Thursday, September 30, 2010

Run while on a business trip in Washington D.C.

Today (9/30/10), I was in Washington D.C. on a business trip.  I was able to get a quick run in, which was awesome.  It was very windy and raining all day (winds over 30 mph), but I was able to get my run in with almost no rain, which was awesome.  I stayed at the Georgetown Inn on Wisconsin Avenue, which is in a great location.  I walked down to the water, ran over to the Lincoln Memorial, down to the mall, out to the Washington Monument, and back to my hotel (5 miles).  I stopped all over the place to take pictures (see below).  I started and stopped a lot and took minutes off during the run, but still ended up with an 8:25 per mile pace (and a 8:02 moving average pace, which my Garmin 405 watch calculates).  The workout ended up being an interval workout, as I would run fast, stop for a minute or two, and then run fast again.  My splits in order were 8:31, 8:59, 8:53, 8:32, 7:12 (this includes the time I took to stop and take pictures).  It ended up being a great workout plus very scenic and enjoyable.  I absolutely love running in different locations!  It is the best way to see a city.

Click here for a link to my Garmin 405 file for a map of my run

Here are some pictures I took while running (the nice buildings are on the Georgetown Campus):

Podcasts - What's on my iPhone today?

I'm a big fan of podcasts and have been listening to them for years.  Nearly all of them are free, and can be downloaded easily and all over the place.  Personally, I use apple's iTunes store down download my podcasts, but one can also download podcasts on various websites.  I like iTunes because it is easy to find podcasts and once I find something I like, I can "subscribe" to a podcast, which means that the podcasts that I subscribe to are automatically added to my itunes account on my computer and then automatically transferred to my iPhone or iPod when I sync them to my computer (one must turn on the automatic sync function on the iPhone or iPod for them to transfer).   I follow a number of podcasts, including news (NPR, New York Times, 60 minutes), sports, fantasy sports (ESPN, CBS, the Fantasy Football guys), health and nutrition, music (including live concerts on NPR), workout music, video games, etc.   I listen to the podcasts when I walk to work, when travelling, when exercising, on the subway, and whenever I can squeeze in a few minutes.  I never have enough time to listen to a podcast end to end, but I still find that listening to my favorite podcasts even for a few minutes a day is enjoyable.  If I drove to work regularly, I would be listening to podcasts even more.

Below are my current 2 podcast favorites

1.  I recently came across a podcast called "Ben Greenfield Fitness", which is my current favorite podcast (I found it via a search for "triathlon" on iTunes).  Ben Greenfield is an elite athlete, a personal trainer, a nutritional consultant, a coach, and an Ironman.  He puts out a couple of weekly podcasts a week.  It is top notch.  He does a couple of segments each week.  First, he usually has a few "announcements", where he talks about seminars/coaching sessions/other things he is doing.  The list is impressive, he definitely gets a lot done.  Second, he does a weekly reader Q&A section, which is great.  People email or call in great questions, very often questions I have.  The topics range from questions on heart rate, fat burning, workout intensity , cross training, training questions, vitamins, injuries, etc. For an athlete looking to learn about a well-rounded list of topics, the Q&A is awesome and I highly recommend it. Finally, he ends each podcast with a weekly interview with an expert on a variety of topics. Last week, he interviewed Robbie Ventura, a professional cyclist, coach, and Tour de France commentator on the VS. television network, which was great. I actually went to high school with Robbie and also was friends with his sister. Small world!

Below is a link to Ben Greenfield’s podcast and his website. I highly recommend this podcast. If you check it out, let me know what you think. I also follow him on Twitter. Ben is competing in the Ironman World Championship in Kona on 10/9/2010.

Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast #113 - Robbie Ventura Interview

Link to itunes for Ben's podcasts

Ben Greenfield on iTunes

2.  The second podcast that I have been listening to regularly over the last month is called "Doctor Chopra Says: A Medical Minute".  It isn't Deepak Chopra, it is Doctor Sanjeev Chopra.  He puts out a podcast about once a week.  It is great.  I think Dr. Chopra published a book with various medical "facts and myths everyone should know about".  So far, he has come out with 12 podcasts on Itunes (all free).  Some of the topics include exercise, nuts (says that studies have shown that eating a few nuts a day can extend one's life by two years and reduce the risk of heart disease), cancer, coffee (he says that 3-4 cups of coffee is actually really good for you, even decaf), aspirin, fish, Alzheimer's, and even marijuana.   I am naturally a skeptic, so I may not agree with everything he says, but overall, I love this podcast.  I even bought some almonds and have been eating 4 almonds a day since listening to his podcast.  I am also going to buy some walnuts, as he said that walnuts have omega 3 in them (I also take daily fish oil pills).

