Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2017 Events


If 2016 taught me anything, it's that I'm wired more for endurance events than the short stuff.  While the sprint triathlons I did this year provided a needed break after an Ironman year, they just didn't require the discipline and dedication that I needed.  When I began training for IM Boulder in 2015, the thought of covering that distance (as well as the amount of money I poured into it) scared the hell out of me.  I didn't have much trouble staying motivated to get out and train.  The same can't be said of the shorter stuff.  Throughout the year I found myself blowing off training and justifying it with thinking like: "well, it's only a sprint and I still have three more weeks to train."  This was probably true, and in spite of these excuses I had a decent year of racing, but it didn't do much for my bottom line fitness at least not at the level I'd hoped for.

So now I'm looking 2017 in the eye and thinking about the things I'd like to accomplish in the coming year.  I'm leaning towards a year that's a bit like 2013 (minus the bike crash!) with a mixture of various types of endurance events.  I will likely concentrate on just a handful of events this year as that seems to be the most effective for me.

Definite:

January 1, 2017: 4th  Annual Johnson Family New Year's Day Run.  We've hosted an unofficial "fun run/ walk" each year since 2013.  I will plan on running the 5ish mile course although we also have a 5k option for those that are so inclined.  Post race there's green and red chili for everyone.  This has always been a great way to start off the new year!

UPDATE: April 2017: 24 hours of Palmer Lake.  Although this hasn't been officially announced for 2017, the race director says they're just waiting on finalizing their permit.  If they do that soon, I'll be moving this into the definite category.  This is a 24 hour race that is done completely around Palmer Lake (a .82 mile loop).  I have never done anything like this and so I'm intrigued by the challenge.  From what I understand, the best way to approach this type of event is to be steady and consistent, moving forward as much as you can while taking the fewest number of breaks that you can.  Could be interesting!  Oh, and it's only $28!


May 20, 2017:  Tommyknocker Ultras (12 hour race).  I'm already registered for this one!  Located near Golden, Colorado this is an interesting event.  Over a 12 hour period, participants run a series of randomly selected loops ranging from 2 to 6 miles.  At the end of each loop, a runner pulls a colored ball out of a bucket that corresponds to a specific loop, and that is the next loop the runner completes.  As a result, everyone's day is a bit different.  I'm really excited about this one!


May 29, 2017:  Bolder Boulder.  This will be my 29th edition and 20th consecutive race!  Need I say more?


June 17, 2017: Mountain Top Experience Ride.  100+ miles and some killer climbs on this one.  Although I've done this one a couple of times, it's been a couple of years.  The last time it really kicked my butt, so my goal this year will be to have a strong event.

July 2017: Carter Lake Swim Crossing.  This has been on my mind for a couple of years now and with its middle of summer time frame, I think it could be a possibility this year.  The race is 3 miles total and while I'd like to consider something a bit longer, I think that this would be a good starting place.  A bit further than some of my previous swims, but not outside the realm of possibility.  I also like that it's a "crossing," which is different than a typical "loop style" OWS. The front range location also makes it attractive as it's in easy driving distance of my parents house. UPDATE: This event has been cancelled by the organizer for 2017.  Have to find something else!
 UPDATE of the UPDATE: This one is back on and I am registered!

Tentative

March 2017:  Highline Canal 100K. This isn't actually a race, it's a Fat-Ass Run, which is essentially a slightly organized group run with no fees, no results, no aid stations.  This . . . ahem "event" follows the Highline Canal in Denver from Waterton Canyon all the way to Green Valley Ranch.   It's somewhere between 62-64 total miles and would definitely be a great way to challenge myself early on in the year.






September 2017: 106 West Triathlon.  I've actually done the "pre-registration" for this event which would guarantee me a spot as well as some sort of discount on registration.  I'm a bit leery of doing a fall triathlon in the mountains, but at 10,000 feet, I like the challenge that this half iron distance race provides.  This event falls during our annual Breckenridge trip so I'm not 100% convinced yet, as I'll need to make sure it's okay with the family.  I'll also have to see what the registration cost will be. There's also the Harvest Moon (renamed 5280) that month, so that's another possibility.

Mizuno Kazan Trail Shoes
So that's what I have planned for the coming year to this point.  A few new challenges should make it interesting, especially as I dip my toes back into the world of ultra running.  To that end, I've done a couple of things to help me get ready in the coming year.  I've gotten a membership to the Human Potential Running Series. Based out of the Denver/ Boulder area they put on a number of events throughout the year.  I am also going to try "rotating" shoes this year.  I've invested some X-mas money into some new shoes including a couple of sets of trail shoes and a pair of Hoka's (which I'll be easing into over the next 6 months). There's at least some research-based evidence that suggests that rotating shoes can result in less running related injuries over time and anecdotally at least, many runners report that they feel better when rotating shoes.  This may be the source of an upcoming post after I've tried this for a few months.
Hoka One One Stinson 3 ATR
Inov-8 Roclite 280



Currently I have 4 definite events as well another 4 tentative events planned for the coming year.  It's unlikely that I'll do all 8 events this year, but I could see 2 or 3 of the tentative ones making the list.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fast


It has been quite some time since I posted anything to the blog.  And although a  little break has been in order, I'm excited to think that I'm coming up on the 5 year anniversary of my first post!  So now it's time to jump back in with one that is a bit different than my traditional musings about endurance, or beer, or both.  Instead, this post will chronicle my one week experience with a juice "cleanse" or fast.  Over the next five days, I plan to limit my eating to a diet of mostly vegetable and fruit drinks, with the occasional broth or yogurt thrown in for good measure.  Why on earth would I do this?

I've been toying with this idea for a couple of months now.  With the wife and kids away for a few days, it's as good of a time as any.  This way my fasting doesn't interfere with their eating or vice versa.   The main reason I'm doing this is that I really need a reset for my diet.  Despite my best efforts, I've not embraced a healthy eating regimen for quite some time.  As a result, I continue to gain weight and currently weigh the most I have in a number of years.  I suspect that my metabolism has shifted and I'm not as good of a fat burner as I used to be.

