Thursday, December 30, 2010

QOTD


"...and the work gets done."

Nice piece on Track Focus about Galen Rupp and Alan Webb doing a workout inside the Mia Hamm building on the Nike campus. Not much more to say, other than Alberto is the man.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dec20-26

R: 21,800 yds
B: 5h 6min
R: 6h 21min

Total: 17h 11min

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I spent mine dodging snow on the way to, on the way from, and in Birmingham and Atlanta, while also trying to maintain some fitness. Admittedly though this wasnt exactly easy as the bad weather and time in the car were conspiring against me. However, I did manage to complete some decent workouts.

Christmas morning I awoke to overcast skies and snow on the ground in Birmingham, not exactly the type of weather that invites you out. After the second cup of coffee from Philip's french press, I was finally ready to get the work done. By this time it was sleeting but the precipitation wasnt supposed to abate anytime soon, and I needed to get going.

Starting out, I immediately found some red arrows painted on the ground and started following. They were accompanied by "RNR 10" and before I knew it, I saw a '1' painted on the ground with the same red paint. Naturally, I assumed this was some type of measured course, and I was hoping it was a 10 mile loop. I was pretty excited because I didnt really have a route planned ahead of time and for some reason it just makes the time go by faster when all you have to do is follow some arrows.

When I saw the '2' on the ground, I was pretty positive I was on some type of measured course. At this point I was 20min into my run and, well, it was still really cold, so I figured getting the tempo out of the way would be a great way to increase my body temperature. Plus, I didnt know how many miles I'd have marked, and I certainly wanted to do the tempo on the marked portion. I clicked off the next 6 in right around 6min pace, from 6:10 down to 5:50, which brought me to mile '8'. I had finally warmed up and was feeling great. The sleet had turned to snow, but there wasnt much wind, so it was actually quite comfortable.

After finishing up the 10mile loop, I ran through the start again but this time followed the 5k loop. Conveniently, it passed right by Philip's house (where I was staying) a bit after 2 miles, bringing me to 1h25, or right around 13 for the day. When I finished, Philip had some pancakes waiting for me, so it was a pretty nice little Christmas morning!

As it turns out, the 10 mile course was for the Red Nose Run in Birmingham:
And 5k:


Monday, December 20, 2010

UPDATE

The week before last I posted a QOTD from a story about the 2000 Foot Locker Nationals. In the post I mentioned that the race was special to me for a number of ways, one of which was the privilidge of volunteering at the finish line. Well, here it is, indisputable visual evidence of me and Ritz:

A couple of notes. First off, while I was skinny in HS, that shirt was size XL, so I wasnt that skinny. Second, note the watch. Even then, I knew TIMEX was the only way to go!

Dec13-19

S: 20,900 yds
B: 6h
R: 6h

Total: 17h 30min

Same amount of time spent biking and running? I like it! Another steady week in the books, which even a trip to San Antonio couldnt disrupt. In fact the trip was actually a nice reprieve from the weather here recently, as I'm not sure the temperature was over 40F any of last week! Hopefully though the cold snap is gone and we'll start trending back upward towards more "normal" temps.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dec6-12

S: 20,000 yds
B: 5h 42min
R: 5h 1min

Total: 15h 59min

And week numero uno is in the bag. It was pretty low key, as I'm just getting back into the routine. Over the weekend I traveled down to Gainesville for a wedding which was awesome not only because I got to see old friends, but also because I got to ride outside in warmish weather. Even Sunday morning, when I went for a run in the rain, the weather was much more enjoyable than it has been here without precipitation. 53F with a light rain is so much better than 28F and sunny... I had almost forgotten how awesome Gainesville (and Florida, in general) is for winter training.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

QOTD

"Ritz had won with grit, sweat, resolve. He won with talent and guts. He won because he understood that victory doesn't come cheap, and he was willing to pay the price." -Amby Burfoot talking about Dathan Ritzenhein

While Runners World certainly isnt my favorite magazine (and is, of course, berated my most "serious runners") it does, occasionally publish some decent articles. This is one of them. Well, not exactly, because it is really quite a bit better than decent and definitely worth a read. The article is a narrative of the 2000 Foot Locker Cross Country National Championship with background information on three of the best distance runners in the US today, Alan Webb, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Ryan Hall. While there were 32 runners total, those 3, were head and shoulders above the rest. What makes that race so special is not only how great these three were while they were in high school, but how they have lived up to and some would say exceeded lofty expectations.

The story is especially poignant for me personally for a couple of reasons. First of all, I was helping out at the finish of that epic race, so I got to see the excitement firsthand. More importantly though, these three are the same age as me, so I've followed their careers from the beginning, as they were gaining national prominence about the time I was getting into running. Seeing them continue to break barriers (RH breaking 1h for the half marathon, DH breaking BK's American record in the 5k, AW breaking SS's American record in the mile) and get faster has provided extra motivation and inspiration for me to work hard and stay focused.

So maybe most people won't have the same level of nostalgia that I did while reading the piece. Regardless, it is still well worth the read both for the thrilling narrative and for the insightful training and racing tips.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nov30-Dec5

S: 22,700 yds
B: 4h 50min
R: 4h 6min

Total: 14h 54min

Another week of working out, but not training, is in the books. So I swam some, biked some, ran some, and got in my allotment of pushups for the year (40). But alas, the fun is over and training for 2011 starts today!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Greens w/ Peanut Butter


There's not much training happening, so that leaves more time for cooking! I'm heading towards the end of the Fall/Winter Doe Run Farm CSA but I've been enjoying copious amounts of greens, lettuce, winter squashes, and sweet potatoes over the last 6 weeks. So although I've missed documenting plenty of goodness, some is better than nothing.

For this recipe, I used 1 bunch of mustard greens plus half of a bunch of swiss chard. The mustards have a pretty strong bite raw but are balanced nicely with the peanut butter and raisins.

Ingredients:
1-2 bunches greens, roughly chopped (mustard or collards work best)
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T EVOO
1/4 tsp ground corriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
2-3 T peanut butter
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup water

Method:
In a large saute pan, add EVOO and bring to medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 min until almost translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add corriander, cumin, cloves, salt, and greens. Add water and mix everything together, cooking the greens. After a minute or two the greens should begin to wilt. Add peanut butter and rasins and mix to loosen peanut butter. Remove from heat and continue mixing so that peanut butter is evenly distributed. Enjoy!

Nov22-28

S: 12,600 yds
B: 3h 50min
R: 2h 49min

Total: 9h 58min

I did work out a bit last week, although it certainly didnt classify as training. I swam some, mainly to test out some developmental equipment, I biked some because it was really nice outside, and I ran a few days in the morning to get over hangovers. So needless to say, it was nice to workout if I wanted to (or not) and not worry about power, pace, etc. I do believe the modest activity and largely liquid diet has helped me stave off the dreaded winter weight gain.

Of course more importantly last weekend was Thanksgiving, and if you dont enjoy that holiday, well, you're probably not American. (Incidentally, since we have readers from all over the world, I mean that literally and figuratively.) The one benefit of the lateness of Clearwater is that the Thanksgiving weekend conveniently falls smack dab in the middle of the offseason. So last weekend rather than worrying about working out, I played some golf, watched football on TV, watched football in person, ate a lot of food, drank some (ie a lot) of beer, hung out with some old friends, and enjoyed some family time. So basically all the things "normal" people do!

Hope everyone had a great a Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Applying the Rules for Zombieland, 70.3 World Championships RR

SWIM (25:25)


Rule 6: Travel in a group
BOOM!!! Goes the cannon, and we were off the beach and sprinting into the Gulf of Mexico. As soon as we started swimming, it was apparent that zombies were out in the ocean, as the Gulf's usually serene waters were replaced by a zombie generated wave pool. I tripped a bit on the run in which left me to play catch up early, requiring a really hard effort for the first 400m or so. Eventually I found a group and just hoped we weren't too far back from the leaders. The conditions made it difficult to determine how many people were "up the water", but I was swimming hard and in no place to escape our decent sized group.