Here is a link to his podcast on iTunes

Doctor Chopra Says: A Medical Minute on iTunes

Let me know what you think if you listen to either of these podcasts.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chicago Marathon Training Summary - Weeks 14 and 15; Vacation in Vancouver, Canada

Weeks 14 and 15 of my 17 week Chicago Marathon training is done.  Yes!!!  I am now in taper mode now, which I am very excited about.  I feel great and am 95% healthy.  My knees and IT bands feel great, with the exception of the ganglion cyst that continues to sit behind my left knee.  It doesn't bother me when I run, but I definitely feel it the next day after a long run.  I've had the cyst on and off since March.  It goes away when I reduce my mileage and gets bigger when I do long runs.  Overall, I'm very pleased and happy to be feeling so good at this point in my marathon training.  For my previous 2 marathons (NYC 2009 and Kenosha Wisconsin 5/2010), I was extremely fatigued at this point of my training, so much so that I desperately needed the taper.  This time around, I feel so good that I don't even feel like I need the taper (although I'm definitely still going to taper so I am fresh for the marathon on 10/10/10).  For this my marathon training, my motto has been "less is more".  After my last marathon on 5/1/2010 (and during my training), I had severe IT band friction along my right knee and bursitis behind my left knee.  Both required a cortisone shot to get better.  I decided that running 6 days/50 miles a week was too hard on my body.  My doctor recommended physical therapy and triathlons, saying "you never do enough swimming, biking, or running to really hurt yourself".  So I went out and bought a road bike and started swimming (I had never owned a road bike before and hadn't gone swimming since high school).  I picked a Hal Higdon easy marathon training schedule and started my training.  This schedule requires running 4 days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday), with not as many long runs on the weekend.  For my NYC marathon training, I did 3 long runs of 20 miles.  For Kenosha, I did 4 long runs of 20 miles.  For the upcoming Chicago Marathon, I only did one 20 mile run (during week 14).  We shall see if that helps or hurts me on October 10th.  I also have been doing leg strengthening exercises that I learned about during physical therapy.  To my surprise, I found that my legs were weak (and in particular my glutes), so since I learned this I have been doing exercises at home with big rubber bands to strengthen my glutes and legs, which has really helped.  Additionally, bike riding has really strengthened my legs.  Finally, I have been trying to get more sleep.  While I haven't been great at getting enough sleep during my training, typically averaging about 6.5 hours per night, during our vacation in Vancouver I had 4 days were I got at least 8 hours of sleep a night and another 2 where I got more than 7 hours.  On the day we got home, I slept almost 10 hours and woke up feeling like a million bucks.  I have read all over the place that sleep in the single best recovery method from heavy physical activity, and I definitely feel rested after our vacation.  I also regularly do ice or cold water baths with Epsom salts.

