Monday, November 30, 2009

Swim Camp day 8

Today's swim:
WU: 700 swim / 500 pull

2000m TT - 30:07.78 (1st 1k in 15:19, 2nd 1k in 14:48)

100 easy

400 pull / 350 swim easy
Total: 4050m

Not much to say here. I was really pleased with the time trial. I was concerned I might have gone out too hard, but when I came through the first half at a faster pace than my individual 1000s from the other day, I knew I'd be able to lean on it more in the last 500m.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Swim Camp day 7

Yesterday I ran in a new pair of trail runners -- the New Balance MT100 (yes, another pair of shoes). They're essentially racing flats for the trail, although some of NB's sponsored athletes use them for ultramarathons. Whatever works for them I guess.

I will not be using them for ultras (of course, I won't be using any shoes for ultras since I have no interest in running that far, but that's besides the point). While they worked great for the three or so miles I ran on the trail, I took a beating running 2.5 miles on the road when I met up with Hannah for the run back to the car. My arches feel like someone went at them with a switch. Good shoes for short, quick trail runs. Bad shoes for pavement.

More swimming:
WU: 500 swim

4000 continuous -- 1:05:32 total -- I attempted to descend by 1000m (1k - 16:51, 2k - 16:43, 3k - 16:11, 4k - 15:45)

100 easy

400 kick / 400 pull / 100 CD
Total: 5500m
Weekly total: 31.1k

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Swim Camp day 6

We interrupt this regularly boring swim camp update to tell you about something cool we did last night.

Hannah and I had heard about a local brewery outside of San Angelo, but we'd had no luck finding it and no one we spoke with had any idea what we were talking about. On Thursday, I finally stumbled across something online, but it wasn't much to go on. All we learned is that there's a brewery/restaurant in the renovated space of an old schoolhouse in Eola, about 20 minutes east of San Angelo. We decided to give it a try for Friday dinner.

It was a little tough to find in the dark; small town Texas is like that. Eventually, we found the place and went inside. This wasn't like any upscale Colorado brewery, but was, without a doubt, the coolest thing we've seen in a while.

In the early 2000s, Mark, the owner, bought the old, abandoned schoolhouse (built in the early part of the 1900s I think). The school had closed in 1982 and had fallen into serious disrepair -- broken glass, missing roof sections, floor covered in mud and dirt, and fire damage.

Over the next few years, Mark basically renovated the building himself. He's still got plenty of work to do, but he's come a long way. A big chunk of the building is now the brewery. He's turned two rooms into dining rooms -- one with a bar and the other for private functions. The seating is old-style classroom chairs and tables. The menu is written on the blackboard. He also set up a bunkhouse for visiting hunters.

It's also worth sharing that this guy doesn't have any formal training in carpentry, roofing, pluming, etc. It's very impressive.

Oh, and the beer was good. I get the impression he usually has two kinds on tap, plus others in gallon jugs for purchase.

We'll be going back next weekend for a beer tasting. Should be fun. I'm also (not so secretly as of this post) hoping to get the running club to do a race out there. Prizes could be things like pint glasses. There's a lot of flat, lightly-traveled farm roads out that way. Could be really cool and encourage some folks to get out of San Angelo.

And here's the swim from today:
WU: 750 free / 300 kick / 500 pull / 250 free

10x200 (4 on 3:20, 3 on 3:15, 2 on 3:10, 1 on 3:05)

100 easy

5x100 IM on 1:50

300 easy
Total: 4700m

Friday, November 27, 2009

Swim Camp day 5

My shoulders are starting to feel it, but so far, everything is holding up okay. I've also been hungrier lately, which is a good thing, since we have so much turkey left over.

WU: 500 swim / 300 kick / 500 pull

2x1000m (second 1000 faster than the first): 1- 16:26, 2- 15:27

100 easy (or 200, I can't remember)

4x100 on 1:15 (odd = backstroke, even = freestyle)

200 CD

Total: 4000m

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Swim Camp day 4

I'm thankful the university pool was open today. I don't think I could have handled another swim in the lake.

