An Initial Workout


I had planned for a bike ride early this morning.  A step in rebuilding after tearing down. I did a bit of research last night and decided to check out part of the Medina River Greenway starting at the Pleasanton Road Trailhead.  A nice easy, meandering ride along the Medina River near the Toyota Tundra plant in south San Antonio.

All the best made plans and aspirations tend to fail at times.  With a restless night, a few trips to the  bathroom and finally being awaken by the cat at 9am, I could feel the bike slip away as my feet hit the floor this morning.  Groggy, tired, and perhaps a bit dehydrated, I really wanted a small breakfast and a good cup of coffee. Then we will re-evaluate.

Re-Evaluating the Best Plans

Upon re-evaluating, the oldest trick in the book became my block.  I waited too late and the heat of the day was upon us.  San Antonio quickly gets warm, shooting up into the 90’s and low 100’s by mid-day.  Today was no different.  It was warm and that is my block. I worry about getting dehydrated, sun-burned, and doing more damage than good. On the plus side, the heat sends the rattlesnakes to their rock covered dens.

Finding My Workout Gear

fitness gear for successWhile I wavered on my plans, after walking by the duffel bag, I was inspired to see what was inside.  I had set the duffel bag out next to the bike because I knew my Cookie Monster Jersey was in it.  Upon leaving Colorado, I threw all of my workout clothes, bike stuff, and other related into my workout duffel.  My initial reaction was the clothes wouldn’t fit.  Good thing I looked!!  I found a pair of shorts I forgot I bought, I found some lovely REI workout shirts that fit, and my package of Under Armor super duper workout boxer briefs.  I had everything I needed for a gym workout!

Well, everything but a heart rate monitor.  My Garmin GPS HR device was nowhere to be found.  I think it ended up in one of my electronics boxes during the move.  Finding it would be difficult.  So, I decided to run the risk of using my Amazon Fit Bip.  When it comes to heart rate monitors, this thing sucks.  It only refreshes once per minute (I know I could change that), and it is highly inaccurate.  Typically when my HR is high, it shows me resting.  Would it work this time?

Let’s Do This!

I got dressed and headed down to the “fitness room” of my apartments.  It is more of a fitness closet than a room, but with three machines (treadmill, recumbent bike, and elliptical) and a weight machine, it is really only big enough for one, maybe two in a pinch.

So, here I am, in my tiny little gym.  You know what happened?  I got excited.  I got inspiration.  My inner kid said, “bring it on!”.

And bring it on we did.  But we played it safe.  We initially started with a goal of one mile on the elliptical.  Then the goal increased to 15min.  My quads were feeling it, my lungs were surprised, and my head was on cloud 9.  The Amazon Bip was useless.  It did not record many “steps” and the heart rate said I was sleeping, not working out.  Using the HR function of the machine, the heart seemed to stay around 170 bpm.  That felt accurate.

After the elliptical, I couldn’t help myself, I had to use the weights machine.  I had visions of my workouts from 10-years ago.  I started with a split squat press.  Morphed into an anti-rotation twist, and then ended with one my most favorite exercise, squat and row.

A Corner Stone Established

OMG…  life is good again.  I did it.  My first official workout of my new journey is in the book.  While total time was only 25 minutes, it is a start.  I remember when 25 minutes would just be a warmup.  But then I cannot compare myself today to the person I became 10-years ago, a triathlete.  I can use those visions for inspiration, but not for personal shame. The reprogramming will go on.

And so the workouts with go on.  An initial workout has been checked off the to do list. This is the foundation for greatness ahead.  Or at least until the “runner’s high” wears off.

So, You Fell Off Your Bike?


You are cruising along with the wind in your hair, enjoying the beautiful world around you, when, suddenly, you fall off your bike and come crashing to the ground.

“Ouch!” you scream as the other cyclists in your group either swerve to avoid you or stop to look back at the scene which just unfolded.

You lay there momentarily stunned at what just occured.  “Am I okay? Anything broken or missing?”, you ask.

As the pain makes it way from the nerves to the brain, you realize you can still move and begin to unclip from the pedals and stand up.  Realizing you are okay, you survey the bike, hoping nothing has been scared from contact with the road.  Nothing has.

You realize the pothole was hidden and you were the only lucky one to take that particular path along the road.  You stand, making sense of what happened as your cycle partners help to get you going again.

Falling off your bike is synonymous with the sudden, life changing moments life throws our way.  Losing a job, a friend to suicide, or even just moving to a new, strange place for a fresh start, a shock to the system and normal pace is what makes us better people and triathletes in the end.

