Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekly training recap, biking etiquette.

Similar to last week, except 3 days of swims and 3 days of land training:

30 min swim, 3mph on the knotmeter

lower body (sans leg/toe presses)
15m row 3.25km (HR 130-140)
30m ellip (HR 135-130)
15m bike (HR 125-120)

30 min swim, 3-4 mph, critique from David, videos taken

push routine
15m row 3km (HR 130)
30m ellip (HR 120-125)
15m bike (HR 115-120)

30 min swim...3.5 mph, which is faster than my early swims, try to clean up flutter kick..mixed success but working on it...


Long road bike ride. This time I upped the time a bit and covered 26 miles (last week was 20). 

Here are last weeks splits:

Split Distance Avg Speed Avg HR Elev + Elev -
1 5.00 12.4 129 184 53
2 5.00 15.0 136 162 89
3 5.00 16.2 134 114 184
4 4.72 11.5 114 83 214

And here are this weeks splits, this time I punched my watch to make a split start when I get to the open road at 3.48 miles an I punched again when I left the road at the end of split 5. 

You can see that on the open road splits (#'s 2,3,4,5...about 20 miles of the total) I was doing about 15.7 mph. There are rolling hills only..nothing really huge.

Split Distance Avg Speed Avg HR Elev + Elev -
1 3.48 11.4 115 164 16
2 5.00 15.5 118 131 154
3 5.00 15.6 126 112 76
4 5.00 15.8 124 150 142
5 4.87 17.7 130 82 162
6 2.56 14.5 105 0 87

For the first time I'm getting good cardio doing biking.....the muscles are starting to be there and able to do the job.

I'm still absorbing the biking culture on the roads..this stretch of road is very popular (because it his very wide shoulders). There are some people that blow past you with nary a word and others that say hello...I decided the saying hello thing is the right thing to do.

I'll spare you long stories of my encounters with the bikers out there....I don't seem to be the slowest, nor the fastest...(as usual like running). Interestingly I've seen very fast young guys transition to stand-up pedaling on hills even though I can gain on them on the hill without doing anything special ...what's that about? Do they do it for variety stretch out or something.?.dunno..

I'm a very skittish cycler when it comes to going down hills fast. If I get over 17-19 mph I'll just keep my legs moving to keep them warm but not really work hard to go faster...taking a spill would be grim at those speeds.  Also, it's really a waste of energy: even in a tuck air drag is huge at these speeds...from 16mph to 22mph it's like a factor of 2+...


....I don't feel crazy that I'm not running. Instead I'm very very happy to be successful at adapting mentally and physically to enjoying swimming and biking. No more chewing the carpet just because I can't run (plus lots of new things to learn and practice).

That said: T-10 days to running! 8)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My first swim technique video

I think I've about done 6 swims now (two per week). My co-worker David has been coaching me on technique....he's given me a lot of pointers that have really helped. He also pointed me to a lot of youtube videos when I first got started.

Yesterday, he brought in his underwater camera and we played around videoing our technique. This is a clip that shows where I am right now.. the current is set to 4mph, (probably way off).

There are lots of things that can be improved but the biggest problem is that my flutter kick sucks. My legs are not high enough, knees are bending, feet are going apart too far from each other, kick rate too slow.  Basically just about everything that can be wrong, is wrong. 

But I will fix it ;)


Other cross training is going really well.  Really want to try out the running but holding off for another two weeks.

Monday, July 25, 2011

30 minutes.

A shout-out to AJH and her daughter Emily. Em completed her first it and be enthralled!


Meanwhile...much smaller steps here 8)..Monday I swam for 30 minutes straight. My arms felt great ..(left arm a little weaker than the right arm it seems).

The photos shows my new bathing's much less draggy than the resort-wear board short suit I was wearing. It dries in a jiffy.

The new shirt is what I call a 'rasher shirt'...keeps the sun from toasting my back. Also sleek/not draggy and dries quickly.

The new suit seemed to make me speedier...the swim current was set to the same 3 mph as always but I kept crowding the head of the pool. However, I don't believe the knotmeter..I suspect its more like 2.5 mph... no way I could be that fast as a noob....I wish.

