Monday, April 1, 2019

Spring is Here

The snow has melted and robins are hopping around the lawn, but as I write this on April Fool's Day (which is also Jackson's birthday), it definitely doesn't feel like spring yet. The temp is around 40 degrees with a strong wind - still winter attire needed outside! However, we have had a few nicer days and I did get two outdoor runs in over the past weekend wearing shorts, so the warmer weather isn't that far away. Looking back over the past few months, I feel that I've made some good run gains while increasing swim and bike endurance.

In January I competed in the 8th annual NEMS indoor TT - crazy that it's already in the 8th year. I had a fun time helping organize the first event and get sponsors for prizes. In my 8th attempt I was finally able to take the top spot. The Computrainer, which the event is held on, was pretty close to the wattage my power meter registered (367 vs 371 watts). Either way, it was nice to see that the bike fitness is looking solid heading into the 2019 season.

We got in quite a few days of skiing over the winter - well, Katie got in more than me while I watched the kids - and Jackson saw some great improvements. He went to the top of Cranmore for the first time, but did need a little help on some of the steeper sections going down. Over February vacation we split time between Southwest Harbor in Maine and the North Conway area. I ran 78 miles over that stretch, as I didn't bike at all. We got in an afternoon of tubing at Great Glen Trails, and it was a pretty good workout pulling the kids up the hill after the quit walking after the first time up! After vacation week, it was back to the grind with spring in sight. 

Many of the winter weekends were spent in New Hampshire and I got some pretty sweet 'snow beards' on crisp mornings. It's amazing what our breath can do after being outside for a while.

During a couple of warmer days in January I managed to finish painting the treehouse. I may need to add another coat this spring. I also want to add a bench, table and chairs, that fold from the walls on the inside of the treehouse, but that will wait until spring time. 

With IM Norway less than three months away it was finally time to get a bike box. I settled on the SciCon Aerotech Evolution after a bunch of research. I found a great deal for around 50% off MSRP, which I honestly didn't think would really pan out. However, I never received a canceled order email, and a week or so later had to go pick up a real big box from FedEx. Logistics for the trip will be tricky - a total of six flights, an overnight stay at the Copenhagen airport on the way to Norway, and a two-hour bus ride to get to Haugesund. Having a bike box that is easily maneuverable (with four wheels) was a top priority. Hopefully it will be easy to get around. I'll be putting it in luggage storage for a week at the Copenhagen airport after the race while we visit Katie's brother in Germany. 

In terms of training, I've been trying to be pretty consistent and to listen to my body. My number one goal for the next three months is to stay injury free. Since January I've been averaging in the 12-14 hour a week range for training. I've decided that I'm going to cap volume at a max of around 18 hours a week and do no runs longer than 2:30. I'm hoping that this sort of volume will still allow me to have a solid race at the end of June. 

As I've ramped the volume up a bit since January I made the decision to limit speed work while running. I'm not getting any younger, I'm again trying to mitigate injuries. However, this approach yielded an interesting result a week ago, when I came pretty close to setting a PR at a half marathon. My PR of 1:20:24 was from six years ago when I was doing a lot more speed work - quarters, half miles, and fast mile repeats each week - as well as a bit higher run volume. Over the past three months leading into this race I did one workout with speeds faster than 6:00 pace. I decided to roll the dice in the race and was almost able to match my race performance from six years ago. Needless to say, I'm going to stick to the less is more approach for running. 

I'm racing 70.3 Connecticut in early June - I'll still refer to it as Quassy though, and I'll bet anyone who has done the race before will do the same. I will do around a three to four day taper into this race, really prioritizing the build into IM Norway. There are four weeks between this race and IM Norway. After the race in CT I'll try to get in two more weeks of good mileage before a two week taper. We head off to Europe on the Monday before the race, and I'm hoping that getting there several days early will help with the jet lag as well as any issues that come up with traveling with two young kids and a whole bunch of stuff. Hopefully my next post will be after Quassy, looking forward to the last few harder weeks of IM training. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Another year has come and gone...

