9/19 - 9/25/2011 Santa Cruz Triathlon

This week I stuck with my recovery plan and took it pretty easy. I had been feeling so run down and beat up and although it is always nerve racking not to be training hard I felt like my body was telling me to rest. This weekend was the Santa Cruz Triathlon which I love having at the end of the season as a fun community event where I know all the volunteers and spectators. Not only do I get to sleep in my own bed the night before but it really is a good course...beautiful and just the right amount of challenging. There were a few changes to the format/course this year but I felt like they worked well for me and the event was great!

I got in before hand and found a couple of good swimmers to keep track of and went back to line up. Strangely no one was worried about being at the front for the swim start whereas in the past people would be rubbing shoulders to be at the front. Standing a foot or so in front of everyone I got a moment of quiet solitude before the start while listening to the countdown. I got a good entry into the water and Shane Hubbell and I went stroke for stroke almost the whole swim coming out of the water together in the lead.

With no one to chase I was able to catch my breath running up the beach and then get my legs going which felt great because usually I am scrambling to chase and wearing myself out. One of the guys at my work caught this video from the restaurant balcony too!


Through T1 quick and smooth and out onto the bike I settled into a comfortable rhythm. The weather was absolutely perfect...light breeze, slightly overcast and perfect temperature. I found my groove on the bike after I got out of town and just kept the cadence going as strong as was comfortable. What I love most about fun local races is that you can race your own way without pressure or anything to push you outside your limit. I went for as much easy speed as I could get on the bike and the new rig felt great. Should be a post coming on that soon!

I got a little turned around in T2 but when I figure out where I was going I just made a b-line across the transition zone jumping racks and bushes :) I pushed a little hard up the first hill but told myself to relax and got my legs spinning. I found my limit and sat in to hold on. I kew that Brian Lavelle was back in a later wave and probably reeling time back on me. I saw him going the other way around the four mile marker which by my calculations put him ahead of me by a small margin.

I pushed as hard as I could on the way back and finished in 1:56:47 a best time for me here even with the longer course, good enough for second overall. Bryan beat me in the end, SUCH A TALENT, but I want to make a note of third place; Jack Calhoun, one of my slug swimmers and the hardest worker I know, was killing it just behind me all day and had an awesome race. Jack is a true testament to hard work and dedication and will be quite a fun talent to watch in years to come.

It was a great event for me, mostly because I was able to enjoy it with friends but the beauty of the course plus the enthusiasm of the volunteers and community make it such a heartwarming morning. You have all rejuvenated my spirits and my love for the sport at a time I really needed it!

Thank You!

Swim 12,350 yds
Bike   7.5 hrs
Run   24.5 mi

Pure Project

To be a successful triathlete you have to be a really strong runner and achieving that ability is the single most challenging part of this pursuit for me. I know where I am at as a swimmer and cyclist but being able to run sub thirty-two in the 10k and/or under 1:18 in the half marathon at times seems an unachievable feet...I mean feat. As with any challenge I try to explore all of the possible avenues for progress and one of the big topics of discussion in the running world right now is the concept of barefoot running or minimalist running. This concept appeals greatly to me because it is based on the principal that our body is designed to run efficiently and running shoes or lack there of should accommodate that natural tendency rather than guide or adjust one's foot and hence their cadence.

When I started running again a couple of years ago I tried on a lot of shoes to find something that was comfortable. I have had a good number of ankle injuries over the years and problems with instability in my arches and I wanted to err on the side of caution when choosing shoes to run in. I setled on the Brooks Adrenaline series and put fairly hefty/supportive insoles in them to give my arches enough support. This is a fairly hefty shoe for someone with my frame and they have been a great training companion for the past several years, doing the job of keeping my feet healthy as I have been building up my running tolerance.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS11

I was naturally extremely excited when Brooks Agreed to sponsor me in 2011 as part of their ID program, only partly because their shoes and apparel are all I buy in the first place, but also to be associated with such an influential company in the running community is a great honor for an aspiring athlete. One of Brooks' big projects in the last year has been developing the Pure Project line of shoes which geared toward finding the barefoot feel with a running shoe. While this line does not go as far as some of the shoe/sock options or running sandals in terms of minimalism they created some features to minimize the shoe influence and give the runner the 'feel' of the road. A few weeks back I got a surprise pair of Pure Connects in the mail and I was so stoked to be able to give them a shot.