2014 for AricInTraining has been a year chocked full of these events.  In the end, after every punch has been thrown by life, I am still breathing and still a triathlete.  As hard as it is at times to get back on the bike and start pedaling again, it is the way forward.  The finish line is waiting and so are my dreams.

2012 Goleta Beach Triathlon – Initial Result Analysis


Being a Data Analyst and Triathlete mean race results are super exciting for me.  The results are almost as exciting as the real event… almost!  I find it interesting to see which Age Groups were fastest and how they compared between the Sprint and Olympic events. Data can tell you a lot about an event, its character and even help you make a smart decision in choosing an event to compete in. If you are a competitive triathlete, do you know how the top 10 stack up?

Overall Results

So, without further ado, here are some interesting insights from the preliminary 2012 Goleta Beach Triathlon results by SB Timing with analysis by TrainingMetrix:

Three distinct races and three distinct finish time patterns.

The blue line is the Sprint, the Green line is the Olympic and the Orange line is the Duathlon event.   What fascinates me the most about these lines are their long tails.  While there was one person who finished the Sprint in three hours, the Olympic course had a much shorter “long tail” of finish times.   The Duathlon was a tiny event and probably a great event for anyone who wanted to place in their Age Group and get a quick medal.

In each of the events, the top 10 stand out as you can see a steep slope from the y-axis, defining the “pro” or “competitive” athlete from a more recreational athlete.

Surprising Sexes

After looking at the counts of Male and Female athletes by event, I was shocked to see that while the Sprint and Duathlon had an equal distribution of M to F, the Olympic event was 2/3 male, 1/3 female.  In fact for every female, there were 2.33 men competing.

Very distinct distributions by event.

At the risk of offending someone, I will limit my inferences as to what the male domination of the Olympic means.   I will simply say further research and participant interviews will be needed.

What Does Age Have To Do With It?

Looking at the count of participants by Age Group, as well as the Average Age by event, we can see the Olympic event is favored by older athletes.  The Sprint histogram by Age Group trails off more steeply after the 40-44 Age Group, while the Olympic event has a sudden drop off at the 55-59 Age Group. (see charts in section above)

The averages by event indicate this as well, the average age of the Sprint triathlete is 36.1 vs 37.5 for the Olympic.  Given this insight, the Olympic is clearly dominated by more experienced Men.

So, Are The Old Guys Faster?

Well, yes.  This is where we see a major difference in the results between the Olympic and Sprint events.  The fastest Age Group for the Sprint is the 35-39 group, whereas the Olympic’s fastest Age Group was the 45-49 (the 65-69 group was fastest but only had one triathlete, so this is statistically insignificant result).

The older Age Groupers are faster in the Olympic event.

Likewise, in general the Sprint tended to have faster athletes in the younger age groups (<40), but the Olympic tended to have faster times in the older age groups (40+).  This makes sense as it takes time to build up the endurance to be a fast endurance athlete. Not to mention speed comes with experience, which comes with age.

What about those Top 10?

The top 10 is an interesting place to look and it certainly illustrates just how competitive each event really is.  For instance, the Sprint is the most popular and has the widest range of athletes and abilities, whereas the Olympic has the more seasoned athletes and is the tougher course.

And the results support this.  The top 10 for the Sprint had an average finish time of 0:48:10 and an 0:01:56 deviation (4.0% of the average).  Not only is this a really insanely fast time, but the top 10 finished closely.  Compare this to Olympic which had a finish time of 2:12:52 and an 0:03:40 deviation (just 2.7% of the average).  Wow, imagine bustin’ your butt for over two hours and have a top 10 finish come down to less than four minutes.   Those older, more experienced athletes know how to race!

One last word on the top 10.  The top 10 are both dominated by men (sorry ladies!), with 9 of the 10 Sprint finishers Men and all 10 Olympic being men.

Summary

Data is a fascinating that can help each athlete determine the best race for their goal.  The 2012 Goleta Beach Triathlon offers very distinct events for triathletes of all types. From a distinctly older Olympic event to the Sprint with its equal Sex mix and faster younger athletes, you can easily see he evolution of the triathlete in the data.  Makes me wonder how many of the triathletes in the top 25% of the Sprint will be competing in the Olympic in a few years?

Cheers!

