The Journey

The journey is more important than the destination.

Several years ago a friend of mine asked me if I would do the Fairlee Triathlon in Vermont. After training for three months, feeling like I was going to drown in the swim, feeling nauseus on the run, I crossed the finished line and was hooked.This led to my triathlon journey.

Please consider supporting my latest effort to raise money for Bretton Woods Adaptive through the Janus Charity Challenge at Ironman Lake Placid this July. Check out the Links I Like section of the blog or explore the BWA Fundraiser links.

Monday, April 28, 2008

On a training roll

I really feel like I'm in the depths of spring training. I've been regularly getting 5-6 hours of training in on the weekend, I'm exhausted on Sunday night, and Mondays are tougher to get up. I finished up the week with just under 11 hours of training.

After the long run I wrote about on Friday, I had a 2 hour 45 minute ride scheduled for Saturday. I was able to connect up with a buddy for that ride and we left my house around 7am. At the time the temp was around 40 degrees and I was dressed for a warm ride, booties, hat, double gloves, etc.

After about two hours the temp was in the low to mid 50's and I was way overdressed.

We ended up doing a little over 54 miles in about 3 hours with some challenging rollers and hills along the way. I was supposed to also swim on Saturday but the family schedule wouldn't allow it with lacrosse practice for my son, a fundraiser at my wife and son's school and delivering my son to a sleepover.

Sunday morning was a drag. I didn't get to bed until after midnight on Saturday and there was a GSTC training scheduled for 9am. I almost didn't go. Apparently the rest of the club was thinking the same thing and decided not to go. There was only seven of us and I was dragging for most of the morning.

We started out with a 2700 yard swim. I did start to feel a little better after getting a few hundred laps, but then I started to really drag for the balance of the swim. We transitioned out to the track at UNH. By this point it had started to rain and it was feeling pretty raw out. Once we finished a warm up run through college woods I was feeling comfortable, until Suzan gave me my track workout for the day.

It consisted of 2-400's, 4-800's, and 8-200's all at a 7 minute per mile pace with a 200 meter jog between each rep. While I was able to keep the correct pace through the first 800, after that it started to deteriorate rapidly.
By the end I was about ready to collapse but there is no rest for the weary. After a quick recovery meal when I got home I was off to pick up my son from his sleepover, grocery shopping, making dinner, etc, etc, etc.
Work will seem like a break after this past weekend!
(As you'll see I'm trying to add more pix to enrich the content, let me know what you think!)

Friday, April 25, 2008

This week's long(er than expected) run

One might ask, when you have a limited amount of time to workout before work, why you wouldn't plan out your route when you go on a run. I should have asked myself this question today.

Today was my long run and the plan was for 90 minutes which would be around 10 miles. Originally I thought I would just go out 45 minutes and then turn around and come 45 minutes back. But, when I got out 45 minutes I thought I could take a little more scenic route to get back and at the time I didn't think it was any longer than what I had just run. I was wrong.

When I hit 90 minutes I was still about 2 miles away from my house . I've been following my coach's plan which has incremental increases in my long run time/distance. My long run last week was 80 minutes. This is my longest run of the year so far and even though I'm starting to feel worn out, I had told my wife that I would be 90 minutes and I didn't want her to worry. So, I think the last two miles were about the fastest.

I ended up doing 11.5 miles in a little under 103 minutes, eating and showering quickly before heading out the door to work. Thankfully it is a relatively slow day today so I can hopefully recover a little bit.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Close call on the bike

With temps in the 70' I was able to get a longish ride in with Brett from GSTC. We got about 30 miles in and it was still light out when we got back! Overall it was a decent pace with periods of chatting and others at a tempo pace.

Coming back towards Durham on Durham Point Road, the ride was beautiful along Great Bay. There was hardly any traffic and the roads are smooth for the most part.

We hadn't seen any cars for probably ten minutes and Brett and I were riding side by side. There was a Saab coming our direction which is where my focus was when a deer came bolting out if front of us from our side of the road. It scooted also in front of the Saab and my eyes were following it into the woods when I heard Brett's voice from behind me. When I turned my focus back to the road there was a 2nd deer following into the road. I slammed on my brakes but was able to stay upright. The deer just about lost its back leg footing on the road surface but eventually regained control and slipped into the woods.


