Oh Garmin, My Garmin

I'm currently on the sneaky side of the double-mirrored glass at a focus group test in Northern California.  Ears glued to the discussion, eyes focused on uploading several days' worth of workouts on my Garmin 310x. Finally, I'm beginning to understand the wisdom contained in this supercomputer posing as a watch.

Sadly, I don't want to see some of the truths it contains.

My "controlled" tempo running pace is slower than I thought, to the tune of about 9:30.  I know I'm faster than that, but when instructed to keep my heart rate under control, more often than not 9:30 is where I live.  This would partially explain my demise at the LA Marathon to a degree.  I was pushing a faster controlled tempo pace than perhaps I should have while my immune system was having none of it.  That equals trouble, big-time.

I'm slower on the bike, too.  On road rides where I'm supposed to be cycling within the lower heart-rate zones, my pace is closer to 15.5 mph.  Yikes!  I can sustain 18-21 mph for sustained periods but on longer rides my pace drops.  I'm not sure what to make of that.  Am I a worse cyclist?  Smarter because I know how to pace myself?  Weaker because I need to?

One good bit of news is that my heart-rate rarely escalates above 90% of my max during any one workout.  So, I have plenty of fuel left in the tank during my training.  At least I know I'm capable of running faster and pedaling harder.  And, with two triathlon races coming up in the next three weeks, a mental confidence boost is just as valuable as a physical one.

Tomorrow I will approach my workouts not only a little more refreshed -- I had a training off-day due to my business trip -- but a little wiser about my capabilities.

Perception versus reality.  Friend or foe?

Both, I think.

230 days and counting.

A Surprise Training Partner

Talk about a role reversal. Usually I'm the one who jumps out of bed in the morning ready to train.  This morning, like the past few days, I just couldn't find the energy to rally.

Along comes Stephanie, who decided to join me for an easy run in my neighborhood.  She was chipper and bounded out of bed.

"Good morning! Good morning!" she exclaimed, dancing around the house.  (Of course, her photo doesn't back that claim up, but that had more to do with surprising her with the camera at 6:30 a.m.)

Ugh.

Fortunately, her energy charged me up.  This was the first time in several months that Steph decided to come running with me, mostly because my Fortius training schedule called for an "easy" run.  I convinced her last night that easy meant running at any pace I wanted to and that she wouldn't be holding me back.

Getting Steph to hold herself back though, that's another story. She has always liked sprinting as hard as possible for as long as possible, until she just couldn't exercise any more.  I used to tell her that her exercise style was somewhat of a metaphor for how she lived life -- never slowing down, rushing from one thing to the next, go-go-go-go!

This morning was different though.  I was able to show Steph the value of pacing.  We started off with a walk for five minutes before transitioning into something loosely resembling a jog.  We gradually increased our speed but never accelerated beyond a capacity to hold a conversation.  While it was hard for Steph at first -- not going at full throttle meant to her that she wasn't burning calories -- she stayed with the plan. Easy does it.

We maintained our casual pace for about 20 minutes before Steph had to get back to the condo and prepare for work.  I told her from the beginning the goal of the workout was for her to feel like she had more left in her fuel tank when she returned home.  She should feel refreshed and energized, not winded and spent.

That went out the window at the last street corner.  Steph ratcheted up the speed to about my 10k pace for the last 200 yards of our run...and gasped for air once we reached the front steps of the condo.

Old habits die hard!  I didn't discourage her either, running side-by-side and letting her dictate the pace.

We walked another few hundred yards to restore her heart rate.  After bidding my new training partner adieu, I continued my jog for another 40 minutes.  I wonder if my watch was broken because it certainly felt like I was running faster than 11-minute miles.  But, that's what the Garmin indicated.  I suppose it had something to do with last night's brick but I felt better than my speed indicated. Strange.

