Friday, August 28, 2009 I really had that Acronym!

Well, it is Friday and I am happy that it has finally come. This is the first full five day work week that I have endured in over a month. I have been fortunate to have been able to use seven vacation days (spent mostly with my wonderful daughters) and worked from home on an occassion or two. I am looking forward to heading home to see all the ladies of the house, ordinging a salad and some pizza and just chilling out.

As for my training....I decided that today is a full on rest day. I have gone relatively hard over the past week and my body is telling me that it might be a good idea to rest for the day. I had planned to head out and run 5 - 6 miles at lunch today, but my lower back isn't feeling so hot and I have been dealing with a twinge in my neck for the past week (it sucks getting older). Anytime I decided to take a day off from training I get a feeling of uneasiness. I think it is from me feeling like I am losing a day of fitness or that I will be falling behind. Even though I have read numerous articles about the benefits of a 100% rest day, it is always tough for me to rationalize it to myself.

I did manage to get out and run yesterday and I really felt good. I ran at work during lunch with my friend Chris. He is always a bit faster than me, even though I thought that I might have been able to catch up to him earlier in the season. It was only a four mile run but we were able to do negative splits, with the final pace right around 8:13/mile (included an 8:30 1st mile that goes up a very solid hill).

Weekend Outlook
I'm looking forward to getting in some good training this weekend, in the pool, on my bike and in my running shoes. I don't have anything planned specifically, I figured that I would just play it based on how I feel. I just hope the weather hold out and I am able to get outside.

Steelman Pics

Here the picures I was able to grab from the Steelman Triathlon I did back on August 9th. You can see the exhaustion in my face after what had to of been a 1,700 meter swim (was supposed to be 1,500 meters). No real good pictures of me on the bike.

I like the pics of me finishing. I happened to pass #84 about 50 yards from the finish line with my finishing kick. The crowd started cheering for us and I was able to hold him off and gain one spot in my Age Group. It was a good way to finish what was a very disappointing race for me.

The Swim

The Bike

The Run

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feeling Fast Again....Kind of

It has been a good start to the week. As I said the other day, I am back at work and I have managed to get back into the groove rather easily. I have also been able to ramp up my training as I had planned....and a bonus is that I have actually seen an increase in my overall speed too! Yes, it is true, I have actually seen a tangible increase in my bike speed since May and I am psyched.

Let me recap the past few days:

I went to an easy 4.3 mile run at lunch with my friend Bill. It is always a good run with Bill, actually it is always an entertaining run with him. We didn't break any land speed records, but we did go at an easy 8:25 pace and had a good time.

After work, my wife and I headed over to the pool. Me to swim some laps, he to read her new book. I did a very tough 1,250 yards....I was just so friggin' tired for the whole work out. I started out with my first 100 (of a 500 yard warm-up) in 1:38 (very fast for me) and then my times came back to earth (1:46, 1:46, 1:53, 1:48). I then decided to do 10 x 50 yards and I just couldn't get my body going right. I think it was due to all of the diving board activity I engaged in on Saturday and Sunday with my oldest daughter. I guess I just don't realize how much energy it takes to dive, swim and walk over and over again during a three to four hour time span. Anyway, I averaged around 49 seconds for each 50 and then wrapped it up with a very lazy 250 yard cool down. Total time for the swim was 21:51.

I drove into work with my bike packed in my trunk and was prepared for a good ride home. I haven't done this ride in a few weeks and I was looking to make the best of it. I cut out of work around 3:30pm and started to ride south. For the first time in a long while I felt really good on my bike. Let me correct that, I felt great. I stayed in the big ring for probably the first 15 or so miles, cruising on the flats, bombing the downhills and powering up the climbs. I just felt so strong. I managed to do the first ten miles in right around a half an hour. I continued on and was just flying, feeling great. Then around mile 20 I got my first flat on my new bike and I was thankful to have a tire lever, a spare tube and CO2 cartridge. It took me about 10 minutes to change the tire, basically I was taking my time making sure that inspected my tire before putting the tube in. I did mess up a bit by wasting a bit of my CO2 when I didn't have it connected to the valve fully (damn!).

