans for me that day.

I stopped at the one-mile aid station to drink some water and stretch. My hamstrings and glutes were not transitioning to the run. I thanked the awesome volunteers and took up the run again. At mile 2, I grabbed more water and again took the chance to thank the volunteers. (All of them were fantastic.). Going into mile 3 though, I had to stop and walk. The tightness in my glutes spread to my right hip. This was bad. I thought I was finally over this injury from two years ago. All I could think of was, I cannot have this injury this close to Timberman. So I walked and stretched. At some point, I began jogging and did not feel terrible. My mind was constantly monitoring the hip. Near mile 5, I stopped again. I walked to the next aid station where I had some water, chatted with the volunteers and stretched. Another guy caught me at this point and we ran together. It was his second triathlon. He is  a former marathon runner who took up our sport after suffering some injuries. While we jogged together he threw up at least twice without breaking stride (or involving me, ifyouknowwhatimean). Pretty impressive.

Elle: As I ran into the finish it was nice to see Laura there - she came to watch us and to see her first triathlon. It was great to have a supporter at the race, and her encouragement helped me through the last 1/4 of a mile. Running under the Finish arch felt great. I had just completed my first Olympic distance triathlon. Woohoo! And I felt good. It was pretty damn hot at this point, so we all headed back to the water to cool off. I was in a great mood - I really enjoyed the race and felt positive about my performance.

Webb: Overall, I should be happy with this race. I swam slower than I expected (by at least 3:00), yet I had a decent bike time despite my crappy first lap. Coming out of T2, not only was I on pace for a PR, I was on pace for a breakthrough. I'm trying to remain positive, but I have to say I am concerned about the hip. I'll do some corrective exercises in these weeks approaching 8/19 and I may forego the tri bike for the road bike for the 70.3. We shall see.


Elle: There were dragonflies everywhere. I guess they like campy-type areas. I think they're good luck, and I think they're pretty cool.
Compared to other post-races we've been to, there was very little food. Just some snacks, really. They had watermelon, which is fantastic, but they ran out (boo!). This race hosted a competitive field, I wouldn't call this a 'beginners' race - there were a lot of really nice bikes and fast people. So I didn't place. But I did win one of the raffles - a small sized pair of Tyr hydrovision goggles. I don't know if I'll be able to use them, but I'll give 'em a try. I was just too hot to stick around, plus we were hungry. We found a little restaurant in the center of town that only had breakfast all day, so we had some breakfast. We were both pretty tapped at that point so we headed back to Boston. We got home in time to watch the re-airing of today's stage of the Tour de France. Sweet.

Elle: Swim: 34:45 (10 cat/137 overall), T1: 1:30, Bike: 1:10:40 (3 cat/63 overall), T2: 0:51, Run 52:45 (4 cat/78 overall)
Final results: 2:40:33 (5th in category, 72nd overall)

Webb: Swim: 29:33 (5 cat/57 overall), T1: 1:45, Bike: 1:09:37 (8 cat/51 overall), T2: 0:58, Run: 59:22 (14 cat/127 overall)
Final results: 2:41:17 (10th in category, 73rd overall)

Elle: We were waiting for photos to publish this post, but no such luck. So we'll get those up as we obtain them...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Steinerman: 4th of July Concord edition

Webb: Welcome to the next edition of Steinerman - where we head out on a self-supported triathlon. The Concord edition took place July 4, 2012, at Walden Pond and in and around the historic town of Concord, MA. The "shot heard 'round the world" took place in adjacent Lexington with the subsequent battle moving to the Old North Bridge of Concord. It seemed a fitting place to sound our first shot against the upcoming Timberman 70.3 contest. Up to now, it has been mostly staging and sabre-rattling. On this 4th we put together our first major test for the 19th of August.

Steinerman: 4th of July Edition (Concord, MA)
Swim - 1 mile in Walden Pond
Bike - 49 miles
Run - 4 miles

Found this handy map of Walden Pond
with all of the distances in yards.
Webb: The main purpose of Steinerman was to begin thinking about nutrition. It was not supposed to be a race or a test of speed or endurance. We both had ideas of what we would want and need. Eating and drinking on the bike is one thing, switching over to the run is another. Will your on-bike nutrition lead to GI distress on the run? How much drinking is too much on the bike? Should I have had a different breakfast? Was the gel before the swim a good idea? You get the point: These would be the things we would be tracking.

