A New Way to Race?

OK, it's starting to sink in: After one Ironman and two Half-Ironmans, I'm learning the hard way that the key to a successful race is pacing towards the run and not trying to set PR's on the swim and bike. At least I think so?

I put this theory to practice today in a pedestrian 3.5 hour ride with my buddy Frank.  We twice replicated the Amgen Stage 8 route from last year, Agoura Road to Cornell to Mulholland up Rock Store and down Decker.  Our pace was slow (trust me), but I kept my heart rate mostly in zone 2 (typically south of 141 bpm).  This also was because I chucked up a fair amount of mucus from chest and nose through the first half of the ride.  But, by the end I felt pretty decent -- though my body was telling me a third loop would be a mistake.

The highlight of the ride was spotting Team HTC/Highroad (Cavendish, Martin, Renshaw, etc.) at Westlake Boulevard on its way presumably to Hidden Valley or up Decker.  Granted, the "big three" aren't with this particular team as they're at the Giro d'Italia according to the curt German team mechanics I quizzed as I visited the team's truck.  They're training in Southern California instead of Northern because, as the jerky bike tech said, "you want them to train in the snow?"

Gee, thanks dude.

After the ride, I did something I rarely get to do following a workout -- sleep!  Steph is trying on her wedding dress down south today and that meant I could take a nap that I desperately needed.  It's quite clear my body is still fighting infection as an alarm had to wake me up nearly two hours later.  But I still rallied to jump in the pool for 40 minutes and I'm glad I did.  My performance was much better today than yesterday, which is encouraging.

Maybe I haven't lost as much fitness as I thought.

That said, I probably couldn't have gone much harder on the bike today even if I tried. Which brings me back to my main point.  I may have to accept the realization that if I want a faster Ironman time, I need to hold back a bit on the bike and swim.  I simply need more energy to expend later in the day and can't get caught up in trying to PR any one particular area of my race. I did have that kind of mindset at Wildflower, as I feel like what's the point of racing if you're not trying to outdo yourself in each of the three sports every time?  But, ultimately it's how you finish the race -- not how you start or complete a particular segment.  The fact is that it's probably a lot easier to make up time on the run than anywhere else.  On a swim we're talking a matter of minutes between a PR performance while still turning in a respectable time.  On the bike, what's 15 more minutes on the road if it ultimately means saving 20-30 minutes on the run?

I need to focus on the long-term goal. Finishing the race in my goal time.  Not what split I've achieved.

Easier said than done, but today was a good lesson in that area.

Let's see if it sticks.


50 days and counting.

Lucky and Humbled

This Memorial Day will be remembered as Memory Day.  From the moment I woke up until the moment I'm about to fall asleep, today has been about action, adventure, romance, relaxation and family. It started by cycling nearly two loops of the Amgen Tour of California eighth stage with my buddy Frank.  This photo was taken atop the Rock Store climb the second time around.  Smile, Frank, smile.

As you can surmise, it was hot.  And as Frank observed after our ride, which featured nearly 5,000 feet of climbing in just over three hours, I'm going to need to learn to drink more fluids even if I'm not thirsty.  Duly noted.

Following the ride, Stephanie met us for lunch.  I got to enjoy a brick of a different kind today -- a bike and hike.  Steph and I went to a place called Escondido Falls in Malibu, just off PCH and Winding Way.  The hike is about a 2.5 hour out-and-back to two sets of waterfalls. The photo here is at the upper Escondido Falls, about 150-200 feet straight up from the lower falls.

While the lower trails are a moderate walking hike, if you're feeling adventurous like we were, you'll want to go to the extra level for the better view.  Of course, it'll cost you clean clothes, or anything clean, and it may cost you your body as it almost did with Steph.

While the rock climbing and scramping around was filled with laughter going up, things got a little tense on the way to the base as Steph lost her footing and slid down some loose dirt (that I triggered, doh!) into the creek bed.  Fortunately, she landed just right, on some twigs, that prevented her from hitting any rocks or bouncing into the lake.  In fact, she ended up laughing hysterically about the whole thing immediately after it happened.  That was a huge relief!  Especially since I was still atop several boulders, wondering what the heck just happened.

These are the kind of boulders you can expect to encounter in that intense little climb, just stacked on top of each other.  There's even one part where you need a rope to propel yourself forward to the next stretch of terrain.