The last eight miles of the ride is a bit of a bear it is about 80% uphill away from the Delaware River. I was able to maintain good power going up the hills and I rolled into my driveway in 1:38:00 and covered 30.5 miles (18.6 MPH). That is a ten minute improvement over the first time I did this ride this year, back in May. I was pretty psyched!

Once home, I ran inside, got changed into my running clothes, grabbed Willie (our dog) and went out for a quick run in hopes of finding my dear wife who was doing a 2 - 3 mile walk. It was after about 1.25 miles that I found her not more than 100 yards from our house. For that 1.25 miles though, I averaged under 8:00/pace, I think it was actually 7:53/mile. Thank God I had finally run a sub-8 min. mile. Damn!

I dragged my tired ass out of bed at 5:05am to get ready for my ride into work. I ate some strawberry Pop-Tarts, drank a quick glass of OJ and I was out the door around 5:30am. My legs were feeling it a bit for the first three or four miles. All in all the ride was uneventful and I felt like I was really going slow for the first ten miles or so. Around mile 20 I was feeling better and decided that I was going to try and pick up the pace. I ended up doing the 30.5 miles in 1:36:00 (19.1 MPH), probably the fastest I have ever ridden that route. Again, I was pretty surprised, especially when I think about how badly I started my ride. I definitely think I can do it un around 1:30.

That is about it for now. I must get some work done and prepare for the first night of soccer practice. I am the head coach of my daughters Under 7 Girls soccer team and tonight is the first practice. It should be and eight 6 - 7 year old girls...give me strength!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to Work & Back to Training

My weeks vacation spend with my little girls is over and I am back at work. It was a great week that could have only been made better if my wife had been off as well. Unfortunately she couldn't take off and I played Mr. Mom for the week, taking the girls on errands with me, then to the pool for three or four hours at a clip, and then getting them home and showered before starting dinner. Dang, I was a busy guy this past week.

As sad as I am to have the my weeks vacation end, I am excited to get back to work and back to training. I did step back into it a bit this past weekend by getting out for a decent run (6.5 miles on Saturday) and a brief but tough ride (17 miles on Sunday). Not included in these numbers are the countless times I launched myself off of the 1-meter diving board at the pool over the weekend, crashing into the pool and then swimming to the ladder only to climb out and head back over the board to do it all over again. This probably tired me out more than my run and bike sessions.

So here is what my week is looking like:
Monday: 3 - 4 mile run at lunch (easy); 1,000 - 1,500 yard swim after work
Tuesday: 30 mile bike home from work; swim???
Wednesday: 30 mile bike to work (5:30am); 4 - 5 mile run at lunch
Thursday: 4 mile run at lunch; 1,750 yard swim after work
Friday: Not sure yet, but I hope to get a run and/or a swim in.
Saturday: 7 - 8 mile run
Sunday: 25 - 30 mile bike

Well, there you have it....I am getting back into the training this week. Not the same that I was doing this time last year when I was tapering for my half-iron distance triathlon, but solid training none-the-less. I will probably post pictures from the Steelman Triathlon later today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beach Ride and Takin' it Easy

It has been a bit of while since I last wrote here. I usually do most of my daily recaps during lunchtime at work and I just so happen to be off of work this week so I don't have a whole lot of time to do updating. Why you may ask? Well, I am spending my days at the Fanny Chapman Pool with my two daughers. We are basically there from 11:30am until 4:30pm, just playing in the water having a good ole time.

One may think that having a week off from work would lend itself to training opportunities galore, but that just isn't the case when one has to keep there eyes on an ever curious and energetic 6 year old and a 4 year old shy, Daddy's girl. My role for the past few days has been the following: human diving board, virtual sling shot, mushy rock climbing wall and manual elevator....all while in waist to shoulder deep water. I have either had to get up at 6:00am to go running or ran over to the pool right before dinner to squeeze in a few laps.

