Florida Challenge Triathlon Countdown Clock

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This Week at the Improv

Today was a big day for me training wise: It was my first day riding the bridges since my last race. The Florida Challenge bike course is 56 miles of rolling hills, and the only way you can really get ready riding hills is to, well, ride hills. lol

Tampa is pretty flat, so I go to the closest place I can to get some hill training, which is in Clearwater, Florida on the big bridges.

Even though I've done this race many times, I get nervous with the hills. They're my biggest challenge. I've been fortunate enough to finish this race each time I've started it, but I had trouble on the hills every race. They BURN! Towards the end of the bike, my legs hurt so bad sometimes I want to quit and go to McDonalds!! LOL But of course I never do, and that's why I like this course: It pushes me to my physical & mental limits.

There's no faking it riding uphill. When riding on a flat road, you can coast pretty much as long as you want, pedal a little bit, coast, and you'll keep moving. Same with riding on an indoor trainer. You can put out minimal effort and keep moving. Can't do that on a hill. No coasting allowed! Either keep moving or you'll literally fall over! Unfortunately that has happened to me TWICE in a race. Your legs burn, yet you MUST keep moving. The last thing you want to do is get off your bike & start walking up the hill. Mentally it demoralizes you.

Then your weight can play a factor too. You're fighting gravity: The lighter you are, the "easier" it is to go uphill. The heavier you are, the harder it is and the more energy it takes to lug your big a** uphill. Doesn't matter if it's fat or muscle. Weight is weight. But no matter how much you weigh, you gotta get your legs used to the hills!

Which brings me to my ride. The goal was to ride the bridges for 3 hours today, back & forth to simulate rolling hills. Here I am before I head out.

I'm not a Heinekin drinker, but I sure do like the jersey! lol

It was a perfect day for a bike ride! This time of year is picture perfect. I rode the 1st bridge back & forth for a little more than an hour when I stopped & took these pics:

This is the Gulf of Mexico, and straight ahead is the state of Texas, but it's too far away to see it.

I liken this type of riding to running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike, only the scenery is a little better! lol

Here's a quick video I took after I snapped the pics:


I've been coming out here for years and still can't get enough of it. Something about the water is relaxing!

All in all, the 1st part of my ride went well. I didn't have any leg problems, and to be honest, it felt as if I didn't take a 5 month layoff from riding the bridges. I rode up the bridge seated, in an easy gear, at a relaxed pace. I wasn't racing up the bridge, but I did try ride at a good speed. It takes about 90 seconds to ride up this bridge, so I try pace myself and was pleased with my effort.

After 2 more laps I took this video and rode over to the other bridge.


I park my car at this bridge so I stop for a quick minute to exchange my water bottles. This bridge is harder than the 1st, so I like to do this bridge last. Why do the hardest bridge last? It's simple: How else will I get better?

I get up the bridge & I'm feeling pretty good. At this point I've been riding almost 2 hours and feel VERY good. I'm starting to feel confident in my biking. At this point, I know my swim is on point. I'm ready for the swim. My biking is better than I anticipated. I don't have the speed yet, but I think I'll be ready for the 56 miles much sooner than I anticipated. The run is my weak link. It's the worst of the 3 at this point. I can't run 13 miles yet. MAYBE 10, but even that would be a stretch.

Anyway, after the 1st lap I notice that my bike feels funny? My rear wheel seems to be slipping from underneath me. I stop & check my tire: I got a flat! Mother-Father!! I have no idea how I got it. I didn't hit anything or roll over any glass. Who knows. Those things happen. Just gotta go with the flow!

I head back to the car to change it:

I change the tire in about 10 minutes time. I was about to finish my ride when I had a thought: why not do a quick run? You had a great ride, let's test your legs real quick? Why not?

Yeah, why not??

Sometimes a little improvisation is good! It keeps you on your toes. Besides, I had never run over here for training. A little hill running might dome some good. Besides, my run sucks right now anyway! lol So this brick might do me some good.

So, that's what I did: I did a 40 minute run/walk. I got to the top of the bridge and took these pics:

Did I mention it's Spring Break? People were OUT today! Traffic to get to the beach was backed up for MILES.

Thankfully, they have bike lanes & barriers on the bridges because I HATE riding on the road. Hit & run drivers are a major problem down here. People will hit you and keep going w/o a 2nd thought. I refuse to be a statistic, so I ride as far away from traffic as possible! Eff that!!

