Thursday, February 28, 2008

triathlon wetsuit rental

Following the very good advice of several experienced triathletes I've spoken with, I've decided to wait to purchase a wetsuit until after I complete my first triathlon in April (same goes for a good bike, too).

Of course, this means I'll either be reaaaallly cold in the water for my first race, or I'll have to find a place to rent a wetsuit. But rent from whom?

Lucky for me, I've registered as a volunteer at this weekend's Stanford Treeathlon here in Redwood City.

The race organizers make the following recommendation on their race info page:
Wetsuit Rental: Although the Stanford Treeathlon does not have an official wetsuit sponsor, we as a team have had very pleasant experiences renting wetsuits from both Sports Basement in Sunnyvale and The Runner's High in Menlo Park.
I'm a huge fan of Sports Basement already, so no doubt I'll be renting from them a couple times (once for practice and the other for the actual race on April 13).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

next big challenge: swimming Alcatraz?

A colleague here at work has put another challenge on the table: doing the 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz on September 20, 2008.

The event is officially called the South End Rowing Club's 13th Annual Alcatraz Invitational Swim. It costs $110 to enter the 1.5 mile swim event.

I have to decide soon, as only 500 folks can register and I hear there are fewer than 100 slots left.

Just thinking about the challenge gets my juices flowing (a lot like they did last year when I first agreed to climb Mt. Whitney).

I know I'm capable of doing all the training to get my body ready for this. It's the intangibles I worry about... weather, freak accidents, sharks... but Dan assures me there's never been a reported shark attack on humans in the Bay. (I need to do some serious googling to confirm that)

I've given myself until Sunday to decide. Don't take my slot in the meantime!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

triathlon nutrition resources

Joe Friel's got a great blog post on nutrition entitled "how much should you eat?" It's quite timely for me, because I seem to have plateaued in the 192-195 pound range and can't go lower.

The most insightful section for me is the following (especially since I've just started eating bagels again):
But it isn't simply how much you eat, but also what you eat. My pet peeve with athletes is that they eat way too much starch. Starchy foods such as rice, bagels, bread, cereal and corn are the staples in many athletes' diets. Such foods are great for recovery. Eating them in the meal following a long and/or intense workout is a great way to restock your glycogen stores in preparation for the next workout. But continuing to eat such foods as a significant source of calories outside of the narrow recovery window is a sure way to pack on excess poundage. And to make matters worse, most starches are very low in micronutrients (for example, vitamins and minerals)compared with vegetables. Once beyond the recovery window, micronutrient intake is the key to becoming more fit and healthy.
I've immediately relegated my bagel munching ways to the recovery window instead of the "quick snack" status they'd started to take over throughout my day.

I'm no longer suffering from the hunger pangs or empty furnace feelings of the first couple weeks of training, but given I'm on a plateau, I've got to really pay attention to intake and timing. I can see the muscles showing in places that used to be pudgy, so I know part of what I'm doing is trading fat for muscle, but I'd still like to see the numbers on the scale begin to drop again.

Lucky for me, Left Coast Mom sent me this great food calculator at foodsel where you can select the food and amount you plan to eat (or already have) and it tells you both the nutrient content and how much activity you'll need to engage in to work it off.

And with their handy BMI calculator, I see that since I started last Summer, my BMI has dropped from 28.2 (overweight) to 24.7 (normal) as I've shed these 28 pounds. When I hit my target weight of 180, I'll be at 23.1. Still in the normal range, but solidly so.

my first 800m swim (after a 2.25 mile run)

It's been a rather unsavory weather weekend here in the Bay Area, but I was still able to get in some good workouts pre- and post-storm.

Yesterday, before the rain got too heavy, I was able to get a god 40 minute ride on the bike. I did an out-and-back heading north on Alameda de las Pulgas up to San Carlos and then up to Hillsdale on El Camino Real. Traffic wasn't too heavy at 8:20am and aside from a few spits of rain here and there, the first twenty minutes of the ride weren't too bad.

