When All Else Fails, Just Run


This morning, I met my trainer at the local community college track only to find that it was closed for renovation for the next FOUR months!  Seriously?  Four months to repave the track?  Wow…  SBCC must be getting scammed!

While my already sore legs were quite happy to hear that they weren’t going to be climbing bleachers for the next hour, I was a little disappointed as I wanted to try something new. After discussing the options, we decided a quick run along the waterfront would suffice.

So, we started running.  Now, my trainer is very fit and recently finished the LA Marathon.  The guy runs fast and can run fast for a distance.  While we started out together at 9:30 pace (he was holding back), I knew I couldn’t hold it, so I backed off to a more comfortable 10:15 pace and watched him walk away from me.  I wonder how long he was talking to me before he realized I was out of ear shot range??  hehehehe…

The usual soreness, the usual windedness, and the usual aches and pains through the first mile reminded me that today was Monday.  It wasn’t until the end of the waterfront at our turn-around that I realized that he was having issues with his left leg. Seemed like a tight muscle, so after a few minutes, we headed back.

Not quite, while I managed to maintain a solid pace for much of the return leg, I did require a momentary break to let the blood, lungs, and muscles catch up to each before continuing.

In the end, I covered 3.42 miles at 10:00 pace, which for a Monday is really, really good!

Goes to show that when the normally scheduled workout falls through, there is nothing like a good run as a backup.

How Basketball Drills Can Make You a Better Triathlete


Just when I was getting complacent with the strength workouts of late, my trainer decided to spice things up a bit.  When he said he was going to get a basketball and will be right back, I knew he had something up his sleeve.  And he did.

With my shoulders, arms and abs already in agony from Wednesday’s workout, I really wasn’t looking forward to today’s.  Luckily for me,what I was about to learn was a serious lesson in energy control.

The Workout

When dribbling a ball “on a nail” the goal is not only to dribble the ball in the exact same spot, but to dribble it hard and fast to keep an opponent from stealing it.  To do this, you must concentrate on a number of things; where the ball is going, where you want the ball to go, and how hard you are bouncing the ball and at what height.  While my trainer demonstrated a beautifully steady ball dribbled on a single point, I found myself chasing the ball, often taking giants steps to keep up with it.

Then we started a stretching drill where you position into a forward lunge and then pass the ball around your leg from hand to hand.  Not only is this a quad killer, but also works the abs for stability while you are moving the ball around your leg.  Here balance and patience are the key to success and speed.

The last part of the workout was shooting hoops.  Something I have always sucked at.  However, I made more progress in a few minutes than I’ve made my entire life.  The trick to a successful shot is focusing the energy from your heels, through your core, and through the fingertips to propel the ball on the trajectory to make it in the basket.  Once you get the feel of it and focus the energy, it is a great feeling!

What do have here?  Exercises that focus your energy, demand patience yet concentration, and require good hand-eye coordination.  All three of these of important to triathletes and perhaps three times more difficult… we have three sports to master!

The Triple Energy Focus

Swimming, biking and running do benefit through projecting energy in a controlled manner.  Be it contact with water through the hips and hands during each stroke, the energy of your body focused through your legs to the pedals, or projecting your energy forward efficiently as you run, how you project the energy dictates how well your triathlon is going to be.

Triathletes and basketball players definitely have a lot more in common than we initially think.  The next time Kobe Bryant shoots a three pointer, I will definitely be thinking about wonderfully focused the energy was when he made that shot and how wonderfully focused my energy will be during that next triathlon!

Triathlons, Kayaks, Runners and 2010


2009 was such an awesome year for my fitness goals.

I finished three triathlons, half dozen running events, and found inspiration where I never thought I would.

With my recent completion of the UCSB Triathlon, I am looking toward 2010 with more motivation than ever.  That sense of competition, meeting people and hearing their fitness stories, sharing tips, pushing myself to the next big milestone, and enjoying the wonderful outdoors all make my 2010 fitness goals that much more alluring.

