Category Archives: Random

Splitting the offseason

Following the DNF at JFK, and even before that, I knew I needed to take some time off at the end of the season. Doing Year of Cheeses stuff on its own wouldn’t sufficiently take up enough time, but I’ve been able to fill some of the time by cooking, Thanksgiving, and learning new things (related and unrelated to work). The least exciting thing has been the amount of weight I’ve been putting on, but I think one of the most exciting things I’ve done in the past two weeks has been splitting a half cord of wood. It has left me incredibly sore, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

More core work coming.

Autumn recap before I kill my legs this weekend

Soooooo, hello! It’s been a while (since August). In that time, I’ve logged a lot of miles getting ready for JFK 50 and run a few adequate races. In short, I think since the mangledankle last year, I haven’t lost too much speed, but I’ve not gained any: I feel like I’m stuck with the speed I had in 2011, which is fine, but I’d like to get the speed back once JFK 50 is over.

A few recent results:
In early October, Macy, Sarah, Chris, Kerry, Jamie and I all took part in the final Applefest Half Marathon. I wanted to finish off the race with another apple pie, and was fairly confident that I could get third place based on last years time. Mentally I wasn’t fully committed to running as hard as possible for the entire race: I ran out a bit hard than I should have, and on the uphills towards the end I took a couple of breaks in the pace to recover. Overall, I had the same time that I ran two years ago: 1:26:41, coming in second and getting yet another apple pie. Chris and Kerry also each won apple pies for their performance in the relay.
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Rev3 Old Orchard Beach: Stop and go penalty

Alisa, my home stay/teammate from Portland last year, flew into Boston and we drove up to OOB together on Saturday. An early morning for me was an even earlier morning for her coming from the West Coast. Friday had been an interesting day. I had run into work, and though it’s only a 2.5 mile run, I had felt terrible. I decided not to run that evening on account of not feeling great and having a stomach that wasn’t quite settled. Despite the knowledge that I should go to sleep early, I hadn’t. So Saturday morning was a very early morning to drive the 1.5 hours to Portland. Fortunately, we had some Sludgies® to eat along the way.

Blueberries, bananas, blackberries and boranges.

Blueberries, bananas, blackberries and boranges.

Upon our arrival, Alisa went to swim and I just messed around for a bit, talking to the Powerbar rep, saying hi to all of the Rev3 family that I’ve come to know so well, and getting myself psyched to go for a run. I realized I had forgotten my Garmin, but no matter. I’ve been running with it a lot less frequently during the summer of nomojo, and having done the half course last year I vaguely knew where things were. As I ran, as I often do, I alternated between being in the zone and dreading the next few steps. This is not an infrequent occurrence, but when I have less mojo, the speed with which I alternate between the two states increases dramatically. Around mile 4 of my run, I stopped and used a portapotty[1]. Made it to 5 miles and decided it was time to turn around. I ended up walking a bit of the run in: my head was definitely taking it’s time working through what it wanted to do.

While checking in my bike, I ended up talking to a city council member from Old Orchard Beach, who was raving about the triathletes and how they bring such a good group to Old Orchard Beach. Well, Old Orchard Beach certainly does a great job in bringing out the best volunteers.

Alisa and I both grabbed an early dinner and then headed back to the motel. I ended up watching a bit of Too Cute Puppies/Kittens. Perhaps the best thing to get someone psyched up before a race?!

Early is terrible

Early is terrible

The Swim
I had a long time before my swim wave went off, so I spent the time drinking Coke and having Swedish Fish and Goldfish. You know, the standard. My stomach had seemed settled for a bit, but once I had my wetsuit on and was in the swim corral, I knew something was off. But there wasn’t enough time to do anything about it other than hope that I could keep my shit together. The tide was probably at its lowest which meant a very shallow start, including a fair bit of trudging through thigh deep water. The inbound and outbound legs seemed normal (aside from the walking) but the cross-leg seemed to go on forever. Looking at everyone’s times, it appears that it did (the fastest age groupers went through the swim in ~24 minutes which is just pretty damn slow for the fishes if there’s not something counteracting them. Also slowing people down? The cold: the water temp was announced as 62. That said, aside from my face freezing, my BlueSeventy Helix kept me warm as a… (what’s the opposite as cool as a cucumber?).