Exiting the water, I recognized a couple of faces and heard a couple more names of guys coming out behind me, so I was pretty happy to have escaped water zombies in relatively good position. My focus immediately turned to T1, which I knew would be crucial.

BIKE (2:14:31)


Rule 17: Dont be a hero
Out onto the bike and what do you know... more zombies, this time in the form of a stiff wind out of the East. After the first few minutes, I was grouped with a few others when we made a turn onto a longish straight road heading east towards the main out and back section of the course. Up the road I could see another largish group and my first instinct was to chase. However, my Zombieland training kicked in and I reconsidered. Dont be a hero. Due to the straight road, the pack was likely further than they looked. Additionally, I was already riding moderately hard at the back of our little group and we were heading into a headwind. Passing the group and then chasing the others down would've been a sure ticket to zombie cannibalization, especially at the beginning of the 56 mile ride.

Rule 8: Kill with Efficiency
With that key tactical decision out of the way, I focused on staying with my friends and keeping the pace honest. This was especially challenging with the course traversing primarily north and south, leaving us with a day full of zombie crosswinds. Thankfully my Shimano C75 wheel was more than up to the task, annihilating wind zombies left and right.

RUN (1:15:48)

Rule 22: Be Ruthless
Coming to the end of the ride, my leg/butt was feeling really tight so I was looking forward to getting off the bike. After gaffed transitions last year, I was really focused on good transitions this year. Towards the end of the ride I moved to the front of the group, jumped off my bike, grabbed my bag, threw on my shoes, and headed out on the run in no time. At this point, it was time to Be Ruthless. I had been waiting to attack, and now was the time to go in for the kill-shot. I took off out of T2 and after a minute of stumbling, found my stride. First mile: 5:36. The early mission of zapping my biking companions was effective. Now: to pick up some more scalps. I notched a couple more on the first lap but as I headed for the turnaround to start lap 2, I realized there was only open real estate in front of me.

Rule 32: Enjoy the Little Things
At this point, with my place more or less set, I focused on keeping my turnover up and enjoying the day. I made it over that stupid bridge for the last time and cruised in, soaking up the crowd support from awesome Timex teammates, friends, family, and the plethora of others who were out cheering.

TOTAL: 3:59:20, 25th Overall, 7th American

Rule 1: Cardio.
In the end, it still all comes down to fitness. You can make the correct tactical decisions during a race, but if you dont have the fitness to execute them, they are useless.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nov1-7

S: 29,400yds
B: 6h 36min
R: 2h 15min

Total: 16h 36min

Well... the time has come! Clearwater is ON this Saturday and not a moment too soon. DST is over, the temps have dropped, and I'm ready to rock and roll! Well, mostly anyway. The last 6 weeks or so of training have gone really well except for an achilles flair-up which has been bothering me the last week or so. I've had to miss a few runs, but hopefully it will hold up for the race. After all, its only 13 miles, right?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Oct25-31

S: 26,500 yds
B: 11h 8min
R: 3h 30min

Total: 21h 36min

October is in the books! And not a moment too soon. Not that I have anything particularly against the month itself, but it just happened to include the final push towards Clearwater, which involved some thoroughly entertaining high intensity/high mileage weeks. Therefore I'm more than happy to welcome November which happens to coincide with the start of the taper.

After a very solid month of training, the final week was a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand I had an awesome ride + run on Saturday with a very strong last 1.5h and controlled run at race pace off the bike. On the other hand, my achilles has been giving me some issues and forced me to skip the track workout last week. Also not fun was spending Wednesday night in the Atlanta airport.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oct18-24

S: 25,700yds
B: 10h 49min
R: 5h 30min

Total: 23h 5min

After another great week of training, the legs were a bit sore last night, enough to make falling asleep difficult. So needless to say, I'm about ready for Clearwater to get here!

In other news, I'm heading out to LA today to inspect the electroless nickel plating on the LAST set of separation bolts. To be honest, I cant say I'm going to miss visiting AMP............

Friday, October 22, 2010

QOTD

"There will always be an excuse, if you look for it. Don't look for the excuses, look for the reasons (because there is one), and then make a change." -Alyssa

I'm not sure if this post was brought about by anything in particular or if it is just something she has been thinking about for a while, but either way Alyssa articulates some valid, if uncomfortable points.

While optimism and a positive attitude are generally good qualities to have, accountability is also very important. Inherent in this is recognizing and accepting failure. Although this process can be painful in the short term, finding the causes of the failure and correcting them it will ultimately lead to improved results in the long term, making future successes that much more rewarding.

As David Shenk, author of The Genius in All of Us put it, "...great work is, for the most part, painstaking and cannot happen without the most severe (and constructive) self-criticism."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Track


Last week I headed to the track for what was, more or less, just another workout. But I left remembering how awesome the track, and running, really is.

I had spent most of the summer doing my "threshold" running workouts at the Cross Country Park, mainly because there were organized races there every week which provided some welcome company/motivation. However, with those having ended and with my workouts becoming more speed oriented, it was imperative that I head to the track last week.

As I arrived, my emotions swelled. There is something simple, something real, about the long oval, maybe because it just doesnt lie. Times are what they are, and that is that. As my HS chem teacher used to say: brutal honesty.

This particular evening though there was an added level of authenticity. This week happened to be Fall Break for the Huntsville City Schools, so when I arrived at Huntsville High's track, there was only one other person there. As I was changing shoes and completing my warm up, I watched him clearly changing pace, which along with his running shorts and running shoes indicated to me that he was a runner, as opposed to the walkers/joggers who often operate in the same physical vicinity. (I suppose it seems like a good place to "work out.")

Soon enough, I was ready to begin and, after waiting for him to almost reach me, I took off for my first mile. First lap: 79s and feeling great. In the middle of my third lap, I came up from behind on my lone, nameless companion and said, simply, "Track!" hoping we would allow me to maintain my position in lane 1, as it appeared he was on his rest interval. He moved over, I passed, and that was that. A simple motion, but one which was very much appreciated.

After finishing up my first mile, I began my short jog out and back from the start/finish when my companion uttered, "Mile repeats?"

My response, "Yep."

And 10 seconds later, I was off to start #2. Through this simple exchange of words, though, there was an instant connection. An understanding of the task at hand and the physical and mental difficulties that go with it. I continued with my miles before moving to 400s, which, along with the cool, fall air, only brought forth more vivid imagery of high school puke sessions.

Finally, we coincidentally finished up at about the same time and naturally gravitated towards each other. We exchanged the usual small talk: he was in town for work and training for a half marathon; I was out getting the work done at the track, and then headed our separate ways.

I left invigorated, reminded once again how awesome our sport is. Although we did not know each other, or even work out together that evening, we had an immediate understanding and respect for each other. This bond really is one of the pillars of our sport. Whether you are run 13 minutes for a 5k or 31, if you are out doing the work, you have shared experiences with others that words fail miserably to describe. There is a level of respect that serious athletes have for other serious athletes regardless of ability level. Additionally, anyone can be successful if she simply puts in the work necessary, and she will be respected for it.

So get out to the track, suffer a bit, and look forward to the rewards!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oct11-17

S: 24,700yds
B: 12h 16min
R: 5h 56min

Total: 24h 42min

Last Monday was Columbus Day which is pretty insignificant unless you work for the US Government, or are an on-site contractor at a US Government facility, in which case it was a holiday for you. Or, in this case, me. So how did I celebrate? Biking and napping, of course! Thus, the extra training hours and another pretty awesome week of training. We're still in the tunnel, but we may be sniffing the proverbial light on the other side, as the turn has been made on October.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oct4-10

S: 25,700 yds
B: 7h 21 min
R: 5h 11 min

Total: 19h 18min

Well, the first full week of October and come and gone and if it is any indication of how the rest of the month will go, this will be a tough month!

Friday afternoon I wasnt especially looking forward to the tempo run scheduled for that afternoon when I got a text asking if I was racing the 15k the next morning. At the time, the race sounded like a lot more fun than a long suffer-fest by myself. Three miles into the race, however, I was reconsidering my decision.

