Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Registered...and ready

T and I are both registered for the Cheyenne Sprint Triathlon, which takes place on July 11th. We're both pretty excited to finally get our multi-sport season underway.

It's kind of interesting for me to sit here and reflect on where I am this year as to where I was last year with my triathlon. Last year, I took the plunge into the triathlon world, completing the My Way or the Tri Way triathlon. I finished in 2:10:56. Certainly not a finishing time to boast about, but whatever, it was my first tri, right? No biggie. I can puff my chest out and say "I'm a triathlete!" I can look down my nose at people and proclaim that I am better then them, simply because I completed a triathlon.


I review my training logs from last year, and my training was, for lack of a better word, pathetic. I'm not going to share my numbers, because quite frankly, I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassed that I let my training go that poorly. I'm embarrassed that I was forced to will my way through that triathlon. I wasn't ready for it. I was simply approaching it as another box to check. Just like the people I have lamented about on this blog. I was one of them.

I've always been interested in the sport of triathlon. It's something I've been fascinated with for years, even though I never ever thought I would do one. Yet the tug of the sport, my (somewhat) athletic ability, and dating T led to the desire to finally complete one. For me, it was a chance to prove to myself I had chased away the fat kid and to embark upon a new challenge.

When I signed up last year for the tri, I had all the intentions of training hard and showing up ready to race. And I think there were some moments that showed that. I did a lot of running in May '09, completed some difficult cycling, and hit the open water once. But there were too many moments of slacking. Too many moments of "oh, I'll do it later." I paid for it the day of the tri. Darly. I wasn't physically ready to race. Mentally, yes. But physically, I was nowhere close. And as I said, I paid for it with my pride.

Now, there are a lot of people who say that if you finish, it's a victory. I believe that to an extent. Yes, finishing a triathlon is an accomplishment, regardless of distance. But as I like to say to them, I did what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to finish! I was supposed to cross the finish line! Finishing was never in doubt! That's what to me was so frustrating.

This year, I approached training with a different mentality. The fear and excitement of doing my first tri was gone. I've been there before. Just finishing to me is not acceptable. No more. Now, it's time to step it up. It's time to finish respectably. I was riding down the C-470 trail this morning and I was thinking of what I would teach a friend of mine who wants to do his first tri this fall. I The first thing I would teach him is energy management, but that's a post for another day. The next thing I would teach him, and more importantly, is respect for the race. Respect for the course. Respect for the sport of triathlon. Triathlon was created not to be easy. It is not meant to be something that everyone can do. Training should reflect that. And to train the way you should, you need to respect the sport.

I learned that the hard way last year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sometimes, you gotta enjoy the downtime

Being a pilot is hard. Aside from dodging the FAA who is constantly looking for reasons to violate me and take away my license, I have to deal with rest regulations that are laughable (if I showed them to you, you'd be shocked), management that looks at me as just a number, and the joys of commuting to work. And that's all before I get on the airplane.

Being a pilot is also a great job. I get more days off then any 9-5er. I have gotten to see some great areas of the country and some really cool things from the air (seeing Air Force One). It's a job that does allow a lot of downtime and a lot of time to relax and reflect. Unfortunately, this downtime doesn't come easy, as it is away from my friends and my family.

When I get home, often the first thing I want to do, after hugging and kissing the fiancee, is get on my bike and go riding or head over to the pool to do some swimming. Because being on the road doesn't allow access to pools (at least ones that I can get some decent swimming in) or bikes, so on the road, I try to get long runs in and some yoga or lifting. This generally works well, but it does lead to some problems.

For example, sometimes all I want to do when I'm home is cuddle and lay low. Of course, I hate myself for feeling this way, but seriously. I train, I train, and I train, and sometimes, you forget about the things that matter. As much as I love the sport of triathlon and the lifestyle it brings, at times, it's the last thing I want to do.