In fact, all of this indulging has dampened my overall enjoyment of food.   I still like the taste of food but I don't savor anything.  Fasting will really help me to focus on what I'm eating on a daily basis. By eliminating the snacking, junk food, etc. over the next few days, I hope to gain a new perspective on food.  I don't plan on giving up "treats" forever, but I'd like to get back to eating within reason.  I also want to try eating healthier foods not just for their nutritional value, but also because they taste good.

Most fasting plans recommend that you ease into fasting over the course of a few days.  This way your body adjusts to eating less in a softer, more gradual way.  I've done nothing of the sort.  Instead, prior to starting the fast, I've continued to eat whatever I want.  I am beginning on a Sunday afternoon however, so that when my fast begins, I won't have to endure a full first day without eating.

Ironically, one of the first things I've done to prepare for the fast is to go to the grocery store.  I've stocked up on a few different fruits and vegetables, as well as some different drinks including sparkling water, tomato juice, and low calorie Gatorade.  As I mentioned at the outset of this post, I will actually be eating during this time, but my diet will be limited.  Throughout the next week, I'll reflect on my experience, logging how I'm feeling both mentally and physically throughout the week.

6 hours:  My fast officially began at 2:00 this afternoon.  I managed to eat right up until the deadline so as I write this, I've only been fasting for about 7 hours.  As such, I'm only starting to feel slightly hungry.  I've had a Vitamin Water, some plain H2O, and a cup of Green Tea.  I also spent an hour spinning easy on the trainer downstairs.  My plan is to continue to exercise, though as the week goes on, I'll probably reduce the intensity of the exercise.  A lot will depend on how I'm doing. Current weight is 191.7 lbs. which is about 15-18 lbs. more than I'd like to be.  I use a Withings digital scale to track my weight so all of the data automatically transfers to my computer.

32 hours:  I'm now about 30 hours into this process.  This morning I weighed in again and there was about a 7 lb. difference from the night before.  Hmm.  I'm good but not that good, there was probably a slight error on the scale from the night before.  I'd estimate that  I began today at about 184 lbs. which seems consistent with where I've been of late.  After a morning swim, I had a "green smoothie" for breakfast which consisted of a mix of pureed fruits and vegetables with a touch of fresh ginger.  Pretty tasty.  I also had a coffee.  I know that some fasts include the elimination of caffeine from the diet, but that wasn't going to work for me.  To this point, I've felt fine.  A little hungry at times, but not ravenous.  A bit tired, but not more than usual for a Monday.

56 hours: Tonight I went to yoga for an hour.  They say that in a fast this time frame is the sweet spot in terms of how you feel.  I think that's probably true as I haven't felt terribly hungry or tired and I'm down around 181 lbs. or so.  By morning, I'll be a little more than halfway through the fast.

80 hours: I will officially end this on Friday afternoon when I hit about 120 hours time.  Today was a lot like yesterday.  This morning I did a swim workout, keeping the intensity fairly low.  I have felt a little hungrier this afternoon, but it kind of comes and goes, but what do you expect when you're only eating somewhere between 500 and 800 calories a day?  I have to say that I haven't really had cravings for different things.  I don't find myself daydreaming about specific meals or different foods.

104 hours:  Tomorrow afternoon will mark the end of this experience.  My current weight is about 178 lbs, which puts me into my goal range.  Today has been the most difficult in terms of actually feeling hungry.  Even after tonight's meal (a bowl of Tomato Soup), I still have some hunger pangs.  Oh well, I can definitely hold out for another 16 hours or so.

112 hours:  This morning I weighed in at 176.5.  I'd planned to go for a swim but wound up working out at home instead.  Again this was a low intensity workout, but  I felt fine throughout.  Surprisingly, I didn't feel all that hungry this morning after my workout but I went ahead and ate anyway and I'm glad that I did.  By about 10:30 this morning, my hunger was back with a vengeance.  To counter this I drank some water which helps to create a "full" sensation. I have a feeling that some of my hunger had to do with the copious amount of food in our staff lounge (holiday season!).  It smelled delicious and I was eager, after five days, to finally get to eat something.

120 hours: My fast finally broke this afternoon around 2:00 p.m.  I'd set aside some of the snacks from our school party including a sandwich and chips.  Just prior to diving in, I remembered hearing that if you jump back into too much solid food too quickly, you can really make yourself sick. I cut what I'd saved by half.  Interestingly enough, eating solid food again was somewhat anticlimactic.  For dinner, I joined our staff for our holiday party where I indulged a little more, enjoying a plate of Nachos and a couple of beers.  I ate a bit more this time, and quickly discovered that I was full.

So how did all of this impact my objectives for doing a fast in the first place? In terms of a diet reset,   I feel like a lot of my cravings have disappeared.  Throughout the fast I didn't find myself fantasizing about any particular food (even beer!)  which was perhaps the most surprising thing.  It's not that different things sound bad, they just don't sound that great either.  As I mentioned previously, I've also enjoyed trying some newer and fresher things, and that's something I'll plan to continue.  I also will be working to eat somewhat smaller portions of food and eating a bit more slowly.  I think that too often I eat quickly and I don't realize that I'm actually full until it's too late.

Coupled with the change in my feelings about indulging  is the fact that I've managed, for the first time in nearly a year, to actually lose a bit of weight.  And while I know that I'll gain some back as I start to eat regular food again, I believe my new habits will help me to stay closer to the weight I want to be.

