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Archive for the ‘triathlon’ Category

I Swam

First time this season. I’m woefully behind in my swim prep for the June 1 triathlon. The good news is I lap swimswam 500 yards this morning and it felt great to be in the pool. Now that the temps are warming up and Spring is really here, getting out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and driving to the pool for a 6 a.m. swim doesn’t seem so bad.

Although, I had to share a lane with another guy whose swim stroke seemed quite “wide.” Similar to Larry Craig’s wide stance, this guy had a wide stroke and kept bumping me when we passed each other in the lane.

One other problem. I wear Zoomers during part of my swim regimen and the fin cuts across the joint on both of my big toes. After 30 minutes in the water, the Zoomers had rubbed the skin of the big toe joint leaving both toes red and raw right on top. Ouch! I need to fix that.

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In training for a triathlon, there are a few things you just gotta do. Swim, bike, run. These are the legs and the training has to support event day. So I swim, bike and run.

LakeHOf the three legs, running sucks the most. I’m 6’2″ and I still carry with me about 15 extra pounds of winter weight. So running wreaks havoc on my system. But, it’s getting easier.

Today, for example, on a beautiful, crisp winter morning, I circled Lakes Harriet and Calhoun near downtown Minneapolis. Six and a half miles in just over an hour. Not a time to brag about, but that is the longest distance I’ve traveled yet this year on these legs.

Running may not be my forte, but on a great training morning who am I to complain?

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Even novice triathletes know about the phenomena of brick training. These are back-to-back activities (usually cycling followed by running) that often wreak havoc on the legs.

What does “Brick” stand for? I’ve had this question posed to me on several occasions…and I’m a novice. Truth be told, it doesn’t stand for anything in particular. Some think its origin come from “B”ike and “R”un. Others say the term “brick” only accurately reflects what your legs feel like when you jump off the bike and start running. Still others say the term comes from New Zealand triathlete Mike Brick who perhaps coined the term when he started doing the regimen.

No matter.

What does count is that triathletes test themselves on their ability to move from one aspect of the event to the next – preferably before they’re actually standing in the water waiting for the horn.

When I did my first triathlon in 2007, I’d only completed one “brick” workout. A light, easy bike ride followed by a 2.5 mile run. It was a sweltering hot, humid afternoon. Even so, I didn’t really notice my legs churning any differently. In the actual event, however, after swimming and riding, the onset of the run nearly crushed my hopes of finishing. It was all I could do to plant my feet in any form of running stride for the first half of the run. Finally, just as I neared the half-way mark, my quads seemed to loosen and my stride lengthened to something resembling normal. The last quarter mile seemed like a breeze compared to the first three miles.

So train yourself, my friends. Add brick workouts into your training plan and work yourself up to a point where you’re comfortable getting off the bike and entering your stride with relative speed and ease. The payoff will be faster transitions and fewer head games that you have to compensate for as you complete your race.

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Training Update

After working diligently through January (missing only a handful of days without a workout of some kind), I tested my efforts this morning.

First, to set the stage, the roads and trails in Minneapolis are still ice and snow covered – especially the trails.  Last weekend we enjoyed 40 degree days, followed by sub zero temperatures Monday through Thursday morning. That meant water standing on Sunday turned to sheet ice on Monday morning and it remains there today.

The temp this morning was already 27 degrees when I got up at 7:30 – ideal for a run outside. In proper running attire I left at 9 a.m. did a light couple blocks of warm up trotting and then hit the start button on the watch timer. Fifty-two minutes 51 seconds later I was back in my driveway having put 5.5 miles behind me.

I realize many runners would laugh at a 9:35 pace, but hey, I’m no runner. By June 1, however, I’m thinking I can squeeze out a 8:45 5k pace, which would be blazing for me, and surpass last year’s run segment in the tri I participated in by a full 45 seconds per mile.  That’s a gain of more than a minute and a half in the run portion of the race. Coupled with a faster swim and better transitions and I’m well on my way to cutting 10 minutes from my finish time of 1:33:38.

Time for eggs and a waffle!

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Training

I completed my first indoor BRICK this evening, spinning for 40 minutes (15.5 miles) and then running two miles in 20 minutes. I’ve got a long way to go on accelerating my running pace, but hey, it’s all progress at this early base-building stage. Swimming will start in another 30 days. Until then it’s just me, the bike, running shoes and weights for strength training.

On Monday I also registered as a member of the Minnesota Triathlon Club for 2008. While I may only do one tri in the calendar year, I think the support, suggestions and group training events will benefit my efforts in many ways.

Five months until the Buffalo Tri. At this point, I’m feeling right on plan.

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Seven days into 2008 and, proudly, I can say each day has included exercise. Just 14 more days to go and I’ll have my habit back in place. How many times have I gone through this cyclical thing?