Elle: The weather was great. It was so warm, that I mentioned to Webb before we left for Walden Pond that I didn't think we'd even need wetsuits today. I mean, it's good to practice in the wetsuit, but if you don't have to put it on, all the better (it's a huge pain in the butt, to put on, to clean, to store, etc.) Webb still insisted on bringing them with us.

The Swim: 1 mile in Walden in Pond

Elle: We got there and it was soooo nice out, there was no way I was putting that wetsuit on! The water was great, not too cold, just enough to be refreshing. Sweet.
Pre-swim nutrition: Gu Gel Roctane (Orange-Vanilla)

Webb: While Elle thought the water was nice, I thought it was cold. After a few minutes I started to acclimate and warm-up. My stroke and balance felt surprisingly better since my last swim effort during my family's visit. All this without a wetsuit. I swam in my Endurance Junkie race suit with my De Soto wings underneath. (I purchased both of these products to assist me in my ongoing efforts to keep back solar death rays.) My original thought was to wear them with the wetsuit to see how hard it would be to peel the damn thing off. Instead, I swam in them and they felt great all by themselves.

Elle: For some reason today I had a lot trouble with the swim. I just couldn't get into a groove, and was searching for air for what seemed like the whole way over to the far side. We got there, took a little break, and then headed back. It was a little better on the swim back, but I was still struggling. I'm surprised that Walden Pond is still even there, considering how much of it I drank. I don't know what the issue was, hopefully it doesn't come back to haunt me this Sunday at the race...

"Major John Buttrick from this his farm
led the Provincial Minute Men and
militia down to win the bridge held
by the British forces April 19, 1775"
The Bike: 49 miles: Charlie Baker TT (4 laps) & out and back from Walden Pond

Elle: Onto the bike. The weather went from being nice to just a tad too hot. The average temp during the bike was 87.4° with a high of 93.2°. That may not be very hot for folks in Arizona or So. Cal, but in New England, with the humidity, that can feel like you're biking in a steam room.
With it being the 4th of July, it all felt quite historic and appropriate, the course was dotted with monuments and historic plaques commemorating the Minute Men and the founding of our country. On the loop there was even a road called 'Red Coat Lane'. Cute.

Webb: History, schmistory we had some riding to do. Before we splashed down in Walden, I told Elle the plan was to do an easy 40 miles or so. There is local ride in Concord called the Charlie Baker Time Trial. I knew it was about 10 miles long. I figured we'd do it four times. What I did not consider is that it was a 3 mile ride to the start of the loop and the loop wasn't a loop, more like an almost-loop. There is about another mile between the end and start. The end result was closer to 49 miles. But that isn't the real story.

On the way over, I decided to change things up. Since we were to be doing loops, I figured we'd alternate between easy and tempo. We could do the first easy to make sure we knew the route. After that we could ride loop 2 as tempo, loop 3 at recovery pace, loop 4 at tempo again and ride the final 3 miles as recovery back to the car, I mean transition area.

Elle: I was doing pretty well - then on the last lap I kinda blew up. I know we only did 49 miles today, but at one point on the last hard effort lap, I looked down and saw my heart rate at 180 bpm and decided to slow down. Was it the heat? Or that I haven't been doing enough long distance rides? Either way, I was happy enough to be done with the bike portion of Steinerman: 4th of July edition.
Bike nutrition: more Gu Gel Roctane (Orange-Vanilla) plus 1 water bottle and 1 bottle filled with Skratch Secret Drink Mix

Webb: I had a blast on the bike. I remember at one point asking Elle if she was happy because it is hard for me to think of anything better than being out on the bike. I played around with gels on this ride, even though I told myself I would switch to solid food. There may be a reversal on that. During the recovery loop (#3), I tried a Power Bar gel. About a mile into loop #4, I started to slow a little while going up a rise. I felt great so I decided to charge it. Then I felt better and kept pushing it. And pushing it. And pushing it. So much for a tempo effort, that was redlining it and I loved it.

The Run: 4 miles

Webb: Onto the run. I knew this was going to be a test for Elle. She had never done anything longer than a sprint before. (Last year's Olympic race was hurricane-d out.) I had full confidence in her fitness. For you long course triathletes, you may remember your first seriously long brick. It is more mental than anything. Can you will yourself to keep going for more than 4 hours?

We headed out for an easy 2 miles out and 2 miles back. I reminded her the pace was to be slooooooow. I knew she would want to push it to get it over with. In training though, it is better to take it easy and build into a fast(er) finish. There is no point in crushing this 4 miler if you take that into your 70.3's half-marathon and die in the fifth mile.