WU: 500 free / 100 kick / 500 pull / 200 kick / 200 free

5x400 (each one faster than the one before) all on 6:30: arrive - 6:22, 6:19, 6:16, 6:06, 6:01

200 easy

10x100 (evens = free, odd = IM) on 1:55

100 easy
Total: 4800m

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Swim Camp day 3: Fail

Today, due to holiday hours at the pool and the fact that I still had regular working hours, my only option was to swim at the lake.

Despite dressing like a lame superhero from head to toe (wetsuit, neoprene cap, socks and gloves), I was only able to get in 3500m before I started loosing some motor function.

Everything was going okay once I could stand to put my face in the water. I was ticking off 350m loops every five minutes. Pretty suddenly though, about 2900m in, I started shivering in my legs, so I tried picking up the effort to keep warm. That only lasted for another few minutes. The next split I took had me swimming about 30 seconds slower, which is not common for me. A minute later my whole body was shaking and I was having trouble getting my arms around. I called it a day at that point. Hours later, after a long, hot shower, plenty of food and beer: I'm still cold.

It might not help that I was also racing the sunset. Here in Texas, the minute the sun drops, the temperature plummets. My highly scientific personal measuring system put the water temperature at 33 degrees Fahrenheit... or maybe in the 50s somewhere, the system is kind of glitchy.

Anyway, no 4000 meters for today. Fallback goal is 50k over the two weeks. I'm just shy of 12k now.

Today's workout:
3500m continuous in the marginally above freezing lake. I saw a frozen snake. Or a reed. One of the two.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Swim Camp day 2

The not exciting part starts right away (I warned you):

WU - 400 swim / 200 kick / 300 swim / 100 kick

2000m continuous with band and buoy

50 easy

10x100m on 1:55 -- first five freestyle (arrive 1:35), second five IM (arrive around 1:40)

200 cool down
4250m total

That band and buoy set and that 8x250 from yesterday are some of the "bonus" workouts for the camp that get me extra points that I can trade in for all sorts of fun prizes like a plastic sword or ray gun. I'm much better at swimming than skeeball, so I should be up for something good.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Swim Camp

The Endurance Corner team is doing a virtual swim camp for the next two weeks. There are all sorts of points for hitting certain distances in a workout, as well as doing specific sets, but the details probably aren't that interesting for most of you. My personal goal for the camp is to swim 4,000 meters each day for 13 days. The camp is 14 days long, but I'm planning for one off day that I'll probably reserve for the last day when I need to fly back up to NJ/NYC.

With the holiday and wacky pool hours, I'm sure I'll be in the lake at least one of the days -- likely covered head to toe in neoprene (wetsuit, cap, booties and gloves if it's really chilly). The days have been in the 70s, but mornings and nights are down in the high 30s/low 40s. I might have a tough go of it.

The pool at the university where I swim is short-course meters (scm). Technically it's over 25 meters long (about 26 meters -- I have no idea what pool designer messed that up), but I'm rounding down to 25 meters for ease of math.

Anyway, today's workout:
Group swim (which I conveniently organize):
Warm-up: 200 swim / 100 kick / 2x100 swim / 2x50 kick / 4x50 swim / 4x25 kick
10x25 on :45
5x100 on 2:00
10x25 on :30

After the group practice, I rolled into:
8x250 (first 25 fly) on 4:20
200 cool down

Total: 4200m

So that's today. I expect if nothing else interesting happens to me, this will be the highlight of my blog for the next two weeks. For your sake, pray that I have some decent stories from Thanksgiving or my cold lake swims.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm full of energy... bars

I recently picked up Thrive, by Brendan Brazier, which amounts to a vegan approach to eating for endurance sports. I have no desire to become a vegan, but some of the recipes intrigued me as well as his thoughts on eating in a way that puts less stress on your body.

I was most interested in his energy bar recipes, of which I've made six batches in just over a week. Some were success. Others... still edible, but bordering on gross in terms of both taste and consistency. This is coming from a guy who's go-to meal in my first few years out of college was canned tuna, rice and olive oil. I still look back fondly on that dinner/lunch/sometimes breakfast and even sneak it in every so often when Hannah is working late.