The Bike
Nothing to report here. Went entirely by feel. Dogged a bit of it where I could have pressed. Started pressing on the inbound leg, but my heart wasn’t truly in it. That said, there were moments of sheer exhilaration where everything that just clicked and felt amazing. Big todo for next year is to overhaul my drivetrain: I’m not sure I can stand the slipping gears or how much power I’m losing to it.

The run
I love running. I was giving everyone whose path I crossed a high-five. I grabbed a delicious PowerBar Pomengranate Blueberry Acai gel and probably got more of it on the ground than in my gut (it was good though. I typically go for the blander chocolate or vanilla flavored gels, but sometimes you just get lucky when you grab something). Continued on the downhills and then I made it to the mile 4 aid station where Carole was cheering for me (and everyone else):
Carole: Go Jordan! Go!!!
Me: (Pointing at the portapotty) Oh I’m going to go so hard.
Carole: (laughing) Number 1?
Me: No no.
At some point while I was in there, Carole asked if I was done yet. I’m not sure how long I had been in there. 2 minutes? 1? 3? Definitely a stop and go penalty of some sort. But hey, I’m not trying to crush myself for triathlon right now, so now reason to get in the dumps about it. So I kept on giving people high fives. Ryan passed me as he started out on the half run course and called me a sandbagger, but hey, I was just out there to have a good time.

So what are the takeaways from this race? I love it. I love racing. I loved the triathlon, and I’m a lot better at all three sports combined than I am at any one of them individually. I’m not trying, nor will I ever, set the triathlon world on fire. But whatever was missing is back now. Perhaps this means I need to race more to keep my competitive juices flowing (racing, it’s been said, is just icing on the cake… and I love icing). So now I turn my attention to the fall running schedule, which will see me take on new, terrifying challenges while trying not to be bummed that I’m currently a bit slower than I was last year. The speed will come back. And that’s a lot easier to do when the challenge of racing is ever present.

  1. For those of you new here, I had never used a portapotty until I was 25 or so, despite high school sports, etc

Walking away to come back

If I’ve been quiet, it’s because I didn’t know quite how to write this. I’ve been struggling getting my head on straight and focusing on training all season. It would be easy to say that it’s because of everything that happened at Boston, or to blame it on the injuries, but I think the reasons are a bit more expansive. All of this is to say that I’ve taken a break from training for triathlon for a bit so that I’ll be able to come back to it at as soon as possible (next year). That said, I’m still racing.
This morning was the Boston Triathlon, which would be only my second sprint tri. I haven’t swim in a month. I haven’t biked in that time either. And it showed. Slow in the water, slow on the bike (not sure if a brake was rubbing or if I was just terrible), and once on the run I decided that given my focus is being able to run long and fast this fall and winter, there was no need to really race 4.5 miles of running. So I didn’t (I still ran very comfortably quickly, which was good news). That’s just the way it ends up.
Is it troubling that I feel the need to step back? I think so if only because I have so many unanswered questions about why I need to step back. I’ve got it all. Great sponsors who have great products that I love to get people to use, great teammates who are loving and understanding and crazy, great family and loved ones… but I feel burnt out: if not by the training than by what goes into getting into training. Case in point: last night I had to swap tubes from my training wheels to my race wheels, and that alone took longer than the race itself. Getting to the pool to swim is a 20-25 minute walk from work. But if I wanted it badly enough, I would put up with it, right? So what’s changed since November?

  • Is it the mangled ankle? Was that such a spanner in the works that I couldn’t be back to racing this year? Did the fact that I went all in on running to get back for Boston mean that I had to forsake all the other sports[[1. No I didn’t. I just ended up not doing them
  • Is it performance anxiety? Am I afraid of my own success? I am worried that this is quite possibly true
  • I’m 20 lbs over where I was last year. I don’t have top end speed (speedwork right now is terrible). I know what the cause of the first one is, I have no clue what the reason for the second one is

So for right now, I’m doing what I can to stay in shape, get my head right, and get some training discipline back into my life. I’ve got OOB (get one of the last spots and race with me!) coming up, then back to Applefest, Marine Corps, and JFK 50 Miler. And in a few hours, I’ll find out about HURT 100.