I woke up around 6:45am and after a bit of putzing around I left for my bike ride to Lavallette. It was supposed to be around a 72 mile ride but I forgot to print out directions and missed a very crutial turn which added about 4 miles to the journey. It wasn't a terrible thing, but it did cause me to show up to see my daughters about twenty minutes later than I had planned. Final stats for the ride were as follows: 76.17 miles, 4:03:15, average of 18.8 MPH. My speed would have been faster had I not hit just about every red light during the last ten miles or so of the ride. I was very happy with my effort.

I didn't really do a darn thing. I was a bit sore from my ride on Friday, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't have gone out and ran or swam. I did have a great time with my family on the beach.

Back in Doylestown and a fun family day at the pool. I did manage to get in a 1,500 yard swim right before the pool closed. It was one of the best swims I have every had. I have been reading the books, "Be Iron Fit" and "Going Long" and the swimming information I have taken from them has had an immediate impact on my swimming.

I planned on running after dinner but it just didn't happen. It was a long day of playing at the the pool with my girls, then doing some work around the house, then dinner, then just not wanting to go out and do anything. I was beat.

I got up around 6:20am and went out for a four mile run. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it was significant in that I was able to get up and do an early morning run. I think my pace was around 8:30/mile (very slow)....but again, at least I got up and got it done. Then spend the day at the pool with the girls and squeezed in a swim right before dinner. It was only 1,000 yards, but I did get into the water.

That is about it for now. I am exhausted and really need to get some sleep. I never thought I would ever hear myself say this, but I can't wait until I am done with vacation so that I can get back to my normal training routine. Have a great night and get your rest!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Uncertain Future

It is four days after my Olympic Distance triathlon and I haven't been doing all that much. Actually I don't really feel like I have a direction right now. I am about 50/50 on doing the Skylands Triathlon on September 13th, I might do another one in October, but besides that I don't have any other races planned. This is very odd for me in that I always seem to have something off on the horizon, a triathlon, road race, etc., that dictates my training. I guess I really need to decide what I am going to be doing over the next two or three months.

As for this week thus far, I have just been doing what I feel like doing. I opted for a rest day on Monday since my quads were still killing me. Tuesday I went for a relatively easy 4.3 mile run with a my friend Bill. It was nice to just get out and stretch my legs a bit, oh and to have a few laughs along the way. Wednesday I decided to run a bit faster and hoped that I wouldn't feel like crap. I was surprised that I felt pretty good and was actually able to mainain an 8:18/mile pace over 5+ miles and my heartrate averaged 153 BPM, which is great considering how I had felt leading up to my past couple races. I had hoped to squeeze in a swim either on Tuesday or Wednesday night but meetings and weather put the kibosh on thos plans.

My plans for the rest of the week are somewhat up in the air at the present. I was hoping to get to the pool tonight but the weather is absolute crap. The fact that I haven't really swam all that much over the past two weeks isn't a good thing. Being that my swimming is pretty average (and that is probably over estimating my ability), it is very important that I continue swimming as much as possible. Friday is the big question mark right now. I was planning to ride from my house in Doylestown, PA down to my parents house at the Jersey Shore. It is a 72 mile ride that I was going to try and make closer to 80 miles. My daughters have been spending the week with my parents, enjoying the beach and all things that are the beach. My wife is supposed to drive down after work and we are planning on spending the night and Saturday down there. Some possible complications have arisen and we might be making a new plan.

I really do want to do the ride, something about getting on a bike and riding 70 - 80 miles that is just so cool. I still haven't done a century ride yet and I did ponder turning this ride into one, just that I don't think I have enough mileage to really do it successfully. Anyway, I hope my plans work out and I get my ride in and then get to spend the rest of the day at the beach with my little girls. Ciao!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Race Report: Steelman Olympic Triathlon

I have been a competitive athlete for my entire life, well for as long as I can remember. When I was 6 years old playing on an in town soccer team I would cry if we lost. When I played baseball as an 11 year old I would be upset if I got thrown out (I thought I could out run any throw). When I played lacrosse at Rutgers and we lost to Army my senior year, I didn't speak to anyone following the game...for about 6 hours. I don't do well with disappointment. I have gotten better as I have gotten older, but I have to work at it. Sunday was one of those days where I had to struggle to find a ray of sunshine in an otherwise very stormy day (literally).