Week 14 Summary - peak marathon training week
  • 6 workouts - ran 5 times (43 miles in total), cycled once (43 miles, approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes) - total workout time approximately 8.5 hours over 5 days.
    • Monday - 5 miles (8:19 pace) - heart rate monitor battery dead
    • Tuesday - 10 miles (8:19 pace) - heart rate monitor battery dead
    • Wednesday - 5 miles (8:19 pace) - heart rate monitor battery dead
    • Thursday - Off day - travel to Vancouver
    • Friday - 20 miles (8:47 pace, ran negative splits and stopped many times to take pictures (see below) - heart rate monitor battery dead
    • Saturday - Off day
    • Sunday - Brick workout -  2 hour and 30 minute bike ride (43.34 miles) followed immediately by a 3 mile run (overall 7:39 pace) - with the first mile off the bike at a 6:48 pace, which I was working hard for.  Slowed down after that.
    • Overall, started out each of my runs easy (except for Sunday) and finished strong.  Had a few workouts where I ran 1-2 miles hard with splits in the 6s
Week 15 Summary - 6 workouts - ran 4 times (31 miles, 5, 8, 6, and 12 mile runs) and cycled twice (once on a trainer for 55 minutes, alternating between 5 easy minutes and 5 hard minutes) and once for 30 miles in Central park
  • Continued to feel good and really enjoyed my workout on the bike trainer.  I definitely need to buy one for our apartment for winter training (plus I feel like I got a different type of workout which I liked).  Can anybody recommend a good trainer to buy at a reasonable price?  Does anybody know of a used one for sale?  I will be doing a lot of trainer work this winter to build my base for my Ironman Canada race on 8/28/2011.
Over the last 10 days, we were on vacation in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  We had a great time (although it rained almost the entire time we were there - we only had 1 sunny day out of the 10 days we were there).  We stayed with our friends PN and MM, which was great (thanks Paul and Miranda, we really appreciate it!)  Both PN and MM are also training for Ironman Canada in August 2011 (the three of us will be doing the race together).  I trained with Paul 3 times while I was there, which was great (he ran the first 13 miles of my 20 mile training run with me, we did a brick together, a 2 hour and 30 minute bike ride immediately followed by a 20 minute run, and a 50 minute run together).  Paul is an extremely talented and gifted athlete  - he was nearly a professional cyclist and left me in the dust on the bike when the hard part of his workout started, and during the brick run, he ran the first mile off the bike at a sub 6 minute per mile pace (while I was happy with my 6:48 per mile first mile off the bike split, I was easily far behind him). 

By far, the best part of the week was our daughter Kaiya turning 2 on 9/21 (I can't believe that she is 2 already!).  So, for the second consecutive year, we celebrated her birthday in Vancouver and Miranda and Paul's house.

Here is a picture of Kaiya while at Whistler (she picked out and put on the hat herself)

Some pictures from my 20 mile long run in Vancouver:

I ran along the water every day - absolutely beautiful

I took a wrong turn and my 20 mile long run unexpectedly became partly a trail run.  I have a new-found respect for trail running.  It is hard and hilly!!  This is a view from the top of one of the trails as I head back to easy, flat running....

A 137 meter pool in Kits - they keep the water cold and allow wetsuits!  A triathlete's dream!  Remind me again, why do we live in New York City?

The first sign I saw as my long run became a trail run.  Hmmm....

The trail run begins

starting to get into the was is hilly and muddy!  All I was thinking was "where the heck am I?" and "I hope I don't get bitten by a tick!"

blurry because I was running to get out of there fast!

 A nice creek along the trail....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fatigued! Week 12 and Week 13 Chicago Marathon Training Summary

Just finished weeks 12 and 13 of  my Chicago Marathon training.  I did my first very long run during Week 12, an 18 mile run.  Until my triathlon yesterday on 9/12 (see separate race report), my body was feeling very fatigued.  I moved my week 13 marathon training schedule up one day so I could take Saturday off, the day before my tri.  On Sunday, I did the tri and felt great the entire race (and after too).  My fatigue seems to be gone, which is great, as week 14 has me scheduled to run 40 miles (5, 10, 5, and 20 miles).  We will be in Vancouver on vacation for the 20 miler, which I am really looking forward to, as my friends PN and MM in Vancouver are going to run with me and we are going to run along the ocean, which is flat and absolutely beautiful!

As I write this, my fatigue has subsided.  However, during weeks 12 and 13, I felt the fatigue that nearly all marathon runners experience at some point during training. My legs were sore, my IT bands were sore, my knees were sore, the cyst behind my right knee was bothering me, and my body just felt tired.   I took a lot of ice baths and/or Epsom salt baths during this period, and that helped too.

Overall, I'm happy with my training during these two weeks.

Week 12 - I got in 6 workouts (4 runs - 4.6, 9, 5.1, and 18 miles - total - 36.7 miles), 1 ride, and 1 swim).  I was so fatigued that I only rode 12 miles (2 loops of Central Park) the day after my long run.  It felt good to get a "recovery" ride in, but 42 minutes was enough.  I've accepted that I'm going through a tough period of workouts and when I do I try to keep my workouts limited to my marathon training only.  I've noticed my fitness improving, as my heart rate has been lower lately and I have been getting faster.  For one 5 mile run this week, I planned on running around 8:45-9:00 for the entire run, but I felt good so I ended running the last few miles in the low 7s/high 6s and still had more in the tank.