Elle: Holy crap, I'm tired. It's hot. And this has been a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. Hey, it's just 4 miles, right? I mean, I can do that in my sleep. Whoa, not today. This was one of the hardest 4 miles I've run - I was looking down at my Garmin every 1/4 mile. I didn't know if I was going to make it. Gawd, how the heck am I going to do Timberman, which will be a freaking 1/2 marathon?!? It took everything I had to bang out those 4 miles. The rolling terrain didn't help, but the shade did. I seriously didn't think I was going to make it without walking. But miraculously, I did. Afterwards I was looking at my data for this run: Heart Rate - average was 170 bpm (oops), max was 184 bpm (yikes!).
Run nutrition: Clif bar (right before the run)

"Line of march, April 19, 1775
Acton Minute Men"
Webb: I, on the other hand, felt great. My HR was way too high too. My perceived effort felt much lower. I know at Timberman my HR will win out in the end, possibly out of nowhere everything will come to a halt. I'll need to control that better. We ran it in about 37:00. The heat and cardiac drift were certainly factors. I'll pray for rain on race day.

Post-Steinerman: Cool down in Walden Pond

Elle: The best part of the day - sitting in Walden Pond after the run. Whew! We made it. It was so refreshing to get back in the water and cool off. There were still other triathletes (I'm guessing) heading out and back across the pond, getting some training in. Today was a lot harder than I anticipated. I need to get serious about this Timberman training...

Coming soon...

Elle: I know we're behind on blog posts. I won't say it's all Webb's fault, but..... it's basically all Webb's fault. While we wait for our hero, Webb, to get his act together, I just wanted to give you a heads up on what's to come:

1. Final, comprehensive review of the XX2i sunglasses
2. Recounting our 'Steinerman: July 4th Edition' triathlon simulation day
3. Race Report: The F.I.R.M's YMCA Old Colony Olympic triathlon

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Timberman Bike Course: Round 1

Bunker Hill Monument
Webb: We are late with this post. My brother and niece were visiting, which means I basically took time off from both training and blogging. We did have the foresight though to plan this visit during a recovery week. My training therefore amounted to walking around Boston doing tourist type stuff, including climbing the 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill monument and taking the niece to her first MLB game. There are few things better than an afternoon game at Fenway when the weather is nice. Even if you are not a baseball fan, it really is a treat. And with this being the 100th anniversary for both the state of Arizona (where they were visiting from) and Fenway, it really puts some of our history in context.

Pretty sweet seats
Elle: This has been an ultra-recovery week with Webb's family in town. Not good, but maybe not so bad. But sometimes life happens when you're training, you deal with it and you move on. This past Sunday (before our week of sloth), we drove up to New Hampshire to do the Timberman bike course.

Webb: The Timberman race site is about a 1 hour 45 minute drive from our apartment. Since we allowed ourselves about 4 hours to ride the 56 mile course, that meant we were looking at a minimum of a 9 hour day with driving, gearing up, actually riding and post-ride nutrition. Knowing all of this, we were still slow to get on the road.

Elle: The ride up was kinda long but not terrible. [Webb interjection: Anything longer than 1 hour is a "long ride" for Elle.] We had to pay $5 per person to park. That was unfortunate since we weren't actually using the park. Most people park there to walk down to the lake's beachfront. We then saw two other later comers who parked just outside the gate and didn't have to pay. Note to self: do that next time!

As we were getting ready to head out on our ride Webb realized he forgot to put a Garmin mount on his bike. D'oh! But I had mine mounted, and he decided to carry his Garmin in his back jersey pocket.

Webb pumps up the tires for the ride
Webb: Forgetting my bike mount (it is on the tri bike) was a rookie mistake. The whole point of doing the ride was to learn the race course. Having the Garmin was key so we could watch the odometer to know when to look for turns and hopefully memorize where the big climbs are. As it so happens, I made a much larger rookie mistake.

Elle:  Webb thought he printed out the bike course directions, but as I looked around the car, I realized that the bike course page wasn't with us - it had never printed out. Luckily, I had found some directions and printed them out last minute and laminated them. It was from someone's blog that I had found on a Google search that morning. So luckily we had that. But we would find out later that the directions were less than accurate.

We headed out on the bikes and encountered a sizable hill, right out of the gate. Good to know! All of the big hills are at the beginning, and since it's basically an out and back course, you get them again at the end.