Former UAH runner Brandon York had decided to show up and took off from the gun. I ran with him for the first half mile or so, but quickly realized the pace was a bit too hot for me. I came through the first mile at 5:31, and by that time Brandon already had 5-10sec on me. I maintained the same pace through three miles, but it appeared Brandon was as well, as he continued to pull away. Miles 4 through 7 were pretty hilly and my legs were feeling fatigued, so I was just focusing on keeping the turnover up as I wanted to make sure fast-closing Brad Schroeder wouldnt catch me. I finally got back out to Monte Sano Blvd, passed the 7 mile mark, and started focusing on the finish. The last mile was its usual awfulness but I managed to finish on my feet in 52:40.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Caffeine

Thanks again to Chris Welch for this story in The Huntsville Times.

Andrew Hodges, one of area's top triathletes, has upbeat view of caffeine


HUNTSVILLE, AL. - Andrew Hodges, one of the area's top triathletes who competes in pro events, wrote recently about a column that discussed how caffeine can affect an athlete's performance.

My friend Kay Grimsley Noller from Fleet Feet gave me some great advice when I asked what was causing my dead legs.


Kay asked about the amount of water I was drinking and the amount of caffeine. I was drinking some water and a lot of diet drinks. I've cut out caffeine and have felt a lot better on my runs. Of course, some things in moderation aren't bad - they can actually help - and Andrew has some interesting things to say about the benefits of caffeine.


"First of all, caffeine is without a doubt a performance-enhancing substance," he said. "Multiple studies have shown that it lowers rating of perceived exertion (RPE) at a given intensity level and allows subjects to go longer and/or harder in all-out efforts.

"Scientists hypothesize that this is due to its ability to enhance mental focus and/or its mild pain-relieving effect.

"Additionally, it has been suggested that caffeine improves fat-burning efficiency during endurance exercise, thereby leaving a larger amount of 'high-octane' carbohydrates to be metabolized. This theory, though, is disputed and really hard to directly test.


"Regardless, the effects of consumption are positive up to around 10-12 milligrams/kilograms, at which point they trail off. Do the math ... that is a lot."

Hodge also said caffeine doesn't cause dehydration.

"That is a myth," he said. "Caffeine does cause you to urinate more often, but it has to do with a weakening of muscles in your bladder, so the concentration of water in your blood and muscles is not affected.


"Therefore, if you are consuming caffeine in a drink, you are increasing your hydration level, not decreasing it. Practically, effects will vary from person to person.

"Some people respond to a little caffeine, others can have a cup of coffee and fall right asleep. Additionally, like any other drug, people will develop a tolerance. So the first bit of advice is that if you consume caffeine every morning, you should definitely do so before a race. If not, you'll want to experiment with it before a hard workout and see how it works."


Hodges recently finished second in the Rocketman Triathlon and was pleased.

"It was certainly disappointing to lose, but the guy that won is another pro who has been training in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center, so he's not too shabby," Hodges said.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sept27-Oct3

S: 18,700 yds
B: 7h 25min
R: 3h 30min

Total: 15h 50min

Last week was a pretty chill week with the recovery from the race and trip to Houston but I did get in a solid ride and run on Saturday.

And now, time for ~4 weeks of HARD work before Clearwater. Should be awful/fun!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Augusta 70.3 RR

First of all, yes, I'm alive! Immediately after the race on Sunday I had to take off to catch a plane out of ATL at 7PM for Houston in order to provide technical insight at a meeting at JSC starting bright and early Monday morning. The meeting was to rewrite a NASA standard for the corrosion protection of space flight hardware. The old standard hadnt been updated in over 30 years, so we had a lot of work to do! After 4 long days, and some good debate, I'm finally back in Huntsville.

One other note before I get to the race. Timex Teammate and Serious BA Laura Tingle decided she wasnt racing but was still nice enough to head down to the Deep South and put up with my prerace nonsense for a couple of days, so she deserves a huge shout out for that. Thanks LT!

And now... to the race! Although it was unseasonably warm and marvelously sunny in the days preceding, Sunday morning greeted us with cool air and impending storms. There was some on and off precipitation while we warmed up, but it didnt bother me too much as I was pretty focused on the tasks at hand. After setting up the bike, I arrived at the start around 7AM for the 7:30 start time and began pulling on the wetsuit. Thinking back, I realized this would be the first wetsuit swim since Clearwater last year. This was due to the change in the rules for wetsuit temps, but more on that later...

Unlike last year when we got to dive off the floating dock, this year we had an in-water start. These are easier with a wetsuit, but I still find them a bit challenging. The gun went off and I got going pretty well but soon found myself losing a bit of ground. I maneuvered around a bit, moved past a couple of guys, and continued fighting for position. The field eventually strung out a bit, but I was still fighting for some feet pretty much throughout the swim. According to LT, there was more or less a string of guys out of the water for the first 40sec or so and although I was a bit further back than I wouldve liked, I was still very much in the race.

Swim: 20:01

Out on the bike, I punched it hard. The guys that I needed to be riding with were right up the road, and I knew it was now or never to catch them. After 10min or so, I had caught up with a couple of guys and was committed to riding with them. Our group caught a couple of other riders, which made us 5 in total.

At this point I figured we were places 8-20 or so, but wasnt really sure how many were up the road.

The effort level varied with the hills but we were getting plenty of love from the head ref, so everyone was playing by the rules. Then, a bit before mile 20, we hit a series of long hills and Chris Legh decided to drop the hammer. This split the group up and I soon found myself being dropped off the back. Frustrated, I tried to accelerate up and over the next hill, but to no avail.

After losing the group, I just put my head down and focused on pushing as hard as I could on the pedals for the duration of the bike leg. The rain picked up and I actually started getting a bit chilly, which certainly didnt help the situation. Luckily we had a bit of a tailwind for the last 5 miles or so because at this point, pedaling was becoming quite difficult.

Bike: 2:22:19

Out on the run, it took me a couple of miles to find my running legs, but once I got into a rhythm, I felt pretty good at 5:45-5:50 per mile.


This course is incredibly spectator friendly which resulted in a nice crowd, despite the rain. So the spectators were great and my legs felt strong. The only problem was my feet, particularly my left one, where I was developing a pretty large blister on the bottom thanks to the rain and resulting we shoes. I put it out of mind, though, and just focused on relaxing and running fast. The last few miles were, as usual, pretty tough as I felt I was running pretty low on calories. I had to really focus on cadence during the last mile until I finally took the last right turn into the chute.

Run: 1:16:55

Total: 4:02:26th, 14th place

After crossing the finish, I started chatting with Justin Park, then all of the sudden my vision started to fade and I couldnt see anything, so that was fun. Thankfully I managed to stay on my feet until the dizzyness/loss of vision/lightheadedness passed. Upon regaining a sense of equilibrium, I had to jet in order to catch the aforementioned flight in Atlanta. I felt pretty bad about it but unfortunately airlines dont really care if you would prefer if the flight left a bit later; they tend to leave anyway.

However, before LT and I could head back to the car, I had to remove the racing flats because walking was quite difficult, thanks to the hole on the bottom of my foot:


Somehow, the picture just doesnt do it justice.....

All in all, I cant really say I'm thrilled with the result. I'm content that I left it all out on the course, but the bottom line is I needed to ride at least 2:14 in the race, not 2:22. Getting there wont be easy but it will happen as the result of consistent, and I remain focused on making it happen. And hey, as my grad school professor said, "If it was easy, everyone would do it!"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sep13-19

S: 22,200 yds
B: 6h 14min
R: 5h 14min

Total: 17h 19min

Well the highlight of the week was undoubtedly the new PR for 4min power. I'm sure this was due to some unknown abnormality, but I'll take it!

And now... ITS RACE WEEK. After a few weeks of training, I'm excited to get back at it in Augusta this weekend for the 70.3.

