Saturday, June 28, 2008


After a slight delay I finally arrived in Baltimore yesterday where Lindsey was waiting to pick me up. Thats right, even though shes not racing Lindsey was kind enough to pick me up from the airport in her fancy BMW, give me a ride to Morgantown, and even put up will all my bitching about how much I hate biking. Isnt she great?

We had a fairly uneventful drive through the mountains and upon arriving at the hotel we were ready for some dinner! I had scoped things out last week on and we decided to try out Black Bear Burritos in downtown Morgantown. The atmosphere was great, they had an awesome selection of beer, both on tap and in bottles, and the food was unique and tasty. However their desert menu was a bit limited but luckily we spotted a local gelato joint which totally hit the spot. All in all, not a bad evening.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Summer is in full swing and so is the summer harvest, meaning this week's CSA share was a full half bushel and then some!

For those keeping score at home thats:
13 ears of corn
6 beets
5 squash
2 zucchini
4 lemon cucumbers
2 cucumbers
1 pint of blackberries
1 yellow onion
1 red onion
1 head of cabbage
1 eggplant
and not pictured... a few sprigs of fresh dill and a brown paper bag full of green beens

And best of all, it was all picked today just about 70 miles away. Off to ride and figure out what to make with my stash. Something tells me eggplant parmesan may be on the menu next week sometime.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Taper time

With another race this weekend it would appear its taper time again. I think I'm starting to like this racing every other weekend deal as it means I get to be on a part time training schedule and therefore I get a bit of a break from the usual perpetual state of soreness. However, the whole not-being-able-to-walk-normally for a few days after the race is a slight downside to racing a HIM every weekend. That and the absolute shredding of my feet courtesy of my racing flats. Ahh... the joys of racing.

The other downside of going to a race is the always dreaded packing of the bike which will have to take place tonight. Its the little things like this that make triathlons such a pain in the ass. Wouldnt it be a lot simpler if the race provided bikes? That way not only do you not have to pack your bike for a race but you also dont have to worry about whether or not you have the nicest equipment because everyone would have the same thing. Of course as it stands this model certainly wouldnt help me at all (because I defintely get an advantage from my bike + wheel combo) but it really would be a neat idea.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A rude awakening and running some CC

Yesterday I had a meeting with the primer folks to discuss the weighting criteria for the properties which will be used to determine which primer will be used to protect the outside of the Upper Stage for Ares I. Exciting, I know. Anyway, about 30 minutes into the meeting we were discussing the relevance of one of the tests and just as I was about to say something the guy across the table from me started snoring. Caught off guard a bit I paused momentarily before continuing with my thought while everyone else was being attentive. Mr. sleeper actually got in a couple long snores before awaking to (slight) embarassment. No one said anything but needless to say it was pretty funny. The meeting was right after lunch but still, dozing off in a meeting is never a good thing. In your office/cubical is one thing but in a meeting with five other people is an entirely different story...

In other news I'm heading over to the cross country park this evening where Steve Carter puts on 1-, 2-, and 3-mile fun runs/races every Tuesday night during the summer. The mile goes off at 6:30 followed by the 3, then finished off with the 2. Each "race" is timed but there is no registration so people just show up and run. Some race, others jog but all in all its a lot of fun as there are usually a wide range of paces providing some great company. The best part is that the park is only about a mile and half from my house so I can just run on over there.

Monday, June 23, 2008


S: 21,500 yds
B: 9h 5min (TSS = 528)
R: 3h 30min

Total: 17h 58min

Fairly standard recovery week after the Kansas 70.3 last Sunday. As usual it took a few days to recover but by the weekend I was feeling better and got in a few quality workouts. Next Sunday is the Spirit of Morgantown Triathlon in Morgantown, West Virginia.

The race is a half Ironman which is put on by HFP racing. I did the race last year and was pleased with the race organization, course, and event atmosphere so I'm looking forward to going back again this year. I'm not however looking foward to the huge hill on the run which we'll have to traverse twice. All in all though it should be a fun trip and hopefully I'll have a good race as well.

Friday, June 20, 2008

ITU LD Worlds!

Well its official. Yesterday I booked my ticket to Amsterdam for the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships. The race will consist of a 4km swim, 120km bike, and 30km run which makes it a bit longer than the 70.3 distance but not quite as bad as a full IM. Luckily though the swim is actually longer than an IM swim, so I'm looking foward to that. Any thing to give me little more time to hold off the bikers...

The race will actually take place in Almere and I'm really excited to be going. I've never been to Europe so when I found out USAT would be providing travel money I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to head over to the other side of the pond. The only downside is that vacation days are tight so it will have to be a short trip. I'd really like to hang around afterwards for a while and sample (among other things) some local brews but these are the kind of liberties not extended to a first year engineer.

