Tuesday, October 30, 2007

must see: NOVA's Marathon Challenge

Just after tonight's earthquake (5.6 near San Jose, yes we're fine) I happened to catch NOVA: Marathon Challenge on our local PBS station tonight, and it was fifty minutes of television watching well spent.

The gist of the challenge: take a dozen folks who'd otherwise belong on the sidelines of the Boston Marathon cheering the racers and put these sedentary folks through a forty week training course so they could actually finish the very same Boston Marathon they'd only been able to watch the year before.

Given the body types and fitness levels across the dozen participants, I found the program fascinating viewing if only to be able to see the transformation these folks went through on their way to running 26 miles. NOVA did a great job of mixing human interest with medical observation and the physiological explanation of the events.

Nice to see WGBH has posted the training calendar for the group, and they've also listed ten tips for novice runners which I think is smart preventative programming given just how inspirational some of the participant's completing the marathon.

Completing a marathon is still on my "list," but I'm focused on completing at least an Olympic distance triathlon first.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I've done my first brick

Brick workout, that is...

This afternoon I did my first back-to-back bike/run workout. Not a whole lot to it beyond 40 minutes on the bike followed by 25 minutes running with about a five minute transition in between (changing, helping the girls with their bikes, etc).

What I noticed most about the brick was how much my glutes were tired from the half-hour of climbing on the bike I'd just done. That, and my calf tightening up on me in the first five minutes of the run.

But, I didn't fall/fail on the run, which was my biggest concern in this first brick.

Now that I've survived, it's time to start training for faster times!

time for new running shoes

As I was attaching my Nike +iPod Sport Kit to my running shoes this week, I couldn't help but notice how beat up my shoes are. And now that I think about it, my shoes (Saucony Grid Stabil) are at least three years old and they've seen better days.

All the advice I've read about getting started training for triathlons has emphasized getting the right shoes is one of the most, if not the most, important things you can do to prevent injury while training. Given the running segment is the most punishing segment of the triathlon, this does make sense.

So it's time to get new shoes, but the question is, what brand? what kind? (what color?)

Luckily, I remembered driving by a Roadrunner Sports store here in San Carlos, so I'll be going in today to get fitted for shoes. Given my low arch and over-pronation, I already know I need a motion control model. I was warned by the Roadrunner staff to expect to take 30 minutes to get fitted properly, so I'll go when the store opens.

Look for a follow up post detailing my experience there. From the Yelp reviews, it looks like it's going to be a great experience.

UPDATE: I'm so glad I went to Roadrunner Sports today. I was helped by Kim who guided me through their free fitting process, and it's quite the process.

I wore my old Saucony shoes to the store, as I'd been asked to, and the fitting process started out with my taking off shoes and socks and rolling up my pant legs to expose my ankles and lower calves. Kim took a look at my old shoes' tread wear, and I was glad to see the wear was normal, so I don't have really bad habits that are causing odd wear on my shoes.

First up: The "Perfect Fit Scan" which began with my walking across their pressure mat to get a reading on my foot strike. On the resulting digital footprint image, Kim pointed out what I already knew: I have flat arches. But she also was able to show me where the hardest pressure
hit the bottom of my foot (just behind my big toe on either foot) and showed where my toe-off position was (the last part of my foot to leave the ground when walking forward).

Next up: "The Treadmill Analysis" wherein I ran on a treadmill in bare feet and they videotaped my footstrike from behind. Once she'd captured about 30 seconds of my run on video, Kim was able to play back, in slo mo, what happens to my feet and ankles when I run. WOW, no wonder I can't run barefooted for too long. It was easy to see my arch collapse with each strike and my ankle bend inward as a result. Then, when my foot lifted off the treadmill, it'd swing out. Quite fascinating to watch the mechanics of the run, and informative as to what to do next.

Last check: "Sizing and Visual Check" where Kim measured my feet in the regular sizing tool and, again, I was shown that my left foot is half a size bigger than my right (10.5 v 10). What surprised me was Kim's telling me I should buy a shoe a half size bigger than my biggest foot to allow for swelling during exercise (in hindsight: duh?), but that meant my "True Foot Size & Width" is an 11 D.