Finally, for the Atlanta playas, you have not one but two opportunities to listen to listen to me ramble, if you are so inclined. Thursday evening I'll be at Fleet Feet Decatur at 6:30 and then Friday evening, also at 6:30, I'll be at Big Peach Running Co. in Buckhead. Timex has provided some free gear for both events so make sure and come on out!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Huntsville pro triathlete spreads the word about sport he loves

This is an article by The Huntsville Times' Chris Welch from a couple months back....

Andrew HodgesAndrew Hodges of Huntsville is a pro triathleteHUNTSVILLE, AL. - Andrew Hodges was in Orlando about a month ago for his job as a material science contractor at NASA when a stranger came up to him at a local park.

Hodges, who is also a professional tri-athlete, was wearing the gear of his sponsor, Team Timex, and pulling his bike out of the car.

"This guy introduced himself and he was on the UCF (University of Central Florida) triathlon team," Hodges said. "He recognized me. He introduced himself and said he reads my blog ('The World of Andrew' at ajhodges.blogspot.com).

"It was funny. That doesn't happen too often, but I always love to see people getting into the sport and excited about it."

Hodges enjoys competing in and talking about triathlons and will be one of the speakers tonight at Fleet Feet's free Tri Expo from 7-9 p.m. at the store, 2722 Carl T. Jones Drive.
Hodges, 26, will chat with triathletes about "Taking it to the Next Level" - and he certainly has. After growing up in Orlando and running cross country and track in high school and at the University of Florida, he moved here two years ago to work for NASA. He became a pro triathlete in 2007 - there are about 300 males and females sanctioned by the group - by meeting certain qualifying standards of the United States Triathlon Association. That allows him to win prize money in races offering over $5,000.

Hodges says he's done reasonably well as a pro, focusing on the 70.3-mile Half Ironman distance events about once a month. That's a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run. His best finish is seventh and he usually places anywhere from seventh to 15th in fields that typically have 20-40 male pros and 2,000-2,500 competitors overall.

His best time for the Half Ironman is 3 hours, 53 minutes, 34 seconds that he did in last year's World Championships in Clearwater, Fla. He finished 47th out of 85 male pros, all who had to qualify in previous races to compete.

So, why did he turn pro?

"The reason I did it, mainly, was to compete against the best," Hodges said of turning pro. "Certainly the prize money is nice, but at the same time, I don't win prize money at every event. It depends on who shows up.

"But for me, I just like racing and racing against the best. If you want to be good at anything, you have to test yourself against the best."

His advice for triathletes?

"The biggest thing I'd like to impress on people getting into the sport is that it's really important to stay consistent and not get too discouraged if you don't see big improvements right away," Hodges said. "That can lead to a couple of things - leaving the sport because you don't see any improvements and two, at the other end, you think you need to train more and ramp it up and get hurt.

"It's important to be consistent in training and set smaller goals so you can see bigger improvements."


Update

Yep, there I am.

And just in case if you were wondering how they got this many people to stand this close to one another long enough for a picture... its simple. Cake + ice cream.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sep6-12

S: 27,000 yds
B: 10h 17min
R: 4h 50min

Total: 22h 13min

Rolling right along, it was another solid week in the books as the POWAH for key workouts during the week was especially attractive. While certainly a good thing, the intense workouts did leave the legs a bit sore for the weekend long ride but with the Gators playing at 11:20 (Central) I had plenty of motivation to get out the door and GTWD.

After leaving just after 7, I think I got a little too excited because after knocking out the hard stuff my legs were pretty toast but I still had about 50min left to ride to get home. Making matters worse, while the temperature wasn't quite "burning-in-hell" hot, it was starting to creep in a positive direction and that, combined with molasses-esque humidity, meant that my two bottles were almost empty. Thankfully, the Elon Church of Christ had a working spigot, allowing me to fill up the bottles and pedal home without falling over.

Saturday evening included two large of the usual at El O:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where's Waldo?

Yep, I'm in there somewhere! (Hint: Check the '0')

Yesterday, Sept 8th 2010, marked the 50th anniversary of MSFC. Back in the '50s, rocket development in the US was done by the Army and Navy at relatively low funding levels. However when the Russians launched Sputnik, the illusion of a technological gap between the US and the Soviets was created. As a result, NASA was formed on October 1, 1958. A little over a year later, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency was incorporated into NASA and a few months after that, President Eisenhower officially dedicated the "George C. Marshall Space Flight Center."

"Since its beginning in 1960, Marshall has provided the agency with mission-critical design, development and integration of the launch and space systems required for space operations, exploration, and scientific missions. Marshall's legacy in rocket science includes providing the rockets that powered Americans to the moon, developing the space shuttle propulsion system, and managing the development of Skylab, Spacelab, space station nodes, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and many scientific instruments. "

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Aug30-Sep5

S: 18,700 yds
B: 8h 4min
R: 5h 44min

Total: 18h 44min

So August has come to an end... where did summer go? Its sad to see the days growing shorter but on the bright side cooler temps and epic clashes on the gridiron are here. The cooler temperatures not only allow for higher quality workouts but also enable much better recovery (aka sleep!).

Saturday morning was the Monte Sano 10k and everyone was pleasantly surprised with the unexpectedly cool temperatures. I ran 34:03 on the hilly, two loop course and felt great, nice and controlled the whole time. A hard ride Sunday and a long, work free Monday made for a solid weekend all around.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

PowerBar ProteinPlus Protein Powder Review

A few months ago I arrived home to find an unexpected package sitting at my door. Inside was a bottle of PowerBar's new "ProteinPlus Protein Powder" in Chocolate flavor. PB had decided to send out some samples ahead of their product launch and needless to say, I was pretty excited.

So I guess I should write a review. I have to say, I like the stuff, which is evidenced by the fact that I went through the sample in no time and was begging my PB rep for more before any was available. I was pleased with the mild taste. Some protein powders have a pretty gross, metallic aftertaste but that wasn't a problem here. At the same time, it wasnt too sweet, either. I mainly mixed mine with milk for a protein-packed chocolate milk or in a smoothie. I really like adding it to smoothies because the blender does a much better job of mixing.

Additionally, the nutrition facts are pretty straightforward: protein with a bit of sugar to make it palatable:




Finally, one of my favorite smoothie recipes. This is a classic but still oh-so-delicious.

1 bananna
4-5 frozen, partially thawed strawberries
1/4 cup orange juice or milk
1 scoop Protein Plus Protein Powder
1 Tbs cocoa powder
1/4 cup peanuts or almonds (optional)
14/ cup ice

And now, for the shameless plug. If you want to give it a shot, PB currently has a "Buy 1, Get 1 50% off" deal going on through PowerBar.com. Check here for details.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rocketman Triathlon RR

I was really looking forward to this olympic distance race on Redstone Arsenal because the bike course covers a lot of the same roads I use for my long bike intervals. Additionally, its always nice when you can sleep in your own bed the night before a race!


View Larger Map

Arriving at the race site, there was a palpable excitement in the air. For a number of participants, this would be their first Olympic Distance race and many were more than a little worried about the 1500m swim awaiting them in the Tennessee River. I felt good during my warm-up and soon enough we were lined up on the dock, ready to start.

Incidentally, not knowing any better and having been brainwashed by the Team Magic crazies, RD Mike Gerrity made this race a time trial start. Its not his fault; its all hes known. However, I've since convinced him of the flaws of this system and am proud to say next year there will be much more exciting wave starts.



So there we were, lined up and ready to go. Two ex Alabama swimmers, Kyle Lee and Bruce Gennari, were first and second, followed by father of four Dr. Jon Krichev in 3rd followed yours truly in 4th. We jumped (NO DIVING ALLOWED) in sequentially in 5 second intervals and the race was ON.

Once in the water, I set off trying to catch Dr. Jon. It took a bit longer than expected but I completed the pass after 3-400m or so. Sadly though, Bruce was already out of reach so I just put my head down and pushed. After rounding the two turns, it was time for the long (800m) drag to the start. There werent many buoys so it took me a while to point myself in the right direction. Once I picked up on the neon orange, though, it was just a matter of focusing on my stroke and pushing as hard as possible. I finally reached the ramp in a little over 20 minutes and after a quick transition was out on my bike.

