Wednesday, February 28, 2007

T-10 Seconds and Counting

Coach Mike Ricci of D3 Multisports has a plan to help me cross the finish line at Ironman Louisville in August. A major component of that plan is preparing me for the rigors of completing a 2.4 mile swim and enabling me to finish the swim with plenty of energy for the balance of the race. While it has been voiced by a certain member of the Tri Blog Community that "it's all about the bike," failing to make the swim cutoff and/or being physically exhausted after the swim can make the bike somewhat irrelevant.

The past six weeks have been part of an eight week swim focus designed to improve my ability to complete long swims. Prior to Mike becoming my official coach, I completed a four week session at his suggestion and saw dramatic improvement. Given the success of that program, I was willing to tackle this more intense and more guided eight week plan.

In the first week of the program, I completed a time trial to determine my "T-pace," which is used for setting time requirements during swim workouts. At that time, I was averaging around 2m 11s per 100 yards. While far from Olympic pace, that showed the value of the first four weeks, as earlier in 2006 I averaged around 2m 30s per 100 yards.

The past two days have had interval sets based on that T-pace. In general, I've found the 2:11 pace to be exceedingly slow. Most of the intervals I've been completing in the 2:00 range. While a time trial is needed to get an accurate number, it looks as if my T-pace has dropped by another 10 seconds or so. That would mean an improvement of nearly 30 seconds since the end of October.

For those who have been interested in the results of these exercises, that should provide sufficient motivation to consider your own swim focus. To put that in perspective, if the improvement is only 20 seconds per 100 yards, I'll be able to get out of the water 14 minutes faster. If I can maintain the 30 second improvement over the course, I'll have an extra 21 minutes.

And Mike's real goal is also being realized. I can maintain that pace for longer distances and come out of the water feeling better. This means more energy for the bike and run. And those are disciplines I can rock.

Help... Buried!

Okay, I'm trying to post. Little things keep interrupting me, and they aren't my kids. I've had this window open for two hours trying to get my comments from this morning's swim down, with no luck.

Perhaps after lunch I'll have more luck.

Until then, the dry humor of this post will have to suffice.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Mondays can be rough. Between training, work, and Mrs. Pol's class, it's a busy day. Add in several inches of new snow to shovel in the morning, and the day gets really interesting.

Knowing snow was in the air, I woke up planning to either bike on the trainer or swim, depending on what the driveway looked like. What I didn't plan on was spending more than an hour shoveling and blowing snow. That essentially wiped out any morning workout. Well, other than shoveling and blowing snow for an hour.

As luck would have it, my swim for Monday was "optional." Given the conditions, I read that as "opportunity for cross training." Otherwise known as shovel snow for an hour. That left an hour on the trainer to fit in during the evening.

That takes us back to Mrs. Pol's class. In addition to helping her better understand her faith, this class is very much about "adult time" for my wife. That, of course, leaves dad home to care for the kids. Last night, it was a "picnic" in the living room with chicken stew and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." I think I got an extra workout in from all the laughing while watching my kids "dance" to the songs.

Monster Girl started it during the title song. For her, dancing primarily involves spinning. And spinning. And spinning. Falling down, and spinning some more. B-Boy had to join in, adding to the complexity of the dance by repeating "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" as he spun. It was so hilarious I had to video it. This is footage that is sure to come back and haunt them as kids.

Caring for them pushed my spin training back until 10 p.m. I considered scrapping it, but got it done, in the end. The combination of guilt, a short schedule for today, and general principal helped provide motivation.

Well, that and the fact that I was all wound up from showing the video of the kids to Mrs. Pol. It almost brought me to tears the second time around.

Friday, February 23, 2007

It's All About Participation

A certain well known blog friend likes to say that it's all about the bike. After all, we tend to spend most of our time in a race on the bike, and blowing up on the bike leaves us ill prepared for the run. A poorly fitted bike can leave our legs wasted on the run. Poor nutrition on the bike leaves our energy reserves tapped as we head into the final stage of the race.

