Adrian Santic - triathlete
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Contents:

12/27/2016
A guppy year

11/25/2015
Last Rocketman

5/25/2015
Bike crash and a trip to ER

5/24/2015
Catching-up here

6/24/2013
Qualified for US Nationals

5/11/2013
Race report Rocketman

3/9/2013
Training carefully

12/11/2012
Hawaii... off-season fun

11/1/2012
End of another season

7/29/2012
Race report Calgary

7/8/2012
Race report Portland

3/3/2012
No more PF

11/8/2011
Still not running

9/18/2011
All hail the king of injuries

8/29/2011
Race report

6/15/2011
Race report

6/14/2011
I'm back

10/4/2010
Training again

9/2/2010
Rehabilitation

7/19/2010
Knee injury

6/14/2010
Race reports

5/23/2010
Race is getting closer

4/17/2010
New position found

4/2/2010
Bike fitting session

3/24/2010
Spring is here

3/15/2010
Progress!

3/8/2010
Run playlist

2/27/2010
Training training

2/11/2010
Sick!

2/2/2010
Crash

1/28/2010
Less gear, more training

1/14/2010
Here we go 2010

1/8/2010
Transition tips

12/31/09
Swimming

12/22/09
Indoor cycling

12/14/09
Cold spell is over

12/7/09
Staying motivated

12/5/09
First post


Links:

Seattle Triathlon Club

Gregg's Cycle

Lake Stevens 70.3

Ironman.com

Angela Naeth Coach

Angela Naeth Blog

Rebecca Kelley Triathlete

Nick Hall Photography

Hammer Nutrition

REVOLUTION3 triathlon

Wendie Price Triathlete

GuppyA guppy year - [read more...]
December 27th 2016

Guppy is a code word for bad swimmer; and opposite of 'fish'. I was never a fish but was not a guppy either. But this past year, following 6 months of no swimming due to injury, and then many more months of swimming slowly and carefully just twice per week for 30 minutes, have left me swimming poorly and in awe of the people who sign up for their first triathlon without really knowing how to swim. How do they do this?! I swam for a year before feeling confident enough to race. (Depressing facts just made themselves known in my head: that was 9 years ago!)

Following a bike crash and clavicle surgery in May 2015, I made a tentative return to swimming in November 2015, about twice a week and not very long sessions. That went well for about a month, which emboldened me to try swimming harder and longer. That was a mistake, reflected in the fact that I was back at the surgeon's office complaining about the shoulder again. He gave me the Sgt Hartman treatment and told me to be more careful. So back to slow/easy swimming it was, for months. What I didn't know back then, at the beginning of the 2016 season, was just how long it was going to take to get the swim form back: the swim was not to come back until after the season.

I did manage to compete in three half Iron and one Oly distance races in 2016, but the swim splits were slow and frankly embarrassing. Somewhere along the way, and 3 weeks prior to the first race of the season in Victoria, plantar fasciitis flared up in the right foot. Sigh. That forced me to not run at all for about 4 weeks, and then to drop my weekly mileage from 45 miles to just 15 or so miles. Predictably in Victoria the swim was slow, the bike was fine, and I ran fine for 8 miles until the legs just stopped working and I had to walk to the finish. That has never happened before. Now I know what it's like to race without proper preparation. Nearly identical experience in Vancouver. Whistler was a total disaster, again due to injuries, but I finished somehow, and want so badly to go back there for a do-over.

Swim form came back after the season in the fall and winter months of 2016. So did the running. Everything is primed and ready for 2017: Victoria, Whistler halfs, Vancouver olympic, Barrelman Rev 3, and Arizona full Ironman in November. That's the plan.

Posted by Adrian at 6:45PM
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RocketmanLast Rocketman - [read more...]
November 25th 2015

This post will be bittersweet! Clavicle has recovered quite nicely, and I'm racing again. The surgeon was a triathlete himself, and he knew what was at stake. I was overjoyed, and relieved, to have returned to racing this month. Alas, the race was third and final installment of my favorite race in all the world: Rocketman Florida. The news was not surprising or unexpected. KSC is soon to become a functioning space center once again, with the SpaceX leasing one of the pads for the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, and the other one being modified to accommodate Orion and SLS. NASA will probably never let us onto the KSC grounds again.

Goodbye Rocketman. It's been fun.

The past 6 months were challenging. Swimming was difficult due to mobility restrictions caused by the clavicle plate. I think I swam a grand total of 4 or 5 times over the entire 6 months. Running worked well enough, but caused latent pain in the shoulder (must have been all that jarring) so I ran a little but mostly used the elliptical machine to minimize the fitness losses. Cycling was the only discipline that was fully workable, so I rode. A lot. Rode every day, rode for the commute, rode for lunch, and the long rides on the weekends. Swimming and pain free running did not come back until after the plate was removed in October. Just like that, in the space of a week, before the incision was fully healed even, full range of motion came back, as did running pain free. If you are an athlete with a clavicle plate, and it bothers you, absolutely yes you should consider removal. Removing the plate was nothing like having it implanted. Recovery in a sling took just 24 hours or so, and with only minimal pain.

Swimming needs to come back. I was never a great swimmer, and now I've lost huge chunks of swim fitness.

What's next? Victoria, Whistler, Vancouver, Pula. Mostly races I entered in 2015 but was unable to go to due to the crash.

Posted by Adrian at 9:31PM
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CrashBike crash and a trip to ER - [read more...]
May 25th 2015

Distal (very distal) clavicle fracture, displaced, and four broken ribs. I went to the ER and was kept in the hospital overnight. I’m to have surgery tomorrow to repair the clavicle.

So what happened? No I wasn’t hit by a big truck while riding, although one passed me just before the crash, towing a boat trailer wider than the truck itself. That’s why I was, at the time, riding as far to the right as possible, near the guardrail.

Something far smaller caused the demise of my racing season. I was stung by a bee in the neck while riding Lake Sammamish a week before the crash. No biggie I'm not allergic. It didn't even slow me down. Next Sunday afternoon, on the same road, about 1/2 mile away from last week’s sting, a bee landed on my neck. WTF? I moved to flick it off instinctively, remembering the last incident, and must have moved the bars. Next thing I remember was the bike fork and my right leg scraping on the guardrail. I tried to save it carefully, knowing that an abrupt left would be a guaranteed crash. I almost got it but I think the brake lever hit the guardrail. There was a 2 foot long scrape there, and brake lever was the only part of the bike that could have made that scrape. The bike kind of stopped and I fell to the left with the bike on top of me. I’ve never had a bad crash like this. It hurt pretty badly for 5-10 minutes. Then the pain waned and it seemed as if it’d all be all right and I may yet continue the ride, until I remembered to feel the collar bone and let's just say it was obvious. A guy named Ryan (I think?) stopped to help. He was great. I don’t have his contact info which I now regret.

I called Jessica and she gave me a ride to the emergency room. After quick triage I was wheeled into a room close to the entrance. A physician there recognized the problem and put me in a figure of eight pretty quickly. The hospital was busy that evening. I was left largely alone in the room, with the awesome Jessica by my side. In fact she didn’t leave until after 1 AM. The staff did x-rays about 2 hours after I was admitted. Being moved for the trip to the x-ray room, or even getting out of and back into bed, was extremely painful. The x-rays showed the clavicle clearly broken – even a layman like myself could see that. I was moved to another nearly identical room just down the hall. At one point some new nurses walked in and left two boxes inside the room. I didn’t know what was in them but suspected a sling and an immobilizer, which I was told I’d be receiving.

The staff was worried about my ribs too. One looked definitively broken and three more were suspect. So they did a CT to confirm, and to look for any signs of lung or spleen puncture. The figure of eight had a metal buckle so it had to be removed in the CT room. It wasn’t put back on until almost 3 AM despite my repeated inquiries. This was just first of many balls the hospital attempted to juggle but dropped. The x-ray results came back on time. I wish same could be said about the CT results. Many new faces dropped in that evening, gave me pain meds or checked my vitals, and could not tell me if the figure of eight, just draped over my neck, should be put back on, or why CT was taking so long. The battery died in my bed, so I was not able to adjust the bed angle which was the only thing I could do to mitigate the pain. Lying flat on my back was impossible. No one was sure if I’d be spending the night in the hospital until that CT came back. So we waited in uncertainty. Jessica left around 1 AM.

It wasn’t until 1:30 AM that my original physician came back with CT results. Yes the 4 ribs were broken, no there was no damage to lungs or spleen, but with so many broken bones I was being kept overnight for observation. He also said he was off for the night, but would be back to check on me at 7 AM. That didn’t happen.

Soon after I was moved again to my more permanent home on the 5th floor. The nurse tasked with wheeling me to the elevators and to my new room had never used that particular hospital bed. (These beds whir when moved and have a battery so I assume they are motorized and have some sort of controls?) So someone else had to show him how to do this, and he jokingly said: “Learnin’ on the job”.

I got a new nurse in my new home. Her first job was to hook me to the IV fluids… which took at least an hour. First IV pump was broken. She fiddled with it for a while. It was pumping but it kept making loud sickly noises. Each time the nurse fiddled with the pump, or with the tubes, more and more bubbles appeared in the IV stream which caused me some alarm. She explained that the bubbles couldn’t pass through my port. There was as many bubbles as there was fluid, it seemed. No sooner was I reassured that I saw one tiny bubble pass the port and make its way through the thinner tube and toward the IV needle in my arm. Great. Don’t know if the pain or the pain meds were the cause of my new-found apathy and I stopped looking at the IV and put my trust in the nurse who continued to tweak it for the next hour. Second IV pump was completely broken. Third finally worked, but not without more fiddling which seemed to go on forever. Each time the nurse would touch anything she’d drop it to the floor, then drop something else in the effort to pick up the first item, and so on the entire time. None of this was confidence inspiring. It was very late. All I wanted was to be left alone so I could get some rest.

Then I remembered the two boxes delivered to my downstairs room. I looked around and they weren’t in the new room. I mentioned the boxes to my new nurses, which was obviously news to them. Boxes were found and retrieved. One box contained a simple nylon sling. The other contained a….. knee immobilizer. I had two perfectly functional knees.

I again inquired about the figure of eight, still just draped over my neck. Nothing was supporting my broken shoulder for the past 6 hours or so. The two nurses there didn’t know how to put it on, so they called someone from the orthopedic department. They were able to put it on, and my new sling too. The knee immobilizer (really?) was left in the box.

The IV was finally working, figure of eight was back on, and I was lying down in my new bed with new shot of pain meds, somewhere after 3 AM. I thought that was it for the night and maybe now I could get some rest. No. Now I had to be formally admitted to the hospital. The nurse asked a series of questions. This process took some time. It was over around 3:30 AM and I was finally left to get some rest. No I didn’t sleep. I didn’t think I was going to. It wasn’t possible with the constant chatter in the hallways and various hospital equipment beeping from adjacent rooms. My own IV would stop working and beep on regular basis requiring more fiddling accompanied by the familiar sound of something being dropped to the floor.

I spent a sleepless night watching the clock and waiting for the 7 AM time when someone was supposed to check on me. Instead, a nurse came in right after 7 AM. A full chest x-ray was ordered. I was wheeled into the x-ray room. The technician there greeted me and said: “Oh so you had a pacemaker installed?” That was, frankly, appalling. I had to explain why I had a sling on, to which she replied: “Oh the sling is for real?” The x-rays were taken without making me get out of bed, which was a relief considering how painful it was getting up yesterday for the first x-ray and for the CT scan.

Shortly after returning to the room, the orthopedic surgeon the hospital had referred me to walked in to talk to me. Small world: he was a triathlete himself, in fact he raced 70.3 Victoria – the very race I was about to miss because of this. He explained my options (surgery, plate…) and in his opinion my injury was not likely to heal on its own. He said he’d see me later in the week in his office and then we’d talk in more detail.

He left and then it started. A whole series of new people showed up.

First someone asking me about my home, did it have stairs, something about the toilet, reclining bed, do I live alone…. despite others asking me for all that information already, and more. My answer was always the same: getting up was painful but other than that I was mobile and perfectly capable. I appreciated the care, but there was no reason to keep sending new people to ask me the same questions I myself was not at all worried about, which I’d tell them as much each time.

Next someone new came in and said: “Hi I’m your physical therapist!” Oooookay… see you in 4-6 weeks?! She again asked for all the same details about my house, and mobility, and I kept insisting it was all fine, really, and I have someone to help me besides. She wanted to “take a walk in the hallway” and said I could refuse to work with her but why would I want to do that? It finally dawned on me that this was likely nothing more than an attempt to bill my insurance as much as they could. I refused that walk, politely, and explained that I’ve walked around by myself several times already. But she ignored my wishes and we went on a 30 foot walk out of the room and back in. I was too out of it with pain and pain meds to have the energy to argue further.

A little while later another new face appeared: “Hi I’m your social worker!”

For fuck’s sake! I apologize for the profanity, but that’s what went through my mind at that moment. Very few words were exchanged. I made it clear we didn’t have any reason to talk and she left.

