Monday, June 28, 2010

Week 2 of Chicago Marathon Training is Complete

I just completed week 2 of my 17 week Chicago Marathon training program.  I am following a much easier, less aggressive schedule this time, with much more cross training. 

I had a great week.  My knees are feeling much better (I'd say 85%).  I was able to exercise all 7 days over the last week, running 4 times (including 1 race), running 19 miles for the week, swimming twice (1 mile each time), and biking once (52 miles).  It was very hot out all week, easily in the 80s and 90s.  I am training for a triathlon next week, which is why I worked out all 7 days.

Monday - Swam 1 mile in 41 minutes

Tuesday - Ran 4.23 miles on the bridal path at a pace of 8:48 per mile, average heart rate 160

Wednesday - Ran 5.27 miles around the Central Park loop at a pace of 8:38 per mile, average heart rate 152.

Thursday - Swam 1 mile in 40 minutes

Friday - Ran 4 miles on the bridal path at a pace of 8:24 per mile, average heart rate 160.  While the bridal path seems to be easier on my joints as the ground is sandy, it is definitely a much harder workout than running on pavement.

Saturday - ran the 5 mile Gay Pride race in Central Park - average pace 7:37 per mile, average heart rate 174.  Garmin Stats - click here

Sunday - cycled 52 miles with my friend SH in New Jersey (he is a very strong cyclist).  It was extremely hilly and took us 3 hours and 30 minutes, averaging 15 miles per hour (including the hills).  My average heart rate was 134 and my average cadence was 71 (I coasted down most hills, otherwise it would have been higher).   I need to pedal down the hills!  Garmin Stats for my Bike Ride - Click here

My weight is down to 192, down about 6 pounds from my Kenosha Marathon weight of 198 on May 1st.  Since I'm not running all the time, I have been able to reduce my calories and therefore have lost weight.  My weight was over 220 when I began running last June, so I've lost about 28 pounds.  Over the last year, I've also gone from a large to a medium in my clothes and my waist has shrunk so much that I had to buy a new belt!  My cholesterol is down to 180 (from just over 200), my blood pressure is 116/67, and my average resting heart rate is in the 50s (sometimes even in the high 40s).  My Crohn's disease has been in remission and overall I feel great!

Signed up for my first Triathlon today! The 24th Annual Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon

Today, I signed up for my first triathlon - the 24th Annual Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon, which is on July 7th at 6pm (a Wednesday in Connecticut, I will take the afternoon off).

Distances:  Half-mile lake swim (wetsuits allowed), 10.5-mile bike around the lake, 3.1-mile run.

I am excited for this race.  It is a USAT (USA Triathlon) sanctioned event, which my friends tell me means that it will likely be well run. 

Now I need to get ready, as the race is next week!  I need to get a wetsuit (will probably rent one with the option to buy it) and figure out how all the logistics (when to arrive, how to set up my bike and shoes in the transition area, how to get my bike in the car, etc.).  Everything is brand new to me, which is exciting!

I haven't been able to do an open water swim yet (although I have been swimming 2-3 days a week, usually for 1 mile, as I consider myself to be a weak swimmer).  Hopefully I can do one this weekend.  Otherwise, I'll just wing it next week.

I did an extremely hilly 52 mile bike ride yesterday, so I feel ready for the bike portion of the event.

When I created this blog earlier, I fully expected it to be only about my running.  I NEVER imagined doing a triathlon, as I consider myself to be a poor long distance swimmer (although I was a life guard in high school college and was able to swim short distances a little faster).  When I got certified as a lifeguard in high school, I had to swim 500 yards every day.  Despite being on the track team and being in pretty good "sprinting" shape then, I struggled with this distance everyday (and therefore hated it).  I would come out of the pool sweaty and exhausted!