Now, I'm signing off to pack for this weekend's training activity:  Fortius Racing Goes Camping.  That's right, my Ironman training team is heading up to the site of the Wildflower Triathlon on May 1-2 for a weekend of training and instruction.  It's a four-hour drive from Sherman Oaks, so I'm taking the rest of the week off from work.  How many people take a vacation to work out?

Only us crazy Iron Madmen!

I likely won't have internet or cell phone access starting this afternoon, so there won't be a blog entry for Friday and probably Saturday.  Considering that my new spam filter indicates only a couple people are clicking on the blog links via Twitter, I know you're probably not that broken up about the break.

I will take plenty of photos for those friends who are competing at Wildflower and write a full report on what to expect.  Until then, get out there and train!

237 days and counting.

An Exclusive Fraternity

I had an interesting conversation with my buddy John this morning. We were talking about industry-related happenings when he asked me how I was doing post-engagement.  I told him that I actually felt different. Like I actually had changed inside just a little.  I had always heard about this mental shift, that "something just clicks" in your brain when you enter into the world of engagement and marriage.

It's true!

No longer is it just about me. While that was really fun for 35 years, I know that I have a far greater responsibility now.  To be a true partner in all aspects of life, putting Stephanie  and her needs at the top of the list with my own.  It means when friends want to visit from out of town, discussing first with Steph before blindly saying "Sure!  Come on over and crash on the couch."  I never used to think in those terms -- didn't have to.  But now, it's instinctive.  We...not me.

John chuckled when I shared this revelation.  "Welcome to the fraternity," he said, adding that there's a tighter bond among married guys than single guys because of thoughts just like this.

Huh.  The strange part is that I thought I was done with fraternities in college.  But I can say I'm as excited to enter this exclusive club as I was my freshman year at the University of Arizona.  The same sense of wonder is there.  Maybe a little anxiety too, of the unknown.  The motivations are different, but just as powerful.

I suppose you could say I'm now a pledge in Mu Delta: Married Dudes.  I'll become an active sometime between next February and July.

***

On the Ironman training front, I had my first brick workout in weeks. Instead of training in the morning though, I waited until the late afternoon, when I joined LA Tri Club and Fortius Coaching members on a 90-minute bike ride up and around Griffith Park followed by a 30-minute trail run.  I held my own but think my heart-rate was a little higher than I'd like, mostly zone 4 for the long hill bike climb that takes you to the Griffith Park Observatory.

I've never ridden up the long hill that passes the Hollywood sign.  The road is in poor shape but the climb is a very good workout.  And the reward -- a postcard view of the Los Angeles basin -- makes it all worth it.

Clearly though, the best part of the workout was having training partners to enjoy it with.  I'm going to shuffle my schedule around in the future to do the Wednesday bricks -- working early in the morning and leaving earlier in the evening.  It makes such a difference not to have to wake yourself up at the crack of dawn to train alone.  Plus, it keeps Steph happy since she knows I'm likely to be safer in a group setting.

And these are the things I want to consider now -- especially since it's likely in the Mu Delta pledge manual.

237 days and counting.

The Luckiest

Yesterday, I mentioned that one of my favorite Ryan/Stephanie songs is "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds.  It's a song that only begins to describe how I feel about my journey with Stephanie.  There's so much emotion in the singer's voice and I really tap into that feeling. Tonight though, I have to say it means something a little different.

The 21st Century dictates that nothing is considered "official" if it isn't posted on Facebook, Twitter or even Foursquare these days.  So when Steph and I posted our engagement news on Facebook, I knew we'd both receive some congratulatory comments.

What I didn't expect was the near 100 comments and wishes from friends and family.  Many of whom I haven't spoken directly with in years.

I truly feel among the luckiest people to have such a loving and supportive group surrounding me in my life.  While it only takes literally 10 seconds or less to post a "Mazel Tov!" or "Congrats!" on someone's wall, it really makes a difference.  I felt truly flattered and humbled by all the sincere gestures.  I would say it even added some extra time on the after-glow of the celebration of our announcement.