You see, the other member of Team Baby Dinosaur makes me so happy and is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me. Even though she and I train together and can share our joy of multi-sport together, there are times when we don't want to be training when my time at home is somewhat limited.

Finding a balance is important, and it's easy to remember there's 24 hours in a day, which allows for a lot of time to do everything you want/need to do. But sometimes too, it's important to enjoy the downtime and forget about training. At least for one day. :-)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Race #2 of the Season: BolderBOULDER

I've been putting this off for a few weeks now ... and I'm not even quite sure why. It definitely wasn't my worst race ever, nor was it anywhere even close.

Soooo ... I'm just going to do this in marginal bulletpoint form and get it over with.

- I broke the cardinal rule of racing and tried something new on race day. The outside of my right knee has been bugging me on runs lately ... for anything over two miles. I thought it might be my shoes ... I'd changed my stride to more of a midfoot than a heel-toe strike and my shoes had been getting pretty old, so I went for it. I also went with the same brand/style as my old shoes; just the updated version (mizuno wave alchemy 8s to the 9s).

Still didn't help.

- We got to Boulder very early, parked near the finish (genius), made our way over to the start ... and still missed our wave due to the stupid ass-long FedEx Mobile Locker line (paid $1 to have our stuff waiting for us at the end. nice to not have to run with keys). Luckily it wasn't a problem.

- I lost Brandon early into mile one, for, as he said, he had to pee due to skipping the port-o-potties for round two. First mile was just under a 10:40 pace ... which was fine by me.

- Either in the 2nd K or the 2nd mile (i forget which), my knee started bugging me anyway. Damnit.

- I didn't run with my camera this race. I regretted it almost immediately.

- The people of Boulder are totally awesome for their support during the race. It seemed like almost all of the residents along the course came out to wave or cheer or whatever. It was AWESOME.

- The above, plus all of the side-course entertainment, whether it be bands or Elvis impersonators or belly dancers, made the run go by quickly. You almost lost focus on the run, but in a good way - for me, yes, my knee was bugging me, but I didn't pay attention to it because there was so much else to keep the senses occupied.

- At either the 2.2 mile mark or the 2.2 K mark (again, i forget which), we ran past the BolderBOULDER marshmallow throwers. There were these guys tossing marshmallows into the crowd. Around the corner, there were some people offering beer and doughnuts to the runners (which apparently our friend jimi partook in).

- The course marked the highest point ... which was 54something hundred feet. Which, really, pffft - I live at 5960something. Still, cool that it was marked.

- Brandon eventually caught back up to me with about a mile left. At about that same time, I finally grabbed a slice of bacon from some spectators. A few people along the course were handing it out, advertising it as "nature's powerbar." I figured, what the hell, and split a piece with Brandon.

- The final bit of the BolderBOULDER takes up you up this hill, Folsom, heading into Folsom Field. It's advertised as this horrible, awful, murderous hill ... which may well be true if you don't live in a place like Lone Tree like I do and run nasty hills all the time.

- The main problem was ... I kicked too early. You run up Folsom, turn right, run up some other hill and up this man-made structure into the stadium. Weeeelllll ... I thought the race ended as soon as you got into Folsom so I started kicking prior. Serves me right as you had to do a half-loop around the stadium. That about killed me, but oh well.

Final stats:
Overall place: 21431 (of about 50,000 finishers)
Division/place: F26/364 out of 771
Gender place: 8699 out of 26494
Mile 1: 10:39.15
Mile 2: 10:33.96
Mile 3: 10:53.11
Mile 4: 10:31.73
Mile 5: 10:31.72 (look at that consistency. holy crap)
Mile 6: 10:35.70
Net time: 1:05:38.45 (10:33/mi pace)

I didn't really take pictures ... and the race photo site is stupid about linking photos. I saved all the ones of us via screencaps ... but Blogger is a giant pain in the butthole when it comes to uploading pictures from your home computer. SO. If you want to see us running ... go here, click through and search bibs FA163 (Brandon) and FA164 (me).

