Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why I'm a Geriatrician

I was probably destined to become a Geriatrician from the time I was a kid, although I didn't know it then. I was definitely destined to become a Geriatrician in the summer of 1983, although it took me the greater part of a year to figure it out. I can remember the day like it was yesterday. I was doing my cardiothoracic surgery rotation at UTMB in Galveston, Texas. I had five hospitals to go to and 13 patients to see before morning rounds. The first hospital on my way in from our apartment was St. Mary's Hospital. It was a private hospital and there was an elderly woman there who'd had an aortic aneurysm repair. I had been seeing her two straight weeks. As this was my first stop, I would wake her up at 4:30am every morning, and in her Texas accent she would cuss me out something fierce every morning. On the last day of my rotation I was leaving her room and she called out, "doctor". Now, I wasn't a doctor, just a medical student, but I turned and went back to her. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. She said, "I'm sorry for yelling at you every morning." To this day I remember feeling, I'm the one waking up this poor lady every morning, and she's apologizing to me. I felt genuinely bad and told her, "you're the patient, I'm waking you up every morning. It's ok if you yell at me." And I meant it. Whether I knew it or not, that was the moment that I realized that I wanted to take care of older people the rest of my career.

I subsequently focused some of my fourth year elective rotations on Geriatrics, working with Tom Cole and Dr. Derek Princely. I even wrote a paper on why I thought that Geriatrics should be a primary care speciality. I then went on to do my internal medicine residency as Cedars-Sinai Hospital. But, it was always a Geriatrics residency. I read everything I could about Geriatric Medicine. I tried to see my patients through the eyes of a Geriatrician. I was fortunate to have as one of my mentors, Mark Levinstein, a Geriatrician who spent a year at Cedars while I was there. I even took the initiative and did a research project that I ultimately published on the value of the white blood cell count and the peripheral blood smear in diagnosing bacterial infections in the elderly. I obviously then did my Geriatric Fellowship at UCLA before beginning my career with Kaiser-Permanente in Woodland Hills. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

From a young age I always wanted to be around "the old people". Whenever family was in the house, I always wanted to sit around and talk and listen to the older people. I was close to my grandparents. My grandfather and I shared a love for sports. He always had the Dodger game on the radio or television. My grandmother was just about the nicest and most non-judgemental person I've ever known (a gene I think I inherited). My grandparents would take me to the horse races at Hollywood Park or Santa Anita. When I was 17, we traveled to Chicago to visit our relatives. I always had an affinity for being around older people. I also had an affinity for wanting to change the world. I was writing letters to the President of the United States when I was six years old, telling him to get us out of the war in Vietnam (yes, my father was an anti-war protester). I wrote letters to Menahem Begin with my ideas of how to solve the problems in the Middle East.

Once I realized that I wanted to be a Geriatrician, however, my life began to revolve around that concept. The paper I wrote as a fourth year medical student was but one example. I digested everything thing I could about Geriatrics, about the politics of health care as it related to Geriatrics. It's funny, but I've always told people that being a Geriatrician is not a job, it's a life. You have to be a doctor, a clergy person, a social worker, an economist, a financial planner, even a politician. And I've been and done all of that. From the moment I made my decision, everything I have ever done has been focused on trying to not only be the best Geriatrician that I could be, but also to try to make society a better place for seniors to live.

I have been quite fortunate to have had some great mentors. I've already mentioned a few, but that was just the beginning of a list that I look back upon in some degree of awe. John Morley, David Rubenstein, David Solomon, Al Sui, Joe Ouslander, Dan Osterweil, Dave Reuben, Mark Beers, Fran Kaiser, Richard DellaPenna. This virtual who's who of Geriatricians were my source of information and inspiration. These were the people who touched my life during my training and first years as a Geriatrician. They inspired me to want to make a difference.

Somewhere pretty early along the way I realized that just seeing patients was not enough for me. I wanted to touch more lives than the ones that only I could see and personally care for. This lead me to pursue administrative duties while at Kaiser-Permanente. It ultimately led me to leave California to move to Denver to join a company called GeriMed of America, a geriatric medical management company whose purpose was in line with my goals and dreams. When this didn't work, I founded Senior Care of Colorado with Don Murphy. I would create my own practice and allow myself and others to practice Geriatrics the way it was meant to be practiced. There was always one obstacle clearly in the way of this path. It was the government. Medicare is a federally legislated program. Congress determines how it is run, how physicians are reimbursed, etc. It wasn't long before I got involved with my congressmen and senators. I believed that this was going to be necessary in order to make a bigger difference. That, unfortunately, has been a frustrating path (more on that another day).

Senior Care of Colorado grew from six physicians and two physician assistants over nine years (2001 to now) to close to thirty physicians and thirty five physician assistants and nurse practitioners. I find myself employing over 150 people. Is this what I signed up for? It has to be, because I'm still the young medical student feeling guilty because an elderly woman apologized for yelling at me. I'm still the idealist wanting seniors to get the best possible care. I revered my grandparents and I love working with seniors. Their stories and insight are of great value. We live in a society that sometimes forgets this and treats our elderly like children. In fact, I was reminded of this today by the sudden death of Fern Osborne. Those who knew Fern knew her to be a tireless and headstrong support of senior issues. She was someone to look up to and she will be sorely missed. I am fortunate, however, to interact with many children who care deeply about their parents and try to juggle everything that society throws us in dealing with very complex issues. Some children have their frail elderly parents living with them at home. Others visit them daily in their assisted living, retirement and nursing homes.

Being a Geriatrician is about making a difference. It's about doing whatever it takes to help seniors live a better life. It's about listening and understanding. It's about being there for people who are vulnerable, and their families. When I think about it, it's not ever really been a hard decision to see me having gone in this direction. It is who I am, and who I always will be.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. George Here I Come!

So, yesterday I loaded my new St. George Ironman Bike Course Real Interactive Video onto my computer and computrainer and rode my bike (indoors) for 4 hours. This is exciting for a few reasons. I got to actually see the course from T1 through mile 57, which basically covers all of the uphill portions and some of the downhill portion of the course. I always ride slower than my wattage would suggest on my computrainer, so my relatively small distance for 4 hours doesn't concern me (It typically takes me close to 3 1/2 hours to ride the 56 miles of the 5430 course on my computrainer, and I've done that course in 2 1/2- 2 3/4 hours on race day). Anyway, I'm excited for two reasons. First, here it is, early December, and I'm riding 4 hours indoors. It's actually the longest indoor ride I've ever done. Second, I only have a small amount of soreness in my quads the day after doing this ride.

I'm five months from race day and I know that I'll be in great bike shape for the race. I'm really not worried about the swim, that will come once I can use my left arm again, although I continue to be encouraged by my one armed swimming! That leaves the run, and that will be whatever it is, but I'll have between 3 and 4 months to get in run shape. Having completed an open marathon several years ago on very minimal run training (about 15 hours a week, longest run of 5 miles), I know that I'll be much better prepared than I was for that marathon!

Took today pretty easy, swam in the morning, did a radio show after that (that was fun!), and then did a recovery ride on my bike. We had company this afternoon and saw the latest rough cut for the first two episodes of Little Blossom, on our big screen t.v.! It was awesome! I continue to be so proud of my daughter. She is an editing genius!

Lots going on at work, and I have a pretty full week ahead of me. I'm trying my best to ignore the political situation, as I have no control over it.

I'm six weeks removed from my bicycle accident and feel like I'm healing pretty well. I let someone hug me yesterday, however, and my shoulder hurt the rest of the day. No more hugs:(, at least not for several more weeks.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rest Day:)

Realized that I've actually done some type of workout every day for the past two weeks, so, in preparation for this weekend, I took the day off from exercise. My allergies/sinuses have also been bothering me, which tends to happen when I've pushed the exercise a little too hard anyway, although that's always hard to tell.

Spent the afternoon with my family, we went to Best Buy and raided the $4-5 movie bin! Now that I'm a television producer, I've really got to watch as much as possible to learn more about the business:)

Justine is "in the zone" with her editing for Little Blossom. She will be finished with the rough edit of the second episode this weekend. It's looking terrific, I couldn't be a prouder father.

Had a great week at work, really getting back in the groove and doing what I enjoy. Did some house calls today, and spent some delightful time with the sharpest 98 year old I've met in awhile! My two little fractures don't really mean much compared to some of the things that my patients live with.

Will be kicking back and taking it easy tonight!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

50 yards in 50 seconds

Interesting day in the pool. Did my one armed stroke focusing on my form and feeling very relaxed and comfortable in what is now my typical time of 75 seconds. I then tried to go a little faster while maintaining my form and got it down to 60 seconds. Finally, I gave it everything I had, but really had to keep my form and alternate hard kicking with solid form and managed to do 50 yards in 50 seconds. This wasn't all out, and I'm not sure I can actually swim "all out" with one arm. This was a real confidence builder insofar as I'm now quite certain that I can begin to regain my swim endurance and keep my form. I'm not really worried about my left arm not being as strong, as in the end it's still all about the form.

On a side note, the Republicans are making a big deal about the recent suggestions by a very competent task force regarding mammograms. It's amazing how politics keeps bpeople from being logical. Tests can actually create problems, and abnormal results can lead to procedures and complications. Data is data and it's not politics. That said, while I support the present health care reform bill, it's not because I think it's going to do much, it's just going to move a very large rock out of a very large hole and begin to try to change a system that is broken. So, the Democrats have their political rhetoric as well.

Monday, November 30, 2009

one armed swimming:)

Tired today, but hit the pool at the end of the day for about 20 minutes. Did one armed drills and kicking drills. You can't cheat on the one armed drills when you can really only use one arm! This may actually be good for my form. Did some dolphin kicking, which is good for the core. All in all, a good way to relax after work. Went home and just hung with the family. This is what life is all about:)

Recap of last week: 12 hours, all on a computrainer. Depending on who you talk to, this is the equivalent of 16-18 total hours of riding outside, which would be like riding 300 miles. The 220 "actual" computrainer miles is the second highest volume I've ever done for a week. The neat thing is that my quads would be a little sore the morning after riding, but fine within 24 hours. I keep thinking that I am going to be in the most awesome bike shape come St. George! Now, I just need to get the shoulder and hip healed up:)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

3 Hours on the Computrainer

Right now the hardest part about riding my bike indoors is my butt:). So, every hour, I got off the bike for 1-2 minutes to just stretch out, and actually it worked out ok.