One more person appeared in my room. “Hi I’m from well-known-national-pharmacy-chain, would you like to fill your pain meds prescription with us?” They really do this?

Finally there were rumors of my discharge sometime later that day. I say rumors because there was no one to ask but nurses and imaging techs, and they didn’t know. No hospital physician came in to give me any news since the CT results at 1:30 AM. Upon further inquiry I was given a 1 PM time, just as I was on the phone with Jessica coordinating when she’d be picking me up. Great?! Not so fast. That chest x-ray from 7 AM that morning had not yet come back and I was not getting a discharge until the results came back. The nurse went to investigate and returned with news of my x-ray having been moved to stat queue. Jessica came in at 1 PM exactly, as I knew she would. She brought me clothes and shoes. The only clothes I had were the bike shorts which I wore the entire time, and bike shoes in a bag by my bed. The jersey had to be cut off me when I was first admitted.

We waited for the chest x-ray results until about 1:30 PM, full 6 hours after it was taken, at which time I was discharged. I walked from the room all the way to the parking garage on my own. It was not a problem. We had to pay for parking. And then we drove home. I was still broken of course, and probable surgery was still ahead of me. The only work done at the hospital to help me were, from my perspective, pain management, images were taken three times, and the sling I was discharged with.

It was good to be home. The recliner was to be my sleeping arrangement all week. Pain is almost gone. I stopped taking pain meds. Clavicle surgery is tomorrow.

Posted by Adrian at 4:30PM
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2013 2014Catching-up here - [read more...]
May 24th 2015

I’ve not posted here in a while for a very simple reason. Been busy training. I’ve largely sorted out my various injuries and got on a self-planned training, uh, plan. Of all the things I’ve learned over the past 7 years doing tris, listening to my own body and planning the workouts accordingly, was probably the most valuable lesson. I’ve been planning individual workouts a week in advance only, with leeway in the plan for switching up running with cycling, and then running (usually) later in the day or the following day if anything is amiss. Or a swim-heavy day when my body is particularly uncooperative - which never seems to last more than a day or two. It’s strange… The broader picture is planned further out, subject to race calendar.

A lot of things have happened over the past two years. Good things, fun things, awesome things, and one not so good fun or awesome.

I went to the Nationals and had a perfectly average race: terrible swim, average bike, and above average run. I expected a better bike naturally, but a bad day fell on the race day. I could not turn those pedals properly. The race organization was superb and the venue was spectacular. Big surprise was finding Chrissie Wellington at the finishing line giving out medals. The event was memorable, and a lot of fun. That’s what counts.

Raced Lake Stevens as planned in 2013, and again in 2014. At the 2013 race nearly everything fell together just right and I had a great day. The 2014 race was a disappointment, first with a strange 8-out-of-10 pain side stitch half mile into the run, which completely went away after less than a mile of walking, and then bad GI upset around mile 9 or 10. I largely walked the first mile and last 3-4 miles of the race, bent forward and holding onto my stomach. It happens. Also, whoever kicked me in the face, knocked my goggles off and gave me a bloody nose? Yeah. Thanks! It happened half way into the swim, so really no reason.

Raced the now-defunct Rev 3 Branson also in 2013. Then a whole bunch of smaller local races I always wanted to try but never go around to it before, in 2013 and 2014.

Then raced the spectacular ITU Chicago 2014 sprint distance. I meant to do the Oly distance. If I’m going to travel with the bike box, it better be at least an Oly distance. But at ITU the Oly race kicked off at 6:30 AM which was 4:30 AM by my internal body clock, and sprint was at 10:30 AM. SPRINT! This was the first and only time I was able to get up late on race morning. I liked it, and may do Boise 70.3 if for no other reason than the noon start time.

Then finished the 2014 season with a return to Kennedy Space Center to improve on 4th place finish at Rocketman. Alas this time I finished 7th. It was a hot day and I just kept running despite the heat. At the finish I felt more exhausted than I’ve ever been before. I wanted it that badly, but it wasn’t to be.

The 2015 training was going extremely well. I was in race shape by April, earliest I’ve ever been. The season ended abruptly with a bike crash and a trip to the emergency room.

Posted by Adrian at 12:04PM
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USATQualified for US Nationals - [read more...]
June 24th 2013

I’m still mad at myself for letting the podium finish slip through my fingers in Florida. But all was not lost with that race, apparently. I finished in top 10% and by USAT rules that qualified me for US National Championships in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Yes! I was planning to race Rev 3 Dells also in Wisconsin, coincidentally just one day after the Nationals and mere 120 miles away. When I found out I was eligible for Nationals I jumped in right away. Racing both was tempting for about 0.68 seconds. I could get my bike out of transition by noon and then race (see what I did there?) back to the room for a quick shower and hotel check-out and then drive 2 hours to Dells for the Rev 3 prerace bike check-in. Scratch that. I’m going to Nationals, and instead of Rev 3 Dells I’ll go to Rev 3 Branson this year. We’ve got a plan! Not sure if the plan will come together, but at least there is a plan.

Oly distance is not my best event. Swim is a longer leg of the race, comparatively speaking, than any other standard tri distance, so best swimmers have an advantage. I’d rather race events with longer bike courses and longer run courses. So between now and August 10th I intend to swim 5 times per week to at least minimize time lost in the water and keep those good swimmers within catching distance on the bike.

Those athletes who finish near the top will be selected to represent Team USA. My goals are modest. The best of the best will race in Milwaukee.... I simply hope to finish with a respectable time.

Posted by Adrian at 8:40PM
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RocketmanRace report Rocketman - [read more...]
May 11th 2013

Wow. How often does one get a chance to ride a bike inside the Kennedy Space Center, around the Vehicle Assembly Building, and past the launch pads 39A and 39B? This has been an unforgettable experience. I think I twice said out loud "can't believe I'm here" as I rode past these icons of the US space program.

I can’t remember where or how I learned about the Rocketman. The moment I did, I decided to fly to Florida to do this race. As did 1600 other triathletes. This appeared to be a one and done event and I was not going to miss the chance. A US Congressman pushed through the necessary permits from NASA and from Fish and Wildlife Service to grant us access inside the secure gates of the KSC on Merritt Island. It remains to be seen whether this event will be possible again next year. So far the rumors point to a NO.

After a tiring 8 hour flight, diagonally across the entire lower 48, I was on the ground in Orlando, at oversized bag claims, more than a little nervous about the condition of my bike. Was the Trico Ironcase enough to protect it? No bike – no race! Thankfully the bike was fine, and I set off in a rental car from Orlando airport to my hotel in a small town of Titusville just across the Indian River from KSC. Bike assembly went without a hitch. Shiv didn’t even need shifting adjustments.

I quickly realized at bike check-in and packet pickup that this event was a Rocketman in more ways than just the name and the location. A DJ was playing music from The Right Stuff on stage, actual rocket scientists were racing too, and there was a giant inflatable Apollo astronaut right in the middle of the venue. The transition was set up at the Space Walk of Fame in Titusville. Every Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronaut has their likeness and palm prints here, as do many other people involved with the US space program. A lot of NASA history was written here. I walked the entire length and read the inscriptions at least 3 times. This was just one of many memorable locations I was to see in the next 3 days.

The day before the race was rainy and stormy. I left my preciousssss Specialized Shiv in transition, covered in large black garbage bags to keep the water out, with an extra bag wrapped around the rear derailleur and cassette. Forecast for race day looked good though.

Rocketman Rocketman


Race morning:
I got up at 5 AM and drove to transition just a few miles north of the hotel. My hotel hosts left a “Good luck Adrian” sign by the front door. That was sweet of them! Getting to the race venue early was my cunning plan for securing parking. It worked. This was important as I was alone down there with no Sherpa, and miles from my hotel. I had to use the car as a base of operations.

I setup my spot on the bike racks. Transition closed at 6:30 AM - 90 minutes before my swim start. I had time to putz around. I went back to the car, and discovered to my shock and horror that I parked right under a giant billboard which peeled off its frame and was precariously flapping in the wind threatening to fall on the car. There was absolutely no parking to be found anymore so I had to leave the car there and hope for the best. This situation did make me go back to the race venue, what with fearing for my life and being squished inside a car by several tons of wood and iron?

I made my way to the swim start docks and started putting on the wetsuit about 40 minutes early, when I noticed my swim wave queued up to go. Ummmm? Yes they were starting us early. Okay time to put on my game face and switch to race mode. I quickly finished putting on the wetsuit and joined others in my wave just in time to be marched down the dock and down a pair of ladders into the water.

The temperatures were unseasonably cool that morning. Air temp was mid 60s and water temperature was probably about 70F. I loved it! More than half of us weren’t wearing wetsuits. But then the head referee - the bullhorn was a dead giveaway - told us we were starting on time at 8 AM after all. Great. We were to spend almost 30 minutes treading cool water. Everyone without a wetsuit started shivering. I must admit I felt smug in my Orca 3.8. I applied anti-fog to my goggles but even that stuff works for only so long. The goggles started to fog up after 30 minutes of waiting... about 2 minutes to start. I rinsed them out.

Swim:
The swim was a simple out and back with one turnaround buoy. The theme from the move The Right Stuff could be heard from the shore, just as the air horn blared signaling swim start. I started hard straight from the gun and hung onto the middlepack. My goggles fogged up almost immediately. That was suboptimal considering the land features on the opposite shore were too far and the buoy was the only sight marker I had to work with. The buoy was large enough and I managed to keep it in sight until turnaround, although I did have to “study” my surroundings a few times, as opposed to quick sighting glances I’m used to. I turned around at the buoy and then swam back for the docks. There were three ladders to ascent out of the water onto the dock. No bottleneck. Nice. My swim time didn’t make sense. It was too long by at least a minute. I swam fine, so I must have either lost time sighting through the fogged goggles or zig-zagged a little.

T1:
I ran from the dock toward the bike, taking the swim cap and goggles off while running, and stripping the wetsuit down to the waist. Wetsuit came off my legs with some difficulty and I lost a few more seconds putting on the aero bike helmet. Those earflaps are tricky no matter how many times I’ve done this.

Bike:
Here’s the bike mount line! Yeeees! Now we start. Exit from transition was quick. Just a block or two further from where we got out onto the open road was the right turn toward the causeway to Kennedy Space Center. I flew up that bridge like a mad man, then even faster down the other side toward the NASA gates. I checked the Garmin... 30 mph. Whoa let’s slow down a little. I let my HR settle and checked the speed again. I remember thinking - wow okay if I can hold this I can catch up to the fast swimmers. The ride toward the KSC and through the gates and down the Kennedy Pkwy toward VAB was blisteringly fast. I passed a lot of people. I was in the groove, and when I’m like this I stop thinking about anything and everything except my power output and staying on course and not crashing and not letting anyone else crash into me. So I forgot to look at race numbers to see if I was making any progress against guys in my swim wave.

Somewhere around the VAB I became aware of the winds picking up. Now I know firsthand why Shuttle launches were scrubbed so many times due to high winds. Merritt Island is about 6 inches above sea level, and it’s all wide open terrain and exposed to the winds coming off the Atlantic. It was brutal! We got sidewinds at first, threatening to blow the smaller athletes off their bikes. Relative winds changed direction as we turned around the VAB onto Saturn Causeway. It was here in front of the VAB that I said out loud “can’t believe I’m here” – twice. I kept the power on and just kept on passing many cyclists. Then we turned the corner at the launch pads and the wind was head on. Oh wow. I was putting out watts and yet my speed was pedestrian. I knew this was my chance and pushed harder and into redline. A couple of strong cyclists were near me up to this point – we were leapfrogging over each other – it was here that I dropped them and was alone for the rest of the race. I kept the power on and just kept passing. At this point I suspected I was doing well. I remember thinking “just don’t finish fourth don’t finish fourth”.

Return ride back to Titusville was a blur – other than one purposeful glance behind; one last look at the majestic VAB. I concentrated on not hitting anyone I was passing and just kept the power on against the wind. My HR was about 10 beats higher than it should have been. I was trying to exploit the winds. If I was suffering, so was everyone else. I can suffer better than they can.

Then I got back on the causeway. Winds were calm when I first crossed it that morning. This time though the sidewinds were so severe I was leaning into the wind just to keep myself on the bike. I’ve never had a race like this. There was one cyclist in front of me and he looked silly leaned into the wind that much... then I realized I probably looked like that too. I kept on powering and was back in Titusville in another minute or two.

T2:
The bike racks were almost empty. Most athletes were still on the bike course. There were only two bikes that I could see on the bike racks I shared with my swim wave. Woo-hoooo! I was out of bike shoes and got the bike racked in a flash. I dumped the helmet, put on the running shoes and visor and started running toward the exit. Then a disaster. A referee was there waving her arms wildly and yelling - “YOUR RACE NUMBER WHERE’S YOUR RACE NUMBER YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED!!!” I looked down and I was wearing no race number.