I ran 12 of the 18 miles of my long run on Saturday with BGR, which was great.  I ended up running 3 Harlem Hills, which was tough, but hopefully this hill work will benefit me for the flat Chicago Marathon course.

When we were on our long run, there was a guy juggling while he was running.  Naturally, I started talking to him.  I asked him if he runs entire marathons while juggling, and he said yes.  I asked him how fast and he said around 4:50 (although his goal is a little faster than that).  Pretty impressive if you ask me!  I asked him if I could take his picture and he said yes, so check it out.

Week 13 - 5 runs (5, 9, 5, 14.21, 4 - 38 miles for the week) and 1 race (Greenwood Lake triathlon - 0.5 mile swim, 17.9 mile bike, 4 mile run).  I reduced my schedule to running only plus the tri race at the end of week 13. Other than that, I didn't bike or swim during week 13 at all. I think sometimes "less is more", so I tried to train that way for week 13 and it definitely resulted in a strong race for me. One of the things I love about racing is that there are always things to improve upon, and the triathlon is great for that.   Overall a great week.  I feel like I am getting more fit and peaking at the right time for the Chicago Marathon (for my previous 2 marathons I peaked way too early, about halfway through training.  This year, I've been focused on an easier, more gradual build up).  Sunrise is around 6:25 A.M. these days, so some of my runs are now in the dark.   There's not much better than seeing the sun rise in Central Park while running.  It is beautiful.

My Running Song of the Week
As I mentioned before, I am really into listening to music when I run (although triathlons don't allow music so I did the Greenwood Lake tri without it).  It pumps me up, plus I just love music.  Lately, I've been getting into Motorhead, and my current favorite song is called "Killed by Death".  It rocks, I really can't believe that this song was written in 1984 and I never heard it until 2010.  The song sounds like it was written today and the guitar solos rock! Take a listen.....

Recently, my brother John found some old pictures of our dad's (he passed away in 2006).  I love this one!  It was in the Kenosha News around 1977.  Our dad used to write his bike to work everyday.  He would have loved to see me doing marathons and triathlons.

Want somebody to do a triathlon with?  Perhaps the bike below would be helpful?  Thanks to PN for this picture.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Greenwood Lake Triathlon Race Report - My Second Triathlon

Today, 9/12/10, I did my second triathlon.  I had a blast!  I scheduled this race about 3 months ago.  Over the last week, I have been extremely fatigued due to marathon training.  I ran 14.21 miles before work on Friday morning so I could take yesterday off (the day before the tri).  That ended up being a good move, as I didn't feel fatigued at all today during or after the race (in fact, after the race, I felt refreshed, it was nice change of pace from my marathon training).  I was so tired Friday during my long run that I considered dropping out of today's race.  I'm really glad I didn't.

Triathlon Distances today - 0.5 mile swim, 17.9 mile bike, 4 mile run

I picked this race because my friend MH did this race about 6 or 7 years ago and he recommended it.  We both did the race today.  It was great - he drove and knew where to go, so I got to enjoy the ride (which was much more pleasant than driving an hour and 10 minutes north by myself).  I was up at 4:59 A.M, MH picked my up at 5:48 A.M. and we arrived at the race site around 7:00 A.M.  The race started at 8:30 A.M. and we were home by 12:30 P.M.

The weather was great today - around 60 degrees at the start of the race, water temps probably in the low 70s (that's a guess, the water felt nice).  It was cloudy and drizzled during the run, which was refreshing.

When we arrived, we registered and picked up our numbers.  Some volunteers were there to write out numbers on our shoulders.  Mine lifted up my shirt and wrote my number (138) under my short sleeve.  I told her that I was going to wear the shirt I had on for the race,  so nobody would see my number.  I asked if she wanted to write it somewhere visible.  She said no.  Did I really need the number on me in the first place?  I guess it is there in case something bad happens to me and they need to identify me.

I did no research on this race beforehand.  When I signed up, the registration said that the bike was 16 miles, but when we arrived, it said 17.9.  The rules were handwritten (see the pictures below).  I joked to my friend "you better memorize that bike and run course".  Note the rule "must have # on arms".  I failed to mention above that I was also wore a wetsuit during the swim (like almost everybody else).