I awoke at 4:10AM on Sunday morning to the sound of my alarm clock. Then I heard the dreaded sound of rain drops hitting the windows of my bedroom. I figured that it was merely a passing rain shower and that by the time I got to the race site it would stop. I got dressed, ate some Pop-Tarts, drank some Gatorade and then headed out the door. As I drove the 15 miles or so up to Lake Nockamixon the rain continued to fall, sometime lightly, other times very heavily. I stayed positive, thinking to myself that it would surely stop soon.

I arrived in parking lot around 5:00AM, unloaded my gear and made my way to transition. By this point it was pouring out; I made a point of bringing my umbrella with me. To quickly sum up the next hour or so, I racked my bike, put my bad in a garbage bag and put my umbrella over my bike and bag. I then went back to my car to stay dry and warm until around 6:15AM. It was then time to face the fact that it wasn't going to stop raining.

Swim - 1,500M
The water temp was 78.4F, just a bit too warm for wetsuits. This made me very sad. I waded into the water, did a quick 200 yd warm up and then waited for the gun to sound. After getting pushed, poked and prodded for the first 300 yds or so, I managed to get into a bit of a rhythm where I felt pretty good. I made it to the first turn (the course was a long rectangle, swam counter-clockwise) and was feeling alright. Around 500 meters in, the second wave began to catch up to me and hoped I wouldn't be beaten up by too many other racers. It was about this point that I started to feel a bit sore in my legs, which is odd since I usually don't kick all that much during a race except to try to stay as horizontal as possible. I didn't think much of it and just kept plugging along. Well, it seemed like forever that I was swimming when I finally came to the last buoy and made the turn for the home stretch. It was here that I was sucker punched in the right shoulder and took on a bit of water. I spit it out and just tried to make to dry land. I made my way up the ramp to the timing mat I hit the split button on my watch and it read 38:14. What the hell? I couldn't believe that I swam that slowly. After the race I talked with some of my rack mates and they all thought that the swim was long, possibly by as much as 250 meters. After looking at the fasted times from last year as compared to last year, I think they were right. 38:14 - OA - 245/345

I hustled as best as I could and made it out of there relatively quickly. I would have like to have done it in around one minute, but it was tough running over the pavement. 1:25

Bike - 40K
My goal for the bike was to average around 20MPH and I thought that it was a very realistic goal based on how I have been riding lately. The climb out of transition to the main road is a pain in the ass. The fact that it was simply pouring at this point didn't make it any easier. My quads were sore, my left groin muscle that I hurt a couple months ago was screaming and I was just flat out beat from the swim. Once at the top it is a nice long gradual down hill where I was able to grab some time back and get my legs moving. The next hour plus of the ride was miserable. It rained the entire ride...actually it poured the entire ride. I was able to really fly on the flat and the down hills but I didn't having anything on the climbs. My quads were just shot. I definitely passed more than passed me, and I actually felt OK with my ride but know I could have ridden faster. 1:18:06 (18.9MPH) - OA - 131/345

This is where I always lose time. I should be able to get out of here in less than one minute, but I just couldn't. I had to put on socks because of some blisters on my feet and I just seemed to be stumbling around. 1:19

Run - 10K
I think I was in transition when the rain finally stopped. Yippee! Anyway, I trotted out of transition and tried to get my legs moving, but it just wasn't happening. I was hoping to run the 10K in under 8:00/mile pace, really closer to 7:45. It just wasn't going to happen, my legs felt like they had sand bags handing off of them. No matter how hard I tried to pick up the pace my legs and lungs weren't going to allow it. It was at this point that I came to the realization that it just wasn't my day and that my goal was to just finish strong and to not get passed by too many people. I also figured that I would see if I could find anyone I might know. I saw my daughters friends mom (she did the Sprint), and we chatted for all of 20 seconds before she blew by me. I saw blogger from NJ Yasi running the other way...she had no clue who I was until the second time I saw her (I think).