How did this happen?! In transition I have my running shoes under the bike, and the race number on a belt on top of the shoes, then the visor on top of the race number to keep it from blowing away in the wind. I grab them in reverse order. That’s my system. It works. I was forced to run back to the bike (RTLS ECAL TAL AOA or ATO - which one would this be?) and looked and there was no race number. My wetsuit was still there under the bike. Maybe? I lifted the wetsuit and there was the race number. Out of sight out of mind. There was no time to think then. I just put the race number on and ran out of transition. In hindsight, the race number must have shifted at some point and I covered it up when I dumped the wetsuit in T1.

Run:
The run was along the waterfront in Titusville, on a quiet shady street covered by tree canopies. First observation: my HR was too high. I burned too many candles on the bike so my run pace was not ideal. I was targeting a fast run split, but my actual pace was a little slower than I would have liked. I made a decision to, high HR or not, hang onto anyone in my wave should they try to run past me. Incredibly that didn’t happen. I could see no one from my wave while on the run course. I either dropped them on the bike course, or they were such good swimmers AND good cyclist that I never even saw them. I just kept on running. As the finishing chute got closer, right in the middle of the Space Walk of Fame, I started feeling loopy. I had nothing left and ran on pure willpower. One guy was running 20 feet in front of me for the past 1/2 mile and I couldn’t determine which wave he belonged to. So I dug deep and passed him in the finishing chute, just in case.

Finish:
I knew I did well, just not how well. Other athletes were still racing. I wondered around between my car, the finish line, and the transition/expo area for an hour or two, while waiting for race results to be posted. At some point I changed clothes in the car and re-applied sunscreen (the giant billboard was still flapping in the wind). Then I headed back to the awards stage near the expo. There they were. Preliminary results.

“Don’t be fourth.”

I looked and I was fourth. Missed the podium by 89 seconds. The T2 screw-up cost me this race. No one would call up my name and I was not to walk up onto the stage to be recognized and accept an award. Oh well. All left for me to do that day was to get my bike and other gear out of transition, load them up in the car, and drive somewhere for lunch (HUNGRY!!!) and then to the hotel for a cool shower. Good bye Rocketman – hope to see you again!

At least I will NEVER again run out of transition without a race number on me. There’s that.

Next three days in Florida I split between Cocoa beach, the KSC visitor center, the KSC bus tour and Saturn V center, and the Warbirds Museum. I’m a space buff so the KSC visitor center has left me in awe. They did all that with sliderules??? I wish I was there. The Saturn V center, on the other hand, had made an even more profound impression. I felt like I was treading on hallowed ground. But that’s a story for some other time. ;)

Posted by Adrian at 9:53PM
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TrainingTraining carefully - [read more...]
March 9th 2013

Another “winter” is behind us. (Winter in Seattle means temperatures in the 40s and solid gray sky and raining; spring and fall bring us temperatures in the 50s and solid gray sky and raining; and we have amazing 8 weeks of summer. Embrace the suck, or move to California!) I’ve ramped up the training, which simply means longer outdoor rides instead of shorter indoor trainer rides, and longer runs. I’ve spent the winter swimming 3 times per week, running 3 times per week, and riding 3 times per week. That will now change to swimming 4 or 5 times per week, running 3 times per week but longer distances, and riding my beautiful bike on East Lake Sammamish Pkwy as much as my schedule and my body will allow.

Speaking of, my past injuries seem to be staying in the past, other than the persistent nagging issues with ITBS on the right side. I’ve dealt with this for years, trained through it, didn’t train through it. It’s more demoralizing than anything else because there are days it seems like this will cut my training short, if not my entire triathlon career, abruptly someday. And yet day after day I go and complete my training, and do my races, and somehow this is always there, niggling, never getting quite bad but never going away either, despite all my efforts with PT/strengthening and massage and improved bike fit and gait modification. Lately the soreness has spread to the upper leg and glutes. I feel it mostly near the end of long (loooong) runs. Soreness goes away as soon as I stop running, which makes me feel pretty good about my prospects. But then I wake up the following morning with sore thigh and glute on the right side only. So strange...

Posted by Adrian at 7:42PM
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HawaiiHawaii... off-season fun - [read more...]
December 11th 2012

I love this town. Love it. I've travelled all over, and am always glad to be back home. However, Seattle weather in the winter is the kind of place that may, on an occasion, make me want to jump off the 520 bridge (that'd be a local joke) unless I flew somewhere sunny and dry and warm at least once. This year that warm place was Hawaii. We stayed on Oahu at a hotel near Waikiki (near, not at) and played surf bums on Ala Moana beach, apparently convincingly. Homeless people thought we were locals and left us alone. This was fun filled 8 days. Swimming with the dolphins, surfing, hiking Diamondhead, walking the length of Waikiki, and renting a Smartcar for a day and driving all the way around Oahu, stopping at all the famous north shore beaches. I fell in love with the windward side - the northeast side from Kahuku to Kaaawa. So beautiful. There's one beach there near Laie that was just perfect. No tourists, no chain stores. Just raw unaltered Hawaii. Remember what I said about being glad to be back home after a trip... yeah they had to drag me back kicking and screaming this time.

Even though this was vacation, I could not completely leave SBR behind. :) So I ran a few mornings at sunrise, and swam in the ocean about a mile almost every day. I didn't have my bike. Besides the roads of Oahu are not particularly bike friendly.

We will be back next year, to rent a cabin on the Big Island on the Kailua Kona coast. I hope to swim in the Kailua bay and ride my bike on the Queen K highway. If I keep training and racing, and I qualify, someday I may come here in the second week of October and do The Big Dance. We'll see. The desire is certainly there.

Posted by Adrian at 7:12PM
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RainEnd of another season - [read more...]
November 1st 2012

Whew. This year has been a resounding success. Finally a season which did not end early due to an injury, and I raced in pretty cool events and had some success. Since Calgary I raced two more Olympic distance triathlons, and a local hometown sprint tri. All went well. I planned to race one more IM 70.3 in Austin, or a Rev 3, late in the year, but decided against it to protect my health and the future participation in this sport. I've already halved my training hours to reduce the impact on my body over the winter months. Serious training will commence anew around mid to late winter. See you all in 2013.

Posted by Adrian at 9:13PM
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Calgary 70.3Race report Calgary - [read more...]
July 29th 2012

I'm sunburned. About as much as in Portland. That's my only complaint. Oh and my KT tape fell off 3 miles into a 13 mile run. But my knee was fine without it. And! And they lost my bike stuff bag in T1 with my cycling shoes and helmet and glasses in it. I found it on my own in a random place after a lengthy search. So my T1 time was 6 minutes.

The weather was perfect. No thunderstorms no winds. If we raced the day before it would have been a completely different event.

My preparations were perfect. I got up early. Got breakfast and coffee and body markings at the hotel so I didn't need to do that at the lake. I drove there myself. Set everything up and then did a warmup swim. My face felt like it FELL OFF.

Swim was cooooold! This lake was frozen until mid May. People were breastroking and some had to be fished out by rescuers. I started slow and then settled into an okay pace. But then my right calf cramped up from the cold about 1/2 into the swim. Pain! I had to stop swimming for a minute. Then I continued and the cramp soon came back. Paaaaain! OMG! I learned that if I relaxed my legs the pain would go away. So I did and let my legs dangle down and swam uphill like that at a snails pace. Still I was okay with that because I made the pain go away and I got to finish the cold swim. I was concerned that this cramp would return on the bike. I'd need to abandon the race. Luckily it didn't return and I had no more cramping at all.

I got out of the water, took the wetsuit off and shouted my race number to the volunteers. But they couldn't find my bag! Oh. Crap. I looked too and no bag! I started wondering around barefoot and carrying my wetsuit. I spotted one T1 bag all by itself out on the swim exit ramp. I went down there and the bag had my race number on it. Whew!!! All's forgiven. Someone must have taken it by mistake and pitched it.

The air temps this early in the morning weren't any better than water. I got on the dew covered bike and dialed it up to 20 mph thinking that would be a good speed to hold for 56 miles without blowing my run. But I trained a lot this season and did an FTP test just the other day. At 20 mph in the flats my heart rate was something like 125. So I got HR up to my magic number (142) and the speed was 23 mph. Nice. And it felt so easy. The bike course was relentless hills. That's the best way to describe it. Flat, up, flat, up, down, flat, up, more up, the most up, fast long down, then lots of up. The whole way! I climbed the first 9 mile climb slow and got passed by others and then caught them on descents and flats. One guy in particular (Kelly I think?) we leapfrogged over each other the entire bike. On the second climb of the day it seemed like everyone blew up by that point because I was passing a lot of folks and I'm no climber. Somewhere around there I became aware of the hot sun. It was cold no more. Bike course was very scenic. The turns were easy and safe. Volunteers and the police were awesome. I yelled ‘thank you’ at each one of them.

I rolled into T2 and racked the bike and put my run stuff on. But I did push it too hard on the bike. It is difficult for me not to. :) Run started with my heart rate and respiration way high. I needed to stop to pee anyway. Two birds one stone. The run was in a city park so I pulled my old trick: ignore the portapotties and look for real restrooms with running water. There was one just off the run course and it was empty! Yes! When I got out I resumed running and felt much better. Then I saw Magali running in the opposite direction, toward the finish. She won the race.

The run started routine. It was hot! I had a bottle of salt tablets and I took one or two at every aid station. I was holding a steady pace, except the few short but steep climbs which I walked. I also walked through each aid station and picked up ice sponges and water and Gatorade and gel. I grabbed everything they had. Not sure if it was the fuel or the quick break but I'd run like the wind for about 1K after, and then get in difficulty again and high heart rate, and eagerly look for the next aid station, and so on. Things were good until about mile 8 when the tank emptied and I just ran on pure willpower. I was telling myself: less than two loops around Greenlake left! There was no more easy running out of aid stations. It all sucked and my legs were getting sore. It was also getting very hot by now. I was taking two cups at every aid station and I'd be dehydrated by the next. Somehow I managed to find the willpower and climbed up out of the run trails and toward the park where ironman had setup the finish line. The course runs right past the finish but nuh-huh there were 3 more miles remaining on an out and back park road. I partnered up with another guy and we ran together. I lost him somewhere. He walked and finished about 10 minutes after me. The last 1.5 miles after the last turnaround were getting loopy. I had nothing left but kept running toward the finish. I checked the Garmin every 10 or 20 seconds looking for that magic 13.1m on the display. It came and I crossed the line and they announced my name and home town. The volunteers held the ribbon for me to run through. I got the finishers shirt and the medal.

I felt pretty good as soon as I stopped and found shade. I ate a banana and a huge thing of Gatorade. I discovered a nice breeze at the shaded entrance into one tent so I hung around there and ate and drank. I realized then my skin was completely encrusted with salt. I'm a big guy and I sweat a lot. Proper hydration plan and salt tabs (endurolytes) are absolutely critical. Then I collected my bike and other stuff and took a bus back to T1 to get my car. There was a nice Canadian tri couple from Alberta on the bus. She was fast. He was slow. They both had Cervelo P2s with same SRAM wheels I have. The bus was fricken hot and slow and to kill time we talked the whole way back. Back at the lake, the private subdivision that allowed the Ironman event had locked their gates. Doh! It was a ghost town with just the sounds of a nail gun as workers were building new houses. We could see our cars but couldn't get to them. Bus driver turned the bus around and left us there. Three of us had to climb over the fence and hand the bikes over. Haha! I loaded my stuff into the Jeep and drove to the hotel.

I will race this event again. But next time I'll fly in. :) I've got a 14 hour drive tomorrow. Ow.

My only complaint about race organization is the hokey T1 on a boat launch ramp in a half finished subdivision surrounded by gravel pits and construction equipment. The course and the T2 and finish were very nice. Well water was cold but that couldn't be helped.

Posted by Adrian at 7:13PM
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Rev 3 PortlandRace report Portland - [read more...]
July 8th 2012

Rev 3 rocks!

There. With that out of the way (no really, go and race Rev 3 and you'll see they are the best), I took 3rd place in my AG. Yeeees! Let me back up.

We stayed in a hotel on the WA side of Columbia. From there was an easier drive to the venue on race morning. The swim and transition were setup at a picturesque Blue Lake near Fairview. The bike and run course were on Marine drive on the left bank of the Columbia river. I could not ask for a more suitable course for me: flat, in the cold PNW, windy. On race day it was unseasonably hot (90F) and calm. HA!

Prerace check-in:
Great atmosphere. Packet pickup and bike check-in were easy. Rev 3 employees and volunteers were beyond helpful. Our names were printed on our bike racks. Everyone's picture was displayed on the jumbotron. The expo was awesome. Everyone was having fun. I have not, in all the races I've ever done, seen such organizational prowess. Rev 3 knows how to put on a show.

The head referee informed us that Marine drive westbound was ripped up by DoT just prior to the race, and in his opinion was safe to ride. I knew it would affect the bike split, but I assumed it would affect everyone equally. That was not to be.