Oh right. So all of that happened

I had the post-marathon blues pretty bad: I wasn’t super psyched to train, I wasn’t super psyched to race. Life was good, don’t get me wrong. But I felt like the marathon training, coming back from the mangled ankle, and a general lack of focus and fitness in the biking and swimming left me far behind where I wanted to be. I traveled to Knoxville to help out with timing for Rev3, and while that was a wet and wild weekend (torrential downpours, driving all over Knoxville, etc), it didn’t bring as much of a fire to my belly as I might have hoped. So going into Quassy, I was not expecting good things.

The swim at Quassy probably went as well as I could expect. For the first time, I felt a lot of contact at the start, but I felt consistent (albeit slow) in the water. The bike was as difficult as I remembered. Up, down, around… I hit a high speed of ~50mph. While I didn’t blow up my race on the bike, I did drop my feed bottle around mile 20. Compounded with the fact that I had very little nutrition pre-race, I was going to be in a world of hurt. I was already feeling a bit of a bonk coming off the bike, and then the run… oh boy. It was 90 degrees out, and while my body might have been strong, my mind was not. Last year I had been able to run the entire course. This year, after mile 2, the course turned uphill and my mind just kind of shut the day down. I’m not sure if it’s the extra weight I’m carrying around from the lack of focused training or if I’m just being a giant wimp, but something has to give.

Today was the Mount Washington Road Race. I wish I could say I’m a mountain lion or mountain goat or whatever, but nope. The course is spectacular with views of the surrounding White Mountains. But there’s really no way to soft peddle the fact that the course is a bear. An average 11.7% grade. No downhills. No respite from climbing. No shelter from the wind above the tree line. A cruel finish that pitches up ridiculously. Yes I walked. Quite a bit of it in fact. But in doing so I had a great time with a bunch of people and prevented those thoughts that keep on telling me: just pick one sport, you’re not good at this. So up we went. Up up up into a stiff winds that were godsends when they were tailwinds and the coldest winds from the depth of hell just about any other time. And I can’t wait to try again next year: hopefully a bit lighter [1], hopefully with strong mental resolve, and hopefully, if I buckle down, much better fitness.

  1. Hopefully the June of Sobriety (except for one birthday that deserves celebrating) will help shed a few pounds.

Waxing and waning

I’m still alive. I got through dog sitting, and while I enjoyed it, I don’t think I’m ready to have a dog just yet. I’m sometimes bad at budgeting time, and while Kaipo forced me to get a little better at that, it meant that I had to reprioritize things, like some training. But right now, every run counts, so I’ve only been putting the cycling by the wayside.

As cold as it looks, and windy to boot.

As cold as it looks, and windy to boot.

This weekend was supposed to be a 16 miler. As a result of late nights Thursday and Friday, I decided I needed to head up to NH to get some quality training and avoid the craziness that is St. Patrick’s Day in Boston. Unfortunately, I woke up Sunday to temperatures in the low teens and a brisk[1] northerly wind. I had enough gear that I thought my workout (1 mile easy, 2 @ 6:45-6:55 repeat until complete) would be doable. But as I started, I quickly realized that 1. my legs were still, for some reason, incredibly dead and 2. I can do headwinds, I can do cold, I can do hills; I can do two of them at once, but all three during a hard workout? No thank you. That said, I think if it weren’t for the pace requirements, I could have gotten 16 miles in. Instead, feeling exhausted and slightly upset with myself, I drove home and fell asleep around 9:30PM.

As a bit of a sidebar, my confidence with regards to running ebbs and flows from day to day and even within runs. I see friends setting PRs, and I haven’t even really raced yet in 2013. The mangled ankle is still swollen from time to time and there are small aches and pains associated with the entire lower leg. As I’ve said, I’m constantly adjusting my expectations with regards to Boston. Some days I worry that qualifying is out of the picture. But for the most part, this is out of my control. All I can do is move forward.

