Monday, September 28, 2009

What happened?

I’m not sure either but I’ll try to shed some light on it...

Augusta, GA- At 7:28 without the luxury of a warm up we, the male pros, were lined up on a floating dock in preparation for our 7:30 start time. The horn sounded and we all dove head first into the water, even Mike C.

I’ve been working on my start so I was encouraged to seemingly still be in the thick of things after the first minute. So while in the thick of things, I got knocked pretty good in the side of my head a couple of minutes later. Luckily the punch landed squarely on the side of my skull, keeping my goggles perfectly intact. Finally, about halfway through I moved around Victor Z and settled into what appeared to be a reasonable sized group. I wasn’t sure how far ahead the leaders were but I wasn’t going to be able to pass this group so my goal was to hang in for the rest of the swim.

Coming out of the water, I noticed some seriously fast swimmers in transition and was pleased to be finishing the swim in the same ballpark as them. Before I could get out onto the bike, however, I had to get my AquaSphere speedsuit off. As Tim Hola mentioned, this thing is fast. I’ve raced in it a couple of times and had no trouble getting it unzipped but for some reason this time it just wouldn’t come undone. Luckily, however, teammate James Cotter was running up the chute with me and gave me a hand. That was HUGE… thanks James! With the speedsuit off, I was in and out of transition and ready for the bike.

As I started the ride, I was ready for people to catch me (thanks to the good swim) and was hopeful I’d be able to stay with them because 56 miles by yourself just isn’t too much fun. However, as people and small groups started catching me, I felt like I was in a Pinto while everyone else was driving a Porsche. Eventually I just had to settle down and ride my race. I always remember that my HSCC coach used to harp on the fact that that you couldn’t control what other people are doing. So I tried to focus on my own race and ride hard. This, however, was really frustrating because even though the speed wasnt there, my PowerTap was telling me I was having a very solid ride. Unfortunately though, excuses are worth about as much as the change in my pocket and awards are not given out based on power numbers (good thing, too!).

So after exiting the swim in 11th, I found myself 17th on my way into T2. Sarah, meanwhile, was wondering what the hell took me so long.

Finally I was out on the run. No equipment to worry about here… just put on the shoes and GO! After the disappointing ride, I was hoping to at least salvage a decent finish with a fast run. The first mile came and went in just under 5:50 and after that I started cranking, holding right in the 5:40-5:45 range. I felt solid the whole time, even when it started heating up, and had enough left to catch a couple of guys in the last mile and finish 13th overall. Full results can be found here.

So yeah, good swim, good run, need to find WTF happened with the bike. But enough about the race. What is more important is the food on the way home! A couple of weeks ago, Hola, after dominating the LC National Championship, had a burger on the way home for me. While I appreciate the gesture, if you're going to get a burger, get a burger. So rather than settling for this at McDonalds:

we went for the Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta. I had bacon cheeseburger:

while Sarah had the crab cake:

Oh, and we split an order of vodka battered onion rings and an order of butternut squash fingers:

Finally though, to top it all off...

A Nutella + burnt marshmallow liquid nitrogen milkshake. Awesome!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


"But the quickest way for U.S. athletes to get good is that they have to run a lot. They have to run aerobically at high intensity and have quite a lot of accumulated mileage. That is the only way we are going to catch up to the Africans, because they are so far ahead of us. So it’s got to be large volume, but not just that; it has to be long, hard stuff that raises threshold."-Brad Hudson, former coach of Dathan Ritzenhein responding to a question about whether Ritz's marathon training led to his recent breakthrough 5k PR.

I havent read Run Faster, Hudson's book, but I really like this quote because it emphasizes the same principles that Jack Daniels recommends in his bible, Daniels' Running Formula. Namely, lots of work around your "threshold" or maximum lactate steady state (MLSS) is the best way to improve fitness. While everyone loves to go to the track and sprint some 400s, the real benefits come from running at a slightly lower pace for a much longer time, either through tempo runs or intervals with short rest. Doing copious amounts of work at this intensity will allow you to drastically increase your fitness with a much lower risk for injury.