The only real bright spot of my run was about 40 yards from the finish when I saw a fellow age grouper in front of me and I decided that I would pass him before the finish. With a last burst of speed, my hamstrings stretched to their limit, I flew past him. It was great to hear the crowd cheering us on as we both sprinted for the finish line. 50:55 (8:13/mile) - OA - 175/345

Post-Race Analysis
Swim (500m) – 38:14 - 245th Overall
T1 – 1:25
Bike (40K) – 1:18:06 (18.9 mph), 131st Overall
T2 – 1:30
Run (3.1 mi.) – 50:55 (8:13/mile), 175th Overall

Total Time: 2:49:57
Overall: 159 out of 345
Age Group (35–39): 19/29
Gender (Men): 128/226

I was pretty disappointed with my race. I don't know why I felt so off through out the race. It was like the wheels fell off in swim and from there I just couldn't get it back. I did read a blog entry from Chrissie Wellington yesterday in which she talks about a bad race she had back in May 2009 at the Columbia Triathlon. It went south for her in the swim and she just couldn't get it back. I guess where I am going with this is that even some of the best athletes in the world have off days. And despite the experience they are able to learn something from it; turning a negative into a positive. As Chrissie says, "The world won’t stop turning just because I have a bad race. If anything it will make me even more determined to improve. So I will learn, bank it, move on…with even more fire in my belly!"

Next race: Tentatively the Skylands Triathon, September 13th.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Day After the Disappointment

It is Monday morning and I am at work. I am still exhausted from the Steelman Triathlon I competed in yesterday. I don't know what my final times were. I do know that it was a disappointing race for me. I will save most of the details for the race report, but I will say the following:
  • Swim - it took forever, everyone around me said that they thought it was longer than the advertised 1,500 meters.
  • T1 - not as fast as I would have liked, but not horrible
  • Bike - I was exhausted from the swim and just never felt good
  • T2 - ugh, very slow
  • Run - really closer to a shuffle than a run. I was wiped out from the bike

Quick notes:
Positives: I finished the race in horrible conditions (it rained the whole time!); I out-sprinted an fellow AG competitor at the finish line; I rode as hard as I could on the bike; I survived the run; I am anxious to get out and race again!

Negatives: I was woefully undertrained for the swim, which hurt my bike and run; my transitions were slow; I should have been faster on the run, I need to do more BRICK workouts.

I will complete the race report once I get my final times....I screwed up my bike, T2 and run times when I hit the wrong button on my Garmin. Dumb ass!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Race Day Eve

My last scheduled race of the season is tomorrow, the Steelman Olympic distance triathlon up in Quakertown, PA. I do anticipate doing another one or two races before the end of the season, probably the Skylands Triathlon (sprint distance) and possibly one in late September or early October. Regardless, this is my "big" race for this year since I don't plan on doing a half-iron distance or a fall marathon. I am feeling pretty good although I am still a bit nervous as I usually am before a long swim (anything over 800 yards). I am just not a very strong swimmer and I always get those butterflies in my stomach right up until my toes hit the water.

A little recap of the last day or so is in order I think. Yesterday was my birthday, now I am officially 38 years old and edging closer to moving up to the next Age Group and where I hope to actually place in these damn races. I had a great day. My wife and daughters got me some great stuff, specifically two Ironman training books that I am already started reading, "Going Long" and IronFit". I also go a great picture frame with about five or six pictures of my family. The best of all the presents were really presents at all, they were actually the cards that my wife and daughters all created. So creative and so sweet, I really loved them. My 'rents sent up presents as well, two new Specialized water bottle cages (blue) which match my bike perfectly and a Garmin-Slipstream Team Jersey (which I have to return because it is a female version)

I was able to get some training in yesterday, although I kept it pretty light. A 1,000 yard swim (18:43) and a 9 mile ride (19.2 MPH). I just wanted to get out and get my heartrate up and not kill myself too much.

As for today, I have taken it pretty easy. I did some chores around the house while my wife and kids headed over to Nanna & Pop Pop's house to hang with some Aunt's who in from out of town. I stayed behind because I had to head up to the race site to pick up my race packet and various other things.