So, thank you, everyone.  Thank you.

On to the rest of my day.  Besides starting my first day as Steph's fiance, I returned to the world of Ironman training. The workout was simple: 40 minutes of easy spinning and 40 minutes of easy running.  Emphasis on "easy."  However, I felt really good this morning!  It's amazing what a week of rest can do for your body.  I did my best to hold back on the bike, but it was hard not to crank up the gears on the trainer.  I remember just a couple weeks ago how hard it was to get out of just the first gear.  Today, I wanted to pedal in the big chain immediately. I hope I can maintain that energy level for longer moving forward.

I enjoyed the run even more. Not for the physical activity itself.  But rather the feeling of running again.  The way my warm sweat cooled instantly in the balmy morning air.  The gentleness of the very slight breeze glancing off my visor and glistening forehead.  The long-lost bounce in my steps.  My pace was less than stellar, roughly 9:45-10:00, but the gentle zone 2 heart-rate assured me I had a lot more fuel in the energy tank than just a few weeks ago.  It makes me wonder whether my new Garmin would have helped me run a smarter LA Marathon had I better understood my pacing levels by using it sooner.  But then again, I know the kind of half-marathon pace I ran, and today I was intentionally holding myself back.  I'll keep an eye on this budding hypothesis.

The evening concluded with a Passover Seder at my parents' house in Simi Valley. Long-standing family friends joined us, along with my sister and her boyfriend, and Stephanie, of course.  In the past, I used to be so stressed out about whether my family would accept Steph, what Steph was thinking and feeling, and what I could do to make the situation better.  I cannot express how grateful I am that I don't have to think like that anymore. We all felt like a true family tonight.  A different kind of family, since my grandparents are no longer an active part of our lives.  But I know they would have been so happy at the sight of seeing a new generation of soon-to-be Schneiders experience a traditional family Seder.  It may be a little frenetic, a little crazy and a little off-the-wall.  But our Seder is our Seder, and it's truly one-of-a-kind.

I can honestly say I look forward to family events so much more than I have in the past.  It's nice to share them with the person I had always wanted to.

I am indeed the luckiest.

239 days and counting.

A Race About Friendship

The LA Marathon won't be remembered for my performance.

I finished in 5:11, nearly a full 1.5 hours slower than I had hoped.  Sickness and fatigue shut me down at mile 9, somewhere between the end of Los Angeles and beginning of West Hollywood.    I don't quite remember where, but I remember when.  I was running with my buddy Chris and we both were steadily maintaining a 9:00-mile pace after a quick opening sequence of 8:35-minute miles.  However, as I monitored my heart-rate during the first hour of the run, I realized I was high in zone 5, around 166 bpm.  Something was very wrong, considering I was running slower than anticipated and in a full two heart-rate zones higher.  At that point, we came to the 10-mile water stop and I told Chris to continue ahead without me.  I needed a break.  He said he'd wait, but I knew better.  The race was over for me.

Chris disappeared quickly into the sea of runners.

Even though I was surrounded by people, I felt totally alone.  Dejected.  Defeated.

Angry.

I had trained so damn hard for this moment, nearly five months.  And it was gone in an hour.  Gone.

I tried to jog the next couple miles and watched as my pace slowly deterioriated.  Even with more effort, my times were slowing.  Ten-minute miles became 11.  Eleven minutes became 12.  With each step, I became angrier and more frustrated.

This wasn't fair!  I didn't deserve this!

Then, I remembered those poor kids from the Starlight Foundation.

THAT wasn't fair.

I started to pull it together around mile 13.  But then, I was rounding the corner onto La Cienega from Sunset when I ran into my Fortius teammate, Christina.  She was off to the side, walking.  I knew something terrible was wrong for her too.  Sadly I was right.  She pulled a quad muscle and was done for the day.  She couldn't bend her leg. Tears in her eyes, we hugged.  The day hadn't turned out the way either of has had imagined, and she's got an Ironman in six weeks!  I did my best to console her, and then she was gone.  Crossing the barricades to meet her husband for what must have been a sad ride home.