Starting the ride, I knew I had my work cut out for me as neither Bruce nor Kyle were in sight. I got up power relatively quickly and just focused on killing it. Finally, about half way through the course there was an out and back and I knew I'd get a chance to see how far up the road the others were. My quick math had Bruce around a minute up the road but Kyle, following the lead motorcycle, was nearly 4 minutes ahead. Needless to say, this was not a good sign.

Arriving in transition after 1h on the bike, I knew I'd have to have a great run and hope Kyle blew up in order to catch him. I took off in pursuit, cruised by Bruce after about half a mile, and focused on running fast, coming through first mile in 5:23. After a flat first mile winding through a dirt path in the woods, the course transitioned onto a hilly dirt road. I was hoping the uneven surface would deter Kyle but he was still out of sight after every turn. Finally I arrived at the out and back portion of the course around mile 4. A rough time check told me he was still around 2.5min up. I hadnt totally lost faith but knew my chances were growing dim as he looked like he was still moving pretty well and the overcast skies kept the temperatures comfortably cool. Pushing on, it was back on the dirt road for the last mile before I finally crossed the finish line. A 34 and a half minute run gave me a 1:57 finishing time, a little over 2min back from Kyle.

Full results are here: http://www.besttimescct.com/results/Rocketman10.txt


I was certainly disappointed to lose, but at the same time I was pretty pleased with how the race went. I felt good in all three disciplines but Kyle just crushed the swim and bike, which carried him to a well deserved victory.

Post race, though, was when the fun really started. Slip-N-Slide in the backyard!



Monday, August 23, 2010

Huntsville Sprint Triathlon RR

Saturday morning I raced the Huntsville Sprint Triathlon which celebrated its 30th(!) year, making the race older than me! Anyway, this is a pretty unique event consisting of a 3 mile cross country run, a 6 mile bike ride, then a 400m swim in the pool. The run course is very challenging and features a steep, life-sucking hill in the middle.

After warming up as I would for a 5k, I arrived at the starting line about 10 minutes before the start. As we were waiting for the gun, a guy next to me asked me what my pace would be. I told him I expected to go out around 5:40, but quickly realized he was out of town and didnt realize that on the CC course, you should add at least 15-20sec/mile to your equivalent road pace in order to get an idea of what you should aim for. I think he realized that quickly, though, and I didnt see him after the first 400m.

I did, however, have someone pretty close for about the first mile. However, after I got down the big hill and into the second mile, I realized I was pretty much all alone. I hit the hill and was actually still feeling (relatively) good at the top so I continued to cruise the rest of the run all the way through to the finish, right around 17min.

Finishing up the run. I'm sure the others are on their way...

From there it was a quick transition and I was out on the bike. Attempting to bike hard after that run just isnt fun. So I took off spinning like crazy to hold onto my lead. There is an out-and back portion which allowed me to get a quick check on the comp, and it looked like a I was somewhere around 2 minutes up, so that was reassuring. The rest of the ride was uneventful, save the last intersection with a light where the cop, who was there to direct traffic, was waving a car through as I was about to arrive. Thankfully my yelling seemed to be rather effective and a near catastrophe was diverted.

Off the bike and into the pool and for 400 meters. I made it through without drowning, jumped out, and was happy to notch my 3rd win in a row at this event.

Hanging out after the race was a ton of fun as it was great to see so many people experience the sport of triathlon for the first time. Although this race gets a lot of beginners, it is certainly not easy! The run is actually very difficult and it is always hard to have to swim at the end of a race, even if it is only 400m in a pool, so congrats to everyone who finished!

Next up: Rocketman Triathlon this Sunday!

Aug16-22

S: 25,400 yds
B: 8h 11min
R: 6h 12min

Total: 21h 4min

Solid, solid, solid week, especially on the bike. I crushed both workouts during the week and had a solid long ride on Sunday. And there was a race in there, too, but that was pretty unimpressive considering the cycling came immediately after the run on the CC course.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mountain Lakes Triathlon Race Report

With the race starting at 7:30 in Guntersville, I got to sleep in my own bed and didn't even have to change my alarm clock, as 4:30 is my usual weekday wake up time.

As usual this race, like all Team Magic races, featured a TT start. Unlike in the past, when they seeded people according to swim time, today the RDs decided to let the 60 and over crowd start first, and then proceed from fastest to slowest. As a result, I had #46 and was honestly a little worried about swimming over some of the older racers. I dont mind having to swim through a crowd but I do feel pretty bad swimming over people. (Now, if only there were a way to avoid this...........)

So after the first 45 were in the water, I was off. By about half way through the swim I had passed just about everyone except teammate and uber-swimmer Bruce Gennari and a kid from the University of Alabama's triathlon team. Bruce was on his way out of transition as the 'bama kid and I were entering. I got out of transition a bit ahead of the bama kid and was out trying to limit my losses to Bruce.

I felt good from the start of the ride and immediately started hammering. Then, after a few miles, the 'bama kid passed me, which surprised me a bit. Once he completed the pass, though, the pace slowed a bit... enough for me to start getting antsy. So I passed him back and kept pressing forward. I wasnt worried too much about him beating me but I wanted to make sure to stay as close to possible to Bruce so that I could reel him in on the run.

Coming to the end of the ride, I thought I had dropped the kid so I was surprised to see him as I was racking my bike. Although this caught me a bit off guard, I was still pretty confident I could out run him and still had the matter of catching Bruce to deal with.

We took off on the run and the kid was killing it from the gun. It took me about 3/4 of a mile to get separation, at which point I focused solely on catching Bruce. My legs were a bit tired from the proceeding week of training but I still thought I was moving reasonably well. I came through the mile at 5:20, a few seconds slower than PE was telling me but not terrible. Finally, just before the turn I caught Bruce and turned my sights for home. Second mile was 5:30 which was a bit disconcerting but not too bad considering the turn around and slight hill in the middle. From there on out, it was a race against the clock. I knew I'd be first across the line but with the TT start, no "lead" is ever safe. I opened it up, raced across the finish line, and waited for the others to see if my time would hold.



Bruce came across second, which was a bit surprising as I thought the kid would catch him after his fast start. 3rd across the line was Dr. John Krichev who started behind both Bruce and me, so I knew that was a solid performance for him.

As it turned out, I held on for first, Krichev was 2nd, and Gennari took the final spot on the podium.

It was great to see everyone out there for a warm but otherwise beautiful day for racing.

Aug9-15

S: 25,300yds
B: 7h 12min
R: 6h 23min

Total: 20h 14min

Pretty decent week, although I started feeling the full training fatigue returning unabated after the short remittance courtesy of the Steelhead taper. As a result, I wasnt sure I'd feel Saturday morning. Race report to follow..........

Friday, August 13, 2010

QOTD

"Specificity is a word I quite like," Anderson says. "Dispense with the inessentials, keep to the vitals."

and

"I've tried to interpret the findings of the best physiologists and translate them into sound practices," says Anderson. "That's made me a radical. We've turned some coaching sacred cows on their ear."

Two for one today! Both courtesy of John Anderson, Dave Moorcroft's long time coach.

The quotes were from a lengthy profile of Mr. Moorcroft, the Briton who set the world record at 5,000m in 1982, by the great track writer Kenny Moore in an SI article from 1982. While reading the piece it became apparent why Mr. Moorcroft was able to run such a spectacular race. First, he had a knowledgeable coach who actually read up on exercise physiology (the horror!) and questioned conventional wisdom. Additionally, he kept a great attitude even as injuries caused some major setbacks in his career, including ruining his chance for Olympic glory. Finally, he and his coach had a long term plan from the beginning and he stuck with that coach from age 15 until he hung it up. The result? Only a 13:00.42 5,000m WR.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Aug2-8

S: 25,400yds
B: 9h 51min
R: 5h 46min

Total: 22h 18min

While I'm usually not one to complain about the heat, even I have to admit its been pretty bad here. With highs in the triple digits and suffocating humidity, any kind of HIT has been a bit difficult. Even the pool, which had remained reasonably cool, was considerably warmer last week. So after a sufferfest on the CC course on Tuesday night, the unthinkable occurred Wednesday evening: I actually opted for the trainer for the Zn5 session. Surprisingly, the sun still came up on Thursday morning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Steelhead 70.3

Last weekend I went up to Benton Harbor, MI for Steelhead 70.3. I was 2nd here in 2006, before the race had a prize purse, so I was hoping to return and have another solid performance. More importantly, I had finally been having some better bike workouts so I was really looking forward to racing hard.