Thanks to all of my friends that have been giving me a ton of advice on everything related to triathlons.  I appreciate you putting up with my detailed questions!  In fact, every single one of my friends that gave me advice, all said for me to start out with a sprint triathlon first (I wanted to start with an Olympic tri).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gay Pride 5 mile race in Central Park

Today, I ran the 5 mile Gay Pride race.  It was sunny, 77 degrees, and 61% humidity at the start of the race.  We went out with some friends last night, so I didn't get to bed until 1am and got up at 7:15 A.M. to get ready to get to Central Park by 8:20 A.M. for the 9 A.M. race.   Despite a busy week of training this week, I felt good.  I ran into my friend BGR in the coral right before the race (he had already run 4.5 miles), which was really cool.  He showed me his new Iphone, which looks awesome, and my wife and I are looking forward to getting (although the Apple Store in our neighborhood is sold out of them).  I forgot to get the satellites set up for Garmin Watch, so activated my watch just a few seconds before passing the timing mats to officially start my race.  Luckily, I thought to myself, I picked up the satellites quickly.  I hit start on my watch as I passed the timing mats and my race was off.  The race started out fast, as the beginning of the race was downhill (a welcome change from my 2 previous races that started up hill).  I checked my watch about 30 seconds into the race, thinking "this pace is pretty fast".  My watch said 9:42 per mile.  "What????, I thought to myself. I guess I haven't picked up the satellites properly yet".  30 seconds later, it still read 9:42 per mile.  Another 30 seconds later, the same time - 9:42 per mile.  Odd, I thought, until I noticed that my watch had started and stopped at the beginning of the race.  So, I hit start about 0.25 miles into the race.  It was very hot, but I was feeling good, running comfortably in the 7:30s.  Not too hard, but not easy either.  Definitely easier than my last races, despite the temperatures.  My weight training on my legs and bike riding is definitely helping to strengthen my legs, as is running on the bridal path (which I find to be very hard, as it is kind of like running on sand).   I stopped at all 4 water stations during the race, taking 2-3 sips of water and pouring the rest of the cup over my head.  I was totally soaked the entire race, which helped keep me cool.  When I got to mile 4, uphill on the west side of Central Park between 102nd street and 84th street, I noticed that EVERYBODY was struggling, including me.  Every single race I curse the hills in Central Park in my mind.  It is super hilly.  I ran a split of 8:00 per mile during this tough mile (I thought about walking) and finished with a strong 7:05 per mile for mile 5.

Overall, I averaged 7:37 per mile for the 5 mile race, finishing 69th overall for my age group (545th overall) with an Age Graded % (AG%) of 59.32% (my goal is to be over 60% for these races, so I just missed it for this race).   Once again, I had no pain during my race, which was awesome.  The area where I had my ganglion cyst behind my left knee is still bothering me a little bit, but it isn't slowing me down.

Planning on riding my bike 50-60 miles tomorrow, so hopefully that goes well.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day 5 Mile Race for Prostate Cancer

On Sunday June 20, 2010, I ran the 5 mile Father's Day Race in Central Park.  It was hot, humid, and muggy 75 degrees and 80% humidity at the 8:30 A.M. start time.  My plan was to use this race as my "long run" for the week, as my Chicago Marathon training started this week and my marathon training schedule showed a 7 mile long run.  Given that I just started running regularly again last week, I decided that a 5 mile run would be enough (I had run 3, 3, 3.5 (JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge) earlier in the week).

My plan was to run easy, going for a pace of around 8:00 per mile (and go slower if tired or any knee pain).  I ended up feeling comfortable at a pace of 7:44 per mile for the 5 mile run (my Garmin watch showed me running 5.07 miles for the race while the New York Road Runner's website showed me at a pace of 7:50 per mile for exactly 5 miles.  See my Garmin splits here.  The Garmin watch is usually almost exactly accurate, so I wondered if anybody else's watch showed 5.07 miles?).  This was my 6th New York Road Runner's race in 2010 on my quest to meet the 9+1 requirement to gain automatic entry into the 2011 New York City Marathon (that's run 9 races in 2010 and volunteer for 1).  I have 3 races scheduled over the next month, which will complete my 9 races.  I felt very good during the 5 mile race today.  No knee pain at all (although, like everybody else running, I was extremely hot!).