With all that, I got home from work yesterday and decided to get my 16 miler in (as Steve said, “At this point, miles are you friend”). Set off, and was really trying to hold myself back around the 6:55 pace for the first couple of 2 mile intervals, but that’s easier said than done (5 seconds/mile slower is just 1.25 seconds a lap slower on a track, and splitting the timing that fine is just not really all that easy). So I just continued on my merry way, sometimes into the damp wind that was a prelude to the mess that is today (in which case I was not so merry), sometimes with the wind at my back. And though it was cold and partially miserable, I was able to run in shorts and a long-sleeve bike jacket. All of which made for a bit of an easier workout.

It turns out I ran the entire 16 in 1:51:43, which is about 8 minutes slower than my first ever half-marathon. I got stronger as the miles progressed, even if there were some stomach issues cropping up. So the run was a great confidence booster (especially in preparation for my 18 miler this weekend). Maybe sub-3 is still in the cards, but I am confident another BQ is in the cards… so long as I Tri-Slide up my nips. Because cold weather and cutting glass don’t play well together.

How are you feeling about your end of winter fitness?

  1. Does a brisk wind by definition always occur when it is cold outside?

Be calm. Be brave. It’ll be ok.

Before I get to running, I had a 5 minute TT on the bike today. This was actually my second go in two weeks at this, as two weeks ago I flew out of the proverbial gates and was crushed before 2.5 minutes were up. Today, with targets in mind, I rode a much smoother (full) 5 minutes. That’s not to say I felt good afterwards:

I had one of those runs on Monday where everything just felt pretty good. Easy pace felt easy. Nothing hurt. But the path to getting out the door was far less than easy. I had to convince myself, really convince myself, that 25 minutes of easy running had to get done (it was on the schedule). And I think I know why.

Just like Costa Rica and Quassy last year, I’m afraid that I might have to adjust my goals. The #mangledankle set me farther back than I’d like to admit. While I was out in Boulder, Steve made it pretty clear that <2:50 at Boston is pretty much out of the books. I’m beginning to wonder if sub-3:00 is even out of the books as well. Too be honest, Monday’s run was the first run where I actually felt back to my “old[1]” self. Maybe it’s because I haven’t raced in 3 months (even Super Sunday, where I ran tempo and that felt easy, didn’t feel like a great run and definitely wasn’t me racing). Maybe it’s because I’m a bit heavier right now than I have been in a year or two. Maybe the ankle isn’t fully healed (it’s still in a perpetually swollen state, even if it doesn’t hurt at all). What I do know is that there are still 7.5 weeks to get ready (or as ready as possible) for Boston. Running will get easier. Trust the plan as it is formed now (as much as I can).

What do you do when you think you need to readjust?

  1. Emily, I think, will get a kick out of this because my old self, the old self she remembers very well, is not someone who could run the 4 miles easy and feel like it was easy. What I meant was pre-injury me

Boulder, Sponsor Style

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So last time I wrote, I told you I’d talk about the tri-specific stuff (aside from meeting people) that we did in Boulder. It’s odd; I never thought I would be a sponsored athlete of any sort (although I suppose you could say that growing up, most of the time I was sponsored by my parents). But aside from hanging out with the Normatec people at almost every Rev3 event last year, I hadn’t really spent any time with any of my sponsors. So it was a real treat to hear from them.

First up was SBR Sports, the makers of TriSlide, Foggle, and TriSwim. While the amount of time I spend in the pool could best be described as minimal or lacking, I’ve loved these products when I’ve used them: the TriSwim stuff is fantastic, and last year I never had a problem extracting myself from my wetsuit like I had in years past. We learned quite a bit about why the product was created and that TriSlide was for external use only (seriously, this stuff is ridiculously slick to the point that it makes dry tile into a veritable sheet of ice… TriSlide hockey/broomball anyone?).

Next up was a new sponsor, Compex. I’m really interested to try out E-Stim. A few years ago I got to play with some e-stim stuff in a professional PT environment, and I’m curious to see what effect it can have.