Up to that point and after that point the ride was pretty uneventful. I fortunately have not had too many close calls like that. But when they happen, it certain makes you stop and take pause.

And it wasn't enough to keep me off the bike, temps are forecast for the 70's again!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Strong start to the week.

I felt strong today during my workouts. This week has double workouts every day and is the last full week before a recovery week.

This morning was a 5 mile run. I felt good through the run but when I got to work I started to drag and felt like that through most of the day. I ate well throughout the day - apple, banana, salad, brown rice, trail mix and two Luna bars. As the day went on my energy level picked up and by the time I got to my 2nd work out of the day, Masters swim, I was feeling good.

Masters practice was great. I did 3,100 yards and completed the full workout which is not the norm. Typically, I can't fit the workout into one hour which can get frustrating. While I was swimming tonight everything was clicking. I was taking nice long smooth strokes and really felt like I was gliding along on top of the water.

It is supposed to be in the high 70's tomorrow! Thankfully I have a bike and run on the schedule so I'll be riding with some buds from GSTC.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What a weekend!

I'm exhausted...

But I wanted to make sure I got an update on the weekend. It was probably the toughest but best weekends of the year so far.

Friday started out on Friday night after work when I got about 7 miles in on a run. I was on a field trip all day Thursday with my son and stayed up too late on Thursday night. I just couldn't get out of bed early enough to get out and still get to work on time. I'm glad I waited because I think I figured out some distinctions of my nutrition strategy.

Normally when I train in the afternoon I make sure I eat my last meal/snack around 3 to give my system three hours to fully digest before starting the workout. However, if you've read any of this blog you know that I usually have gastrointestinal problems when training in the afternoon. This time I had my last meal around 12:30 (I even resisted temptation when there were chocolate chip cookies floating around the office around 3!) and when I left for my run around 6, I felt really good and was able to maintain a solid pace for the hour run.

Saturday morning I was up early to bring my son to Lacrosse for 7 am. After that I was able to get to the pool by about 10 for a 2,700 yard swim. The best part of the day was the bike ride in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day, mid 60's, sunny and I ended up doing about 45 miles in about 2 1/2 hours. I felt good afterwards and had enough energy to go out and do grocery shopping and get new shoes for my son!

Today started out with a 90 minute run with a few old running buddies. We finished up around 8:40 and I had a 20 minute drive to the pool where I was joining the GSTC for a swim. Unfortunately I forgot to bring any nutrition with me to have between workouts and I all had for breakfast was a couple of scoops of Sustained Energy. I did a few laps and actually felt a little dizzy on my flip turns. Thankfully my coach had a gel which helped me get through the workout which was about 2,500 yards. Hard yards.

I was done with workouts but the day continued with my son's first lacrosse game (which he scored a goal in!) followed by a cookout at a friend's house. To top it all off, after getting my son to bed I sat down in front of Tivo and Paris-Roubaix had taped.

I can't ask for too much more in a weekend. Thankfully, tomorrow is a day off for training!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Great Dad Moment

A great proud Dad moment this week. For better or for worse, due to the pretty strict diet that my son sees my wife and I follow, my son is starting to worry about his diet, and he is only 10 years old. As a reference, he has a pretty limited diet right now without a lot of vegetables. Our saving grace is he loves fruit smoothies for breakfast. We put all kinds of "good for you" stuff in there like Omega 3/6/9 oil, vegetable juice and whey protein powder.

We are always trying to figure out how to teach him good eating habits while trying to balance the importance we believe diet has on every part of our lives while not making him completely over-sensitive to it. At this point he is definitely at the over-sensitive side of the pendulum.

He told me a few weeks ago while we were doing our regular bedtime chat that he worries that the limited foods he eats now will never change, and he was pretty upset at this prospect. At the time I felt like I was way too strict! We chatted about it and I tried to relate the same limited diet I had at his age and that today my attitude has shifted to food as fuel.

This talk seemed to have helped. He has been more adventurous at trying different foods. He hasn't gotten two adventurous yet. He was very excited, as we were as well, that he tried Pesto pizza at a friend's house this past weekend. Up to that point he only had ever eaten plain cheese. Baby steps!