Click here for the race results, which showed 153 participants.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  A shorter race, with distances sort of in the middle of a sprint and an Olympic triathlon.  The swim only had 1 wave (i.e., everybody went out at the same time).  When we arrived, I noticed that everybody had the same color swim cap (yellow).  153 people in one wave, I thought.  Oh no!  MH and I put ourselves in the middle of the pack before the race, and I was nervous about the "war" I was about to endeavor upon.  The horn went off, and the fast swimmers took off.  The water was shallow for the first 20 feet or so and extremely rocky, so I, along with everybody else, struggled to get beyond the rocks.  Once again, I thought to myself "am I going to hurt my ankle during the swim", which is what I thought for my first tri, but it turned out to be ok, I got into the deep quickly and was off.  I felt pretty good to start.  The swim course was set up like a triangle - swim out to a buoy, make a right, swim for a while, and make another right and swim to shore (all swimming clockwise).  I didn't have much pulling, kicking, bumping early on, but there was some. I figured out today that people aren't trying to bump into you, grab you, etc;, but rather, they simply have no choice - too many competitive people in a confined space all trying to get to the same place.  The water was extremely murky with a lot of seaweed, so I couldn't see anything in the water, which was a bummer.  As I had my head in the water, I thought to myself "this water is green, totally green.  I wonder if that is why they call it Greenwood Lake!"   I was able to get in a rhythm and felt ok.  I got very tired at around 200 meters and dreaded swimming the rest of the way.  I didn't panic this time, I just came up to sight and take a breath and made sure that I was moving forward.  I looked around and was keeping up with others, which was good enough for me.  I thought to myself "how the hell am I going to swim 2.4 miles in my Ironman race next year, that is really going to suck?"  There was one guy who was laying on his back in the water and using his arms to propel him forward - not a backstroke, but like a butterfly - it looked really hard to do and he was going as fast as me!  Others were doing the backstroke, some the side stroke, some the butterfly, etc.  During the bike and the run, most people look the same, but during the swim, I was really surprised by how every single swimmer I watched looked different.  I looked around a lot and saw people doing all kinds of strokes to get through the swim, probably thinking exactly what I was thinking "please let me just get through this and let the swim be over".   As I moved along in the swim, my goggles became very fogged up and I had a hard time seeing.  I should have stopped and put some water/saliva in the goggles to get rid of the fog, but I didn't want to stop.  Next time I will stop.  My swim cap also came off for about the last 200 meters and my hair is long, so that added to the fun! 

0.5 mile swim split = 22 minutes.  Unfortunately, they didn't give list out my swim place, but I suspect that I was well below the middle.  It is really amazing how the swim feels so much longer than it really is. 

Transition 1 (T1):  3:10, 104 out of 153.  I felt a little dizzy after the swim and had a tough time getting off my wetsuit and an even tougher time putting on my socks!  I took my time, but this is definitely an area I can improve in.

Bike Ride
Once I got on the bike, I felt pretty good.  Of course, right out of the transition, there was what seemed to me like a steep uphill.  Great, I thought to myself, I'm going to fall off my bike before the bike ride even starts.  I still haven't mastered clipping into my pedals, and doing it while going uphill certainly isn't my strength.  It took me 15 seconds or so to clip in and somehow I managed to stay on my bike.  My friend MH told me that the bike course wasn't bad, that it had some "rolling hills", but nothing too tough.  However, out of the gate, it sure felt hilly to me.  I didn't feel tired from the swim, but the hills made my legs feel tired, and I was struggling to get into my biking groove.  My bike also sounded like something was rubbing.  I thought to myself "maybe I didn't put my front tire on properly?".  I felt down to move the brake around and it wasn't rubbing.  I'll have to get a bike tune up to see if anything is wrong.  My Garmin watch showed me at around 15 mph for the first mile, slow for me.  I heard the mile 1 lap beep on my watch, then I heard a bunch of beeps.  WHAT?? I thought to myself.  Yes, my watch died.  I fully charged it last night, but I have been having problems with the watch, and that was that.   Great, I'll have no way to pace myself or to know my speed. While I initially thought that was a problem, I came to enjoy it.  I got into my groove and started passing a lot of bikers, and only a handful of people passed me, some of which I passed later on.  The thrill of the race was very fun, I enjoyed it very much.  Naturally, I said hello to everybody I passed and everybody said hello back.  It was very cool.  As I got farther along, I started asking people "how far have we gone?" At one point, I took a sip of Gatorade and almost crashed putting the water bottle back in place.  Overall, the course was very hilly for me.  I finished strong and felt good.  I took my friend's advice to increase my cadence for the last few miles and I stood to stretch a few times which felt good, but when I got into the transition area, my feet were numb and my glutes were tired.  My friend's Garmin watch said that there was approximately 518 feet of elevation gain during the 17.9 mile ride.  Not too bad, but not flat either.

