Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Getting my Cycling Legs Back


With my recent move to St Louis I needed to find a new gym and the YMCA is perfect since it’s about a mile away and they have a decent size pool.

I haven’t been cycling much during due to marathon training and the lack of cycling may have contributed to my knee issues. If I had to guess it was either my shoes or my legs relying on the different leg strength I had developed and then losing most of it when I needed it. To get my biking strength back I decided spin classes would be the best way to do it and avoid the cold at the same time. Granted I hate some of the things they try to get you to do such as hit 130 rpm or stand straight up and pedal. I’m not sure if this will help triathlons as 130 rpms doesn’t seem to effect my heart rate much.


The cool thing about cycling class is they have Schwinn bikes which are ANT+ enabled so I can track my heart rate and cadence. They’re not fancy enough to calculate power but, I guess it’s better than nothing. It’s good for being able to see my heart rate while “climbing.”


One other thing I don’t understand about people at the YMCA is why they feel the need to use the locker directly next to mine when my lock is the only lock on the row? Yesterday, I came back to my locker at the same time some guy was changing. He seemed pretty annoyed but, he made a poor locker choice.


On a very happy note, I will soon be the proud owner of this brand new Cannondale Slice.


Monday, December 12, 2011

A lazy weekend and Cyclocross


For some reason this weekend I decided to not do a long run. I could have gone for one yesterday morning but was not in the mood. I had already planned on going to the last race in the Bubba Memorial Cyclocross series at Spanish Lake Park in St. Louis.


With that being said, I love living much closer to the g/f but, the only downside to not living in DC anymore is there isn’t anywhere near the number of triathlons here. In DC there seemed to be multiple sprint or oly tris within diving distance. There were also a good number of halfs and fulls as well. Probably due to the number of triathletes. I believe the DC Tri Club has over 1000 member while the STL Tri Club has over 100. The area isn’t as densely populated either.


One thing I did find out is there is a Cyclocross race series around here. I’ve been itching to try it but this season was not the time because I would rather buy a new Tri Bike than a cyclocross bike. Maybe next year.


I drove about 30 minutes to check out the last race in the series. The races started at Noon but, I didn’t care to watch the Women’s race (no offense ladies) or the Cat 4 and single speed racers. I figured the B race would provide the most variety and the A race would be boring after 2 laps.



The course seemed simple enough with a decent amount of technical turns several long straightaways and 2 jumps…that I didn’t see anyone bunny hop. Check out the video.


After the race I rode about 10 miles on the trainer and called it a weekend.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Icy Iron

Recently, I moved to St. Louis to be closer to the g/f (she moved back here a little while ago) and since I have the ability to work from home full time it wasn't much of an issue. Unless you count dealing with people on Craigslist who don't show up when they say they'll buy your stuff and having to deal with another slew of emails and calls, towing a 12 ft. trailer through the mountains of WV while dealing with tractor trailers who think going 20 mph over the speed limit is safe (maybe a physics class should be a requirement for your CDL) and having to stop for gas every 180 miles as issues. It was well worth it. In St. Louis I have a 2 bedroom house for about $600/month LESS than a 1 bedroom apartment in DC. Although, that was money well spent on an apartment since I loved living there.

Within 2 weeks of moving here I already joined the St Louis Triathlon Club, giving me dual club membership since I'm still a DC Tri Club member...I wonder how similar this is to having dual-citizenship? If my dad had bothered to get his Irish citizenship before I was born, I'd be able to tell you. Anyway, the first thing I did, before even meeting anyone from the club, was sign up for the Icy Iron. I believe there is a nationwide competition related to this but basically, you have 6 weeks to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a marathon. It doesn't sound very difficult considering one has 6 weeks rather than 17 hours to complete the distance. It's mainly to keep people motivated during the winter...I signed up for the Double Iron so I would be extra motivated.

I've already logged a decent amount of miles considering it's the off season and half-iron training doesn't start for another couple weeks. They use a google spreadsheet to keep track of progress. It started on Monday and I got a little excited after my first swim Monday morning and submitted my distance right away. Then I realized I should probably bundle everything once or twice a week so I'm not making 10-15 submissions. I checked the spreadsheet right after my submission and I would love to know how someone managed to swim 2 miles, bike 20 and run 15 ALL BEFORE 10am on a Monday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

St. Jude Half Marathon


   If you haven’t done the St. Jude Marathon or Half Marathon, I suggest you seriously consider it, especially if you love Barbeque as much as I do. It’s for a great cause, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Memphis is a fun city to visit. They have Graceland, Beale Street (kinda like a mini Bourbon Street) and a trolley system.