Monday, September 21, 2009


S: 24,500 yds
B: 7h 54min
R: 6h 29min

Total: 20h 50min

Hmmm... weird week at the office. I had some really good workouts and a couple of pretty awful workouts. Really though, it was a pretty solid week once you account for the trip to Phoenix.

Now, though, its finally time for another race! After 4 races in 5 weeks in July/August, I havent raced since USAT Elite Nationals on August 22nd so I'm looking forward to Augusta 70.3 this weekend. For the first time this year, I'll actually get to drive to a 70.3 and therefore wont have to pack my bike... Hooray!

Friday, September 18, 2009

How far would YOU walk for Chipotle?

So last Friday (9/11) I got an email informing me I’d have to be in Phoenix next Wed (9/16) morning to inspect the electroless Ni plating job on some forward separation bolts. I was a bit busy but eventually got around to getting a flight and hotel and, although the notice was a bit on the short side, figured I was ready to go.

Tuesday rolled around and after getting in a swim and bike in the morning, I was off to the airport for my trek to Phoenix. Get to the airport on time, board the plane, everything is going fairly smoothly. Our departure time was 12:50 but at 1 we were still on the tarmac. Everyone was ready to go, the door was closed, but we were not moving. Then the message comes from the captain, “Ground stop from Atlanta due to thunderstorms. They’re going to give us an update at 1:50, so we’ll let everyone off the plane until then.” This is never a good way to start a trip. However, my connection wasn’t scheduled to take off until 4:45, so I figured I’d still be OK, especially since it would likely be delayed a bit as well.

Around 1:50 we are told we’ve got the go ahead to take off so everyone reboards. However, just as we are ready to pull away from the terminal, another message from the captain: there is some kind of equipment malfunction on a tower between HSV and ATL which is preventing us from taking off. It shouldn’t take too long to fix, so we'll wait in the plane. Another 40 minutes later, it is fixed and we prepare (again) to pull away from the gate. But wait, another ground stop in Atlanta! Apparently the lightning has fired back up and ATL air traffic control wont let us take off.

This time, though, the controllers aren’t sure how long we’ll be grounded so the pilot pulls us back in and allows everyone to deplane. At this point the flight hasn’t been canceled but agents are offering to reschedule people who think they’ll miss their connections and don’t want to spend the night at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Luckily, after only about 20 minutes we are notified the ground stop has been lifted so back onto the plane and off we go. We finally lift off around 3:40, and after an uneventful flight and time change, land in Atlanta at 5:40.

Upon arrival, I realize I’ve missed my connection but find the next plane to Phoenix and head to that gate. Luckily, I’m able to get on that flight and even score and exit row seat. Finally, things are looking up. We take off a bit after 7 EST and are scheduled to arrive in PHX around 8:20 PST. Here is where things get interesting....

The flight goes fine but as I’m heading to the rental car oasis (if you’ve been to PHX, you know what I’m talking about), I realize I forgot to make a reservation. I get to the car island, where 7 companies have desks and every one is out of cars. That’s right, not a single rental car available. Aside from causing a delay, this puts a bit of a wrench in the schedule as it will be kind of hard to drive to a pool or dinner or work, for that matter, without a car. After finding a cab, I get to my hotel and immediately pass out around 9:30 PST (11:30 CST… well past bed time!).

The next morning, without car (no car = no pool), I decide to go for a 40 minute run even though I have a long tempo run later in the day. It would’ve been nice to get the long run out of the way in the morning because it was nice and cool but I was cutting in close as it was WRT time and something was better than nothing. Then it was off to inspect some separation bolts!

Work was fairly uneventful except for lunch. After flying all the way to Phoenix, I was treated to some Famous Dave’s barbeque. The selection included ribs, beef brisquet, chicken, pulled pork, beans with pork, extra creamy coleslaw, corn bread, and chocolate cake with warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The meat was delicious but this is not exactly optimal fuel for the planned long run later in the day.