Race morning arrived and I was ready to kill it. As I was eating breakfast, I flipped on the TV and started scrolling through the channels, stopping when I saw a radar shot. There it was... a large storm moving east across Lake Michigan. There was no guarantee we would get rained on, but it looked pretty likely. On the short drive to the race the rain started and continued on and off until about 5 miles into the bike. Luckily though the rain wasnt coming down too bad, so I was still able to get everything set and ready to go.

Around 6:30 I started my jog down to the start. Looking out over the lake, it appeared we'd be missing the worst of the storms, so that was a relief. I dont mind a little rain but lightning is a whole separate situation...

Soon enough we were lined up on the beach and ready to go. The usual chaos ensued after the gun went off as we raced to the first buoy, about 200m from the start. A bit after navigating that slight right turn, I was in a group next to the buoys but noticed another group to our left, a little further out. After watching them for a bit, it appeared they were gaining a bit of water on us, so I decided to attempt to make the jump to join them.

I got out and around the guy I was following but initially was struggling to make up any time. Not wanting the group to get away, I put my head down, focused, and started closing the gap. Encouraged, I pressed on and finally did make contact. By that time, though, a couple of others had gone off the front of that group. Attempting to catch them wouldve been futile so swam up to the now smaller group of three, to a little break, and took off at my own pace.

Finishing up the swim, I was surrounded by four or five others so I was focused on a fast transition in order to set up a fast bike. I was in and out in decent time but probably shouldve attempted to move up further in the group at the end of the swim to ensure a better position for the start of the bike.

The start of the bike was a bit tricky as the rain had picked up quite a bit and the skies were still pretty dark, making visibility poor. I lost a bit of time in the first few miles so when we got out onto the main highway, 63, I really started pushing it to catch up to the three riders ahead of me. I was slowly closing the gap when Eric Bean and Michael Lovato came flying by. Their pace was too hot but I was able to catch the other three riders.

At this point the rain had stopped but we were off the the freshly paved SR 63 and onto slightly less enjoyable asphalt. I was maintaining contact when all of the sudden I noticed the others starting to pull away. I tried to up the intensity level but knew I wouldnt be able to match that intensity level for the remainder of the race. Soon after, I hit a particularly rough section of road and felt my rear rim hit the pavement. I stopped, checked the tire, and sure enough... slow leak.

The change went relatively quickly but towards the end three pros came racing by. Hoping I could maybe catch them, I took off with a vengeance. I was back into what I felt was a good pace rather quickly and just tried to focus on getting the guys ahead. Soon after, though, I heard a loud hiss, indicative of another flat. Having brought only one tube, this meant game over.

I was near an intersection with a police officer so he, thankfully, called the wheel truck. Unfortunately, it still took 10-15min for them to arrive. Meantime, I watched the rest of the men's field and most (if not all) of the women's field fly by and found a nice little piece of glass which had penetrated my tire.

So needless to say, I was/am pretty upset. But, hey, it happens. I'd love to go find another race this weekend to do but the reality is that I only have so many vacation days and those remaining for the rest of the year have already been allocated. So for now its back to work until Mountain Lakes on the 14th and RocketMan on the 29th.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July19-25

S: 29,400 yds
B: 5h 16min
R: 4h 6min

Total: 17h 6min

It was an interesting week. On Monday evening my ITB was a little sore but then it got really painful when I laid down for bed and ended up keeping me up for a couple of hours. As a precaution, PS had me skip the run the next day. I was bummed/frustrated but it was a good idea as I havent felt it since. Kind of weird.

Then, on Wednesday, I flatted about 200m from where I flatted on the same day last week but on the opposite wheel. It was a pretty weird, annoying coincidence.

From there on out, the rest of the week went well. The weekend was the start of the taper for Steelhead 70.3 so it was nice to have a little extra time on Sunday. I celebrated by cleaning out my gutters. Thrilling, I know.

And now that everyone has been lulled to sleep, that is all.

Monday, July 19, 2010

QOTD

"I was awful in the first half of the race, so I had to work a little bit harder to win. It's all about determination, because I want to be the best, and I want to stay on top... I don't pick one person out and say 'he will be hard to beat' because you never know who will pop up" -Usain Bolt, in a nice article on Bolt and the current level of sprinting.

What makes this QOTD material, though, is the fact that Bolt is still driven to get better even though his world records in the 100 and 200m are seemingly untouchable and he hasnt been beaten in almost 2 years.

And, just in case you missed the race:

Jul12-18

S: 26,200 yds
B: 9h 20min
R: 5h 37min

Total: 21h 51min

All in all, a really solid week. After a dismal last couple of months on the bike, it appears that I'm finally getting used to my new ride as the power numbers from last week crept back up towards expected levels. The real test, of course, will come during Steelhead but it was still encouraging to have begun to reverse the recent rash of power outages.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pretty cool commercial

Almost makes me want to buy a Corvette. Or at least go use a chainsaw, TIG welder, or other piece of heavy machinery...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jul5-11 + Race Report

S: 25,500 yds
B: 8h 18min
R: 5h 38min

Total: 20h 39min

Pretty solid week of training culminating with the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon on Sunday morning.

I was given #11 which meant, due to the time trial start, that I'd be the 11th person to start. I say person, incidentally, because the 10th person to start was a female. None of this matters, of course, but it just further adds to my well documented disdain for time trial starts. With 5 seconds between racers, this meant the first person started 50 seconds earlier than me which just doesnt make for much of a race. With that out of the way...

I took off when instructed and tried to get out hard and catch as many people as possible. I felt pretty good but of course its pretty impossible to tell how fast you are actually going when you are swimming by yourself down a river. I quickly passed a couple people who started in front of me and then caught a couple more at the end of the swim. (I believe my split was around 18:40 but havent see results with splits yet...)

Out of the water, I had a quick transition and was out on my bike without much trouble. Once on my bike, though, I had a little trouble getting my right foot in my shoe but then took off. Eric Bell, who I had passed in the water, came by me pretty fast on one of the early hills but after that I didnt see anyone else until around mile 20 when I passed someone who had started ahead of me.

Out onto the run, this course immediately greets athletes with a pretty long hill, followed by about a flight and a half of stairs. Clearly I've been slacking on my stairs training as I couldnt decide whether to take them one at a time or two at a time. After a bit of flat, I made it down the short steep downhill and was finally ready to start running. The first mile was a little slow but that was to be expected considering the topography. The rest of the course was pretty flat and I was feeling good clipping off 5:30s. I finally caught and passed some guys who had started ahead of me but the heat was starting to come into play. Mile 5 hurt quite a bit but I knew I just needed to get up the hill at around 5 1/4 miles and I could open it up from there. After cresting the hill, I started picking up the pace but then was greeted the harsh reality of having to go down those same stairs while other athletes were coming up. Like the up-stairs, my down-stair skills were pretty poor but eventually I made it down to the road. From there, I could finally open it up and sprint home as fast as possible.

Upon crossing the finish line, I wasnt exactly sure what my finishing position was. I thought I had passed 5 people out on the course (2 in the swim, 1 on the bike, 2 on the run) but wasnt sure if maybe I had missed someone in the swim. When the awards were finally posted, I was indeed 6th.

Overall I thought I had a decent swim and run but another disappointing bike ride as I'm still struggling with a lack of power. The splits for the race still havent been posted but I wouldnt be surprised it turns out I was outsplit by an 11 year old girl.