My total workout was 2:40 minutes. All in all, it was a great workout. The spur of the moment brick was a nice twist. My legs responded well to the change. I was tired, but not as tired as I thought I'd be.

After the ride I laid out & just relaxed and enjoyed the day:

There were a lot of people riding by on boats & jet skis from my vantage point. I wasn't on the beach, but can tell you it was jam packed with tourists & people from all over the U.S.

All in all, it was a GREAT workout. I feel really good as I type this. My legs feel good, and it was just an overall nice day. People were out just having a good time.

Next weekend I'll do another run on Bayshore. At the end of April or early May I'll do a beach run. Running on sand is TOUGH, but it'll be a great training session. Just gotta build up to it first!

Thanks for reading! Till next time, Peace!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sight Seeing

Today was a great day to go for a run, and that's exactly what I did! It was back to Bayshore for another 7 mile run. I'm still not in race shape yet, but I'm confident I will be by June. The key is to be consistent in my training and gradually increase the intensity and distances of my bike & run.

Ironically, the swim is my weakest of the 3 sports, but it's my easiest! My goal in the swim is to finish the 1.2 miles using the least amount of energy I can. That way, I can go a little harder on the bike and (hopefully) the run. People rarely win a triathlon with a great swim, but you CAN lose it with a bad one. My swim is decent, and I can swim that distance right now if I had to because I swim year round because it's great exercise.

Now the bike & run are different! lol Trying to keep up the level of fitness to be able run 13 miles and/or 56 miles year round is too much for me. Not only would I get burned out, but my knees couldn't take the pounding of the running. I do try to keep some level of fitness though: My goal is to be able to ride 40 miles at any given time, and run 7 also. If I can do that, it'll make it that much easier to get ready for races.

Thankfully, I can do that as I type this, but I can't put it all together in the same day. That's not an easy thing to do, and that's where the training comes in: Mental AND physical training. You have to be in the right frame of mind to do all 3 disciplines back to back to back. It can take up to 8 hours to finish, so the mental preparation is just as important as the physical.

To get my mind right, I like to watch old triathlons, Tour De France races, and track & field on dvd, read sports magazines and find motivational quotes. Quotes like “You are the only person in existence who can use your potential. It is an awesome responsibility.” Zig Ziglar and "In life, we choose whether or not we want to be a winner or a loser. To be a winner, we must devote time and hard work. To be a loser you do nothing, and that's exactly what you will get, nothing." ---Patrick Boles. Quotes like these really motivate me to get out there & give it 110%! I try avoid all negative thoughts, people, and actions, because all that will do is bring you down & prevent you from fulfilling your potential in anything you do...

Anyway, I had a great run today! lol It was another perfect day. There were a lot of people out& about having a good time.

I've been coming out here for years and I never get tired of it. It's quite relaxing and each time is like a new experience.


Here's a quick video I shot before I started my run:


What makes it nice is there's so much to look at while you run. You have the water (of course,) all the people, and the million dollar homes across the street:



Each house is different and some of them are VERY nice. Stopping to snap pictures of them while running won't help my training, so just take my word for it. They are nice! lol.

But what really makes Bayshore so incredible is the water itself. It's very relaxing and makes running that much easier. Running on a treadmill is boring to me (even though I do it often) but I NEVER get bored coming out here! Now I said I won't stop to take pics of the houses, but I WILL stop if I see dolphins!

There were about 5 of them, and they came right up to the seawall! It was mad cool. I HAD to stop, because I don't see them every time I come out here.


I tell ya, this beats running on the treadmill, watching old reruns of SOUL TRAIN any day! lol

After this brief 10 minute intermission, it was back to the business at hand, which was to run. Seeing the dolphins got me fired up, and I felt like I had a bit more energy. I was still running on the grass, so I was running a little slower than if I were on the concrete, but I still felt good. I get to the turnaround and take a look at the water and what do I see this time? Stingrays! Should I snap a pic? Oh what the hell, you only live once! lol

Heading back, I'm feeling really good. I feel stronger than my last run and my mind is as clear as the sky! Any stresses I had before I came out here are gone. All I'm thinking about at this point is enjoying my run as I place 1 foot in front of the other:

I finish the 7 miles in about 70 minutes or so. It's not about time right now, it's about how I feel during and after the run. I want to have good form: I want people to look at me & think I just started running, even though I've been at it for 45 minutes. Why? because that would mean my form is good AND I look strong and not tired. I'm not quite there yet, but Will be soon!

