Getting Back onto the Triathlon Start Line: The Interval Run


Being outside of true triathlon performance for so long is a heart wrenching thought.  From my prime in 2009, I have seriously degraded in my ability to run, bike, and swim.  It makes me sad, but the thought of recapturing my prime drives me on.

Getting Back Into Running

I recently restarted my run workouts after focusing solely on bike workouts.  After cycling religiously three times a week for the past few weeks, it felt great this week to get off the bike and back on my own two feet.

The Interval Workout

This week focused on three run workouts.  While they were short, they are the beginning of a new chapter.  The first two runs were really walks, two miles long and at roughly 18:00 pace each.  Not blistering speed by any means, but even the Road Runner started slow…  I hope.

The third run was the most interesting.  While the SmartCoach app suggested a slightly faster pace, I decided to shake it up with a much faster paced, interval run.  I ran quarter mile (0.25mi) segments, alternating running and walking.  The first interval felt great.  The second, a little worse, and the final two challenging.

Running Form is Important

During the last two intervals, I focused not on run pace but run technique.  I remember an old coach who told me to run from the hip.  Run the hip???  Yep.  Running from the hip means you straighten your back and lean forward to the point you have to take a step or fall forward. You basically let gravity help move you forward as you step and push off the pavement with the ball of the foot.   Once you lean forward and get your feet in sync, the speed comes on fast and you really feel more like gliding as opposed to doing squats every time you step.

Even Slow Can Feel Awesome

At the end of the two mile workout, I managed to shave about three minutes off my pace, down to about 15:00 pace for the combined workout.  It felt great to get the blood moving along with the knees and feet.  While few people would every brag about a 15:00 pace run at two miles, when you have been away for so long, even slow feels awesome.

Keeping the Flame Alive


Fire.  It is inside every triathlete. It is what makes us jump into freezing water.  It is what makes us ride 112 miles and then run a marathon!

As strong as the Fire can be, it is also quite delicate.  The Fire can spit, cough and even die out.  When it does, we don’t do the crazy things that triathletes should do.

Here are some quick tips on keeping the Fire alive and well inside you:

  • Track your workouts closely, paying attention to intensity
  • Listen to your body and giving yourself a day off
  • Have a regular yoga session in your weekly routine
  • Hang out with the right people and DON’T listen the over competitive professional wanna-bes out there
  • Eat the right food when you need it, if that means a few bits of ice cream on occasion, so be it
  • Never be afraid to question your coach, sometimes they are driven by testosterone than the good of their athlete
  • Spice up the routine, switch cycling and swimming days
  • Try a new route, services like Endomondo and MapMyTri have libraries of route submitted by users
  • Sleep, and get lots of it.  10-12 hours a night might just what your body needs
  • Set long-term, reasonable goals; if you have never done a 5k, you certainly won’t be running a marathon next month

Keeping that fire alive isn’t that hard. It takes patience, awareness and the long term vision of your goal.   Keep your on the prize and never forget where you have been.

Running to a Clear Mind


Way back when I started my journey to triathlete, I would hear people say, “I think best when I am running.” My response was to roll my eyes and mutter to myself, “yeah, right” as all I ever felt when I was running was pain and lack of oxygen.

But as my body got used to running, developed stronger muscles, and an improved mental attitude, running became a much more peaceful, sublime experience. I was able to cover new ground with my increased endurance and go exploring new areas of town, noticing things that one would never see in a car. My community came alive as I ran by.

I also started to notice that my thoughts shifted from my body and surroundings to concepts that have been at the top of my mind. By focusing on these thoughts, time and distance went by faster. I also returned to work with new perspectives and…. A fresh mind.

Running had come full circle. The truth is, I really do do my best thinking while I am running. Instead of sitting at my desk to work through a problem, I’ll go out for a short or long run (if it is a big problem) and think it through. Running had gone from something horrible to an essential part of life.

Get out there, run, clear your mind and make the world a better place, one thought and one mile at a time.

The New Year Brings New Goals!


Resolutions 5k Run kicks off 2012

As we begin flying through the new 2012 calendar and say “whew” after running my first event of the new year, it is time to outline my goals for the year.  Instead of doing a half dozen events, I feel like 2012 should be the year of simple and calculated performance.  Let’s focus on one or two larger goals and let the rest fall in as they come.