The other, more depressing problem is that I'll not only have to race 120k on my bike, I'll also have to train for a race with an 120k bike. Ouch. My butt is trembling at the prospects.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

De Lorean sighting

Yesterday evening I was out for an easy run when I spotted a De Lorean driving by which is pretty cool as you dont see these very often.

The Delorean is of course the car which was used in Back to the Future for the time machine. It was chosen by Doc because, "if your gonna make a time machine..why not do it with some style? Besides the stainless steel construction makes the flux dispersal...."

While we're on the subject, I figured I'd post some pics and quotes from what is truly one of the greatest movies (and series) of all time. The sound track, the cast, the plot, and the cinematography are all top notch. I mean who can forget these quotes:

"1.21 gigawatts!?!?!?!"

"Why dont you make like a tree... and get out of here!"

"Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Huh? Think, McFly. Think!"

"I mean, I just don't think I can take that kind of rejection."

"There's that word again; 'heavy'. Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth's gravitational pull?"

I could go on and on, but here are some pics as well...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kansas 70.3 Race Report

Due to my homestay’s close proximity to the race site (we were only a few miles away whereas most people had to stay about 20 miles away in Lawrence) fellow pro and Paulo disciple, Will Ronco, decided to come to my place and we would car pool to the race. So we ended up taking my rental car, a Ford Escape, and this ended up being a really good decision as we had to park in some mud which Will's VW wouldnt have liked much.

So we got to the race site with plenty of time, set our stuff up and yada yada yada… it was time for the gun to go off. It was a beach start I actually had a really good run into the water. I immediately spotted Craig A as we dove into the water and darted to his feet. This was great… I was right where I wanted to be. Problem was I think I let my guard down too soon because before I knew it I was getting pounded as it seemed like there were more than a few large bodies who wanted to be where I was. All of a sudden there was a gap opening up so I put in a surge and thankfully caught up to the group ahead. At this point I assumed things would settle down and it would just be a matter of maintaining pace for the rest of the swim. Unfotunately though about 5 minutes later I got a good look up ahead and I realized our pack had split. Balls. I was in the second pack. I thought about trying to get up to the group ahead but realized it would likely be a futile effort as I would first have to get through the group I was in and then close the gap to the group ahead.

Coming out of the water and into transition I confirmed what I had thought: there was a pack that I had missed. I was pretty bummed about that but realized I just had to put it behind me and have a good rest of the race. Out onto the bike course I was feeling pretty good but immediately took notice of the wind and knew it would be a factor. I was passed by a couple people (no surprise) and actually passed one guy (surprise!) before a group of three came up on me around the 15 mile mark. They weren't moving too fast so I decided to go with them. I soon realized that I could comfortably sit 10m behind the last person in the group so I decided to stay with them. This meant going really hard on the up hills and coasting on some of the downhills but the mental benefit of having someone to pace off was well worth it. Additionally I was always cognizant of staying at least 10m as I get kind of paranoid about being called for drafting. I guess thats what happens when you ride by yourself most of the time.

As we rolled along the temperature and wind picked up while the hills were relentless. Finally just past the 40 mile mark we hit the last turnaround and I decided to take off and punch it for the last 15 or so miles. At this point we had a nice tailwind and a couple of downhill sections so I just tried to get as small as possible and lose the other riders. It worked and I had a nice strong end to the ride and was stoked to get out on the run.

Starting the run I was feeling pretty great. My butt/piriformis/sciatic nerve issue had not acted up so I was really pumped to redeem myself from the crap run I had in Florida. It was nice to be able to move my legs and my fast pace was affirmed when I came through the mile in 5:35. Oops. Thats a little too fast. I tried to settle down but it was great to be running fast and have people ahead of me to catch. The run course had some shade which was nice but also had some hills, wide open sections, and lots of turns. There were also a lot of little loops so sometimes it felt like you were never really going anywhere.

I was still feeling good through about 6 miles but then I started hurting around the end of the first loop/beginning of the second loop. It happened a bit after I passed Timex teammate Alex MM and Will Ronco and I basically just had to suck it up and try not to slow down too much. While my second lap was certainly slower than my first, I managed to keep a decent enough pace and I was thrilled to finally see the chute. As I was crossing the line, the announcer said, "Almost rounding out the top 10, in 9th place, Andrew Hodges from Huntsville, Alabama!" I had to chuckle. My race number was '9' and after having no idea what place I was in as I crossed the line in 9th place in 4:11. This kept my streak alive of never finishing higher than my race number. And yes, I have been given '1' before. Of course now that I have mentioned it I've probably jinxed myself but sandbagging AG stud and Timex teammate Tim Hola thought it would be a nice addition.