Again, I was alone.  Strangely, I had come to peace with the race by then.  I calmly resigned myself to two choices: Quit, or finish.

If I quit, nobody would blame me.  I was sick.  I was tired.  I hurt.  But, if I quit during the marathon, maybe I'd quit during the Ironman?

It's like cheating in a relationship.  If you do it once, you are capable of doing it multiple times.  That's not my style.

And there was more to it than that. Now that Stephanie and I are finally together, once and for all, I wanted to show her what I was made of.  What I really was made of.  That no matter how much the pain hurt.  Now matter how tired I was. No matter how I felt, I wouldn't EVER quit on her.   I would never quit on us.

From that moment on, at Santa Monica Boulevard and La Cienega, there was only one thing on my mind: Finish the damn marathon.

The next four miles were rough, but entertaining in a bizarre way.  West Hollywood was festive to say the least.  The crowds were boisterous and the street performances were lively.  The cross-dressing cheerleaders were definitely the highlight.

Then it was onto Beverly Hills.  Here I received a big boost from my friend and co-worker, Jason, and his wife, Jen.  They waited extra long for me to hit Wilshire and Rodeo Drive even though their friends had long past that checkpoint.  They walked a few blocks with me until I turned onto Santa Monica Boulevard again towards Westwood.  Their support and positive encouragement really made me feel good.  Despite my best efforts, I was still pretty dejected about my day.  But they helped put it in perspective that I was still going to finish something special.

Unfortunately, as much of a mental boost as that was, it quickly dissipated.  My body started to lock up and break down around mile 16.  I was walking almost full miles at this point.  I had no ability to run more than a few hundred yards before my heart rate would blow up again.

It was at this point that I saw the best familiar face possible: My longest-tenured friend, Kevin.  I've known Kevin since damn near pre-school. We've played soccer together.  We went to elementary school together.  We went to high school together.  We backpacked Europe together.  We've run half-marathons together.

And now, we've run the LA Marathon together.

Out of 25,000 runners, I literally had run into my best friend!

Kevin was having problems too with his marathon.  His knee was locking up.  And it was at this point I realized what the true point of my first marathon would be: It was a race about friendship.  Whether it was supporting my buddy Chris at the beginning, Christina in the middle, or Kevin in the end, this wasn't about performance.  It was about perspective.  About support.  About friendship.

The rest of the marathon was painful.  My feet felt broken.  My calves were incredibly tight despite wearing compression socks.  My IT band swelled.  But it was OK.  Friends such as Jennifer and Ryan showed their support near the Mormon Temple in Westwood.  Jason and Jen drove down to Brentwood to cheer me on and offer some refreshing coconut water at mile 22.  Stephanie kept me sane and motivated throughout the morning with text messages.  Corey and Maggie texted me telling me they were waiting at the finish line.

How lucky am I?

The final few miles couldn't have progressed more slowly.  My body was totally breaking down.  I'd shuffle a few yards, stop, wait for Kevin, or vice versa, and we'd continue walking. Cursing, but walking.  Questioning, but not quitting.  Never quitting.

FINALLY, the finish line was in sight.  Kevin and I tried to pick up the pace heroically, but all I was doing was searching for Stephanie, or listening for her.  That's all I wanted.  I just wanted to tell her that this race was for her.  That there was no quit in this body.  Not for the race, not for anything.

Kevin saw her first.  He pointed her out and I stopped everything to run across the packed street to give her a huge hug behind the barricade, just 10 yards from the finish.  Apparently my family and friends were right behind her, but honestly I only saw her.  It was a special moment.  All the pain and frustration was worth it.