Choose Your Distance!

Recognizing the diversity of the triathlon sport, 2012 will be the year to step up.  First, I will complete my first “long” course triathlon.  This means swimming a mile in the ocean (really?), biking fives time longer than a sprint, and running more than 3x’s the distance.  But, that’s how we roll and continually improve our performance.

The event of choice for my first long course triathlon is none other than my home town event, the Santa Barbara Triathlon on August 25th.  Why travel when you can roll out of bed 45 minutes before start and still wait for horn?    To read more about the daunting 1-mile swim, 34-mile bike, and 10-mile run ahead, check out the course description.

After surviving my first long course, I thought it would be an excellent recovery opportunity to finish the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint in the fastest time possible on September 30th.  After going long, the shorter distances are going to be a breeze (I say that now!).   The Carp Tri is my favorite and I can’t think of any better way to end the season with a solid showing on a course that I love so much.

Host Your Own Event When You Can’t Find It

But, my biggest goal yet, which is not necessarily directly related to training, but is fitness oriented, is going to be awesomer.  I am directing the Goleta Duathlon, held on May 20, 2012 in the “Good Land” of Goleta, California. The best part about a duathlon (run-bike-run) is the lack of swimming with the sharks! I am still in the process of obtaining permits, I can’t wait to share a bit of California’s Central Coast with other athletes and allow them to share in this memorable event.  From now to May 21st, life is going to be interesting.

Cooking Paleo, Cover to Cover

Of course, an individual needs their “fun” goals as well.  Life can’t be all training and race directing.  This year I decided to get back in the kitchen and cook!  The goal is to make every recipe (minus recipes with allergies) in a paleo cookbook from cover to cover.

The book for 2012 is Paleo Comfort Food by the Mayfields. I’ve owned this book for a while, but haven’t had a chance to really dive into the scrumptious recipes inside.  By the end of this year, though, I will be a paleo comfort food master!

Wish me luck!  I set the bar extremely high, but I know I can achieve!

What are your goals for 2012?

Camarillo Duathlon: A Race to Never Forget


For the past three years, since the very first Camarillo Duathlon was publicized, I have had the goal of completing the course. Due to cancellations, scheduling conflicts, and even injury, I couldn’t quite get my butt down to Camarillo at the right time to get it done!  This race turned into one of those long-term achievements that happen later for a reason.

Back in early 2009 when I set the goal, the race was just an Olympic event (5k run, 20mi bike, 5k run), but today it offers a sprint (1.5mi run, 10mi bike, 1.5mi run).   So, when I arrived at Freedom Park in the wee hours of August 14, 2011, I was feeling a little like I had taken the easy road with the sprint.  Little did I know that in a matter hours, I would be on cloud 9.

Before I go too much further, I would like to commend Bill Escobar for creating this awesome event for us.  Hearing his announcements that morning, watching him interact with the public and volunteers, he demonstrated a passion for multi-sport and a level of hospitality that I haven’t seen before.  Clearly he loves what he does and I am honored to be a participant in his events.

Without further ado, here are my highlights from the event.  I will spare you the novel that I wrote earlier (you know that blow by blow narrative that is a tad long to post here, but if you want a copy of it, please email me armh31″at”gmail.com).

Run #1

Of course the start was pretty melodramatic.  We lined up and the horn blew.  The pack ran off ahead and instead of following the speedy types, I settled into my groove.  By the first turn, I was at the back of the pack, but I didn’t care.  There were plenty of aircraft to admire along the route. As long as I wasn’t last, I was doing well…. observing, strategizing, and plane spotting!

T1 & Bike

Heading into transition I felt winded and one glance at my heart rate said I had pushed the run a tad hard.  Mounting the bike, I sailed out onto the streets amongst the fields of Camarillo.  With authorities keeping those pesky cars at bay, I settled into a decent pace for the 10 mile loop.

That is until the dude in the yellow jersey passed me.  I don’t know why, but having HIM pass me turned a switch and the game was on! As hard as I tried to keep up with him, I couldn’t quite catch him… until nearly the end of the course.  Things got really interesting as I saw him up ahead and slowing down.  I easily passed him and we exchanged glances.