What To Do When You Are Sick…


Being that I am still recovering from the flu and not able to get out and go full out on a training workout, the triathlete’s heart in me is broken.  I have never gone this long without punishing my body in some way.  My body knows it too, the muscles are restless, the brain is starting to feel depressed, and the cabin fever is making me wish I bought a condo at the beach.

So, while I was sick in bed, miserably thinking about the torturous training that I enjoy so much, I had to do something.  At this point, the inner artist in me spoke up and reminded me of that sketch pad and pencils that my grandmother gave me a while back.

“Hhmmm…. this could be the best thing since the Mona Lisa,” I thought as I turned to a clean page and started thinking about my ideal swim, bike and run.  It wasn’t long before I had the sketch roughed out below.

Colored Pencil on Sketch Paper ~ Copyright 2010 - Aric In Training

While it may not be the Mona Lisa, for this bed ridden triathlete, it was the best thing since cold medicine.  Swimming in a slightly rough water in a cove, biking along the waterfront of a tropical island with water on the right, high mountain peaks on the left, and finally finishing my fantasy event with a trail run, up, up and up to the top of those peaks so that one can relish in their accomplishment.

The wonderful world of triathlon is alive and well in this triathlete.  I may be bed ridden and miserable, but my mind is full of the adventures yet to come!

Cheers!

How the Attitude Makes the Race


Attitude.  Some people have it, others don’t. Some have a great attitude and others have an attitude in the ditch.  In fact we have it all the time and the attitude we live our daily lives with often dictates our success or failures.  You can suck up the inconveniences and push on, or you can let them get to you and whine instead of moving on.

It wasn’t until I started training for my first triathlon that I realized my attitude sucked.  Sure there was a lot of pain, sweating, and stinky gym workouts, but those were merely there to separate the men from the boys.  I realized this and quickly changed my attitude and used the pain and suffering as motivation to keep going.

Still, it wasn’t until I started my first triathlon that I realized that my attitude really needed adjusting. Competition was nothing like practice.  The clock was ticking, it was everyman/woman for themselves, the water cold, the transition area huge, and the run hard.  It all took me by surprise.

Sure I could have thrown in the towel and let the crowd get to me, the crappy transition area, and the competitive spirit.  But instead, I thought about the step I was taking and the next step just ahead of it.  I was going to get this done.  I wasn’t going to stop, I knew my attitude had to be tough, spirits high and life was good.

On the other hand, the poor attitude racers were plucked from the ocean as quiters.  The poor attitude cyclists wimped and whined their way back to transition only to whimp and whine through the run.

Clearly they had forgotten that they were in a triathlon, one of the most challenging and best sports on the planet.   They should be enjoying the challenge, focusing one the moment, their athletic ability and the fact that were going to finish.
What would you prefer, crossing the finish line giving it your all or crossing the finish line whining about the weather?

The attitude makes the race!

A Few Difficult Weeks, But I Am a Triathlete


After a bee sting nearly brought on my death and getting the flu the day before the Santa Barbara Triathlon, these past few weeks have been a true test of life, attitude, and my devotion for triathlons.

The Flu Won’t Stop Me!

The Friday night before the Santa Barbara Triathlon, I became ill with the flu. I was so sick Saturday morning that I was alive only in my own little world.  The only improvement could have been death (better be careful what I wish for).  So, instead of heading down to East Beach to cheer on my friends competing in the Long Course, I laid in bed in absolute misery wondering if I would ever move again.

Luckily as time moved forward and I let my body work its way through whatever was causing such horribleness, I began feeling better. In fact, late that evening I was feeling good enough that I went out for a run along the run course.  Perhaps I wasn’t going to miss this one afterall.

Feeling horrible that morning I pulled it off.  You can read about it here.  It sucked, it was great, and it was a true learning experience.

The Unexpected Bee Sting

You don’t normally expect to rear-end a bee while cycling on a residential, paved street in town.  The Sunday before Labor Day, that is exactly what happened. The Bee, instead of calling his lawyer, simply stung me right above my right knee in retaliation for invading his flight path.  Not only did it hurt like hell and my knee swelled up, but four hours later I found myself in the emergency room.  After getting a shot and recovering from near death, they sent me on my way.  Unfortunately, the body needed serious recovery time and I am just getting back into a normal training routine.

The drugs, the shock and lack of training has resulted in lost progress.  In fact, tonight’s spin class was the worst yet and my legs just couldn’t find the energy to sustain decent power for long.

There is a lot of work to do to get back, but we will get there.  I am a triathlete and I will always be a triathlete.