I feel that the busier one is the faster time goes, and that definitely applies to our lives currently. Each day seems a bit like a whirlwind, starting with the alarm going off somewhere in the 4-4:30 AM range to get a morning workout in. Then it's time to get in some calories, get the kids up and ready, drop Jackson off at before school on my way to school. Once there the time goes by fast with my group of 20 third graders, but then it's time to rush home to get Jackson off the bus, get dinner ready (I'm the cook, but half the time it's a stew or something else I did in the crockpot over the weekend), before bath time and bed time. If Katie and I get a few minute in together it can be a miracle! As a result of our semi-organized chaos another year is nearly complete.

Going into 2018 my triathlon goal was pretty simple - put together a solid race at IMLP based on the training I could fit into our schedule. This meant that as the months before IMLP  came near there were many weekends where I was starting workouts before 4 AM - apparently Strava labels those as 'Night' runs or rides! I was able to be finished with all of my longer rides and runs by around 9 AM on most days in order to be Dad for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, an odd running injury popped up two weeks before IMLP and I was unable to resolve it before race day. I got several rounds of EPAT, but on race day the pain began effecting my gait and was so severe that I had to drop out just after the mid-point of the run. I was in a prime spot to KQ - 2nd in my AG and about a mile or so ahead of 3rd. In hindsight, maybe I could have hobbled my way to a KQ, but that's not how I wanted it to go. Plus, I could have done a lot more damage to my leg had I pushed for another 12+ miles. Getting a DNF was a hard pill to take, but probably a smart move, and by giving my leg some time to rest I was able to finish the season on a positive note at Pumpkinman with a 4:16 PR at the half distance. This time does come with an asterisks, as the bike course was around two miles short. It probably equates to about a 4:21 that I had a the Patriot Half a few years ago. Still, I was happy to see that my fitness hadn't completely tanked after taking quite a long rest post IMLP.

Seven weeks after Pumpkinman, Katie and I flew down to DC to run the Marine Corps Marathon together. Four years ago I was able to pace her to a 3:56 finish. This time around with a lot less free time - a second child will do that - she wasn't able to fit in as much training. I had her do her longest run at 2:30 simply due to a history of injury and time constraints. As a result, we were on pace for around 4:00 through the halfway point, but the wheels came off the bus in the second half of the race, and we finished in just over 4:30. I can say that running at around 12:00-13:00 min pace is very awkward for me. At times I would run ahead and try to coax Katie along, and at other times I was almost power walking. Even though I ran for my longest continuous time, my legs were back in just a few days, and I nearly set a 20' power PR on a Zwift race on the Thursday right after the marathon.

This past spring Jackson expressed some interest in a treehouse, and I thought it would be fun trying to build him one. The only issue was that I really didn't have any experience building something like a treehouse, but I did have a variety of skills that would help me to figure it out. In the end it cost more than I thought it would and it certainly ate up a lot more time than I expected, but it's done other than an exterior coat of paint to weatherize the house portion. One of the trickiest parts was figuring out where to put the cement footings so that the legs of the treehouse would match up. The term treehouse is also a little misleading, as only one side is attached to a tree. The few pics below show the progress of my fall project.

Earlier in the fall I celebrated by 40th birthday, and my brother, a friend, and I spent a weekend fly-fishing in Connecticut. I grew up fly-fishing for trout and salmon in Nova Scotia, and then bluefish and stripped bass in Nantucket. During some spring vacations we fished in the Florida Keys, and I've caught bonefish, permit, snook, tarpon, and redfish with a fly. The weather was on the chilly side, but we had a great time. The trout didn't seem to think our flies looked tasty, as we only caught a few trout in the 12-14 inch range, but it was so great to be out on the water in some great scenery!

