Florida Challenge Triathlon Countdown Clock

Monday, August 30, 2010

Balancing Acts

Training for triathlons is tough! Not only do you have to juggle 3 different sports, but you have to make sure you don't neglect 1 (or 2) in the process. A couple years ago, I had to swim at an outdoor pool, and seeing how Flaw-da is the Lightning Capital of the world AND it rains EVERY SINGLE DAY in the summer, my swimming lagged behind my biking & running...

Then you have to work, and if you work a lot of hours or your job is stressful, your training can suffer because rest is CRUCIAL. If you don't get your rest, there's no way you can perform well...

Seeing how some of my co-workers might read this, let me say I have the BEST job in the whole wide world! (cough)

And last but certainly not least, there's the time you spend with your family. If you get too involved in work & training, etc, your home life will suffer, and an unhappy home is NOT a good thing, training or not!

So, there's the dilema. You MUST find that balance to make sure all aspects of your life are in balance and in order.

And sometimes, that means you have to make sacrifices. Even though my race is less than 2 weeks away, I made a sacrifice. The wife & I went to Orlando for a quick weekend getaway.

Tearing myself away from training is always tough for me cuz I enjoy it so much. It's been a part of my life for so long I don't know what it's like NOT to train. But I must force myself to get away sometimes. Even I need a vacation from training! lol

There's a small problem when I go on vacation. When I go, I leave EVERYTHING behind. I mean everything. I don't think about my job, bills, training, or my diet. Yep, my diet. When I go on vacation, it's party time! lol

Like I said before, my race is in less than 2 weeks. I've been ok with my diet for the last several weeks, but from Friday till yesterday it was as if I didn't know what it meant to eat healthy. I can front & say I eat good all the time, but why lie? lol

It all started Friday with a bacon double cheeseburger from Friendly's then this dee-damn-liscious chocolate brownie sundae for desert:

Then Saturday we went to see "Salt" with Angelina Jolie. GREAT MOVIE! What made it even better was the medium bag of popcorn (with a "dab" of salt) with the extra butter, and medium coke. Excellent! lol

After the movie we walked around & did some shopping. I didn't buy this hat, but now I wish I did:

If a hat don't say "Nike" or Oakland Raiders on it I don't want it! But maybe it's time to switch things up a bit & try get my "Grown & Sexy" on! lol

Then there were the 2 long island iced teas I drank while partying it up at the B.B. King Blues Club at Downtown Disney! It was a GREAT place to eat, dance & hear some good live music. Highly recommended!

The long islands were pretty good too!

Not to be outdone on Sunday, it was all about the all you can eat breakfast buffet at Ponderosa!

Look at all that delicious syrup! If I was at home I woulda licked the plate when I was done, but when in public you gotta act like you got some sense! lol

It was at this point I remembered I have a race coming up, and that I might want to start eating healthy agin. So I tried to repent and eat this crap:

I'd rather have had more sausage dipped in maple syrup, but I had to pull back! lol

All in all, we had a great time. It was really good to get away, and now I feel recharged and ready for reality. That means back to work& back to training!

Today was another vacation day forme. I usually have my long work out on Saturday, but since we were out of town I had my workout today. I went to Flatwoods and rode 49 miles. Here's a quick vid of me starting the ride:

The ride took almost 3 hours and I saw maybe 15 people the entire time.

Seeing how it was a Monday, the place was deserted:

I saw a baby deer, a wild turkey and this turtle:

The 1st 28 miles were good, but the last 21 were kinda tough cuz it was kinda windy. Actually, tougher than I would have liked. I wish I had more time to train, but I can't do anything about that. I just gotta give it my all.

Tomorrow it's back to work, and then back to the pool. Yep, my mini-vacation is over. Balancing Acts are fun. Can't wait for the next Vacation Balance!

Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beneath The Surface

I haven’t been posting much lately because I've been so busy! Yes, I've been training for the Florida Challenge Triathlon
on September 12, but I've had to sacrifice writing my blog, which sucks because I use it to track my progress...
With that said, my training has been going well. I haven't had any injuries and my energy level has been high. Instead of lifting weights twice a week I’m doing it only once.  To my pleasant surprise, I haven’t lost any strength.  I’m maintaining all my strength.  I still have a bad habit if staying up waay too late, but this is an ongoing issue that I've been dealing with since I was 7. I'll deal with it sooner or later! Lol
Lately, I've been putting a lot of emphasis on my bike & swim. I've talked about the bike constantly: I'm bad on the hills, so I have to train harder on the bike to get better.
But since this race has cutoff times, I have to make sure I finish each discipline within a specified time to continue! They haven't done this in years past, so to not finish because of a slow time is unthinkable!
That all comes back to the bike. I MUST have a strong 56 mile bike ride: a ride where I'm not worn out at the finish and can finish the 13.1 mile run in 1 piece.
A crucial aspect of that is how I START the bike, which comes back to the swim.
This sport is a challenge because you have to be good at all 3 disciplines. If you neglect 1, it'll show during the race and you'll suffer. My weakest for this course is the bike because of the hills (even though it's my fav.) As a result, I've been hitting the bike more, but I haven't neglected the swim or run.
If I neglected the swim, I could start the bike tired, and the toughness of the race is compounded dramatically. If I can start the bike feeling good, then mentally I'll feel better and possibly parlay that into a good bike and great run!
So I have been working VERY hard on my swim, specifically my form. I've been doing a lot of reading on swimming form and drills, as well ad watching swimming meets with Michael Phelps and other top stars.
Hey, if you're gonna do it, do it right by emulating the best in the business!
What I'm looking at is their form. More specifically, what they're doing UNDER the water.
All the important stuff when it comes to swimming happens beneath the surface. That's where it all happens: your speed, power, and form. It's all under water.(My friend Ster-Fry told me that years ago and I’m finally getting comfortable with the concept.) And better form equates to less energy used while swimming AND faster times...
Last night I hit Sea World to do some laps.  I call it Sea World because people can look thru the big glass windows and watch you swim while you exercise.

I really wanted to videotape myself swimming, but the gym forbids video on the premises.  I can understand, but all I wanted to do was video myself swimming a couple laps to critique my form.  But rules are rules, so all I got is this pic…lol

The trick that I’ve read countless times with the forward crawl is:
 reach out your arm to grab more water.  No short, choppy strokes.  Long & smooth
extend your stroke and have a longer glide thru the water
“grab” the water when bringing your arms thru the water
Have an “S” motion with your arms under water.
I’ve also read that it’s best to focus on form and not worry about  speed when working on the above.  I’ve been doing that all year and have seen some improvement.  I’m still the Black Turtle LOL, but I can feel my stroke improving, my glide extending, and  
 The longer your glide, the less strokes you use, and the less energy used as a result.  That’s exactly what I need when it comes to the swim.  I just want to do enough to have a decent swim.  I’m not trying to be the first outta the water.  I just want to finish the 1.2 miles feeling relaxed and ready for the bike!
Thanks to the focus on form, I can finally say I’m not the slowest in the pool at any given time.  I’ve even had people compliment me on my swimming.  Me getting compliments in the pool are about as rare as Haley’s Comet, but I’ll take them any way I can!
All in all, I’m slowly gaining confidence.  I think I’ll be ready for the race.  I’m going to keep fine tuning my swim, hitting it HARD on the bike, and have some long steadt distance runs up till about a week before the race.  At that point I will let my body rest a bit & work on the mental aspect of the race.
It’s going to be VERY tough, but I’m also going to make it fun!
Thanks for reading!  Till next time, peace!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Right Formula

My next race is FAST approaching! I can't believe it's less than a month away. Actually, I can't this YEAR is almost over. Where does all the time go???

Time is going by way to fast. When I was 15, it took FOREVER to turn 18. When I was 18, I couldn't wait to to be 21. I turned 21 & that's when time just took off! The years just clicked by!