On a more enjoyable note, after the race I ran another 50min with Nick W and then enjoyed the rest of the day with the Birmingham crew. Big River Brewing Co supported the race by providing 2 free beers to all participants (over 21, of course) so we returned the favor and supported their restaurant after the race. The Sweet Magnolia Brown Ale was delicious but the Fish Tacos left a bit to be desired.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Inadvertent cylclocross

If you happen to get a new road bike anytime in the near future, it would probably be a good idea to check what kind of wheels and tires you are getting. The specific make and model of the wheels isnt too important but the type certainly is. Apparently, tubeless road wheels are now in vogue. Or maybe not and I just got "lucky."

Either way, about an hour into my ride last night, towards the end of my first interval, my bike felt a bit wobbly and I noticed the front tire was looking a little low. I stopped, checked the tire, and sure enough... it was flat. Bummer.

As I started to change it, though, I noticed the tire was connected to the rim and then... I saw the writing on the wall, so to speak. Literally, it was on the rim: tubeless. DUMPSTER.

Needless to say, I didnt have another tubeless tire or, unfortunately, anything to fix this one. Additionally, I was over on the Arsenal (where I do all my weekday riding) so calling the roommate wasnt an option since he does not have access. So since it was a slow leak, I shot it with some CO2 and took off riding. Eventually the additional air escaped and I was left to ride the rest of the way home on the rim.

About 35 minutes later, I arrived safe and sound. Thankfully the roads on the Arsenal and short trip back to my house are relatively smooth, so I was actually able to hold a respectable speed. And I have to say Shimano's Ultegra WH-6700 wheelset is pretty bad ass for holding up that long without any air in the tire.



All in all, it couldve been worse. I missed part of my workout but at least I made it home in one piece with a bike (and wheel) that is still functioning. And really, with The Tour having gone of over the cobbles the other day, the timing was kind of fitting.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jun28-Jul4

S: 25,000 yds
B: 7h 25min
R: 4h 21min

Total: 18h 21min

After a couple of easy days after the race, I was back into the swing of things on Thursday. It was a bit cooler here over the weekend and that allowed for a really solid ride on Saturday followed by a fast tempo run Sunday morning.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Update!

Well, I came back from Lubbock and found out I still have a job, so thats a good thing. There were, however, about 300 out of around 1200 on our contract that did get let go which was unfortunate. Additionally, there is quite a bit of uncertainty about next year.

The federal government's fiscal year starts October 1st and, this being an election year, there almost certainly will not be an omnibus spending bill for FY11 passed before then. Typically this means there is instead a CR (continuing resolution) which provides federal agencies funding for programs at the spending levels of the previous year until a new budget is passed. If this happens, it leaves NASA in a bit of a paradox. Congress will be telling us to spend at the previous year's budget allocation, in which there was money specifically for Ares I. However, the President has canceled that program. So who knows what will happen...

On a lighter note, July 4th is of course this Sunday and in celebration, members of the NPR staff dictated the Declaration of Independence. So because its good to remember where our country came from (and because TJ is the man), the audio is linked below. Enjoy, and Happy Friday!

Monday, June 28, 2010

BSLT 70.3 RR: Bringing a sword to a gun fight

Having never raced the BLST 70.3, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived in Lubbock, TX for the race. I had heard it was supposed to be warm but hadn’t heard much else about the course. I knew I’d be in for a long day, though, when at the pro meeting, the race director said, “This ain’t no Starbucks racing; this is old school triathlon.”

Swim: 22:44

Being old school, the race began with a classic beach start into a beautiful spring fed lake. I got out well and soon found myself battling for position in the pack. After another minute I was worried about getting trapped by slower swimmers so I moved up and closed a gap to the next guy up the water. This took a considerable effort so I was pleased to be able to grab his feet and rest for a bit. After the first turn, I considered making another move but at this point the first few guys had opened up a sizable gap so catching them would’ve been a very tough task, if not altogether out of the question. I sat in until the next turn at which point I swung a bit wide and tried to open it up a bit for the finish.

Bike: 2:27:55

Out on the bike, I was shooting blanks. The combination of the hard, no wetsuit swim and a few short hills at the beginning of the ride left my legs really sluggish for the first 5 miles or so. They gradually started feeling better and I settled into a decent grove. Although the course traversed soybean fields and oil fields, the race director somehow managed to find what had to be the only hills in the vicinity for the course. Combined with some pretty strong winds, this was not a course to be attacked short on ammo. Regardless, I felt pretty strong on the back half and kept the power up throughout the ride.

Run: 1:22:22

Heading out on the run, I was looking forward to rocking and rolling. From the beginning though, it was evident not only would the bazooka not be available but the machine gun, colt-45, and air pistol would also not be available. Rather, I’d have to show up with a knife… not the greatest idea! I haven’t had too much time to adjust to my new bike position and my quads were not very happy as I started the run. I was moving along decently on the flats but the first steep hill around mile 3 was pretty rough. The second, around mile 4.5, wasn’t any better. Making matters worse, at the top of that second hill was the “Energy Lab” an out and back section which was a surprisingly accurate approximation of the famous Energy Lab section in Hawaii.

I finally reached the turnaround and started heading back, suffering through the rest of the run. There were a number of other Timex Teammates racing, and seeing them on their way out when I was heading back definitely provided some encouragement. Additional encouragement was provided by none other than two- time IM World Champion Craig Alexander! I finally reach the finish and bolted straight for the med tent for a cold towel and IV.

Total: 4:15, 13th

All in all I was pretty pleased with my performance relative to recent training indicators, which have been slightly less than epic. Looking forward, next up is the Chattanooga Waterfront Tri and then Steelhead 70.3 with a few other Timex Teammates. Hopefully we'll be able to step things up by then!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happenings...

Its been a while since a "real" blog post! Things have been surprisingly busy in the real world around here... especially considering the impending doom. For those of you who are not avid NASA Watch followers, big changes are coming in NASA's direction, especially here in Huntsville. There have been numerous articles in the Huntsville Times but this story is finally getting some big time press.

The President decided to cancel Ares I, the rocket that was supposed to replace the Shuttle, despite Congressional opposition. Additionally, the head of NASA, Charles Bolden, alerted all the prime contractors that they would be responsible for cancellation liabilities. In Dept. of Defense contracts, contractors regularly account and budget for these costs. However, no NASA contractor has ever been held responsible for them so naturally none of them budgeted for them when they bid for the contracts. Long story short, many contractors, including Jacobs Engineering, the company that provides engineering support at MSFC, have an impending budget deficit and therefore have to lay people off.

So needless to say, this has made things interesting around the office. Last Thursday, we found out that this coming Tuesday about half of the contract would be let go. Our group appears to be relatively unscathed but most people are still pretty worried.

Unrelated to that, there have been quite a few ISS issues popping up which of course people need answers about yesterday, so thats been keeping me busy.

As for training, the days I've been able to stay awake have been a lot of fun. Lots of running, hard swimming with the kids, and HIT training on the bike. If I could only get some more sleep...

Anyway... race in the morning! Lubbock is... well... West Texas. But luckily, I'm not here for sightseeing, I'm here to GTWD!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jun14-20

S: 30,000 yds
B: 7h 27min
R: 6h 22min
Naps: 4h 18min

Total: 21h 43min

The training load plus the real work load seemed to catch up to me this week as there were two days when I came home from work, sat down, and promptly fell asleep for over an hour. Sleep is awesome and I need to get more of it. However, its never fun to wake up at 10min until 6PM and know you still have 1-2h of training before dinner and bed as it can create a vicious cycle. The nap means the workout(s) get started later and end later which pushes dinner and bedtime out as well. But that, of course, is just the way it goes. At least on the weekends I can take mid-day naps which are oh-so-much-more delightful.