Brooks Pure Connect
With the more minimalist shoes it is suggested that you allow yourself time to adapt to the new foot motion and support points so I have been taking them out on my short and easy runs to get my legs and feet used to them. My initial impression was that I really did feel like I was barefoot...with the breathability of the shoe and the sole structure I really felt all the curves of the road through my feet. It felt like there was light padding on the bottom of my foot but only enough to protect from the harshness of the ground and not so much that I could not feel directly connected. The feeling of freedom inspired an impromptu trail exploration adventure.

The other thing that I noticed right away was that the vast difference in heal padding as compared to my usual shoe immediately encouraged my foot into a balance point much closer to the ball of my foot than I was used to. This is one of the main points of barefoot running as I understand it, that our feet and legs are designed for a strike near the ball of the foot. 

I have begun doing more runs in the Pure Connects and have been running without my supportive insoles in my Adrenalines more to hopefully shift towards running in lighter shoes and with a lighter gate. I have definitely noticed strain and soreness/tightness in new places in my calves and hips as I am making this adjustment but I am paying close attention to those areas and retaining the very supportive shoes as I feel is necessary. I am also planning on stepping down my regular training shoe to a lighter model, the Ravena 2, with the intention of eventually moving all of my shoes in the minimalist direction.

There are a number of stretches and drills that I am doing to improve my running gate, to smooth and lengthen it out and to make it more efficient. Along with that there are massage and strength training techniques I have adopted to prevent injury especially as I am making significant technique changes. This recent exploration into running technique has been part of my new found love for running as a sport. It has taken me a couple of years of regular training but running has become an enjoyable endeavor and I actually get excited for the adventures and training chalenges that are out there.

9/12 - 9/18/2011

Thanks for all of your encouragement and advice...my ability to make this endeavor work is entirely a function of  the support from my community and loved ones.

After the race last weekend I had a lot of trouble staying motivated and I was really wiped out early in the week. I reluctantly took a day off mid week to recoup some energy which actually did help some. I got to go back to my home town friday and spend some time with my family as well as hit some of my old training grounds which was really nice.

I am feeling mostly recharged and I am looking forward to a few fun races to finish out the season. The Sentinel Triathlon and the Tinley's the next two weekends respectively and then a whole new year to plan for!

Swim 11,000 yds
Bike   9.75 hrs
Run   28 mi

9/5 - 9/11/2011

This week was a little disorienting...I figured out mid week that the race was on Saturday instead of Sunday but my prep workouts were already in place so I was not feeling race-normal morning of. Just the same I swam my heart out and missed the lead groups then loosing six minutes on the bike and by the time I was half way through the run I was so far back that I didn't feel like there was any point so I just jogged the last couple of miles.

This was the last big race of the year and I feel like this year has not produced much in the way of great results or even great improvements and that is hard to swallow. It is hard what to know what to do now as I am thinking about next year but with an extra day on sunday I went out with a buddy, had two double cappuccinos and and rode five hours on a caffeine high which always feels spectacular. Now I am just wiggly and have a lot to think about.

Anyone that reads this and has any suggestions about training methods/structure, coaching, nutrition, rest, periodization, sponsorship/endorsement or offseason racing that you think I might benefit from let me know!

Swim 9,700 yds
Bike 12 hrs
Run 22 mi

8/29 - 9/4/2011

This was my last full week of training this season (unless I add another event to the calendar) and so I tried to get in some good workouts. I definitely got some hard efforts in this week but not on as good of form as earlier in the season. It will be maintenance prep and recovery for a few races through the next several weeks and then I am DONE! :)

Swim 16,900 yds
Bike 13 hrs.
Run 36 mi.