Later in the afternoon, we headed out to the Pearl Izumi US HQ. We were taken on a tour to see some of the past ad campaigns (some of which were deemed to be too racy to release to the public), meet the custom kit creators, meet the President (of Pearl US), and see where the pros’ kits are made. Cool thing that Pearl does for their pros? Each kit is custom built to a pro’s specific build. So it’s not a Medium, it’s a Jesse Thomas. We also heard from Tim DeBoom about how awesome Pearl is to work with (he’s helped design some of the graphics for the shoes). We then heard about the upcoming run and triathlon lines from Pearl, and the complete relaunch of their running shoes (which are currently being launched). This was quite the treat, and I look forward to getting to try them out.

That evening, we drank.

The next day was more sponsors. First up was Biotta. We got to try the beet juice and the nutritionists on the team went way into depth about how fantastic beet juice is for you, so I’ll have to acquire the taste. I was able to drink the whole sample I had, so I’m assuming I’ll be able to acquire it. There were some worrisome moments later in the day, as beet juice is very red and looks a bit like blood in certain situations.

Next we had Reynolds wheels. So cool to hear about how they make their race wheels (I love load testing stuff, when things are pushed to their breaking point). And um, if anyone wants my SRAM S80s, I’m willing to give you a good price so I can get me some Reynolds.

Quintana Roo was up next, and we heard about their bike lines. The biggest concern is that you don’t always fit on a bike, so if I’m not on a QR, that’s the only reason why. The bikes are slick and sweet. But we’re going to try and fit me on one (sorry wallet!).

Last up was Powerbar. I had the same pre/misconception last year as I think everyone does about Powerbar: it tastes like crap. Well, it did back in the late 80s/early 90s, but I can say they’ve definitely remedied that problem. They’re releasing blends this year that are the consistency of pureed fruit, which should be pretty interesting and probably more conducive to ingesting during longer (10+ hour) efforts.

While it was really cool to be out in Boulder, the key takeaway that I got from hearing all of the sponsors was how invested they are in creating the best product possible. It’s one thing to just receive stuff from sponsors; it’s quite another thing to have them come in, explain their philosophy, explain how much you (as a customer and sponsored athlete) mean to them, and display their enthusiasm. And I know that this can all sound very arrogant; I don’t mean for it to be. I’m truly humbled by all of this.

Want to try some of the gear that I’ll be getting[1]? Let me know. I’ll see what I can do.

  1. The compex, Normatec, Biotta, SBR and PowerBar stuff is probably the easiest to share. You cannot ride my race wheels. You cannot ride my race bike.

Ode to Boulder. Or Oh Boulder. Or Uh Oh Boulder.

For now, I’m going to gloss over the actual meetings and celebrations of the Rev3 summit out in Boulder and focus on the rest of the trip out West. Next time I’ll tell you all about the sponsors and the team.

Driving in to Boulder was somewhat spectacular. Even in the dead of night, the shadows of the Flatirons and the Rockies (not knowing the region well enough, maybe it’s the Front Range?) are spectacular. During the day, they are even more spectacular.

The snow pack in Colorado has been disappointing this year. The bases at most of the I-70 resorts (Keystone, Copper, Loveland, Vail, etc) are right around 30 inches right now. But it’s a totally different type of terrain, snow, and altitude. I didn’t know how long I wanted to ski on Thursday so I headed to Loveland Ski Area. Much of the more extreme terrain was closed, and the wind was whipping across the ridge, but still, I was out skiing (and freezing). While small and mostly above the treeline, there are some magnificent views and you can see the exhaust pipes from the tunnel (the tunnels are a marvel; when an overheight truck approaches, a loud siren goes off and all traffic is prevented from entering the tunnels.
As the day wore on, I decided I needed to get back to Boulder so I could meet teammates for dinner. But first, I wanted to drive over Loveland Pass (pass #1 of the week) and see what the drive was like (I had never driven over the pass, just through the tunnels). The view at the top? Truly awe inspiring.

Met some teammates for dinner. Someone confused architecture for archaeology (Indiana Jones designs the best buildings). We drank Imperial because it reminded us of Costa Rica and opportunities missed. Later that night I drove back out to the airport to pick up Maggie, Ryan, and Tonia. We got back to the hotel, Ryan and I cracked a beer, and we watched the end of one of the American Pie movies before crashing around 2AM MST.