Thanks for reading!
Nothing to do with fasting, but here's a pic from the RCHM which I did a few weeks back.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Beer of the Week: World Peace Death Ray Imperial IPA

From Bristol Brewery comes this Imperial IPA called World Peace Death Ray.  Brewed in honor of Nikola Tesla, a one time Colorado Springs Resident and inventor of . . . well just about everything.  At only 8% it has a surprisingly boozy taste that I'd associate with something in the 10%+ ABV range.  The hops in this beer remind me of a "wet hopped" IPA. To me, the beer is absent of bright citrus tones, and instead  steers more towards the "dark side" of hops.  Think wet grass, pine, and the like.  The finish lingers too, giving way to bitterness.  This one isn't sessionable, but worth picking up a four pack if you are a fan of the style.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Boulder Sunset RR & End of 2016 Season


Unlike a year ago,  my triathlon season officially ended not with an epic accomplishment, but with an easy outing that lasted just over an hour and a half.  The last triathlon I'd done  took place a little over 2 months ago at the Boulder Sunrise Triathlon.  I'd planned to do another race in between, but unfortunately it was canceled the week prior.  That, coupled with a return to full time work, pretty much sapped any extra motivation that I've had to train with any intensity.  I've continued to work out, but not with any real direction or sense of purpose.  This is just really a long way of saying that I rolled up to the Sunset version of the race yesterday with nothing more than the intention to participate and finish without feeling completely destroyed.  And that's what I did.

Like the June race, my daughter went with me and we spent the night prior with my parents.  Unlike the Sunrise however, the Sunset race starts a bit later in the morning, meaning that we didn't have to be out at the Boulder Reservoir until about 9:30 in the morning.  When we arrived, I also discovered that there were probably 3 times the number of participants, creating a rather long line of cars waiting to get into the reservoir and park.

Once we were parked, we made the long walk to the packet pick up and began cuing up in several lines to get my race materials and to register Maya for the 5 kilometer stand alone race.  It was fairly hectic as folks were picking things up and I heard the PA system announcing the start of the Olympic Triathlon.  By the time I had all of my things, I had maybe 10 minutes to get into transition and get set up.  Since we'd been stuck in traffic, the transition area was packed to the gills and it took me a fair amount of time to find the right numbered section for my bike.  Fortunately, the rack wasn't too crowded and I was able to get everything set up fairly quickly.  I met up with my daughter and made it down to the swim start with about 5 minutes to go.

My swim went better this time than I did for the Sunrise race.  Although my time was about the same, I felt much stronger during the swim and managed to avoid going way off course.  When I came out of the water, I didn't feel too tired. Time: 16:39 (includes the run up to T1).

I hadn't really bothered to look where I'd parked my bike when I left transition prior to the swim, but fortunately I guessed right with the numbers and turned up into the correct row.  My T1 time says 1:40 and I would guess that' s about right.  Not nearly as fast as a sprint should be, but that's okay.

Coming into this race, I was most concerned about the bike.  I just haven't been riding much.  In fact, yesterday's race was only about my third time on a bike this month.  I decided that I would take it a bit easier on the bike, and that proved to be a good, safe choice.  As I mentioned there were many more participants in the race, and that was quite noticeable on the bike.   Turning onto Hwy 36, I heard a couple of sirens coming up from behind.  I pulled off to the far side and waited for a fire truck and an ambulance to go rolling past.  A few other riders just kept going, but I wound up passing them a short while later.  I never did hear what the ambulance was for, but I spotted it again a little further up the road (pulling over again as it made a left turn in front of me).

Unlike a few weeks ago during IM Boulder (where an athlete died when she moved into traffic), there were no cones along the course and we were riding along the shoulder directly next to cars along the way.  It quickly became clear that if you were going to pass, you needed to look over your shoulder to be certain that there weren't other riders or vehicles coming from behind.  After a minute or two on Hwy 36, I just decided to slow down and took it easy.  It didn't seem wise to do too much passing, and since I knew I wasn't going for a PR, what was the point?  For the remainder of the ride, I focused mostly on keeping a consistent pace without pushing too hard at any given point.  Time: 53:24.

Unlike T1, I did not make a good guess in selecting the correct row to rack my bike.  I jogged down a different row before for seeing my transition area one row over.  Finding a gap, I ducked under the rack and quickly switched into my running gear.  As I came out of T2 (2:00), I felt strong starting the run (much better than I had a the Sunrise triathlon where I struggled to catch my breath) and quickly fell into a steady pace. The first part of the run is a slight uphill, and I quickly passed a number of athletes before cresting the hill and beginning the long out and back stretch along the reservoir dam.

My run was slower than typical for a sprint, but that was okay given my race philosophy for the day.  I slowed by about 10 seconds after each mile running 8:03, 8:09, and 8:19 over the course of the out and back run.  Time: 25:48.

Crossing the finish line, I was glad to be done as the temperature was starting to heat up. My total time for the race was 1:39:34.8 which was good enough for 15th in my age group (out of 33 participants) and 89th overall (out of 520 finishers).  Certainly not my best outing, I feel good about how it all went down.  Afterward, my daughter and I celebrated by heading into Boulder for some t/ acos and a stop for her first pair of cross-country racers.  Kudos to the folks at the Boulder Running Company!  They were friendly, helpful and made for a nice buying experience for my daughter and I.

End of the season: For the first time since last December, I'm not registered for any upcoming races.  I have a few ideas about the coming year, but there's still a lot of time to relax and think.  Spending this past season doing shorter races was certainly a departure from what I've typically done and I think that's been a good thing.  I've gotten to spend the summer trying new things like paddle boarding and yoga, and I've definitely gotten a lot more down time when it comes to training.  There was definitely something wonderful about weekends that weren't filled with 5+ hour training blocks.

And that's been fine.  But . . . I didn't get the same level of satisfaction or stress relief from this season as I have in year's past.  I'm not saying that I need to do another Ironman next year, but I do believe that the longer, slower stuff is more suited to my nature. I enjoy the contemplative time that "going long" provides, and I think it helps me to feel more balanced and relaxed.  And so, as the summer turns into fall, and then rolls into winter, I'll keep these things in mind when planning my 2017 season.  You can expect a few longer events, perhaps a spring marathon, maybe a century ride or two, and when it comes to triathlon, probably something in the 70.3 range.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Beer of the Week . . . Chubna!