I had no problem doing 30 minutes. I felt like I could have done another 30 no problem. I am finding a 'zone' and enjoying it...the great thing is that it's all muscles other than overlap.

Nothing major sore after, except strangely there is a little muscle on the outside of each of my hips that was complaining for a hour or so...from the flutter kick? Need to work on my left side breathing's a bit of a mess still.

My fav sports rankings used to be

1. run
2. bike
3. swim

as of today they are officially

1. run
2. swim
3. bike

My legs are feeling great. When I hit the stairs at work  (my bellwether) I can  blast up them 4 at a time. I've never felt stronger...still letting them have their time off from running a bit more.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dogs.... plus the week in review.

Way back PB (pre blog)...probably circa fall 2008, I was in training for my first marathon.  I was 19.8 miles into a 20 mile run, i.e just about home and I was pretty tired.

I came around the last corner (I was in the street) and a dog that had been standing on the grass (between the sidewalk and street) suddenly darted over and chomped my right leg. 

I saw him out of the corner of my eye, but I was too tired to jump out of the way.

I was, of course, very surprised and shocked.  I looked down and saw blood I recall I looked up at the owner (who'd been yakking on her cell phone at the time) and said "Your F*ing dog bit me!".

She had the dog on a leash, but it was one of those leashes you can pay out 20-30 feet and it was paid out at the time, obviously. 

The dog had a guilty "hangdog" expression


Adjective: Having a dejected or guilty appearance; shamefaced.

There's a reason for this word exists and this was it....he knew he'd done bad. Very bad. 

The owner was saying "I'm so sorry" over and over. 

I looked at the wound...the dog's upper and lower canines had grabbed a fold of skin and made little tunnels in my tissue until they I could see the blood coming out of two holes and the tunnel was full of blood. Kinda like some worm had burrowed in and out. It was clear the muscle was not affected so I was not worried.

I looked at the women and said something like "Pay attention and heel your dog!" and walked the 50 meters home. Cleaned up the wound, put a band aid on it. 

I've own dogs as a kid and I love dogs and cats (but alas am allergic to both now) so I think I know what happened: The dog hadn't heard me or seen me and was startled when I came around the corner...he bit me out of instinct.

I don't blame the dog one whit, I blame the owner for not keeping the dog reeled in. These days I assume the worst of any dog owner and stay the hell away from all of them if I can.

The reason I was reminded of this is that a couple of days ago Toni was at a crowded restaurant's outdoor patio and she happened to step backward. Apparently, she tread on the foot of a dog, which yelped and bit her hard in the leg. Luckily, she was wearing thick canvas jeans and so only had no bleeding, "just" a large subcutaneous hematoma....a.k.a. Honking Big Bruise. 

Again, this isn't the dog's fault, it's the owner's fault for bringing a dog into a crowded space. The reaction of the owners was denial that the dog could/would bite: "Our dog never bites anybody!", etc.  Since there was no blood or torn fabric, the owners didn't think there was a bite. My wife didn't want drop her trousers in public, so they don't get to see that they are quite wrong. 


"pull" routine
20m ellip, 
10m rowing, 
30m stationary bike (upright)

25 min walk
20 min swim 2.5-3 mph?

"push" routine, planks, chin ups (wgt assisted)
15m row (2.7km) (HR 120-130?)
35m ellip (HR 120-130)
10m stationary bike (HR 110 115)

25m swim ~3mph


1:30 biking (real bike outdoors), 19.2 miles, 13.5mph, HR 127

Not a bad week. The swimming is going much better than I'd hoped, although I'm still mushing about with my technique.

Hopefully I will keep improving...soon I'll be up to 1/2 hour which is the nominal limit to the water treadmill sign up time. (But often you could get two back to back if you wanted it seems).

I like the rowing's like doing zillions of very low effort squats with some low effort ab crunches and arm pulls. 