I was a little lightheaded for a while post race but I got to chat with a bunch of people which was a lot of fun. However, I couldnt stay too long as I had a plane to catch so Will and I grabbed our stuff and took off.

Here is Will and I packing up after a day at the office:

After a quick pack of the bike and shower at Dale's place, we were headed to downtown Lawrence for a bite to eat. We had a friendly wager on lunch and because I was fortunate enough to finish ahead of him he had to buy the burgers. First though we had to drop my bike off at FedEx and while we were there got a recommendation for a burger place. We ended up at Jo Shmos and it did not disappoint. I rarely eat fries anymore but these were really delicious. Crispy on the outside, sweet and chewing on the inside... cooked to perfection. Of course the burger wasnt bad either.

After stuffing ourselfs with mushroom-swiss burgers and sweet potatoe fries, we headed to Ben & Jerry's for some high quality, butter fat laden premium ice cream. Yummy. Sadly I then had to dart to Kansas City as I had a 5:30 flight and a 50 minute drive to the airport. All in all though it was a pretty fun weekend and satisfying race.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back to the grind

Well after a surprisingly fun weekend in Kansas its back to the office. I kind of just expected this this trip to be a quick, uneventful, weekend but it turned out to be a lot of fun. It was still short as I few into Kansas City Friday afternoon and left Sunday at 5 but I ran into a surprising number of friends at the race which made me want to hang out a bit longer in Lawrence. In addition to a number of Timex teammates, I got to catch up with quite a few of my friends on the circuit and meet a few people as well. Additionally, downtown Lawrence was really cool and I certainly wouldnt have minded hanging out there a little longer and having a couple of colds ones on Sunday afternoon. But I only have so many vacation days so I had to jet back to Huntsville to get back to work however I do want to give another big thanks to my host, Dale, who went out of his way to make me feel welcome.

The race report will come soon but here is a quick preview/teaser...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Welcome to Kansas!

I made it into Kansas today after a 3h layover in Atlanta. Upon arriving in Kansas City I drove to Lawrence and met Dale who is kind enough to be hosting me this weekend. We proceeded to the grocery store (always a good place to start) and then over to his place. As it turns out, I got really lucky with my homestay as Dale lives only minutes from the course! Additionally Dale was kind enough to drive me around the bike course so it was nice to get a preview.

The course is wide open with constant rolling hills which make up for the fact that it is otherwise very boring. The weather here on the other hand is awesome and I'm really starting to look foward to the race.

So after previewing the course I went for short jog then met up with Will Ronco for some... thats right... CHIPOTLE! It totally hit the spot. But of course, I still needed some ice cream so we headed over to the HiVee store. Yes, neither Will nor I realized it was a grocery store but we made sure to let all the employees know we were shopping there because they sponsor the World Cup race in Des Moines.

And then, while wandering through the aisles, guess who we ran into? Thats right, Jarrod Shoemaker! And yes, we have pics to prove it!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pseudo taper

With the Kansas 70.3 this Sunday the training volume is thankfully a bit light this week. I had a couple of decent workouts yesterday but was still feeling a bit sluggish. Hopefully the legs will come around by the end of the week but when you try to do 4 HIMs before the end of June, you cant expect to be totally fresh for all of them.

Either way, I'm looking forward to the race this weekend. Tom Z, the race director, always puts on a quality event and there are even some nice festivities, including a free concert, lined up for Friday night. Also, a couple of my friends, Will and Zach, are racing so it will be fun to see them.

Monday, June 9, 2008


S: 24, 200 yds
B: 10h 40min (TSS = 651)
R: 5h 18min

Total: 22h 1min

Great week on the bike as I got in some good quality on both Tuesday and Thursday. I also had a very solid week in the pool swimming with the kids. Its too bad I dont have a TSS for that as well as I'm sure it would be higher than previous weeks as well. As for running... the quality was not superb but I did get in some nice heat acclimation which is a necessary evil. This Sunday is Kansas 70.3 which (thankfully) means I get a bit of a taper. I'll certainly not be totally fresh for this one but hopefully I can still pull out a decent performance.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A hot run and a cool wedding

Friday was David's wedding but before the party started, I had to knock out a run. I really appreciated David and Stephanie inviting me to the wedding, but the 5:30 start time kind of killed me as it meant I had to run around 2:30PM. Oh well, just a good reason take some of my own advice and get in a little heat acclimation.

I had to run 1h10 with a 30min tempo and wow... it was a sufferfest. But hey... I never mentioned heat acclimation was fun. And it was relatively easy to work up the motivation to GTWD as I had the wedding to look foward to.

After the run I tried to cooldown as much as possible while getting all fancied up and heading off to the wedding. Lindsey J was kind enough to accompany me and we showed up to the church just in time. The ceremony was beautiful but lets face it... its really all about the reception! And the reception was awesome.

