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!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 and Swimming

I've been wanting to see how my swim has progressed over the last few weeks and was afforded the opportunity today.  I went to the pool and did a set of 6x500 yards.  I alternated swimming each 500 with pulling (with paddles and a pull buoy).  I only took 30 seconds rest in between each 500.  I was really happy with the results.  I averaged 1:38 pace for the 500 swims and 1:35 pace for the 500 pulls.  My effort was easy to moderate for the entire workout.  I felt like I could have easily done another 1000 yards at the end.  What is remarkable is that a year or two ago, this pace would have been hard and I would have been challenged to maintain the pace, for 4x300, not even 6x500!  The key has been keeping my form intact.  The neat thing is that I wasn't even at my best today, as my stroke count was a little high.  My confidence, however, is quite high.  With World's in October being a 3Km swim, I know that I'll be regularly able to maintain this pace, or perhaps an even faster pace, for 8x500 by the end of the summer.  I actually put in over 10,000 yards this week, which is an all-time high for me.  I keep visualizing what it will be like to start off with a great swim at the California 70.3.  As I've noted before, my goal is to do that swim in the 30 to 33 minute range.  Thirty minutes would typically put me close to the best swimmers in my age group.  This is exciting!  Hard work does pay off.  

I've been on vacation for a few days and trying to get in extra sleep (yeah!).  It really does help.  I can't say that I'm looking forward to going back to work on Tuesday.  I think, no, I know, that I'd rather continue to just work out, rest and spend time with my family.  Well, life must go on.  Hopefully, this week puts me in a really good place going into the season.  I've got 4 weeks to go prior to the Surf City Half Marathon.  I've been running well the past couple of weeks.  I even got to get outside a few times and have managed to keep 8:30-8:45 pace in low Zone 2.  Can I maintain 7:00 pace or less at sea level in 4 weeks?  I'm sure going to try!

Life is all about perspective.  We can only do what we enjoy and enjoy what we do.  The results will be what they are.  I'm just fortunate to be able to do this stuff.  But it is fun to challenge our body and our mind to see what we can accomplish.  Well, time to get back to the couch!