   The g/f and I both ran the half last year and had a great time. Plus, she went to college in Memphis and can see a lot of her college friends. After about a 4 hour drive from St Louis we headed straight to the expo to pick up our race packets. It sucked getting there towards the end since most of the clothes had already been picked over and I wanted to buy a t-shirt. Luckily there was one left in an XL. Sadly the g/f wanted this really nice jacket but there was only 1 left Sad smile. Maybe they’ll have some extras they didn’t know about and put them online. We walked around the expo for a bit then loaded up on Honey Stinger Waffles (which are delicious) and headed for the hotel.

   It was the usual pre race routine, pizza and then overnight oats in the morning. Except our hotel had a spectacular breakfast buffet so we loaded up on breakfast food for after the race. It’s nice to be able to walk to the race start. We met one of the g/f’s friends and walked to the start. Neither of them had been training much so they were going to walk/run the race. I had no idea what was going to happen with my race due to the knee issues I had been dealing with…speaking of which I haven’t been having many problems with it. I started in the 10 min/mile group.

   I planned on running 10 minute miles as long as I could and seeing what happens. About 15 minutes after the elites went off I’d get to see how I faired. The race is a scenic race, you run through downtown Memphis for a good portion of it, along the river, down Beale Street (where you could probably hear a pin drop, it was pretty pathetic that no one was cheering, Worst Crowd Ever) A few miles later the course goes through St Jude Hospital and the kids at St Jude and their families are all out going nuts…this part of the crowd is not included with the aforementioned pathetic crowd.

   Around this time I started to consider my race plan. I had been keeping 10 minute miles with one 10:20 mile and my heart rate had been steady. My 10K split pace was 10:10. I picked up the pace to under 10s to see what happened. I had been taking about 20 seconds at the water stops (ever mile) but skipped a few. I think mile 5 was mostly downhill. I kept thinking about how the g/f has a half marathon PR 3 minutes faster than mine (with a bathroom break as she would say) and wanted to beat her. At mile 7 I felt great and decided to go somewhat for broke. I turned it up as much as I could.

First 7 miles

10:21  10:03   9:59   10:15   9:45   9:54   9:47


Photo Tarp

I also picked up up the pace on downhills. After the mile 8 water stop I said F the water stops and I took as much gel as I could. Mile 8 was 9:37. It started to get pretty crowded around mile 9 and I realized I had caught a pace group. I weaved my way through since they seemed to slow down. I caught the actual pacers at the water stop and grabbed some water that a girl on the other side of the road from the tables had but didn’t stop to drink it. Mile 9 was a little slower than I wanted at 9:46 probably due to the pace group. After that is was smooth sailing, I don’t remember getting passed after mile 6 or 7. I was passing people left and right which rarely happens for me during running races. Mile 10 was a little slow mainly because I had to do the Y-M-C-A! and it was mostly uphill.

   The last miles of the race are a big tease. They’re on a main road with rolling hills and you can see downtown taunting you in the distance, it’s so close yet so far. Mile 11 was 9:27, Mile 12: 9:39. Right after mile 12 I passed the g/f’s sister and not too long after that there was a crowd of runners and everyone was yelling. I couldn’t see what happened but it sounded like someone was hit by a car….it turns out they collapsed and other runners including three nurses stopped to perform CPR…thankfully he lived. Just to give you an idea of how fast the response was…the g/f finished 20 minutes after me and they already had the guy out of there. It probably helps that he was about a half mile from the finish.

    Another thing I love about this race is the slight downhill for the last half mile. It makes for an easy finish which made my 13th mile 9:34.With the last .1 being at a 9:02 pace. The race finishes in the outfield on the warning track of AutoZone park, home of the Memphis Redbirds. (The St. Louis Cardinals AAA ball club)  

   I crossed the finish line at 2:10:09, my half PR by over a minute but not quite good enough to beat the g/f who finished about 20 minutes behind me. Not too bad since she was right around her time from last year. While waiting for her to cross the finish line I got my picture taken with Elvis!


Not the best Elvis impersonator but it’s all for a good cause. (P.S. I did NOT skip the port-a-potty…it’s sweat.) Who knows why my eyes aren’t open.


   The St. Jude Marathon also has the best post race food out of every race I’ve ever done. There was soda, granola bars, apples, bananas, pizza, cookies, yogurt in a tube, chicken tortilla soup, Krispy Kreme donuts, beer and of course Chocolate Milk!

  We headed back to the hotel for a nap and then it was off to get some Memphis Barbecue Nachos from Central BBQ!