Swim:
Jessica helped me zip up the wetsuit and I made my way to the beach. Referee was explaining the swim course but I could only hear every third word. Then we started. I purposefully hung onto the very back of the middlepack, if that makes sense. I've been kicked in the head before and I want nothing to do with it, especially if jockeying for position within a pack will net me mere seconds. I stayed just behind a large group for almost half the swim, sighting occasionally. I looked around near the first turn buoy and... they were gone and instead there were athletes with different color swimcaps scattered here and there... swimming slowly. No big pack? No one from my wave to be seen either? I suspected at the time, and my Garmin confirmed it at swim exit: I took a wrong turn and swam around a wrong buoy which added minutes to my swim. This has cost me the second place AG. Oh well. I swam out and ran (coming buddy!) to my bike.

Bike:
I got on quick and left the Blue Lake park for Marine drive. The bike course is westbound (so left turn) but there was one short out and back section eastbound so we were really getting out of the park and making a right turn which was weird. Also, just prior to the out-and-back turnaround there was another very similar location with a road forking to the right. I saw several riders taking the right fork there. I stayed on course, but only out of sheer luck. I studied the PDF map a lot (a lot a lot) and yet this part of the bike course was not clear at all. (Next time: preview the course even if it looks simple!) I turned around and ahead of me were many miles of flatness that is the Marine drive. Ah-ha this ITT style course is what I like to do.

Rolling resistance westbound was brutal. I was putting out watts and yet my speed was silly. I saw a number of guys passing me on the wrong side of the yellow line - an instant disqualification if caught - to take advantage of good pavement in the eastbound lanes. They got away with it as I didn't see a single course official. Grrr! I however, like an idiot, was one of the few to follow the rules and rode on the grooved pavement and lost huge chunks of time. My westbound average speed was lower than the eastbound, and this has naturally affected my overall bike split. I was expecting just over 60 minutes, perhaps 62, and went 70 minutes. Second oh well of the day. Eastbound, returning to transition, felt lightning fast in comparison. I ran out of fluids in the Specialized Shiv Fuelselage just prior to returning. Nice. Returning off Marine drive to Blue Lake park was again confusing (nothing like the map) but I figured it out and made it back to T2.

Run:
Hot! By now it was getting pretty hot and I was beginning to feel it. The run course was on the shoulder of the Marine drive. Flat and straight as an arrow. And hot. I could see literally everyone on the course, shimmering in the distance like mirages. I've never done a race like this.

Hot! I had a black visor on me (next time a white running cap!) and my tri kit is black. I was beginning to regret this. This was home(ish)! It's supposed to be cold and wet... especially in the morning. And also regretting taking my own hydration flask at about mile 2. Even though it weighs mere ounces it felt like an anvil in my hand. I ran through first few hydration stations without taking anything. Again Rev 3 organizational skills are second to none. The hydration stations were well stocked and staffed with 4-6 people each. I passed one such aid station without taking anything. I heard one of the volunteers say "he has water" or something to that effect.

Then it hit me just as I was 100 or 200 feet past that aid station. I started overheating. Rapidly. Dangerously. I've never felt this before. I took a drink from the electrolyte flask.... and that was it. It was empty. A mile to the next aid station. Uh-oh. Returning back to the aid station behind me was a concept that didn't even occur to me. I could see the next aid station... shimmering in the distance like a mirage. Ice and drink awaited there. I felt worse and worse and was genuinely worried I may have my very first DNF right there. I just kept running. I made it to the next aid station, barely from the looks of things, and poured two cups of icy water over my head and drank a cup of gatorade.

That was it. I instantly (I mean instantly) felt better and my run pace improved. I ran through one or two more aid stations and performed the same routine. There was the turnout back to Blue Lake park! From there was a straight shot into the finishing chute and across the finish line. Run split: 6 minutes slower than it ought to be. Oh well!

I got my finisher's medal and shirt. Again volunteers were amazing. I saw Jessica waiting for me near the finish. We hugged and then I made a beeline for some benches in the shade. Oh yeah. We stuck around after the race, and good thing too. I got to see my friend Angela crush the women's race to take the first place. And at award ceremonies they called up my name for 3rd place AG. I did not expect that. For sure, the 3rd place for such a mediocre race because the field wasn't particularly deep that day. But I can only race who's there.

That was it. This was my very first podium finish. It felt good. I'm doing this race again next year for sure.

Posted by Adrian at 7:46PM
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InjuryNo more PF - [read more...]
March 3rd 2012

Yeeees! This is incredible. I've heard the adage "eliminate the root cause of Plantar Fasciitis and it will quickly go away". Well it is absolutely true. Let me back up a little first.

I run in custom insoles molded perfectly to my feet. And I use size 12 Brooks running shoes and typical athletic socks - a little on the thick side. I noticed the PF symptoms would diminish when I wore the shoes barefoot - in a sprint or oly race for example. Hmmm?!

That was the answer. The socks were too thick and caused my feet to not "mate" properly with custom insoles. The feet were too far forward due to basically a shim (the socks) between them and the insoles. The insoles were digging into the arches ever so slightly. I got away with running like this for over a year until it finally caught up with me and led to PF.

This morning I was tiptoeing to the car - the left arch was sore that much. A few hours later I got shoes one half size smaller (Brooks Glycerin 11.5) and hyper-thin socks, put them on, ran out, and ran 30 minutes pain free. I could feel the soreness still, but no pain. First observation: I can run!!! Second observation: my run form has suffered, as I suspected it would. I tried to hold a nice easy training pace. I managed, but my HR was at least 10 beats higher than it ought to be.

All right. I fly to Las Vegas in a few hours. I dare not change shoes and dare not push running too hard too early. I will hike the Red Rock canyon and walk Lake Mead Recreation Area in these shoes and these socks. Running will wait until I get back home.

Posted by Adrian at 7:30PM
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FootStill not running - [read more...]
November 8th 2011

Still trying to get rid of PF. I attempted a 30 minute run recently... my first one in months. Bad idea. It was too painful to walk afterwards. I'm using custom insoles, and I stretch the foot, and roll on a golf ball, and have used ice and heat. No relief so far. I find myself tiptoeing sometimes... anything to keep the pressure off the arch... and it helps stretch the muscle. What will it take for this to heal?! I'm keeping fitness up by swimming and cycling more. But they are no substitute for running. My running fitness will suffer greatly. I wonder how long will it take to get back to form?

At least it's off-season. I have until early spring to figure this out.

Posted by Adrian at 6:33PM
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FootAll hail the king of injuries - [read more...]
September 18th 2011

Plantar Fasciitis. Say it isn't so?! I've heard of this before, but never experienced the joys of PF until now. At first I didn't know what it was. "Bruised heel" - I thought to myself. HA!

The run course at my last race was a bit odd. It was almost entirely a trail run. Fine... I've raced such triathlons before. But what I didn't expect to see on the run course was approximately 1/2 mile of basically dirt road that's turned into mud at some point, and then driven over by off-road vehicles. The surface was uneven with ruts left behind by large tires. I had several awkward foot falls there.

The foot seemed fine after the race. But I had some subtle heel pain a few days later during a couple of training runs. Hmmm? Then a few days later, just before my next race, I was running on a nice dirt track near my girlfriend's house. The first 6 miles were routine, with only some minor heel pain. The last couple of miles however I started feeling more and more pain. I was on the wrong side of a lake and had to finish the run to get home. It became obvious what the issue was at that point. The foot has hurt pretty much ever since. That run will be my last until PF heals fully. I've been confined to a crosstrainer until further notice. Cycling and swimming are unaffected.

Contributing to the injury could have been a worn out shoe or shoe insole. Wearing that shoe/insole combination might have had too much arch support. On my last run it felt like the left foot was being folded up right in the middle. Not sure if that was real or just my imagination due to the already-developed PF. I played it safe and replaced the insole anyway. Also, I'm performing the recommended PF treatment: rolling the foot on a can of soup, icing, heating.

This will heel in a few months. But it made me skip my last race of the season. That particular venue was beautiful, the weather on race day was great, and I took the time to go over there and previewed the bike course. (It was uphill both ways!) Bummer. I love that race.

Excuse me while I jump on the crosstrainer. No running for me!

Posted by Adrian at 8:27PM
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Race report - [read more...]
August 29th 2011

I’ll write a more detailed race recap if I get to it. Meanwhile here are some thoughts I sent my coach after the race.

Prep was perfect. Transitions were perfect (other than me leaving the Garmin watch with the bike in T2 oops). The T1 was 1:56 and T2 1:35.

Swim was good. I was in the middle of a strong pack following someone’s legs part of the course. No one hit me. I did all the punching and kicking. Do it to them before they do it to you. My sighting was perfect. I bulls-eyed every buoy. My HR was high again after the swim: 170. That affected my bike somewhat. Not sure why. It doesn’t happen in the pool. Water temp was 73.

Bike was good. I gave it 90% of what I can do in training on the bike alone. My HR was so high after the swim it was hard to get into the groove. Also, there was climbing on the course. At 6’2” and 180lbs that isn’t my strongest suit.

Run was meh. The HR was still high so my pace was a little slow. First mile was brutal, then it got better. ;) My knee started to hurt in the run and my foot was unhappy with me too. It is better today. I didn’t tape the knee. It would have destroyed my transition times.

Next race is an oly distance on September 10.

Posted by Adrian at 9:11PM
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Race report - [read more...]
June 15th 2011

I woke up at 5 AM. The cold symptoms subsided somewhat and my nose was being cooperative. Race stuff was packed the day before, and rechecked with extreme OCD prejudice. Transition bag was sitting pretty by the front door. Bike was already in the back of the Jeep, looking sad and lopsided with the front wheel removed. I managed to get ready in 15 minutes, without waking up Miss. non-early-person non-triathlete. The race is just 10 miles from home so I put on the tri outfit (more about that a little later!), then some warm clothes over that, grabbed the bag, and headed down to the garage.

I usually take everything with me in the bag, go setup the transition, and then huff it back to the car and leave the bag inside. This is also known as a prerace warm-up. I was one of the first athletes to arrive so I got a spot on the racks next to bike exit.

Everything was ready 45 minutes before the start. I just had to put on the wetsuit. I waited on that until the last moment because I planned to use the bathroom before the start. I’m sure this sounds familiar. Wetsuit donned in 5 minutes just in time for mandatory referee briefing when…. HORROR! Remember I put on the tri outfit at home? I forgot the HR band. So I had to strip the wetsuit down to the waist, put on the HR band, and put the wetsuit back on. I made it to the briefing just as the fat lady was finishing the National Anthem.

There was just one other preparation glitch. This is my first race with the Adamo saddle. It has a rack hook in the back so it’s best to pull the bike forward, rather than backward through the rack. I’m used to the opposite (saddle nose on the rack) so my transition stuff was laid out on the wrong side. It wasn’t a big deal. I’ll fix this next time.

Transition


The briefing was pretty typical: kayaks in the water, no drafting on the bike, 5 min penalty, etc etc. No sooner than the referee finished her Spiel we all found ourselves down on the beach.

Fancy-shorts Elite wave went first. Swim start was by age group and in waves of no more than 50 at a time. Race organizers were under a mistaken belief that this would prevent people swimming over each other. M30-34 and W30-34 were next 2 minutes apart. Before I could say Suffering Succotash it was my turn. There were 70-ish M35-39 and I was in the second wave of 20. They staged us in waist deep 59 degree water. I was at the front. Both guys to either side of me said: okay guys nice and easy no kicking! I grunted some form of approval while rubbernecking for a familiar face amongst the spectators. My girlfriend was nowhere to be seen. Unbeknownst to me at the time, she arrived when I was staged in the water, seconds before the start, and she started taking pictures.

TEN SECONDS!

HOOOOONK!

Maybe I should swim?

I started nice and controlled, breathing every third stroke. I knew better than to go all-out from the gun. In about 20 seconds the two guys on either side of me were half a body length ahead, and someone else was doing their best to pull me under from the side. Then I got kicked in the face and I felt a nose bleed. Or was it just the sinus infection? Isn’t it funny that non-kicking legs from non-kicking guys managed to kick me, yes? This phenomenon should be studied. I got my face out of the water briefly, then back down (I was on course), then I rolled on my back to check my already congestion-traumatized nose. I didn’t see any blood, but then how could I tell? Somewhere around there I noticed my breathing was elevated and I was barely halfway to the first buoy – big beautiful yellow buoy (BBYB) beckoning – a promise of a distant shore as of yet unseen.

I managed to get my breathing under control by slowing down. This turned out to be temporary. As soon as I tried to get a rhythm going again the breathing and the HR went sky high. I tried breathing every second stroke but that stopped working somewhere around BBYB 1. I swim four miles a week, every week, and it was all for naught when it came time to put that training to use.

The swim between BBYB 1 and BBYB 2 is just a blur. I sort of remember a combination of backstroke and breaststroke, and keeping my head tilted up to protect the nose. I made a few feeble attempts at front crawl and rhythmic breathing, but they were short lived. When I rounded the corner at BBYB 2 I could see the shore and swim exit.

