Thursday, May 29, 2014

Breaking News

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programing...

 I know I still owe you guys one more post regarding my triathlon training but this, for me is MAJOR news. How big? Star Wars big. No, its not about the upcoming films. By now you probably already know about that. It's about the often discussed and much coveted Half Marathon.

As if this year hasn't already been filled with pretty exciting runDisney news, which included the announcement of the Avengers Half-Marathon, now we get another new race and it's the one everyone was waiting for: The Star Wars Half-Marathon Weekend, to be held in January 2015.

runDisney released this pic on all their social media outlets. The hashtag for the event is #LetTheWookieWin

As the name implies, there's a Half Marathon involved but it's getting the full runDisney weekend treatment which of course includes kid's races, 5K, 10K and the now mandatory challenge medal. That's right. Run  both the 10K and Half Marathon on consecutive days, and you will earn a third medal to go with the pair you will earn for running both courses. The Rebel Challenge Medal!. 

As you can expect, this caused quite the stir in cyberspace. Over at the #TeamrunDisney page on Facebook, the thread seemed to get a mile long  a matter of minutes.

Of course, most of the discussion was centered around all the excitement and you can bet this will sell out well before you can say "yup, yup" but also there was a bit of back and forth regarding the location. Sorry east coast folks, this one -like the Avengers half- will be in Disneyland in California. As you can probably guess, where you stand on this argument will depend on where you live, with all the people who have the Pacific Ocean closer to home elated that it will be run in Disneyland and the Atlantic folks disappointed that they will have to spend a bunch of money on travel, food and lodging along with the entry fees to make this race happen.

Me? I have to travel either way but just like the Avengers Half, California makes it almost impossible for me to make it at the moment so this is a hard blow. Harder than the Avengers Half. If there was ever a bucket list race for me, it's this one.

Having said that. I have to remain objective and say that I think it's completely fair and understandable for runDisney to set the race in Cali. It just makes sense. Face it east coast people: Florida was getting the way better part of the runDisney schedule. Not to mention the biggest event of them all (WDW Marathon Weekend). Cali had the Disneyland Half and the Tinkerbell Half. That's it. With these two races on the schedule, this really evens things out between parks.

My favorite part of all this? I they indeed, let the wookie win, maybe they will finally give him a freaking medal huh?

So, who will tackle runDisney's newest challenge? Are you going for the Rebel Challenge medal? Let us know!

Monday, May 19, 2014

How (Not) to Train for a Triathlon - Cycling Edition

So, part 2 about my training for a triathlon. We take on cycling. Just reminder, here is part 1.

I suck at cycling
OK, I don't actually suck at cycling but I have to keep some continuity going here.Plus, if I were to name this part appropriately it have to be "My Butt Hurts" so I'm pretty sure many would prefer I stick with the current sub-header. Cycling has not been that bad, actually. There has been one small problem though:

I don't, in fact, technically, actually own a bike.

This has been quite the issue. I want to try my hand at cycling, not just for tri's but in general. A bit of research on the subject though has led to the self-evident truth that this sport is pretty darn expensive. A proper 10-speed road bike will set you back anywhere in the range of $850 to $1,800. Two grand if you want a carbon model (which a lot of bike shops tried to push on me). Then there's the pedals, shoes, helmet, gear, clothing... If you are looking to make a sensible investment to begin cycling, $2,000 seems to be the entry point. I don't have $2,000 burning in my pocket right now but I want to train. What is a guy to do??

Yup, you use your wife's "Sears' Special" mountain bike which you recently got her for her birthday. She wanted it so she could ride around with the girls. Well, now it has become the World's silliest tri bike. Let's forget the fact that it's a mountain bike and that it's a girl's bike and white, pink and purple. Let's even forget that the entire neighborhood sees me riding this thing and finds it extremely amusing. We still have the problem that this bike simply was not designed for anything other than casual family rides (I don't think it would hold up in actual "mountain bike" conditions) which I painfully came to suspect and realize much sooner than later.

All silliness aside, I was kind of happy I was using it. It made me feel like I was paying my dues and earning my real bike. And you have to admit, I would have looked absolutely ridiculous racing in this thing which would have been funny indeed. But...

The first rides were a pain in the butt (huge pun intended here). I don't remember bike saddles hurting this much when I was a kid and I was one of "those" kids. You know, the ones who were on their bikes all the time. I went everywhere with it, ran errands with it... It was a BMX bike with a solid plastic saddle and yet my wife's bike has a padded saddle and I can't stand it. I think it has something to do with the fact that it's not my size and not properly fitted (big deal, bike fitment).  I bought some tri shorts (I'll discuss that fiasco later) and that has helped. Last week, I went out for a ride and just as I was thinking: "Hey, this saddle thing is getting better. I"m not feeling it as much." Bang! A pedal broke.

That's right. I broke my wife's bike. It didn't take that long either. Crap. Back to square one.

Now I gotta get it fixed which I haven't been able to so now I'm behind schedule in my training plan so I'm gonna need to rethink my June 29 window very carefully because I don't think it's gonna happen. Make no mistake. I'm gonna do a triathlon. But it seems I need to regroup and prepare myself better. At the very least, it seems I'm gonna need to get a bike before I can train regularly.