This weekend is BSLT 70.3 which I'm looking forward to despite the work-induced lack of cycling. Hopefully I can get some sleep between now and then. On a brighter note, I should be fully acclimated to the heat as it has been quite toasty here in the Tennessee valley. Should be just like HS CC practice all over again!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jun7-13 and weekend review

S: 25,900 yds
B: 8h 4min
R: 6h 39min

Total: 21h 32min

Training, especially HIT, occurred quite frequently last week. However, so did work, which left not so much time to sleep. Tuesday night at the CC park was fun but Wednesday (hard bike) and Thursday (hill workout) were particularly brutal.

Although the week was tough, I did have the weekend in Birmingham to look forward to. Saturday was the Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon in Oak Mountain Park just outside of Brimingham, AL so I headed down with my buddy Stephen B on Friday evening.

After a nice nap on the couch, it was race morning and I was up making coffee. Race morning was uneventful until we got to packet pickup and I found out I was #25. I thought this was a bit strange because this race uses a time trial start and therefore in theory the start order should go from slowest to fastest. Regardless of whether they ranked people by projected swim finish time or projected overall finish time (both of which you had to enter) I was fairly convinced I'd be faster than 25th. But hey, you never know. Additionally, triathlon swim legend and Timex teammate Bruce Gennari was only seeded 22nd, so clearly they werent basing these seedings on projected swim finish time.

On to the race... I took off into the water and immediately started passing folks. The 400yd swim in the warm lake came and went and I was off onto the bike.

Being on a mountain, this course was pretty hilly but fun at the same time. I was able to stay in my saddle for most of the ride on the smooth roads through the state park. There were a couple of out and backs and it appeared Bruce and one of the members of the local USAT development team were pulling ahead of me a bit but it was hard to tell since both of them started before me.

Coming off the bike, there were only three people ahead of me and they had all started ahead of me as well. I took off in my racing flats, hoping to chase everyone down. I figured the run would be hilly but I didnt realize the first mile would be almost all uphill. At the turnaround I saw my comp: one kid way out front and then Bruce and another kid not too far up the road. I was able to pass one of the kids and Bruce on the way back to be the second finisher across the line. As it turns out, though, I ended up third as someone else who started further back in the field also had a faster time than me.

I had a ton of fun post race eating Arby's, having a couple of ice cold Cokes, and hanging out with the Huntsville contingent. Awards started promptly at 11:00 and by 11:45 I was on my bicycle headed back to the house where I was staying in Birmingham. The ride home was a bit on the warm side and required an emergency water stop at a well at a church. However, 2h45 later I was back at house where USA-England was on TV and Stephen had an ice cold Flying Dog waiting for me. So other than the fact that I lost to a 17 yr old, it was a pretty fun weekend!

Monday, June 7, 2010

May31-Jun6

S: 25,500 yds
B: 8h 6min
R: 8h 7min

Total: 22h 56min

I missed out on a little cycling time to due a slight incident on Saturday. About 1h into my ride, I was riding along a on road with no shoulder and sharp drop off into a ditch when someone passed me more than a little to close for comfort. Not wanting to go into the ditch, I swerved into the middle of the lane, hit a pothole, and totally lost control. The result was a nice dive onto the pavement and a ride home in my roommate's car.

Although I was pretty shaken up in the immediate aftermath, I was pleased when I wasnt too sore the next morning. Other than some road rash on my chin, elbow, and both knees, I didnt really suffer any serious injuries.

On a lighter note, some quick addition reveals over 70 miles of running last week which isnt bad at all.

Friday, June 4, 2010

QOTD

Surprise, suprise... not one but two studies find no effects (positive or negative) from "compression garments." Now naturally, some may argue that positive effects do exist but that the authors of the studies did not attempt to measure them. However, until I see data, I remain a skeptic. Also, the blog post fails to mention one definite benefit: the ability of long socks to significantly decrease convective cooling on cold days.

In all honesty though, I really just liked the article because of this quote, which I think is particularly applicable to triathletes: "In light of the findings, Laymon speculates that the popularity of the garments reflects their trendiness, not their ability to enhance performance."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

May24-30

S: 29,200 yds
B: 5h 17min
R: 5h 22min

Total: 18h 20min

Busy, busy, busy with the real job. Despite the fact that there are only two scheduled launches left, we are still manufacturing components for Space Shuttle missions. So in order to assure the electroless nickel plated adequately on the separation bolts, I had another trip out to California last week. This meant too little biking and too much time on an airplane, neither of which is entirely conducive to getting faster. All in all, though, the trip went well and I did get in a quality swim in Cerritos.

Monday, May 24, 2010

May17-23

S: 23,400 yds
B: 5h 30min
R: 4h 19min

Total: 15h 58min

Welcome to summer! Summer has officially arrived here in Huntsville which meant a nice warm weekend of training. In addition to a warm, humid weekend, it has been nice to have some light at the start of swim practice, as opposed to finishing in the dark which happens during the summer.

It took a few days to recover from Florida but by the end of the week I was back in the swing of things. Saturday featured a nice solid ride with a few cyclists and then Sunday I got out for a two loops of the Cotton Row 10k course.

Speaking of Cotton Row... The Cotton Row Run 10k is held every Memorial Day in downtown Huntsville and is one of the largest road races in the southeast. Anyway, David likes to complain about how "it is always the first hot weekend of the year." That may have been the case last year but certainty wont be this year! On that note, while the heat acclimatization might improve performances a bit, it sure wont make the hill any shorter!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Florida 70.3

So that happened. First the recap, then the analysis.

Recap: Pre-race went pretty smoothly with an on-time arrival at Disney and uneventful morning. This race always starts early, 6:20AM this year, and its always a bit weird heading to the swim start before the sun has come up. Regardless, there we were on the beach with Tom Z singing the National Anthem, the sun inching up over the trees, and the calm lake in front of us. Shortly thereafter, the cannon fired, and we were off!

I got a pretty good start and after maneuvering around a few people I found some feet at the back end of the pack and "settled in." By settled in I mean, of course, that I continued pushing it hard in order to stay in the race. Approaching the first turn, it looked like most everyone was strung out more or less single file so I just wanted to make sure to keep up. All of the sudden, though, I noticed a gap in front of the guy ahead of me so I gathered some momentum and moved outside to pass. I pushed hard for a couple more minutes but soon realized I wasnt making any water on the guys ahead of us which left me having to swim the last 800m or so alone.

Coming out of the water, I was a bit further back than I wouldve preferred which was naturally a bit disappointing. Out on the bike, I was feeling pretty good, the power was there, but I just wasnt going very fast. Its always hard to make real-time power/speed comparisons but something felt a bit off. After 10 miles or so I was caught by a couple of riders and ended up riding with them for around 35 miles. The last 10 or so miles were especially tough as I had a slight headwind and, well, I was nearing the end of a 56 mile TT. It took much longer than I would've liked but I finally got to the finish and was off to run.

The run was its usual suffer-fest. I passed a few guys in the first couple of miles and then just went on damage control mode. Pushing myself in the heat and humidity was hard, especially because I was totally out of the race. The saving grace was that I had my friends and family there to cheer me on. If it wasnt for them, it wouldve been much worse. I finally crossed the finish line in 14th place in 4:13.

Analysis: So all in all, a pretty awful race. The swim was marginally disappointing while the bike and run were both pretty terrible and immediately after the race I was pretty upset. Thankfully though, my family was there and they helped me get over it while we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at pool.

Talking with Paulo, though, I realized the training the last couple of months has been anything but optimal. Illness, travel, injury, and bike position changes have all combined to cut into quality training sessions. Looking back, I probably discounted the combined effects of these set-backs as I tend to be pretty optimistic. In this case, though, this naivety came back to bite me in the ass in the resulting less than stellar performance. Blissful ignorance can only last so long and last weekend the brutal reality came crashing down.

Going forward I'm going to drop Kansas and add Buffalo Lake Springs in order to give myself a couple of extra weeks of training because there really isnt any point to going to a race if I'm not going to be remotely competitive. Meantime, its time to get in some consistent, effective training.

Finally, I think a quote from TJ is appropriate, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it."