Yesterday was exciting, I got in the pool for 10 minutes and swam with one arm for all of 200 yards. It felt wonderful to be in the water, it really is relaxing. Also, my form had to be good with one arm. I couldn't fake it. In fact, it's interesting how I did one arm swimming better and with better form than ever before.

I also spent 10 minutes on an elliptical trainer. This was tough, but I kind of got my bearings as I went along. I'll keep working on this.

So, how about my bike ride today. In terms of my endurance, I'm doing quite well. Three hours on the computrainer is solid and my legs felt absolutely fine. I went pretty easy for the first two hours, keeping my HR mostly in zone 2; then, at my coach's request, did 5x5minutes hard (pushing just into my lactate threshold HR range); and then spun easily for 5 minutes in between each one. My ave wattage for each of these was 180, which is probably about 30 watts less than where I normally am when my bike fitness is good. Not bad for the dead of winter and over 5 months to go before St. George. If I keep putting in the time and effort, I'll be in great bike shape come May 1st.

I'm just taking it easy this afternoon. My shoulder was a little sore this morning, but didn't hurt on the bike ride, that is, didn't hurt any worse on the bike ride. So, it was aching a bit, but it was aching before I started riding. I think I may have jarred it slightly last night by accident, but doubt I did anything bad. The hip seems to be doing ok. The more time I spend on the couch the better right now.

I'm now back to work for two weeks and really getting back in my groove. We're nearing the end of the year and it will get a little crazy in about two weeks. But things are going well, which always helps. When things are tough it's easier to get anxious or stressed. I have to remind myself sometimes that when things are going well nothing should really get to me.

I'm expecting some more bike time tomorrow, this will be one of my biggest bike weeks ever!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Making progress

Worked this morning and rode on my computrainer this afternoon for almost 2 hours. I'm making progress on the bike, getting my fitness back. It's actually pretty remarkable, here I am, I can hardly walk (not really, I can walk, I just shouldn't be walking), but I can ride my bike just fine. That's really good news for my St. George preparation. I looked at some blogs about the course today and the bike course sounds reasonable. There will be a few 8-10% grades of short duration, but generally 8% will be about the worst climb. I know from my ride in Colorado Springs back in September that this won't be a problem. That said, I'll still have to figure out my max effort for such climbs. An ironman is all about pacing.

So, right now, I'm just plugging away, putting in a ton of aerobic bicycle time. Well, not a ton yet, but I will be soon. It's nice to know that I can go almost two hours indoors right now and survive mentally. Thank goodness for West Wing DVD's.

One of the really neat things about this week is that I literally did nothing for three weeks after my accident and clearly lost some fitness. That's generally not a bad thing, allowing your body to recuperate, but I was pushing wattages at about 70% of what I had been doing for a similar heart rate. Already, in less than a week and a half, I've increased my wattage by ~10%. It will be interesting to see what happens over the course of the next 4-8 weeks if I persist in putting in a lot of bike time at zone 2 effort.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Realizing a Dream and Maintaining a Balance

As I've set my next goal as the St. George Ironman, I clearly have to make sure that I'm doing it for the right reasons.  My last blog helps me to remember the importance of doing an ironman in my life.  It's something that has been a goal of mine for many years.  However, my first goal is my wife and family.  Doing an ironman can not get in the way of that.  I was reminded of that fact this morning.  I had set my alarm for 6am so I could get some bike time in.  My wife had a bad night's sleep and therefore so did I.  First of all, I reset my alarm and ended up waking up before it went off at 6:40am.  I didn't read the newspaper (something I always do), and I managed to get in 35 minutes on the bike before taking a quick shower and getting to work on time.  As I drove in, I thought about what this meant.  It became very clear to me.  Again, my first goal is my family.  They come first.  As much as I love triathlon, I love my family more.  However, reading the newspaper has to get pushed way down my list, possibly off of it.  I can think of other things I do that I can reprioritize.  I've already decided to take an extra day off of work from January through April.  I truly believe that these adjustments will allow me to realize my dream while maintaining the balance that is rapidly becoming the most important thing to me.  I am also very comfortable with the reality that I will now pick family time and issues over training without any question or disappointment.  At the end of the day, it's a matter of priority.  And I know what mine are.  By the way, when I got home, my family was out getting dinner and shopping.  I managed another 55 minutes on bike.  I can do this.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why do I Tri?

I can’t start this story without thinking about my dad, who grew up, literally, on the streets of Detroit, wanting to be a major league baseball player. My dad used to tell us how he would stay out until it got dark (or even after that), having his sister throw balls at his feet, so he could develop the fearlessness that was needed to be a superb defensive ballplayer. To this day, at the age of 75, my dad won’t let a ball get by him! Baseball dominated my father’s life, to the point that he didn’t care about school, or studying, or anything else. Needless to say, he didn’t make it to the major leagues. Interestingly, there are pictures of me swinging a baseball bat when I was two or three years old, but by the time I was five, my dad had undergone a renaissance, and decided that he didn’t want his children to have the same singular focus on sports that he had growing up. He wanted them to read, study and, at least for me, to become doctors. If he attempts any revisionist history on this story, I will quickly remind him of the chickens he had me dissect when I was nine years old!

I did become a voracious reader. I did decide at the age of nine that I wanted to become a doctor. But I also spent many hours reading about our country’s sports heroes. To this day there is nary a sport that I am unfamiliar with. I stayed out late throwing balls against the wall or up in the air, on one memorable occasion, missing the ball and having it hit me in the eye (I was never the most coordinated kid). When I was eleven, I’d stay out late playing basketball with my friend Mark Goldman. As I got older, I’d play baseball, football and basketball with my brothers. I have always loved sports and it’s in my blood.

Ironically, while both of my brothers played little league baseball, the idea that I might do that never really came up. This was all probably complicated by the fact that I had asthma as a child, but more likely, it just wasn’t encouraged. I once suggested to my parents that I might want to try playing football, and I think the response was along the lines of me having made some kind of a joke. I didn’t help my cause, when finally at the age of 13, I tried out for the freshman basketball team. I had skipped the eighth grade and was already at a disadvantage because of that. I was not the most coordinated kid, and I couldn’t figure out how to do the “weave” for the life of me. I got discouraged pretty quickly and after getting quite winded after having to run in practice, I quit. I blamed having to quit on my asthma and no one questioned me. It’s ironic that my brother, Craig, was discouraged from quitting the football team and then praised for having stuck it out.

So, I ultimately became relegated to highly competitive games of basketball and ping pong with my brothers and father as I grew up and went through high school. I went off to college and a funny thing happened. I gravitated to playing intramural floor hockey. The first year I stuck to the coed team, but by my second year I played on an all men’s team. My confidence was in playing defense, where I was tenacious and gave it everything I had every second I was out there. I actually love telling the story about how I went to a Genetics mid term in my floor hockey outfit and with my hockey stick, finished the test as fast as I could, and made it to the start of one of our big games. I began spending most of my spare time practicing and eventually dropped out of college towards the end of my sophomore year.

One of the ironies of all of this is that throughout all of these years I had never run a mile without stopping. When I was in high school, my dad briefly jumped on to the running craze and I followed him to the track a few times. I even tried to run, but generally started out way too fast and stopped way too soon. It never took.

After taking a year off and coming back to college, I continued to play intramural basketball. My favorite basketball story, perhaps of my entire life, was captured on video, when playing in the semifinal game of our hospital’s league during my residency, I was the “1” in a “3 on 1” fast break led by the opposing team’s star player. I got position at the top of the key and took the “charge”, his head hitting me squarely on the chin. I needed 13 stitches, but I always love telling people that he was never the same and we won the game, putting us in the finals, which I played in, all bandaged up, just a few days later.

My internship, residency and fellowship years were a blur, though I usually made time for some sports. I then started practicing with Kaiser Permanente. I was thirty years old, and quickly found my way into the Kaiser basketball league, where I found myself getting injured more often than not. Ironically, this was certainly related to my propensity to forget that I was smaller and weighed less than most of the other players. I also began having trouble with my knees swelling up. I decided that this wasn’t the best direction and I took up recreational swimming. After doing this for awhile, I somehow figured out that I needed to strengthen my knees and I began working out on a stairmaster. I always did this while listening to music, and built up to going about 40-60 minutes at a time. From there, at the age of 32, I began running on a treadmill, first for a mile (my first mile straight in my life), then for two and finally for four miles. My knees were holding up, I still needed to listen to music while running, but I was ready to run outdoors. I ran my first 5K, using what was going to become my typical pattern of going out way too fast, dying in the middle, and hanging on at the end.

Somewhere in the back of my head, I had carried around the picture of Julie Moss crawling across the finish line at the Hawaii Ironman. I was now swimming and running, so adding in a bike ride and doing a triathlon just seemed to be the right thing to do. I did my first tri in Cerritos in 1992 at the age of 32. It was a run-bike-swim, and I was hooked! I wanted to do an ironman! This actually fit into my life long pattern of wanting to push myself to the highest goals as quickly as possible. I signed up for tough tri at Castaic Lake, and truthfully, was not fully prepared or trained to do it. Fortunately, in retrospect, my wife woke up sick and I didn’t do the race. I was disappointed, something she recently reminded me of. I’m not sure what disappointed me the most, just not getting to do the race, or the fact that my dad was going to be there watching and I’m sure I wanted to impress him. Nevertheless, I pressed on, and figured out that I was sure that I could swim 2 miles and bike 112 miles, but had no clue if I could run the requisite 26.2 miles necessary to complete an ironman. So, my next goal took shape. I needed to run a marathon. This began a journey that led to me running nine marathons in the next six years. I also signed up for my first half ironman in 1993.

It was “Mike and Rob’s Most Excellent Triathlon”. About six weeks before the race my front wheel came off my bike while riding to work. I needed some stitches in my chin, bruised my shoulder and broke a bone in my wrist. I got a removable cast so I could get back in the pool and kept training. I finished the race and can now look back and realize that my training was never fully ideal for the distance, but I had finished.