Of course, we all know he's wrong. (No, say you DIDN'T just call the one and only P-Dawg Leader WRONG! The consequences of such an action are unknown, but certainly foreseeable. How could you make such a rash comment?). A triathlon is all about three disciplines. Become a master of only one discipline and the best you can hope for is a record in that portion of the race. Yes, the bike is important. But give up 20 minutes in the swim and an hour in the marathon, and you had better be able to make Lance Armstrong look like he's using training wheels. Because you'll need that kind of lead to hold off the elites who excel at all three disciplines.

Of course, I'm wrong, too. It isn't really about the swim, the bike, or the run. At the end of the day, it's all about the participation. Few of us are ever going to be elite level athletes. In fact, many of us have few hopes of being truly competitive in our age groups. For most triathletes toeing the line at any given race, motivation must come from something other than a podium finish. For them, participation is the key. They are there because they want to be there.

Usually, they have something to prove to themselves. Perhaps they want to test their limits. Sometimes, they just need a "light" at the end of a training tunnel. They win just by showing up.

Perhaps some in our sport, including the leadership in the companies that oversee the pinnacle events in triathlon, need a refresher on that subject. A video from NA Sports (thanks for posting it, Comm) attempts to highlight the Ford Ironman triathlon. Unfortunately, it seems every image on the video is from the IM World Championship in Kona. Watching this video, one would think that the only 140.6 mile race in existence is in Hawaii.

It is little wonder that outsiders are unaware there are races all over the world. And while NA Sports may have little motivation to promote non-Ford IM events, they might do well to at least advertise those.

And beyond that, they might do well to remember that triathlon is about far more than Ironman. Just as Ironman is about more than the bike, most triathlons are something other than 140.6 miles, and most triathletes have yet to become an Ironman. Many never will.

As someone relatively new to the sport, I can safely say that the image outsiders see is that of the 140.6 mile race over the hot lava fields in Hawaii. I was surprised to learn there were lots of alternatives, many of them shorter than the marathons I have already completed. Perhaps it's time to market those shorter events and grow the sport from the ground up. That will be far more successful than attempting to find newbies interested in going the full 140.6 miles.

Junior Freud Needed

A while back I posted about one of my dreams. For those who recall, it was all about showing up at Kona and not actually checking in. There I was on race day without a race number, unsure of where my bike was located, and trying to get checked in as the cannon was sounding.

You'll be pleased to hear that in last night's dream, I had my bike. Apparently I had learned my lesson from the previous dream, and was in Louisville early to get checked in.

But what is the deal with the mattress strapped to the roof of the car?

And why on earth was I carrying extra luggage, mostly full of socks, and trying to sell it on the streets of Louisville?

A little help here. Somebody throw me a bone and clue me in on this one? The last one was easy. But this one? Bonkers.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

It's All About the Visualization

Early in my endurance career, my primary focus was on survival. "All I have to do is survive this 1.5 mile run and I'll keep the doctor happy." "If I can survive two laps of my 6.75 mile course, I'll be ready for a half-marathon." "If I can survive all 26.2 miles of this race, I'll be a marathoner."

Survive was a common thread in much of what I did. That carried over to triathlon, too. That was mostly about the swim. Survival isn't always a given when I get into the water.

As I've become more involved and experienced, I've learned to use visualization as a tool to improve form, efficiency, and pace. The first ones I picked up comes from Meb Keflezighi, the US runner who captured silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics. One image he suggests is to imagine you have a hook in the top of your head that pulls up, which helps keep you straight and tall as you run. The second is to imagine sitting on a bike that is a touch too tall, so that your toes barely touch the ground. This helps keep you light on your feet. I've used both visualizations for the past 12 months, and they really have helped.

In my quest to improve my swim, I did some digging for video of proper swim form. Two criteria were very important. First, I wanted to see a variety of angles in a non-competitive format. In other words, I wanted something that was meant to teach. Second, I wanted something more than a 15-second clip.

Before I can begin to use visualizations to tweak my form, I want to make sure I know what good form looks like. So, if this works, here is a video that meets those needs. This is video of Australian Bill Kirby, gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blank Page

Hmmmm, writer's block. Or perhaps writer's fog is a better term. You know, those times you have a great concept to discuss. The only thing lacking is the right way to say it. That's where I'm at, right now. It isn't something with which I frequently struggle. Trust me, I usually have something to say, and have little problems saying it.