I finished the LA Marathon, arm around Kevin.  We did it.

I will run better marathons.  I will set more personal bests.  But I don't know if I'll ever have an experience as special as my first marathon.  And I owe it to my friends.  To my family, including my parents who woke up so early after flying across the country the evening before.  To my sister and her boyfriend, who showed up just in time for the finish after having friends in town to entertain.

And, surprisingly, to the residents of Los Angeles, who lined the streets for nearly the entire route supporting us crazy marathoners.  I may not have acknowledged all of them, but I sure did hear them and appreciate their presence.  This city sure is beautiful when it wants to be.

Like the Randy Newman song, I love LA.

And today, I paid the price during recovery.  I left work early due to exhaustion even though I slept nearly 10 hours last night.  I'm still coughing up all sorts of stuff, and my legs are stiff and achey.

But it's a good kind of pain.

The kind associated with finishing something I started.

246 days and counting.

4-Minute Blog Post

Instead of the Subway "$5 foot-long" jingle, I'm starting a new one: Four!  Four!  Four-Minute Blog Post!

Here we go!

6 a.m.:  swim with Fortius Coaching team.  Awesome. Fastest sustained 100 intervals yet.  1:52-1:55 pace, stroke cadence down to 20 per 25 yards. Thanks Gerardo and my lane partner, Dierdre!

Sadly, a high school swimmer from Van Nuys High seizured this morning.  Fortunately, he's OK.  His teammates were remarkably mature and supportive, for adults or kids.  I was humbled and happy for our future when I saw their display of sensitivity and compassion.

7:30 a.m.: I ran for an hour and 15 minutes doing six, three-minute intervals between heart-rate zones 4-5.  Using my new Garmin, I realized my mile time is decreasing. I'm on pace for 6:45-minute miles at this point.  Let's see how long I can sustain that though!

8:54 a.m.: On the move to the office to shower and change for work.

9:57 a.m.: At my desk, showered, breakfast in hand, with three minutes to spare.

1:26 p.m.: Returned from lunch after downing three tacos at Sharkey's and fueled up on GU and Hammer nutrition at Bicycle John's in Burbank.

6:18 p.m.: Left work to eat dinner and join the LA Tri Club at the Encino First Thursday social, sponsored by Fortius.  Nope, I didn't win anything in the raffle once again.  But, I loved seeing my fantastic teammates and friends looking their finest. They clean up nicely!

8:39 p.m.: Rushed home, dropped off my dirty gym bag, packed a new one, typed this blog, and am now back on the road for an evening out.  Gotta take advantage of my equivalent of Saturday night since there's no training planned tomorrow.

8:56 p.m.: Shutting down blog, changing clothes, rushing out the door!  Goodnight all!

PS: Thank goodness Ironman training gives you the ability to pack more into your day in a shorter amount of time...on less sleep. I'm living up to my company's studio name: I'm becoming an insomniac!

264 days and counting.

More Tech, More Problems

So I have this badass new Garmin 310x watch/supercomputer. And like many impressive pieces of technology, it's not working.  I took my pet supercomputer with me on my tempo time-trial bike ride this morning.  Granted, there was some pilot error to start -- I couldn't remember how to switch between a bike, run and swim workout.  But there are so many damned settings to master that who could blame me?  I settled for a regular "non-denominational" workout with speed, calories and a heart-rate chart monitoring my progress.

The ride itself was uneventful, save for the City of Los Angeles street sweeper truck cleaning the bike path and doing so in reverse while taking up both lanes.  That's not good when you're rounding a corner and traveling more than 20 mph.  Carbon brakes 4tw, as the kiddies say.

As has been the case lately, it took me about 20-25 minutes before I could work my heart-rate up into the zone 3 area (146-154 bpm).  Once I got there, I stayed there for just over 35 minutes.  My power is still slightly down but once the legs got loose I found my rhythm.  Pedaling home through the morning rush-hour traffic was the usual harrowing experience.  Now, I'm proceeding south on Sepulveda Boulevard, turning left on Magnolia Street and using Kester Avenue to get back on my home street just south of Ventura Boulevard.  It's a little out of the way, but it beats being pancaked by a stressed out motorist.