That is pretty much it for now. Not too much going on right now. I suppose I am going to head up and eat some pasta for dinner and then put my bag together for tomorrow since I have to leave the house around 4:30AM. To all you who are racing this weekend, good luck!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I Love My Bike!

Today is a good day. For one, the temperature outside is perfect, 75F and the humidity is minimal. Second, it didn't rain as many meteorologists were claiming that it would. Third, I was able to get out at lunch and ride my bike. Over the past week I haven't really had a chance to get out and ride it all that much. I did manage two 30+ mile days last Wednesday and Thursday, but other than that I don't think I have really ridden it all aside for a 10.5 mile ride last night (was supposed to be a 20+ miles).

I wasn't able to get in the 25 miles that I wanted to do, but I did get in a solid 20 mile ride today. At around 11:50am I ran down to our locker room here at work, changed in to my bike gear, grabbed my bike out of the car and off I went at 12:03pm. I decided that I would cruise out to Peapack (NJ) via Lamington Rd. and then turn around once I hit the 10 mile mark. The weather was perfect and the roads were smooth. It was around three miles in that I realized how much I really love my bike. She is just so much fun to ride. I will spare everyone the details of the ride, but will say that the road was ideal, no torturous climbs, no screaming descents, just rolling hills and smooth riding. My Garmin says that I averaged 19.8 MPH over 20.1 miles. I really wanted to get my average for the ride over 20 MPH, but there was a little climb that slowed my average about three miles from my office.

As for tonight, I was hoping to get in a 1,500 yard swim but it doesn't look like that is going to happen. My wife has some family in from out of town and they are going to be heading out for dinner and then to see the new Harry Potter movie at an IMAX theater in NJ. That leaves me with virtually no time to get over to the pool to get in a workout. That means that I am going to head over to the pool early tomorrow morning if possible and get it done then.

My lone "A" race is this Sunday so I am in a mini-taper now anyway so that fact that I am putting the swim off for a day isn't going to be too traumatic. That is it for now, time to wrap up my work for the week....yes, I am taking a vacation day tomorrow (it is my birthday!!!).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"It" (AKA "Speed")

It seems that gone are the days of going for an easy four mile run and averaging 7:45/mile pace. I don't know where my "speed" went, but it seems to be gone. I don't know if the summer heat has ripped it from my sole or maybe the soaking humidity has washed it all away. Maybe my soon to be 38 year old body is finally putting the brakes on. What ever it is, I need to find "it"....and quick! Of course I am assuming that I do in fact have "it".

I was always active when I was young, playing soccer, lacrosse and any other sport that my friends were playing. I probably started running when I was 10 or 11 years old, tagging along with my father when he would go out for a two or three mile run. As I got older, I always ran as a means of staying in shape for lacrosse and soccer, never anything more than that. I recall before a lacrosse practice in college we had to do a two mile run for time and I was able to run it in 11:58, breaking the 6:00/mile barrier and coming in second or third overall on my team. So I know that the "it" was there.

Flash forward to the past few years....I am unofficially retired from playing lacrosse. I tried a soccer comeback this year and promptly pulled my groin muscle 30 minutes into my first game (I unofficially retired from soccer the next day). I have embraced running and triathlons these past nine years or so. I have run five marathons (four NYC and one in the Poconos), a couple half marathons, numerous 5Ks and 5 mile races along with about six triathlons (four sprint, one olympic, one half iron). I even joined a running club three years ago as a way to stay in shape during the winter months (Bucks County Roadrunners) In my running club I manage to usually finish in the top 15-20% of all races. In most 5K's and 5-mile races I am always around the top 10% of finishers. That kind of shows that "it" is still lingering around and can be found on various occassions.

I don't know, I am kind of hoping that sometime in the next few weeks when the weather cools off a bit and the humidity gets below 90%, "it" will come out and befriend me again. Until then I am going to have to just dream about "it" and do my best to manufacture it on my own.