The day before the race, I rode 41 miles on my new bike out to New Jersey with my friend MH.   We rode over the George Washington Bridge and then went north on highway 9W in New Jersey.  It was awesome.  We took it easy until we got to New Jersey, rode hard for a while, and took it easy coming back.  Check out the map of our ride here. There is a very wide shoulder (around 6 feet wide) for cyclists to ride on and there are hundreds of cyclists out on the road (so many that it feels like the road is actually a gym).  It took us 2 hours and 37 minutes in total.  We met at 5:50 A.M. and was home by 8:34 A.M.  The weather was perfect at 66 degrees and 65% humidity.   A great way to start the day!  I love cycling and am looking forward to doing much more of it in the future as I prepare to do my first triathlon sometime late this summer or early fall.  Cycling is so different than running.  I find it to be much, much easier than running.

My goal for my 2010 marathon training is to run 4 days a week, cycle once, and swim once (workouts 6 days a week).  If I had more time I would add an additional swim and cycling day (requiring some two a day workouts, done very early in the morning and late at night after my kids are in bed).  I am really trying to minimize my running and am trying to go slower on my long runs (unlike when I trained for the Wisconsin Marathon on May 1st and ran my long runs in the 8:30 per mile pace range, which looking back now, I think was too fast).

On Monday 6/20, I swam 1 mile in the pool.  It was the longest I have ever swam.  My feet cramped up for the last 10 lengths or so, but other than that I felt good.  I had no problems with my endurance and I can swim faster, but if I swim much faster then I am completely exhausted when I get out of the pool.  I am still just trying to swim easy and long....I will add some speed workouts in once I have more experience, but for now, I'm happy just swimming a little longer each time I go out.  My form is poor, I have a big bruise on my my wrist from swimming next to the rope (trying to avoid the other swimmer in my lane).  I also tried to swim close to the hard rope to force my elbow to go up high on each stroke.   I enjoy swimming, but I think that I am very, very slow (it took me 40:56 to complete the mile swim, average heart rate 137).  I usually stop at each end and push off for the next length, as I don't know how to do the flip turn.  My friends tell me that I will be faster in the water with a wetsuit on.  For the second straight swim workout, I got water stuck in my ear which stayed plugged up all day.  I think that I need to get some ear plugs.  Anybody have any recommendations?

My next race is this Saturday in Central Park, the 5 mile Gay Pride race.  I ran this race last year and it is a blast.  I am looking forward to it.  I am hoping to cycle 50 miles on Sunday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ran the 2010 JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge tonight - a PR and no knee Pain!!!

Tonight, I ran the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge. Last year, this was the race that got me interested in running and eventually into marathon running, completing 2 marathons over the last year.

This was my first race since the Wisconsin Marathon on May 1st. I've been hurt for 3 months, was lucky to complete the Wisconsin Marathon, and have only run around 8 times since May 1st, as I have been rehabbing my knees via physical therapy, focusing on strengthening my legs. This PT has definitely been working, as my knees and IT bands are much better. Biking has also improved my leg strength, and I definitely feel stronger and more stable in my legs.  While my legs feel stronger, but there is no question that my endurance is far below where it was a few months ago. I haven't done any speed work in months, as I've been focusing on running pain free and easy (around 8:30 per mile). 

Keeping all of this in mind, I went into tonight's race with 2 goals. 1) run pain free and 2) push the pace if no pain. My time goal was to be sub 8:00 per mile (last year, my pace was 8:05 per mile). I wasn't sure that I could hold a sub 8:00 pace today for 3.5 miles in very hilly Central Park.  When I signed up for this race a few months ago, I thought that this might be the race that I could run at sub 7:00 per mile pace (my best pace for a 4 mile race was 7:11 per mile earlier this year). 
Last year, I was very frustrated early during this race, as it was incredibly crowded (over 15,000 runners), so I had a tough time running fast.  It took me over 3 minutes to get off the start line and there was no chip to track my time.  This year, JP Morgan did it right.  They put in place 2 elite corals for fast runners to start in, all the way at the front of the race (a red corral for elite runners and a yellow corral for fast runners).  I got a yellow sticker and started near the front.  This was key for me this year.  It was still crowded at the start, but it opened up quickly and I was able to run at whatever speed I wanted early.   They also but a chip on our bibs to track our time.
I really like this race, despite how crowded it is.  There are so many companies represented, mostly financial companies.  I love that people get out there to run this race. 
So, I was probably 250 people back from the start line at the start.  The horns went off and the race began.  It started a little slow but opened up quickly.  The great thing about starting near the front is that everybody around you is fast and wants to run a good time.  This pushes me to push myself.  Last night I had a gig with our band Come Together, a Beatles and Rolling Stones cover band, so I wasn't home until late and didn't get a lot of sleep.  The gig was at the Essex House on Central Park south for a Mount Sinai OB/GYN resident graduation party (our drummer is a OB/GYN surgeon at Sinai). The gig was awesome.  It was formal, and people were dancing from our first song.  I love when people dance while we play.  Anyway, I digress.  I've been fighting a cold all week and have been very congested.  I took some cold medicine in the morning because I felt crappy.  I knew that this would likely elevate my heart rate during the run, but I felt like I needed it. 