OVERALL VERDICT: It was nice to do this race as it is one of THE races to do not only in Colorado, but in the country/world; Runner's World voted it America's favorite 10K. Still ... will we do it again? That's the big question, and right now, I can't answer it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Training issues, being a triathlete, and other stories

I talked a few weeks ago about how I equate an oral exam to training for a triathlon. You train/prep for the exam and race and hope that on the exam day or race day that everything comes out ok. Well, I took my oral about two weeks ago and it didn't go very well. I was rattled. Immediately. He started asking me asinine questions about the computer systems in the airplane and what computer is talking to what and on and on and on. Basically, he wanted me to build the airplane. Needless to say, I walked out of there feeling like a train had run over me.

It was an important lesson though. I got rattled from the get-go. And unfortunately, my prep for the oral didn't get a chance to shine through. Imagine if this was a triathlon. How could I get rattled in the first few minutes of a tri? The water temp is colder then expected. My goggles get kicked off or fill with water. It's rainy. How would I deal with it on race day? Would I let it affect my entire race? I sure hope not.

When something rattles you, in any aspect of life, stop. Take a breath. Relax. What I could have potentially done with the guy giving me the exam was to ask him if we could start over. From that first question that rattled me, start over and fresh. If I was to have my goggles fill with water on the tri, I would move out of the way of the other swimmers and empty them. Then I would resume swimming. It would be like starting over.

So...lesson learned. I passed the flight last night with flying colors. :-)

Another thing that has been plaguing me, and this has been for awhile now, is what makes a triathlete a triathlete? How does someone go from being an ordinary schlub to being a triathlete? Moreso, who has the right to claim the title of triathlete?

Brian over at TriBoomer
explored this issue as well, and probably sums it up much better then I could ever hope to. This is a guy who I could never live up to. He's completed numerous Ironmans and is a great athlete. Crazy, according to his doctor, but still. He says that because he hasn't done a multisport event this year, he doesn't feel he's a triathlete, regardless of why he is not participating in the sport this year.

Let me put it this way. I have completed one triathlon in my life. It was a sprint tri last year. My first ever actual triathlon. I was elated and for awhile was proud and was willing to call myself a triathlete. But I pondered all winter (ask T, she'll confirm this) what makes a person a triathlete? These girls that train for three weeks, go out and do the Tri for the Cure one time and post a 2:30 time. Are they triathletes? I don't think so. The reason the sport we love is growing so much is the hype and trendiness around it. It's another box to check off. I don't necessarily think there's something wrong with that, because I know people that have done their first triathlon and are hooked after that. *raises hand. Pick me! Pick me!* But there are also plenty of people who do one tri and that's it. They've checked off the box, then move on.

I think being a triathlete involves so much more then just doing one race. As I said to Brian, it's like putting out a kitchen fire and calling yourself a fireman (or woman). Yes, you are "technically" a "firefighter" because by definition, you fought a fire. A person that completes a triathlon is technically a triathlete, because they have completed a triathlon. But is that really fair to those of us that pour our heart and soul into the sport? Those of us who dream of competing Ironman and god forbid qualify for Kona? To be a triathlete, in my opinion, you have to believe it in your heart. You have to be hungry for the sport. And yes, you should be an active participant. But just doing a few races doesn't make a person a triathlete. The word passion comes to mind.

As my schedule improves next year, you will see more multisport races on the schedule for myself and T. Because this is a sport that I want to improve in and want to grow in. It's something that I truly want to get better in and something I want to do the rest of my life. Do I see myself in the mirror right now as a triathlete? Not really. What I see in the mirror right now is someone who has a deep desire to grow in the sport and wants to eventually be looked at by other people as a triathlete.

Back to Denver tomorrow, and it's time to ramp up the training. :-)

Friday, June 11, 2010

BolderBoulder recap...finally!