I thought I had him when, all of the sudden, a half mile later he goes whizzing passed me.  I turn up the speed and start chasing him down, but the zigzags back to dismount kept me from catching him.

Then he made a mistake.  He stopped a good 15 feet from the actual dismount line and I went sailing passed him again only to brake hard and stop right on the dismount line itself (a little trick I learned from an experienced triathlete).  I had 15 feet on him and I ran hard with the bike to the transition.  I still had him!

Run #2 & Finish

The Author Following the Race

With a quick switch of gear, I headed out on the run, not even looking back to see where the mister yellow jersey was. I didn’t care, I had a lead to maintain, so I kept a fast (for me) but steady pace that I was certain I could handle all the way back to the finish.  Since I had just run the same course, I knew what to expect and knew that once I was half way down the dirt road, turn on the sprint to finish.

But at the turn around, I saw that my competition had ditched the yellow jersey and wasn’t that far behind me.  I was nervous so I picked up the pace just a bit more.  Passing him, I could see in his eye that he already gave it his all.  I had won… unless I screwed up.

Hitting the dirt road was when the legs seriously started to protest. Just as I considered my options, I was passed by an older guy whom I knew was a sprint participant.  He was moving fast for his build and age, so I wasn’t about to give up my spot to him.  A little earlier than I wanted, I went into sprint mode and ran him down.

Luckily, there was a curb to run around to the finish chute, which he negotiated rather slowly compared to my more flexible maneuver.  Then it was a sprint to the finish and I beat him by two seconds.

And that was the end of a race I will never forget.

Sprint Results Plotted (courtesy TrainingMetrix)

With my overall time of 1:09:31, I was happy to see myself just ahead of the Sprint race average of 1:10:33.   That was good for 32nd place of 69 competitors.  Camarillo Duathlon Sprint Race results were plotted by TrainingMetrix (graph above is reproduced with their permission) and you can see I am just ahead of average (the red dot).

So, have I achieved that goal I set years ago?  As much as I want to say yes, I still have to finish the Olympic course and we might save that for 2012.  But with the third race of 2011 coming up on Sept. 4th, I might just give the sprint one more try in 2011!

Note: I am working compiling some video of the race (the Olympic start) and will post a video post here when it is complete.

A Brilliant August It Will Be


Goleta Beach Triathlon2011 is sprinting by faster than any other year of my life.  Perhaps I am having way too much fun, or my life is full of activities, hobbies, and other responsibilities.  Regardless, when I look at the calendar and realize that 2011 is far more than half way through, I have to look back and realize that I have not competed once so far this year.

Since I am now feeling the benefit of focusing on stress relief in my life, I am now able to look competition as say, “bring it on!”  It just so happens that August has some awesome events for me to compete in!  (It is amazing how these things happen!)

Camarillo Duathlon – August 14

First up, the Camarillo Duathlon on August 14th.  The Camarillo Duathlon and I go way back to the beginning of my journey for the CamDua as I call it because it was going to be one of my first events. Unfortunately, the event kept getting rescheduled to dates that conflicted with other events and I never got to do it.  Well, on August 14th, rain or shine, nothing will stop me from completing the sprint.

McConnell’s 5k/10k – August 21

Second, a good old fashion 5k.  And a local favorite event at that, the McConnell’s 5k on August 21st.  With a simple out and back sprint along the bike path between Goleta Beach Park and Patterson Avenue, this is going to be a fast, but fun event that will test my ability to control pace.

Santa Barbara Triathlon Sprint – August 28

Third, ending August with an event close to home, the Santa Barbara Triathlon Sprint on August 28th.  The year was 2008 and this was going to be my first triathlon sprint ever, but I never made it that morning.  It wasn’t until a full year later that I kicked my trainer’s butt on the sprint (he had some issues with the swim) and finished this course.  With 2011 being my third year for this event, I am looking to just have fun and maybe better my time from last year.

If you are in Camarillo or Santa Barbara on the respective dates, please come on out and cheer me and the other athletes on.  While athletes are great to compete against, it is the cheering spectators that take the event to a new level.

I am seriously looking forward to these events and can’t wait to redeem myself and have one brilliant August.  Sadly, it will likely go by fast, but I know I will enjoy every minute of it!