The title Blank Page is in reference to the way I attempt to approach my training. I have experience in endurance events, and want to avoid the arrogance of saying, "I know how to train." I have experience training for triathlons and have to accept the training would have been more effective if guided by an experienced coach. Going toward Ironman Louisville, I have to be a blank page and allow my coach to write the script. I have editorial discretion, but he's the author. This approach is designed to minimize my tendency to disregard the advice of others because "I know it all."

It is the same with any blog post, research paper, or even major literary efforts. They all begin with a series of blank pages. It takes the efforts of a great many people to ensure success. The author, the editor, the publisher. And, yes, the reader. Without the audience, the pages may as well be blank.

Our triathlon efforts are exactly the same. Whether a newcomer trying a sprint event, a first time Ironman attempt, or a sponsored elite, we all experience the same things. So thank you to everyone who takes time to read these posts. Yes, this is my journey. These are my blank pages. But they are your pages, too. And who knows, perhaps something that fills in the blank space will be exactly what somebody needs to hear.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Excitement, It's Contagious

Much of the excitement around Ironman is focused on the event and the athlete. After months, sometimes years, of training, thousands of triathletes poise at the starting line waiting for the gun to sound. Others, however, share that excitement.

B-Boy called for me after I had put him to bed. I had changed into tri-shorts and a cycling jersey in an effort to get in a short workout on the trainer. Laying in bed, my son asked why I was wearing biking clothes. I pointed out I was trying to train, and that he should be asleep.

He looked at me and asked, "Am I going to be at the finish line with you?" "Yes, you'll be there." One more question. "Will I get to run across the finish line?" "Yes, if you want."

"I do, daddy. I'll go to sleep so you can get ready for the race."

I didn't hear another peep out of his room. With more than 185 days to go, even a 3-year old knows what's coming.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Quality vs. Quantity

Early in my endurance sport career, quantity was all that mattered. After all, if the goal is to run a marathon, mileage is what counts. That changed a little bit after my first half-marathon (the one where more experienced runners expressed concern that I trained for a 13 mile run by running 13.5 miles). Even so, a great deal of the training for my first marathon was also based on sheer quantity of miles.

There were a couple of key outcomes of that approach. First, I spent a great deal of time fighthing issues such as shin splints, back pain, and fatigue. Second, my time was just as easily measured with a calendar as with a stopwatch.

Over time, experience and education have helped me to shift my focus from quantity to quality. Of course, time and mileage are still vital, they just take a back seat to quality. Training sessions are pointless if poor swim, bike, or run form are being reinforced. Included in this is proper bike fit, correct shoes, and appropriate attire and support equipment.

My swim sets from the past two days are a perfect example of quality over quantity. Yesterday's session was scheduled as 4000 yards, with intervals at increasing intensity and decreasing distance. After the first couple hundred yards of warmup, the lifeguards started setting up inflatables for an open swim, and asked if I would move to their meter pool. I was fine with the move, but concerned about the "meter" aspect. I decided to just swim the sets as if they were yards, and make decisions about when to stop closer to the end. I wound up completing all of the sets (total 4355 yards) and felt strong at the end. Tired, but strong. My form was good, and I still felt solid and smooth on the last several hundred meters.

Contrast that with today's swim. 3100 yards with some mixed sets. Easy, moderate, fast, drills, it was all there. After about 2500 yards, my form started to get sloppy. And I called it quits after just under 2700 yards. I hadn't managed to find my form in the 200 yards before ending the session, and it made little sense to practice poor form for another 400 yards. In a race, I'll live with poor form. Training for the race, I'd rather do it right.

The saying is to "Train like you race." Restated, "You'll race like you train." Quality over quantity. It's better to do it right over a shorter distance than to do it wrong for twice as long. Get it right, then increase the distance. That's the way to race.

Speaking of Quality and Quantity, anyone considering a Tri One-O-One event, sent me a note and I'll forward a copy of a discount e-mail I received.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Subtle Hints

I like to think of myself as horribly brilliant. However, I have serious challenges when it comes to catching hints, at times. For example, if you happen to be related to me and want to provide a hint about a birthday or Christmas present, a good approach is to send me a note, call me to remind me about the note, and then send an e-mail to confirm the discussion. At that point, I'll probably remember that I should by you something for Christmas. I'll have no idea what to buy, but I'll get something.