Now for my training....which I will keep brief:

I had to get back into the water, especially following my shark attack, er....jellyfish attack. I went to the pool after work and met up with my wife and kids. I was so excited to see how determined my 6 yr. old is to learn how to swim so she can take the deep water test (so she can go off the diving board in the 12' deep pool). Once they left I went to the lap pool and did a straight 1,000 yard swim, the first time I have done a non-stop long swim since my half-ironman distance last September. It went pretty well, although I was averaging about 1:58/100yds towards the end. I think the final time was around 19:25.

I wanted to do a four or five mile run, but the guys I run with at work ended up making me cut it short....3.85 miles. At least it was a hilly run that made me a work a bit. We did it in 32:39 (8:29/mile). I think the temp yesterday for our run was around 88F and the humidity was probably around 90%....of course it doesn't help that were were running at noon.

I met the family at the pool again, but this time I did my swim before they got there. I did a 500 yard warm-up (1:42, 1:43, 1:44, 1:52, 1:52) and then 500 yards straight (9:28) and then a final 500 yards straight, with the last 200 yds with a pull buoy (9:09). Total: 1,500 yards in 27:48. I feel like I am getting much better in the water. I keep thinking about how much better I am going to be at swimming once I actually start doing it on a consistant basis through the fall, winter and spring....look out world!!!

Ran with my friend Chris at lunch and it was another hot one out there, 92F and yes it was friggin' humid. It felt like we were going at a decent clip but our time didn't reflect that. We did 4.45 miles in 38:28 (8:39/mile). I made the mistake of throwing in a pretty steep hill at the midway point of our run that just killed our pace, but I thought it could only make us stronger.

As for my planned evening ride, it ended up being a relatively short 11 mile loop. I tried to get home early enough to be able to get in a longer ride but I was guilted into a shorter ride by my 6 year old daughter. She said that I should be spending time with them and gave me a very sad face. Geez, what was I going to do? I changed really quickly and said I would be home by 6:00pm. The ride was nothing to write home about aside from the fact that I did manage to hit 40+ MPH on a downhill stretch. I recall my average speed for the ride being around 19.2 MPH, which is pretty solid considering I had a pretty significant mile long climb two miles into my ride where my average speed was about 9.5 MPH. Not the ride I had planned but it'll have to do.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Beach Runs and Jellyfish Attacks

What a nice weekend I just had. I trekked down to Lavallette on Friday late-afternoon to spend the weekend at my 'rents house and try and get in some much needed beach time. Father's Day was the last time that me, the wife and kids had been down there and I was really missing it. I spend the better part of my teens and 20s down in Lavallette, whether it be working at the Crab's Claw or B&B, or just spending weekends there once I got a real job. As the years go by, I am spending less and less time down there, due mainly to family commitments and the simple fact that we belong to a pool that is a mere four miles from our house. Regardless, it was great to be back down there.

Before heading down to the beach, I went over to the pool and did a 1,500 yard swim. I didn't have it in my schedule, but I though I better get in the water since I had only done one swim for the week. I decided to do a somewhat up-tempo work out as opposed to a simple long swim. I did a 500 yard warm-up and then got right in to 16 x 50yd with 15 seconds rest between. I averaged about 50-seconds per 50 yards, which is about the best I can do right now. I was happy that my times didn't drop off too much toward the last few.

After I finished up my swim it was time to wrap up work for the day and then head to the beach. The only problem being that we had to drive down in a monsoon. It poured pretty much the whole way down. We prayed for nice weather on Saturday.

We awoke at 6:00am....thanks to my oldest beautiful sunny skies. There wasn't a cloud around and the temperatures were already warm. I debated heading out for an easy 3 - 4 mile run but decided to put it off until later that afternoon. After a bit of breakfast it was off to the beach and was it every gorgeous out. The tide was on the way out leaving a healthy sand bar for the kids to enjoy. We all had a blast just playing in the water.