The course is pretty enough. Lots of spots to stop and get ice cream. I was really surprised by the amount of motorcyclists riding around with no helmets. I even saw one guy with no helmet, no shirt, wearing flip flops. I had on more protective gear than this guy. One cool thing was cycling past the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Right after this picture was taken, that
big ice cream melted right onto me...
Webb: Somehow though Elle missed the sight of the day. A couple passed us driving a three-wheeled motorcycle (one in front, two in back) with a trailer. In the trailer was a big dog who seemed quite pleased with the wind in his face. He was also quite happy to get to bark at Elle. She still missed it.

Elle: The directions weren't directing us very well. There were a number of streets with the wrong name and even a missed turn. Luckily between the bike computers and our phones we were able to find the turn-around. Soon after that, Webb got a flat. I took the opportunity to practice changing a tube. The tube wouldn't fit in right. Webb thought it might be a good idea to give the tube a bit more air to give it more shape. It turned out our air cartridge holder is rusted and broken.

Webb: The C02 cartridge adapter was very frustrating. Part of it had rusted, but more maddening was that the interface thingy insider where the cartridge is punctured had bent or shifted or something. The result is that when you screw in the cartridge it doesn't seal properly so air starts shooting out. After blowing through 2 cartridges we were down to our last one, so I just went with it and was able to get it on the valve stem quickly enough to get an adequate amount of air into the tube. It worked, except the tire did not mount properly so I sorta thumped down the road. Annoying and yet still preferable to walking 25 miles.

Practicing my tire-changing skills
Elle: After we got the tire situated, I tried to put everything away in my bike bag, when the zipper broke. Were things taking a turn for the worse?

Webb: Yes.

Elle: On the way back I was getting more and more spent - perhaps we started out too strong on this 'easy' training ride. Then the directions really sent us packing. We ended up going off course, and of course it was up a major climb. We got to the bottom of the hill and realized we had gone in a big circle. Awesome.

Now it was getting late. We were both out of water. We had been out for over 4 hours in 90-degree weather. And the lot where our car was parked closed at 7pm. We had less than an hour, otherwise our car would be locked in the park. We had an idea of how to get back, but we weren't positive, so we stopped a few times to check our phones. At one point, Webb was convinced we were on the right track and just needed to get going. Webb put the gas on. I had trouble keeping up, but the road looked familiar and then I saw the ice cream/seafood shack we saw on the way in. I looked down, my Garmin read 56.6 miles. We now had about 15 minutes until the park closed. How far away were we? Not quite sure. Anyway, I was done. I told Webb to go ahead without me (I was slowing him down anyway). He could get to the car before the park closed, then come pick me up.

I was not feeling happy. I think most of it was mental, due to the bad flatting situation, then getting lost, it was getting late. I kind of gave up. Plus I had needed to use the bathroom for awhile. So I went inside, washed my face in the bathroom, which was nice, ordered some food and a vanilla shake and sat down. Once I ate something and replenished some fluids, I started to feel a lot better.

Webb: Meanwhile, I was in time trial mode. I was pretty sure I only had about 3 miles to go in just under 15 minutes. Normally that would not be a problem; however, you might recall that there is a hill right out of the gate. I would have to climb that and descend the other side to get to the park. I hammered it. At one point I saw a sign that said I had 1 mile to go. I told myself, "destroy yourself here - 3 or 4 minutes of Hell. Whatever. Just get to the car." I pushed myself up the hill, pressing and pressing myself as hard as I could. About 100m from the top, I cracked.

I changed my focus to "just keep the pedals moving and try to descend as quickly as possible." With some effort at the top I began to pick up the pace to carry some momentum into the descent. I then tucked myself in and pinned back my ears. I saw the gates were still open at the bottom (whew!) but remembered I had to get the car out of the park. I figured I would ride over to the park attendant and beg for a minute or two. No one was there. A good thing or bad thing? With no time to ponder that question, I popped over to the car and saw I had 6 minutes - enough time to rack the bike and even do a quick wardrobe change.

I then drove quickly to the ice cream shop. I did not like the way I left Elle. It is not so much because it was a harder day than planned, as it she was just she seemed so unhappy. I parked the car and found her inside smiling with her shake and looking as if she had not just been on a bike for 4 hours. Wow, she recovers well.

Elle: This all probably would have gone down a lot nicer if only we had planned better. Next time: get there earlier, park outside of the gate, get the right directions!