After the run I walked did my 20 minute cool down walk, then kicked my feet up and made a short video:

I like to relax a bit before I head home. What's the rush?

Besides, if I DID rush, I woulda missed this:

Kinda hard to see, but in person it's pretty cool!

Overall, it was a great run. I'm feeling stronger & my confidence is growing. I'll stay at 7 miles for a couple more weeks, then move it up a bit. By race day I'll be doing 10 mile runs, but that's a little ways off. No worries though. I'm almost there!

Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Endurance & Conditioning

The official term is "Strength & Conditioning," but right now for me it's all about building up my endurance and conditioning! That's the 1 thing I hate about the off season: you take a (much needed) break from all the hard training. It's good to do that because you need the mental and physical break. It's good to get away from it to refresh your batteries, catch up with friends, and do other things that you can't do while training. But on the flip-side, when it's time to get back into it, it takes time to get that fire back!

This is the most challenging part. You want to jump in and pick up where you left off last season, but at that point you were in peak condition because you were training consistently for months. Unfortunately, you're NOT in peak condition right now, and it can be frustrating when you want to push it, but just can't do it!

That's where I am right now, and it's going to take me some time to get back to that level. The only way to do it is by working hard, being patient, and staying focused. Today I went back to Flatwoods Park for another 42 mile bike ride. The plan was to ride a bit more aggressively than I did a couple weeks ago. The only way to truly get better at any sport is to push past your limits. This is also a mental trick I like to play with myself. When I struggle in a race, I tend to think back to the hard training I've done and use that as a confidence boost to make it through.

I decided to wearmy Marvel Comics jersey today in hopes of getting some superhuman strength!

Now some might look at my old ass wearing this jersy and think I'm crazy. (Kinda like how they were looking at me when I went to the gas station before my ride! LOL) But I don't care. If I truly cared what people thought I'd never do triathlons and go play basketball or something, but I like it, so that's all that matters! Besides, who doesn't like Marvel Comics?? lol

Today was a perfect day for a ride. Not too hot & not too cool. It was a great day to be outside! I got to the park & was ready to really push myself today.

I took a quick video before I started the ride:

What I really like about this place is I there are no cars to worry about. Hit & run drivers area real problem in the Bay area and I REFUSE to put my life in jeopardy because some a**h*le hits me and decides to leave me on the side of the road. So around the 7 mile loop I go.

I had a pretty solid ride today. My average speed for the first 21 miles (3 laps) was 19mph. I felt really strong, but at the same time, I was riding slightly above my limits. But that's OK, because that's what I wanted to do. I don't push as hard during a race because I have to conserve energy after the bike for the run.

I was able to pass quite a few people today, but I got passed by a 3 guys who were MUCH faster then me. What makes it amazing (to me) is they made it look easy! I really don't like to get passed. I take it as an insult like they said about my mother! lol But when I see that, it means that if THEY can go faster, then so can I! I just hve to keep working & trying to improve.

Back to the ride, I was feeling good at mile 21, so I decided to keep pushing to mile 35 to see how my legs would respond. I got to mile 35 and saw that I had been riding for about 1:55 minutes. I slowed down a bit from the first 21 miles but that's ok. I decided to ride hard 1 more mile to have an average speed of 18 mph for 2 hours (36miles.) At that point I shut it down and rode pretty easily to catch my breath & rest my legs.

After I ride I like to relax a bit and enjoy my surroundings while I eat another Clif Bar. There were people of all shapes & sizes out taking advantage of this perfect day:

After relaxing for a few minutes, I took another quick video:

After my walk I did my yoga stretches, ate an apple and headed home. I ate a plate of chicken fettucini with spinach on the side for my post ride meal:

All in all, I'm really happy with my ride today. If I had to keep riding I could have. I would've had to slow my pace, but that's ok. My bike endurance & conditioning is coming along nicely. It felt good to get out there and really push it. My legs are still burning as I type this, but it's OK. Some people will never understand why I like doing this, kinda like I'll never understand why some think being a wide receiver in the NFL running across the middle to catch a football is fun! lol It's all relative I guess!

I guess the key is to find something YOU like to do, not what's popular or acceptable. You gotta do what pleases you, not someone else, and doing triathlon is what pleases me! lol

I'm confident that I'll be ready for the race in June, but won't be easy because it'll be a lot hotter then. The summer heat down here is no joke but I'm getting mentally prepared for that.

Next week it's more swimming and I'll be hitting the stationary bike for some interval training. Saturday I'll do another 7 mile run at Bayshore. Maybe I'll see some dolphins! Time will tell!