I then got on with the task of marathon training so I could pursue my ironman goal. I chose the 1994 Los Angeles Marathon as my target race. True to form, I did the first mile way too fast and crashed and burned when I “hit the wall” at 18 miles, staggering home in 4 hours and 47 minutes.

We moved to Denver in the summer of 1994 and I was truly excited to be moving near the mecca of triathlon, Boulder. Ironically, there were far more tri’s in California at the time and I ended up focusing more on running marathons over the next several years. I achieved my best marathon time in 1997 in Philadelphia, running 3 hours and 35 minutes, but 2 years later, after doing 3 marathons over the course of several months, suffered a herniated disc (L5-S1) and stopped running. I fell into a bit of an exercise funk over the next few years, gained almost 20 pounds, and added considerable work related stress to my life.

The timing of this was both ironic and metaphorical. I had set a goal for myself of doing an ironman when I turned forty, and here I was, turning forty, with a herniated disc and getting out of shape. I was also commuting from Denver to Orlando every week and living a life completely consumed by work and stress. I decided that I should put off doing an ironman until I was fifty. My ability to rationalize my training became my ability to rationalize not training.

It was around 1999 when my dad told me he wanted to get in shape. I put him on a walking/running program and a funny thing happened, after 45 seconds of running, he felt very short of breath and had to stop. I told him to see the doctor. He did, and was set up for a treadmill. He cancelled his appointment and didn’t say anything to me. He came to visit us in Denver in 2000 and we were walking outside and he grabbed onto his chest. I told him he needed a treadmill, which he got an appointment for when he went home. This story ended with an aortic aneurysm repair and a triple bypass. My long held excuse for not worrying about heart disease because I didn’t have a family history was now long gone! I used this as my stimulus to get back into exercising and once again gravitated to doing triathlon’s as my goal methodology. I started cycling and doing some running and swimming and in 2003 resumed my triathlon quest.

As I look back upon my life, it is clear that I have a love for sports. There isn’t a sport I enjoy watching. I also love participating in sports, although the “safest” are non contact sports. There has clearly been an affinity to triathlons for a number of reasons. I’ve always said that the people who do triathlons are amongst the nicest you’ll ever meet. They tend to be focused on a healthy lifestyle and generally are more laid back. The fact that triathlon focuses on three different sports allows for variation, and this reduces boredom or any feeling of getting stale.

It’s taken awhile to really love swimming, but I love being in the water. It’s relaxing. As I’ve learned better technique, I’ve finally begun to develop that “feel” for the water that some swimmers talk about. This has helped me to enjoy swimming even more, and has helped me become a better swimmer. Prior to my last race (and bike accident), I was feeling like I was really coming into my own as a swimmer and was really looking forward to ironman swim training.

The science of becoming a better cyclist involves proper technique and effective training. Riding outdoors can be relaxing and enjoyable. I certainly look forward to the long lower intensity rides needed for ironman. I am clearly going to be relegated to long rides indoors for awhile, but can generally manage these by watching my favorite movies and just being happy about the physiologic progress that I’ll be making.

Running is clearly its own joy. There’s nothing like running on trails and just enjoying what’s around you. I will miss running for the next couple of months and will have to be careful when I come back to it. It’s going to be hard to not go out and try to run too much! When I started running seventeen years ago I needed headphones and music in order to withstand what I considered the tedium of running. I will never forget a long run I did a couple of years after getting started. It was in a nature reserve in orange county on the way to the beach. I was out for a long run with my headphones on. During the return part of the run, I took my headphones off and just began listening to the birds and appreciating the surroundings. I never wore headphones again! While I listen to “The Best of the Beach Boys” when I’m on the treadmill, I don’t need any outside stimulus when I’m running outdoors.

I haven’t even mentioned the transitions we do in triathlons. These add an additional component, and I see this as yet another discipline. I also consider myself to be somewhat of an aficionado when it comes to transitions, and my transition times support this.

Yes, I’m competitive. Yes, historically, I compete primarily with myself. While I am now more competitive with other people due to the improvements I’ve made over the last few years, at the end of the day, I enjoy participating. I enjoy the different disciplines. When I get too caught up in my times and my results, I find that I can be disappointed even when I “do well”. Winning my age group doesn’t have the joy and excitement that just giving my best effort has. Triathlon became a metaphor for the rest of my life, rather than being about my love of sport.

So, why do I tri? I tri because I love sports. I tri because it feels good to swim, bike and run. I tri because I like to see what my body can accomplish. I like the feeing of giving it my best, of trying my hardest. I tri because I love the sport of triathlon. Finally, I tri because I can. And I will continue to tri.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Official Diagnosis

So, I got the final report from my MRI and CT scans. I already knew about my distal clavicle fracture. The good news is that my rotator cuff is essentially intact. What was somewhat surprising was that I had an acetabular (hip) fracture that extended somewhat into my ischium and pubic bone (pelvis). The good news is that they were non-displaced and stable fractures. The bad news is that I can't run for 8 more weeks and need to minimize weight bearing pressure on my left hip in order to let it heal. So, no swimming or running for 8 more weeks.

The good news, however, is that the orthopedic surgeon has told me that I can do the St. George Ironman on May 1st. I will be healed by mid to late January and can resume my run and swim training at that time. In the meantime, I'm going to get tons of bike training in. In fact, I've already managed to get in rides of 60, 90 and 120 minutes this week (obviously on my indoor trainer).

I've been using a cane to keep the pressure off my left hip, and the stress of doing this adds up throughout the day. I've also been giving considerable thought to why I do triathlons. More on that in the coming days!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Contemplation and Flashbacks

I keep flashing back to my crash, and I'm now pretty sure that I may have gotten slightly disoriented just prior to the crash, having been swimming for an hour and jumping onto my bike. It certainly doesn't take long to lose control of a bike.

So, taking stock of my injuries, I can feel the left shoulder healing. I took off a piece at the end of the clavicle, but I don't know how important it is:). I'll have to wait until I get home to see someone and get some opinions. In the meantime, I can't use the shoulder, although I'm finally starting to get used to being able to use my left hand (i.e. typing this blog) without lifting my shoulder. My left hip is another story. At least I can walk, although it is slow, I think I move at about 2mph! It still hurts, and I'm having good days a bad days. Can't tell if it's a muscle or the bone that was chipped that hurts, I'll have to wait until I get home to have my fearless massage therapist figure it out:)!

It's taking a little work to "enjoy" a vacation with the injuries, but I have lots of time to sit ponder:). My triathlon future is certainly still out there, but the timing of it may have to pend seeing an orthopedist when I return. That said, the one thing that I thought about a lot while on the bike and thereafter was that I don't have anything left to "prove" to myself when it comes to triathlon, or anything else for that matter. I've been trying to understand my drive with tri's, and it clearly involves trying to "prove" that I can be a successful athlete. I think that I really need to work on just enjoying the activities, and as my coach always says I'm a better trainer than racer, that may not be too difficult to achieve.

The injury has taught me to slow down! I'm always moving at 100mph, so I think that this is a good thing.

Well, my shoulder is saying it's time to stop typing:)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Worlds and my first DNF

Another story and another lesson (though I have to ponder what it is). Swim went great, very tough, 2/3 of swim was against a strong current, but I maintained a very solid effort and stayed with the bulk of my wave. Good transition and started out on the bike. Less than 1k from the start I somehow, trying to stay on the left (it's Australia), I drifted into a sandy gutter and the next thing I new I was going down. I was probably going ±25mph when I had a pretty spectacular crash, as my bike went down onto the curb and the grass on the sideof the road. I slid a good 20-30 feet. Spectators came to my aid, got my bike and encouraged me to keep going (go USA!). I did, and completed the bike with as hard an effort as I could muster,knowing that I was not right. I think I kept close to 20 mph despite very windy conditions. I knew my left shoulder was not good, and had a recurring twinge in my left hip. But, I didn't come to Perth not to finish! As soon as I got off the bike, however, I knew that I couldn't run. I spent 20 minutes in the medical tent where they injected my presumed grade 2 shoulder separation with lidocaine. I had range of motion in my left hip, despite the pain, so I got up and walked the 1st 5k loop, although the pain in my groin kept getting worse. After the loop I went back to the medical tent, came very close to passing out, very close. That got me a trip to the hospital. Diagnosis: small avulsion fracture (bone chip) left clavicle, and a small chip in the left actetabulum (hip). No major fractures, but certainly reason to be in pain and hardly being able to walk. I will heal from this, and contemplate my future:). In the meantime, I will enjoy the rest of my vacation, albeit with less walking and pretty much one arm:). As always, I gave it my best effort! I was proud to wear the red white and blue and perservere.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The day after

I only slept 7 hours last night, as I continue to have dreams, perhaps nightmares, of our television production. A full day of work (my regular job), and I really only began to feel pretty tired at about 3 pm. Not bad for the day after a half ironman and especially after the last week. Somehow, I think that my fitness level has allowed me to survive the last week.

I realized today that I have completed 3 half ironman's in a span of 18 weeks. And, all of them have been done within a range of 19 minutes (from fastest to slowest). Not bad for consistency. I look back at yesterday and know that I could have broken 5 hours if I'd been well rested, but it reminds me yet again that the time matters less than the effort. If I gave it everything I had, than I can be proud and happy with the result. I was more sore today than I'd been after a race in a long time. It was total body soreness, which is a good sign. I was fatigued, but manageably, especially as I survived a full day of work followed by a dinner meeting for Little Blossom.

My coach ( has told me that I must rest the next few days, and he is right. Even if I feel like exercising, it must be easy. I don't want to get sick at this point in time.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Little Blossom Ironman, or, how not to taper for a half ironman.

In December, my wife and I came back from a weekend out of town and our daughters, Raishel and Justine, showed us a script for the pilot of a television series. We were so impressed with it that we suggested that we ought to produce the show. Little did we realize the path that we were about to embark upon.

For the past seven months, my wife and daughters have been working very hard to get the production organized. My daughter, Justine, put together a website ( and then organized auditions for over 250 actors! Before we knew it, we had forty actors under contract and a shooting schedule organized.