My grandmother turned 100 in early October, which is quite an accomplishment. While she has certainly slowed down physically she is still very sharp mentally. It's great that Jackson and Hannah have had been able to spend time with G-G (great grandmother), as we call her. 

Since the Marine Corps Marathon I've been spending around 3-4 hours a week riding on Zwift and about 5-6 hours running. I put my run fitness to the test at a pretty hilly half marathon two weeks ago. The last two miles of the race were especially hard as there was about 100 ft of elevation gain in each of those miles. I managed to come away 5th overall with a time of just over 1:22. I'll take that run fitness for now, but I'd love to lower that time by around two minute by late March, when I'm planning to run another half marathon.

We are officially committed to Ironman Norway in 2019! I signed up a few days ago and I'm really looking forward to my first European triathlon experience. The location sounds amazing, and the race course looks quite challenging. Our plan is to arrive at the race site (Haugesund) on Wednesday and stay for six nights. We'll then fly to Copenhagen to rent a car for a week. Katie's brother lives in Hamburg, which is around a 4-5 hour drive. We plan to visit the original Legoland before heading back home. The goal of the race is to get a KQ, but that will be largely dependent on how training goes, and how well I'm able to execute a successful race plan. I'm so thankful that I have a supportive family, as I'm fully aware that triathlon is an extremely selfish sport. I know sometimes I push the 'too much training button' a few times during the year, and I'll try to err on the side of more family time and a few hours less of training to keep things sane. 

Finally, this year was pretty solid in terms of training. As of today, with about a week left in the year, I'm at 610 hours of SBR training. That works out to an average of 11 hours per week. Bike miles are a bit over 6,000, run miles are almost 2100, and swim yards are 232,000. The swimming has been near nonexistent over the past four months - I swam a total of 13,000 yards in that time span. Swimming will pick up a bit once 2019 rolls around. I'll be doing some cord, stretching, and injury prevention routine a few times in hopes of keeping a few historical injuries at bay. Till the next time...

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Summer Trip, Losing Fitness & a fast Pumpkinman

I'm already three weeks into the school year and starting to get back into the school schedule. After IMLP we had a whirlwind of a summer with a nearly three week trip away from home before two weeks leading into the start of school. Being teachers, my wife and I make the most of the summer, and this year we planned a trip to California, the Canadian Rockies and Kauai. Most of this post will be pictures of the trip with some captions, then a brief writeup of Pumpkinman.

We returned home from Lake Placid on a Monday evening, and very early Wednesday morning we were on a plane bound for San Francisco, where my brother lives. We were there for three nights, staying in a hotel outside of the city, but fitting in lots of activities.

We visited the Bay Area Discovery Museum, and had a great time exploring the grounds - Hannah and Jackson had a blast!

We also went to the California Academy of Sciences, which is a combination of an aquarium and a natural history museum.

My three cousins and uncle & aunt live west of San Francisco, and we met them in Vacaville. Jackson had a great time playing with all of his 'new cousins.' The temperature difference between San Francisco and Vacaville was crazy - 57 degrees ----> 112 degrees!

After San Francisco we flew to Calgary. We rented a car and drove an hour west to the small hamlet of Dead Man's Flats, which is just outside of Banff National Park. This was the third time that Katie and I have visited Banff - it's that beautiful to warrant return visits! The scenery just outside our timeshare was amazing.

We spent most of our week out in the park, visiting the spectacular areas in the park. This included a two hour drive (and then short hike) to Peyto Lake. The color of the water comes from glacial sediment - it looks tropical but is frigid!

On two different days we rented mountain bikes in Canmore. When Calgary hosted the winter Olympics Canmore was the XC Skiing venue, and is considered one of the best xc ski systems around. We biked on the trails there and saw two black bears.

Black bear about 150 feet away!

Hannah really wanted to ride like her bigger brother, but we'll have to wait a few more years for that!

Riding with Jackson through the shooting area on the biathlon course.

We also visited a friend of mine, who was teaching at The Banff Centre, an arts center in Banff. There were lot of Elk wandering around, including this one, which Hannah loved to watch!