I know, I've been putting this off now for almost two weeks, but hey, better late then never, right?

The premier 10K of the country, the BolderBoulder is one of those races that I never thought I would run. The 10K doesn't really interest me in terms of a race being that it's too long to run hard, but too short to really count in the record books as a "tough" race. Yet this year, I am determined to expand beyond the 5K and the sprint triathlon, so the BolderBoulder I figured would be a good gauge of my stance as a runner.

We got to Boulder in plenty of time before our wave went off. We parked at this lot close to the finish line (smart on our part) and walked towards the starting line. We made our first porta-potty stop of the morning about halfway to the starting line and also stopped at a Starbucks for some coffee and a banana. Then we decided we should go check our stuff in to our portable locker that we bought (1 dollar to check all your stuff and have it waiting at the finish line...brilliant!) and then we'd get in our wave and go.

First, we decided to stop at the porta-potties again. While T made her stop, I decided to do some stretching, figuring that I had already gone and wouldn't need to worry about it again. (Can you sense the foreshadowing???) I did some stretches and then we went to check our stuff into the locker. No big deal, plenty of time, right?

Yeah...about that...the line for the lockers was HUGE! I mean ginormous. We hopped in line with the hope that we would still make our qualifying wave...yeah not so much. I was somewhat stressing over it, while T was trying to calm me down and assuring me that we would be fine.

We checked in our stuff and ran/walked our way to the starting line. We joined in a wave that started maybe 12 minutes after our wave started and wished each other good luck. At the start, we looked up to the people counting the starting waves down and we saw Dr. Oz, Mark Allen, and Rick Reilly. Yeah, pretty cool.

So...off we went! We vowed to stay together this time (cause T is a better pacesetter then me and would help me stay back) but again, this wasn't happening. Why? Cause I'm dumb, that's why.

Right when the race got started. RIGHT when the race got started, I felt my bladder ready to explode. I thought I was going to be fine, yeah, not so much. I kept telling T I would need to find a porta and stop. She said she would wait with me, but I wasn't going to let her. We found a couple about 5 minutes into the race and I told her I would see her at the finish line. With that, I pulled over and planned on doing the race solo.

After taking a massive pee (huge), I continued running. I knew this was going to kill my time in terms of chip time, but I thought I could still salvage something respectable with my own timing. The first mile was pretty easy and I was feeling pretty good. The 2nd mile, I looked to pick it up just slightly. This is also where the bulk of the entertainment started. There were bands, belly dancers, and just people in their yards cheering us on. It was wonderful and a nice distraction from the task at hand. I fist-bumped an Elvis singer. Don't judge me.

The 3rd mile was interesting. There were people lobbing marshmallows at the crowd (hilarious, I might add) as well as the field began to very slightly thin. This portion of the run also took you by some literal hippies. The smell of weed was very strong, but I was still supportive of them cheering.

The 4th mile, I started to wonder if a sub 10 minute mile 10K was going to be possible, at least according to my time. I started really focusing on the task at had, pretty much ignoring the entertainment. Except for one thing. Some neighbors had set up a slip and slide in their yard as well as a pool. That pool and slip and slide looked SO enticing, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I saw other runners doing it though and it looked like they were having a blast.

In the 5th mile, I caught up to T. We chatted for a bit about how the run was going and shared some bacon (nature's protein bar) that was given to us by a bystander. When we decided to part ways, I told her I'd see her at the finish line. I had less then 1/2 a mile left by that point and knew I still had the "hard hill" waiting for me.

That hard hill? Nothing to it! Nothing at all! I suppose training in Lone Tree has made hills really easy, but I digress. That hill was easy. I sprinted into the stadium to many cheering people which was an awesome feeling, regardless of my time. I rounded the corner and crossed the mat, finishing in 61:21 according to my watch. I knew that wasn't the actual finishing time, but I still hit my sub-10 minute mile!