In the meantime, I’ve continued my training uninterrupted. California 70.3 went fine, albeit I entered it a little overtrained and was slower than I’d hoped. However, I recovered almost completely in a couple of days and realized that I was ready for the next level. I signed up for Ironman St. George next May. My training continued to go well and I had my best half ironman result at Eagleman 70.3 in June. I was really excited and looking forward to the 5430 Long Course today. Although it was just a “C” race, my training has been going quite well.

I had saved some of my vacation days, which were sorely needed, in order to take a week off to participate in the production of Little Blossom. I often tell people that my training has made me quite sensitive to recognizing the physical impact of stress. It’s a fine line to balance the training and work and life, but at the same time, I’ve become more aware of the impact of stressors.

Last Saturday, I finished my last long run and it felt great. Later that morning, we began shooting Little Blossom. Thus began my journey over the last week and the “Little Blossom Ironman”. We had no previous experience in the production business. Our first day of shooting went fairly well, but we were unable to complete the last scene, ultimately necessitating another day of shooting at the location. This day would turn out to be the shortest day of the week, lasting only 13 ½ hours! And, I started the day by running 10 miles. I was able to ride my bike on Sunday and then the fun began on Monday!

Monday morning started with getting up at 4:30 a.m., in order to be at our make-up location at 5:00 a.m. We were supposed to start shooting at 8:00 a.m., but the delays started and kept happening. While I don’t remember everything about the day at this point, I realized that I was now a television producer. While my wife had been doing this job for several months, I had no clue as to what this entailed. The learning curve was steep and in the end, I’m not sure if I really handled it. My stress level began increasing at a geometric rate.

The rest of the week continued at a similar pace. Waking up early, getting home late, sleeping very little. Dealing with the stress of new issues that I have no experience dealing with. All in all, I ended up averaging 18 hour work days and 4 hours sleep. I might have been better off spending the week at Guantanamo!

Obviously, there was no time for training, but it was a pre-race week anyway, so I wasn’t worried. I realized that I was also spending most of the days on my feet, although I probably handled this well due to my fitness level. That said, not the best preparation for a half ironman. So, the day before the race came and my stress level hit an all time high. I was able to get some rest the night before and actually got 7 hours sleep. Ironically, I always say that my body needs 8 hours of sleep a night. I obviously hadn’t come close in the previous week and didn’t even hit that number the two nights before my race.

Race morning came and I felt ok, although not my usual rested state prior to a race. Mentally, I felt pretty good, although I was still carrying some of the stress in the back of my head. I even had given some thought to not even doing the race.

The swim start went fine and I really tried not to swim too hard (one of my typical challenges). In fact, my swim time was similar to previous races, although that should have been the first sign that something was amiss, as my swim has improved significantly this year. The bike started ok, but I realized that I was having trouble hitting wattages that a week earlier were easy for me. I went through the first loop about 7 minutes slower than my goal and decided to push harder the second loop, which actually led to a negative split of about 4 minutes. That said, my legs didn’t feel too good as I got off the bike, an unusual feeling for me. Usually, I actually feel great initially during the run. Today’s run was a challenge from the first steps I took. Again, it would have been easy to either stop or just slow down, but that’s not why I do these races. I pushed as hard as I could and actually kept a pretty even pace for the first half of the run. The second half was definitely harder, but only 4 minutes slower than the first half. When I got to the finish I felt more crushed by a race than I have felt in some time, but was also quite happy with my effort. In fact, I was only 14 minutes off my best time on this course. Most of that time was actually on the bike.

First of all, it was not lost on me that the Little Blossom filming days were 18 hours long, an hour over the cut off time for doing an ironman. The days were long and brutal and doing five successive days was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. In some respects, I was looking forward to the half ironman, however, I entered it with far more fatigue than I’ve ever had, even from a 17 hour training week (there’s that number again).

The end result is all that much remarkable. I think that St. George will be “easy” compared to this week. OK, not really, but at least it will be comparable!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Perfect Effort

I can't call Eagleman the perfect race, but I think it was the perfect effort.  One of the things I was concerned about going into the race was my propensity to lose focus on the run and not maintain my hardest effort all the way to the end.  I feel very positive that I achieved that goal on Sunday.  

Friday night as part of the CEO Challenge program we had dinner with Ritchie Cunningham (RC) and Mirinda Carfrae.  They were very nice and I'll come back to this later insofar as Ritchie also did the California 70.3 and came in fourth and ended up coming in second at Eagleman.  I realized as I wrote this that I actually now had a good point of reference to compare the two races.  Mirinda won the woman's race.  Pretty cool!

Race preparation started on Saturday with a swim in the Choptank River.  It was here that I learned about the multitude of jellyfish inhabiting the river.  I hate jellyfish, but I was told  that they were small ones that caused a "tingle" rather than stinging a lot.  I was racing tomorrow, there was no way around it, so I figured I needed to embrace this concept and get on with it.  My warm up swim went fine, although I did feel a "tingle" on my lip one time during the swim.  I spent part of the day hanging out with my family, which I really enjoyed.  I often place myself in solitude the day before a race, but I am questioning that approach.  Mentally, it was nice to have my family around.

I didn't have the best night's sleep, as the room next to ours was having their own little party.  In fact, we had to call security at midnight to get them to turn the music off.  They kept talking loudly well into the night.  That said, I awoke before my alarm and set off to the race site.  Got my transition set up and then just chilled until the start.  No run or bike warm up for this race, I don't know exactly why, but I just didn't feel I needed it.  I knew that I'd get 5-6 minutes of warm up time in the water before the start.

I checked my pulse sitting down and relaxing and it was 39.  This was a good sign.  Went into the water with my wave (we were the next to last wave) and warmed up for about 5 minutes.  I lined up right at the front and had no troubles going hard and getting on some feet for drafting purposes.  My effort was solid and I felt good.  Fortunately, the river is so dark, you couldn't see the jellyfish.  The water was 76 degrees, so certainly on the warm side.  This never helps, as I'd rather swim in colder water.  That said, I felt good and found someone who was going at a pace that seemed right for me.  It was a pace that was neither too fast or too slow, I felt like if I pulled off his draft it would be harder.  I should have realized I might have an issue, however, when he slowed down a couple of times, causing me to literally stop briefly.  Half way through the swim (my heart rate monitor later showed me to have a heart rate ~ 150), he literally stopped to tread water.  Now I had a decision to make.  It didn't seem prudent to stop and chat, so I kept going, but the nearest swimmer ahead of me in a neon green cap (my wave), was a good 20 yards ahead.  I began working to bridge the gap and catch him, which I ultimately did, but in retrospect, my HR went above 160 and my effort climbed.  It was manageable, but I definitely put forth a lot more energy.  It turned out, in fact, not to be worth it, because he ultimately went off course and my pre-race reconnaissance didn't pay off, as I found myself heading towards the rocks that jutted out in front of the finish area.  The buoys actually directed you there, instead of around them.  Something else to remember for the future.  Look closely at the course the morning of the race and get your sighting down!

Nevertheless, I came out of the water in about 34:06 (at California I swam 34:09;  first comparison, RC swam 24:16 at Eagleman and 22:33 at California).  If felt like I'd had a good swim and in fact was 16th in my age group out of the water.  My swim continues to get better!  I took my time getting to and through transition, and still had a very solid transition time of 2:16.  I was on the bike and quickly settled into my aero position and realized that my heart rate was 170! I felt good, my legs felt good and my breathing was fine, so I scrapped my heart rate plans and just rode as hard as I could while feeling good and comfortable.  I tried to keep wattage close to 150-160, but during some stretches with a tailwind, really had trouble pushing the wattage up.  It took literally an hour for my heart rate to gradually come down to 150, and my average wattage for the hour was only about 140 (ave HR=158).  For the next twenty minutes I averaged about 180 watts and found that my heart rate had really settled in, averaging 150.  Looking at the data I realize that I  then hit a 15 minute stretch where my average wattage dipped to 112, although my HR stayed at 150 (sometimes I have to question the accuracy of the powertap).  Then, finally for the last hour, I averaged closer to 175 watts.   This included a 30 minute period of averaging 192 watts with an average HR=150.  That's all of the technical stuff.  The fun stuff was that I ended up in a group of guys that included a few people in my age group and we kept rotating the lead (without drafting, of course) for the first 2/3 of the bike.  We also passed a ton of people, many of whom had no clue where to ride, side, middle, other lane(!), which made the ride a little more challenging.  There was one guy, Nace Mullen, wearing his Team USA uniform who I kept exchanging places with throughout the bike (more on him later).  The ride was pretty fun, very flat, winds were manageable, until the significant head winds finally arrived.  Ironically, it slowed the others in my group down more than it did me.  In fact Nace and I pulled ahead of everyone else.  While my speed dropped, my power went up and my heart rate held steady.  I was feeling fine.  I don't think I could have or should have pushed any harder at this point.  Nace pulled ahead of me during the last mile, but my usual quick transition got me out of T2 ahead of him.  I did take an extra 10 seconds to put vaseline on my feet (I will always do that in the future, no blisters!).  

My bike time was 2:36:15 (compared to 2:51:10 in California), good for 12th in my age group (only 5 minutes slower than the 4th fastest time, so very respectable.  Of note, RC rode 2:15:00 in California and 2:11:14 here).  Clearly, I had a big jump in my bike compared to California.  In retrospect, I have to wonder if I could have given back a minute or two on the swim in order to gain 4-5 minutes on the bike.  It's nitpicking in terms of time.  The neat thing was my ability to give the concerted effort on the swim and the bike, although I may have backed off at times on the bike in order to recover.

