Category Archives: Swimming

To Be, Or Not To Be

That is the question. The answer? Elusive. Soliloquies aside, Shakespeare may have been describing my training this week as opposed to the suicidal ramblings of Hamlet. Who knew he had an interest in triathlon? Now that we’ve exhausted the extent of the literary knowledge I’ve retained from high school, let’s talk training. Or lack thereof.

This week began with good intentions. After the half-marathon on Sunday, I was looking forward to some time off my feet and in the pool come Monday. I went through the normal motions of gathering all of my gear (which seems to double, week after week), driving to the gym and walking all the way to the pool. There are few things more annoying than showing up to said pool and finding out that it’s closed. I stood there with my head pressed against the cool glass of the locked door that separated me from six lanes of unobstructed lap-swim bliss. I slowly turned around and made my way to the nearest window, the Jaws music playing in my head. I knew my fate. The outdoor pool opened last weekend and that only meant one thing: college students+outdoor pool+no class= …

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I felt angry. I felt embittered. I felt… Okay, maybe I didn’t feel any of those things, but I was definitely not getting in my swim workout. I looked at the tanned frat guys with sculpted bodies, many of whom I’m certain couldn’t string together 3 miles to make a 5K, and most of whom I’m certain couldn’t swim more than a lap (I know, I know, people in glass houses…). Meanwhile, I workout 6-7 days a week and I’m over here making sure my swimsuit isn’t squeezing my hip chub too much. Let’s focus here, though. Self-image issues aside, I looked at the tiny three lane lap pool reserved for lap swimming and noted the mass of fraternity guys with the feet dangling off the wall into the water. Wouldn’t want those Wayfarers to get wet, now would we? I walked away dejected, knowing that another workout would go unfinished due to those darn good-looking frat guys without awkward triathlon tan lines. Ah, the life.

Wednesday would be better, no doubt. I left thinking this positive message to myself and went home to outline my half-marathon training plan for the Fort Worth Jalapeño Half-Marathon at the end of June. With about nine weeks to train, I outlined a plan that is loosely derived from the Hanson’s Marathon Method, which I’m using to prepare for the Kansas City Marathon in October. It’s not training, but it’s thinking about training, so I chalked it up to a day well spent.

After a run Tuesday afternoon, followed by another on Wednesday, I made my way back to the Colvin Pool. This time I called in advance to make sure that the indoor pool would be open upon my arrival like it was supposed to be. I was told by the perky girl at the front desk that it was indeed. I walked past it. Lights on, lanes open. Good to go, as they say. I showered and changed and made my way to entrance to the pool from the men’s locker room. I pushed on the door first with my hand and shortly thereafter, my face when it didn’t budge. I stood there dumbfounded. “I must’ve pushed on the wrong side of the door.” I tried again. Nope. I backed up. “Maybe it’s stuck.” I walked towards it again, arm outstretched like some sort of shirtless linebacker. Nope. Not stuck. Closed. Again. After considering trying my hand at lock-picking, I gave up. It was not to be.

That’s my segue, and also the end of my depressing story. All this is to say that sometimes training doesn’t go the way you expect it to. There are days where you have to accept or decide, that it just wasn’t meant to be. Next week I will be back in Oklahoma City (read: I’m graduating college this weekend and will be moving back home with my parents until such time that: a. I find a job and can support myself. Or b. Get married and move to Kansas City in July.). This means my training should be more consistent since Oklahoma City has much better places to ride and a plethora of lap-swim pools sans frat guys. Here’s to more consistent training. And a successful job search.

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Birthday Wishes

Well it’s that time of year again. The time of year when the majority of us are either rushing to file our taxes or (for the procrastinators) an extension. Tax season seems to predispose people to stress and anxiety. To me though, it’s always had a different connotation: excitement. Yes, the mid-April deadline happens to be my birthday. Ironically enough, I was born on April 15th to two accountants… Yet somehow I still suck at math. Oh well. Luckily for me, that’s why there’s calculators and TurboTax.