While in Canada, I slowly began doing a bit of exercising. After IMLP I took a complete week off with absolutely no workouts. That was a bit odd, as during all of 2018 leading into IMLP I only had two complete rest days. I began using an elliptical machine at our timeshare and swimming in the 20 yard pool there. My left leg still hurt a little, but it was a TON better than during and right after IMLP.

After the week in Canada we headed back to Calgary for the next leg of our trip - heading to Kauai. Here's where we hit a bit of a snag. Our flight from Calgary to San Francisco was on time, but upon landing we were told there wasn't a gate available - that doesn't seem like the best planning! As a result, by the time that a gate opened up and we tried getting to our flight to Hawaii, we missed the connection. We had to wait around 90 minutes in a United customer service line, and eventually got a hotel and food voucher. We were rebooked on a flight the following morning to Denver and then to Kauai. This led to us missing a full day in Kauai, which was a bit of a bummer, but we took it in stride and Jackson and Hannah were troopers. It was a bit hard on the 8+ hours on the plane from Denver to Kauai with Hannah, who wanted to keep moving, but we did survive. The next fight was waiting over an hour in line for a rental car, but we finally got to the next time share in Poipu (Kauai's southern coast) around dinner time. You really can't complain all that much when you are headed to a beautiful place like Hawaii, can you?

On our two previous trips to Kauai we had stayed in Princeville on the north shore, so the location was new to us. There was some great trail running, and my left leg was feeling good enough to slowly ease back into running. 

Due to jet lag, we were up very early on first few mornings and got to see the sunrise.

We visited Waimea Canyon and got to look down on the Na'Pali Coast. The 22 mile hike along the Na'Pali Coast is closed due to torrential rains and mud slides earlier in the year. Katie and I did this hike on our two previous trips to Kauai, but that was pre-kids!

The beach way down there is where we camped many years ago!

One day we saw an awesome rainbow on our way back from a day out.

This is the terrain I did most of my running on. There were several very technical miles of trails just north of where we were staying along the coast. As you can see, the weather was bright and sunny on some days and rainy on others, but always breathtaking! 

 An evening sunset at our timeshare.

Not sure Hannah wanted this hug!

Finding a friendly cat to pet at the Kauai Coffee plantation.

In the middle of the week we rented mountain bikes and rode on a nice trail along the eastern coast. 

Our rental was a white Jeep - definitely a few of them on the island!

Soon, our trip came to an end, and it was a very long 20+ hours of flights and airports to finally arrive back home. Just before the start of school we had a combined birthday party for Hannah and me. We both had September birthdays, but it was easier to have a party before school began. Hannah was turing 2 and I was turning the big 40! We had a jumpy house with a water slide for the party, which was a big hit, and I was very happy that nobody got hurt - I'm always worried about smashing heads or something else in a jumpy house. 

After returning from our trip I had decided to sign up for Pumpkinman, a local Half Ironman in southern Maine. I did this race two years ago, but the race was canceled mid run due to a wicked strong thunderstorm (throwing in wicked as we live near Boston). I ended up having a pretty solid race considering my lack of fitness due to little training after IMLP. The bike course is a bit short, so my time of 4:16 is probably five minute quicker than on a proper bike course. I was still pretty happy with my time and I finished third overall behind two friends, Lucas Pozzeta and Colin Cook. 

The post race food is a full Thanksgiving dinner - yum!!!!

I rocked a sweet handlebar mustache for the race - not so popular with my wife so it got shaved off upon returning home!

During the race one person shouted "Go sketchy guy!" I guess the mustache wasn't my best look!

Looking forward, Katie and I are running the Marine Corps Marathon together at the end of October. My goal is to again pace her to an under 4 hour finish. I'm 90% committed to signing up for IM Norway next summer - we already have a hotel reservation. That would be combined with a trip to Denmark and northern Germany, where Katie's brother lives. Until next time....