So, next comes the run.  This was what I'd been thinking about for the previous few days.  I wasn't going allow my focus to slack off and immediately started off with a good pace.  I kept my leg turnover quick, put ice in my tri shorts at the first aide station and managed a 7:38 for the first mile.  This was around the time that Nace caught me, I ran with him for about 400 yards, learned his name and that this was his first 70.3, his prior distance specialty was olympic, at which he'd earned All American status in our age group as well as qualifying for Worlds.  I realized that I couldn't stay with him, so I let him go ahead, but maintained my pace for mile 2 at 7:54.  The next five miles were all about consistency, staying cool and keeping from getting a side stitch (which I avoided).  I also was preparing myself for the turnaround, which was looking better all the time due to the headwind the majority of the way out!  I averaged 8:26 pace for these five miles, but still passed a bunch of people.  I hit the turnaround and immediately increased my already focused self.  Somewhere along the way I started my "grunting" with each breath.  It may actually scare people as I pass them:), I was determined.  I kept looking ahead to the next person and tried the rubber band concept of reeling them in, and reel them in I did.  My pace stayed constant and my effort got consistently more difficult.  In fact, the last three miles required every ounce of mental energy I had left.  I ended up averaging 8:13 for the next six miles, including 7:51 for the last mile.  During the entire run, three people in my age group passed me (one of them was Nace, who ended up putting an additional nine minutes on me to finish 7th in our age group).  With about two miles left, though, I saw one of the guys who had passed me and he was walking, I went by him as quickly as I could and kept my pace. The last mile was somewhat of a blur, I just wanted to get to the finish line and stop.  In fact, the first thing I thought as I got to the finish line was "why do I want to do this again in 2 months?".

My run time was 1:47:51 (compared to 1:48:56 at California).  RC ran 1:14:01 at California and 1:13:25 here, pretty similar).  This was good for 14th best in my age group.

My final time of 5:02:44 put me 14th in my age group (out of 85) and 335th overall (out of 1540).  This was a Personal Best for me by five minutes.  I didn't get under 5 hours, but I gave it everything I had for the entire time.  Also, I was only 10 minutes out of 6th place in my age group.

The aftermath of the race was good as well.  Three slices of pizza and two cokes later, I was already getting excited about my next half ironman in two months.  I was walking fine and my DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) max'd out 36 hours later and it wasn't that bad.  Basically, some quad and IT soreness, general fatigue and tiredness.  Today (only 3 days later), I have minimal soreness in my legs and I'm already looking forward to jumping back into training.

So, in summary, I may have been able to pace myself better in order to get a better time, but I could not have given a harder or stronger effort for the entire race.  I am both excited and proud of what I did at Eagleman. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eagleman Here I Come

Will be leaving tomorrow for Maryland, where I will do the Eagleman 70.3 Sunday. No goals for a change (or at least none that I will share with anyone:)). My plan is to just have fun, and try my hardest and suffer as much as possible. Yes, suffer as much as possible. That's my coach's (Tim Waggoner, instruction. And, he's right. During a tough training session, like the brick workout I did a couple of weeks ago where I did almost 2 hours on the bike and then did 8 miles at close to the pace I'd love to be at for Eagleman. It was hard, but I knew what I had to do, and I did it. My challenge is maintaining that focus through the run part of a half ironman. So, if there's one thing I will work on visualizing in the next couple of days, that's it!

Here's my race strategy/plan. I will definitely go out at the front of the swim, and then try to find the right feet to draft off of. Tim had a great comment, 'if I'm not sure if I'm going hard enough while drafting, then I'm probably going hard enough'. I can definitely keep a solid effort up for the entire swim, really focusing on keeping good form. I don't want to slack off, nor do I want to try to race the swim. If I relax and keep a good effort and draft, I'll definitely have a good swim.

I will also be very cognizant of my effort going into the first transition. No need to spike my heart rate at that point, it will take that much longer to get it down at the onset of the bike. So, I need to be more relaxed running to T1.

The bike has declared itself for me. I can use perceived effort, wattage and heart rate together to figure out my game plan. I will definitely start out between 160 and 170 watts, no more, no less. My heart rate should be between 140 and 145, in fact I will stay below 150 during the race at all costs. My legs should never burn. Those are the three things I will monitor throughout the bike. If the humidity affects my heart rate, but I feel good and my wattage is where it should be, I'll go with the flow. If my wattage is higher than expected due to finally being able to actually peak for a race, and my heart rate stays where it should be, then wonderful. If I have any electronic issues (which seems to happen often for me), I can just go with how I feel. No worries:). I will not push too hard at the end of the bike (see previous blog). I will also get in my 6 gels and 50-60 ounces of fluid.

The run will be my defining moment. I know what I have to do. It won't feel easy, and it won't be easy. But, I know that I am capable. When I feel tired, I'll acknowledge that I feel tired, when I feel like I can't push harder or faster, I'll recognize that my brain is just doing it's job, but that I can override it as if I was doing a hard training workout. If I feel a side stitch coming on, I'll back off just a little until it goes away and then push forward again. If someone passes me quickly, I won't try to catch them all at once, I'll open up the throttle slightly and see if I can reel them in. It's going to be warm and humid, but I like humidity. It will fatigue me, but I'm used to fatigue. Mentally, I need to realize that these are just feelings, my legs can still go fast. Tim tells me that when I finally demonstrate the ability to do this, it will come "easier" in future races. I will definitely keep coming back to last weeks race and remember how I felt and how I was able to perservere.

I will race hard and give it my best. That's all one can ask for:)

Sunday, June 7, 2009


It's been two months since I last blogged. I don't know exactly what's kept me from writing. Work has been very busy. My family is producing a new television series. I've been training like crazy. I guess they are all good excuses, but my dad would disagree. Just write something every day, he will tell me.

I'm doing the Eagleman 70.3 next weekend. My training has been going incredibly well. I'm swimming better than ever, my power on the bike seems to be improving and my run speed has been good. I usually make a prediction before a race, and I generally predict the best I can do and I generally never match my prediction. The good part is that I'm always pushing myself and often will still achieve a personal best in my races. That said, no predictions this race (except for the one I'm keeping to myself).

The last few weeks has actually been a bit of a challenge. As my swimming volume has increased, I finally pushed my shoulders to their limit and have been suffering some pain in both of my shoulders. Whether it's a strain or tendonitis or both, it has definitely been painful. I've backed off the volume and intensity for the last week and have been improving by the day.

I've been itching to race and decided to do a sprint tri on friday night. My instructions from my coach were to swim and bike hard and then try to maintain my Eagleman run pace of 7:20-7:30 (perhaps a bit optimistic, I'd be happy between 7:30-7:40 in the heat/humidity). So, I worked all day and went straight from work to the race, got in a decent bike, run and swim warmup (shoulders felt ok) and then got ready to "race". The swim was a beach start, so I toe'd the line right at the front and ran into the water with everyone else. Remarkably, I didn't get hit by anyone despite the tumult of this type of start and going out in front. I worked hard to get on someones feet and draft early on and had some mixed results for the first half of the half mile swim. Then, I finally got on Jeff Sankoff's feet the rest of the way. Of note, he swam Boulder Peak 2 minutes faster than me last year (1,500 meter swim), so this was really a good person to be drafting off of. I apologized after the race for my intermittent tapping on his feet, but he actually thanked me, saying that every time I did, it reminded him to swim harder! I came out of the water feeling fine, breathing was ok and headed up the hill towards transition. I ran pretty hard, stopping briefly to take off my wetsuit on the grass and then making my usual fast transition (32 seconds in T1). I started the bike and went out solidly, immediately noting my heartrate to be close to 170. I'm pretty sure that this was an aberration from heat, humidity, end of the day, etc. as I didn't feel like my HR was well over my bike Anaerobic Threshold (which is usually about 156). Jeff Sankoff passed me going up the hill leaving the transition area and we then played cat and mouse for the next 10 miles. My heartrate stayed between 166 and 170, but my legs felt fine and my power output was consistent. In fact, my average power for the first 2/3 of the race was about 170-180; The last third I pushed harder and averaged over 190 watts. This is unusual for me to "negative split" my bike effort. I actually left Jeff behind me on the last gradual downhill with this push. On the other hand, I started to feel the inevitable feeling of a side stitch coming on, but ignored it. I was going to bike hard today! I got off the bike, had another fast transition (33 seconds) and started the run. I immediately felt one of the worst side stitches I've every had! It took all of my energy to keep moving. That said, I kept whatever running pace I could manage and kept trying to stretch and breath my stitch away. It was tough. I could hardly breath, and anyone passing me, which Jeff did soon after the transition, could hear me making horrible noises with each breath. I stopped for a few seconds of walking every couple of minutes, but kept trying to run. I began to realize that the intensity of the stitch was going down and began having confidence that if I perservered, I could get through the stitch and pick up my pace. Somewhere after the first mile, which I probably ran in about 9+ minutes, the stitch went away and I got into a comfortable pace of around 7:30-7:40/mile. I didn't try to push any harder than this (following my coaches instructions), I wasn't racing at this point, I didn't want to mess myself up for next weekend. I finished the race feeling pretty good, not the usual "sprint to the finish" nausea and ended up winning my age group by over six minutes. Now, you need to realize, I'm now in the 50-54 year old age group and there really wasn't anyone in my age group in this race who was going to challenge me. That said, upon looking at the results, I was only 4-5 minutes behind some really good people. Jeff Sankoff, a physician who writes a monthly column in Triathlete Magazine, and my "pacer" on the swim and bike, finished two minutes ahead of me. I'm pretty sure I kept pace with him after the first mile of the run. In retrospect, if I'd taken my foot off the gas at the end of the bike, I might not have ended up with the side stitch and might have actually kept pace with Jeff on the run. But, then I wouldn't have had this story and the experience that will help me in the future!

This race had many positives for my race next weekend. It should give me a bit of a boost with the intensity I put out on the swim and bike. But the biggest boost is the confidence it will give me the next time I have a side stitch! That said, it is my goal to avoid dipping too deep so that I get the stitch to begin with, but I don't have to be ultra conservative in trying to avoid it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's all relative: enjoying the journey

Despite not being able to "race" the California 70.3 like I'd planned, I realized that I still had a great time. Having a "50" on my left calf for the first time made me appreciate every 20, 30 and 40 year old I passed, and there were a lot of them! Furthermore, I put in an excellent effort and felt ok through most of the race.

The last few days have done nothing to change my attitude. I recovered faster from this race than I ever have and have had almost no soreness. This has only served to magnify the healthy aspects of triathlon training. Yesterday, I swam 6x500 yards and felt absolutely wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that midway through my workout I began thinking, "why not do an ironman?".

