Monthly Archives: June 2013

TU: Back to Basics

It’s a good thing school is done with because it has been one heck of a week at work. Seriously, I can’t remember of rough set of days like this since residency. But that is how life in medicine rolls. If I had some esoteric paper to do on the side, I think I would be writing this from the state mental hospital.

Training wise, things are slowly picking up again after Seattle. The run is going better than usual. Still mixing up with three runs a week: intervals, tempo, and distance. My intervals, which I keep around 6:30-6:40 are much more comfortable than they were a few months ago. I would say it has moved from “root canal” to “teeth cleaning” on the pain level scale. Today, I did a five mile tempo while pushing a jogging stroller around. That hurt plenty, even though I was only clicking along at 7:30-7:40. I blame the stroller. Last week’s six mile tempo felt much faster. I say felt as my Garmin 910 has lately not been so great at picking up satellites lately. Grrrrrrr. Tomorrow it will be another 9-10 miles with the stroller.

Cycling is hanging in there. I’ve definitely lost some fitness off my FTP. Last Sunday, I went back to my go to Trainer Road ride of Goethe: 4X10’ right at FTP. Felt decent. I tried to follow this up with Huxley and that ended disastrously.

OW.

OW

After a day of rest from both cycling and running, I was able to bounce back with another run of Goethe, this time recorded through my 910 only as I left my USB Garmin stick at work:

Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 8.56.37 PM

Swim wise, I’m all over the place. Some days are great, with me clicking along at 1:32 and feeling great. Lately, I have been hovering more between 1:36-1:38 for my longer sets and 1:34 for the shorter sets. This is so frustrating, especially as I have been swimming more. I just don’t feel smooth. I’ve been off the Tri Swim Pro plan for a while, so I think it’s time for me to restart with the basics again. At this point, I will probably wait until after next week’s Olympic triathlon though.

To top off the waxes and wanes of my swim, I ran into a little issue with my wetsuit during my first open water swim of the season last weekend:

Well there's ya problem!

Well there’s ya problem!

No, it’s not what you think. Actually, oddly enough, I’ve lost a little more weight recently. I was apparently too eager to get in the water that morning and I rushed while pulling on my wetsuit for the first time this year. It was destined to happen, and I’m grateful my neoprene, full body condom lasted three years.  Since then, I have ordered and received an Orca Sonar wetsuit from Trisports. Unfortunately, getting a wetsuit that fits right is about as easy as making it through the DMV in less than 2 hours and I had to send it back. I’m now waiting for a 2XU A:1. I had a 2XU Elite previously and that fit well. I’m crossing my “fingers-with-way-too-short-nails-so-I-can-get-a-refund” that this one fits right.

Next week, it’s my favorite race of the season. I’m heading down to Helena for the Spring Meadow Triathlon. The bike course is right up my alley: uphill and into the wind half of the way out, and super fast on the way back. That plus a two loop swim and run makes it fun for all. Plus, its in the same town as Lewis and Clark and Blackfoot Brewery, so no matter how the day starts, it will certainly end well! Hopefully this time I wont break an ankle.

Weather wise, things are also finally looking in my favor. We are “baking” under the west coast heat wave today….which means its 84 degrees and my beer is getting a warmer faster than usual on the patio right now. In all honesty though, it is supposed to be up to 100 on Tuesday or Monday, and for Montana, that is a huge scorcher. The snow might actually all melt from the mountains this year. The plus of this is that it is forecasting for sunny skies and mid 80’s on race days. After the two wind and rain ravaged races this year, I am more excited than George Takei this week.

On a side note, I recently was planning on doing the climb up to Big Mountain Ski Resort. As I prepped my bike, I realized that I had not changed out my carbon brake pads after putting my aluminum training wheels back on. My first thought was, “meh, how important could it be.” Then I remembered that the last time I said that I ended up in grad school for two years. So, I decided to research a little. Apparently, using carbon brake pads on aluminum isn’t great for actually stopping. It is great for picking up aluminum flecks in the pad and then subsequently gouging your carbon race rims. Sounded silly and like salesman talk…until I changed my pads out today:

My carbon brake pad after two rides on aluminum rims. I've already picked some metal flecks out of those two gouges.

My carbon brake pad after two rides on aluminum rims. I’ve already picked some metal flecks out of those two gouges.

Finally, there is a slight change of plans for Ironman next year. There I was, credit card in hand, all ready to sign up for Coeur d’alene on Monday last week. That was until I realized that next year’s race is the day after my wedding anniversary. Not even this triathlete has enough spousal approval units to pull that one off. So, it’s a no go. I also considered Boulder, but I don’t think I can commit to that yet. So right now, it’s between Lake Tahoe or Arizona. Let’s see how this summer rolls out first.