T came in about 40 seconds after me. We collected our swag bags and hit the expo. The booths had a lot of good stuff that we enjoyed, then we headed out of Boulder and back to Lone Tree.

Overall, a pretty good race.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

First OWS ... Ugh.

First off: BolderBOULDER recap. I KNOW, I know. It's coming.

However, I wanted to quickly talk about yesterday. Brandon was able to come home for a tiny bit in the midst of training. While we didn't manage a bike ride, we did squish in our first open-water swim of the season at Aurora Reservoir.

We also got to try out our new blueseventy wetsuits. In cold water (50s) on a windy day. And me with a bandanna around my arm so my already burnt self wouldn't get worse thanks to the sun.

Wetsuits were helpful in that they did help with the water temperature. Brandon noticed a bit of a buoyancy increase; I only noticed when I was just sitting in the water ... I didn't sink completely like a rock like I usually do.

While Brandon managed an okay swim ... I couldn't. I was super fatigued (due to a myriad of factors; some personal, some not) and the wetsuit was weird and I didn't like it pulling at my neck and the wind was rough and I really just don't know. It was a humbling swim and, despite me only managing a super short distance, the slowest swim I've done all year.

The only upside is I know we'll be back to do a lot more OWSs ... if only because I spent $65 on a pass for the Res and we need to go at least six more times to pay for the damn thing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oral Exams and triathlon...hand in hand?

I'm going to do my best Dr. J impression here and try to compare studying for an airline oral exam to training for a triathlon. If I don't get it quite right...it's cause I'm not as awesome as Dr. J! :-)

When you go through initial airline training, there's certain subjects that you have to cover per the FAA. You start off with Indoc. This is learning company procedures, manuals, etc. You also cover some nuance stuff, such as crew resource management, flight time legality, etiquette, weather, and uniform fitting. This generally lasts about a week. Then you take a test on that subject. These tests are almost always open book, open notes. Passing that, you get into the meat of the class: the systems. Systems can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks. You learn about the airplane (or airplanes) that you will be flying. You learn what all the switches do, what speeds make the airplane do what, and what to look for on a walkaround. You also learn how to program the airplane so that it will do what you want it to do (I still haven't figured this one out yet...).

After you take your systems test (I got 100% in like 12 minutes), you prepare for your oral exam. You review what each switch does. You review every system and go over the nuances of it. You refresh yourself on those limitations and emergency memory items. Then you take your oral exam. Demonstrate knowledge of the systems and limitations and you pass. Don't do that, you fail. It's that simple. Or is it?

I've heard horror stories at the airlines of guys answering every question right, but still failing the oral because of something as simple as their haircut wasn't what the examiner wanted. Or their flight bag had a sticker on it that the examiner didn't like. The way I have always looked at an oral exam is that it's beyond your control what happens. You do your best and move on from there, regardless of outcome.

Now, compare that with a triathlon. You start each season like starting Indoc. You get the basics down. You get the mileage under your belt with running, you get your bike in for a tune-up and go cycling to make sure the moving parts are good, and you hit the pool to get back in motion. Then as the season goes on, it's like systems. You hit it hard. You start incorporating two a days into your schedule. You increase your mileage base. And like systems, you do it over, and over, and over again.

The race is the equivalent of the oral exam. You prepare all you can for it, but the outcome can be out of your hands. Race conditions can lead to unfavorable results. All the training in the world can be hampered by a flat tire or a calf muscle pull. But training properly can also lead to happy results. Just like preparing for the oral will pretty much ensure you pass, training properly for triathlon will ensure that your race day goes well and the results will please you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

May Recap

Wow, May was full of eventfulness...in more then one way.

May 1st marked my first day of work at my new company. I flew to Indianapolis on the night of April 30th to start the new chapter of my life. That new chapter of my life meant that my workouts would have to be modified to account for me living in hotels for the next month and a half and having to deal with no bike and no pool.