Earlier this week I offered a bite of my veggie burger because he asked me to let him know next time I had one. He asked a ton of questions about what it tasted like and what he had eaten before that might taste like it. So, the piece sat on a plate in front of him, and sat, and sat. He was getting visibly upset that he wasn't able to take a bite.

What have I done! What I told him at that point was that I had no worries about his future diet, because, even in the few short weeks since we first discussed this, he has gotten more bold at even wanting to try new things and that he was looking for opportunities to try different foods.

This made him feel better. But the kicker for me as a Dad was the next morning. He thanked me for telling him what I did about his improvement and he felt better because he trusted me. My heart melted when he said this. I think I knew that he did, but it was a big deal for him to verbalize it.

I'm still not comfortable that my wife and I have found the perfect balance on teaching him about nutrition, but I do think that we are doing something right.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

GSTC Training Today

Today was a GSTC training at UNH. We started with a 2700 yard swim that had a few tough intervals. Suzan gave me some good tips on my stroke. I really feel like I'm honing in on my perfect stroke. The swim workout was tough, particularly since the run workout wasn't any easier.

I know that this makes absolutely no actual difference in my swim speed, I felt like I was gliding through the water faster since shaving the legs yesterday. I know it was all inside my head, but hey, anything helps!

The run started out easy enough, a 20 minute warm up through college woods followed by some drills and strides on the outdoor track at UNH. Then Suzan dropped the bomb - a two mile time trial. In other words, run as fast as you can and still finish a two mile run. I hadn't done a running time trial in a while and it was tough. The key with a time trial is to pace yourself. I did the first 400 meters around the track in 1:45 but I was afraid that I was going to hard so I slowed a little for the next couple of laps, 1:49 and 1:50. At this point I was feeling OK and picked the pace up a little, the next few laps were at 1:45. On the last lap I was still feeling good so I pushed a little and finished in 1:39, my fastest lap. This brought my overall time to 13:57 which was just under a 7 minute mile. The workout wrapped up with another 20 minute warm down.

I followed up the workout with a big breakfast with some friends from the club and am now looking forward to a nice Sunday afternoon nap!

Time for a shave

I was so pumped up for the upcoming triathlon season after having such a great ride outside on Saturday. So, I decided to shave the legs for the season. For whatever reason, every spring when I do the first shave of the season it boosts up my motivation level.

I just did the legs for now. I'll do the arms before the first race of the year, Mooseman, in June.

On another positive note, I've dropped a few pounds and am down to 198. I'd like to get down another 8 before Mooseman. That will be just a couple of pounds over where I was at for Ironman Lake Placid.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday brick

I had a ride on Saturday. The forecast was cloudy and rainy all day. I put off what I figured would be another day on the indoor trainer but as the day progressed the sun came out and temps climbed to 60 degrees. So, I headed out for about 90 minutes on the bike and followed it up with a 15 minute run.

Not trusting the good weather I still brought a long sleeve jersey which ended up being a mistake. I was way too warm. I was smart enough to wear bike shorts so overall I was still comfortable. For the run I changed into a short sleeve short and I think it was the first time in several months I've been able to run outside with both shorts and a short sleeve shirt.

The ride was on the challenging side. I stayed off the coast so the terrain was rolling. It was the first rolling terrain I had been on this year but only my third ride outside so far. I felt good and was able to stay in my aerobars for most of the rollers. The forecast for the week is good so I hope to get outside on the bike a couple of times.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Deceptively hard workouts

I had a workout on Monday that my coach gave me that kicked my butt. It was only 45 minutes long but I hadn't done much speed work yet this year, and this workout let me know that.

Here is how it read:

Warm up 10, then do 4 x 5 minutes as follows: 10 seconds at 95%, 50 seconds at 80% - continue this throughout the 5 minutes. Take 2 min easy jog recovery between each 5. Warm down 10

It looked innocent enough but after finishing the 2nd interval I was telling myself I couldn't wait until it was over!

I also had to share a bike workout I had last week that I actually had to print out and keep in front of me on the trainer just to make sure I was doing it correctly.

Form ride – warm up 10 minutes
Aero-hover drill: Count 80 for the drill
Then sit and remain in big gear for 1 minute
Then gear medium and do 1 leg drill – 40 rotations on each leg
Then 1 minute in same gear working the rotation
Then easy for 2 minutes,
Warm down 10

All this was x8! It went fast because I was completely focused on keeping track of either what number interval or which part of the interval I was on.