The Broken Heart

It breaks my heart to think that my big end of the year race was likely to be worst than last year’s performance.   As sad, disappointed, frustrated and angry that I am with the events of the past few weeks, rolling with the punches and pushing forward is what any athlete excels at.

I know what my goals are and they have not changed.  My list of “A” races have not changed.  My devotion to triathlons have not changed. Despite life throwing a few hard and fast curve balls right at my groin, nothing has changed…

After taking the past ten days off, I realize that fitness, training, and triathlons are such a huge part of who I am that I can never back down.  Broken hearts mend themselves with time.  While I won’t be performing at the level I anticipated a month ago, I will be performing and I will give it my all.  To do anything less, is simply not good enough.

Expect the Unexpected: 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon Sprint


Let me start this post by saying that I awoke in the wee hours of Saturday, August 28th with a severe case of food poisoning.  I was so sick, I wasn’t able to join friends at East Beach for the Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course that day.  In fact, I didn’t even think I would compete in Sunday’s Sprint.

Luckily, I recovered enough that I felt comfortable competing.   Late Saturday night, I put the final checklist and plans into place and set my alarm clock for 4:30am the next morning.

Waking suddenly to the bitter sound of “beep, beep, beep,” I immediately hit the snooze.  “OMG! It’s already time to get up…  I need at least another hour,” I said to myself.   But, triathletes don’t need another hour, so I got up, got dressed, packed the rest of my stuff into my GYST transition bag, loaded the car and headed toward East Beach.

Parking was easy and I met some other triathletes, which helped brighten my mood. As we walked along the waterfront above the transition area, I can hear the waves off in distance. We talked about how cold the ocean water was projected to be and agreed that today’s swim was not going to be a walk in the park despite the calm conditions.  This was real!

Being at the transition area so early, I was able to choose the best transition spot, the outside end of the 1140-1180 bib range.  Five rows down from swim in and very convenient.

Of course, setting up transition was super simple with my GYST transition bag. Set it down, unfold it, and you are set to go!  The wetsuit is ready, the change of clothes, the shoes, snacks and water bottles are there and ready to go.

For some reason time really seemed to fly.  I had plenty of time to stretch, make multiple trips to the bathroom, chat with other triathletes, and focus on the task ahead.

But then I found myself in the porta-potty when they announced the first wave was leaving in fifteen minutes!  OMG! I still had to put on my wetsuit and do a practice swim.  However, fifteen minutes is plenty of time to wipe your butt, put on an over-sized wetsuit, and walk down to the beach.

The practice swim confirmed what we all have been hearing for the past few days, the water was really, really cold!  I also realized that entry into the water might be an issue as I watched a group of swimmer get taken out by a wave.  Once past the breaking waves, the feet didn’t seem to mind the cold much, but the hands and face protested.  I started out with side stroke and got into a rhythm and then transitioned to crawl. But the ice cream headache during crawl was a bit much for my food poisoned, recovering body so I stopped to tread water for a bit before heading back to shore.

Uh-Oh, WAVE!

Lining up at the start was a little scary.  It was the first time that I realized just how far apart each of the buoys were.  Was this really a 500m swim?  Looks to be a lot longer! Time to concentrate.

The first wave left and the 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon sprint had begun! I could see that very few people were swimming with their heads in the water.  They also seemed to take a while to get around the first buoy and make progress toward the second. Not very reassuring as the second wave, my wave, lined up at the start.

Then they announced 30 seconds, time to focus.  I pulled my goggles down, checked my swim cap and took a deep breathe.  Then the countdown began.

The horn blew and the wall of men in front of me disappeared.  I remember seeing feet, splashing, and then looking up and seeing a wave. A giant and thinking to myself that this was going to suck.  Why didn’t I look up before I entered the water and waited two seconds?  The wave hit me and a few others, flooding my face with salt water and knocking the wind out of me.  Time stood still.

Unlike the others, I was still standing where I was hit.  I immediately dove into a side stroke, but quickly noticed that something was wrong.  I was out of breathe and every movement of the arms and legs felt like I lacked power.  Was it the cold.

While getting to the first buoy and turning to parallel shore didn’t take long, looking the length of the buoys and barely being able to see the far buoy was psychologically distressing.   This was going to be a long, painful swim.

Despite my body trying to tell me to stop, I pushed on, doing any stroke I could muster that would keep me moving toward the end.  From side stroke, back stroke, dogie paddle, to crawl, I kept myself going, absolutely determined to see this through to the end.  While I realized that my goal of 55min was probably not going to happen at this point, I knew that I still had to give this event my all.