Still, I think thus far, I have managed it quite well.

So...what milestones did we see in May?

- longest run of my career (7.12 miles)
- longest bike ride of career (32.4 miles)
- furthest swim of triathlon career (1600 meters)
- first "official" 10K race (I did the Nike Human Endurance 10K back in 2008...but it was solo)

Overall, it was a good month for me. 12 runs, 4 recumbent bikes, 4 times on my own bike, 3 yoga sessions, 4 times lifting, and 3 pool sessions. Obviously there's some things there that I wish would have happened, but for having my life turned upside down so suddenly, I'll take it. Plus, only 5 days were taken off all month. That really isn't too shabby.

So...what are we looking at for June then? Well, obviously, I can't wait to be back in Denver on the 15th for good. I plan on more riding this month. As much as I love running and the fact that I have gotten better at it, I need to be on my bike more. Also, I need to start open water swims and just getting more swimming in. MORE LIFTING! It's funny how good I feel lifting and yet it's also funny how little I do it. Granted, it's hard on the road, but I need to still figure out a way.

In any event, May was a great month, capped off by the BolderBoulder. I will have a recap of that up real soon, I promise. Here's to a great month of June, where we will keep our foot on the throat.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May Round-Up

Ugh, I'm tired and exhausted and I don't really want to blog right now, but I'd rather put the BolderBOULDER recap off than this.

So. May. May's theme, as you know, was altitude attitude, stolen shamelessly from the BB people for a couple of reasons (which if you want to know, you can go click back here for). May was, with the exception of the last week, a great month. I did a lot of two-a-day workouts and focused on the lifting a bit more. I'm not entirely sure it made a difference, but eh.

This past week went to hell for a few reasons, though, which I'll put here.

One. I'd been working a lot. By the time I left work last Friday, I had worked 15 of 16 days. My manager had been out of town, we're breaking in a few new assistant managers, we had a lot of other management subbing in ... let's just say it was a lot of work and a lot of stress that finally just stockpiled in on itself.

Two. I think my body naturally takes a taper week before a big race whether I want it to or not. I don't know if it's a mental thing or not, but if I look through past workout logs, those weeks exist more often than not. It sucks because I end up taking more days off than I wanted, but oh well, I guess ...

Three. I was in a wedding on Sunday, so that took care of both Saturday and Sunday in terms of really seriously training.

Four. One of my coworkers spilled hot coffee on my arm (accidentally, mind you, but still) ... which is one of the hazards of working at a coffee shop ... but it's not fun when you end up with second-degree burns out of it.

Burnt Arm
eeewwww. This was taken about ... five hours after the fact. Lovely, eh?

The above, of course, means that I'm banned from the pool due to the chlorine for this week and probably the next ... however long it takes to get new skin back on there. Great, I know.

Anyway, June is a new month and even though it hasn't started well due to work exhaustion, I know that I'll be able to kick May's ass at some point ... which will be impressive given May's numbers:

Running: 48.1 miles (average went up about three seconds/mile)
Swimming: 2.86 miles (average went up about 43 seconds/mile. NOT good)
Cycling: 84.36 miles (average went up a whole mph; also had one stationary bike workout)
Lifting: five sessions (and i wonder why it might not have helped ... duh)
Other: two sessions of Wii Fit, three softball games

A few things of note in the numbers: Highest running month by 11 miles. REALLY kicked up the cycling which is totally awesome. Haven't done as many 470 (that is, hilly) rides as I would like, but I'll get there. Swimming ... was the exact same as April, yet slower. Not a good sign. And this stupid arm burn isn't helping things.

A few notable things regarding this year to last year, as well: I have surpassed last year's running totals ... I'm about 10 miles (or one good ride) away from surpassing last year's cycling totals and I'm 6 miles away from surpassing last year's swim totals. The stupid thing is, I don't feel much stronger. Hopefully things will pull together come race day ...