Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Excitement of Anticipation

Being 4 days out from race day, I'm starting to get excited about Miami 70.3. I'm getting a little concerned about these wind that keep blowing pretty steadily, but there's time for them to die down. Die down winds!

I'm also hoping the surf will calm a bit in order for me to do one last open water swim in my wet suit. I'm not a huge fan of wet suits. I don't like the constriction in the chest. I get over it after about 5 minutes in the water, but I am not a fan of that feeling.

Expo and bike drop are on Friday, which shortens the work week a bit. I love an expo. I proposed to tri buddy Jerry that we head down earlier in the day to avoid the Friday afternoon rush hour on the drive back to Ft. Lauderdale. Jerry expressed concerns about shopping time. I assured him that will be no problem. I love a good expo and I'm ready to shop.

I'm also starting to obsess a little about the run course. They changed it and I'm not sure how many laps we run on this winding downtown course. Thus, I'm getting excited about the mandatory course review session on Friday.

Finally, I'm excited about tonight's Miami Heat season opener at Boston. Check out LeBron's commentary on the whole summer controversy in his new Nike commercial. I love the Don Johnson/Miami Vice bit. Very funny.

I can't wait until tonight's game! I can't wait until Friday's expo! I can't wait until Saturday's race! OK, I think I may be coming down with a slight case of Taper Madness.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Less is More

Taper time is a funny time in the training cycle. You come off a week of your longest training, and suddenly you are training short distances. You know it's the right thing to do in order to show up on race day with fresh legs, but you feel like you should be doing more. As this weekend was the last weekend before Miami 70.3, I had planned an Olympic brink (25 mile bike/6.2 mile run) for Saturday. As I spoke with tri-buddy John Clidas Friday evening, he jokingly said that I may want to consider dropping back to a sprint brick. I chuckled. He then said, "If I told you to do less, you'd probably agree." After we got off the phone, I thought that even though he was kidding, he was actually spot on. In the last week before an even, less is more.

Now, I've always been an advocate of doing something during the week leading up to an event. You just want to keep it light and easy so that you go into your event rested and ready to go. But did I really need to do an Olympic brick the weekend before a half-ironman? Clearly, it's not going to improve my performance. Any training effect is in the bag. I don't advocate total rest in that you don't want to de-train (if that's a word). I like to get out on the bike to ride to get the legs turning over, run a couple of times from 3 to 4 miles, and swim a short distance. But this is mainly to keep the muscle memory going.

So, when I got up Saturday morning, I decided to make it a sprint brick. I rode 10 miles, transitioned over to running shoes, and ran a 5K. I had just enough time to get home and shower before heading out with son Alex for his soccer game. I felt good and fairly fresh. I followed that up with a nice, slightly brisk 4 mile run this morning. Again, I feel I got good leg turnover, but little fatigue. (By the way, the boys kicked butt against a very good team.)

I'll do a short bike and 30 minute swim over the next couple of days. After that, I'll probably go for a light 2 mile run. That's it. Yes, I'm starting to get that build up of excess energy from being underutilized over the last few days, but I hope to be fresh and ready to go on Saturday. Hopefully buddy John takes some of his own advice as he heads into his last weekend before IMFL. To all of you getting ready for either Miami 70.3 or IMFL, remember: less is more.

Happy taper everyone.

Monday, October 18, 2010


We spent the weekend up in Gainesville visiting our son John for Homecoming. Being on both the homecoming and Gator Growl committees, John got us into several events including breakfast with the President of UF. After that, Salome & I ran with young son Alex in the 2 mile Gator Gallop, a fun run on the homecoming parade route. The picture is of us after the run in front of the D.U. house awaiting the parade. For the uninitiated, we're doing the "Gator Chomp."

Gator Growl, the homecoming show, was a fun event with 3 comedians headlining. Lots of laughs and a good time. There were some great student skits. Here's a link to one called "Facebook Down" to give you a feel for these fun student produced skits. Unfortunately, the football team just couldn't put together enough offense to win the game. Oh well, the team has had several good years under Tim Tebow. A rebuilding year should be somewhat expected.

As for preparations for Miami 70.3, I took advantage of the cooler Gainesville weather to knock out my 13.1 mile run for the weekend. I postponed my long ride until this morning, but it was a strong 58 miler. I hit a groove several times on the ride where I just felt great hitting a 21 mph average. Some days the training feels like a chore; other days you hit that groove where you happy to be training. Today's ride was the latter. Felt great. I think I'm ready for Miami.

Salome & I had lunch yesterday with our friend Ellen Itzler to review our preparations for Miami 70.3. Ellen did Escape to Miami a few weeks back and had some stomach issues during her run. Miami will be Ellen's first 70.3, so she's a bit concerned about a repeat of stomach issues. Thus, we talked about race strategy and proper hydration and nutrition during the race. I think she's going to do fine. But, as most of us know, when you step up to a new level for the first time, you're a bundle of nerves.

Miami will be my fourth half ironman and, as a local event, a sort of homecoming. Another tri buddy, Jerry Busbee is also doing Miami. Jerry is also signed up for IMCDL as part of our group tackling that event next June. He is also a pretty strong triathlete. I'm hoping he can take my picture as I cross the finish line well after him. We've coordinated bike drop off on Friday and will try to get in an open water swim workout or two before next Saturday's event. This weekend's run and today's ride were my last long workouts, so it's officially taper time. Yeah!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Boys of October

Well, we're well into October and it's busy out there. With just a few weeks left until Miami 70.3, I did a Saturday morning 13.1 run. Being slightly cooler and being full into the fall marathon training period, A1a was full of runners out getting ready for various races. This is the time of year it starts feeling really good to be doing a long run. You feel just so much better running when the temperatures are just 5 to 10 degrees cooler. I finished feeling so much stronger and fresher than the prior weekend 12 mile long run. I felt so good that after coaching my son's soccer game, we all went the beach and I swam 1.2 miles. I finally feel good to go in all three disciplines for the upcoming half ironman. Sunday, I ended up riding solo, but got in my 60 miles. As I say, I feel good to go.