Mile 1
The first mile of the race is uphill, so I decided to take it easy out of the gate.  About 0.25 miles in, I looked down at my watch and it said my pace was 8:07.  A minute later 8:09.  It felt hard and my heart rate was way up.  All of the sudden, I felt some unexpected energy and started to push uphill.  At about 0.90 miles I looked down at my watch again and my pace was about 7:10 per mile.  At the 1 mile split, it read 7:03.  "Sweet", I thought to myself.  I was surprised at how easy I was running and questioned whether my watch was correct, but the mile 1 time clock read the same time, so I knew it was real.

Mile 1 split - 7:03, average heart rate 173

Mile 2
After mile 1, I thought to myself, maybe I have a shot at a sub 7:00 per mile race.  I knew that my endurance wasn't strong right now, but I thought I would go for it.  Mile 2 has rolling hills, so I decided to take advantage of the downhills.  I looked down at my watch at 0.25 miles into the 2nd mile and my pace was in the 6:30s.  I thought to myself "this doesn't feel that hard, let's see if I can maintain this pace for the entire mile".  Sure enough, when I got to the 102nd street transverse, which I knew was uphill, I couldn't hold it, as I was totally exhausted.  My endurance just wasn't what it was a few months ago.  My mile 2 split time started to slip...6:50, 6:55, and finally I ended the split at 7:11.  I didn't know what my heart rate was (I don't check it when I run races), but I knew that it was high, as I was working hard starting at 1.75 miles into the race.

Mile 2 split - 7:11, average heart rate 186

Mile 3
For me, this is the toughest part of the course.  It is net uphill on the east side of the park until 90th street, then it has rolling hills.  I said to myself, "keep pushing", but my endurance just wasn't there.  I thought to myself  "man, I need to do speed work with the 6am New York Flyers group again.  Why are their runners able to hold their pace in the 6:30s?  It is because they train for it.  They work hard.  You need to work harder".  For most of this mile, I was averaging around 7:40 per mile, so I pushed at the end of mile 3 and ended up with a mile 3 split of 7:31, as I worked hard for the last quarter mile of mile 3 (I set my watch to show me my current mile lap only, so that pushes me to maximize my mile splits).  At this point, I was totally exhausted, extremely thirsty (I actually thought about getting water but didn't because I didn't want to slow down).  I felt a little queasy.  My average heart rate of 189 was extremely high - I have never run a race getting it this high before.

Mile 3 split - 7:31, average heart rate 189

Mile 3 to 3.5 miles (0.50 miles)
I knew that I would get the benefit of the large downhill at Cat Hill during the last half mile.  However, when I got to the hill, I just didn't have any gas left.  My pace down the hill was 7:18 or so as I looked at my watch.  I said to myself "that's fine, I really don't feel like running any faster right now".  When I got to the bottom of the hill, I pushed the pace, running hard for the last 0.25 miles (hitting a pace of 4:51 per mile at one point).  I finished with a 6:55 pace for the last 0.50 miles, crossed the finish line, and was exhausted but happy that I had no knee pain at all (not even a tweak) and that I finished with a good time.  The bursitis behind my left knee bothered me a little bit, but not much.

last 0.50 miles  - 6:55, average heart rate 191 (with a peak of 197).

Overall  - 3.5 miles, 7:12 pace (a PR for this distance and 1 second off of my best 4 mile pace of 7:11 per mile), average heart rate 184 for the entire race, total time 25:29.  My time this year was 3 minutes and 18 seconds faster than my time last year (28:47).

Click Here for the Garmin summary from my watch with my splits.  Check out the player tab too.