So, this morning, I signed up for 2010 St. George Ironman. I'm going to do it! I had wanted to do an ironman when I turned 40, but work got in the way. I promised myself then that I'd move my ironman attempt to when I turned 50, but recently began to think that I had too many other irons in the fire to try. I don't know if I'm being rational, but I really feel that completing an ironman is within my reach and abilities and I need to take the opportunity to do it.

My coach told me a few weeks ago that when it was time for me to do an ironman, I'd know it. I didn't really know what that meant until yesterday. I signed up this morning and have yet to regret it:)

The good part of all of this is that I'll have a month's vacation after Long Course Worlds in Perth, then it's time to get into ironman training.

The journey continues...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Race Post-Mortem

Had a good day of rest the day before the race and got up feeling good.

For the first time ever I started right in front (with all the 18-24 year olds!) and went out solidly, and for the first time, didn't get beat up, probably because I was keeping a good pace. Was able to stay on someones feet until the turn back into the harbor and the glare screwed me up again:(, didn't draft much on the way back in and definitely veered on the course, someday I'll get it right. That said, very solid swim, and felt fine coming out of the water. In fact, ended up having one of my fastest T1's on the course, despite taking it very relaxed. HR was 160 right out of the water, but came down into the 150's before leaving transition. Really tried to start easy on the bike and get my HR down, which I did. When I looked at the data I could see that this was the difference in my bike time. I went out easier this year and never made up the time. I also went a little easier over the hills, lost some time there and picked some up at the end. I don't have continuous HR data, but my HR was between 140 and 150 the whole race except for the biggest hill, where I briefly pushed it up to 156. Obviously, "average" power is a little deceiving because of the downhills. I think I really did a good job of keeping my wattage close to 170 most of the race and my HR between 142 and 150. In fact my ave HR for the swim and bike was 145. I do wonder if I could have pushed my HR closer to 150 for more of the race and not had any impact on my run?
I did feel some tightness in my right inner quad when I was pushing for the last 10 miles, somewhat reminiscent of Halfax, but it never amounted to anything. Of note, CP30, 60 and 120 were all about the same, right around 160 watts. So, overall, my pacing was pretty steady.
Took in 6 gels within the first 2 hours and about 60 oz of fluid (gatorade endurance and water).
Went throught T2 fine and started out on the run trying to take it easy, HR was right around 148-150. Could never get out of going about 8:00 to 8:30 pace, however. Was tired and feeling a little negative for the first few miles, but this dissipated and I felt fine the second half of the run. Took two gels and drank gatorade and water during run. With 3 miles to go, someone in my age group passed me (the first person in my age group that I saw on the entire run). We kept playing cat and mouse at the aid stations, but I "snuck" by him at mile 12 and went as hard as I could to the finish and beat him by 22 seconds. I don't know what this means, I don't think I could have kept that pace for the entire run, maybe, only maybe could have pushed the last 3 miles instead of 1 miles as hard as I did.
My splits were as follows:
Swim 34:09 30th
T1 3:42
Bike 2:51:10 32nd
T2 1:41
Run 1:48:56 30th
I can't be much more consistent that this between the swim bike and run. I was 23rd/109 in my age group.

I was somewhat disappointed that I missed my goal by 20 minutes. I just haven't improved as much as I has thought (or hoped) on the bike and my legs just didn't have any "snap" to them on the run. The positive's were that I was consistent on the run and I passed a lot of people a lot younger than me who looked just as fit as I do!

I still think that I have a sub 5 hour half ironman in me. I'll work on the details of how to get there with my coach:)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Training, Mantras and Getting Ready

The other day I was seeing a patient of mine who happens to be a Rabbi. I asked him for a blessing for Saturday's race, and he gave me a mantra instead. It's pretty cool, I looked it up. It's three Hebrew words that state that "Napthali runs like a gazelle". Napthali was one of Jacob's sons. Well, anyway, I did my swim, bike, run race prep workout this morning. The swim went fine, able to do some 50's in 37 seconds and some 100's in 83-90 seconds feeling pretty smooth and relaxed. My bike effort (3x5 minutes at race effort) went fine and finally my 4x3 minute at run pace was the best! I used the mantra and it really fit well into my three steps per breath race pattern. I'll do everything I can to have a successful race on Saturday. My legs feel good, I had a relaxed day at home with my family and I'm eating my carbs.

Tomorrow is a travel day and Friday I will just chill in preparation for Saturday's race. It's hard to believe that it's finally here. I've been looking forward to this race since November.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Race Strategy: 4 days to go!

Talked to my coach yesterday and have my race strategy.

The swim is all about staying relaxed, focusing on form and drafting the entire swim. I'll go out fairly fast, focusing on my best and most relaxed form and look for swimmers of similar pace to draft off. If someone passes me gradually, that's a good choice. This will require focus for the entire swim when it comes to drafting. Historically, I have had trouble keeping a good line on the way back into the harbor, but if I draft well perhaps I won't end up off track. I do have to maintain a solid effort, but the effort will be focused on keeping good form and rotation. I've got to hit 32 minutes, and would love to go lower than that.

I can't run at top speed through transition, but I won't walk through either. Coming out of T1, my focus on the bike will be to get my Heart rate down below 150 and closer to 145. If this means going slow, then I'll go slow. I'll watch both my HR and my wattage and keep in zone 3, with my HR in the 140's and wattage close to 170 (or higher if the altitude is my friend), until I get to the hills, where I can push a little harder, perhaps wattage to 200 and HR to 150. Of course, I can recover on the downhills (remembering to come strongly over the top of the hills). I will push the last 10-15 miles and even let my heart rate come up a bit depending on how I feel. So long as I don't push too hard, I can run off the bike finishing hard! This effort will get me close to 2:40, and hopefully faster than that.

Nothing to worry about with T2, these are never a problem.

And finally, the run. The key for me is to do the first mile relatively easily, breathing every 5 steps. Whatever pace this is, will be, but I expect it to be between 7:30 and 7:45. The next few miles will be increasing the effort and pace to try to maintain at least 7:30 pace. Breathing will be every 4 steps, with progression to breathing every 3 steps towards the middle miles. I expect to hit the last turnaround (3 miles to go) and push hard breathing every 2 steps. This will all be mental. I can keep the leg turnover and the pace, my body is capable of that. I just need to will myself to do it. If I do the run in 1:40, I'll be happy, but I think I'm capable of going at least a couple of minutes under.

Goal-4:55 to 5:00 and it will be a successful race. If I hit all cylinders, 4:50 is possible.

My taper is going well. I'm already getting giddy. My tapering workouts are going perfectly.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Swimming Fast is Hard, Swimming Hard isn't Fast

Had a remarkable swim lesson today. I had done a solid bike workout this morning which included 40 minutes non-stop at around half ironman effort. By the time I got to the pool after a morning of work I was on the fatigued side. I did the warm ups and drills with my swim coach, Moe McGarity, and then did a set of 75 yards x 8, descending every two. The first two were done in about 64 seconds, and by the time I did the last 75 yard effort, I was (pleasantly) surprised to find that I did it in 49 seconds. This should translate to a 100 yard swim in 1:05. Last year, my fastest 100 ever was 1:13. One of my goals is to someday break 1 minute.

One of my major breakthrough's is learning that swimming fast doesn't correlate with trying to swim hard. It's actually trying harder to swim with good form. If I actually "try" to swim fast, I tend to lose track of my form and not really go much faster, but certainly will wear myself out. Today, whenever I felt like I was doing that, I concentrated on staying focused on my form and it really worked. At the end of my workout I did a couple of "all-out" 25 yard efforts and managed to get one done in about 14+seconds (under 15 for sure).

My confidence in my swim is clearly at an all time high.

10 days before the California 70.3 and my taper is going well!

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's great to have a coach

The weekend was a remarkable experience. Mentally, I wasn't that into Friday's workouts (swim and short run) and then really felt like Saturday was tough (another swim and a 2 1/2 hour bike with 4x8' hard efforts). I made it through, took a late nap and woke up feeling like crap. All I could think about was that I didn't want to do Sunday's workout. Even my wife commented on how tired I looked. So, I e-mailed my coach, telling him how tired I was and how I wasn't looking forward to Sunday's workout. Before getting his response, it dawned on me that I might be "bonking". It hadn't occurred to me that I could be glycogen depleted a few hours after my workout, but that's what was happening. So, I raided the fridge, eating everything in sight over the next few hours and gradually began feeling better.

My coach, Tim Waggoner, e-mailed me back, reminding me of the importance of learning how to train with fatigue. I read the chapter from Matt Fitzgerald's book, "Brain Training for Runners" on this very topic and fell asleep with a positive attitude about the next day. Sure enough, I had a great workout on Sunday, riding 2 1/2 hours and then doing 5 of my 6 miles running at half ironman effort/pace. And, I kept eating the rest of the day. I've been pushing the border of glycogen depletion lately:)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

2 Week Countdown

Two weeks to race day for the California 70.3. I'm getting excited about the race for a number of reasons. My training has been going great. I'm swimming faster than I ever have, my wattage on the bike keeps coming up and I'm pretty sure that I'm running faster than ever, especially when I'm tired.

I made a really big decision this week regarding the race. The winning time in my age group for the last few years has varied from 4:43 to 4:55. My first and most basic goal is to finish the race in under 5 hours. If I click on all cylinders, I could go under4:50. That certainly puts me in range of top three and possibly winning my age group. As there is one slot (most likely for the winner of the age group) for Kona (Ironman World Championship), which is every triathlete's dream, I could have a chance at that slot. Kona is 2 weeks before the World Long Course in Perth, so I would have to make a choice. After thinking about it a little, I said, "what the heck!". If I qualify for Kona, I'm going. Austrailia will become a vacation. If I don't qualify for Kona, I've already qualified for the long course World's. So, I've got exciting plans in October no matter what!