Anyway, I have a race to get ready for so I've taken my training up another notch. I'm feeling pretty strong & I have my focus. Even though I've done this race several times before, it's VERY tough. It's tough because of the bike portion. It's all hills. It's no secret that riding over hills is my weak spot on the bike. Some people are natural climbers, but I'm not 1 of them. I think the reason is because I simply don't ride them enough and i weigh 210 pounds. The area in Florida I live is pretty flat, and the areas that DO have hills are over an hour away from where I live. Add in the fact that I don't like to ride my bike on the road and there you have it. I don't get enough hill training!

So I do what I can, and that means to ride the bridges in Clearwater over & over. I don't think I'll ever get tired of these bridges. The views are perfect!

This is a great area to train!

My training over the bridges is simple: ride up the bridge at my own tempo, ride a couple blocks, then turn around & do it again. I do that over & over to simulate rolling hills. Simple, but effective!

The most important part of my training sessions are the parts where I'm the most fatigued. When you're tired that's when your form starts to break down, you lose focus, and you slow down. This is the area that I need to work on the most. That's what seperates the champions from the rest: They know how to fight thru the fatigue and keep going strong. They can be tired, but you wouldn't know it by looking at them. Their form is perfect.

This is the area I need the most work. Yeah, I can finish a race, but I don't finish as strong as I'd like, especally on the bike sometimes. I can ride these bridges "comfortably" for 2-2.5 hours. But that last 30 minutes I really start to struggle. Again, those bridges just wear me out. That translates to at least 30- 60minutes of struggling in the actual triathlon and starting a 13 mile run with tired legs on a hit, humid day. Not a good look!

In other words, the bike is the most crucial aspect of my race. I'm comfortable with my swim. It's not the fastest, but I can swim 1.2 miles in 45-50 minutes without using too much energy. That means I start the bike feeling good, but by mile 45 I start to get really tired.

While training I don't like to wear headphones because it gives me a chance to clear my mind and to think. (It also allows me to stay aware of my surroundings to make sure I don't get jacked! That's what growing up in Chicago will do to you...lol)

But as I was riding up the bridge, I flashed back to my freshman of college. My math skills weren't up to par so I had to take a PRE_Algebra class. In other words, I had to take a high school algebra class my 1st year in college.

I was struggling the the class when the teacher said "math is all about formulas. If you can add, subtract, multiply and divide, you can do any math. Just learn the formulas and you'll be fine!"

When she said that I knew she was right! I was intimidated with math, but after she said that, I changed my thought process and math became much easier for me. I KNEW I could add & all, but was the FORMULAS that scared me. But once I broke it down that way I was able to excel. I went on & took regular algebra, calculus, statistics, and accounting courses and got a degree in Business Administration.

That 1 thought changed my whole mindset about math & I was able to overcome my mental block!

So, going back to this weekend's bike ride. I can ride the bike. I can finish the 56 miles, but not as strongly as I'd like. I had to change my FORMULA. Usually, when I ride the bridges, I ride my own tempo. I do that to save my energy. Rarely will I push it. A couple weeks ago I posted a video of my riding my indoor trainer doing an interval where I'd speed up and ride as hard as I could for 15-45 seconds.

Why don't I do that while riding the bridges? Why don't I just try ride aggressivley up a bridge for 15-45 seconds like I do on the indoor trainer? I have no clue. I do know when you train is when you're supposed to try different things & go as hard as you can to improve.

So 2 hours into my ride I decided to change my formula. Yeah, I was getting tired, but I decided to ride aggressively halfway up the bridge and see how my legs would respond. I'd stand up & pedal as hard as I could for 15 or so seconds, then sit back down & ride to the top a little faster & stronger.

To my surprise, it went well. Standing up helped me stretch my legs a bit and the speed helped me get up the bridge faster & use muscles I don't normally use. & now that I think of it, I do this same thing when walking up stairs: Sometimes I'll take them 2 at a time running, and other times I'll simply walk, 1 at a time. I can feel the difference between the 2, and I think the same applies to riding a bike uphill.