Exercise and fitness become more and more important to our health as adults age. Conversely, it becomes easier and easier to blow off a workout – skip a day – due to hectic schedules, a weary body and episodes of “The Office,” which interrupt the best-laid plans.

On my road to training for and participating in the 2008 Buffalo Triathlon, for a sBuffTriLogoecond year in a row, I knew going into my conditioning program that in order to improve performance, I need to take certain steps. Allowing myself to miss a run, ride or weight room workout (swimming doesn’t kick in until March 1)  simply won’t help me attain my goals.

Local Minneapolis fitness guru, Chris Freytag, offers three simple tips designed to help anyone stay on track as they work to achieve their fitness goals:

1. Commitment: The first step is often the hardest. Freytag says you can talk about changing your life repeatedly but until you cross that line deep inside you, you won’t walk the talk. She suggests writing and signing an exercise contract with specific goals spelled out that will get you to the point you want to be.  Ask friends or family members to keep you honest. Your commitment to health and fitness is about honoring a promise to yourself as seriously as the promises you make to others.

2. Convenience: The more convenient the exercise you choose, the more often you’ll do it, says Freytag. The best form of exercise is whatever you do—as long as you like it and it fits into your lifestyle.  If getting up at 5 a.m. and hitting a fitness center doesn’t suit you, don’t make that your plan to get train. For me, my road back on a trainer, coupled with a home weight bench and dumbbells gets me through the winter. If I need to switch things up, I’ll run or ride at my company’s fitness center after work or at lunch.

3. Consistency: As noted in my opening graph, consistency results in habit-forming activity. Freytag says that gradual changes add up to big results in the end.  It’s not what you do today…it’s what you do tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.  Consistency at a moderate pace will more likely create a habit.

And I’ll add a fourth tip of my own:

4. Birds of a Feather (i.e., surround yourself with people who motivate you):  Friends make the difference when it comes to moral support. It’s great to have good friends you can count on to be at the bar right after work. But while you’re training, lifting 16 ounce brewskis doesn’t count. Embed yourself with like-minded people. Runners, cyclists – people with goals you relate to and can mirror.

The challenge in any life goal isn’t about simply showing up. It’s about making the effort, taking yourself to the next level of preparation and surprising even yourself with the results.

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In the past week I’ve gotten new furniture.

Living RoomThe old, cheap black leather stuff just never felt right – either when sitting on it or trying to nap. And there certainly wasn’t room to partner up on the sofa side by side with someone special and watch a movie comfortably. That meant the floor was more comfortable and spacious than the furniture – which in my book doesn’t add up.

So after a few agonizing hours spent trapsing from one furniture store to another, examining craigslist, and contemplating the finer points of the reasons to spend a little more on quality goods, I found two pieces that went together and will serve my living room well for years to come – not to mention the guest who ends up sharing movie night curled up with me.

Big Chair

The new chair and sofa afford lots of roomy seating space and gives my living room an entirely new and updated look. I particularly like the shade of olive green I chose for the dominate wall in the space.

Here I am sitting in the new dark red leather chair. This is one that you really sink into. It’s amazing and I can’t wait to spend a night reading something really good in it.

I’ve also meant to include this pic on the blog for sometime. From back on June 3 when I ran a triathlon. I was Number 991. So for posterity, here’s the proof.

991

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Before Lance Armstrong ever won his second Tour de France, I picked up road biking as a hobby. Yeah, I got a little bolder with my biking habits when the Lance phenomena took off in the early 2000s. But I was still ahead of the band wagon joiners.

The year the Live Strong craze took off, I ordered 20 bracelets from the LA Foundation and took them with me to Ragbrai. Ragbrai, for those of you not from Iowa, is an annual ride lasting seven days across the state, west to east, in July. As soon as I showed up for the ride sporting my yellow bracelet, riders circled around asking me where I got it. I promptly handed 15 bracelets to those asking about it and felt good about my donation to cancer research.

So cycling has been part of my life for a while. I’m not a racer and I’m not obsessive about riding. I enjoy riding. It’s not just exercise, it’s mental rehab and I love that feeling when I click my shoes into my peddles and ride out into the country.

This past year I helped plan and coordinate a pro bike race called the Great River Energy Bike Festival and Nature Valley Grand Prix. On the first night of the race (it’s a five-day stage ordeal), I was standing alongside the course in downtown St. Paul feeling the vortex of wind created by 140 pro riders flying by as they rode for an hour straight. Disbelief and admiration. These guys ranging from 18 to 40-plus years old were hammering that course at 30 miles an hour and faster. Perhaps, back when I was younger, I’d have had a chance to hang with em for a lap, but I doubt it.

And now the Tour de France is underway. Scandals aside, you gotta’ marvel at these athletes who train all year for a three-week ride up and down mountains.