It has been quite a while since I did a "Beer of the Week" Post.  Fear not dear readers, for this does not mean I've forsaken fine beer (the extra 5 lbs. I'm carrying around this summer will attest to that).  I picked up a couple of cans of this special edition brew a few weeks back and last week, I finally had a chance to dive in and enjoy this beer.  Chubna is the love child of two beers from Oskar Blues, one of the preeminent craft breweries not only in Colorado, but across the nation.  They're often recognized as the first craft brewery to begin putting their beer into cans, which had previously been unheard of in the world of smaller breweries.  Oskar Blues' most well known beer is none other than Dale's Pale Ale which enjoys are large distribution throughout the country.  While I enjoy Dale's Pale as a quaffable summer drinker, you can find a lot of interesting tastes if you go deeper into the brewery's catalog.  For example, a unique and delicious offering is the oddly named Old Chub.  It's a Scottish Strong Ale and if you don't like a Wee Heavy, you probably won't like this one all that much.  However, those with a broader palate will appreciate this beer and its caramel and toffee overtones.  It might take a few cans to acquire this taste, but it's definitely worth the investment. Another Oskar Blues Beer that is worth trying is Gubna.  It's a continuously evolving imperial IPA that changes from year to year based on its hop profile.  In its current rendition, the Oskar Blues web site describes it as having "black currant notes and subtle citrus overtones."
So what if Old Chub and Gubna got together and had a baby?  Well, for one thing, it would be a damn big baby!  The kind of baby whose birth shows up in the local news headlines like . . . WOMAN GIVES BIRTH TO A 12.6 LB BABY.  In the beer world, that baby is named Chubna:  An Imperial Scottish Strong IPA.  Chubna offers a unique drinking experience that is augmented by being aged in bourbon barrels.  The can comes in at just under 20 oz.  and for my drinking experience I honored its whiskey-like heritage and put it in a small snifter shaped taster glass sipping it over the course of an hour or two.  The combination of styles goes quite well together, with the strong malts in the Scottish Ale balancing out the hops from the IPA side.  The Bourbon aging is subtle, but the high alcohol content and the brown sugary flavors make this beer one worth drinking slowly.  Unfortunately, Chubna may already be gone by the time you read this. If you happen to find any out there, buy three cans.  Drink one, save one, and send one to me! Either way, keep an eye on Oskar Blues as they are constantly coming up with unique beers that push the limits of the beer experience.  A couple of their beers will probably meet up and bear some interesting offspring in the not too distant future.  Cheers!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Boulder Sunrise Triathlon Race Report


Sometimes, despite your best intentions and thoughtful planning, things don't go quite as you expect.  This certainly defined the Boulder Sunrise Sprint Triathlon for me this year.  And that isn't a bad thing.

On race day, we left for the venue right at 6 O'Clock in the morning.  To the West, a thin haze of smoke covered the Rockies, blurring the edges of the mountains where they reached into the sky.  In the East, more than a dozen hot air balloons soared into the dawn, their presence unexpected, yet typical for a Colorado morning.  We made great time to the Boulder Reservoir and within minutes, I was entering the transition area getting set up.

Hot air balloons fill the sky on the way to the race venue.

Prior to leaving for a race, I use the table in our dining room to "prep" for the race.  I carefully lay out all of the items needed for a triathlon (it's a gear intensive event so this takes a bit of time, even for a short sprint race).  These items go into my race backpack, making it easy to transport everything from the car once I arrive at the site.

The Sunrise Triathlon has an "assigned" area for parking one's bike in transition.  I found my spot, and began to lay everything out so that it would be easy to find.  I prefer a minimal transition area, with just the most necessary items.  It only took a few minutes to lay down a small towel and place my cycling and running shoes on it, along with a few other items like a visor,  and race number.  Then it was time to get everything for the first event and get down to the starting line at the edge of the reservoir.  I was especially excited for the swim because I'd recently acquired a new shorty wet suit and I was looking forward to trying it out.

I went through my mental checklist of what I needed to take down to the shoreline.  Wet suit . . . check,  Goggles . . . check.  Green cap to indicate my age group . . . check.  Timing ankle bracelet provided by the race . . . check.  Garmin Watch . . . Garmin watch . . . Sh#t!  I looked through my backpack at least three or four times.  It wasn't there.

Since the race has various start waves going at different times throughout the morning, and given the nature of a triathlon, there wasn't a clock anywhere in sight.  No Garmin meant that I would be doing the entire race "blind" so to speak.  I would have no idea not only of my overall time, but also no indication of how fast, or how slow I was racing.  I would be doing the entire race by "feel."

Well, so be it.  I made my way down to the water where the remaining athletes were on shore.  The Olympic distance athletes had left a few minutes before, and you could see them off in the distance.  I normally don't bother with a warm-up for most triathlons, but since this one was so much shorter, I figured it probably made sense to at least get in the water and swim a bit.  I did just enough to get the blood flowing and then I heard the announcer calling our AG to the starting line.

The swim start for this race was a running start into the water.  I positioned myself towards the back of my age group as I didn't really want to participate in the mosh pit that describes most swim starts in triathlon.   We got underway and I found myself swimming right along with the group for the most part.  I really tried to concentrate on staying relaxed and maintaining good technique in the water.  In an OWS, it's easy to become distracted and lose all sense of an efficient and fluid swim stroke.  I did very little sighting during the first part of the race as the first leg is almost directly into the sun.  While my goggles weren't fogging up, it was still a really big challenge to see much, so I put my trust in the athletes around me that we were going in the right direction.  In a matter of minutes we rounded the first turn, and this is when I started to realize that I maybe wasn't swimming as "fast" as the rest of the group.  One of the clues was that I noticed that one of the guys next to me was doing some combination of breaststroke and freestyle or "crawl."  I expected him to fade away, but each time I looked over, he was pretty much right there next to me.  The other less subtle clue was the fact that several swimmers from the female 39 and under group, which had started a few minutes after our wave, were now swimming alongside of us.  I kept looking for someone's feet so I could draft off of them, but only managed to hang on for a second or two before I'd lose them.  I could tell that I was having a difficult time swimming in a straight line.  I put my head down and finally felt like I was getting somewhere.  We made the final turn and I put my head down, trying to stay relaxed.  The next time I looked up,  I'd opened up a gap between myself and the other swimmers.  This was because I'd gone off course and swam to the left by several yards.  Had I kept going, I would have swam straight into one of the docks on the shore!  I turned myself back to my right, and I was off again, generally in the right direction.  I must have really been enjoying swimming in my new wet suit (it actually was very comfortable). My official swim time was 16:30! OWS seems to be hit or miss with me, and I don't really have a solution. Given the lack of options for open water swimming near to where I live, I guess I could try swimming with my eyes closed.  Or maybe I should invest in a pair of these.