After the race, I took an ice bath with Epsom salts and felt great.  No pain!

I'm encouraged by this race and am very excited that I am getting healthy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Finally Bought a Road Bike - a Cannondale Caad 9 5 (double)

Yesterday, I finally bought a road bike. I made the decision to get one about a month ago, as I want to try out a triathlon. I'm really looking forward to cross training on the bike and in the pool, particularly as I train for the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10. I hope that my knees are healthy enough to do it.  I also have 3 races coming up in the next 2 weeks (the JP Corporate Challenge on 6/17, which is 3.5 miles, which I plan on running very easy since I haven't been running a lot lately (and my company got me a sticker for my bib so I can start at the front of the race to avoid the congestion), a 5 mile race on Father's day for Prostate Cancer on 6/20, and the Gay/Pride 5 mile race on 6/26, which I ran last year when I first started running and loved it.  All are in Central Park).  I'm not sure that I am ready to run a 5 mile race yet.  My knees are much better, but if they are hurting I won't race.  Either way, I will run them easy.

When I decided to buy a road bike, I knew absolutely nothing about road bikes (which is pretty much still the case). So, I started asking all of my friends (and even one of my wife's co-workers) about what to buy. I've quickly learned that cycling is an extremely expensive sport!  After getting advice from everybody, I decided that a middle priced bike with good components would do the trick for me. This price point was around $1,499. For this, I could get a light aluminum frame (I'm told that it is one of the lightest aluminum frames on the market and perhaps even less than some carbon bikes), a carbon fork, and Shimano components. Good enough for a first bike. If I decide to get serious, I can always upgrade my new bike or get a new one. Check it out here.  I got it for $1,449.  Of course, I bought clip on pedals, clip on shoes (I've never had either of these before or even ridden a bike with them on it), 2 pairs of biking shorts, water bottles, and air pump, a jersey, and a bunch of other accessories.  All in, $2,250.  Like I said, a very expensive sport! 

So, after 2 trips and about 6 hours at the bike shop getting fitted for a 56cm frame (got it at Toga on 64th and Central Park West), I decided to go out to Central Park to try out the bike.  I went behind my building to put on my shoes and to "clip in" to the peddles with my new shoes.  I had heard that most people fall down often when learning how to bike with the clipped on shoes.  Add me to the list.  I was able to clip on to the bike, holding on to a garbage can next to some bushes.  What I didn't account for was the high gear my bike was in, so when I tried to peddle, it was too hard.  I didn't make it an inch and started to fall to the side (think of "TIMBER" like a tree falling down slowly).  My mind was thinking "OK, clip out of the shoes" but my body just couldn't make it happen, and I fell directly into the bushes (and have a nice long cut along my left hip to show for it).  Live and learn.  After that, I made sure to keep moving so I wouldn't have to clip out, and luckily I made it to Central Park, did a loop (6 miles at 18.8 miles per hour, not bad for my first ride in very hilly Central Park), and got home without having to clip out. 

Today, I went to Central Park at 630am to ride, which is when the serious riders are in the park, as going in the middle of the day is crowded and therefore not great for riding.  I rode for 1 hour and 21 minutes, 24.33 miles, averaging 18.0 miles per hour, with an average heart rate of 143.  I was very happy with this ride and feel like I can be faster once my legs get in better "riding shape" and also when I can figure out how to use my gears better (at one point during my ride I tried to shift while going up the Harlem Hill and my chain came off.  I had to jump off the bike to put it back on.  I was in the middle of the hill, so there was no way that I was going to be able to clip back on the bike and get the power to get up the hill without falling down, so I coasted back down the hill, clipped in, and turned around to go back up.  Overall, I felt great during and after my ride.  My knees didn't hurt and my legs felt great (although I felt a  few twinges in my legs near the end).  I'm hoping to ride farther next weekend.  Any and all advice on how to shift gears is appreciated!

I have an appointment at Toga on Friday to have another fit test (usually $200 put they are giving it to me for $100 since I bought the bike there).  They will test seat ankles, stem length, seat positions, and other things to make sure that the bike settings are optimal for me.