Thanks for reading! Till next time, Peace!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Back to Bayshore!

Time sure is flying! Never mind the fact that I BARELY remember my 30's, lol but it's already MARCH! WTH! That means even though my race is in June, it'll be here before I know it. That means I gotta get serious about my training!

Getting ready for a race isn't like cramming for a test in college. In college you could stay up all night the night before, stuffing your brain with crap you'll forget 5 minutes after the test. Can't do that with racing. It takes MONTHS to prepare. It seems like every day counts when getting ready for a race. The reason being is it takes time for your body to recover from hard training sessions, and it takes time for your body to adapt and be able to handle harder & harder workouts.

I've noticed that it takes my body a little longer to recover between workouts now too. Thru (often times painful) trial and error over the years, I've discovered the fine line between training really hard and not going over that line and over-training and hurting myself. I know when to take a day off from training now and not feel guilty about it. My body tells me what it can & can't handle, & I listen! lol I also know how to stay in decent shape in the offseason, so when it's time to hit it hard, my body doesn't go into shock. lol With that said, it was time for my first "real" run of the year, and that meant going back to Bayshore.

I don't hide my preference for running outside over the treadmill. I find it easier to run from point "A" to point "B" as opposed to staring at a digital readout on the treadmill. But even with that said, the treadmill has been a lifesaver for me because of sight knee problems. If I didn't have a treadmill, I know for a fact that my knees would've been shot years ago & I wouldn't be able to run at all...

So even though I don't run outside as much as I used to, I still love it, and I make those runs count by going to 1 of my favorite places to run:

Bayshore runs alongside Tampa Bay, and the running path is uniterrupted for 3.5miles. No streets to cross or anything. Perfect for runners, bikers, and rollebladers! I always carry water with me on my runs, because it can get really hot here in Florida, and the last thing you want is to have a problem and be stranded with no water:

I had been looking forward to this run with nervous anticipation all week, and was really curious to see what type of condition I was in, and how my new shoes would hold up. Here's a quick video I took before starting the run:

In high school,I was running quick 6 minute miles. 20 years and 40 pounds later, I can run 7 minute miles for a little while if it were a life & death situation, lol but now I'm cruising between 8-9 minute miles when I'm at my best. Today, I wasn't at my best. This was a fact finding run. I'm simply trying to build up my conditioning, while saving my knees. That means running on the grass, which also means running a little slower:

I'm competitive, but not to the point I want to be the fastest person on Bayshore. I'll save that for the actual races. No need for me to try set a Bayshore record today, only to be limping for the next 3-4! (I guess that makes me a part time competitor?) lol With that said, it's all about the "home run trot" today. Ever see someone hit a home run & causally jog around the bases? That's how I was jogging today. Not a care in the world, just chillin! lol

The cloud cover & breeze made for a great run. I worked up a good sweat but didn't overheat or get too uncomfortable. At the halfway point of my run (about 35 minutes in)- I start the slow jog back:

I was hoping to see some dolphins today, but no such luck. Just water as grey as the skies:

I'm not complaining though, cuz it was still a great day! I ended up finishing my 7 miles in about 70 minutes, with a 15 minute walk cooldown. It was a good first run back, but I still have a lot of work to do. Running on grass is harder for me, cuz I feel it slows me down. But that's no excuse because I couldn't have run much faster on the concrete anyway! LOL Luckily I have time to get things in order! Here's a quick vid I took after the run:

Like I said before, cramming for a big race is impossible. It takes time to prepare mentally & physically for the big day. I'm not ready to race for 7 hours YET, but that's where my training & even writing this blog come in. It's all helping me get my mind right so when they day does arrive, I'll be ready to go.

Also, even though today's run was a tad slow & a tad tougher than I would've liked, mentally it's a victory because I know I can still run 7 miles. So next time I run I'll have that confidence in knowing not only can I make it, and I might want to increase my pace on mile 5 or 6 if I want. If it gets too tough, I can simply slow down. That's why you train: To see what you can & can't do!

After I kicked my feet up, ate my Clif Bar and relaxed for a few,

It was time to head home and eat. I ate an apple on the way home and then a meal of baked fish, yellow rice, mixed veggies, and 100% cranberry & apple juice blend.

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My triathlon training is now in full swing! The fire has been lit like the Olympic Torch I'm ready now to really hit it hard! Who knows what this year's journey will hold? I don't know, but I'm ready to find out! Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace! :)