Having said all that, my foray into cycling has been pretty positive. This is one area where my running has paid huge dividends and even with a small sampling I can say I enjoy it (butt issues aside) and would like to try other things like Gran Fondos and century rides (100 mile rides) which are a big part of the sport and let's not forget the cardiovascular aspect. When I said triathlons can potentially make me a better runner, this is what I was talking about. Being able to cycle on non-running days will help me a huge deal I think. Your joints can only endure so much right?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How (Not) to Train for a Triathlon - Swimming Edition

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I recently started training for a tri (because it's hip to just call it "tri" instead of triathlon) in hopes of doing a sprint one in the summer. To say the least, the experience has been... interesting and humbling. Her are some details on this recent adventure of mine:

I suck at swimming

No amount of reading and warning prepared me for this undeniable fact. I have never done competitive swimming at any level so this might have involved some wishful thinking on my part, but having been able to swim (as in, not drown) for most of my life and not having any particular issue with water, I thought training was going to go a lot more smoothly. I had read that swimming is all about technique but man, what a wake-up call. I suck. Any sort of sustained effort, and I get tired very fast. The slightest variation in technique or breathing on my part and everything goes haywire. To the point of panic, which has never happened to me before. Progress has been really slow.

And that's the "thing" about swimming. You either nail it or you don't. Right now I have to wonder how in the World can people swim two miles without stopping when I can hardly go 50 meters. At least, I think I', swimming 50 meters. I actually don't know. Using my running watch (notice the running part of that) I kind of, sort of measured 50 meters in the sand, then picked two reference points and that's my "50 meters". I could be short. I could be long. It doesn't matter because it's hard either way. Though I'm hoping for long. When I can afford a nice GPS triathlon watch, I'll get a better measurement. That, or find some pool where it will be accurate but then I'll have to bear the shame of other people watching me suck at this. : )

Also, I have to say it. I didn't exactly load the deck in my favor either. This particular phase of training should be done in a controlled environment (read: pool) so you can concentrate on learning the basics but I have no close access to a pool so I swim in the open water at the beach which is 10 minutes from my house and the tide can be an issue. Also, I swim in this particular area that might have a sign that says you shouldn't swim there because of currents and stuff... I know this sounds moronic and counter intuitive but like I said, I live nearby. I have been going (and swimming) there all my life so It's not like I'm facing the great unknown. Also I never go over chest-deep so if I run into any problems I can just stand up. Plus, can you really hate the place where you work out when it looks like this?

The upside to all this is that, just in case anyone needed any more confirmation, swimming is a pretty awesome workout with virtually no impact on your joints. Every time I do a swim workout I finish so, so tired. But it's a good tired. Actually on the days I swim, I can run in the early morning and then swim in the afternoon no problem. It's that low impact.

So as you can see, this has been tons of fun. LOL But it gets better! We'll discuss Cycling in the next post.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Altamesa 5K

So, after my little running debacle during the 5K for Values some weeks back, I was looking forward to a little racing normalcy. You can bet that for this 5K I diligently went on the specified day to pick up my race bib and race pack. My bib by the way...

Because you know, I'm only half evil. (insert drum fill) Which means I'm half good which is a good thing. Along with my bib, they gave a children's book for each of my daughters which I sure wasn't expecting but man, what a nice touch. This 5K has developed a reputation for being very well organized and I have to say it did not disappoint at all. Packet pick was fast and efficient and the race was very well put together.

This race is organized by a local church to fund a program of theirs called Community Center which provides aid to children, especially in the academic area. When you sign up for the race, you are essentially running (or walking) for one of the kids in the program. Pretty neat.

The course by the way, was no joke. A classic out-and-back through an avenue that can best be described as seriously undulating with two particular hills that I will never forget (especially if I run this again next year). Plus, the turnaround point is right in front of a Starbucks. What is this? A race or a medieval torture chamber? The smell alone will kill you with temptation.

Probably my favorite part of the race was the start. The organizers were very strict with corral placement and for the most part people complied with the signs and instructions. The result? A very rare occurrence during a race: A pleasant start. The runners spread out very quickly after the gun went off with hardly anyone blocking other runners. With the one glaring exception of a particular group walking 6-wide at very start, everyone managed to find their space and their groove very quickly.

Meanwhile, I was trying my best to not blow everything at the beginning and pace myself accordingly. Then came that first hill and I started wishing for an extra lung. It was tough. Many were walking up but I managed to "run" the whole hill. Of course, what comes up must come down so right before the turnaround point you go down steeply, only to go back up to take the second hill. So right as you are basking in the smell of roast coffee and wishing you were in the Starbucks terrace sipping a latte, you begin a pretty steep climb. A quarter of the way up though I decided to walk the rest of the hill. Bad idea. Once I stop like that it's very hard to sustain continuous running so after starting back up and cresting the hill, I had to walk a couple of more times and with that I made it all the way to the finish line.

As I crossed, I saw the time clock so I knew I had achieved another sub-40 which is the only official goal I had for this race. What I was surprised to find out later when I uploaded my Garmin data, was that I managed to pull off a negative split. By a hair mind you, but a negative split nonetheless. I found this this extremely amusing as I didn't think I had run consistently enough, especially with the walking, to pull that off. Net time: 38:16

It's official: 5K's is my least favorite distance. Whoever spread the rumor that it's easy to run a 5K because "it's only 3 miles" clearly doesn't run and should be made to run this particular course on an endless loop. I'm having a really hard time dropping my time in this distance. The fact is that you gotta run pretty fast to ace this race and I'm not a fast runner by along shot. Thankfully, any given week you can pick from running 10 different 5K's on this island so I got plenty of chances to improve.

All in all, it was a very good race and very well organized and me being a runner, you know all that torturous account means that in a sick, twisted way I had fun running it. Plus, for a 5K, the bling is pretty sweet and unique.