Upon arriving home, I excitedly tried to upload the workout to my laptop and Training Peaks account.  No such luck.  The MyGarmin site didn't recognize my account name, which is strange since it worked last night.  I got an internal server error, and that was that.  Then, I was late to work, and frustrated.  Yay technology!

Oh, and I didn't have that problem with my quaint little Polar 200.  It worked, in all its simplicity.

Few things annoy me more than technology that promises big and under-delivers.  Especially when it's as expensive as the Garmin supercomputer.  I'll hope for more success tomorrow.

PS: I'm supposed to lift weights or do yoga tonight.  But I can't.  I'm going to a Clippers basketball game with my work teammates. (Is that considered self-torture, btw?)  Instead of the second workout, I got a massage from our in-house massage therapist, Abby.  After a long absence, she's back.  Abby is a massage muse, a personal godsend for keeping my body in tip-top shape.  I already feel refreshed and ready for the rest of the week.  I think that counts as a second workout given the health benefit.

265 days and counting.

My New Supercomputer

Turns out the Garmin 310x frightened me for good reason. It took Coach Gerardo and me two hours to set up the software and program the settings.  I could have watched a full-length film in that same timespan, done two loads of laundry or burned about 1,000 calories training.

I probably drained that many brain cells trying to figure the damn gadget out.

But, to be fair, this watch is frickin' cool!  The mapping and GPS features alone make me feel like a superfly spy, beaming my coordinates to HQ (in this case Fortius Coaching) at a moment's notice.  I'll also be able to read my heart rate for the first time while swimming.  I've been curious for a long time how hard or how little I'm working in the water.  I have a feeling my heart-rate is pretty elevated.

The Garmin 310x ain't for the beginner, that's for sure.  I'm almost more intimidated to master the watch than to complete the Ironman itself!  I don't even feel comfortable calling it a watch.  It's a supercomputer that dwarfs my wrist, like a turtle resting atop a mouse.  I'll use my new toy for the first time tomorrow, an hour cycling mini-time trial.  If I don't accidentally hit a self-destruct button, I'll report back then.

My training earlier in the day went well, considering Sunday's 20-mile run.  I really didn't feel any ill-effects today, which was pretty surprising.  I swam an easy 2,450 yards, with the help of my Zoomers flippers.  Today was the first time I felt comfortable with the flippers, gliding effortlessly through the pool during my kick intervals while stretching my calves and ankles.  I almost felt guilty for how easy the workout seemed.

Almost.

Then, this afternoon during lunchtime, I ran for 50 minutes in all heart-rate zones on a hilly treadmill course.  Surprisingly, my legs felt fresh after about 10-15 minutes of warm-up.  And that was even at the peak of the run, with the incline set at 7.5% while maintaining a 6.0 mph pace.  That was an accomplishment in itself.

I'm looking forward to another accomplishment tomorrow...

266 days and counting.

Sluggish

Some words sound just like what they are.  I know there's a grammar term for that, but I don't feel like looking it up.  Ironic statement to follow. Sluggish is one of those words.  If I were an alien from another planet trying to decipher what sluggish meant, I'd think it means to slug through something.  To struggle.  Over-exaggerate.  Over-work.  Or, pop a slug in me, because I'm just about finished.

Any of those terms or phrases would describe my brick workout today.  Whether it was the earlier start (7 a.m.) the semi-cold, dewy morning or just plain fatigue, my legs felt stiff and heavy on the bike.  My brief six-mile time trial portion of the 45-minute spin was close to pathetic, with an average of around 17.5 mph that spanned nearly 21 minutes of pedaling.  Granted, there was more traffic (and therefore slowdowns) than usual.  But c'mon!  Really? Gah.