All the fitting inputs confirmed what I knew coming in: I needed a motion control shoe. And Kim brought out three models for me to try: Saucony Grid Stabil (my go-to brand for the last seven years), Brooks Addition 7 and Asics Gel Evolution 3.

I got a chance to try all three shoes on the tread mill, and Kim filmed me while I was running in each so I got a chance to visibly see how the shoes rectified my over-pronating and supported my ankles.

Even though there was no pressure to buy (I felt like I could've walked out of the store at that point and bought the shoes elsewhere), I wound up walking out of the store with a size 11.5 pair of the Asics (a full size bigger than the Sauconys I walked in with).

And I ran in my Asics this afternoon as the second leg of my brick. Wow, what a difference a great shoe makes. And as a bonus: I can take up to 60 days to return this pair of shoes for a replacement pair should they suddenly become less comfortable.

Thanks to Kim and Roadrunner Sports for getting me in such a great pair of shoes. I highly recommend you visit Roadrunner Sports to get your free fitting.

Monday, October 22, 2007

picking my power song

To help combat the monotony of running, I ordered a Nike +iPod Sport Kit from Amazon last week.

And now that I've got the little music-inspired-gogo-gadget, I'm asked to select, out of the 10,000 songs in my iTunes library, the one song that'll push me harder should I find my resolve beginning to fail mid-run.

Talk about a desert-island-disc challenge. How the heck do I pick just one?

For now, I've picked Are You With Me? by Vaux. It was a recent Single of the Week on iTunes, so it's top-of-mind for me although I'm sure there are other songs that'd push me just the same (in fact, Bodysnatchers by Radiohead off the recently released In Rainbows is another up-tempo song worthy of "power song" status).

I imagine the shelf life of any given Power Song is finite, so I'll likely change it often. If it's worth tracking, I'll add a Current Power Song widget to the side of my blog to display it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nursing injuries from my Mt Whitney climb

While the race is still six months away, I'm nursing a couple injuries from my recent climb of Mt Whitney.

First, and most troublesome, is the plantar fasciitis I've got in both feet. I guess the 24 miles of hiking in 20 hours was a little too much to handle for my poor feet, and they're reminding me of my indiscretions on a daily basis. True to the condition, it's most painful when I wake up and get out of bed thanks to the plantar's contracting all night long. My short jogs (~3 miles) don't seem to make it any worse, but it's definitely not going away.

The other injury isn't really painful as much as it is conspicuous. The wear and tear of climbing Mt Whitney has caused bruising under my left #2 toe nail (the one next to the big toe) and it looks like I'll soon lose the nail. On my right foot, the bruising is there on both the big toe and the #2 toe and I think I'll be losing the #2 nail on this foot as well. From what I can tell, this is a common malady, especially among distance runners, so I'm not so concerned about the cause as I am about the moment that the nails actually fall off.

From what I can tell, injuries are part of the process, so for now I'll just monitor the two I've got to make sure they continue to improve. I really should spend time on the bike to give my feet a break from the pounding of running. Or, I could make this the week I join the PCC Center and start swimming at their pool with the PCA Masters program.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

First triathlon in my sights

As I mentioned over on HVYTK, I've set my sights on finishing (with a smile!) the ICE Breaker Triathlon in Granite Bay, CA on April 13, 2008.

It's a .5 mile (open water) swim – 13 mile bike – 4 mile run race. And while the bike and the run segments don't bother me too much, the swim is of greatest concern because my swimming skills consist of barely managing not to sink in the water. Lots of room to improve in my swimming skills if for no other reason than I must learn to swim again..

I'm using Joe Friel's Your First Triathlon to guide me through how I approach this challenge, and so far, I've found the advice to be quite useful in helping me set my expectations properly for my first tri. I'm also lucky to have a cube-mate at work who's now a three-time Ironman finisher, and more than a couple friends who've completed their share of triathlons shorter than the Ironman.

So then, what's this blog about? It's a way for me to share my progress, share the advice I've received (and whether or not I choose to follow it) and share stories about the tri toys I lust after and/or purchase.

If you've ever run a triathlon or aspired to, I invite you to follow along. Only 175 days until the race!