Freeeeeeeedoooooooom!!! Wait no no not yet! I resumed the front crawl to get to the swim exit as soon as possible. This lasted for a bit until breathing every second stroke became insufficient once again. When LO! My feet touched the bottom. Is it? Can it be? I looked up and swim exit was still a long way away. This was just mucky icky shallows that I happened to run across (pun intended) and it disappeared from under my feet just as quick as it appeared. I continued a combination of strokes for a couple of minutes and then switched to front crawl just before swim exit. I knew there were people there taking pictures and I didn’t want to look like a sissy.

Transition was a looong way from the beach. I was so beat up from the swim that I had zero motivation to run to my bike (I’m coming buddy!) and to do a quick T1. But I sucked it up and did it anyway. I took the swim cap and goggles off while my feet were still in the water, then stripped the wetsuit down to my waist while trotting to the bike.

The T1 went okay. Wetsuit came off relatively easily. It snagged on the timing chip for a second or two. (So that’s why they call it the TIMING chip?) I lost time reaching over to grab my helmet off the handlebars (and the sunglasses and Garmin within) because the bike was facing away from me (Adamo saddle!). I also lost some more time when I tried to suck on a gel and it exploded all over my hand. I actually leaned down and wiped the hand on the towel. HA!

My bike was something like 20 feet from bike exit so I put on the cycling shoes and ran in them to the exit. I hopped on without a hitch but the Speedplays decided not to cooperate and I clipped in on the third attempt. Finally I was in my element! Or was I? I did a quick mental assessment and realized I wasn’t in such a great spot. Garmin confirmed what I already felt within: my HR was 170. Yikes! My breathing was still elevated and my lungs were nearly but not quite burning. This was going to be a painful morning. Also I realized my sunglasses were gone. Don’t ask how or why because I don’t know myself.

Getting out of transition and onto open road was quick. I took it nice and easy under 20mph. A first mile of the course was one bike lane split in two by traffic cones. Each “lane” for the first mile was only about 18 inches wide. It was here that I ran across my first slow rider and attempted to pass her. Someone else came up behind and tried to pass me just as I made the pass, just as there was a cyclist returning back to transition down the other side of the split lane. I was the only responsible adult out of the four and at the last second I swerved into car traffic, still in the aerobars. As you very well know the aerobars are designed for one thing: going fast in a straight line. I overcorrected to the right, then overcorrected to the left, and somehow managed to hold the line and not crash. I heard an overenthusiastic “whoa” from a spectator somewhere behind me. I don’t recall passing any spectators. Maybe they were the most recent WTC invention: automatic stealth spectators? The cyclist that passed me so foolishly while I was passing someone else? I caught up and passed her just 2 miles ahead. She was limping at 17 mph. Tsk-tsk. Her bike was really nice though!

The bike leg was an utter disappointment. Bike is my thang, dig? My breathing and heart rate were still very high and I could not get in the groove of things. My average speed was meager 19mph, as opposed to last year’s assistant-rocketman-like 23mph. I passed maybe 50 riders and was passed by probably 30 or more. Last year I passed hundreds and was passed by just two or three. I didn’t drink until about a 1/3 into the bike – I needed oxygen a little more than I needed water. The bike leg was pretty uneventful, save for someone almost swerving into me on one of two climbs. Have they never heard of a small ring??? The return back to transition was also uneventful. I heard later that many riders crashed at a 180 degree turn entering transition.

The T2 was okay, but not without its glitches. First some jerk took my bike rack! I got there and found a very nice carbon bike in my spot. I angrily pushed it aside and racked my Cervelo. Shoes and helmet came off in a flash, visor and (oh hey there were my sunglasses!) sunglasses went on, then the socks. Ah the socks. The socks I used in training, but never with wet feet. The socks all twisted and got stuck when I tried to put them on my lake muck and sweat covered feet. I can’t quite remember if I said SCREW IT out loud or if that was just in my head. I gave up, put the running shoes on with the socks all twisted and began running toward run exit. I ran right past my girlfriend. That was the first time I realized she was there. She was there in T1 too, but I didn’t see her then.

I quickly discovered two things. First the sock situation wasn’t actually bad at all. I’m sure they were still twisted and half hanging off my feet but I couldn’t feel it. And second, HOLY HELL I WAS EXAUSTED! How was I ever to survive the run??? The run was almost entirely on soft trails, with only about ¼ of a mile on pavement near the start and finish. The course was a figure 8, with another loop added to the side. Or for those with poor math imagination: the course resembled a 3-petal flower. I had food and gel on me but I ate nothing. My pace was pretty good at first but I quickly realized I wasn’t going to hold that pace for the duration. The HR was still somewhere between too high and ludicrous. Aaaand the cold I’ve been battling for 10 days caught up with me and I started coughing. I slowed down to a trot and followed an athlete with a visor that said Moab Utah on the back of it. That was to be my carrot for the rest of the run. Half way through loop one I slowed to a walk briefly before reminding myself not to be a sissy and continued trotting on. The same repeated somewhere on loop two. I trotted and coughed the rest of the way and my HR and breathing actually improved just before the finish line. Traitors. The both of them. I picked up to a pretty good pace just before the last bend before the finish line. Who knows, when I crossed the finish I might have even looked like I knew what I was doing.

My girlfriend was there and we hugged. Then I promptly set out to find something to eat and drink.

Posted by Adrian at 12:10AM
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I'm back - [read more...]
June 14th 2011

No I'm not dead. And I haven't forgotten about the blog either. There has been very little to report. The winter of 2011 has been slow due to the knee injury, and more recently a cold that just wouldn't go away. I trained as little as I could, while still keeping fit for the summer racing season and still maintaining some semblance of a training structure. The knee would feel better, then worse, then better, etc... Just as I thought the worst was behind me and I could return to training, the injury would flare up and I had to take it easy again or risk reinjury.

The past 8 months of training looked something like this: swim 3 times a week for an hour, bike 2 or 3 times a week for an hour, and run once a week for 30-45 minutes. That was all! Coach continued to prepare my training schedule, and I tried following it every now and again when I felt good, but kept falling behind and essentially just coached myself.

I'm still not completely on the mend. The knee feels much better than ever post injury. I still need to keep an eye on the signals it gives me and take it easy if it hurts. Later this month will be exactly one year since the injury.

Anyhow, I'm back to training full time again. It is exciting to be back. I raced one event this year already. My performance was disappointing, but at least I'm training and racing again. I'll post the race report.


Posted by Adrian at 8:10PM
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Training again - [read more...]
October 4th 2010

Just a quick blog update because I'm busy TRAINING! The physical therapy has helped, the new bike fit and shoes have helped, stretching all leg muscle groups three times a day has helped, and listening to my body by not pushing past the pain has helped the most.

I just finished my second week of all-out training... with one exception: no bricks! Running after a hard bike ride is not a good idea at this time. That too will come back. I've had some knee discomfort, but no pain! It looks as if this episode has become just a bad memory. I'm back in my comfort zone, where I want to be.

On a completely unrelated note, I just finished redesigning Angela's site. Check it out:
http://www.angelanaeth.com/


Posted by Adrian at 4:10PM
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Rehabilitation - [read more...]
September 2nd 2010

Here I am, two months after the bike ride which led to the knee injury. The hard triathlon training and the hopes of a high finish at a 70.3 event and a Clearwater slot are just a distant memory.

Triathlon is more than a sport to me. It is more than just the races and the community. The training keeps me on track and the races give me a goal to work towards. It is more than love; it is almost a necessity and even an addiction, and I thought I lost it all.

I spent the last two months riding no more than 20 miles a week, and running maybe once a week for 30 minutes. Even that little training was painful. Swimming was unaffected so at least I had something I could do, that is until the pools closed for annual maintenance.

Endurance sport is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one, and I just lost that edge completely.

So what happened with the knee?

It took me a few weeks to discover that myself.

It was the new tri cycling shoes. Although, my knee has been troublesome for years and the knee pain was bound to emerge eventually. Still I would have preferred later rather than sooner. Little did I know that my demise was going to come so suddenly.

My old shoes were inherently tilted outward ever so slightly. That position was apparently perfect for my bike fit. The new shoes did not have that tilt so my knees were tracking poorly. I was riding like this for several weeks before I experienced any pain.

The point of the story is: get a new bike fit after getting new shoes (same applies for cleats, saddle, pedals).

The knee tracking issue was pretty obvious when I went back to a bike fitter. They moved my cleats a few mm, added a 1mm washer to the right pedal, and 1mm wedges under the cleats to once again give my feet a little bit of outward tilt. Those small changes made all the difference.

The new fit fixed the cause of the recent pain. But the old issues this knee has had just got a little bit worse after this episode. How many races do I have left in me? I saw an old Ironman champion not too long ago, walking with a cane. Is a cane in my future too?

I've been working with a sports rehab clinic: Eastside Sports Rehab. That's where I went for physical therapy for the knee pain, and it turned out they also did bike fitting. I was unaware of the underlying reason for the pain until they pointed it out. I'm very very fortunate and happy to have found them. They also made me a pair of custom-fit insoles for the running shoes. I was told there, gently but in no uncertain terms, that I should give up endurance sports. It is wise advice, but I can't follow it.

So 'what now' is the question? I'm trying to slowly get back into a training regimen. I must be ever so careful. The knee is still achy. And I've lost major fitness. My running HR is higher, and I can no longer maintain speeds on the bike I used to be able to. Even more troubling is my lack of motivation.

Long and uncertain road ahead...


Posted by Adrian at 7:10PM
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Knee injury - [read more...]
July 19th 2010

I'm sports injury prone; that much has become apparent. From neck pain to sprained wrist to right foot pain to pulled muscle near the left knee, and that's just this season! My old right knee discomfort/weakness has flared into a full blown injury. The knee has been fine for the 1/2 IM on June 12th. I gave my body two weeks to recover... just light spinning and jogging. The knee stopped working on June 26th in the middle of a first hard ride following the recovery period. Knee pain set in about 45 miles into a 60 mile ride. By mile 50 I could barely turn the right pedal. This has NEVER happened to me before and it was a little scary. Limping home at 15 mph is not what I had in mind.

When I got home I discovered that I was not able to put weight on my right leg with the knee bent so I couldn't climb stairs. Walking was possible but it was pretty painful.

I took a break from cycling for a week and then tried a super easy 20 mile ride. Knee pain returned just as I was getting back home. Next ride was another week later; a moderate 30 mile ride. Knee pain returned about 20 miles into the ride, so again I had to limp home. I need to be careful. No rides longer than 20 miles until this heals! And no climbing!

The issue seems to be placing weight/strain on the knee with the knee bent, so this is only affecting cycling. I can run okay, although I'm taking it easy running too, just to avoid any potential re-injury.

I'm seeing a specialist on Wednesday. I'll update the blog with any further news.

Racing is on hold for the moment. Seafair Triathlon came and went this weekend. I wish I was there. Lake Stevens is less than 4 weeks away. Am I going to have to skip it again???


Posted by Adrian at 10:30PM
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Race reports - [read more...]
June 14th 2010

This has been a busy week! A sprint tri on the 5th and a 1/2 Ironman on the 12th.

I have mixed feelings about the sprint tri. The race wasn’t exactly fun. The race day was sunny… but it’s been raining every day for at least a week prior to the race. The transition was set up at a park on a land reclaimed by draining a wetland once upon a time when such things were tolerated. The rains have turned the area back into a wetland - a muddy mess with standing water everywhere. We all got a good laugh at our own expense, but deep down everyone was disappointed. I threw away my transition towel and brand new socks after the race. My best running shoes are soaking in a bucket of hot water. The cleats on the cycling shoes are beyond help. I found a worm stuck inside them after the race – still squirming. These were old road shoes so I didn't mind. Tri shoes were out of commission on race day - long story for some other time - so I couldn’t use them and had to run through transition with road shoes on.

Race preparations were almost perfect. I forgot to erase a training ride on the Garmin prior to the race. Oops! So I had to fumble for the reset button as I was rolling out of T1. I should turn on the watch before the swim; one less thing to do in T1. And second, I should leave the transition bag in the car and bring only what I need for T1 and T2, and food/hydration of course. I had enough space for the bag, but I’m not likely to need anything in it. That’s it for prep. There were no other mishaps with gear or planning.

Adrian


The splits:
14
4
44 (including 5 min penalty, apparently)
2
20
=1:24

The swim was slow. I’m an inexperienced swimmer as it is. So when I got swimming in cold water and waves, and got kicked a few times, I completely forgot all my swim practice I built up over the past 8 months and fell back to old bad techniques. Swim was pretty uncomfortable. My breathing and heart rate were high and I couldn’t get them down. The split was 14 minutes; typical times were around 8 minutes. I need more open water training this summer. Lap swim at the pool cannot adequately prepare us for triathlons.