Complaining aside, the workouts definitely go by faster when it is broken up like this. It's one of the reasons I enjoy having Suzan for a coach so much.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm a lucky man

First of all I'm lucky because such a great wife who puts up with the experience I'm about to describe.

Second of all, I am lucky all that came out of my ride yesterday were tired legs.

My training calendar called for a 2 1/2 hour ride. The weather was cloudy, drizzly and in the 40's so I had contemplated most of the morning whether or not to get on the trainer again or finally take the opportunity to ride outside. With the forecast supposed to improve throughout the day I decided to ride outside but use my road bike (rather than my tri-bike) since it was already off the trainer plus I didn't mind riding my older road bike on the wet and sandy roads.

I put on my warmest clothes and headed out. It was really nice to be off the trainer and on the roads again. I decided to take it easy and head towards the coast where the terrain was a little flatter. I was seated for the beginning of the ride as the terrain never required me to get out of the saddle.

About 30 minutes into the ride is a short steep hill on the old Pease Air Force Base. I downshifted and got out of the saddle for the climb. At the top I sat back down and my back wheel froze up?! I unclipped and started to take a look for the cause. The brake pads weren't up against the rim nor was the wheel up against the chain stay. So, I had no idea what was keeping the real wheel from moving forward? As I investigated further I noticed the problem. My rear wheel quick release was missing! The only thing holding my rear wheel in place was my body weight. Apparently when I got out of the saddle it knocked the wheel loose enough that it stopped spinning.

After cursing at myself several times I finally called my wife to let her know I needed a ride. She is used to getting these calls but they are normally for flats that have been unrepairable. I wasn't excited to tell her that I had been riding for 10 miles on a what was essentially a wheel with no axle. At this point I had assumed that I'd be heading back to the house and riding my final 2 hours on the trainer. However, my wife, being the incredible wife that she is suggested that the quick release be brought out to me so I could finish the ride outside. She suggested this while she was right in the middle of preparing for a family birthday dinner.

My father-in-law came out to bring me the quick release and I finished my ride. The weather turned much better, the sun came out and I actually felt like I was overdressed by the time I finished my ride. As it turns out the wind was in my face for most of the ride back and I finish the last 30 minutes of the ride with mostly uphill terrain. This made the end of the ride challenging but fulfilling, once I finished.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Volunteer at Ironman Lake Placid

My son and I volunteered at Ironman Lake Placid last year and we'll be doing so again this year. My plan is to sign up for Ironman Lake Placid '09 while I am there.

If you have never been to an Ironman event, I HIGHLY recommend doing so, and it is especially worthwhile to do as a volunteer. The energy, excitement, joy and pain is unlike anything you will ever experience.

I've included an e-mail I received from the captain of the Boathouse Aid Station who is looking for help in Lake Placid this year.

Hi Folks,

Well, it's past time...again. Interesting, as I look back at least years message we're actually a day or two earlier. If you've volunteered for us before or been solicited to volunteer, we apologize if the message below sounds vaguely familiar (we're hoping that most folks have a memory half-life of less than a year like Jeff's so it'll all seem new to you! ; ) ), but for expediency's sake it helps us to send a message that seems to cover all the bases in past years.

We are once again looking for enthusiastic and fun folks who are interested in volunteering some of their time and effort at an Aid Station on the run portion of the 10th Lake Placid IronMan, Sunday 20 July 2007. It's a fun time and incredible watching these folks grind out 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running....all in one day !

We have again been assigned to the aid station that runners will go through in the Village of Lake Placid before they head out for their second loop and again just before they finish. It's near (but not at!) the Boathouse Restaurant on the far side of Mirror Lake and therefore is called the "Boathouse" aid station.

Jobs at the station generally include prepping drinks and food, handing out drinks and food, passing out sponges, etc.; clean-up (constant throughout the day); set-up and take down. We will be set up on one side of the road with tables for drinks and snacks for the competitors. The most important thing that we hand out is a good positive spirit! The runners just show so much appreciation and it's so inspiring to see them out there doing it ! You just can't help coming away from it with a great experience ! It's a great experience for kids too !