This week was busy, both with school and exercise. Here’s a breakdown of last week’s workouts:

Monday: 1 mile swim-43 minutes

Tuesday: 60 minute spin, 30 minute run

Wednesday: 1 mile swim-40 minutes

Thursday: 60 minute interval run

Saturday: 11 mile run

Sunday: 120 minute Z2 bike, 30 minute Z2 run

The weekend didn’t offer much of a break in the way of exercise, but it was great to be home with my family. Saturday evening we went out to celebrate at my favorite pizza place in Oklahoma City, Upper Crust. Since my focus has shifted a great deal since last year, so did my wish list. I’ve been drooling over the Garmin Forerunner 910XT for the last four months. (Seriously, The Fiancee can attest: it’s become a bit of a problem.) To my elation, with the help of my parents, The Fiancee, and my soon-to-be in-laws, I got one!

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It actually worked out perfectly because today I had another brick. 120 minute Z2 bike, followed by a 30 minute Z2 run. It was perfectly clear and just the right temperature. Unfortunately, after turning south I was greeted with an extremely stiff south wind. Again. It’s becoming such a common theme I’m considering creating a new category on my website for it. Today the winds were sustained at 20mph and gusting to 38mph. Not the best conditions for a bike ride, but I had a new toy to play with, so nothing was going to stop me.

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I started out heading north and felt like the fastest cyclist alive, only to turn south and feel like I was trying to tow a car. It was a great workout and it was wonderful to be on a relatively flat course. I completed 30.29 miles in 1:49:22 averaging 16.6 mph. I was slightly disappointed with my speed, but with a wind that strong, there wasn’t much I could do. You can definitely tell the areas I was heading north (with the wind) and south (into the wind). Also, note the elevation graph which is much more my speed (sorry, couldn’t avoid that one) and definitely closer to my mediocre level of ability. I’m looking at you Ride from Hell.

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After the ride, I slipped into my running shoes. I purchased some Lock Laces last week and they have been a godsend. I highly recommend them. They are one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve your transition time. I was concerned that my heel would slide out of the shoe given the elasticity of the “laces”, but they are the perfect tension.

I had to smile as I switched sports on my new Garmin. It was effortless and made everything so much easier. My goal was to stay under 8:00/mile for the duration of the run. It was difficult with wind and after the ride, but I managed to squeeze out 3.82 miles in exactly 30:00 averaging 7:51/mile. A successful day of training and a great way to end the 5th week of my program.

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This weekend was extremely busy for The Fiancee and myself. Saturday morning I elected to run The Fiancee’s long run with her (since I’ve done absolutely no training for the half marathon in two weeks since my triathlon program began). It was an 11 mile run and the weather was perfect. I took the opportunity to take some photographs and just enjoy my favorite discipline. The trail around Lake Hefner is really pretty in some places.

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If you’re in Oklahoma City for any length of time, you’ll likely see the lighthouse below either in a picture or on the news. It’s kind of a cool spot and makes for great pictures.

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The Fiancee and I went to New York City in December (that’s actually where I asked her to marry me). It was absolutely one of my favorite places I’ve ever been. The number of buildings was incredible. Behold New York City’s antithesis: Oklahoma City.

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I love it, but it’s flat largely uninteresting. Although, that makes it great for training. After completing her run we completed some wedding obligations and then went to my birthday dinner with my family. It was a great weekend that went by way too quickly. I hope everyone had a safe and productive week!

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Lately

Time flies when you’re having fun. The old adage needs a footnote. Fun, or training for a triathlon. I haven’t added up the number of hours I’ve been training every week, but I’d be willing to bet it rivals the hours I work at my part-time job. Sometimes I wake up in the mornings, instantly transported back to the height of my marathon training last fall. Constantly tired, constantly sore, and constantly hungry (more on this point later). I think it’s an act of God that I haven’t been injured yet through the course of my training because let’s be honest, as I sit here writing this post stuffing my face with a muffin the size of a softball, I know it’s not my physique getting me through these workouts.