My swim has really improved this year with help from my swim coach, Moe McGarity and continued great workouts from my tri coach, Tim Waggoner. A couple of years ago, 1:40 pace/100 yards was challenging to keep even for 500 yards. Now, that's my easy 500 yard pace. I've been doing a lot more pulling this year and my swim volume has increased. All of a sudden, 1:30 pace in a wet suit for a half ironman swim doesn't seem daunting. If I can get off to a good start (and I'll start at the front) and catch a decent draft and maintain it, I think that I can complete the swim in under 32 minutes and quite possibly, 30 minutes.

Two years ago, I biked the California course in 2:45. I believe that I am a stronger biker today and hopefully I can go under 2:40. This one is a little uncertain in terms of how much faster I can go. The course is all about pacing, especially leaving something for the hills, but I'm very familiar with the course and think that I can do well.

Finally, comes my run. Tim has had me doing more progression runs this year and keeping 7:30 pace at the end of a long run doesn't seem as problematic as it used to. The key to my run, however, is not my legs, but my brain. The run is going to be the most mental aspect of my race. I'm going to have to stay focused during the first half of the run in order to maintain a solid pace and then stay really focused during the second half of the run to keep from slowing down. I'm going to try to practice my visualization of this every chance I get over the next two weeks. I start tomorrow with a 2 1/2 hour bike followed by a six mile run at race pace (7:30). If I can do that at altitude, I can do it at sea level. My run two years ago was 1:45, so I'm planning to at least go under 1:40, and try to get as fast as 1:36-1:38.

I never worry about my transitions, they should take a total of ~6 minutes.

What's really fun to think about is that in 2004 I did this race in 6:08. A year later I dropped that to 5:49 and two years ago, was able to finish the race in 5:13. To go under 5 hours racing as a fifty year old will be really cool! I'd like to say I'm going to just go out there and have fun and see what happens, but the reality is that there has to be a crossover between fun and focus for me to hit all of my goals.

Fortunately, work is going better and my stress level is down, I'm going to try to keep it that way:)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sick Day and Half Marathon post mortem

I'm sitting at home today, off work for the second day in a row. I haven't done that in a long time. However, I've been sick twice in the last three weeks and my body must be telling me something:). I got my first upper respiratory infection and then sinus infection just a couple of days after the half marathon. I got my present upper respiratory infection at the end of a pretty brutal week of training as well as a pretty brutal couple of weeks of life. It just goes to show that stress plays a big part in our health. So, staying home today seemed like a good idea. Besides, I'm taking tomorrow off for my daughter's 18th birthday and want to be well enough to go near her! I'm using my resting heart rate to keep me in check. On Sunday it was 56! That may sound low to most people, but when I'm well rested and feeling good, it is as low as 36, and normally runs between 38 and 40. I was all set to do my workout prior to checking my resting HR. Mind over matter:) Fortunately, I checked and ended up spending almost the entire day in bed, I think I slept 14-15 hours! That's another random thought. Sleep. If I don't get 8 hours a day, I'm in trouble. My resting HR went down to 47 yesterday and is 42 today. I'm on my way towards a good recovery, but have to be careful, California 70.3 is less than 6 weeks away.

Now, I never did my post mortem on the Surf City Half Marathon. I felt good the morning of the race, although I have to admit I was only feeling fairly good the day before. I felt like I got off to a good and well paced start, keeping close to 6:50 pace for the first few miles. This is what I would need in order to break 1:30.

It was foggy and therefore humid at the start, and I was aware of the humidity almost immediately in the race. Really tried to pace myself at the beginning, went out breathing every 4 steps, effort was solid, but not too hard, At mile 3, in my haste to drink some water, I splashed it up my nose! Felt like I was in the pool, and just laughed it off. Did fine up the main hill in the race, and was feeling ok coming down the hill, although glasses were fogging up by now. Breathing came up to every 3rd step in the middle miles. Effort gradually increased, but I noticed feeling slightly "sluggish" around mile 5-6, had head wind to contend with, hit the 6 mile mark just under my goal pace; but at mile 7 realized that I wasn't going as fast as I felt I was going. Kept trying to pick it up, especially when someone passed me, but just didn't have an extra gear. By mile 8, I realized that I wasn't going to achieve my goal, but kept pushing, and really tried hard to pick it up at mile 10, effort was there (was breathing every 2nd step by then), but the pace just wasn't. In the back of my head, I thought about taking it easy, but the front of my head said no, keep pushing, keep the effort up. So, I was 4 minutes short of my goal and 1 1/2 minutes slower than my PR. The weather may have had some impact, but no reason to overthink this one, I really gave it a good effort and it was a very respectable time.
Mile Time
1 6:39
2 6:50
3 6:53
4 7:13 (uphill)
5 6:57
6 7:03
7 7:03
8 7:16
9 7:16
10 7:23
11 7:29
12 7:29
13.1 8:17
Final Time 1:33:54
22/529 in age group
219/4230 of men
257/10743 overall

The comparative results were pretty similar to my race two years ago, which was faster but had better weather conditions. That said, it's still pretty remarkable for someone who would have been in the middle of the pack just 5 years ago. Maybe next year, when I'll be in the next age group.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Flashback and "honorable mention"

The 2008 USA Triathlon rankings will be official soon.  Ironically, until yesterday, my best race from last year hadn't been loaded.  One of my goals in 2009 is to achieve "All American" status in my new age group.  I have never thought that I was capable of achieving "All American" or even "Honorable Mention" in my previous age group.  But, once the Tri4me results were loaded in, my ranking moved me up into the "Honorable Mention" category.  Goals are clearly relative.  When I got back into triathlons six years ago, my results were in the bottom third of my age group.  My goals were clearly just to do better each time.  In fact, my wife would joke about my new wheels and how they would save me a couple of minutes of time, for what?  So I could move from being 88th in my age group to 84th?  While she was right to an extent, I guess the lesson is that we all need to set goals and work to improve and achieve them.  Five years ago at the then named Ralphs Half Ironman (now the California 70.3), I placed 154/227 in my age group with a time of 6:08.  This year I hope to place in the top 10 with a time under 5 hours.  So much for getting older!

Anyway, my age group ranking for 2008 in the 45-49 year old age group presently stands at 531/7040, not bad for an asthmatic kid who never ran a mile until he was 32 years old.  I have to say, this is an unexpected bonus to 2008 that reinforces how I qualified for Long Course World's.  I've learned that even if your #1, you still have self doubts and you still have to work hard to achieve the goals you set for yourself.  In some ways it's really nice to continue to move up the ladder, I don't know how I'd actually handle being at the top!

So, back to my flashback to the Tri4me, the race that gave me my Honorable Mention.  It was last April and it was cold.  In fact, the weather report was calling for light snow.  I think it may have actually snowed during the run, but my face and hands were too numb to remember.  The swim was a 500 yard pool swim.  It was a small race and as I stood in line for the swim, I saw George Dallam.  George is one of the best in my age group and usually beats me in a sprint by at least a few minutes.  He's also an incredible individual (as I learned talking to him after the race and buying his book, Championship Triathlon Training, shortly thereafter) and just a nice guy!  Anyway, I immediately knew I wasn't going to win my age group, or so I thought.  

I had started taking swim lessons about month earlier and promised myself to really focus on keeping good form during the swim.  I started 10 seconds after George in the next lane and could see him lapping me towards the end of the swim, which meant he was already at least a minute ahead of me.  Nevertheless, I came out of the water in a little over 7 1/2 minutes, an excellent time for me, and actually felt pretty good.  It was close to 35 degrees outside and I had brought arm warmers to put on when I got out of the pool.  Forget about that idea!  As I ran to the bike transition, trying to put arm warmers on my wet arms didn't really pan out (just try to picture me trying to do this).  So, wearing just a one piece tri suit (2XU elite, a great suit by the way), I got on my bike and took off.  The bike course was a somewhat technical 4 loop course, it was cold and windy and I was trying out my new PowerTap Power meter.  I actually managed to keep my wattage between 200 and 220 watts, with a reasonable amount of time over 220 watts.  As I look back, I realize why I had to good race, this was one of my best bike efforts ever.  Maybe, I was able to focus in order to avoid thinking about the cold weather and the wind.  In fact, there were times I was lucky not to be blown off the sidewalk (yes, a sidewalk was part of the course).  Of course, there were plenty to opportunities to slow down with multiple turns and my normalized power was closer to 190 for the race.  

I came into the transition and quickly put on my running shoes and grabbed my gloves and took off.  Transitions are one of my strengths and it certainly helped as someone yelled that I was in second place and that the guy ahead of me was just about 30 seconds ahead.   This was cool!  I'd never been in this position before.  It didn't take more than 400m before I could see him and I just kept a steady pace and gradually reeled him in after about a mile or so.  That's when I realized that I'd caught George.  This is where one of the most interesting experiences I've ever had started to occur.  I could feel the adrenaline flowing and my confidence building, despite the probable wind chill temperature of 25 degrees.  My lips were numb, my hands were getting numb.  My toes had been numb (coming off the bike).  But none of that mattered.  As we approached a long gradual uphill part of the run course, George sped up.  Now, one has to picture this.  I'm about 5'10" and 150 lbs and George is probably 6'2 (no clue as to his weight, but certainly more than mine).  As he tried to push past me, all I can remember is laughing (inside, of course).  I thought to myself, "there's no way he can beat me going uphill".  And with that, I sped up and stayed in front of him and he backed off and didn't try again (until the end).  

One of the things I realized early in the run was that I had started 10 seconds after George, and I just needed to stay within 10 seconds of him to beat him.  I found out afterwards that he didn't realize this.  As we got to within about 100 yards of the finish, I sprinted ahead and he actually caught me right at the finish line.  But, I still had my 10 seconds!  So, I had won my age group, and beaten someone that I didn't think I could beat.  It turned out that I had not only one my age group, but in fact had come in second place overall in the race!  Granted, it was a small race, but you take your victories where you get them.  I remember that my lips were so numb at the finish that I couldn't even talk for several minutes.  That's also an interesting commentary.  I hate training in cold weather, but if it's race time, I put it out of my mind and go for it!