Lunch is paid for by IM, and all volunteers receive a T-Shirt.

There is a contest from aid station to aid station based on the theme of the aid station (decorations, costumes, music, etc.). The IM organizers are always looking for innovative and interesting new ideas (beach themes, Hawaii themes, tropical themes etc. are tired and old). We're looking for a volunteer volunteer (get it?) who is interested in heading up a little sub-committee to choose a station theme and make that theme happen...anyone interested? Wanda? Also let us know if you'd like to work with whoever heads up that sub-committee.

For those of you who have done this before (last year or previousyears) we'd also really appreciate feedback on how we can run the station better, so that volunteers can have a more enjoyable time while still serving the athletes. IronmanUSA has developed a new online registration application that will help coordinate the volunteer portion of the 2008 event for them. If you are interested in volunteering, please go to open the Volunteer link and register. Note: Although you will be required to enter 3 volunteer choices whenregistering, please be sure to enter Boathouse as your first choice.

All we need directly from you is your preferred volunteer time. All shifts are available right now. We will begin at 12:00 p.m. again this year, last year seemed to work just about right prep-wise. The work progresses thru the day until midnight when the race officially closes (our aid station is very close to the finish and so must stay open until just about the close of the race). Shifts are 4 hours are welcome to work more than 4 hours (the longer you can stay the more help it'll be! Some folks stay all day!), but we need at least that long to fully staff the station. Please send usyour preferred shift(s).

Thanks for considering it! It's going to be a great time! And if you know anybody else who might be interested in this, please feel free to forward this e-mail along. Cheers !

Janet & Jeff Herter and John Firlings

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Run above freezing!

I don't think I can count the number of times on more than one hand where I've run this winter and it has been above freezing. Today was one of those days, it's about time, it's April!

It was only four miles but it felt good to not have several layers on and not have to wait for 15 or 20 minutes before I actually felt comfortable. Suzan had me include 8 pickups for 15 seconds each, which when I read it on the training plan never sounds like much, but it helps to break up the run and I definitely feel just a little more run down after adding those in.

Tonight I have Master's swimming which I'm looking forward to. I've spent more time in the pool over the past few weeks than I did over most of the winter and I can feel my swim form coming back together. Suzan gave me some tips in late February and right afterwards I felt like I was learning to swim all over again but I now feel stronger in the water with the revised stroke.

I've been having trouble figuring out my diet on the days when there are two or three sessions. I'm always good in the AM but it's trying to find the right combination for lunch and mid-afternoon meal that has me struggling some days. I suppose if I had more time in the morning I could bring in to work something that would give me more energy in the afternoon. However, I've been taking the easy route and bringing in a Clif Bar and Banana. Ideally I should probably start brining in some brown rice and veggies.

Overall I'm happy with the nutrition. My caloric intake has been where I want it though I struggle some days to get my carb count up to where it should be. I guess I need to start eating more cookies!

Bump in the road

Last week I hit a bump in the road with my training. Some avoidable, some not.

I was able to get two tickets to the Celtics game last Monday night which I brought my son to. Even though they lost we had a great time. As my son said, "it was good father-son bonding time". On the way home, it was 11 PM on Route 1 and traffic came to a standstill. We moved about 1 mile in 45 minutes because the Mass. DOT decided to close all but one lane to do some kind of construction. The result - we got home at 1 AM, on a school night. My Tuesday morning was shot but I was able to make it to Masters swimming that night. This was the avoidable bump, we didn't need to go to the game.

The unavoidable really made it a tough week. At about 1 AM our home phone rang, never a good thing. It was my Mom (who lives 2 miles away), she wasn't feeling well. She had been dizzy since 10:30 the night before and was nauseaus. She was really pale when I got to her house so I ended up bringing her to the ER. Everything is good now, turned out to be an inner ear infection that was causing vertigo. I walked back in the door around 4:30 AM on Wednesday, so needless to say my Wednesday workouts were shot.

I was able to get some training in on Thursday but not Friday. Saturday I was on the trainer (again!) for two hours and hit the UNH pool for a swim afterwards. Sunday was a one hour run and one hour swim.

All in all I was OK with the hours I got in given the bumps but as I build up for the summer racing season, I don't want to have too many weeks like the last one.