I can be the same way about myself, as well. As I approached high school graduation, I had been doing everything possible to go to college. This despite all the signs that perhaps another path might be more appropriate. God gave me a hard head for a reason. It's a gift. A gift I use regularly. So, God had to resort to some fairly straightforward signs about what I should do with my life. Little things like a broken jaw and a complete lack of money did a good job of redirecting my energies. It took time, but I finally heard what was being said, and now find myself where I should be.

Yet I still find myself prone to missing subtle hints about a variety of things. My plans for last night were to have dinner, get the kids to bed, and do a couple hours on the trainer. Sure, I was tired, but training takes precedence. After all, with Friday being a rest day, I would get to sleep in (all the way until 6 a.m.).

My body apparently had other plans. B-Boy got to stay up a bit late while I got Monster Girl to sleep. After reading a chapter in our book, brushing teeth, and ensuring the required horseplay was completed (last night was a "foot ride" which entails him cruising around the house sitting on my foot), it was off to bed. I laid down to listen to B-Boy's prayers. And woke up two-and-a-half hours later.

At that point, I called the bike workout a bad idea, and crawled into bed. Let's face it, if you pass out on the floor for over two hours, you are either very tired or fairly drunk. It seems my body was trying to tell me something, and I wasn't listening.

Training is important. But we must remember that rest is a part of training and is just as vital as workouts and nutrition. In running, we use a rule of one minute for every mile of training. That means if you are training 30 miles/week, you should be getting 30 minutes of extra rest each night. The same rules apply to triathlon. As training time increases, your daily rest must also increase.

While sometimes challenging, ensure you are giving yourself sufficient opportunity to rest and recover from your training. Injury, illness, and burnout become increasingly likely as we become fatigued. So, as you progress in training, remember to give proper attention to your sleep.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Silly Eardrums

This morning, I accomplished my scheduled swim. It was a doozy, at 3500 yards. The distance, however, is not the source of pride. I finished the 2 mile swim (yes, I did the extra 20 yards to get there) in just under 1:22. The time isn't a source of pride, either (though it is a good pace, for me).

I am proud of myself for completing the entire swim because my earplugs started leaking somewhere around 1700 yards. While many swimmers wear earplugs to minimize motion sickness, I wear them to keep water out of my inner ear. Any time I actually fill my ears with water (such as getting into a pool without plugs), I'm almost guaranteed an ear infection. So, when I started feeling water leaking into my ears, I started planning when to stop.

As I finished that particular 500 yard set, I decided to start the next one, and see how things went. And the next. And the next. Part of me kept saying, "Stop. Getting an ear infection during training is just dumb." Another part said, "You might have to deal with leaking ear plugs in Louisville." The latter voice won out.

While vigilant about potential injuries, I am starting to push myself to complete workouts and meet training goals. That is particularly important in swimming (my limiter) and strength training (the one I'm most likely to blow off). Come August, the option to "cut it short" will be very unpalatable. It's time to train like I'll race. Go the distance, regardless of times. Do the things required for success, even if they are inconvenient or painful. Listen to the coach, because he knows what he's doing.

IM Louisville is about 190 days away. Race season starts well before that. Every day is vital to ensuring I'm prepared for the events that are fast approaching.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Peace and Stuff

There are a lot of changes going on at work, lately. In an effort to better group some of the staff, a lot of office moves are underway. I seem to be at the bottom of the pile, in more ways than one.

At the end of the day, I get to make a very short move (next door) with big implications. While I will be moving, the furniture will be staying. Somehow, I have to figure out how to move from an executive L-shaped desk to a small manager's desk without a return. Apparently, much of my paperwork is about to go from "in my face" to "in some drawer." Too bad, I'm sure that most of it is fairly important.

And the office next to mine is being remodeled. Whatever they are using to prep the walls is sure to have an extremely high street value. All those years spent just saying "No" to sniffing glue are going out the door. In fact, the current Internet radio station of choice is playing hippy tunes from the 60s and 70s. I'm just waiting for a tie-dyed VW Bus to go rolling down the hallway.

Hey, what's a little glycol ether among friends, right? Peace, man. Spread the love.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Leader of the Pack

As athletes, we all face requests for donations to various charitable organizations. Frequently, we have our own fundraising goals or pet projects. It can be a real balancing act determining where to send our contributions while ensuring we don't break the bank. And sometimes, the decision is easy.