Amazing how something said to you years ago can apply to your life now. I never thought to tie that comment to my training, but it seems to work! lol

I went on to ride this way for another hour. It was VERY hot and sunny (big surprise) but I had plenty cold liquids & my electrolyte tablets.

I finished my ride in a little more than 3 hours. I was pretty tired, but changing up the ride a bit seemed to help me quite a bit. I wasn't as tired. Maybe it was mental? I don't know, but I'm going to try that again next time I ride the bridges. I really wish I would've done this months ago, but worrying about that now won't do me any good. I can always ride my indoor trainer & do the intervals!

After my ride I relaxed for maybe 30 minutes and watched the boats go by as I ate some food. Luckily I had a beach umbrella because it was HOT!

I even saw a guy in his kayak. That looks pretty cool. I'd like to try that 1 day.

My training is going great. I think if I had to do the race right now I could, but thankfully I have a couple more weeks to fine tune some things (physically AND mentally.) My run will depend on how I feel coming off the bike, and I will try get stronger over the next couple weeks. Time will tell how things will turn out, but I'm going for it and will give it 100%!

Thanks for reading! Till next time, Peace!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Larry Hoover

Larry Hoover

Hey, if Rick Ross can use him in a song, I can use him in a blog! Lol

(If you're reading this, that means I didn't get struck by lightning!)

Running in Florida is tough. Actually, It's downright brutal. What makes it tough are 3 things: the heat, the humidity, and the sun. The "Big 3" can make your life miserable.  The biggest and baddest of the 3 is the sun. When the sun comes out, it's best to run indoors or seek shelter because nothing good can come out of dealing with it too long.

So I call the sun LARRY HOOVER. Hoover was/is the leader of 1 of the biggest, deadliest, most violent  street gangs in Chicago and across the country. I have plenty BAD memories of growing up and dealing with them. When he and his boys came around, it was best to go indoors!

Saturday I went for a run. I got up as early as I could stand w/o waking up in a bad mood (8am) and was ready to run 10 or so miles. I'm NOT a morning person, so this was the best I could do! Lol

I got to Bayshore and it was already hot & humid. It was partly cloudy, but Hoover was already up, claiming his territory and causing havoc.

The weather here is weird. It can be partly cloudy, but it seems as though the clouds rarely block the sun. They may be close, but never fully cover it. Even the clouds are scared of Hoover! Lol

There was a little breezy headwind  today, so that helped me quite a bit. As I've said before, running in the Big 3 is really tough for me. It totally drains my energy. I run at half the speed (literally) of when it's 15 degrees cooler with cloud cover and no humidity. But in order to do triathlons, I have no choice but to run in the heat to prepare. 

I get really frustrated running in the heat, and moreso on partly cloudy days. You'd think the clouds would eventually cover Hoover and give you a brief relief, but most times they don't. 

So what can I do? Getting mad won't help. All that does is waste my energy. So I just keep running at a slower pace

After about 55 minutes, I get to Ballast Pointe, which is my turnaround. 
It's getting hotter out now but I try to ignore it. As I start to head back I see horses out at the horse stable across the street from the park.  I take a quick pic:

Notice it's still partly cloudy, but Hoover is still in control!

I'm about 70 minutes in and I'm really getting tired. The wind starts to pick up & I notice storm clouds coming in. Then I hear thunder in the far distance.  Next thing I know there are some clouds  right over head:

Finally! Relief! The clouds have stopped  Hoover like The Guardian Angels!   

Before I said Florida weather is weird in several ways.  Another thing about it is the rain. It can rain on 1 block and the next block be totally dry. Then there's the rain on partly cloudy days. The sun will be out to the point you need sunglasses AND an umbrella at the same time! WTF! I'm still not used to that one.