Surprisingly I did pretty well…124 out of 226 for my age group and 1998 out of over 6000 overall.

MCM Weekend!!


After many weeks of waiting it’s finally here. The weekend I find out if my knee will hold out. But, it decided to snow first.


The plan was simple, set up our race exit strategy and avoid waiting in line for the metro (not going to tell everyone how so I can still do it in years to come), wake up at 5…why do races have to start so early? Get in the car by 6 and head to the metro...Scrape the ice of the windows then head to the metro. The metro was packed and only 1 person in our car didn’t seem to be running or spectating since the metro isn’t normally open that early.

It was a cold morning and we got off the metro in Rosslyn and walked down to the Charity Village the DC RoadRunners partnered with Hope for the Warriors for a tent. Getting to the tent sucked. The grass was mud due to the amount of rain and snow the day before. I’m sure all the trucks setting things up didn’t help the situation. It only took a few steps before the shoes were all muddy…great way to start a marathon.

Here are a couple pictures before the race.


Two Ospreys flew over the starting line and given their track record, of crashing, I was a bit weary.




After dropping off the bag...skipping all the boring parts…the g/f wished me luck and I stripped and headed into the corrals. Shortly after the howitzer went off and 6 minutes later I crossed the start line. Everything went smoothly for the first several miles, I ate my HammerGel at the water stops while walking. Last year I ran through the first two water stops and figured I’d try something new. When I hit the GW Parkway I needed to relieve myself. I decided to join the many men and a couple women in the woods going number 1…and one guy going number 2. After heading up to the Key Bridge to Georgetown we got our first glimpse of the fast people heading through Gtown while we headed out the canal for a boring 2 miles.

I was a little weary about Gtown since their was a decent downhill and I was worried about my knee. I decided to walk down it but after too many people passed me I couldn’t stand walking anymore and I was excited about running through all the orange peels around the corner. It’s nice having your feet get all sticky during a marathon…from the oranges. After that the g/f was waiting for me and I slowed down to say hi. Around mile 16 the knee started to bother me a bit but, my lower calf was also starting to give me problems. Maybe I was compensating.

I was a bit worried something was going to go horribly wrong and I wouldn’t be able to finish. I walked for a bit to give the legs a break and see how things felt. I saw the g/f again around mile 17 and then again around mile 19 right before I took a bathroom break. By this point I felt like crap and I was starving, not looking forward to the bridge. Maybe someday I’ll actually be able to finish all of my training. I managed to run some of the bridge whereas last year I think I walked the whole thing. I picked out points, mostly road signs, that I would run to before I started walking again. My heart rate was sky rocketing each time I started running again. Even at about an 11min pace it was up around 155 in about a minute. 155 is fairly high for me during a long run. Normally I kept it under 140-145 depending on how long the run was.

Still starving at this point I completely forgot about the Dunkin Donuts Munchkins in Crystal City. Normally I can’t eat any solid food on a long run or for about 45 minutes afterwards. Surprisingly, I was able to eat a couple and at the time nothing had ever tasted so delicious. I kept run/walking through Crystal City and then saw a sign “Chuck Norris Never Ran A Marathon!” Of course I had to ask if they checked and they did. So Chuck, maybe it’s time for you to run a Marathon….

Anyway, I was feeling much better for some reason and oddly enough my legs stopped bothering me. It was still hard to run for more than a couple minutes since my heart rate would shoot up. With about a mile ago I walked for a minute and decided to run again. I figured it would be pointless to stop walking again since I could still beat my time from last year. I made it back to the start line and knew I had about a 1/2 mile to go. With my heart rate at about 160, I said F-it and picked up the pace. The flat was easy and I knew all I had was the hill at Iwo Jima. When I got to the hill it felt like a mountain. Along with a few other people we slowly scaled Mt. Iwo Jima. Then after what kinda seemed like forever I crossed the finishing, tied my cape around me and got a kick ass finisher medal.

MCM medal

Since the picture line in front of Iwo Jima was about 100 feet long and my legs were killing me, I decided to skip the picture and see if the g/f would take some the next day.




Timex Global Trainer

It's been awhile since I've posted. I've recently moved to a new city, St. Louis, and haven't had pictures from the MCM until a week ago. I should have a couple posts in the next few days. Until then....

If you're looking for a great deal on a GPS watch, Gear Buzz (the daily deal from has the Timex Global Trainer on sale for $120. Personally I'd rather buy a Garmin but this is a great deal if you want a watch that will perform the same functions as the 310XT. It's not as good but if price is an issue, The Global Trainer is worth it.