Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's Time to Compete!

And how do we know it's time to compete?  Because I shaved my legs tonight!  Ya-hoo!!  Watch out, all of you hairy beasts . . . this silky smooth, hydrophobic, aerodynamic warrior is aiming to take you down!

Actually, aerodynamics and hydrophobia have nothing to do with my recent hair removal.  For me, it's mostly a mental thing.  It's the way that I signal to myself--and to others, if they are looking closely at my legs and then pondering the significance of their hairlessness; that happens all the time, right?--that work has been done and sacrifices have been made.  As someone recently posted on my friend Jordan's Facebook wall, "That sure is a lot of work to justify shaving your legs."  Yes.  Yes, it is.  At the breaking point of a race, I can--and I do--say to myself: "Man up!  You shaved your legs for this!"  Wait, that feels suddenly very contradictory, particularly if I consider that at the very same moment that I was shaving my legs, my wife (who is female, and who also shaves her legs) was taking yet another pull in her RAAM relay team's 500-mile, 30-hour practice ride.  We're just going to overlook that.

Shaving's one's legs is an utterly undignified affair, at least for those of us who have only done it a handful of times.  There's twisting and turning, huffing and puffing, and foam and water go everywhere.  I think that I got a better workout stretching to reach a runaway hair on my right achilles that was hiding in a strange shadow than I did in the pool today.  I've decided that from now on, if I'm feeling intimidated by the look of one of my competitors, I'm going to imagine him balancing on one leg trying to get the hair off his ankles with a pink razor.  Consider it the triathlon version of picturing your audience naked before a big speech.

And speaking of pink razors, why is it that my wife's cheap razor works better than my fancy razor?  The likely answer is that her razor is designed to shave legs, while mine is designed to shave faces.  (Shaving faces, by the way, is SIGNIFICANTLY easier.  You only have one face, after all.  I never regretted bipedalism until I successfully reached the end of successfully shaving my left leg only to have to begin anew on my right.)  Fair enough: a razor made to shave legs probably should do a better job on legs than one made to shave faces.  Why, though, do her razors have to be sea foam green or baby blue and have names like "Princess?"  Perhaps I have found the product that will make me rich: manly razors that are intended for body shave-age.  I'll name it The Velociraptor.  You heard it here first.    

("We're going to take five minutes off your Ironman swim!")

Amidst these stunning insights, I had another in the shower tonight: there is a lot of hair on one's legs.  Even before shaving, my legs aren't particularly hairy, and they are what some might call "skinny."  (I prefer "lean" or "gristly" or "rope-like.")  Nonetheless, there was more than enough hair residing on them to clog the drain.  Some sections took several strokes, and each time, the razor would come up fully choked with hair.  I can't imagine what it would be like to take The Velociraptor to the legs of some of the hairier folks I know.  (Zane Coburn?  Here's looking at you, kid.)  

Tomorrow is the Cheaha Challenge.  Next weekend, it's my first triathlon of the season.  I've worked hard, I've eaten right, and most importantly, I've prepared myself mentally by performing that most important physical ritual: I have shaved my legs.  Let's get it on!  


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ten weeks!

Ironman Coeur d'Alene is now less than ten weeks away! While there is plenty of time for me to do a lot more training, I am definitely to the point where it will be here before I know it. In addition, ten weeks to go marks the end of my "training" phase and the beginning of my "competition" phase. This weekend, I'll be taking part in the first event where my performance really matters to me. Next weekend, on April 28, I'll be doing my first triathlon of the season. And one week after that, I'll be competing in my first half-Iron in preparation for CdA. Here's the check-in:

--My left heel still hurts. I seem to have kicked the posterior tibialis tendinitis that was dogging me, and I have nearly weaned myself off the arch pads that the podiatrist gave me for it. My bursitis continues to hurt, though, particularly at the start of runs. Over the weekend, I did my first brick, and the pain in the first half-mile was jarring even though I had spent five hours on the bike. (Other than that, the run actually went very well.) It has felt gradually better over the past few weeks, and it felt good enough the last few mornings for me to venture a morning run today. (Being able to run in the morning--when my foot is not quite as warmed up--would help a great deal in my training.) The morning run went well; I started on the unpaved path in the park across from our house like I have done for nearly every run of late. My foot was warmed up by the mile mark, and it felt normal enough for me to leave the park and run on the roads by the three-mile mark. It hurts right now, though. I came to the sobering conclusion this weekend that it may be a while before I'm running entirely pain-free. I probably won't rid myself of this bursitis until after CdA. The only two things that seem to make it feel any better are compression socks (thank you, CEP and Swiftwick) and--dare I say it--shockwave therapy.