We made the decision early in the weekend that 5 of us (Ryan, Jeff, Maggie, Lauren, and I) would be going to one of the resorts to ski on Sunday. We met in the lobby at 8AM, jammed the trunk full of equipment, and started off for Winter Park. Once again, the mountain pass (this time, Berthoud Pass) was beautiful: low clouds, snow, tree lines, and switchbacks. Maybe someday I’ll bike the passes.
Gang of five.
We had a great time at Winter Park. We spent the majority of the time in the trees (my first time ever) finding what powder we could, falling into wells over and over again, and laughing it up.

We drove back to Boulder that night and Lauren, Maggie, and I met up with Courtenay Brown for dinner: Tibetan food. I had a yak stew (yup!) because when in Tibet, do as the Tibetans do. While I had met Courtenay briefly before and talked multiple times at length with her, it was the first time we had actually sat down together and talked. Didn’t disappoint: she’s just as cool in person as she is online.

Headed out to Copper Mountain on my own. It was nice to be back at the place where I learned to ski way back in the day. They even still give out Jolly Ranchers at the ticket window like they did 20+ years ago. During the day it started to snow, and while the visibility wasn’t great, the skiing was: there were steeps with deep powder, endless bumps as big as a sumo wrestler, and tree skiing galore. Got in a full day there.
Trees please!
That night, I headed to Avery Brewery. They do a number of taproom only beers, so I had a mint chocolate stout and an IPA that was taproom only[1].
Mint chocolate stout
Decided against skiing (gasp!) and went running up in the foothills/Flatirons/Front Range/whatever. It was there I came up with a brilliant business idea: truck in a ton of oxygen to Colorado. Up the trail into Shadow Canyon, lungs burning, feet searching the snow for good footing… just totally at peace with everything. The run included a lot of stops going up (to catch my breath) and down (to take photos). I thought about stopping at 1 mile going up. But I kept going. At 1.25 miles, I thought about stopping, but still, I went up. At 1.75, I decided that I would get to two miles and turn around.

Lunch was with Steve and MarkyV. I had never met MarkyV (nor Steve for that matter, though we had corresponded). We had a raucous lunch at Rueben’s Burger Bistro, which had 42 beers on tap (including nitro Mojo) and a terribly misleading signpost for the mountain passes in Europe. It was a very motivating (there are things I might be able to achieve), comforting (seems even the really fast people lose their motivation in January), and hilarious (Newton pumps: not happy with 0mm drop? 4 pumps to 4mm!) lunch. Finally had dinner with my cousins in Denver, then drove to the airport and waited in a nearly deserted terminal for my redeye flight back to Boston.

And now I am seriously considering a move to Boulder if I could only keep everything the way it is now. I love living near my family. I love the feel of Boston. But I also love the feel of Boulder/Denver. And the mountains. It’s not an easy problem to solve. It has very little to do with multisport and more to do with comfort. Any suggestions on what I should do? You ever come across this situation?

  1. Next time you go to Boulder, I recommend you go there. The staff there was pretty awesome (though perhaps that was only due to the weather which was nasty)

Death to the MangledAnkle! Long live the MangledAnkle!

I’ve run twice this week. Where in previous weeks I might measure my running in miles, this week I’ve been mesasuring it in minutes. And this week was somewhere around 40 minutes (as opposed to 40 miles). But no matter. I AM RUNNING! Boston is however many weeks or days or months away (13 weeks, for those who are counting). But I am excited for triathlon and running.

I’m not going to be racing competitively any time soon (the mangledankle will do that to you), but I’m running and I’m not worried about my ankle going to shit and being in massive pain… I run. It’s what I do.

But my body doesn’t seem to appreciate my desire to continue running (from nothing and everything). It seems I’ve come down with a low grade misery of the sinuses; nothing nearly as bad as it could be (I even got 3.4 miles in tonight). Nothing to prevent me from training. Nothing to prevent me from anything really. But enough to make me feel unpleasant. But still, I run.

There’s some exciting stuff coming up. Sponsor stuff. Racing stuff. Ideas about life stuff. Stay tuned. But in the meantime, go for a run or something.