Every now and then the biking gods will smile on me and I’ll have a really great ride. I’ll go faster, feel stronger, pass a few cyclists along the way and life is even better than normal.

The best part about biking? It’s just like riding a bike and once you know how, you never forget

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My First Tri

It’s in the books.

On Sunday, June 3, I took to the water, the saddle and the running shoes, tri1.jpgcompleting my first-ever sprint distance triathlon. What a sense of accomplishment! What a realization that putting in the time and effort to prepare for something can pay off in a multitude of ways. Most importantly, I finished the race with a smile. Plus I was still standing in an upright position and pleased with my overall time of one hour and 32 minutes.  The sprint distance race was won by a competitor who finished in 58 minutes, so I wasn’t really THAT far behind!

For the triathletes reading this, my times were as follows:

Swim (1/4 mile): 10:57

T1: 4:59

Bike (13 miles): 45:55

T2: 2:49

Run (3.2 miles): 28:21

I know I could shave a few minutes in my transition times alone, still, I feel great about my overall and am happy to say that I’ve completed my first triathlon event (yes, there will be more to come).

The anxiety leading up to the swim was the worst part of the day. I was in the second to last wave of participants. But once the horn blew and the swim was underway, there was never a point during the race that I felt I couldn’t finish. I was most “at home” on the bike and blazed into town as the route descended back to the transition area. What an aweseome feeling to cruise into the finish of the bike portion of the race going 26 mph and passing others along the way.

The first half of the run was ugly with a capital U, proving that this man’s body simply isn’t made for running. But I gutted out the first 1.5 miles and by the time I made the u-turn and headed back for the finish, my legs had loosened and I was able to get into a decent, comfortable stride. Again, I actually had enough gas in me near the end to pass several participants just prior to the finish line.

Mission accomplished!  And I finished just as clouds gathered and a light sprinkle of rain began – about 15 minutes ahead of the downpour that fell on the rest of the group still racing.  It was a great event, well 0rganized and managed. The best part, though, was having my son there, as well as his mom, cheering me on and capturing the day with a few photos.  He even suggested that he may want to participate with me next year – how cool would that be? A little Dad/son partnership!

Thanks everyone for your support and encouragement during the training phase. I’ve come a long way since March 1.  Special thanks to Dan Cohen at SCS Multisports for his suggestions and professional guidance. While I was doing my sprint, Dan was busy on June 3 placing 33 in his division at the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco.  Way to go Dan! And special thanks, too, to Marybeth, Kristen and other friends, too, who kept me honest while training (kind of).

What’s next?

While this site may be called Daily Tri – I’ll obviously be posting more on how we “try” different things throughout life. It’s not just about triathlons, but more about living life to its fullest and examining the things that make us happy and fulfilled as human beings. I may have completed my first triathlon on Sunday, but there will be other adventures that I’ll keeping sharing right here.  So keep coming back.

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Three days until Triathlon. You can learn all you want to know about the Buffalo (Minnesota) Triathlon here: http://tribuff.com  Don’t you just love the play on URLs? The answer is “no,” registered triathletes won’t be competing in the buff. Buffalo is a small town of 10,000 inhabitants just west of Minneapolis. On Sunday, June 3, the population will grow by 10% or so as 1,000 of us converge to jump in the like, then peddle a bike, and finally run through the streets in order to exclaim, “I did it!” followed by eating several Johnsonville brats or a big double cheeseburger as their “reward.”

 

This is my taper week, so I’ve only done one evening of weights, one short ride and run (tonight) leading up to Sunday. Last night I picked up the wet suit I rented and practiced putting it on and taking it off (yes, there’s a trick to getting out of it).  And the big question remains unanswered:  Does this wet suit make my butt look fat?  Of course the main thing is how well it fits and whether or not I’ll be able to swim better in it. I intend to practice in an actual lake prior to Sunday. Lately, the wind around here has been blowing persistently, making workouts outside mostly unbearable. I’m such a fair-weather wannabe triathlete. I mostly just want to get this triathlon thing behind me so I can enjoy the rest of summer!

 

Speaking of enjoyment, I’ve been reading “The Caine Mutiny” for the first time, and noticing how Wouk weaves in the obvious leadership styles of the Caine’s captains – and how comparable they are to those in leadership of say, Fortune 500 companies. Styles differ dramatically, and as we all come to learn from working for various managers in that the “by the book,” and “my way,” styles can be equally effective. It all depends on the motivations of the person leading the group.  Willie Keith may not have liked Captain DeVries, but I feel he’s really going to have a full appreciation of him by the time Queeg gets mutinied.

 

My favorite “style” of manager is the one who knows how to collaborate and seeks collaboration with the entire team. They direct and motivate you to do your own personal best without ever giving an order or ultimatum. These leaders, of course, typically have one thing in common: They have a very solid team of players whom they’ve been blessed with leading!  

 

I’m fortunate to be on a great team!

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