I quickly transitioned to a 30-minute run, which felt closer to 30 years. Maybe today would have been a good day for music to fire me up a bit.  Honestly though, I don't know if it would have made a difference.  On the positive side, I ran my old jogging route that was my stand-by for all of last year and completed the loop with a much lower heart-rate while maintaining a similar if not greater speed.  So I had that going for me, which was nice.

Still, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was fighting with myself. Almost dragging myself around town, whether it was on the bike or my own two feet.  I can't help but wonder if this is the dreaded "over-training" wall people keep telling me about.  Or, maybe it's just a cold, considering I've been fighting an illness for about a week now without really telling anyone.

Don't worry, mom, it's nothing. I'm warm, well-fed, and yes, I'm wearing a sweater.

Anyway, no west for the weary.  Tomorrow I have a swimming time-trial, which I'm mentally looking forward to.  Physically, I hope I can answer the call.  Following the swim, I'll quickly be transitioning to a 45-minute run featuring five, three-minute hard interval runs in zones 4 and 5a.  That's up to 168 bpm, baby.  I hope I can sustain that rate.  Fortunately, my buddy Dustin will be joining me in Calabasas bright and early.

Well, what I really hope is that I sleep in or through my workout.  That I wake up late, saunter to Jinky's for a massive breakfast, and that I don't do anymore training the rest of the week. Nah, make that the rest of the month!

But I won't give in to that kind of sentiment. That's not my m.o.

Besides, I don't do sluggish.

272 days and counting.

Recovery Day?

I thought Mondays were supposed to be recovery days. Guess that's in the past now.

After a weekend consisting of a 15-mile trail run, 45-minute swim, 53-mile bike ride and a 15-minute transition run, I was back at it again this morning.  Hard.

First, I swam 2,500 yards, highlighted by 15 100s at 2:10 pace.  Slow for many, but after this weekend, it was just fine. Though I did most of the sets between my normal T-pace, 2:05, and 2:10.  Somehow. I'm still trying to figure that part out.

The toughest part of the swim wasn't even physical.  It came in the form of an impromptu lesson from my lane-mate, a very fast swimmer I met named John.  He said I wasn't gliding enough at the end of my stroke, meaning I wasn't leaving my arm extended for long enough.  In addition, though John said I had a strong upper body and my legs were good (really?, Coach Gerardo thinks my kicking sucks), he mentioned my arms were entering the water much sooner than they should be.  And that I was bending my elbows too much. This runs counter to what Gerardo was trying to get me to do, entering the water with my pinkie fingers touching the plane first in order to more effectively engage my hip rotation.

Swimming is such a technical sport, and I honestly have no idea what I'm doing sometimes in the water.  Just when I think I'm improving, I find that I have more bad habits.  I'm a little frustrated, to be honest. Am I getting better, or getting worse?

Fortunately, the second half of my workout, a 45-minute "recovery" run completed this evening on the treadmill, went smoother.  That was actually part of the problem though.  With my elevated heart-rate zone settings, it's more difficult to reach a speed that gives me the workout I need.  For example, when I was really out of shape (2007), I could run at 5 mph and my heart-rate would probably have been around 150 bpm.  Now, I can run at 6.4 on the treadmill and my HR is firm at 140.  So, a recovery run doesn't feel like much of a relaxing recovery at all when I'm dripping with sweat and the treadmill is making that high-pitched whiny noise that sounds like how I typically feel at the end of a workout:"Whhhhyyyyyyy????"

I suppose it's a good problem to have though -- feeling like you're in such good shape that what used to be a full-fledged workout is now considered a "recovery."

Wow.  That was an eye-opening moment for me tonight.

What's next, a 50-mile "recovery" spin?  A "recovery" two-mile swim?

At this point in my Ironman training, nothing surprises me.

274 days and counting.