The T1 took 4 minutes according to my timing chip. Whoa! I keep going over this and I couldn’t tell you how or where all that time went to. I ran out of the water and to the bike, unzipped my wetsuit and got it off my arms on the way, it came right off at the bike rack, put on the Garmin watch, the shoes, helmet, and pushed the bike to the exit as fast as I could. Two minutes at most was my estimate. Clearly I need to practice transition.

The 15 mile bike course was a stark contrast to the swim. I got into a groove as soon as I left the gridlock of the transition area and dialed it up to 22-23 mph. I was passed by only three guys. My time on the bike was 39 minutes and change… but my official time was 44 minutes and change. I must have gotten a penalty without them telling me, or I didn’t hear. I passed hundreds of riders so I was weaving left to right the entire time. There was a combined total of about 1 mile of no-passing zones where the race lanes were super narrow and the roads not closed to traffic. Each time in a no-passing zone I had someone slow in front of me, holding me up. Upon entering these zones, the race officials were yelling at me to slow down. No-passing and slow down? I thought this was a race?

The T2 took almost exactly 2 minutes. Not horribly slow, but it could be better. Again, need to practice.

The 3 mile run was interesting. The course was supposed to be on the trails, but they were under water, so it was rerouted to pavement with only perhaps 1K of trail running. Organizers placed down shipping pallets for us to run over in the worst areas where the standing water was deepest. My running time was 20 minutes and change. Under 7 minutes a mile is not bad, but I know I can do better. My HR and breathing were still too high. I’ve set myself up for the hurt in the swim and the rest of the race unfolded accordingly.

The result is a mixed bag - just like my feelings about this race. The slow swim, the slow T1 and a bike penalty have made this an unremarkable result. The bike and run splits were pretty fast though! At least I've learned what I must concentrate on: open water swim and transition practice.

----

The 1/2 Ironman was interesting. The swim, bike, and first half of the run were FUN! I was in a hurtlocker the entire second half of the run course.

I had a banana and a gel before the swim. I got the exact same split as the last time I swam the 1.2 mile distance in training. First quarter of the swim was under 10 minutes, but then my pace started to drop off as I was getting tired. I need to work on swimming! Swim splits will improve with practice. I was tired when I got out of the water. Within a minute or two though I found my legs and was eager to jump on the bike.

I had another banana and a Hammer bar before the bike. Bike was great, as usual. I paced myself by heart rate, instead of my old roadie recklessness of leaving everything out on the road. It worked out great. I felt fresh the entire bike course, other than the interval between mile 40 and 45. For those 5 miles my heart and lungs were willing, but my legs refused to make power. I recovered though and got back up to speed around mile 45. This might have been mental. The course was undulating and also there were two steep 2 mile long climbs. I drank about 55oz of Perpetuem and Heed electrolyte, and ate one Hammer bar and two gels at 15, 28 and 47 miles or thereabout. Bike HR was right around my anaerobic threshold except in the climbs where I was very careful to keep it in check.

The T2 was quick. I dumped the bike and grabbed the running gear. Had one more banana and a gel.

The run started out great! I felt just a little tired but nothing terribly bad. Preventatively I took a salt tablet (Endurolytes) around mile 1 and drank electrolyte from the flask. I felt leg muscles cramping just a little around mile 5 so I took one more tablet. Cramping got better then worse around mile 7.5. I reached to grab another tablet. Horror! I had only one left and it exploded in my pocket. I managed to get about half of it and took that. Muscles didn’t really get any better. I was cramping pretty bad by mile 10. I managed to run almost the entire way as cramped as I was, but my pace suffered obviously. The injured muscle outside my left knee was the worst. Ugh! HR was very high throughout the entire run - much higher than I’m used to seeing, and that was fine apparently. It wasn’t my endurance that killed me today, but muscle cramping.

Legs are still hurting pretty good today. Coach had me take a break Sunday, and today I'm already back in the pool.

There they are! Both will prove invaluable experiences for further training and future events.

Plan going forward is this:

Swim swim swim!
Practice transition!
Further lower the running HR.
Preload the body with salt days in advance of a long course, and start taking salt tablets on the bike in preparation for the run.

There are about 6-7 races I'm considering between now and the end of the season. Wish me luck! I used to think that luck was not a factor in triathlons, except maybe in avoiding flat tires. Oh but luck is very much a factor! Despite my preemptive efforts on Saturday I could not prevent the leg muscles from cramping! A kick to the face in the swim, a bike crash caused by someone else, or a dubious drafting call are more examples of the same.

Next week I'll post some practical triathlon advice. Stay tuned.


Posted by Adrian at 11:30PM
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Race is getting closer - [read more...]
May 23rd 2010

Just a quick blog update today... I've been busy training. Of course! Training has ramped up to about 20 hours per week at this point in the season. A great little sprint tri is in my immediate future: Issaquah triathlon on June 5th. The race organizers are awesome - very serious about putting together a high quality event. They are closing the streets for us. Many Seattle triathletes use Issaquah as the shakedown race for the rest of their season. The field will most likely be loaded with talented athletes. It will be a blast!

I had a fun and productive photoshoot this weekend. Thanks yet again go out to the wonderfully talented Nick Hall and his assistant Elliot Marsing. All three of us spent over 4 hours in 55 degree waters of Lake Washington. The effort had paid off and we got some great shots. They've been posted in the gallery.

Now for some not-so-good news. I've had nagging foot pain for the past several weeks. Tight fitting shoes seem to be making the problem worse. Flip-flops became my best friend as of late. This is just a minor discomfort on the bike, but it could become a serious problem in long runs on paved surfaces. A 3 mile run in a sprint triathlon is one thing. A 13 mile run following a 56 mile bike ride is another matter entirely. And that's precisely what awaits me in about 3 weeks at Ironman 70.3 Boise on June 12th. I'm having this looked at by a physical therapist. Meanwhile I'm doing my best not to aggravate the problem: running on soft surfaces in lightly laced shoes, and using an x-trainer when the schedule calls for an easy run below the anaerobic threshold. Listening to our bodies and not powering through the pain is the best thing we can do in a situation like this. If it hurts: slow down; if it still hurts: STOP!

By the way... Giro d'Italia kicks butt this year!


Posted by Adrian at 4:00PM
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New position found - [read more...]
April 17th 2010

I'm still on the hunt for a proper fitting tri frame, having found out that Cervelo geometry does not suit me. Cervelos are awesome machines, but they are made for riders with shorter legs and longer torso. I'm exactly opposite. Triathlon/timetrail bikes that could possibly fit me are: Scott Plasma, Cannondale Slice, Trek Equinox TTX, and Specialized Transition. I have more research and more test rides ahead of me. Meanwhile I've changed the Soloist geometry. The seat is another 2cm forward, and shorty clip-on aerobars have been replaced with full size bullhorns, with the pads moved 2cm back.

The setup seems to fit me perfectly so far, after two flat rides and one climbing ride. I'll roll like this for the time being. Tomorrow is a bike/run brick with a long fast bike course. I'm eager to see how comfy the new position truly is.

Aerobars


Posted by Adrian at 11:10PM
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Bike fitting session - [read more...]
April 2nd 2010

This past Saturday the fine folks at Sammamish Valley Cycle had spent over 3 hours fitting a triathlon bike for me. The fit session was interesting and fun and very very educational!

SVC operates a computerized fit bike with a spin scan.  That looks like a stationary bike with adjustable frame geometry and a magnetic resistance unit on the back wheel, connected to a computer.

We started with an interview: what were my goals, what I'm looking for in a bike, what is my riding style, that type of thing. Next they took my measurements: height, inseam, reach. Next they made a preliminary setup on the fit bike based on my measurements, and mounted Speedplay pedals to match the cleats on my shoes.

The really fun part followed. I got on the fit bike and started pedaling. The setup was really close right from the start. Brodie was meticulous in his work. He started the fit from my feet to the saddle and knee position, followed by the reach and the height of the aerobar pads.

Fit bike


We had to raise the seatpost a little, lift the angle of the seat, and drop it again :) and then adjust the height and angle of the aerobars just a tiny bit. That was it! I've never felt more relaxed and comfortable on a bike. While Brodie was adjusting the fit, I concentrated on the spin scan graph on the screen in front of me. The graph looked a little squished at first - meaning I was not spinning as smoothly as I could have. With some concentration the graph turned into a perfect circle. I was able to hold it there. The spin scan alone was worth the 3 hour effort.

Spin scan


Brodie then used a tape measure and a laser level to transfer the fit bike measurements onto a real bike: a Cervelo P2. That's when we ran into unexpected trouble. Actually, I wasn't expecting it but Brodie probably did! I'm tall with a long inseam, so with the seatpost raised high there's a pretty severe drop between the seat and the aerobar pads. Even a P2 geometry, which is known for being less aggressive than a P3, had me way too low in the front. We tried a short steep rising stem. That dialed the reach perfectly, but still had me too low in the front by about 2cm.

I was planning on test riding the P2 anyway... maybe an aggressive setup could work for me? Alas I injured my neck swimming just the morning of the fit, so I could make no objective fit observations. I was already in pain. So the test ride was postponed.

Meanwhile, when I got home I used the fit measurements to check the geometry of my Cervelo Soloist road bike. I discovered to my great surprise that the Soloist could fit me perfectly in a triathlon geometry if seat were moved another 2cm forward, longer clip-on aerobars mounted, and the pads moved about 2cm back. I've already adjusted the seat and the pads and had a great indoor spin session on a trainer last night. The bike isn't safe to steer in this configuration however. I need longer aerobars which I hope to remedy as soon as I can get to a bike shop!

I'll ride the Soloist for the next few months until I figure out how to make a real triathlon frame fit my measurements.

Whew this was such an awesome experience. If any triathlon newbies are reading this, go and get fitted! The best bike is the one that fits.

Have fun training and stay safe!


Posted by Adrian at 12:01AM
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Spring is here - [read more...]
March 24th 2010

This is pretty remarkable... Seattle has been warmer than San Diego today! The calendar spring this year has coincided with the arrival of spring weather. I can't recall this ever happening before. It is true what they say about Seattle; we have two seasons: Summer and Rain. Rain usually does not give in to Summer until sometime around 4th of July.

Nice weather can mean only one thing to a triathlete from these parts: long outdoor bike rides!

Saturday's forecast, the official start of spring, looked promising the day before, so I prepared for an epic ride. Cervelo got a new set of Vittoria Diamante Pro II tires mounted on the training clinchers, brakes and shifters adjusted, stem de-squeakified, and the drive components degreased and oiled.

The training day couldn't have gone better! A quick and easy run in the morning while it was still chilly, followed by a swim session in a pool with the swim instructor, followed by the much anticipated ride in the afternoon!

The bike route took me east of the city along highway 202 towards North Bend - a small community made famous as the fictional town of Twin Peaks. Bellevue to Redmond was a warm-up routine due to the heavy traffic and many stops. Redmond to North Bend is the proper training course: undulating road with a shoulder; fast ride with few, if any, stops.

Twin Peaks


I started out maintaining very high speeds (tsk-tsk). I knew I couldn't hold that speed without pain and suffering, so after about 10 minutes I reduced power to get down to a more reasonable HR. Farmland and picturesque landscape zipped past, Tolt Road came and went, then Fall City, then the roundabout, and before long I found myself at the bottom of the climb near Snoqualmie Falls. I'm not the world's best climber (over 6 feet and 175lbs) so I hit the lap button on the computer to get my averages up to that point. ;) I was expecting the training stats to drop on the climb... well except for the HR. But no actually, I had a great climb and in a matter of minutes the Falls parking lot absolutely packed with cars and tourists loomed up ahead. A sunny day had brought out the crowds. The temperature was around 70F and my power output was high and steady so I found myself with two near-empty water bottles!

Snoqualmie Falls


The Falls was just an impromptu hydration station stop, before continuing on a few more miles to North Bend. Seeing Mt. Si and Tweede's ("cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee!") always brings a smile to my face. As tempting as a nice lunch would have been, I couldn't leave a tri bike outside a diner. So I had a Hammer bar and turned around for home. On the way back, while descending from the Falls at speeds close to 40mph, I had to take an entire lane in a few switchback turns. An SUV flipped on its 4-way blinkers and stayed behind me, almost like a team car. Whoever you were, I thank you!!!

The return ride on this course is usually boring and repetitive: "are we there yet?" Next time I'll try taking 203 toward Carnation and then Union or Novelty Hill Rd. I finally got back to Redmond, stopped the timer, and cycled like a tourist the rest of the way home to cool off.

The computer stats were okay, with room for improvement as the season unfolds. All in all, not bad for the very first long outdoor ride of the year.

I'm satisfied. :)


Posted by Adrian at 10:10PM
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Progress! - [read more...]
March 15th 2010

This past weekend was HARD! Saturday started off with a morning lap swim, followed by a 2 hour sustained effort on the bike, and a grand finale on the treadmill with a hard 30 minute run above the redline. Sunday was an easy 16.5 mile intervals run - good distance but relatively slow. Just a long bout on the feet.