Greyhound is doing the BP MS 150 to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research. For him, it is personal, as his wife battles MS every day. Having an aunt who has lived with MS for the better part of 20 years, I understand the desire to help raise funds. These funds have led to developments The Pack Leader benefits from every day. See Greyhound's post, as he does a much better job of telling the story.

As triathletes, we understand that huge things can be accomplished with small steps. By making enough small deposits into an Ironman account, we manage to complete a race many would consider impossible. If we all help out with a small step, Grey can reach his fundraising goal and the National MS Society can take more steps towards finding a cure. You can support Grey by making a contribution here, or by visiting his site and clicking the banner in his sidebar.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Going in Circles

Training for a triathlon is demanding and takes a great deal of discipline and dedication. Whether that first sprint race, an Olympic distance event, or Ironman, the concept is the same. All that changes is the time and distance put in during training. Of course, Ironman events require an extensive training program, and sometimes call for training to be performed during cold, dark, winter days.

That is where I find myself, at the moment. Sub-zero temperatures are far from conducive to biking, so I'm relegated to the basement, spinning on the trainer. This has its positives and its negatives. On the negative side is the lack of real life circumstances. There is no wind, hills are simulated, and the bike is locked into a single position. Of course, this is all offset by the television. Let's face it, training for Ironman puts a serious dent in T.V. time. But shows can be justified if it's all in the name of training. "I'll be up right after this episode of The Dead Zone. No, really. I'm SUPPOSED to train for 3 hours, today."

The sheer volume and frequency of swim workouts has called for some flexibility when it comes to both time and location of those sessions. I've found myself swimming in circles in just about every YMCA in the Fox Valley. Fortunately, most are within 10-15 minutes of home, and all are part of the same organization. And unlike Virginia Beach locations, all have towel service.

And then there's the real challenge. Running. So far, at least, the runs on my schedule have been straightforward and short. The weather, however, has been uncooperative. Ten miles is easy enough. Ten miles with snow on the ground, still okay. Ten miles with real temperatures in the negative column (and wind chills in the horribly negative category), less exciting.

So, it has been more "off to the Y" for me. And only the very real risk of severe hypothermia and/or frostbite will lead me to run 110 laps on the track. Swimming in circles is boring enough, but at least the risk of drowning helps keep me focused. Running in circles, just blah!

At the end of the week, month, and, most importantly, August, it will all come to a point. If I've completed enough circles, I'll have enough in the bank to go the distance in Louisville. And there won't be anything boring about that.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Look Both Ways

At just about any given time, somebody looking at my race schedule will see something on the horizon. While I can train without an upcoming event, paid registrations have always been the best motivation. Whether $15 for a local 1oK or $450 for Ironman Louisville, the result is the same. Money spent equals training accomplished.

Perhaps it is a function of the first marathon I ever completed. After a year of ribbing from a co-worker, I took a leap of faith and registered for a race I wasn't sure I could complete. If nothing else, signing up allowed me to go, "See, I'm entered." Even if I failed to finish, at least I had signed up.

Or maybe it's just that races give me a goal. A target for which to shoot. Winning isn't really a likelihood, but there's always a PR. Or a new distance. A race I've never completed. Something new to say I've accomplished.

I've rarely looked back, though. Once the race is completed, it's history. Finisher's Medals accumulate dust in a box. Race shirts wind up as sleeping attire. And race day anecdotes only come up when someone asks. The memorabilia from my biggest race to date, The Chicago Marathon, went into a display that was shipped to the cancer survivor for whom I ran the race. It's all just stuff.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see the videos put together by Tac Boy documenting the Tri Blog Alliance at IM Florida. Watching it, I realized that IM Louisville is going to fall into an entirely different category. The journey is longer. The demands are greater. The personal investment is much greater. *Nancy Toby asked if I was implying IM Louisville is somehow longer or more difficult than IM Florida. I see now that I poorly placed my statement. The intent was to compare IM with my previous events, not IMKY with IMFL. Dang! I've revealed the secret that I am, apparently, only human.*

And it appears there will be a slightly larger audience for this trip. And in August, a new reader might just ask the question, "What's all the hype about? What have I missed." So, I'm going to try and start documenting a bit more of this journey in pictures. Pictures of training, before and after pictures, and race day pictures.