With one down, what’s next?  Morro Bay Triathlon, a very unique race, including a 3 mile kayak of the Morro Bay Harbor.   I have never kayaked before, which makes this that much more challenging.   Time to start kayak lessons! The bike and run will be great as well, but the kayak is the icing on the cake.

After Morro Bay, let’s PR (personal record) at the Ventura Triathlon Sprint, my first triathlon of my fitness career.  This year they are taking the venue to the harbor, with a challenging swim, an awesome bike, and run around the harbor.  Last year I did well, finishing it in 1:38:00, but this year will be even better!

Of course, the biggest goal this year is the Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course.   This will be the longest triathlon I have ever done to date.  While I may not do it fast, finishing is going to be sweeter than finishing the recent UCSB Triathlon course.

In addition, I plan to carry forward with many running events in 2010, I already have done two, the Boney Mtn Trail Run, the Resolutions 5k.  Coming up in April is my first 10-mile run, the Chardonnay 5k/10 fun run.    I will also be putting my FiveFingers to use and using them in more events, on and off the road. Barefoot running is the wave of the future.

Looking at this brief list, I am amazed at the challenges ahead.  As daunting as they appear, meeting each one head on and putting them into the history books is going to rock!

Cheers!

My Race Report: UCSB Triathlon


UCSB Campus Point

The UCSB Triathlon has been one of those important races that every triathlete, athlete, and runner must encounter at one point in their racing careers.  Setting the goal to compete in it last November, I knew I had a lot of work to do over the winter off-season.

Before I knew it, November 2009 became February 2010 and life events really started to pile up and I hadn’t sufficient time to improve where I really needed to improve, the ocean swim.  Not only were things at work getting hectic, but the weather prevented me from getting proper practice time in the ocean up until a week before the event.  To make matters worse, I was coming off a month long burn out and was not psychology ready for the first big challenge of 2010.

I stayed on the fence of whether or not to compete up until the last few days.  My trainer told me I was backing out and not participating in the event clearly disappointed many more.  Even with a few ocean swims during the final week, I was no where prepared for this event.  However, life is not always a walk through a field of wildflowers, so I bit the bullet and went for it, nervous, exhausted, and scared to death of the swim.

Here are some highlights.

Pre-Race

The day before I picked up my packet.  I took this opportunity to get one last practice swim in.  While the advantage of this was to get familiar with the conditions, I ended up wearing myself out and even hurt my right knee.

Continue reading “My Race Report: UCSB Triathlon”

UCSB Triathlon is Done!


Campus Point, UCSB TriathlonYesterday, I finished the 2010 UCSB Triathlon.  It wasn’t easy, it was lonely, it was a learning experience, and yet somehow I disappeared off the results!  However, I met my first big goal of Q1 and finished my fourth triathlon and my first barefoot triathlon!  Time for celebration, relaxation and get geared up for the Morro Bay Triathlon in early June!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, here is the break down of times:

Swim (800m) ~ 26:48

T1 ~ 1:34

Bike (16.93 mi) ~ 1:06:10

T2 ~ 2:34

Run (3.06 mi) ~ 36:30 (ran this wearing my lucky FiveFingers KSO)

Overall ~ 2:13:40, which puts me into 85th place of 86 competitors.  Second to last… I’ll take it!

Unfortunately, bib 371 is not listed on the official “Open” results.  I emailed the timing officials, but have not heard back.  It is very disappointing to put so much work into an event and be left off the official results.  However, glitches are always possible… (Update: There is an updated list of results at the SBTiming website here, that includes me!)

I am writing up a summary of each leg and some final thoughts, which I will share in the coming days.

For now, it is time to recover and relish in the accomplishment of finishing my longest, barefoot triathlon yet!

I also want to give a huge shout-out to Chris Petrosian, my personal trainer, who finished the LA Marathon in 4:41:49.  “Congratulations, Chris!  You are inspiration!”

Such an awesome Q1 for both of us.

Consider Barefooting the Triathlon


The concept of barefoot running has been around for a while.  Interest in it increased dramatically in September 2009 when Vibram launched their new FiveFingers footwear.  Marketed as the “barefooting alternative” to more traditional shoes, they have developed a cult following.