Then I turned to head home and discovered the tail wind I'd been unconsciously enjoying was now a rather brisk headwind. Ugh. So the return home lasted a little longer than the twenty minutes I thought it would, but I got the bike inside and had eaten and showered well before the strong gusts whipped up and the hard rain fell.

So that meant today was a day of waiting out the weather. I was prepared to swap out the scheduled run to instead spend my workout in the pool, but then I noticed it was just a 20-minute run with an optional 15-minute swim on the schedule. I decided to do both.

And somewhere in the middle of my swim (around the 300-meter mark), I decided to go longer than the scheduled 15 minutes and see if I could do the full 800 meters. Even after my run on the treadmil, I was feeling energetic, and so I pushed on.

By the time I touched the wall on my 16th lap, it had taken me a half hour (including several 20-second rests sprinkled throughout). But I did it! I've now been able to at least cover all the distances of the ICE Breaker tri (half-mile swim, 13-mile ride, 4-mile run), so now it's a matter of stringing it all together.

The fact that I put in a 2.25 mile run just prior to jumping in the pool and finishing my half-mile swim builds my confidence that I'll finish the race. Now it's just a matter of "how fast?"

With seven weeks to the race, I'm already feeling good!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why not Tri? a great accidental find

Digging through the stats of this blog, I discovered someone was searching on "12-week triathlon training plan, direction tk" which seemed awfully precise to the content of this blog. Being the naturally curious person I am, I followed the second search result (this blog was #1!) and found a great article posted to the Ravine Swim Club site, called "Why Not Tri?"

The article's written by Matt Fitzgerald and is targeted at runners, but it's full of great information for everyone as to the benefits of multi-sport training for the triathlon.

The only reason I can think it's showing up is because someone with the initials "TK" made some edits in the article that weren't cleared before publishing.

Lucky me (and lucky you!), otherwise I never would have found this little gem. Enjoy "Why Not Tri?" over your next bowl of oatmeal.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Eight weeks to tri: sick leave over

I'm a third of the way through the training regimen. I can't believe it's just eight weeks until the race.

So, while I'm not feeling 100% healthy yet (I'm at about 85%), I jumped back into my training schedule yesterday with a 20 minute run on the treadmill at the gym followed by a quick change into my swim trunks and then 400m swimming in the pool.

The last 100m were a struggle, as I could feel how fatigued my body still is from being sick, and I think I know now why the swim comes first in competition: it's no fun needing to breathe but having to put your face in the water. Even so, I was able to concentrate on breathing every third or fourth stroke as well as trying to relax into the swim stroke.

In any case, it's good to be back on the schedule after the three days off. I'm still rather surprised I was actually missing the physical activity. Never thought I'd get to this point, but am glad to be here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

training while sick? just say no

I was afraid this day would come, and I guess I'm glad it happened now and not closer to race day.

I'm sick. Full-on can't-breath-through-my-nose, sounding-like-Barry-White, everything-aches and I-just-want-to-sleep sick. Blech.

I could feel the start of it yesterday morning, but I still dragged myself out of bed to hit the bike and spun my way on the trainer for most of the prescribed 40 minutes of workout. How? by following the tips I've read that say if you're not feeling like working out, just do it for five minutes and then see how you feel. It got me over the "should I?" hump yesterday and kept me going for 30 minutes.

Today, I just can't do it. Not even for five minutes.

Luckily, my better half sent me a link to this weight-lifting blog post answering the question "Weight Training While I am Sick? Does It Help or Hurt?" Their advice: just don't do it.

While their analysis is all about the weight training, it easily transfers to triathlon training:
When you weight train, especially some intense workout, your body gets knocked out because you just used a massive source of energy.

Your immune system no longer works effectively. This will leave you in worse shape and actually take you longer to recover. I found one opinion that stated light cardio is good for your sickness only when it is a mild cold.

I was thinking about this and agree that it will not hurt, but it will not really help either. I suggest you just rest and get well. Use this time as a good time to let your muscles rest and rebuild.