It seems that my run pace has improved considerably since January! The numbers have surprised me and it seems my coach as well. A proper MAF test is coming up at the end of the month. I can't wait to see those numbers!

The largest gains, by far, are in the water. I've always been a pretty poor swimmer. That's changing, slooooowly. Final pieces of the aquatic puzzle are falling into place. I've been rotating my head on non-breathing strokes without even realizing it. Learning to look straight down at the bottom of the pool had made a difference in stroke timing and efficiency.

Summer is coming! Soon I'll take what I've learned in the pool over the winter and try it in open water.

Talking to a fellow triathlete today made me reconsider the upcoming racing season. I may drop a local sprint tri as the opening race of the season and go straight to Ironman 70.3 Boise. I'm still undecided... stay tuned.


Posted by Adrian at 11:10PM
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Run playlist - [read more...]
March 8th 2010

A self serving and pointless post? Isn't that what blogs are for? ;) I'm sure the Intarwebs don't care, but I'll post my running playlist anyway.

A race is a race. Stimuli are constantly assaulting our senses in the form of other athletes trying their best to drop us, or referees just itching to give us a drafting penalty, or spectators trying their best to run into us. Besides we are too busy pretending our muscles and lungs aren't hurting.

Training on the other hand can be boring. A 90 minute run is a challenge to stay motivated. Indoor running on a treadmill is twice as boring. Enter the iPod shuffle... the second greatest running gadget after a heart rate monitor:

Axel F, The Big L., Born in the U.S.A., Danger Zone, Delta Force Theme, Du Hast, Enter Sandman, Eye of the Tiger, Gonna Fly Now, Grabbag (Duke Nukem), Holding Out for a Hero, I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight, I Want Candy, It's the End of the World As We Know It, Joyride, The Look, Miami Vice Theme, Mighty Wings, Paradise City, Princes of the Universe, Rock Me Amadeus, Self Control, Spybreak (Short One), Summer of '69, Top Gun Anthem, The Unforgiven, We're Not Gonna Take It, Welcome to the Jungle, Woo Hoo.

Let the mocking commence.


Posted by Adrian at 10:50PM
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Training training... - [read more...]
February 27th 2010

Back to business as usual after a slow few days due to illness. Last week's training has been great!!! It's always satisfying completing all scheduled training sessions and putting in the required time at the max aerobic HR. Helping the matters, the Seattle weather in mid-February has been cooperative: sunny and high 50s. Past Saturday I had a fun outdoor (for a change) bike ride around the Lake Sammamish loop. The sun was out and the scenery beautiful. The ride reminded me how much the rear tire needs changing. It has worn out on the trainer.

Nice weather never lasts long here. This week has been true to the Seattle stereotype: dark, gray and wet. I'm spending more time on the treadmill and the bike trainer. Ugh it's so boring! Mixing it up with an X-trainer and swimming are keeping me motivated. Also, starting the run outdoors until it got too cold or wet, and then finishing on the treadmill has been useful in breaking up the monotony.

I've completely skipped all training yesterday and the day before due to family matters. Of course I feel guilty now, and apprehensive. The coach doesn't know yet. I wonder what she'll say?

Tomorrow morning's back to the lap lanes with a kickboard, pull buoy and paddles. I'm working on the stroke and the kick separately. Both need improving.


Posted by Adrian at 9:30PM
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Sick! - [read more...]
February 11th 2010

Sinus and ear infection most likely picked up at a pool have kicked my butt this week. This has happened before, but not quite this bad: sore throat, fever, chills, cough, the works. Swimming as well as outdoor running and cycling are on hold until this is over. This week is all about easy spinning on the trainer and light running on the treadmill with HR about 10-15% less than ideal. It's frustrating! I need swim training the most and the racing season is approaching with each passing day.

Besides swimming, a MAF test this past weekend had shown some solid run gains. I was planning on carrying the gains further, but that obviously won't happen this week.

Keep your fingers crossed for me! Let's hope I'll wake up feeling better sooner rather than later. Until then I'll continue to train indoors. Yes it can be boring. So when I'm cycling for two hours, and not going anywhere, I have these four guys keeping me company: BA, Faceman, Hannibal and Murdock.


Posted by Adrian at 10:30PM
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CrashCrash - [read more...]
February 2nd 2010

So I crashed at a photoshoot on Sunday. This was my first crash in over 2 years.

I was on a bike following a truck about 3 feet behind at 25-30mph. The photographer was hanging from the tailgate, his assistant was STANDING on the truck bed holding a strobe light boom, and we had a third person driving. We did at least 50 takes on a little hill (hill repeats yay!) and it all went perfectly. I didn’t contact the truck once.

But on one take I bravely (or foolishly?) continued past our safety zone flag markers. We got into a groove and matched speeds perfectly so I wanted to give the photographer a few extra shots. I made a 180 turn in a different spot further down the hill. Unbeknownst to me that spot was covered in slick mud. Tires just slid under me and off I went into the mud. The driver thought he hit me. :-D

My left elbow and hip are a little bruised. Nothing bleeding nothing broken. Lucky! The only casualties were the left brake lever and also the Speedplay cleat got messed up in ways I can’t even determine.

Did I mention I was in the aerobars the entire time so I couldn’t use the brakes to match the speed of the truck? Oh yeah and we were trespassing. Sort of.

On the upside, we got some terrific shots!!! A few are posted in the gallery.

I felt absolutely drained Sunday night. At least Monday was rest day.


Posted by Adrian at 9:55PM
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Less gear, more training - [read more...]
January 28th 2010

A triathlete isn't defined by our bike (although I'm sure you've heard otherwise). An expensive set of aero wheels won't qualify us for Kona. A fancy GPS enabled wristwatch won't make us faster runners. What makes better athletes? Training makes better athletes! The desire to go faster and longer, passion for the sport, motivation, perseverance, consistent effort day after day... these things make a triathlete.

The following text is a cautionary tale: do not expect your gear to effect any dramatic time split improvements. Our secret for success is in our own lungs and heart and blood. Gear selection at this level of the sport is mostly about comfort and not performance. Craig and Chrissie could use the 2-3 minutes saved by riding ZIPP 808s; the rest of us aren't able to hold the power output necessary to realize even those small gains.

Proper swim technique, and not gear, makes all the difference in the water. A high end wetsuit is not going to turn a mediocre swimmer into a good swimmer. So hit the lap lanes at your local pool at least three times a week for about an hour! Consider hiring a swim coach or at least partnering with a more experienced swimmer.

What helps most on the bike? Training again! Actually, allow me to segue for a moment in order to explain the second most important factor for improving bike splits. Full 80% of air resistance is generated by the rider and the rest is the bike in this order: wheels, fork, frame. What does that mean? It means that our position on the bike is far more important than the wheels or fork, and certainly more important than an expensive aero frame. If we evaluated our training objectively (most of us don't), we'd come to an inescapable conclusion that finding a best position on the bike is far more important than buying a new carbon aero frame or a set of deep dish wheels. Clip-on aero bars are the best possible upgrade we could make if riding a UCI legal road bike. Wind tunnel testing is not out of the realm of possibility. I know it sounds like science fiction to a mere amateur triathlete, but it isn't. Low speed wind tunnels can probably be found in your general area (Google!), and they typically charge less than the cost of a single carbon wheel - money well spent.

Do we even need to discuss the run?! Selection of running gear is entirely a matter of comfort and safety (avoiding injuries).

I can think of only one exception to the rule: a HRM is a good investment for all three disciplines.

To recap:

Swim: practice practice practice under the watchful eye of an experienced swimmer

Bike: frequent long rides, aero bars, position on the bike

Run: frequent long runs at the proper heart rate

Skip the unnecessary gear, save your pennies and hire a coach instead!


Posted by Adrian at 10:18PM
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Here we go 2010 - [read more...]
January 14th 2010

The coach just sent me the first block of the 2010 training schedule. I'll be training about 10-15 hours per week to start, and ramping it up to 25 hours per week by spring in preparation for the summer race season. First race of 2010 is about 4½ months away. That's a tentative schedule at this point. I'm trying to find an earlier sprint tri in the Seattle area, and then I'd replace the June race with a different event in the Olympic distance.

A power test on the bike a few days ago had revealed numbers that aren't too impressive. We'll track those numbers as my training progresses and hopefully see an improvement. Next up is a running MAF test on a 400m track. We need to find my max HR and anaerobic threshold. Bellevue High School have so graciously allowed access to their 400m track. Go Wolverines!!!

Speaking of HR tests... I just received a Garmin Forerunner 305: HR + stopwatch + GPS + bike speed and cadence. This device is everything you've heard and more. I'm in love with it.


Posted by Adrian at 10:39PM
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Transition tips - [read more...]
January 8th 2010

For the uninitiated, a transition takes place between the different disciplines of a triathlon: T1 between the swim and the bike, and T2 between the bike and the run. The time we spend in the transition counts towards the total finish time so a quick transition is essential. In other words: the clock is ticking from the moment we enter the water until we cross the finish line at the end of the run course.

Let's begin. PPPPPP = proper preparation prevents piss poor performance! A good transition begins with preparing your transition zone in the early morning hours before the race. The following is my personal technique. It works for me. It may or may not work for you, so practice the transition. With practice you may find faster and easier methods of your own!

Transition


Preparation:

Affix the race numbers on the bike and to your racing belt. Make sure the bike is mechanically sound and the tires are aired up. Check the spare tube/tubular and the CO2 inflator. Rack the bike as per race organizer's recommendations. Most organizers prefer to see the bikes racked on alternating sides: front wheel to back wheel to front wheel etc... So co-ordinate with your transition neighbors.

Fill the bike water bottles and drop them into bottle cages. Leave your cycling shoes clipped into the pedals with the shoe straps undone. Place the helmet on top of the handlebars with the chin strap open and hanging off the sides. Place the eyewear inside the helmet with the temples open. Place your running shoes and race belt and visor under the bike, but don't let them obstruct the access to the bike. A towel under the bike can be used for this, or spend some money on a (usually) bright neoprene mat. Prepare the fuel: power bars, gels, etc... Bike fuel is best stored on the bike itself: tape the fuel to the top tube or stuff it in a bike bag. The running fuel and hydration (if you need them because you don't want to use aid stations for some reason) can be stored near the running shoes.

Relax! Get body markings if you haven't already and wait for the swim start. DON'T START TOO HARD!

T1:

Unzip the wetsuit as soon as you get out of the water and get it off your arms and torso while running toward the transition area. Then take off the goggles and swimcap. Let the wetsuit hang around your waist until you get to transition. Upon reaching your bike, grab the inside neoprene (yes the inside!) and strip the wetsuit off your upper legs down to below the knees. You'll notice the wetsuit will begin to turn inside out. The next part is the hardest, right? Actually it doesn't need to be! Use your feet to get the wetsuit off! To get the wetsuit off one foot, just step with your other foot onto the loose leg of the wetsuit and pull the foot out of the suit! Yes, it's that simple. Repeat the same to get the other foot out. If you do this correctly the wetsuit will end up turned inside out. Leave the wetsuit on the ground. Kick it closer to your area if need be. Don't bother picking it up.

Take the glasses from inside the helmet and put them on. Then put the helmet on and close the chinstrap. Do this before you touch the bike. Unrack the bike. You are ready to push the bike toward bike exit. Go as fast as you can and be mindful of hundreds of other athletes trying to do the same! Mount the bike past the bike mount line, and stay as far to the right as possible to prevent someone from running into your bike's drive train. Try not to wipe someone else off their bike while getting your leg over the top tube! If there's a log jam of athletes at the mount line try pushing the bike a little further before jumping on. (Yes this is allowed.) Also, don't let the presence of other athletes mounting their bikes pressure you into rushing this. Be calm. Do it once. Do it correctly. Keep your feet on top of the shoes for now. Slide your feet into the shoes and work the shoe straps as the bike begins to roll and you leave the T1 gridlock behind.

Relax! Don't go too fast too early, and don't blow up on the very first climb.

T2:

Undo the shoe straps as you approach transition. Get your feet out of the cycling shoes and pedal the last bit with the feet on top of the shoes. Get off the bike just before the dismount line. Leave the shoes clipped in. Push the bike as fast as you can back to your transition area. Rack the bike. Take the helmet off and leave it wherever it makes most sense. I leave it on top of the handlebars again. There will be other equipment strewn about by now. Put on the running shoes and the visor/cap and the race belt. Use the same eyewear you've used on the bike. Grab the fuel and hydration, if any, and run out of transition toward run exit.

At that point there's just a run standing in the way of the finish line! First 10-15 minutes of the run can be particularly hard. DO NOT STOP! Keep powering through the first couple of miles of the run and eventually you'll find your running legs and settle into a comfortable pace.

That's it! Good luck!


Posted by Adrian at 7:00PM
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Swimming - [read more...]
December 31st 2009

The swim. The first of three disciplines in a triathlon. An Ironman opens with a 2.4 mile swim. We have a saying: "you can't win an Ironman in the water, but you could lose it." There are many more miles of racing after we get out of the water. One could expend a lot of energy in the swim and come out of the water up to 5 minutes ahead of the competition... only to hit the wall on the run and lose 20 minutes. A successful triathlete must learn how to be an efficient swimmer, and how to balance the three disciplines.