I think rowing  and the elliptical are best for complementing running

Sunday (today) I took my bike out on the roads. It takes me about 15 min to get to/from some fairly open road that has longer stretches without stop signs or lights and so really only 1 hr was at decent speeds (15-19mph)  

But I got some good HR going (135+) for that hour. 

I still refuse to buy a bike I wear my running tech shirts which flutter in the wind and give me away as a old guy that really isn't a biker. 

The errant muscles in my right leg are healing up ....but I'm not going to run on it for at least another 2-3 weeks. 

BTW: If you look, you'll notice "Half Ironman Tri" is on my goal bucket list now 8)

The swimming is the big unknown..swimming 1.2 miles in open water still seems the hardest part by far.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Swim #2!

Ok, so don't worry, I'm not going to post for every swim ;)

I had no upper body muscle soreness after my first this time my goal was to add 5 minutes to the swim: ie. 20 minutes.... and this I did. I only stopped 4-5 times for 10-15 seconds and in general felt more in the "zone" than the first time.

I relaxed my upper body more and even managed to swim with left side breathing for a minute or so...still needs work though. (Note to self: work on new form tasks in the beginning when you are fresh!)

The infinity pool/water treadmill is plenty big but I do have to learn to slow down and not crowd the front, something that would not be a problem in a pool. OTOH, I think swimming in this type of pool will help with dead even pacing. I've been told that the standing waves in this pool can make breathing more difficult, but I have not noticed this. Compared to open water, how bad can it be?

Time to buy a bathing suit that is more 'suited' for vacation suits are too big and drippy after the swim...a pain to deal with...not to mention draggy in the water 8)

Next time, 25 minutes?


Here's a mystery photo I took this weekend. Can you figure out what it is?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Doctors everywhere. I learn a few things.

For some reason I'm seeing a lot of doctors these days.  Not something I enjoy doing, because it's such a time-suck. I'm lucky to have decent medical coverage through work,  so I won't complain too much. 

Dr # 1

One visit per year would be my dermatologist.  I get a  skin cancer check...being a former redhead and freckled person, I have to watch out...I burn easily (although not as easily as when I was a child..i have a bit more melanin than then).

Since I had to see him anyway,  I decided to deal with this bump on the back of my neck (benign cyst ) that I've had for the last few years. He said he'd be happy to remove it's an outpatient big deal. Hmm.

 I do some "research" (a.k.a. googling) and find that yah, chopping something out of your neck isn't that bad (where my bump is anyway)..not too many important cables and wires under the skin for him to cut by mistake 8/

I called to schedule thinking I could kill two birds with one visit. Oh no you don't, that would be way too efficient. Instead we must have TWO visits.

Fine. BeThatWay.

Eventually I'm in his office...on the table, face down and he's hacking away on the left-back side. I can't feel anything painful (yay Novocaine!) but I can tell he's sawing and picking away from the vigorous tugging at my skin. I consider making my left leg twitch violently around and yelling out in unison with that...but I then figure physical humor would not be good idea when you have a guy cutting into your neck.

I do mention that he seems to be working pretty hard back there and he says something interesting: "Yes indeed, you have very good collagen". 

??? I asked him, "what do you mean?". 

He says some people have really good collagen and some people don't, based mostly on genes. He then asked me, "have you ever broken a leg?".  I reply "No" and he says "Well, there you go.".

"Errrm...bones are collagen too?", I never like high school biology very much...

 "Yes", he says..."There are a lot of forms of collagen and they form the connective tissues in your body..yours is really good. I worked in a lab studying the stuff for 10 yrs, so I should know". 

The doc sends me on my way with a band aid to cover my boo-boo and an appointment to come back in 10 days to get the non-subcutaneous stitches pulled. I still have to come back yet another time for my actual skin check. So instead of one doctor visit I have 3. But at least I found out something nice:

Apparently, I'm a bit less likely to wear out a joint or get a stress fracture, yay me!

Dr #2

This is my normal doc, and I decided to see her for a referral to a PT so I could find out if anybody had anything to say about my leg length discrepancy/duck foot/tight hip issues. I didn't want to get to age 70 and have some doc tell me "if only you'd come in, we could have done xyz and you wouldn't need this new hip/knee/foot/brain/etc!".