Those of you who are on the same journey should consider the same thing. Just as Kahuna, Tac Boy, and a multitude of others put together the Tri Blog Alliance presentations, we can put together an "Ice Breaker" show for when we get together in Louisville. And if we're lucky, we'll have someone of Tac's caliber to document race day.

Because someday we'll want to be able to look back and say, "See, see what I did!"

Thursday, February 08, 2007

TBC Finds Fixes Blogger Misses

Okay, between Nytro and Flo, at least one of the major bugs of "new" blogger can be resolved. Spread the word, because most are still lost on this one. Blogger is included in "most" as they are clueless to the problem. This is evidenced by the fact that none of the requests for help on this issue from the past six months has had a single response.

The issue at hand is the "No" addresses in e-mails resulting from comments. Both have offered information that may help resolve any challenges posed by blogger.

Nytro addressed an address issue in a previously mentioned post. Though my address wasn't altered, apparently some addresses are changed to extensions or removed entirely. This results in incorrect or no address being used. This can be corrected in your profile.

Flo pointed out that the beta version requires each of us to select whether an e-mail address is shown. It doesn't specifically mention it, but this is the item that determines whether your e-mail address is shown on comment messages. You can set this in your profile, as well.

Thanks to these two for identifying an issue and sharing it with the world. I am baffled as to why blogger/google admin types haven't offered this assistance. That's okay, though. We know the TBC is the best in the world.


Sometimes, the hardest advice to follow is our own. Those of you who have been reading my posts and comments for some time are aware that I am quick to let anyone know that a few days off for illness or injury is better than pushing too hard and causing further damage. I truly believe that. I'm just terrible at heeding my own warnings.

So, when Saturday's swim wiped me out and opened a chink in my armor, I was faced with some tough decisions. Sunday, I had an hour run scheduled, as well as a meeting of our local triathlon club. After church, I took the opportunity to get a nap and try to break the fever that had been plaguing me since the swim. I quickly decided that the meeting was out, and abandoned the run as a bad idea. It's tough to run when you're sleeping and covered with all kinds of blankets.

After a couple hour's rest, I woke up and threw on my cycling clothes. The fever had almost broke, so what harm was there in a simple spin on the trainer (Power Intervals DVD). That would be at least something in the trianing log.

By half-time of the Super Bowl, I knew that a long swim Monday morning wasn't going to happen. Frustrating as that was, I yielded to common sense (and my wife mentioning she would unplug the alarm clock if I set it for 4:30). I also opted out of Tuesday's training sessions. Wednesday, I switched my swim for a one-hour run. While still exercise, I was at least out of the water.

That still leaves me playing catch-up for the week. Though I know I'll be unable to get back all the training, I'm trying to get some quality workouts in, now that I'm feeling somewhat better.

This morning, I did the scheduled 1000 yard swim. I was going to skip it, until I saw it was only 1000 yards. The short swim gave me time to get some strength training in, as well. Tonight, I'm doing a bike session that was moved from Monday. By the end of the day, I'll basically be short two swims. Long ones, but only two swims. I'll take that after being down for three days.

At the end of the day, we have to be willing to listen to our bodies. They are extremely accurate when it comes to identifying the need for rest. And this time of year tends to find us fighting any of a wide range of health issues.

Training is important. Just remember to listen to your body as it provides feedback about your health. There is little to gain by struggling through a workout because we're too stubborn to admit we might be sick or injured.

Blogger Proves Their Blow Factor

Well, Blogger proved just how idiotic they could become. As they continue to struggle with the bugs, errors, faults, and complaints about Blogger Beta (call it what they want), I came across this, today.

We've been giving you warnings. The signs have been there. Preparations have been made. Now, it's time!
That's right, it's time to embrace the new version of Blogger! Starting today, a small percentage of users who log in to an old Blogger account will be required to move to the new version. This involves moving your current Blogger account to a new or existing Google Account. After the move, you will need to log in to Blogger with your Google Account username, which is always the email address associated with your account. If you're one of the lucky folks who is prompted to move your account over to the new version of Blogger, you'll be able to postpone this process once (and only once) if you *really* need to get a post out of your head or want to say goodbye to the old Blogger. After that, it's time to befriend the new Blogger!