After our brush with adventure, Steph and I met my parents for dinner after visiting my grandmother.  I'm having a really great time watching my folks and Steph bond. This is exactly the kind of family dynamic I had always hoped for and it's slowly but surely unfolding before my eyes.  I marvel at it and bask in it all at the same time.

Now as I wrap up this blog post I just am lucky enough to have a quiet moment once again to realize how lucky I am. I'm lucky to have my health to enjoy a gorgeous bike ride with a good friend. I'm lucky to have the time to be able to plan a leisurely day of fun that suits my personality and my lifestyle.  I'm lucky to be with a fantastic lady when there were so many hurdles placed in our path (some by me!). I'm lucky she wasn't hurt today (and so is she!).  I'm lucky to have such a fantastic, warm and wise family that makes me a better person.

And I feel lucky to have my freedom and to never have seen war.  I thought about that today seeing the contingent of war planes and bombers flying in formation overhead.  I thought about that when my hands and body were covered in dirt and grime.  I got to go home and shower and clean myself off.  There are many men and women out there all over the world tonight who are toughing it out on our behalf.  I am in awe of them and humbled at the same time.

Despite my incredibly good fortune, I will be thinking about them when I drift off to sleep tonight.

170 days and counting.

Another Day, Another Pro to Meet

Another day, another pro to meet.

Tonight, I had a chance to meet Mark Cavendish, he of the four stage wins in last year's Tour de France and winner of the first stage of this year's Amgen Tour of California.  He was signing copies of his new book, Boy Racer, at Helen's Cycles. That's where I bought my Cervelo P2 about three weeks ago.

It's funny that about a year ago I probably wouldn't have known who Chris Lieto or Mark Cavendish were.  Or half of the things I know now about Team Saxo Bank, Rabobank, Liquigas (does anyone else find it ironic that the proper pronunciation for Liquigas is leaky gas?), Radio Shack, Garmin-Slipstream, HTC-Columbia and of course my team of choice -- Cervelo Test Team.

Cycling, more so than swimming and running, has a way of sweeping me up in its own wave of hysteria and excitement.  Next thing I know, I'm howling and hooting and hollerin' up  a storm as a peloton of cyclists blasts past me at the Tour of California.

Man, I'm addicted to this sport!


Today was rather uneventful on the training front.  I had to work from home because the fire inspector came to check fire alarms in every single condo.  This meant a fire alarm going off every five minutes for about three hours. I felt like I was in my freshman year college dorm.  Not a memory I want to relive.  Especially the headache that followed.  Yuck.

One upside of my home stay was using my lunch time to arrange and display all my race bibs in my office.  That's something I've wanted to do for a while now.  Turns out I've participated in 19 total races since about 2008.  Not too shabby!  In looking at the finish times written on each bib, I can see the progress I'm making, and sometimes the dips.  But, I remind myself that each course is different, weather conditions are different, nutrition is different, sleep is different. You really can't compare too closely since there are so many variables.

Since I stayed at home, I had to skip what would have been another intense weights session, which will now have to wait until either tomorrow or Wednesday. I'm also planning a trip with Stephanie to visit a wedding venue location in Scottsdale this weekend.  Which means I'll get to bike and run part of the Ironman Arizona course.  Now if I can only figure out where to start and stop.  Help, if anyone reading this knows for sure.  Coach Gerardo told me it's near Mill Avenue and  a street that starts with Rio but I can't remember the second part.  I'll figure it out.

Guess that's about it for now!  Wish I had more to report, but then again, a quiet night at home is a welcome relief too.

177 days and counting.

Pictures Worth 1,000 Words

Sometimes, pictures are worth a thousand words. I've got several of 'em today. More details tomorrow, but chew on these for now!

Yep, I made it to the Amgen Tour of California!

After my Zuma swim got cancelled due to strong rip currents and surf warnings...from two lifeguards!

I got in a little trail/road run after finding a great parking spot near the King of the Mountain checkpoint!

I've got a SICK video of all the cyclists riding by the checkpoint but it's too large a file to post here.  I'll think of something.

Oh, and on the way back to the car, I met Chris Lieto -- three-time Ironman winner and second-place finisher at the 2009 World Championships. Damn Word Press won't let me post the photo because the file's too big.

I'd say it was a pretty good day!  And that's not including the home-cooked meal Stephanie made along with our date night movie of Pixar's UP.

Does it get any better than this?

178 days and counting.