Needless to say, my run went from being in direct sunlight to running in a lighr drizzle and watching a thunderstorm come right towards me:

If you look closely, you can see the heavy rain in the distance, and I'm running towards it:

As I was running I started to get nervous: Florida is the lightning capital of the world and i'm running right into a damn thunderstorm and my car is a good 2.5 miles up the road. Sunofabiatch!!!!

There are 3 things that I don't like: lightning, the dentist, and those big a** flying roaches/palmetto bugs. I hate those things!!

Well, Hoover is now long gone, but now I'm running toward a storm and I'm PRAYING for no lightning...

I get closer and the rain picks up. It's cooler out now and to be honest, the rain feels good!

Thankfully there's no lightning and i run in a heavy rainstorm for about 15 minutes. Rain doesn't bother me at all. I've done triathlons in the rain before. Long as there's no lightning I'm straight! Lol

I finish my run in 1 hour, 55 minutes. I was soaked and pretty tired when I was done. The rainstorm came as quick as it came, and as always, the sun started to come back out as soon as it could:

Soon as you turn your back, Hoover comes  back with a vengeance!

This run reiterated something I already knew: running in the heat really wears me out, and I have much more energy when it's cloudy and cooler out. I honestly felt fresher running in the rain, an hour into my run.

I'm also making it official: I'm racing on September 12th. I know it won't ve easy, but riding on those hills won't stop me. And neither will Larry Hoover!

But I don't back down from a challenge. You only live once. Gotta make it happen!

Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace! 


Monday, August 2, 2010

My First Interview

I had my first official interview recently for my company newsletter. It was fun! It was my first, but won't be the last!!

INVEST Associate Crosses Finish Line for the Seventh Time

On Sunday, May 16, in Orlando, Florida, INVEST Virtual Sales Assistant Jeff White completed his seventh 70.3 Ironman event. More commonly known as a half-Ironman, a 70.3 Ironman consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run.

White started competing in sprint triathlon events in 1995 and since then, he has moved up to the half-Ironman distance. He finished this race in seven hours, 41 minutes and 41 seconds, one of his best times yet.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to finish a race,” said White. “Your hard work, dedication and sacrifices all pay off.”

As a runner, White was a member of his high school track team. When he was in college, White started working as a lifeguard, which meant, the only sport he had to learn before competing in triathlons was biking.

“It’s important to enjoy the journey of the training,” said White.

To prepare for a half-Ironman, White usually trains for a minimum of six months. He swims, runs and bikes 4-6 days a week. Some weeks he focuses more on one stage, while during other weeks he trains in all three. On Saturdays, White hopes to complete a long run of 10 miles or a bike ride of at least 42 miles. He will occasionally do a brick workout, which consists of an hour long bike ride followed by an hour long run. White also lifts weights and does yoga. He only added yoga to his training regimen two years ago, but says it has been one of the best things he ever tried.

During training, White has to make a lot of personal sacrifices. Not only does he spend a lot of time physically training, but he also dedicates a lot of time to recovery — letting his body rest. White often has to forego junk food or nights out with his friends to ensure his body is in top racing condition.

“During each race, I always end up asking myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’,” says White. “But once you start something, you want to finish it. I never want to wonder, ‘What if?’”
His advice to those who want to try competing in a triathlon is to start small. White recommends competing first in sprint triathlons, which consist of a 400 yard swim, a 10 mile bike and a three mile run. He also suggests going into a race with a goal of having fun, not worrying about your time.
“It’s not about how long it takes you to finish the race, it’s about finishing the race,” said White. “When you finish, it makes you want to do it again.”
One of White’s favorite parts about competing in these events is meeting great people who share his interest in triathlons. It is a very social sport and competitors are always mingling at the races.

White might participate in another half-Ironman in September, but it takes a toll on the body to participate in these intense races. White will occasionally run in a half-marathon, however, he prefers the challenge of a triathlon.
White writes a blog to document his training and races. If you’d like to follow his progress, send him an e-mail for more information.

Talk about motivation. Time to take it to the next level! Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!