She spends some time listening to my story and gives me a referral not to a PT, but to a sports medicine doctor. She wants to help too and suggests some magnesium blood tests (in case that's why I'm cramping) but I tell her that's just a waste..I eat really well and also take a horse pill of minerals and vitamins so I think that's rather unlikely. In this way I avoid yet another Dr visit.

Dr #3

I visit the Sports Dr yesterday. He listened to my story of acute problem(s) (i.e. tendency to right side calf pull) and my more strategic concern, i.e. duckfoot/longer right leg. He looks at my legs and estimates there is at least 1/2" of difference...maybe more. 

He can't figure out if it's in tiba, femur or hip though but when he measure my hip flexibility he can see that its really poor to the outside and suggests a quick X-ray to check it out. I agree...many massage people have suggested just such a thing to me to make sure nothing too funky is going on in there, and I get this done in about 10 minutes.

Looking at the X-ray back in the Drs office on his computer the Dr points out that there is some differences in how the top of my femur is shaped. I can see that my cartilage is quite good and thick still (yay  team collagen!). 

We both stare at the xrays for a few minutes but the upshot is that there doesn't seem to be anthing too horrible. Once suggestion by the Dr is that my hip muscles might be congenitally super tight and that's just they way they are. (I do know that nothing  I've done or massage folks have done seems to make a wit of difference). 

He gives me a referral to 2 hip specialists.... to have them give me their reaction to the X-rays. I nod but secretly I'm thinking. "Um. No.".  To be fair he does warn me their life is doing replacements and resurfacing..and they probably will say "Running!? Don't do *THAT*!"

Dr #3 gets back to the calf sprain/cramp/pull issue and he eventually opines   that it's due to calf muscles being too tight. He looks at how I stretch my legs and notices that I keep my duck foot splayed out (the way my gait would have it) when I stretch my right leg. 

He points out that I don't get as good a stretch doing it that way and suggests I hold the foot straight, like the left leg, when I do it. I try this and, yah, it does take the stretch deeper. My leg feels kind of torqued but he says its ok...not gonna hurt anything.

He also said I probably need to give injuries like this pull a full 6 weeks of recovery..I've always pushed back too soon and he says this causes it to never fully heal, although I've gotten away with it (mostly).

I have the feeling that he's nailed one of my problems on the head with these observations. During my year of 8 marathons,  I had dialed way back on my calf stretches because that's now I tore it slightly back in Sept '09. That only kind of worked because I was not doing any fast running. If I want to do faster running I need to keep them stretched out.

He did say that my wearing of flats during the day is a really good idea to keep things stretched out. In my experience this is worth just as much as stretching, if not more.

So I leave this meeting thinking I've learned two things useful: 

Firstly, my hips are in pretty good shape. I have lots of cartilage and nothing too horribly wrong. Keep on running!

Secondly, stretch the right leg with the foot twisted to face straight forward...even if it feels weird 8)


No more new Dr visits, but  I do see a running specialist PT starting end of August. That might be interesting.

Meanwhile I'm cross-training, doing strength training and loving it just fine. 

Today I did 20 minutes of the strength training, 20 min of elliptical, 10 rowing and 30 of upright biking. Gradually my muscles are getting stronger. I can get my heart rate up and my legs don't croak.

I miss running but I kinda like focusing on something besides running for a bit...I know when I get back to it I'll be in super muscle shape!

Tomorrow, another swim!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My first swim!

Yup.  It finally happened. I got exercise from propelling myself in water.

Since I'm letting my leg heal up and searching for ways to stay sane and keep fitness not to mention build better overall strength,  I decided that now was the time.

About 10 days ago I took the first step and ordered myself a pair of swim goggles with -6 diopter plastic corrective lenses, not exactly my prescription (I have a teeny bit of astigmatism) but good enough for cost only $18. 

I did not order a Speedo. I have my old baggy bathing suit for now.

The goggles arrived yesterday.