Around 1:00pm I decided that it would be a good idea to do a beach run. I haven't done a good run in the sand in ages and I thought that it could only help with my conditioning. I threw on some running shorts, my Garmin 305, Tifosi Q3 sunglasses, and off I went, running south towards Ortley Beach. It was slow going for the most part as running in sand takes a bit more effort than pavement to propel yourself. Regardless, it was great to be able to run along the sandbar, splashing in the water a bit, people watching and just having fun doing something different for a change. I ended up running two miles south, almost to Seaside Heights before I realized I should probably head back. The run back was a bit more difficult because the tide had begun to come in and the extremely shallow water (2" - 6") was now getting upwards of 6" - 12". In some places it was almost up to my knees which made for some very slow going. I still managed to finish up my 4 mile run in 38:00 (9:30/mile), which may sound slow, but when you consided the sand and surf, I am pretty happy with it.

After my run I just played with my daughters in the water. They both had so much fun bobbing around in the surf and playing in the sand. I really can't believe how big they are getting and how much more they do up at the beach. My oldest wants to be out on a boogie board or just swimming in the water. She has no fear of the water which is a good and a bad thing. My youngest is still a bit nervous, but she still loves to run in the water and jump over the waves. Saturday was just a great day.
Saturday night - The Attack
I decided to bring my wetsuit down to the beach for the weekend, as I hoped to get into the water for a couple long open water swims. Around 4:30pm my wife gave me permission to go for a swim in the bay. I was excited to get in the water and do a casual swim in Barnegat Bay; just get out and do something outside of the pool.

I threw on my wetsuit and goggles, waded into the water and then I was off. It felt great to be out there without any lanes lines or walls to push off of. I stretched my arms out and was feeling good. About a minute into the swim I felt a bit of a sting on the inside of my left forearm. I figured it was nothing and kept going. Then over the course of the next 15 minutes I felt stings all around my arms, on my feet and even across my nose and cheek. I started to freak out a bit and just wanted to get back to where I started. It seemed that with every stroke I was getting zapped and the pain was increasing. I couldn't do anything to avoid it. I was finally able to get into waist deep water about 50 yards from the shore and that is when I laid eyes on them. Jellyfish, fist-sized jellyfish every where I looked. I hadn't noticed them when I first went into the water, but now that was all I could see. About every two feet I would see another one, just below the surface of the water. I would later find out that they are called Sea Nettles and apparently they are a huge problem in the bay.

I basically hustled home and tried every Jellyfish remedy that I have ever read about. Meat tenderized, alcohol, vinegar, aloe....and yes even urine. Nothing seemed to really work all that well. It wasn't until about three hours after I was attacked did I feel any better. There was one small side affect or maybe it was an allergic reaction. My left forearm, which I think took the brunt of the abuse, seemed to be constantly sweating. Not matter what I did, my pores were constantly secreting sweat. It wasn't until I shaved bare the whole arm that the sweating went away. I think there must have been some stingers still stuck in my skin that I just couldn't see that just kept firing off toxins.
My oldest daughter woke my wife and I up at 6:30am on Sunday morning. I would have been more than happy to of gone back to sleep by my wife thought it would be a good idea to get out and go for a walk. I then decided that I might as well get up and do my 8 mile run that I had scheduled. FYI, I am not a good morning runner.
After a bit of Gatorade I was off for my run. I felt pretty good for the first mile or so. I though that I might just be surprised and that it was going to be a good day. Well, at about the 2.5 mile mark that notion was squashed. It was hot out and the humidity was through the roof. I felt like I was moving in slow motion for miles 3 - 7 (Ortley and Seaside Heights and back). No matter what I did I couldn't get my pace below 8:50/mile.
It wasn't until I was back on the Lavallette boardwalk that I made the decision to finish strong. I don't do well when people pass me when I am out running. When I was about a mile from my 'rents house a guy passed me. I made it my quest to catch up to him and at least run at his pace. By the end of the boardwalk (1/4 mile from the house), I had caught him and managed to run an 8:13 mile. Thank God!!!
All in the all the run totally sucked, but if there is anything positive to take out of it, well that would be that I got the run done early and I was able to finish strong. I think the final numbers were 8 miles, 1:10:40 (8:50/mile). FYI, my clothes were thoroughly saturated when I got home, every article of clothing had to be wrung out.
The rest of my Sunday was spent packing, playing and driving in horrible rain storms. I am looking foward to putting in some quality work-out prior to my race this coming Sunday.