So, that's the flashback on how I got my Honorable Mention status in 2008.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Pre" Workout

No guts, no glory.  Steve Prefontaine always said he ran on "guts".  That's what todays workout was all about.  Yesterday afternoon, my hips and low back were really tight.  I stretched last night but was still tight upon waking up today.  It was quite cold out, but I decided to do my workout outside (wore long skins on both top and bottom).  "Warmed up" running 20 minutes to the track, my legs felt fine, but my hips and low back were aching and tight.  I stretched a couple of times at the track, then did 2x200 in 50" each and stretched again.  The tightness and discomfort improved to a manageable level, but I still could feel it during the first couple of mile repeats.  Yes, that was todays workout 4x1mile with 2' rest in between each.  Mentally, I have to admit, I was only about 80% into doing this workout, probably because of my aching hips.  That said, here's how the workout went:

The first mile I started off with my legs feeling very good, kept my pace even, looking at my watch to keep on track for running the mile between 6:40 and 6:50.  I was ok for the first 800m, the next 400 harder and the last 400 was harder yet, but doable, but tough, I even began wondering if I really wanted to do 4 of these.  My time was 6:43
The second mile I didn't look at my watch, just ran by feel and tried to keep a good pace.  My hips and back still were hurting, my legs felt ok, and the first 800 was fine, while the last 800 was progressively harder, so that by the time I finished down the final stretch I felt like I couldn't push any harder.  I was wiped out after this mile, looked at my watch and amazingly enough, it was 6:47.
At this point I decided that I probably would only do three miles and did the next mile on the trail back home, going progressively harder so again, at the end, I couldn't have pushed any harder.  Remarkably, my time was 6:47 again.
At that point I decided, what the heck, what would my coach think if I wimped out.  In fact, I'd done the 3rd mile not really believing that I could do it.  What was one more mile.  So I did the last mile going as hard as I could and finished it in 6:56
This was hard, but another incredible confidence builder.  
Sometimes you have to run of guts and ignore what your head is telling you.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Did my final training run before Sunday's race today. Rest week's are always tough, I generally feel lousy. My allergies are worse, I don't feel at my best, my sleep is more irregular. Yet, I went out today and ran 6 miles, the first four as a warm up and the last two at my expected race effort. I did those in 7:19 and 7:05 and my HR came up to just below my lactate threshold. This bodes well. I tend to gain 15-20 seconds per mile at sea level from whatever I've been doing at altitude. The best part is that breathing limits me at altitude, but my legs will limit me at sea level. I know that my legs can maintain a 6:50 pace.

So, there it is, I'll go out at 6:50-7:00 pace, get the one hill over with (the fourth mile), and then see what I can do to the finish. I'm hoping to keep the 6:50 pace throughout. I'm hoping to remember what it felt like to turn the pace up on the treadmill when things got tough and just try to turn the pace or effort up during the last few miles when things get tough.

1:29:27, I've been visualizing that number. It's what I expect to see at the finish. I've read about athletes doing that. I hope my body can translate that visualization into the proper effort and pace.

I'm capable.

I'm ready.

I'm there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Easier" is faster

This week is a rest week, except for swim, and although I went into yesterdays swim on the tired side, I really focused on my form.  Whenever it seemed hard, I really concentrated on relaxing and going "easier".  So, that's how I go faster!  Swimming faster seems to be one of those counterintuitive things.  Relaxing actually helps you swim faster.  I have to wonder if there are similar approaches to biking and running.  I have a feeling that there are.  While they may not have the same magnitude of effect, I'm sure that relaxing while biking or running will help with economy and actually allow one to work less for the same speed.  

I've really been working on my form this past year on the swim and it's really starting to pay off.  A year ago, keeping 1:40 pace/100 yds was a challenge for 300 or more yards.  Now, it's a pace I can keep forever.  Yesterdays workout was 400, 400, 300, 200 with only 20-30 seconds rest in between and keeping 1:30 pace for the last three of these (the first one was done easy), was quite doable.  I just have to remind myself to stay calm and relaxed whenever the swim seems to be getting tough.  Don't try to swim harder, swim easier!  There's the mantra.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Breaking Barriers

I thought of this very appropriate title yesterday after finishing 3 hard run workouts in 6 days.  I told my coach that I couldn't believe what I had accomplished and he reminded me that is what I've been working towards for the past four years.  Ironically, this is a week of barriers broken with the inauguration of Barack Obama. politics in this blog (at least not yet).

My coach has had me doing "progression" runs.  These are basically runs where my pace keeps getting faster as the run goes on.  I can understand how this will help me in my races, and I'm already seeing the results in a very short time.  I realized today that in the last week, I've encountered a mix of running intensity that I have never encountered in one weeks time .  Never is the operative word.  I looked back at the last few years and I can't find anything even close!

Last Sunday I ran 12 miles in 1:33, starting at about 8 minute pace for 5 miles, then going to about 7:30 pace for 4 miles and finishing at about 7:20 pace for 3 miles.  Most of this was in Zone 3, although I still think that my HR was somewhat disconnected due to the cold weather that day.  Two days later I ran 9 miles (most of it on the track), starting at over 8 minute pace and going down to 7:45 pace for two miles, then 7:10 pace for 3 miles, then attempting to get down to just under 7 minute pace, which I could only do for 800 before blowing up.  Still, gave it a really good effort.  Then, just two more days later I did the following on the Treadmill:  1 mile at 9 minute pace, 1 mile at 8 minute pace, then four miles at the following paces 7:10, 7:06, 6:59 and 6:51 with 1/2 mile in between each at 7:30, 8:00, 9:00 and 8:40 paces.  Was trying to go a little faster in between, but had to slow down in order to survive the miles.  

So, three tough workouts in 6 six days.  Of note, during these 3 workouts, I spent 17% of my time in zone 1, 27% in zone 2, 36% in zone 3 and 20% in zone 4.  Again, I've never done anything like this over the course of six days before.  Today, I have to admit, I'm tired.  But I'm also excited.  Two years ago I did the Surf City Half Marathon in 1:32:25 and I hadn't done any training even close to this.  If everything goes well, there is no reason that I can't break 1:30 next Sunday.

The other thing is just seeing what the human body can take.  While on the treadmill two days ago, nearing the end of my last mile and trying to maintain ~8.8 mph pace, my mind and body began flagging.  I really wanted to reduce the speed on the treadmill.  Instead, I increased it to 8.9mph and then to 9mph, albeit briefly, before reducing it to 8.8 again.  I tricked myself into being occupied by changing the speed and managed to finish the last mile at my goal pace.  While there won't be any buttons to push per se in the last mile at Surf City, the concept isn't bad.  Why not speed up instead of slowing down.  If the body doesn't like where it's at, give it something different, it doesn't have to be slower!  I think I keep finding new ways to train my brain.  

I think that we can all achieve whatever we want in life.  All we need is the desire to do so.  We also need to learn some tricks along the way to help us break barriers.  And, sometimes we don't exactly achieve our goals.  That is not failure, it's part of the process.  For, if we don't push ourselves above our limits, we'll never know what our limits are.  

Monday, January 5, 2009

2009 Contemplations

Since one of my daughters said that New Year's "Resolutions" were things that most people don't ever complete, I'll resist using that word.  This past year has had its ups and downs and I've felt quite stressed much of the year.  The last five days have been wonderful insofar as I've really been able to disassociate myself from work.  It's interesting, but this is not altogether a different concept from disassociating during training.  Being able to go to another place and relax is a valuable tool that I have never truly been good at in my daily life.  Now that I'm achieving it in training, why not use it during the day and night?

I went out for coffee with my wife so that I would have an objective sounding board for my thoughts.  She suggested I write them down when I got home, so here I am.  First, there are only so many hours in a day.  I've spent a lot of time over the past twenty five years squeezing as much as possible into 24 hours.  No more.  I need to get my work done during the day and come home and focus on other things such as family, training, relaxing, etc.  I think that I finally have an administrative team assembled at work that will allow me to do this.  When you own your own business, it's hard not to bring work home every night.  But it's not healthy.  I will strive every day to pass on items that others can do.  I know what I have to focus on.  It's "one thing" (see "City Slickers", I love movie examples:)), and that "one thing" is to make sure that the sixty clinicians in our group are delivering the type of care that I can be proud of.  It's also, on a more practical business note, to make sure that they are accounting for what they do so we'll get paid:).  Amazing as this may sound, that doesn't always happen:(.  

I also have to decide what to do with my second business.  This decision will take care of itself in the next couple of months, but no matter what, I can't let it have a significant added impact on my life.  

I need to have some time at lunch.  What I do with this time remains to be seen.  My wife suggested I listen to music.  I might be able to get a swim or run in.  Swimming is always invigorating to me and getting a mid day swim in could have many positive effects on me.

I will continue to keep my lap top off of my lap at night.  No more lap top while watching television.  If I'm going to relax, I'm going to relax!

Get enough sleep!  I need eight hours a day.  I know that if I get less than seven, I'll feel it.  My training routine has made me very sensitive to this.  Ironically, I'm never sure if training less would significantly reduce my sleep needs, but I don't want to find out anyway:)

If I do everything that I've contemplated above, it will be interesting to see how I feel next January (2010).  I really don't want to prejudge my life as it is today based on how this year has been.  Much of the stress this year has been artificially added on to my existing workload.  If I can reduce these added stresses, perhaps I can get back to enjoying every day.  That's not something I've felt for some time.

Finally, I need to set my athletic goals.  The only major goals I had this last year were to break 20 minutes in a 5K run (did that in June), to improve at Boulder Peak (by six minutes:)), and to qualify for Long Course Worlds (did that in October).  I also achieved a first (and probably last) by coming in second overall in an albeit small local triathlon ( 

So, here are my 2009 goals.  I want to give my best effort at Long Course Worlds (Perth) in October.  That means coming into the race well prepared to have a great swim!  I want to break 5 hours for a half ironman, either at California 70.3 or Eagleman 70.3.  I'd also like to qualify for the 70.3 World's, which are 3 weeks after Perth.  I think I'd love to say that I qualified for and raced both Long Course and 70.3 in the same year.  I would also like to set another PR for the half-marathon in 3 1/2 weeks (Surf City Half).  Can I go under 1 hour 30 minutes?  We'll see, but no matter what, I know I'll give it a solid effort.  

Happy New Year!