Over the past week or so I’ve stuck to the 12 Week Olympic Triathlon Training Plan I outlined a while back, with only one modification. Before discussing what hasn’t worked though, let’s discuss improvements. In my last post, I semi-jokingly (mostly seriously), asked how on earth one goes about increasing swimming stamina and endurance. This walrus is seriously in need of a few pointers from a dolphin (heck, I’ll take trout at this point). Since then though, I’ve made a few improvements. Wednesday I swam a mile in 43 minutes. A full 17 minutes faster than when I started. I’m sure I could shave 5 more minutes off this time if I cut out the breaks every two laps or could learn to flip-turn without making the lifeguard think I was having a seizure at the end of the pool. One thing at a time though.

Running hasn’t provided too many surprises as of late. Thursday I had a 60 minute speed workout and I ran my fastest 10K ever (46:15), which I was extremely happy about. Speaking of 10K’s, I signed up for one that takes place in two weeks here in Stillwater. My goal is to finish in under 47:00 which seems completely doable. There was also a 5K here yesterday to support the OSU Triathlon Team, which I came extremely close to doing, but couldn’t figure out a way to work it into my brick. Let me tell you about this race: First of all, this was basically the most amazing race I’ve ever heard of. After every mile you had to eat a donut (doughnut? That war still rages on inside my grammatically fixated mind…). Essentially it combined two of my favorite activities: running and stuffing my face with as much fried, sugar covered, dough as possible. The Fiancee and my parents can vouch for the fact that if someone was driving in front of me with almost any type of food, I could bust out some sub 5 minute miles (Note: this has never been scientifically tested, but I’m open to it). Unfortunately, I had a 3 hour brick to do.

Which brings us to yesterday, a 150 minute Z2 bike followed by a 30 minute Z2 run. For those of you who aren’t familiar with small Oklahoma towns, I would probably have to cycle around the entire city 30 times to get that kind of time in on the bike. So me being me, I decided to hop on trusty Highway 51 and do a simple 24 miles out and 24 back. A few cyclists use Highway 51 because it has large shoulders and is reasonably straight and seemed only moderately hilly. “Seemed” being the key word there. The thing to realize about Oklahoma is that once you’re East of I-35 the landscape changes from unbelievably flat to moderately hilly. Without considering this fact I blindly headed east towards Tulsa. This is when things got interesting.

Below is the elevation graph for the duration of my ride. For any readers who routinely climb thousands of feet every ride and then get off at the top of the hill only to say, “Let’s do that again!” Let me complain for a moment: The lowest point on this graph is 790 feet. The highest is just over 1000 feet, but the stupid dang road had you do it over and over and over again. The most I’ve ever climbed on a given ride is just over 500 feet. On this route I climbed 1,655 feet. Oh, and add in the fact that the winds were gusting to 28 mph yesterday straight into my face on the way home. It turned what was supposed to be a 2.5 hour ride into 5 minutes shy of 3 hours.

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As I dragged myself back into town after the ride from hell, I found I was having trouble keeping down the GU packet I’d eaten at half way and the GU Brew I’d been sipping on. When I got home I collapsed on the floor of my apartment burnt to a crisp physically and mentally. I was extremely dehydrated and was definitely feeling it. I laid there for probably half an hour taking in as much water as I could stomach. After I while I had the strength to kick off my cycling shoes and shower off. This was my first experience with dehydration during exercise and I was determined never to let it happen again. Coming from a running background, I had no idea how much you should consume while cycling. After a little research I found that it’s generally recommended to drink about 28 oz. per hour of cycling. I had just completed 3 hours with one 25 oz. bottle of GU Brew. Not my finest hour(s).

Needless to say, the brick didn’t happen yesterday. I think part of being a good endurance athlete is knowing when to push and when to say enough is enough. My body had been through enough so I didn’t push it. I joke a lot on my blog because I like to keep things light. My intention with this story wasn’t to highlight my own ignorance (although I think that came through pretty glaringly), but to caution any other new cyclists/triathletes to consider proper hydration. Just because it’s low impact doesn’t mean you can forget hydration.