Getting ready to swim!

Emerging from the water, I could tell I was with more of the back of pack participants.  Many were slowly coming out of the water and walking up towards transition.  I quickly got my goggles/ cap off, and pulled my wet suit down to my waist, all while running.  My transition went quickly.  My feet were still wet, so I decided to forgo socks for the bike portion, figuring it would be easier to get socks on after the bike when my feet were a bit drier.  I hadn't ridden in these shoes without socks before, so I knew I was violating the "nothing new on race day" rule.  But I figured between no Garmin and  such a terrible swim, what's one more experiment!  All told my T1 time was 1:39.

As soon as I got on the bike, I began passing people.  I've done this race more than a handful of times  in some variation or another, that I'm getting to know where all of the hills are on the course and how best to ride each section of the race.  The first few miles are a gradual uphill which can really make for some slow going.  In a longer race, it makes sense to go easy through this portion, but for a sprint, it's just a good way to kill your overall time.  I just put my head down, found a good cadence, and began riding.  One of the challenges with smaller sprint races however, is that many participants are new to the race.  In some cases, they may not have read or understood the rules around what to do on the bike.   In that first stretch, I saw a number of people riding in packs, or even side by side.  An even greater number of folks were riding way over to the left.  This meant that passing them was a bit frightening as I had to move way to the left, and into open traffic. I don't know the extent to which there were course marshals, and I don't really care too much about the drafting as no one was really riding fast enough to gain any kind of advantage.  I do however hope that races will continue to emphasize the rule about staying to the right and only moving over to pass.  Not only is this a unique aspect of non-drafting triathlon, but it's also a significant safety factor to consider.   Blocking violations aside,  I felt really strong on the bike and like I could push the pace the whole time.  I was particularly proud of how I handled the small hills throughout the course.  While fairly short and not too steep, these can really cut into your pace, if you don't stay aggressive. I managed to attack them with enough momentum that they were fairly easy to conquer.  The bike leg wound up being the best component of the day.  My bike time was 47:36, over the 17.3 miles, a 21.8 mph pace.  This was the 16th fastest bike time overall and the 2nd fastest in my AG!

The race had some really cool bike numbers . . . personalized and everything!

I had a successful dismount coming into T2, and quickly found my parking space.  It took me a bit longer to get my socks on, and then there  was the tying of the shoes.  I can see why speed laces are such a good idea for a sprint race.  But there I sat, tying them as best I could, which was a little more difficult as I was still breathing hard coming off of the bike. Once everything was double knotted,  I started out of transition and noticed a couple of other athletes coming out at about the same time.  I made an effort to try to catch up to them, but as soon as we hit the first hill, they pulled away.  T2= 2:13.

I struggled through the first half mile of the run.  There's a slight uphill, and while my legs didn't feel too bad, nor did I feel too tired,  I was really having a difficult time getting my breathing under control.  I kept moving forward and tried not to worry about how fast or slow I was running. Nevertheless, I had several folks blow past me in that first stretch.  One of the great things about triathlon is that everyone's race distance and age is written on the back of their calf.  This makes it easy to keep track of the competition.  Although I was being passed early, as near as I could tell, none of these people were in my AG.  As the run progressed, I felt a bit stronger, and when I reached the turnaround at the halfway point, I started passing more people.  I even caught a couple of folks at the end which was great.  My run time wound up being 23:48, or about 7:40 per mile which is roughly the same pace as the last two reverse sprint races I've done.  I didn't feel that fast during the race, but it's always a little difficult to tell during a triathlon, especially given the change in race order.

At the finish, I was met by my lovely daughter who had come along for the race.  The race also includes Olympic distance race, a duathlon, a 5k and 10k, and with all of the different events, the atmosphere at the finish line is quite festive.  After catching my breath for a moment, I went over and checked the streaming results.   To my great surprise, I'd actually finished 3rd in my AG with an overall time of 1:31:48.  Now granted, there were only like eight people in our AG, but hey, I'll take it!  It was fun to stand on the podium again.  Hadn't done that in probably 4 years!

As far as the Garmin goes, I somehow managed to forget it at home, even though it was sitting in plain sight!  I wouldn't recommend racing without a watch, although I do think there were some advantages this time around, one being that I wasn't limited by my own expectations for myself.   I don't know if I would have ridden or run as fast had I been able to gauge my time.  On the flip side, a quick peek at my swim time, might have caused me to push a little bit faster.

I'm not currently registered for another race until late August and I'm contemplating whether or not I'll do another one until then. If I do, it's probably four weeks away.  The bookend of my triathlon season is the Boulder SUNSET triathlon, in August, the same exact course. Maybe I'll bring my Garmin next time!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Boulder Sunrise Sprint Triathlon Race Plan


Next Sunday I will be racing my third triathlon of the season.  Originally it was supposed to be my second, but a couple of weeks ago, I participated in a very small triathlon called Melon Man.  It was a reverse sprint triathlon similar to the Ordinary Mortals Triathlon back in May.

Sunday I will be in Boulder for the Sunrise Sprint Triathlon.  I've done some version of the Sprint or Olympic version of this race several times, the last being back in 2014.   That year I did the Olympic Race which took me just under 2 hours and 40 minutes.  It's actually been several years since I did the Sprint (2010).  According to Athlinks, I completed that race in 1:43:55.  That was actually my second triathlon ever, and while I may not PR at this upcoming event, I do plan to improve on that result.