17.9 mile Bike split = 57:25 (18.71 mph), 48 out of 153.  I was very happy with this time and feel that I can improve more here.  As I progressed, I increased my cadence and really focused on getting the most out of my pedal stroke.  I counted 30 strokes on my left leg, then 30 on my right, then 30 overall and this seemed to help make me faster.

Transition 2 (T2) - 1:27, 75 out of 153.  When I arrived to rack my bike, I aerobically felt good.  I didn't feel tired.  However, my legs and glutes were fatigued.  I changed into my shoes (I used Yankz so I didn't have to tie them), took off my heart rate monitor since my watch died, grabbed a powergel and took off.  When I looked at the clock, it said 1:24:46.  I memorized this time since I wasn't wearing a watch. 

When I started running, I really couldn't feel my feet or my legs.  It is such a weird feeling.  My glutes felt exhausted, almost exactly like they feel after a leg strengthening physical therapy workout.  Despite this feeling, I felt like I was running well, and almost immediately I started passing people.  I started talking to the first guy I passed (which was uphill) and said "any idea how fast we are running, my watch is dead?" and he said "I don't know, but you are running really fast".  I decided that I didn't need a powergel yet (I haven't been training with powergels lately as I've been trying to get my body used to being a little deprived, plus I had Gatorade during the bike so I felt ok.  In fact, I ended up running all 4 miles with the powergel in my hand, I never needed it).  So I held the powergel in my hand where I usually hold my iphone or xm radio (this race said no headphones allowed, so I had to run without music).  After about a mile, my legs loosed up and I still felt good.  I knew that I was moving pretty fast, as I continued to pass people.  There was a killer uphill early on (worse than the Harlem Hill in Central Park).  When I saw the hill, first I thought "damn, I gotta run that hill, that sucks".  Then I cursed my friend MH in my head for saying that the run course was flat, then I thought to myself "at least I'll get the benefit of running down that hill on the way back".  I continued to pass a lot of people and started to see the strong triathletes run by me on the out and back run course.  There were many Ironman athletes participating today and most of them were in front of me.    We ran into a french couple that have done over 18 ironman races (husband and wife).  I admire them.  Their son was also in the race today and has done 2 Ironmans.  Totally awesome.  As I kept running, I said hi to every single runner I ran by.  I felt strong the entire run and probably ran at about 80% effort.  I definitely had more to give but I wanted to finish the race injury free.  As I was finishing, there was a woman who looked strong at the end that I was able to catch up to and sprint by, finishing the race at 1:53:49.

4 mile run split:  29:03 (7:15 per mile), 29 out of 153.  I was very happy with this run, as I felt strong, still had more to give, and didn't get hurt.  The best 4 mile race that I have run in Central Park is 7:11 per mile (I'm sure that I could run in the high 6s if I ran a flat race), so I'm proud that I was able to come close to my PR as the run portion of a triathlon.

Overall Time:  1:53:49, 61 out of 153.  I'm very happy with this time and feel like I improved a lot from my first triathlon and still can improve in the future!  Going into this race I thought that I was a stronger biker than runner, but my times didn't support that today.  I'm excited to continue to improve my bike times and am looking into joining a masters swimming group to improve my swimming technique.

Overall, I enjoyed the race.  There were tons of volunteers and the cops did a good job directing the traffic away from us (the road were open for the bike and run).  I would like to have seen some clocks on the course and it would have been nice to see mile markers on the run course.  Overall, I would recommend this race.