Rounding the last buoy, I realized how wide I went.  I went so wide that I was in a world of my own, seeing blue and white caps splashing about 20 meters to my right.  I must have swam crooked for a little too long… oops.   I swam straight toward the chute on the beach.  While others were starting to stand up, I gave myself a few extra strokes and then exited the water.

My heart was racing, I was out of breathe, cold, and wondered if doing this was really such a great idea.  Of course it was, the hard part was now over and the fun was just about to begin!

The Little Piggy Goes “Wwweeeeee”

T1 was pretty fast. All I had to do was strip off the wetsuit, toss on the shorts, GPS, helmet and shoes and go.  While I had some issues getting my Polar watch off and replacing it with the Garmin GPS, not putting on the gloves, socks and switching shirts like I did last year really saved some time.  I grabbed the bike and mounted.

Those first few pedal strokes after the swim are some of the most amazing to me.  You are covered in salt water, the wind is drying you off and your legs are still a little confused about what you want them to do.  Yet, you can feel the power being transferred to the road and it is exhilarating.

It wasn’t long before I caught up to a few cyclists and went whizzing by them.   I was moving at a speed just under 20mph and it felt great to pass someone else for a change.  I had ridden this course almost a hundred times over the past few years, so this really was like a Sunday ride to me.

Going up the first hill, I came upon two young-ins making their way up the hill on mountain bikes.  As I approached them at high speed, I yelled some words of encouragement.  As I passed them, I could hear the frustration of my passing them in their heavy breathing.   One remarked to the other to get moving, to which he replied with a gasp.

Going down the hill toward the Biltmore, I was reminded of the Geico commercial where the little piggy goes “weee” all the way home.  This was fun, I was hauling ass, so what the heck.  At 33mph down the hill, I let out a big loud “wwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”  I don’t think the volunteers were amused.

The turn around came quickly and I thought I was slightly ahead of last year’s pace. Knowing that a run was about 12 minutes away, I backed off on my return ride to East Beach.  Even still, I kept passing people.

I even passed people climbing up “hell hill,” the hill that I came screaming down just a few minutes before.   There were three cyclists making their way up the hill and that was the motivation I needed to get to the top.  “I’ll pass you and you and you, and you,” as I started my climb.  Before I knew it, I got to the top and looked back just before the turn…  to my astonishment, it looked like the other rides were just starting their climb.

Settling in and cruising back to East Beach was fun. I knew the bike was coming to and end rather quickly and I wanted to enjoy it.  Turning on to Cabrillo Blvd, leaving the volunteers and officer in my dust, I turned my attention toward T2 and the run.

Dismounting and running back to my transition was a blur.  I didn’t notice the crowd or much else.  I was in my zone, mentally ready to finish this event.

Body Says Stop

T2 was quite fast.  Rack the bike, slip off the helmet, change shoes, grab the waist pack and go.   It went as easily as it sounds.

Unfortunately, about a quarter mile into the run, my entire right leg from hip to heel decided it had had enough and started cramping up.  I pushed on, focusing on my form, lift the heals, push forward from the hip and stare at the horizon.

I then noticed my GPS was showing some odd readings.  For instance it said I had covered 2,600 miles and was going 86mph! If only!  Without the GPS, I had no idea what my pace was and my strategy relied upon knowing the pace and keeping my run consistent. But that was before my right side decided it had had enough.

The run was one of the most painful of all, and I found myself limping along.  I was crushed, this wasn’t how I expected to end this event.  Still, I pushed on, and brought the event home, crossing the finish line in 1:08:44, a full four minutes longer than last year. <results posted here>

Crushed, but Motivated & Content

Yes, my time was worst than last year.  I suffered through a freezing cold swim, had the time of my life on the bike, and pushed through one of the worst cramps I have ever had on a run.  I even did it while still recovering from food poisoning the day before.

Even factoring in all of the above points, comparing times to last year leaves me crushed.  The Santa Barbara Triathlon was an event that I was sure I could pull off a decent personal record in.  Unfortunately, things happened that prevented this from happening.

Did I give this event 150% effort? Yes.  Could it have gone a lot worse? Yes.  Am I so crushed that I’ve lost motivation to go on?  No.

Triathletes have good and bad events.  The 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon is perhaps one of my bad events.  There will be others in the future too, but I must learn from this and move on.

With that said, I have three weeks to get ready for the 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon.  See you there.