The Sunrise Sprint is a done in a regular order for a triathlon.  The swim is 750 yards, followed by a slightly longer 17.3 mile bike ride, before finishing with a 5 kilometer run. This is pretty much the standard Sprint course for most of the races at the Boulder Reservoir.

The Swim:  I've been doing a fair amount of swimming this year (at least in terms of frequency, if not volume) but I don't expect to see a huge change in my performance from other years.  This will be my first swim in a wet suit this season and I've recently changed to a DeSoto Espresso wet suit.  Other than a trial run at the swimming pool last week, I haven't really had a chance to use it.  It was definitely more comfortable than my full suit, but I don't expect to see a huge change in my performance. The last time I was in the reservoir was for Ironman Boulder.  Given that race wasn't wet suit legal, I suppose I could be a touch quicker.  I'm going to go conservative on this one: 15:00 minutes or 2 min/ 100 yards.

New Wet Suit this year (well new to me anyway!)

T1: The transition from the reservoir up to the bike area is a bit longer so I would imagine that will take me a bit more time. I'll give myself 3 minutes here.

The Bike:  I just haven't put as much time into cycling this year.  At least not outdoors.  I have managed to get over to the YMCA early in the morning for some fairly intense sessions on the spin bike.   The bike course for this race consists of some climbing at the start, followed by a long downhill, before returning to a more gradual climb at the end.  In the last couple of races this year, I've averaged somewhere around 19-20 miles per hour.  These races have been reverse order however.  On the one hand I've been able to go a bit harder because I've only had a short swim afterward.  On the other, I've also been coming off of a fairly intense run.  I would be pleased to ride somewhere between 19-20 miles an hour on this one, so that would put me in somewhere between 52:00 to 55 minutes.

How will Spin Bike Sessions translate to the upcoming triathlon?

T2:  With a shorter transition, I should be able to get this one done a bit quicker.  I'm going to say 2 minutes tops, but would love to do it much faster than that.

The Run: Other than a slight hill at the start and a bit before the finish, the run course is relatively flat, but there's also no shade.  Depending on the day, it could be fairly warm (current forecast is around 88 degrees for a high).  Coming off of the bike, I don't know what kind of performance I can put in for the run.  I'm going to go a bit conservative on this one and estimate 24:00 minutes.
Did I mention I got some new kicks for Father's Day?

Putting all of this together, my total time for this sprint race should be between 1:36:00 and 1:40:00.  Based on last year's results, that would put me right in the middle of my age group.   If these things come together, I will consider that to be a good performance.

Monday, May 23, 2016

An Unexpected Race


I am a sucker for a good deal.  So when I received a club email this past week informing me about a nearby triathlon, I checked my calendar and decided to try it out.  Total cost for the race: $32.  I even added the optional t-shirt for $12.

Similar to the OMT race from a couple of weeks ago, this one is a reverse order sprint race held in the nearby town of Rocky Ford.  It's called the Melon-Man Triathlon in recognition of the town's chief export: Cantaloupe.  Situated on the Southeastern Plains it has the potential to be both hot and flat.  The race begins with an out and back 5k, some of which appears to be run on a trail.   The bike course goes down a small county road and is also an out and back route somewhere between 10 and 11.5 miles.  The culminating swim takes place at the community pool (for which the race is a fundraiser) and is just 250 yards or 5 laps.

Since this is the first time I've ever done this race, and I've only driven through Rocky Ford a handful of times, I don't really know what to expect from the course or the event.  It looks like it will be a fun little race and  I'm hoping to capitalize on my decent performance at OMT.  And unless the course is deceptively hilly,  I think that I can perhaps improve on my 5k time a bit. Combine that with slightly shorter distances on the bike and run, well . . . who knows.

At any rate, it will be interesting to do a race in a small town.  The majority of my races have been in or around Boulder and the last time I did a triathlon in a small town was for HITS Sterling 70.3 (and Sterling is still more than 3 times the size of Rocky Ford).



Sunday, May 15, 2016

OMT 2016 Race Report


Yesterday was the first triathlon of the year for me.  The Ordinary Mortals Triathlon here in my home town.  I didn't feel like I'd put the same level of training in this year, so I didn't really know what to expect when I awoke yesterday morning, but in the end, I was pleased with how the race went overall.

The weather was a bit cooler than expected on Saturday Morning.  I would guess that it was somewhere in the low 50's at the start of the race.  There was also a bit of a wind which certainly made things feel a bit cooler.  One of the nice things about this race is that it's a "reverse order" event, meaning we started with the run.  As a result, there was no need to jump on a bike while still soaking wet.

Around 9:00 a.m. the gun for the start of the race went off, and the pack cruised down the first hill.  I tried to settle into an easy pace, but knew that I was going a bit faster than I normally would.  I hit the first mile mark at 6:45 and still felt pretty good.  I did my best not to slow too much, but also didn't kill myself getting up the first steep hill.  Mile two was a 7:30 pace which seemed a bit more appropriate to me and before long, I found myself with less than a half mile to go.  A good chunk of this is uphill including a patch of stairs, and towards the top I started to feel a bit winded.  As I made the final turn back toward the finish, I found myself at roughly 22:30 give or take a few seconds (Ranks as a "Great" performance).

Heading towards the "steps" at about 2.4 miles

Transition went well as I got my shoes off and got ready for the bike portion of the race. I didn't slow down too much or pause to drink water, etc. while in T1.  As soon as I hit the mount line, I jumped onto the bike and got rolling.  Although the first part of the ride contains more downhill than up, we were battling a head wind for most of the way out.  This kept my pace a bit slower than usual for this section, but it was sure helpful to have a tail wind on the return trip.  I felt pretty good throughout the ride and did my best to pass a few of the riders in front of me along the way.  All told, I moved past about 10 to 12 people over the course of the ride (T1= "Good", Bike= "Great").  My bike time wound up being less than a minute slower than two years before.