Needless to say, I have a pair of FiveFingers, the KSO model to be specific.  I love them.  I wear them often, run in them often, and have seen the benefits of wearing them.  Yes, in the beginning I discovered I had muscles that I never knew I had as my body started adjusting to them.  My glutes and calves in particular were most bothersome.  But after a few weeks and many miles running, I discovered that barefoot running is the only way to go.

FiveFinger Issues

The reality is that I am a triathlete at heart, not a runner.  I love my FiveFingers so much, I really, really want to wear them during my next triahlon.  Sure, I can put them on after cycling, but I wonder if they would take too long to put on.  Maybe wearing them throughout the entire triathlon is best?  But what to consider?  Here is what is on my mind:

  1. How can you ride the bike in them?  Clips? Cages?
  2. Can I wear them during the swim portion of the triathlon?
  3. How long does it take to put them on?
  4. Are there any rules that preclude me from barefoot running in a triathlon?

They seem like simple questions, but let’s take a look at how the FiveFingers will look at each stage of the triathlon.

Swimming in FiveFingers?

Seems a little odd wearing an Xterra wetsuit with FiveFingers, but not really different than wearing booties and a wetsuit when you think about it. Black KSOs might blend better than the cool blue camouflage color.

The USAT rules state that one cannot wear any devices that aid in propulsion.  FiveFingers definitely do not aid in propulsion.  I would have to argue that, if anything, the FiveFingers will cause more drag since they have an open mesh top, a contrast to a solid neoprene bootie.  On the plus side, they might actually keep your feet a little warm?? hmmm…

Cycling in your FiveFingers?

Cycling presents the biggest stumbling block to this issue.  The way I am looking at it, there are two ways to do this.

1) Wear the FiveFIngers and replace my clipless, snap-in pedals with cages.   Why don’t I like this idea?  I really don’t want to replace my pedals with cages since I don’t like how they look so amatuerish.  Second, cages don’t give you the same efficiency as clipless pedals do.  Nothing like being physically attached to your bike.

2) Wear the FiveFingers inside the cycling shoes.  Seems crazy, but when you think about it, this might be the fastest solution. Coming in from the swim, you can simply slide them into the shoes.  When cycling is done, simply pull your foot out and start running.  Yes, this could actually REDUCE TRANSITION TIME.  Exciting thought.  What’s the downside?  I need to buy a much larger pair of cycling shoes, assuming they make a pair big enough.  This is going to require a trip to the cycling store and a follow-up post.

Running in the FiveFingers

This is the best part and does not require much explanation other than barefoot running is the only way to go.  Running in my FiveFingers feels natural, powerful, free, and light.  for more information on the health benefits of FiveFingers, checkout Vibrams’ Health/Wellness page.  What more is there to say?

The Barefoot Triathlon

Whether or not my next triathlon is my first barefoot triathlon, the thought is exciting.  Worse case scenario, I can put the FiverFIngers on after cycling, but wearing them for the WHOLE triathlon means a lot more than, “I wore my FiveFingers for the run portion of triathlon.” Why not?

Have you considered barefooting your next triathlon?

Are We Really Born to Run?


Are we really born to run?

I don’t know.  Wish I knew the answer, but after reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, I think I will be a lot closer to the answer.  You see, McDougall’s book is about the quest to find the answer to the question.  He ironically states:

“These were very good questions.  But as I was about to discover, the only ones who knew the answers – the only ones who lived the answers – weren’t talking.  Especially not to someone like me”.  – Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, p 13

Clearly I am only thirteen pages into this book and I am captivated.  Whether it was chapter one’s tail of find “El Caballo Blanco” or the strange commonality to my own quest for the same answers, I really can’t wait to see how this book unfolds.

Before I go, let me leave you all, my loyal readers, with one last quote from the book.  I found this to be very motivating and might blow it up really big and hang it in my cubicle for inspiration:

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows that it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you better be running.” – Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, p 13

With that said, more to come as I explore the world of Born to Run.