One more thing, if anyone needs a wetsuit, there is a pretty good sale at Trisports going on right now. Also, don’t forget, you can enter IRONVAN as  a coupon code and get 15% off regular items. Happy hunting!

PS: This is happening right now on the Le Tour. Crazy.

The 100th tour still has some surprises.

The 100th tour still has some surprises.

Roll’em Up!

11

During my last post, I chronicled my excitement over finishing my last class in grad school and the subsequent liberation of time. Since then, I’m happy to say that I have taken grad school to the symbolic finisher’s chute: graduation.

TADA!

TADA! Master of Public Health in hand.

In many ways, the event was quite similar to finishing an Ironman. I was secretly obsessed with finishing fast and furious, there was plenty of chaffing from my robes, and there was a LOT of pizza and beer following the event.

Great friends trade great beer. I will miss you all.

Great friends trade great beer. I will miss you all.

It’s been a while since I have been in a grad ceremony, and it was a truly wonderful day. It was even better to have my parents and family there by my side.

Since my kiddos and wife have been land locked in Montana since at least the last glacier flow, I decided to take a few days off work for a relaxing vacation in the city. Of course, the concept of a relaxing vacation with four kids in a hotel room is as logical as a k-tape for hemorrhoids.  Yet, I figured with having left my family fatherless more times than I want to remember over the last two years, it was my time to pay them back. So for a good three days, I traded swimming, cycling, and running for strollering, sightseeing, and restraunting.

I even contributed to the gum wall.

However, in true endurance athlete style, we vacationed the crap out of Seattle. Space needle. Done. Pike Market. Done twice. Shopping. With the way my credit card statement looks, I don’t know if I can say “done” yet. One of the best moments was taking my youngest to the Seattle Aquarium. Personally, I love aquariums, and apparently this fascination runs in the family. There is nothing better than seeing the expression of pure wonder and amazement from an infant. He was especially enthralled with Hawaiian fish exhibit. Maybe a good sign?

Aquariums. Like the Craig Alexander of museums.

Aquariums. Like the Craig Alexander of museums.

As always, Seattle was greatly accommodating, and I want to give a couple of shout outs. First, the Grand Hyatt was amazing again. If you have little kids, I highly recommend one of the executive suites; it certainly fills the primary needs of family’s: multiple potties, space to run, TV’s, and good time out spots.

For our celebration dinner, we looked hard to find a small private room in the city. Our search ended with Blueacre Seafood. The owner, who is an avid fly fisherman and thus naturally already awesome, personally and promptly responded to our inquiries for a quiet nook to enjoy dinner with the children, and they offered us their incredible Blue Marlin Room. The owner also runs the famous Steelhead Diner near the market, and the food was incredible. We enjoyed an amazing spread of raw oysters. I also sampled an exciting dish called “Viking herring” and followed this with a perfect swordfish. All under the careful attention of the chef himself. If you need a restaurant that welcomes families and has incredible eats also, I can’t recommend Blueacre enough.

Viking herring at Blueacre Seafood.

Viking herring at Blueacre Seafood.

Finally, we saved a boatload of money by using the City Pass. Normally, I am skeptical of such combo purchases, but I left all hesitation behind when I got to skip the ginormous line for tickets at the Space Needle.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. After completing the eight-hour drive back from Seattle in the mini-van, I just couldn’t wait to get back to my desk at the office, even though it looked like someone had tried to build a fort out of charts on it. In my opinion, this is a tell-tale sign of a good vacation.

Yes, I was eager to get back to this.

Yes, I was eager to get back to this.

Naturally, after taking four days off from any exercise, my body needed to be chiseled back out of stiffness. I put in a surprisingly fun and smooth seven mile run the morning after I got back.  Unfortunately, I ended up getting a nasty blister and it looks like it’s time for some new shoes. I also got in a swim and everything still seems great there.

I was pretty anxious about my cycling ability, as I have not been paying attention to this discipline as much lately. I have been thinking about dropping my FTP a little to reflect this, but I decided to stick with what I got for today’s workout.

OW.

OW.

While it went better than expected, today was fairly painful. And, as per protocol, I have come down with the post travel hellish cold, and this workout has left me on the couch with a fever. Oh well. Pass the OJ.

After finishing up school, I have already developed a sense of “now what.” I mean of course, I am concentrating on my family and work more, which is greatly rewarding. But, everyone knows that endurance athletes need finish lines to chase in life. As luck would have it, a visit to a familiar beach in Coeur d’Alene during a drive break this weekend provided the next to answer to my persistent question.

Coeur d’Alene 2014, here I come. Either that or law school.

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