Let's get back to losing the Ironman in the water! I'm competitive on the bike and getting there on the run. But the odds of placing well in a race and qualifying for the World's without improving my swimming abilities are slim at best. To that end, I've been spending a lot of time in the pools recently. (What's that I hear? Open water? The water temperature of the ocean and the local lakes is 45 degrees Fahrenheit.) The progress has been incremental and slow. When I hired a coach and committed to training in the pool three times a week, I expected a steep learning  curve ending in a breakthrough: ah-ha I can now swim 2.4 miles in 60 minutes and not break a sweat!

No, that didn't happen. I don't think it will ever happen quite like that. Competitive swimming is hard to pick up. The improvements are subtle and slow to come. However, obtaining that bit of wisdom has been crucial to my training. I've slowly become more aware of my head position and body roll, more aware of my kicks - when the kicks are efficient and when they aren't, and more aware of my stroke technique. Every training session brings new and exciting discoveries, and this process is likely to continue for years. I've had a couple of laps where everything clicked together and I felt like I was gliding effortlessly on the surface of the water and had bursts of very fast and efficient swimming. Alas, I'm not able to hold onto those moments...yet. I end up falling back to poor technique and thus waste precious energy.

I will become consistently efficient in the water... eventually. It just takes a lot of practice!

Next week: transition tips! :)


Posted by Adrian at 9:27PM
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Indoor cycling - [read more...]
December 22st 2009

Riding outdoors is such an exhilarating experience! The wind in your hair, warm sun and blue sky, beautiful scenery many miles from home, chance encounters with other cyclists, and my favorite: descending at breakneck speeds! The downside of course is being at the mercy of bad weather.

Riding a stationary bike at the gym may provide adequate exercise for fitness purposes, but it doesn’t offer serious cycling or triathlon training. The bike fit isn’t the same, there are usually no clipless pedals, and the resistance feel just isn’t the same.

Enter a bike trainer. The trainers allow us to train year-round on the same bike we normally ride, with the same familiar fit.

There are three types of trainers differentiated by the methods used to simulate road resistance. Magnetic trainers employ a series of magnets in order to provide resistance; much in a way an electric motor resists attempts to spin its shaft. Wind trainers have a fan providing resistance against the air itself. The magnetic trainers aren’t very smooth, the wind trainers are loud and do not provide enough resistance, and neither increases the resistance level when the rider pedals harder. The cost is pretty much the only upside these two types of trainers have. Both are relatively inexpensive.

The third type is a fluid trainer. The fluid trainers employ a sealed chamber filled with viscous fluid, coupled to a flywheel for realistic coast downs. The fluid trainers offer smooth even resistance similar to the real road conditions. Further, the fluid warms up when the trainer is in use, which decreases the viscosity and increases the resistance level accordingly.

The trainer I chose after weeks of research (yeah I’m one of those!) is Kurt Kinetic Road Machine.

Kurt Kinetic


It was packaged pretty well in a sturdy box with styrofoam inserts. The assembly was very easy: extend the legs, attach the resistance unit with a single long bolt, attach the resistance adjustment L-bolt spring and knob, and finally align the axle cones so the bike is centered on the roller wheel. That was it and I was pedaling within 30 minutes of opening the box! Kurt’s comes with an extra rear skewer for those of us riding nice wheels with expensive skewers. I opted to use the skewer provided rather than beat up the Mavic one.

Before moving onto my first training session with Kurt’s Kinetic, I’d like to point out two places where this trainer could be improved. The black rectangular piece holding the resistance chamber and the flywheel to the stand is made of plastic. While I have no doubt that the construction is good enough, it would have been better if that piece was also made of metal like the rest of the trainer. And also, the welds holding the leg brackets seem to be point-welds. I’d rather like to see a nice solid weld bead all the way down the length of the brackets. Despite this, the trainer does appear to be solid and safe.

The first training session on Kurt’s Kinetic was a dream! I set up a box fan in front of me to simulate wind, tuned the TV to Ironman Kona 2009 to stave off boredom, and held 22-23mph at 85 cadence for 90 minutes. The resistance was incredibly smooth and very much resembled a real road. The trainer did not rock or sway much. The often-discussed heating of the fluid resistance unit was not an issue. Cooling fins did their job. The resistance unit was pretty warm to the touch after 90 minutes, but I was able to comfortably grab hold of it for ~5 seconds so there could be no danger of an accidental burn injury.

Other than the bike staying put in my garage, there were just two differences between Kurt’s Kinetic trainer and the real thing. The coast downs were quicker than they would have been on the road: the rear wheel stopped spinning within 10 or 15 seconds of easing on the pedals. And also, I was beginning to miss the subtle bumps and jolts of a real road! One could compare the trainer with riding on an incredibly smooth surface such as a nice velodrome.

That was it for me. I was tired and my tri kit was soaking wet, not unlike returning home from an outdoor ride. I had my glass of Hammer Recoverite after the 90 minute training session, removed the bike from the trainer, and stored it away for another session tonight!

Kurt’s Kinetic Road Machine is a solid trainer and offers a very realistic riding experience. I'd definitely recommend it.


Posted by Adrian at 7:55PM
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Cold spell is over - [read more...]
December 14th 2009

Quick blog update... the cold spell is finally over! The rest of the week will be relatively warm and rainy. I've ran outside a few times these past few days, and had to cut it short after just 3 or 4 miles. It was COLD, even with a base layer and a nice thick long sleeve jersey! :O

The pools near me are heated well so at least I was able to swim. I'm off work all week so I'm trying to swim every day when the pools are relatively unoccupied.

As for bike training, a Kurt Kinetic trainer is on the way. I'm actually looking forward to riding indoors until spring. Now the wait for a brown delivery truck begins. Trainer should be here next Monday. I'll post a review and pictures next week.


Posted by Adrian at 9:35PM
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Staying motivated - [read more...]
December 7th 2009

Motivation is something athletes are intimately familiar with. A motivated athlete is a better performing athlete. Poor motivation on the other hand can negatively affect performance and effectively undo weeks or even months of training.

I'm no expert on the subject, so I will only write about my own experiences. Poor motivation during training is almost always caused by one of three triggers. All three are, naturally, mostly out of my control: stress or long hours at my desk job, poor health or injury, and finally Seattle's unpredictable weather.

I've developed some techniques in dealing with poor motivation.

The work related issues are the easiest to handle, and no I'm not talking about pulling off a Peter Gibbons. Whenever I feel overworked, and risk leaving the office at the end of the day completely disinterested in any effort beyond lifting a cup of coffee or turning pages of a good book, instead I take a break from work and go for a run. The daytime runs help me stay on track, even if they are just 3 or 4 miles long.

That leaves us with health and weather, which brings me to the crux of today's post.

An old knee injury has been telegraphing me lately. I'm not sure why here and why now. I've been running on soft surfaces only, and I haven't been cycling for several weeks. As if that weren't enough of a concern, I think the new swimming pool has been making me sick. On two separate occasions I've developed a sore throat and a sinus infection 36-48 hours after swimming in that pool. Coincidence? I'll give the little local pool one more shot and we'll see what develops. If it happens again, I'll switch back to the King County Aquatic Center even though that facility is 30 miles away.

Running with a problematic knee or swimming with a sinus infection play a continuous record of doubt in my mind: "what if I injure the knee further? what if I get a nose bleed? what if this is a serious problem? I should cut the training short!" And that's exactly what I've been doing lately!

The weather isn't helping the issue at all. The temperatures in Seattle have been hovering between the lows of 20F and the highs of 31F, and the pavement is covered with ice and frost (no snow). Riding outside is out of the question at the moment. Riding indoors on a trainer would be one option, if I had a trainer! So I'll fix that. I intend to get the Kurt Kinetic before the end of the month.

Forecast


I feel like I should be out there right now regardless, but instead I'm at a coffee house typing on a laptop. Next four months are going to challenge my motivation. (One way ticket to Hawaii, please!)

Here's the plan for surviving the winter: I'll continue my short runs on soft surfaces, and I'll get an indoor cycle trainer. I'll spend the next four months listening to my body and training lightly, while working with an orthopedist on my knee pain, and also fine tuning my nutrition, so I'm ready for more rigorous training in the spring.

See what I did there by turning a negative into a positive? That's what we must do. Motivation is never black and white, but rather an infinite number of gray shades. I want my shade to remain a light gray color until spring. I know it will turn snow-white as soon as the Sun comes out and as soon as my body stops complaining.

Good luck and good training. I'll see you at Clearwater next November. :)


Posted by Adrian at 9:50PM
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First post - [read more...]
December 5th 2009

Here we are... after a long period of contemplation and many delays I've finally managed to put up a training calendar/blog thing. I have very selfish reasons for doing this. :) Sharing my training events with the rest of the World and blogging about my attempts to break into the Ironman races will keep me on track and will help me stay focused and motivated. I hope.

I've done a few local sprint and Olympic distance triathlons in 2009 season. The year was supposed to culminate with a top 10 age group finish at the Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens. Not only have I failed that goal, but I didn't even start the race. A combination of poor motivation and poor health have prevented me from taking place in the 70.3 event. My hopes are high for the 2010 season! I could write volumes about what happened in 2009. Instead, I'm going to quote an e-mail I sent on the day of the race to my friend and now-coach Angela Naeth. The following will, I think, shed light on my frame of mind that day better than anything I could write today:

Lake Stevens


I'm back at home on a real computer. I sent my last brief message from an iPhone. Becky Lavelle won the women's race. Michellie Jones faded and finished third behind Heather Wurtele. Jones and Lavelle got out of T2 together and were running side by side most of the run course. Joe Gambles absolutely demolished the course and won the men's race.

I don't know where or how to begin. My head is swimming with all sorts of emotions, most of them bad ones.

I drove to Lake Stevens this morning around 9 AM. (Middle finger goes to a dark blue Honda YOU CRACKED MY WINDSHIELD!!!!!!) I couldn't even get out of bed early enough to spectate, let alone race today. More about that later.

The leaders were already on the run course by the time I got there. I picked a great spot near Mike Reilly and his loudspeaker, right in the middle between the two run loops. Like an idiot I put on my USAT hat and Lake Stevens shirt this morning. Looking like a racer I felt like everyone in the crowd knew that I was the guy who dropped out. I felt like everyone was staring at me knowingly and gloating. I tried to dismiss the crazy thoughts and concentrate on the runners. And then Mike Reilly made a comment something about "our athletes who aren't racing today". I've met Mike at the orientation so he probably recognized me. Argh I felt like shoving the microphone down his throat... or running away back to my Jeep (CRACKED WINDSHIELD!!!!). I couldn't decide which, so I stood there in the crowd, big athletic guy so obviously jumping out amongst the spectators, my head swimming, and watched the race for perhaps 30 minutes.

It really was the absolute low point of my year. I've promised myself, right then as I was standing there instead of running the course, that I will never let this happen again. I'm going to repair whatever the hell is wrong with me, and double my training efforts from now on.

I drove back home, nearly causing an accident because I wasn't paying attention, and went to "my" (I'm using air quotes here) Starbucks to collect my thoughts. A familiar surroundings and a cup of coffee and an Ayn Rand novel had rebooted my thoughts somewhat. From there I went to the beach to think further and come up with some sort of a plan for the future. Fixing my funny triathlon tan lines was just a fringe benefit.

I told you about my knee. This is a well known and well understood issue. I can work it out. But I also have a GI tract issue that has been far more devastating. A dentist prescribed some antibiotics last year; a routine procedure which didn't even make me think twice about taking the pills. Unfortunately the antibiotic had permanently disrupted the bacterial flora of my small intestine. My body had lost the ability to absorb nutrients. Worse still, the bad bacteria apparently feasts on wheat and refined sugar and multiplies to a point where my own immune system attacks the intestines and causes inflammation (auto-immune). At least that's the leading theory at this point. I've been surviving on a strict gluten-free diet for the past 2 or 3 months. I thought I could manage the symptoms through race day, but it didn't work out that way. My symptoms have worsened lately and the only treatment that seems to work is (wait for it) eating as little as possible. How can I train when I'm eating a 1000 calories a day? Instead of getting a full night's sleep before the race, I spent most of the last night wide awake with what felt like a CO2 canister had gone off in my GI tract and just got stuck in there. I didn't get out of bed until 9 AM. (Not that I would have been able to race 70 miles eating what I eat.)

I need to find a brilliant doctor able to do something about this. It is a simple problem, but no one seems to have a solution for me other than a special diet. This problem would probably benefit the overweight 50% of the population, nasty side effects and symptoms aside. But to an endurance athlete it is absolutely crushing.

I'm calling a different specialist tomorrow... or make that today. It is after midnight and I'm tired.

Thanks Angela,

Adrian

Posted by Adrian at 9:41PM
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