We arrived at The Ledges, a country club overlooking Jones Valley here in Huntsville, around 7. We immediately hit up the bar and hors doers which were located outside on a patio overlooking the golf course and then city. Pretty awesome view...

Dinner was great but sadly we were so hungry that ate it right away and therefore dont have any pictures. So after dinner, it was time to hit the dance floor! Here is a shot of David enjoying the music and Steph laughing at him...

So we ate, drank, and danced, and finally it was time for the new married couple to depart, sortly after midnight:

All in all a good time. Thanks again to David and Stephanie inviting us!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Running in the HEAT

Because David decided to get married this Friday (rather than Saturday) I had to move the usual 3 x 2 miles Zn4 workout to last night. This meant I had to get started a little earlier than last week due to the fact that I had to finish up early enough to get dinner and get to bed at a reasonable hour (as opposed to Friday when I can start and finish a bit later). Anyway, this is all fairly insignificant except that the high temperature yesterday was somewhere around 93 degrees meaning it was still close to 90 when I started the workout at 6 PM. The heat, in addition to the lack of running partner, meant the workout was pretty much a shit show.

However, it did remind me of the importance of adjusting performance goals to match conditions. More specifically training and/or racing in the heat will have detrimental effects on performance due mainly to the fact that your heart has to do more work to keep your body cool, as opposed to transporting blood to and from your muscles. This brings up a number of questions I'm often asked regarding training in the heat.

1. Can I get used to running in the heat? Yes, heat acclimation can be attained in a couple of weeks. However, while acclimation will help improve performance, it will NOT allow you to duplicate performances from ideal conditions. For example, if you feel like you are in shape to run a 39 minute 10k in good conditions, don't think that you can just run in warm weather for a couple of weeks and then go out and run a 39 minute 10k when its 90 degrees outside. The acclimation may however help you run 39:30 (or something along those lines) rather than 41:00.

2. So if running in the heat is harder, does that mean I should do hard workouts in heat? Wont that be a better workout? No. This is not like running up a hill in which case running a slower pace still results in a good workout. Hard workouts should be performed in the optimal conditions because your goal for the workout should be to achieve the fastest pace possible for a given amount of time. Therefore, try to do quality sessions in the best conditions possible (in the evening or early morning).

3. So how should I go about acclimating? Just do one or two easy runs a couple of days a week in the heat of the day. I'd also suggest trying one or two quality sessions just to get an idea of how the heat will affect your pace so that when you are faced with starting a HOT run, you'll have a good idea of how much you'll need to dial back your goal pace. Of course when doing any hot weather training make sure to hydrate well before and during the workout.

4. Any other tips? Wear a hat and a white, CoolMax or DriFit shirt. While running shirtless may be more comfortable, I find a nice technical running shirt will help keep me cool when it is very hot and sunny out. Also, wearing a hat or visor to keep the sun off my face helps a lot as well.

So there you have it. Running in the heat isnt fun but unfortunately it is a necessary evil if you want to perform well in a lot of triathlons. Finally... dont forget your sunscreen!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


With the piriformis still acting up I decided yesterday that it would probably be a good idea to actually try to do something about it. I found and contacted an ART practioner in town, Dr. Ken Strickland, and luckily he was able to get me in this morning for which I was really appreciative. Right away we pretty much agreed that it was an overuse issue which has been causing some tightness in my butt/upper leg/lower back. This build up of scare tissue has then been causing my whole leg to hurt. He worked on me for a while and we targeted some definite tight areas so hopefully this will help. The first test is tonight when I've got everyone's favorite running workout: 3 x 2 mile. Then I get to go back in on Friday for another session and hopefully I'll be able to rid myself of this (literal) pain in the ass!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Thankfully I just had an easy run last night as the piriformis was acting up again courtesy of the long (and hard) ride on Sunday. Adding to the soreness was the fact that I dont think I had enough fluids, which is never a good thing and can really hamper recovery. Its definitely summer now as the high temperatures have creeped up from the mid 70s to the mid 80s with plenty of humidity and needless to say, this is not the type of weather you want to try to get by with 3 bottles on a 70+ mile ride.

Tonight will be the always exciting Tuesday Night World Championships where I'll be duking it out with the roadies.

Monday, June 2, 2008


S: 20,000 yds
B: 10h 6min (TSS = 610)
R: 5h 20 min

Total: 20h 26min

After the dreadful race at the beginning of the week things started to come around by the end. I had a really solid. Finally I finished off the week with a nice solid 3.5h ride on a sunny, 85 degree Sunday. I'm still feeling that one a bit today...

Looks like another hard week ahead before I get a few easy days leading up to Kansas 70.3 on the 15th.