So, today's a day to let the muscles rest and rebuild. And I'll make a game-time decision tomorrow as to whether I'll swim or not.

I'm surprised to already be bummed at the thought of not getting into the pool tomorrow. Since when did I become a fan of swimming?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

weekend fun: 8k run, 14mi ride, 550m swim

I broke from the training program (bike Saturday, Run Sunday) this weekend to take advantage of an 8k race that my friend Thom was running: the 11th Annual Juana Run in Palo Alto.

So, at 7:15a Saturday morning, I was putting my $30 down at the registration table to get my bib number and mull about in the chilly 35 degree air waiting for the 8:30a start. I was feeling much better about this race than the Turkey Trot 10k I ran last November, and my time showed it: I finished the 5 mile run in 41:25, #224 of 413 participants and #13 of 28 in my age bracket (35-39). Most importantly I felt really good as I crossed the 4 mile mark (the distance of the run in my first triathlon).

Today, I installed the VDO MC1.0 cycle computer my folks had given me for Christmas, and took the bike off the trainer to tackle the hills behind our house. Thanks to the built-in altimeter, I was able to see I logged 1,000 feet of altitude gain on the 5-7% grade roads that surround our home. I wound up doing a little over 14.5 miles in the hour I was on the bike today, and even though the distance seems kind of short, given the fact 4+ miles of it was uphill, I'm pretty pleased.

And as a cherry on top of it all, I was able to squeeze in a 550 meter swim just before dinner today, and I felt good throughout the swim. I think I've learned to relax my pace a little bit as I swim, so I feel like I'm able to go farther between rests at the end of the pool. Necessary progress if I'm going to be able to go the full 800m in the race.

So, even though I did the three events spread out over 32 hours and backwards from how I'd do them in the race, I come away from this weekend's workouts worrying less about whether I'll finish the triathlon on April 13 and more worried about how fast I might be able to do it.

This is fun!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

how to fuel a body training for a triathlon

My weight's been bouncing around between 192 and 195 ever since I started my triathlon training plan almost three weeks ago. And I know a lot of this is due to my diet and getting enough calories to fuel the furnace while not over-feeding the system.

I know at the start of the training program, I was under-fueling and I think I may have pushed the pendulum too far the other direction. What's a trainee to do?

I also understand that part of the challenge I'm up against is that I'm putting on muscle now that I've incorporated multiple sports in my training regimen, and muscle is heavier than fat (yadda yadda)

Thankfully, I came across this handy eating plan courtesy Men's Health Magazine's Belly Off program.

I've already started following it as of today, and I think it'll serve me well as I come up on finishing three weeks of training this weekend. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Training during our Disneyland trip

We just got back from a four-day family trip to Disneyland last night, and I'm happy to report I was able to stay on schedule (mostly) with my triathlon training even though I was far from home.

In the past, I used to always use the "but I'm on vacation!" excuse to suspend any workout regimen. Not this time around, especially now that I'm within 10 weeks of the triathlon.

Per my training schedule (following Joe Friel's Your First Triathlon training plan), between Friday and Tuesday, I needed the following workouts: swim, bike, run, swim with an optional strength training to boot.

Here's how I made it happen:
  1. Before we drove to LA on Friday, I started the day (early) with my swim training
  2. Come Saturday evening, after the girls had gone to bed at the hotel, I hopped on the stationary bike in the hotel fitness center for my 30 min ride
  3. (Breaking from Friel's schedule a bit), I took Super Bowl Sunday off from training and instead got up early on Monday to run 20 min on the treadmill in the hotel fitness center
  4. This morning (Tuesday), I got up early, scraped the frost off my car's windshield and swam at sunrise, enjoying the steam rising from the pool into the 33 degree air.
And so my biggest fear of not maintaining training momentum while on vacation has proved unfounded, and all this while I'm nursing the same cold that's giving the rest of the family fits.

I guess I've scared myself into being prepared for this race!