This explains those who have indicated that they were forced to switch. Now, I too fell prey to their lack of forethought. Of course, I saw it coming and, faced with various options, chose to wait them out. I had hoped they would leave the true blue blogger up and running until the issues plaguing their beta were resolved.

No such luck. So, we'll have to do the work for them. See Nytro's post to resolve at least the e-mail issue. Hopefully, others will come up with fixes for other issues. Now, it's off to see if I was luckier than Bold (who lost a sizable chunk of his pictures when they converted his page).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Time Keeps on Drifting

Take a peek at the countdown timer on the sidebar. Go ahead, don't be scared. Well, maybe a little, especially if you are one of the lucky participants registered for IM Louisville.

It's amazing how the simple move from 201 to 199 changes perspectives. When the clock read 201, there was all the time in the world to train. It was no big deal that swimming 4600 yards took enough out of me to lower my resistance and let me get sick. With 199 days, missing a few days training because of that illness is driving me batty.

When the race was 201 days out, having little more than rumors and broad generalities about the course was a minor issue. Now that we're down to 199 days, missing this vital information is nerve wracking. How do we train for a race that is just around the corner when we don't even know what the course looks like?

With 201 days to race day, I wasn't too concerned that the lake has a big sheet of ice on it, making it difficult to test my new wetsuit. With 199 days left, I'm doomed to wonder if spring will ever arrive and push the ice downriver.

There is, however, good news. I have a coach who also knows there are only 199 days until race day. And he has a plan to give me the tools to get from the starting line to the finish line within the 17 hour limit. This eases the "199 days" concerns in two ways. First, the advice provided prior to even being an official trainee paid huge dividends. Second, Coach Mike has had great success with triathletes at all levels. I trust his experience and my abilities. Though time keeps on drifting, 199 is enough, for today. Tomorrow, 198 will have to do.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Sounds of Silence

My blog/tri sister Veeg just sent a note indicating she was having some issues with the site, and she estimated it was due to the music. So, we're going to see if the strong, silent type blog is more to her computer's liking.

Besides, I haven't come across a particularly motivating song in a few days.

Training has taken a hit the last few days as I battle a bug. It's something I've been holding at bay for a week or so (the kids have been struggling with it, as well). After Saturday's long swim, I was so tired that my body finally gave in. So, a couple day's rest were in order. Not desired, appreciated, or expected. But needed.

Monday, February 05, 2007

One for the Corps

In the Stanley Kubrick film "Full Metal Jacket," former Marine R. Lee Ermey plays the hardcore drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. His portrayal of a tough Marine molding young men into "killing machines" earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

In one scene, Hartman is attempting to "motivate" one of his privates to complete pullups. He asks for one for the Commandant, and then one for the Corps (his "beloved Marine Corps"). When the private is unable to complete the last pullup, Hartman barks, "Well, I guess the Corps doesn't get their's." As I came to the end of my long swim, this weekend, that is what was running through my head. After completing what I believed was 4500 yards, I dug deep to do an extra 100 yards, just in case I had messed up somewhere along the line.

I had gotten everything correctly. For that swim, the Corps got their's. 4600 yards completed in 1:46 and change. As I climbed out of the pool, I felt like I had just spent an hour getting cycled by Senior DI Hartman. Few events in Navy bootcamp pushed my limits as this swim did.

There is a lot to be learned from pushing ourselves, and testing our limits. We grow the most when we are at the bounds of our abilities. I can learn about myself from a 500 yard swim. I learn more when another zero is added. The same can be said for the bike and the run. We improve ourselves in our routine, daily training. We learn about ourselves when we go outside the bounds we thing limit us.

And just like in boot camp, we have to leave a bit of ourselves behind. That part that says "I can't do this" or "This is too hard." If we those gremlins with us, they'll bite us in the butt come race day.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The 4500

A few years back The USA Network came out with a show called "The 4400." The premise of the show is that 4400 individuals abducted by aliens suddenly return to earth, each with amazing new ability. Of course, that's relatively superflous, as all I'm really interested in is the number.

That's because 4400 yards is exactly 2.5 miles. It is also the longest swim I have ever completed to date. And most people reading this understand the journey from 100 yards to 2.5 miles. On Saturday, the plan is to make 4400 the second furthest distance I've ever swam.