After work: long run time. Well, longish. ~14 miles with 8 miles at tempo. When I finally got going, I knew it’d be a long workout. Between the lack of humidity (this is the desert, after all…) and the gut-bomb lunch, the run was a slug fest. However, 1h 25min after leaving the hotel parking lot, I was back with a mouth that might as well have been full of cotton swabs and was relieved to be done.

The next thought: dinner. Without a car, this would be no trivial task. The immediate options near the hotel, Denny’s and Marrie Callender’s, were not good. However, when I booked my hotel I checked for a Chipotle in the vicinity (this is standard procedure) and remember thinking there was one really close by. I hadn’t seen it in my time there and after running close to 20 miles on the day I really didn’t feel like walking too far. But I had to check. I put the over/under at 1 mile. Further than that, I was throwing in towel. As I pulled up, the anticipation was killing me. Finally, Google Maps had my answer: 0.9 miles. BAM!

A painstaking long 13 minutes later of brisk walking and I was there. Burrito bowl, chips, and chocolate milk and all was good in the world.

Monday, September 14, 2009


S: 25,000 yds
B: 9h 56min
R: 7h 5min

Total: 23h 36min

I had some slightly inflated numbers last week thanks to the holiday last Monday. Other than that, pushing some (relatively) HUGE watts during Thursday's 4min intervals was fun.

This week I'm off to Phoenix again to oversee processing of some Shuttle components. Traveling is always a bit of a pain but at least I'll get to hit up Chipotle while I'm there!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New addition to the HHPTC

No, I didn't add on a bathroom or get a dog. However, my dad got me a gas grill for my birthday... just in time for football season! Although my birthday was a few weeks ago, I only finally finished putting this Char-Broil Commercial Series 500 Four-burner with Sideburner beast together on Saturday.
  • Four burner grill with covered sideburner
  • 50,000 BTU main burners
  • 13,000 BTU sideburner
  • Durable porcelain steel lid and firebox
  • 500 sq in porcelain grates
  • 680 Total sq in cooking area
  • Electronic ignition
  • Improved temperture gauge
  • Front panel
  • 4 Wheels

Needless to say, after finally getting it assembled it has been pretty awesome. The first victims were some beef kabobs on Saturday. I chopped up a red onion and squash from my CSA box and picked up some pre-cut sirloin cubes and grape tomatoes from Publix. After four skewers were full, I threw them on the grill and only a few minutes later they came off, ready to be inhaled.

The fun continued Monday night when I grilled some marinated zucchini, squash, red onions, and chicken. After removing from the grill, I chopped the veggies and chicken and threw them on some romaine lettuce. The salad was finished with some more of the marinade (from the veggies, not the chicken...) as a dressing, grated Parmesan, and some pieces of chopped avocado.

Recipe for the marinade:
2 tbs orange zest
juice from 3 orages
juice from 3 limes
2 tbs honey
2 tbs EVOO
1/4 tsp salt

Its a little a late for summer grilling but still nice in the evenings. And best of all, just in time for football season!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


S: 28,400 yds
B: 5h 50min
R: 6h 13min

Total: 19h 31min

It was another pretty solid week of run training, even if that wasnt exactly evident in the less than stellar 10k time. Or perhaps the quality workouts earlier in the week were a cause of the mediocre race... Either way, the 10km on Saturday morning on Monte Sano was fun. I ran 34:28 on a hilly course which included about 1.5 miles of a sandy trail, so all in all not too bad. I ran with David for the first few miles (well, he ran with me...) then he took off and put about a minute into me on the second 5km. Third place finisher, George DeWitt, was over a minute and a half back from me making the race fairly uneventful. After finishing David and I went for a cool down during which a deluge of water began falling from the sky. Despite the saturation of our shoes, playing in the rain is always a good time.