Anyway, energy bars.

Who knew they were so easy yet so much of a PITA to make?
- Ingredients required: Not much, just some dates, nuts, protein powder, seeds and ground flaxseed. Depending on the recipe and variation, you may also need fruit, chocolate, cacao and some more exotic ingredients (popped amaranth?).
- Tools/appliances required: Again, not much, just a food processor, spatula and plastic wrap
- Patience required: More than you can imagine, at least for the first few batches.

For my initial trials, I was successful in terms of taste because I followed the recipes exactly. But they had the texture of raw cookie dough, so you can imagine the difficulty of eating one while riding a bike.

My next batch was more solid, but tasted awful. I tried increasing the amount of protein powder to soak up some of the moisture. Ugh, that was a mistake. However, if you need a homemade recipe for something to "clean out" your system, let me know.

I found some measure of success by increasing the amount of dates and ground flaxseed and by baking the bars at low heat to remove some of the moisture. Since these are supposed to be raw though, I may be missing the point.

I finally discovered that the secret isn't necessarily in the ingredients, but in the forming of the bars themselves. Originally I had been trying to make them into PowerBar sized shapes: long and flat. Then it occurred to me: Clif Bars are pretty thick. And Lara Bars (made mostly with dates, just like mine!) are significantly thicker. So, some mashing and shaping later, I found success:
And they're good. I'm not sure they'll replace all the store-bought bars for long training rides when it gets in the high 90s, but they are a good addition, and they're definitely healthier than the big name energy bars. Since they're mostly fruit, nuts and seeds, they make a fine snack too.

And yes, that's hemp protein in the background of that picture. That's what the recipes in the book call for. I don't know that it's absolutely necessary or if it's because of the vegan approach. I do know that it was large quantities of regular vanilla whey protein powder that made one my batches gross.

Interesting fact: it's illegal to grow hemp in the US, because the government is afraid everyone would make lots of protein powder. But it's a-okay in Canada. The stuff I have is from Vancouver, by way of the local grocery store.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


I would have sworn I had broken my foot after Lake Placid this past year. Actually, I was kind of concerned I had broken my foot before Lake Placid -- Hannah was the only person that knew because I didn't want the negative energy that would come out of my family's well-intentioned concern. I was already anxious as it was. 2009 was my least "mentally ready" IM -- even more so than my first. I think my choice to stay in a hotel 20 minutes away from all the activity in Lake Placid was a good one, otherwise I might have been a wreck.

But this post isn't about my fragile mental state, it's about goodbyes. Specifically, goodbye to some good friends.

Before the race I had some pain in the ball of both of my feet, but more significantly in my left foot. After the race I had an enormous bruise on the bottom of my foot that made walking absolutely suck. I'm not 100% sure what caused my foot pain, after all, I hadn't been running particularly fast or particularly long all year.

It might have been that my shoes were too worn down and I would have been better off switching to a new pair a few weeks before the race.

It might have been that my orthotics weren't doing their jobs.

It probably was a combination of both.

In any event, after the race I ordered a new pair of my super-favorite $60 Vitruvians for use when I could get around again without hobbling.

I'm sorry to say that Vitruvians are no longer my super-favorite. For whatever reason, I can't put those shoes on without my feet hurting. The shoe design didn't change, I know that. I guess it's possible that my feet changed from the pounding of the ironman, but I doubt it. Maybe it's psychosomatic... I guess that would mean this post is about my fragile mental state.

It doesn't really matter. I'm back in Brooks (the Ravenna and ST Racer 4, specifically). And I'm not wearing my orthotics anymore either. And, most importantly, I don't have any foot pain. At only $60 a pair, I don't need to spend any more effort figuring out why the Vitruvians stopped feeling good on my feet. It's just the way it is.

So, goodbye $60 running shoes. Goodbye clunky orthotics. You served me well ...until you turned on me like a pet tiger.