Heading out for the bike portion of the race

Coming off of the bike at T2, I finally remembered to take my race belt off.  In year's past, I've forgotten and then had to swim while wearing it.  I toyed for a moment with trying to get my jersey top off as well so that I could swim in just my shorts, but I realized that I would be sitting there fighting with it in transition so it was better to just get moving.  My time for T2 was about 1:08 which wasn't too terrible (T2= Great).

The swim is done in the local university pool and consists of 12 lengths or 6 laps.  Basically, you swim up and back a lane, duck under the lane rope, and repeat, working your way across the pool from right to left.  It makes the swim rather unique in that you know exactly where both the person in front of you as well as the person behind you are at.  I had a pretty good lead over the person behind me, but he was coming strong.  With only about 2 lengths to go, he closed to within a few feet of me which made for an interesting finishing.  Then it was out of the pool followed by a short run to the finish line.  I managed to keep my competitor at bay and crossed the line just in front of him.  My total time for the swim (which includes probably 40 seconds of running) was 6:46 (Swim= Good/ Average, Overall= Great).

When all was said and done, my final time was 1:07:35 which was good for 6 out of 16 in my age group and 20th overall.  I think there were something like 140 folks total (77 male finishers).  It's interesting to do a comparison from each of the years I've done the race to see the difference in each performance:


I may have to consider deviating from my every other year tradition next year as I'd love to see if I can nudge my performance forward a bit.  I think there still might be a few more seconds to shave off of the run, bike, and swim and it would be great to get my time down by another minute or two.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Getting Ready


In just under two weeks, I'll have my first of three triathlons this summer.  The race is our local Ordinary Mortals Triathlon (OMT) and it is a reverse sprint triathlon (3 mile run, 12 mile ride, 300 yd pool swim).  This will be my third time in the last five years.

Back in January, with training going full blast, I'd hoped to have a phenomenal race.  At that point, I was still applying the same level of enthusiasm and effort to my training (if not the volume) that I had for the Ironman.  I quickly burned out.

In the end, that was probably a good thing.  I've been busier at work than at any point previously in my life, and since stress is stress, trying to maintain that level of intensity would have likely left me injured.  Besides, the whole point of NOT doing a longer race this year was to enjoy other endeavors and to indulge in being a bit lazier than in years past.

Even though today is cold enough to feel more like  a winter's day than the first of May, the improving weather has me more excited about the upcoming season.  I've adjusted my goals a bit for this first race, but that's okay.  No need for my "A" race to be right out of the gate.  I plan on continuing to train for the next several days, before starting to taper in the latter part of next week.

As far as goals for the race, I'll set a few.  I'm also going to get my race plan laid out here, so I have some strategy going into the race.  The logistics and strategy of triathlon is one of my favorite things about the race.  It's definitely a race that requires some thinking in order to be effective.

The plan (in order of appearance):
Run-  The three mile course for OMT is fairly challenging.  It starts with a long downhill that results in an abnormally quick first mile. However, the last two-thirds of the course include several steep climbs.  These hills can suck speed and energy quickly, causing one to burn some matches without really trying.  The trick is to take advantage of the downhill without over extending.  I'll try to put together a strong first mile, but then  back off on the first climb a bit, keeping a steady pace, and trying not to overdo it.  After another downhill, there's a second big climb back up towards T1.  If I'm having a great race, I think I can do the 5k in a touch under 24:00.

T1-  I'm hoping to practice some transitions this week.  For Ironman, I really didn't have to worry much.  If T1 or T2 took a few extra minutes, it didn't matter over the course of a long day.  Now that I'm doing the short stuff, I need to get back to a quicker transition.  My goal for this will be less than 1 minute.

Bike-  This is a fast bike course.   Mostly downhill on the way out and a gradual uphill on the return.  Two years ago, I did it in 35 minutes.  I may not be at quite the same level of fitness now as I was back then, but I'm stronger on the bike now than I'd been before.  If all goes well, I think I can go sub 36:00.

T2-  Much like T1, I'll want to move through this one.  There's a bit more running to get through this transition and up to the swimming pool, so maybe 1:30

Swim-  At 300 yards, the swim isn't much.  I've been pacing my harder efforts around 1:40-1:50 this year.  At that pace, I'll be around 5:30-5:50ish.

The Chart below lists some potential outcomes:


So, that's my plan in a nutshell.


Monday, April 4, 2016

SUP?

I was supposed to go for a bike ride on Sunday afternoon.  It certainly was a nice day for it, with a warm sun that made it not too hot and not too cool either. There was a bit of a breeze in the mid day air, but it wasn't bothersome.  When I reached the house however, I had a change of heart.  I still planned to ride, but instead of a trip on a bike, it would be out on the lake, on a paddle board.  I first tried paddle boarding last summer and I was immediately hooked.  There's something peaceful about being out on the water, the rhythm of sliding slowly along the water, the gentle lift and stroke of the paddle sliding down the side of the board, before rising from the water and stretching forward again.
So early last month we ordered a couple of boards with visions of a long summer spent out on the water.  


This afternoon, my daughters and I decided to make the trip out to the local reservoir.  While the day was pleasant, the water wasn't quite there yet.  I'd called out to the reservoir earlier in the day and they'd reported that the estimated water temperature was in the mid 40's.  I would guess that it was closer to the lower 50's but still nothing you'd want to spend a lot of time in. To be safe, we all brought a big blanket and some extra clothes.  That way if one of us did accidentally take a dip, we'd have a way to warm up quickly. 

Just waiting for a turn!
The view from our launch point!
The first step for our trip was to get the two Isle Soft Serve Paddle Boards mounted to the roof of the car.  While this wasn't difficult, it did have me a bit worried as I didn't want to be driving down the highway and have one or both of the 11 foot boards come sliding off of the roof and onto the road.  A few years back, I had my road bike lift off of the back of the car and fall onto the road, and while the bike suffered minimal damage (and no cars were hurt either), it was a stressful experience that didn't warrant repeating.  I managed to strap the two boards onto the roof and while they felt fairly secure, I decided that we would go slow and check them frequently along the way out to the lake.  That turned out to be a good idea.  Within a mile of the house, they started coming loose and so we wound up sticking one through the back hatch, and securing just one to the roof.  This seemed to work much better.