Lastly, I thought I would share some of my favorite shots from last month. Most of these were over Spring Break in Oklahoma City. I caught the below picture while cycling one morning. Couldn’t have been more perfect!

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The Golden was happy that we were on Spring Break too. That meant more time at the dog park!
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The dog park has a lake that the dogs can swim in. We couldn’t get Brinkley to stop swimming. Maybe I should take some lessons from him. He does two out of the three sports right?

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Spring time in Oklahoma means one thing: storm season. I snapped this picture of a severe thunderstorm that was passing about 30 miles south of us. Nothing can quite capture how massive these things are.

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Hopefully everyone’s training has been going well. Remember to take some time to relax and in the words of The Most Interesting Man in the World: Stay thirsty my friends.

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Different Strokes for Different Folks: Day 41

I said transparency was my goal for this blog, but I have a confession: I’m worried. Why am I worried? Well that conversation could take up an entire day, so let’s stay focused here. I began this triathlon training more concerned with my time on the bike than anything else. The run didn’t concern me, considering my background. And for some reason, some stupid pompous reason, the swim didn’t concern me at all. I’ve always been a capable swimmer. I’ve easily swam from the diving board to the side of the pool. Had no problem swimming from the end of the water-slide to the nearest food cart. And certainly didn’t have any trouble swimming to the shore of a river after spotting a water moccasin (incidentally, probably my fastest 25 yard split ever).Well after my first three swim workouts, I’m not sure I could rub them together to make a mile between them. Seriously swimmers, how do you do it? My naiveté may be showing, but I figured that aerobic fitness was aerobic fitness. I could run a marathon so, heck, I should be able to swim a good distance, right? Wrong. Very wrong. Here’s how workout one went. I push-off the wall, feeling strong and like a shorter version of Michael Phelps. 20 seconds later I’m clinging to the opposite side of the pool for dear life gasping for air. I repeated this sad process 15 more times, got out of the pool trying to salvage what was left of my dignity and (surprisingly) was able to make it to the locker room.

Workout two must have heard my struggles from workout one and invited a larger audience to watch the spectacle. I couldn’t shake the image of the life guard watching me and thinking to himself a Herbert Morrison-esque “OH THE HUMANITY”. More likely he was prepping his lifeguard noodle and taking off his flip-flops. I’m sure he thought he was going to have to drag my sorry butt out of the pool.

With workout three I was determined. I was better than this. I could beat this sport. I was going to swim farther than I’d ever swam before. Well, mission accomplished. I made it down and back before stopping to gulp down air instead of water. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “What kind of idiot would sign up for a triathlon and can’t swim more than a lap?” This one. This one would.

If I wasn’t so crunched for time, I’d find the situation humorous. Yesterday, I managed to flail out 36 laps (totalling one mile) in one hour. An hour! A far cry from my 25:00 goal time. Although yesterday’s swim workout was an improvement over the first three workouts, the thought of swimming 1500 yards non-stop in June seems insurmountable. So my question is, how did you all get started swimming and how long did it take for you to build up any sort of endurance? Or am I just doomed to be the only triathlete wishing for a wall every 50 yards?

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Tale of Two Cities: Day 29

What is there to say about the last 10 days? A lot. And yet, not much. I’ll spare you the Chales Dickens-esque introduction I had planned, but suffice it to say, the last week and a half has been busy. And yet, I don’t feel like much has been accomplished. In my last post I discussed being sick and what can be done about it. I’m not ashamed to say that I found solace at the bottom of a bottle during that time. A bottle of Dayquil, that is. And Nyquil. Yes, by the time my ailment had run its course, I had downed an entire bottle of Dayquil and put a significant dent in the Nyquil. I was sick from last Monday to last Saturday/Sunday. Saturday, I felt decent enough to accompany The Fiancee on her weekly long run, but not without a virtual cocktail of over-the-counter medications. This “cold” was absolutely one of the worst I’ve ever had. Sunday, I awoke feeling better, which was a good thing because this week was extremely taxing on my time and exercise commitments.