--Despite the bursitis, I'm feeling good on the run. I did a couple of workouts last week, and I was speedier than both my coach and I thought I would be. My longest run is still only ten miles (which I've done several times), but I'm confident that I can go longer without major issues . . . as long as I let my foot warm up on a soft surface first.

--My cycling is pretty fantastic. On Saturday, I rode a hilly century on my tri bike at just under Ironman intensity. My HR was low, my power was good, my speed was fast despite my not using aero gear, and most importantly, I felt pretty comfortable on my bike. This weekend will be a 102-mile gran fondo that climbs to the highest point in Alabama (twice) and has several other shorter climbs along the way. Here's the profile:

It will be my fourth straight weekend of 100-mile rides. I'm looking forward to it.

--I've come to the conclusion that for me, cycling is the linchpin of the entire race. I have the ability and training to ride a very good bike split on this course. However, if I get really excited about the swim and go too hard in the first segment or I don't execute my nutrition strategy well, both my bike and my run will suffer. In addition, I cannot let my bike fitness slide in the two months leading up to the race, as I did in the run-up to Cozumel. I'm going to lobby my coach to continue my cycling-heavy training program in the next ten weeks.

--My swimming is coming along quite well. Over the winter, I had a real breakthrough in terms of speed in the water. I'm now a full-minute under my 500y best from before Ironman Cozumel. I'm swimming easily for 3000y or more at the pace that used to be my PR 500y pace only six months ago. It is my hope that this will put me in CdA about five to ten minutes in front of what I swam in Cozumel. Granted, Cozumel was mysteriously fast for everyone, but CdA's super-cold swim is wetsuit legal, which helps me a lot given that body positioning is my biggest issue. Further, according to, the average swim in Cozumel was 1:14 my year, while the average swim in CdA last year was 1:20. One way or another, I'll be right in the middle of this craziness:

The fun starts at about 1:40. Do you see the way that the entire group just empties into the water?? I like mass swim starts. I get a charge out of the chaos. Coeur d'Alene, I believe, will put my enjoyment of mass starts to the test!

--I have not yet nailed down my nutrition strategy. I have decided that I'll be using Powerbar products, though, given that Ironman Peform is the on-course drink for Ironman CdA. I like Powerbar's bars--which I have used for years--and I have grown to appreciate their thinner-consistency gels. I'm going to start practicing my race-specific nutrition over the next few weeks, and it will likely be a topic that I describe in future blog posts.

I'm nowhere near the homestretch, but I'm definitely getting to the a key block of training. So far, so good.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Last week was spring break. Spring break! Woo hoo! Par-tay!!

The way that my wife and I chose to party was with a "train-cation." That means that we stayed home and chose to train the entire time rather than go anywhere. I ran at Kennesaw Mountain twice.

We rode in the North Georgia mountains twice.

We did the Tony Serrano Century.

And we even went for an open-water swim in Lake Lanier.

But even though all of the training was great, the best part of the week was the AMAZING news that my wife received. She has been invited to be a member of an eight-person RAAM relay! This June, she'll be racing from Oceanside, CA, to Annapolis, MD, with her eight teammates. Awesome! You can read her RAAM team bio here. She will sponsored by and raising money for the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

Kacie has been training hard to get ready for her RAAM duties, even though she is still in a cast from a recent tibial stress fracture. (Tough as nails, that wife of mine!) She'll be competing the week before I compete in Coeur d'Alene. If all goes to plan, she'll finish on Saturday, June 23, in Maryland, hop a plane to Idaho, and then cheer for me on Sunday. It should be great! In the event that things don't go to plan, I hope to poach a few of my friend Sonja's fans to support me to the finish line.

Coeur d'Alene is now ten weeks away, and I'm feeling pretty good. My swimming and cycling are outstanding. When I run, my bursitis still bothers me a bit, but it's getting steadily better. I'm also weaning myself off the arch pads that I had to wear for the posterior tibialis tendinitis. I hope to be done with them before my first big triathlon at Rev 3 Knoxville on May 6. I did a successful speed workout on Tuesday.

After this weekend, I have three straight weekends of events: the Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo in Alabama, the West Point Olympic Tri in West Point, GA, and Rev 3 Knoxville. After all this training and anticipation, we're finally getting close to the big goals!