Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Good Swim

I just got back from the YMCA where I had a very enjoyable swim. As part of my effort to build up to triathlon swim distances, I've been following the Zero to One Mile program. The program is designed to take you to swimming a mile without stopping for rest in six weeks. Since I wanted to get in more swimming in the first couple weeks, I've been doing the suggest program followed by some additional swimming with somewhat longer rest periods (hereafter, short commercial breaks).

Tonight was a very pleasant night for swimming. It's raining and cold which makes it a fairly lousy night for running and since I rode the bike last night, I didn't want to jump on the trainer. I swam a total of 2,500 yards in 55 minutes. Thus far it's both the longest distance I've done and the lowest average time per 100 yards. Overall it broke down as:
200x4 on 12 breath rest (in other words, swim 200 yards, stop to breathe for 12 breaths, then repeat three more times)
100x4 on 8 breath rest
50x4 on 4 breath rest
Short commercial break...
Short commercial break...

It was, overall, a very satisfying night of swimming. Tomorrow is the weekly rest day so I won't be doing anything (other than shooting pool in the Thursday night league). Friday I should be back to running, probably in the morning or at lunch given other commitments. Good times...


Monday, October 13, 2008

New Bike & Training

I bought a new road bike right around a month ago. I have a nice mountain bike which is great for riding trails, dirt roads, etc. but it isn't really designed for high speed travel on roads and paved trails. This is my new Cannondale Synapse Carbon 5. It's an all Carbon frame with a Shimano 105 component set. It's a triple crank with a 10 gear cassette, theoretically making it a 30 speed. That said, one of the fun facts that isn't often advertised is that while many bikes will have 21, 27, or 30 speeds, not all of those are advisable for use... generally crossing from the big ring on the front to the big ring on the back is a bad idea, it stretches the chain.

It's an outstanding ride and I've been having quite a good time on it. I went out Saturday and had a great 17 mile ride in absolutely perfect weather. My hope is that by next summer I've built up enough endurance to ride it up to Grand Rapids on a weekend.

On a related note, the triathlon training continues and is going fairly well. I'm finally feeling the endurance gains and can notice a discernable increase in my ability to keep going without feeling like death warmed over. I went swimming tonight and completed a 2,100 yard swim in just under an hour (not all at once, the longest set was 500 yards). For those interested, and so I can come back and look at it again in the future, here's the current log of training volumes for the last few weeks. I was sick the week of 9/21 and part of 9/21 which is why the volumes there were so poor. Under my current plan I'll average between six and ten hours a week for the next twelve weeks or so. That should put me on target for a sprint and Olympic triathlon next year. Ironman, should I decide to pursue such insanity, would require a dramatically higher volume of training ;)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

WMU Campus Classic

Last week Saturday I completed my first 5K race since childhood. The WMU Campus Classic is run Homecoming weekend every year on Western Michigan University's campus. The campus itself is what a PR person would call "rolling" and what a runner calls "really darn hilly".

A group of people from work were all running the race which was nice. My parents also came down to Kalamazoo to be the cheering section and provide run-side support (thank you both!). Running around campus was great though it was odd to see all the changes since graduation. Several buildings have been completely replaced and the student center has undergone some huge renovations. The old bowling alley is now the bookstore - Textbook Alley.

Since I've only recently started running I wasn't in the best shape for a race. In fact, I ran 5K in training, punctuated by some walking, for the first time two days before the race in 37:37. I definitely could have used a bit more time to prepare but I'm very glad I ran it. I managed to complete the race without walking, even on the terrible, terrible hill next to the Sindecuse Health Center. I'm thinking that it's not a coincidence that the health center is situated next to the killer hill...

I finished the race in 30:54, running just under ten minute miles. Since my goal was to finish, ideally under 34 minutes, I'm very happy with the result. It also gives me a good baseline that I can improve on. I'm hoping to run another 5K this fall and cut at least three minutes off that time. Online race results are available here.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008


I recently decided to start training for a triathlon in 2009. My hope is to do a sprint distance event in the spring and then a full Olympic distance triathlon a bit later in the season. The full Olympic triathlon is a 1.5 km swim, a 40 km bike, and a 10 km run (.93 miles/24.8 miles/6.2 miles). For those unfamiliar with triathlon, you basically swim, run out of the water, jump on your bike, ride, jump off your bike, and start running to the finish line.

I've been swimming laps regularly for the last six months or so but I haven't done much running or cycling in quite some time. Over the last few weeks I've very slowly been working up my running and cycling fitness levels - both of which are startlingly low. The running in particular is going to be interesting. At the moment I can run a 15 minute mile while keeping my heart rate in a zone I'd like it to be in. I can run it faster but not without being completely winded by the end of the run. I signed up for a 5k race on October 4th which should help keep me motivated to keep the running piece going. Since I'll actually be running with some coworkers I'd prefer not to be the slow guy that finishes last.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pool League

A few months ago I started playing in a pool league. It's been fun so far and I enjoy getting together with people and having a chance to compete. The first four weeks were fairly rough... I lost my matches all four weeks. On the bright side, I've won my last eight matches in a row. It's fun to play the game even if you lose. That being said, winning is far, far better.

Tuesday night's match was my first table run ever. I broke but didn't put anything in. My opponent took a shot then missed. I ran all seven of my balls and then sank the eight. It was a truly awesome feeling (though my opponent appeared to be enjoying it a fair bit less). It was, admittedly, a bit of a fluke. I don't normally run a table but I'm looking forward to doing it more often!

Sunday, December 02, 2007


A few weeks ago I spent a week at Disney World with Dave and Susan. It was during the annual Food and Wine Festival at Epcot and all three of us had a great time wandering the parks, sampling the food, diving, and more. The photo album is now online for anyone that would like to see some of what transpired...

Among the many highlights we dove the Living Seas at Epcot. The dive was in an aquarium over 200 feet in diameter with a maximum depth of 25 feet. I had a huge sea turtle swim about three inches from my head and we saw some very large sharks cruising around. One of the best parts was swimming up to the glass and playing around with the kids that were watching from the other side. There was a lot of waving and kids having fun which was very cool. One little boy seemed a bit nervous and stayed awfully darn close to his father's leg when I got close to the glass... though he did seem to warm up after a bit.

We also ate some fantastic food. The best dinners we had, in my opinion, were at the Bistro de Paris and The Bluezoo. The Bistro had a five course degustacion menu which was, to that point, the best meal I've ever had. Surprisingly enough, my new best meal was only a night later at the Bluezoo... Todd English's restaurant at Disney. Chef English presented a couple hundred diners with an amazing meal paired with wines from the Gallo winery. Gina Gallo was onhand to present the wines and she definitely brought some winners with her. I won't go into all the details but suffice it to say, if you see "bacon" on an upscale menu, you should order it. It's pork belly... not the sliced, fried stuff you get at IHOP. It might just be one of the tastiest meats I've ever had.