Without further ado, let’s catch up shall we?

Monday: My 12 week training program for my Olympic Triathlon started. I didn’t. Why not? Because Stillwater doesn’t sell bathing suits. Blame my poor planning or blame the town whose primary source of income is Sirloin Stockade and parking citations. Take your pick. In either event, I was unable to complete my first 45 minute swim workout. No matter though, I was scheduled to go to Oklahoma City the next day for wedding obligations. I’d pick one up then.

Tuesday: My phone went off at 5:45 AM. The Fiancee. Wake-up call. I’m not going to say that I was unhappy to hear her voice, but let’s be honest, no one can be happy about much that early. After some confused looks from The Golden wondering why we weren’t going to sleep another 4 hours, I was out the door. My workout on Tuesday was my first brick. A 60 minute cycling session followed by a quick transition to a 20 minute run. I didn’t make the 6 AM Spin Class so I created my own workout. After a warm-up, I focused on intervals which increased in, well, interval. I followed up the interval training with some hill work, followed up by another interval session. After a 10 minute cool down period I was off. I felt pretty decent coming off the bike, which was encouraging considering my last experience. I completed 2.5 miles in 20 minutes, averaging about 8:00/mile. After returning home, it was off to the airport, followed by class and work. After work, The Fiancee and I made the trip down to Oklahoma City to pick the food menu for our wedding. While we were there I thought I’d swing by somewhere and pick up a bathing suit. I left The Fiancee and The Golden in the car and ran inside. As I enter the fitting rooms, I get a call. It was The Fiancee. Apparently, there was smoke coming out of the car. Now, I’m no mechanic, but I was blessed with enough common sense to off-set this deficiency. I raced through checkout and out to the car. I see both The Golden and The Fiancee starring at me pitifully while steam pours from under the hood. I suppose I really should learn my lesson about leaving time for the unexpected. Oh well. We arrived half an hour late to our catering tasting, but the important fact was that we’d made it. And I got a bathing suit.

Wednesday: Wednesday offered no surprises, thankfully. My workout consisted of a 60 minute core strengthening session. Then it was off to bed at a semi-reasonable time.

Thursday: 616 words later we’ve made it to today. It was another early morning this morning, but what a great morning it was.

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I arrived at the pool (armed with my swimsuit that was paid for with the blood of my car) around 6:30 AM. After a 45 minute swim session it was on to a 60 minute interval run. This is the longest interval workout I’ve ever attempted. I didn’t feel that 1 minute sprints were sustainable for that amount of time so I modified my workout a bit. I began with a 10 minute warm-up between 8:00-8:30/mile. That was followed by a 5 minute “run” between 7:00-7:30/mile. I included a 5 minute rest period between each run segment which targeted 7:45-8:00/mile. I repeated this four times and concluded with a 10 minute cool down. Over the course of 60 minutes I completed 7.6 miles with an average pace of 7:53/mile. I was very pleased with this considering the two workouts were so close together. Below is the pace/elevation graph. As you can see, the workout(s) really hit me during the cool down period.

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My mile splits are listed in the table below.

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All in all, I’ve been extremely pleased with my training thus far. This is the first triathlon I’ve trained for and it’s great (to some extent) to have those sore muscles back after a few months of easier workouts. I’m really looking forward to improving my swim technique and sharing my improvements throughout the course of my training.

Tonight, the training didn’t stop. The Fiancée and I participated in a 5K Glow Run on campus. It was great running with friends and getting to participate in another race.

photoWith a 45 minute swim and almost 11 miles under my belt for the day, I’m happy to call it a night. Saturday is my next brick, consisting of a 120 minute bike followed by a 30 minute run. Expect some pictures and some new data as I go on my first “official” training ride!

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