My son Alex has caught baseball fever, so we spent a lot of Sunday watching the various series. With my football teams not doing so well this year, it was a nice change of focus. October is a very busy sports month, with baseball in the play-offs, football in full-season, and hockey and basketball staring up. I've enjoyed watching a couple of pre-season Heat games, and look forward to an exciting first season with the Three Kings.

Congratulations go out to friends Lupe, Maggie and Jerry on their Chicago Marathons races on Sunday. They look great in their post-race photo posted on Facebook. That says a lot as it sounds like it was another hot year in Chicago for the marathon. Way to go guys. See you in London in April.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pac-Man Gobbles Up More M-Dots

The World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the "Ironman" and "Ironman 70.3" labeled events just announced a series of Olympic distance triathlons to be held under the moniker "5150." Why they chose 5010 as opposed to 50.1 is beyond me. I guess they figure it sounds grander and cooler. In addition to adding a number of new events and an annual championship in Clearwater similar to the Ironman 70.3 series, they also incorporated several well established Olympic races into the series. Some of the existing Olympic races included are as follows: Miami International Triathlon (Miami, Fla.) in mid-March; St. Anthony’s Triathlon (St. Petersburg, Fla.) in late April/early May; Washington D.C. Triathlon in mid-June; and Nautica NYC Triathlon in early August.

There are others, and I assume that these were successful established races on their own. I note that there are also several new events that are listed specifically as 5150 events. Thus, WTC is clearly bringing more to the table than simply gobbling up other successful races. However, it feels like a Pac-Man game to me. I'm sure that this will excite the professional athletes as it will give them more opportunities to win more prize money. I also bet that the companies owning the acquired events are also thrilled. I often think that this is the formula for a lot of triathlon and marathon events. Get big and successful in the hopes that a larger entity will come buy you out at a profit. It's the American way. The Rock n' Roll Marathon series comes to mind.

However, I'm not sure this is in the best interests of the average athlete. A series in which big prize money has to be gathered to pay the pros usually means higher entry fees for the rest of us. It also seems to take away from the local feel of an event. Locally owned, locally operated events create local pride. I'm not sure we'll lose the local pride in these events, but they will no longer be simply local events. They will be WTC events.

Now, I've done several WTC events. They put on top notch events. They make great official gear that we as athletes and consumers of such goods like: hats, shirts, mugs, jackets. You name it, they've got it to sell to us. But I always tried to balance out my WTC and non-WTC events. I like the feel of a locally run event. Whether its a big city marathon like Chicago, New York, or Boston, or a small local race like everyone's home town 4th of July or Thanksgiving Day races. These events feel like they belong to these cities and our local towns. Yes, I know those big city marathons are like corporate giants themselves, but they are not all owned by the same company. They still feel like they reflect the spirit of the locale.

I'm not sure that ownership or association with WTC will kill that sense of the local for these existing events; but deep down inside, I don't trust a growing monopoly in any field. I hope in gobbling up all the class events in the sport, that WTC doesn't unintentionally eat its young. This sport is expensive enough as it is. Will race fees jump to pay for the "Ironman" label? Will new entrants to the sport shy away from these series events with higher fees? Only time will tell if, overall, this is good for the sport.

Nice Weather Down Here

I went for a 7 mile run this morning. Man was the weather beautiful. It was in the low 70s with low humidity. I'm sure this will not last, but man was it sweat. This is why I like to train for a winter marathon in South Florida. The weather doesn't get marathon training great until about now. The late fall and winter in South Florida are the best running days of the year. I look forward to gearing up for the Goofy race at Disney in early January.

A shout out to running friends Jerry, Lupe and Maggie doing Chicago this weekend. Have a great race guys. Also kudos to local Chicago marathoner Linda Mueller who will work the race. It's always good to give back to the running community by volunteering at a race.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wide Awake In America

"I'm wide awake. Wide awake!
I'm not sleeping.
Oh, no, no, no." Bad - U2

I suffer from occasional insomnia. It's not a big problem unless I've got a group training event scheduled for the next morning. Actually, the mere fact that I have an early morning group training event planned tends to cause me to sleep less soundly. It's like the night before a major endurance event where you have to get up at 4 AM. I tend to sleep lighter and awaken a couple of times during the night to check how much time I have left to sleep. Screwy, I know, but it's how my mind/body works.

Sometimes, I just inject too much caffeine during the day without realizing it, and I get the payoff when I lay down to sleep. Last night was one of those nights. I had a 7 mile group run scheduled with a couple of other runners for 5:45 AM. Not too early, but early enough. I tried to go to sleep at 10 PM, but it was a "no go" situation. After laying in bed for a hour, I got up, watched some late night talk shows, and putzed around on the internet. I try to get back to sleep again around midnight, but again, I can't buy shuteye. Around 1:30 AM, I e-mail my buddies that I'm not making the early run, take a sleep aid and await the kick-in of sleep. I awake around 8 AM and hustle off to get in a portion of my weight training session with my trainer. I'll get in the missed run this evening, but I sure hate the unwanted night owl status.

On the plus side, I had a good training weekend. A 12 mile run on Saturday morning; a 60 mile ride with triathletes Mandy and Miranda at a good pace on Sunday; and an open water swim on Monday. I think I'm back on track to give Miami 70.3 a decent effort at the end of October.

As for my running buddies this morning, I can only offer my sincere apologies and vow to more closely monitor my caffeine intake.