And this 4500 will be a different creature than my first 2.5 mile swim. Though it is still scheduled to be a straight swim (no rest intervals), it is a mixed set of swim, drill, and speedwork. Keeping everthing straight as I swim should be interesting. The main set is something like this:

300 at time trial pace MINUS 3 seconds, 100 drill, 100 fast, 50 non-free. So, for 300 yards, I have to exceed my time trial pace. Add in the 50 non-free, and I'm sure to be feeling it by the end of the workout. Even so, I'm actually looking forward to getting this done. Like a 20-mile training run, I see these 2.5 mile swims as confidence builders for Ironman. I will definitely be pulling that card out on race day. "Hey, you've done this x number of times, already. And that was without a wetsuit."

I think this has to be one of the serious benefits of having a coach. I've always tried to have good plans, and I've always tried to complete the big training goals. Having a coach to help make sure it all falls together in the right way is sure to pay huge dividends.

So, coached or winging it, get out and get your training in, this weekend. Race season is fast approaching. Whether 2 weeks or 200 days, will you be ready?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tag - I'm It!

Tag sort of things generally get blown off when they hit my computer. I don't forward the "bad things will happen if you break the chain" chain letters. Jokes languish in the hell that is my Deleted folder (unless they're are TOTALLY hilarious and fitting, then I forward to whomever is most applicable). And any hoax sent my direction gets sent right back with a link to whatever website debunks the myth.

I will, however, yield this one time. First, Lisa in Madison is the one who tagged me. She just completed her first marathon, so she deserves some kudos. Second, Veeg showed some link love when she responded to the same list. Finally, I need something to cover up the rant (see previous post). Rants are all fine and dandy, but they don't count as real posts, in my book.

1. Describe a memory from your first triathlon.

Let's see, that would be the sprint race that was scheduled as a 220-yd swim, 15 mile bike, and 5K run. It turned into a 220-yd swim, 7 mile bike, 7 mile run, 1 mile bike, 5K run. Yes, I know, that's an odd way to do a race. That's what happens when the chain on your brand new bike breaks with only 8 miles on it. Running seven miles of the bike portion of a race while barefoot will leave an impression on most people.

2. Describe a memory from your most recent triathlon.

I ran a sprint tri in place of a training partner's girlfriend. I found out Friday night that I was racing on Saturday. I happen to have biked to and from work that Friday (56 miles total), and my goggles were in my transition bag, which was at the office.

3. What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you in a tri?

If anyone missed item one, that would have to take the cake. Let's face it, a racer comes riding into T2 on a different bike than when he left T1. With no shoes. And black feet. Dead last. Yeah, that was special.

4. What's the most thrilling thing that's ever happened in a triathlon?

Most my "thrilling" moments were before or after races. In my first triathlon (see 1, above), I won a $25 gift certificate to a sports store because I had the guts to finish the race, despite the broken chain. At my second race, I got to meet Sarah Reinertsen and Veeg. And in every race, it's awesome to see my kids at various points around the course.

5. What is something I've learned about myself doing triathlons?

First, I can, in fact, swim more than 250 yards. Second, I have a slight "go for it all" disorder.

6. What is the BIG goal toward which I am working?

The finish line of Ironman Louisville, before 11:59 p.m. on August 26, 2007. My other huge goal is to get my youth triathlon project rolling along smartly. We have 50 kids interested, and we're working on additional funding to pay for the project. Introducing 50 youth to the sport of triathlon will probably mean more than finishing in Louisville.

Beta - It's a Good Thing - A Rant

Well, I'm glad Blogger has made the announcement that their "Beta" version is now the NEW Blogger, instead of a beta.

Too bad their no-longer-a-beta-because-it's-working-so-well system seems to be broke, again. Perhaps they can remove the little "x" they put over the "beta" on their pages and announce they're back in beta testing.

There's just something about attempting to post a comment and having the system tell you that you have to log in, even if you are logged in. And then say that you have to enter a verification code, only to have that code not be shown. Or to have your comment entirely blown away because the comment section says you had a required field left blank, even if there were no fields in the first place.

Ah, non-beta-betas. They're such fun. Okay, rant over.