On Friday, I swam for 30 minutes.  It was a great workout.  My average heart rate was 151 and I was definitely pushing my pace.  I read my friend LW's blog (he's an Ironman) where he said that his coach says "to be tall", so I interpreted this to mean to extend my arms out as far as possible while swimming and to follow through on my stroke deep into the water (I asked the lifeguard to critique my form, which I think is horrible, after one of my swims a few weeks ago and he said that I wasn't following through with my arms under water).  I swam 54 lengths (1,350 yards, 0.77 miles) in 30 minutes, 4 minutes faster than I had done the previous week.  For the last 6 lengths, my feet and calves were cramping big time!  I had such a charlie horse in my right calf that I was in agony during the last length (which I had to endure because I was in the deep end and couldn't put pressure on it until I got in the shallow end).  As of today, the area where I had the charlie horse is still sore.  Is this normal?  I have been eating more bananas since then to try to minimize the cramping.

Now I'm off to find a sprint triathlon to sign up for later this summer.  All recommendations are welcome!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2nd Cortisone Shot - this time to my Right Knee along the IT band

On Monday, I got a cortisone shot to my right knee via interventional radiology, where they used an ultrasound machine to find out precisely where I needed the shot and then did the injection. The doctor said that I had fluid and bursitis in the right knee along the IT band from below the knee to well above the knee (he said that the length of the fluid "pocket" was abnormally long). The doctor that gave me the shot frequently gives professional athletes cortisone shots. I asked him if the shot he gave me would be the same as the shot he would give a professional athlete and he said "the shot I gave you for your injury is exactly the same shot I would give a professional athlete or anybody else. The only difference is that the professional athlete is likely to get back on the field tomorrow, whereas you will take a week off from running". He advised me to take a week off from running and said that I can swim or bike starting Thursday so long as I don't have pain. Hopefully, the shot will help my recovery.

My right knee has been significantly better over the last week. I've really focused on cross training (biking and swimming) to minimize the impact of running, and I am loving cross training. My physical therapy and leg strengthening exercises are also helping me big time. I have also found that warming up on the bike before running has loosened up my IT bands before my runs, which has been great. Also, I'm finding that riding the bike has strengthened my legs and gluteus maximus (I.e. My bum), where my physical therapists say I am weak, which in turn is causing my legs to buckle when running (my right leg is significantly weaker than my left knee), which is therefore putting more pressure on my knees and IT bands. I didn't believe that I was weak in my legs until they had me do a bunch of simple leg tests and I struggled. Now, I'm a huge believer in this explanation and have been doing my leg strengthening exercises religiously everyday. Almost all of them are done with a band (like a big rubber band). The band provides resistance to assist in the strengthening. I've also been rolling out my IT bands daily, which also helps. I bought "the grid" roller, which is orange and is made by Trigger Points I think. My friend LW recommended it and said "the best thing about it, other than the fact that it doesn't break down because it is made of hard plastic versus foam, is that you can put it in your suitcase when you travel and can stuff clothes in the hollow hole in the middle". Hardcore. LW did his first Ironman in Germany last summer.

Here is a summary of my workouts over the last week:

Monday - cycled for 50 minutes

Tuesday - cycled for 45 minutes

Wednesday - off

Thursday Morning - cycled for 40 immediately followed by a 20 minute run (8:09 pace, no pain)

Thursday Evening - swam for 19 minutes followed immediately by 10 minutes of cycling

Friday - swam 34 minutes

Saturday - cycled for 30 minutes immediately followed by a 22 minute run (8:14 pace, no pain)

Sunday - off

I've run every other day for the last week, most recently Monday morning for 24 minutes with no pain in my right knee (and I ran the last mile at 7:25 pace). My right knee is getting much better, just nagging little twinges a little after I run once in a while. I'm now officially in love with the bridal path. It is much easier on my body and I don't think that I am going to run the loop for a while. There is a whole sub culture on the bridal path

The bursitis behind my left knee still present, however. The doctor took a look at it again on Monday via ultrasound and said that the area still has fluid in it despite my cortisone shot. This could mean that the cortisone shot did not work. I asked if it could be drained and he said that the fluid is in an area that they don't typically drain. His advice was to see how it is doing in a few weeks and said that I may need another cortisone shot to the area (he recommended waiting 3 months but said I should talk to my knee doctor). I'm bummed that the left knee is still bothering me. They looked for the ganglion cyst again but couldn't find it. It sure does feel like it is still in there. I may need to get another mri.