Another reason I've been thinking of swimming is that I have access to two of these a short distance from where I work. (see pic)

It's basically a "water treadmill": you dial the current you want and then swim in place.

I have not swum a long distance freestyle, ever, so I wondered if it would all be a bit clumsy and daunting to start out here rather than in a big pool. I've also never worn goggles swimming before.

But big pools have their own problems....a pain to get to..lots of people, so I opted to give this a go.

Things that seemed to go well

I did not drown. 8-P

I swam for 15 minutes fairly continuously, except when i stopped to adjust the current or stop and  think about WTF I was doing.

I was able to swim at about 2.5 mph, which was much faster than I thought I could go. I think with practice I would be able to go 3 mph maybe?

My arms did not seem to get tired/sore. (We'll see tomorrow.)

I was able to do 'elbow over hand' pretty well. (Thank you youtube ;)

My kick worked. I know to kick from the hips not the knees from all the flippering I've done in my life. Whenever my legs dropped I tried focusing on the kick and keep the head down and that would bring 'em right back up.

My heart rate did get up a bit..actually got a teeny cardio workout. Probably hit my running recovery rate of 105 115 bpm.

Things that didn't go so well

Trying to focus on all the parts of the stroke was somewhat overwhelming. It's not automatic AT ALL yet and so it was sort of mental overload.  I think if there was  a movie of my stroke it would look pretty horrible.

Breathing on the left was almost a total fail. I did it a few times and took in water a bit. My flexibility to that side is terrible. (The same massive body asymmetry that is effecting my running no doubt). But I think with practice and more body roll I can get used to it. 

I was imagining swimming 1.2 miles (half ironman swim) and it seemed like a freakin' long distance, especially in open water. Suddenly the abstract challenge became a real one..once  I was wet and flailing around. It was a little scary to think about. i smell a new challenge?

Things to work on

Technique is everything in swimming. It's not a natural thing like running, and it's way more complex than biking. I need somebody to look at my stroke and give me some pointers.

I actually find (after my puny 15 min) that its an interesting contrast to running...color me 'intrigued' with it. Not drowning helped ;)

I probably need to do some drills and that will probably require an actual pool. Hmm. 

Mini goal: I would like to be able to swim for 1/2 hour without stopping!


Meanwhile, I'm weight/core training (getting stronger by the week) and biking. I also got into see my personal Dr and schedule an referral on Monday with a sports medicine dr to see if I can avoid these calf problems somehow. 

I seem to be keeping busy enough that not running isn't bugging me too much (yet).


Meanwhile you must  check out Sarah's blog and send her some congrats..she deserves a big round of virtual bloggy applause: she just passed the 100lb mark in her weight loss
and is on the way toward running her first half marathon soon!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Bless her heart!

I'm still dealing with some muscle strain problems in my right leg these I'm not running very much..just a few miles every few days to test the waters as it very slowly gets better. I'm Mr. Conservative when it comes to running when discomfort gradually develops rather than going away..time to ease off. 

But I'm not acutely hurt, so I am doing lots of cross training and strength training with exercises from Jill , massage, etc. I'm going to finally address some of my duck-foot / leg length  imbalances  by seeing a PT.

I remind myself I want to be running 20 yrs from now so I'd better address these problems ASAP. Knowing that I'm doing that helps with the waiting.

My wife Toni knows how much I like to run big miles and  feels bad for me. So, she got me a card with this pic on the front. The caption says :

"Life is a Journey. Wishing you many happy miles ahead".

Bless her heart! I know I am pretty lucky to have a spouse that supports me and my running fetish hobby.

The Nuns need to tell that guy to stop heel striking so much! 8)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

6:45 Mile!?

No, not ME.... my nephew! (Not the smarty pants one, a younger, less obnoxious one ..)..he's 9 years old and ran a 6:45 mile on July 4th with his Dad.

He's a sporty, basketball, tennis, etc. Perhaps track is also in his future!

The day was HOT (low 90's) and somewhat humid. 

He spent the rest of the day running around as per normal but did skip his tennis lesson the next day ;)


I'm curious, how many of you could run a 6:45 mile at age 9?