After what seemed like forever, we arrived at the reservoir, purchased our annual pass (we know we'll be visiting a lot) and headed down to the shore line.  With two boards and three people, it meant that we'd be taking turns a bit.  It's always a good idea to have a few camp chairs and other distractions while one is waiting on shore.  I took the first trial run on the board, wanting to be sure that the cold water wouldn't be too problematic for us and while definitely cold, it wasn't completely unbearable as long as you weren't completely wet.  Since it had been about 8 months since the last time I was on a board, I took my time standing up and just paddled for a bit in a kayak (sitting) position.  

Life jacket adjustments prior to launch!
Over the next couple of hours we did some gentle paddling in a small cove of the main reservoir.  There were a number of boats out in the main lakes so it was helpful to stay in the small inlet without having to worry about the waves created by the wake of the boats.  These waves would make their way towards us from time to time, but by the time they'd reached us, they had dissipated quite a bit.  


And just like that, a couple of hours passed in no time.  We hauled our stuff back up to the car, reloaded everything, and headed back home.  The first of many trips to be sure,  I'm already looking forward to the next!

Ready to go!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Beer of the Week: Green Flash Tangerine Soul Style IPA


IPA's that invoke orange citrus via specific hops and/ or adjuncts are "a thing" right now (see Citradelic by New Belgium or Modus Mandarina from Ska Brewing), which is fine by me.  They offer a flavorful take on the IPA, simultaneously smoothing and enhancing the hoppy goodness with delicious hints of orange in the aroma, and in many cases, a not so subtle orange flavor within the taste itself.  Tonight's offering comes from San Diego Brewing Powerhouse Green Flash.  Tangerine is the feature flavor of this beer.  It pours a nice rich golden honey color with a thin veneer of foam drifting across the surface of the beer. The aroma is dominated by citrus fruits.  On the first sip, there's a strong orange presence complementing the beer, adding a rich flavor and balancing out the hops.  It's slightly sour (more tangy) with a moderate to medium mouth feel.  The finish is your typical grapefruit essence which is pretty common for an IPA, but the tangerine lingers a bit.  The intertwining of the two flavors is surprisingly refreshing.  Served very cold, this beer is just waiting for a hot summer day. At 6.5% ABV, you can have two or three. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Beer of the Week: Boneman Blonde


One thing I've never been especially fond of is the blonde ale. I've always found the taste to be a bit too subtle, and the finish on many has what I consider to be an "unpleasant" after taste.  However, I have recently discovered one that has changed my opinion a bit.  The beer is called "Boneman Blonde" and it's a creation of the Brues Alehouse, a recent addition to the beer scene in Pueblo. Boneman is one of about 6 beers in their house line-up and it's best described as a unique take on the blonde.  The taste is much more complex than your typical blonde ale.  A bit of spice, a touch of bitterness and a smooth finish all provide something different.   The alehouse is new, and they will be bringing out additional beers as time goes on. And if the Boneman Blonde is any indication, there's some good things still to come.  Cheers!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Progress Monitoring Round 1


As I start the 2016 year, and begin preparing for the 4 sprint triathlon races that will make up my season,  I have a few goals when it comes to racing:

  1. Drop my 800 yd swim time to less than 15:00 minutes
  2. Increase my average bike speed to 22-23 mph during a race
  3. Drop my 5k time to below 21:00 minutes

As I will be turning 45 this year, I see these as fairly ambitious goals, but still attainable.  I also know that these goals will help me to transform my training a bit.  Since I've been "going long" the last few years, most of my training has involved slow, steady state efforts.  This year, I'll be doing shorter, more intense workouts.

I've placed a few "tests" into my training calendar towards the beginning of each month to monitor my progress towards the above goals.  My plan is to use these in a formative manner to suggest where I might need more effort/ investment and where I'm approaching my goals.

  • The first of these tests is an 800 yd TT swim.  I'm currently doing some work on my technique which I believe will have a big payoff, but it's a bit like learning to swim all over again.
  • For the bike, I'm going to use a 20 minute FTP Test Using Trainer Road.
  • The run is a 5 kilometer TT on the course of my first triathlon which takes place out at the local college. 

A couple of days ago I finished the first round of these tests.  Here's how I did and my takeaways:

800 yd swim:  15:46.  Through the first half of this workout I did really well.  My time for through 400 was 7:23 which, had I sustained that,  would have put me at a sub 15 minute time right out of the gate.  Even so, this is only a 1:51 pace.  As I mentioned, I'm re-learning a few things right now in terms of my stroke, etc. so that should pay off over time.

Keep it in the front quadrant!
Bike: I've done two FTP tests in the last couple of months.  The first, back in November, was a complete bust and I wound up abandoning less than 10 minutes in.  The more recent I completed at the end of December.  This one went much better and set my current FTP at about 184 watts.  This feels a bit low to me considering that I'd gotten up to about 207 last Spring.  But the truth is I haven't been on the bike as much (apart from spin class) for the last few months.  I'm adding in some more rides on the weekend now, so I expect to see that increase as well.  I realize that  FTP tests don't translate directly into my speed goal, but more power should equal the ability to produce more speed for more time.  I like the consistency of the test on the trainer, especially when my opportunity to ride outdoors is limited right now.

Run: Last weekend, I completed my 5k TT out at the University.  My split times were 6:30 (mostly downhill), 7:24 (mostly uphill), and 7:31 (mostly uphill) and a total time of 22:22.  The course includes 3 climbs, one of which is extremely steep and that definitely had an impact.  To get faster, I'll be adding some hill work as well as some speed efforts (including track work) to help drop that time a bit.  To reach my goal, I'll need to get my splits down a bit further.  My average pace for this TT was 7:07.  A 6:45 pace will get me under the 21:00 minute mark.


At the end of the month, I'll repeat this process all over again and have some new data to share.  At that point it will be time to add some pretty charts and graphs to go with the data!