I won't run for at least another week, but will start workouts on the bike and in the pool starting Thursday.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cross Training in the Pool plus a waterproof MP3 player

Over the last few weeks, I have been cross training a lot.  I've been riding a spinning bike at the gym daily and started swimming this week.  The last time I went swimming was in high school when I had to swim 500 yard warm ups for a life guarding class.  Then, I hated swimming distance, just like I hated distance running.

So, for the first time since high school, on Thursday night, I went to the gym with the goal of getting a good swim workout in.  If I'm going to do a triathlon someday, I have to start swimming.  Plus, everybody tells me that it is a great, zero impact workout that will allow me to get a good workout in while allowing my knees to heal.  I had already worked out in the morning, spinning for 40 minutes and running for 20 (with no pain!).  It was 9:30 P.M. when I got to the pool.  Luckily, it wasn't crowded.  I put on my swim cap (I couldn't find my black one so I had to wear my daughter's pink one) and some blue Speedo goggles that I bought 10 years ago but never wore (they had been getting banged around my bag for years, so they were in bad shape and leaked into my eyes when I swam).  I also put on my Polar Heart rate monitor strap and my Polar S610 watch (which I've had for around 8 years and love).

I started to swim and felt pretty good.  It was hard, but my friend PN, a very talented triathlete, told me to focus on my stroke and efficiency (and also that most of one's swimming power comes from the arms), so I focused on being efficient.  Aerobically, I felt great.  I could barely get my heart rate above 135.  However, after 18 minutes of swimming my feet and calves started cramping big time, so I called it a night at 19 minutes, average heart rate 135.  The pool is 25 yards, so I calculated that I made it 650 yards.  While I stopped many times, often for a few minutes at a time, I felt pretty good after the workout.  I swam farther than the 500 yard workouts that I hated in high school and wasn't winded at all (when I did them in high school I was dead tired after doing them).  Without question, I'm still in pretty good shape after running a marathon a month ago.  I was surprised to get the cramping but assumed that it happened because I haven't built up my "swimming muscles" yet.

So, I decided to try it again last night.  My knee doctor is also a triathlete and former marathon runner that transitioned to tris to reduce the pounding on his body.  When I told him that I wanted to make the same transition, he said "Bro, do yourself a favor and get yourself an mp3 player that you can use in the water and some audio bone headphones".  I listen to music when I run, so it made sense to me to listen to music while swimming too (at least when you run outside you can look at stuff).  I looked into it, spoke to a few friends (PN and AL), and purchased the Finis Swimp3 Waterproof MP3 player.  This MP3 player has 1 GB of hard drive space and headphones that you put up against your cheek bones (not in your ears).  When you are underwater, you hear the music through your bones (which is what my doctor was referring to as "Audio Bone").  Heaven.  The boredom of swimming immediately was replaced by being able to listen to music while swimming, which was awesome (I listened to the new Slash album during my swim, it rocks).  It really made swimming enjoyable.

Finis Swimp3 You Tube Video - Check out this video to learn more about the MP3 player.

I got to the pool at 10 PM and felt good.  I also picked up some new Aquasphere goggles which made a huge difference during my swim.  With the music, the new goggles, and 1 day of experience, I ended up swimming for 34 minutes and 54 lengths (or 1350 yards), average heart rate 145.  I more than doubled the distance I swam what the night before and was faster doing it.  When I finished, I felt tired, almost like I was drugged.  It was a good tired, with no pain anywhere in my body (unlike when I often finish running, where my body feels sore from the pounding). 

As I write this tonight, my shoulders are sore from the arm strokes, but other than that, I feel great.  I look forward to swimming more in the future.

I am encouraged by my first 2 nights of swimming, as I went into it wondering if I would be able to swim well enough to do a triathlon.  Now I feel confident that I can do it (although not that fast).  I am in it to enjoy myself and stay fit.  Cross training on the spinning bike and in the pool has really opened up my eyes to the benefits of cross training.
I've also been looking into buying a road bike over the last week and I am getting close.  I will write a separate blog post on this topic.