Friday, April 22, 2011

ScottyTris: The Wuss

I'm quickly discovering something about me as a triathlete-in-training:  I'm a big wuss.  I'm constantly concerned about overtraining, getting injured, getting sick.... etc.  I mentioned in a post this year that in my 11 years in the rat race, I've taken 5 sick days.  Either I'm a relatively healthy person or I'm just constantly in denial (sorry coworkers).

This week was my week to get back to my base building.  Monday was 2000 meters swimming (which was actually cutting back).  Tuesday was weights in the morning followed by a brick bike/run session (my only schedule 2-a-day).  15 miles in the bike and 4 miles in the running shoes.  Tuesday evening was cold and windy.  It was 50 degrees out with 15 mph winds and the occasional spittle of rain.  My wussy self normally would have said that working out in that would make me sick, so just stay home.  Hopefully I would have put the bike on the trainer.

The plan for Wednesday morning was another 2000 meters in the pool.  I even spent a few hours Tuesday night doing some research on swimming form.  I woke up with a sore throat.  BAM! Snooze button.  Ultimately I decided to call it in.  Thursday morning... and now Friday morning.  I'm still hoping to get a run or bike in today as the sun is suppose to be out and warming things up around 3pm.  Then it looks like Saturday morning will be my catchup swim at the gym.

So yeah, I'm a wuss.  I follow a bunch of great people on Twitter (aka, Twiathletes) that are constantly talking about getting their bike/run in while the temperature is cold and windy.  People who workout "smart" when they don't feel 100%.  I use this as motivation (hence my brick on Tuesday in crappy weather).  My biggest concern is the fact that I feel like my body is in overdrive when I lay down to sleep.  This in combination with a sore throat is what I used to justify being a wuss.  I'm scheduling a physical in a few weeks to chat with my doc about it and borrowing a blood pressure machine as another gage of overtraining.

Today is exactly 1 month until my first triathlon.  I feel like I am in good shape to complete the race with my base but if I don't want to be last, I'm going to have to harden up and get out there but I want to be smart about it.

Well, enough procrastination.  I have a few hours of web site contract work to do and hopefully the sun will be out.

Schedule Shake-up
Oh yeah... I have some changes to my planned event schedule.  I'll announce those in a few weeks.  I'm sure my two readers will be waiting with bated breath.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Race Report: Trolley Run 2011

I know, I know.. nothing new on race day but I decided to go with apple slices and peanut butter for breakfast.  I have gotten out of the habit of making my fruit smoothie for breakfast.  While this decision didn't hurt me, I do want to get back to my old routine or decide on a new one.  I'm thinking about changing it up because I have some more races this year that will involve a hotel stay prior to the race.  I'm looking for something a little more 'portable' like bagel and peanut butter with a banana.

I learned from St. Patrick's Day to hydrate well.  I drank quite a bit of water the day before and took in around 10 - 12 oz of water in the morning. Temperatures were mid-40s so I decided to go with my running shorts and my not-so-trademarked bright orange tech shirt.  I did wear my jogging pants over the shorts and jacket to stay warm in the morning.

I was up by 5:00am and ready to hit the door by 6:15am.  We arrived at the plaza at 6:45am and met Kristen and Shane.

Shane, Me, Kristen
This is a point-to-point race, so you ride a bus to the start.  I remember last year thinking about how long the bus ride was taking and thinking "we have to run back this far!"  Yeah.. you do.  I can't imagine what the Boston bus ride feels like.  

Off to the bus!!
The wait for the bus didn't take long but there was quite a long line.  Just have to be patient.  The organizers are smart enough to allow red (first) and blue (second) wave runners to take special buses since their start is 20 minutes sooner.  Shane had not registered yet and Kristen was running green (third).  I was in no hurry to get to the start and I knew we had plenty of time, so we waited for the next bus to show up. If I wanted to do long warm up jog... yeah, I might have taken the other bus.  I would not recommend arriving too late though because they won't wait for you at the start.

We arrived at the start line a little after 7:00am with plenty of time for Shane to register.  We met up with Joe VI and Carmen.  About 7:30 I decided to queue up and took in a short run.  I got in the red wave just in time to see the wheel chair racer take off.  While waiting a few minutes for the red wave to start, I had time to contemplate if I deserved to be in this wave.  You had to run a sub-7:30 pace and I knew I didn't get my speedwork in.  I guess I had paid my dues... within minutes we were off!

Everyone you talk to about the Trolley Run usually says "It's all downhill" within a few sentences.  Granted, there are a few rolling hills at the beginning but by the time your blood is pumping and legs are sufficiently warmed, you are working negative elevation.

1st Mile - 6:37 pace
Of course my planning wasn't sufficient and I didn't really know what I was capable of.  I started in  a pretty high gear and was concerned about starting out too fast.  The nice thing was I didn't spend very much time fighting the crowd.  Within the first two minutes I knew a problem was brewing.  Just like St. Patrick's Day Run, my heart rate monitor was falling but I decided not to focus on it and let it drop to my waist.  This sucked because I was planning to use my heart rate to determine if I was pushing too hard or at least try to stay in the 165 - 170 range.  It was funny to look at my Garmin and see that it wasn't reading very well because it showed my heart rate at 300.

2nd Mile - 6:36
Any elevation that we were to experience was behind us.  After a short turn, we were on Brookside Boulevard for the rest of the "ride".  I continued to focus on my form and breathing. I was trailing some of the team members from my company and used them as a means for motivation (I wasn't on the team but at least I had a target!).  I ran by Sharp's 63rd Bar and Grill, which was my other means of motivation.  More on that to come!

There was an aid station during this mile and I decided to take only a few sips of water.  My hydration plan was doing just great.

3rd Mile - 6:40
By this point I was definitely starting to feel it.  Cardio-wise I was definitely stressed.  Mechanically (legs) I just couldn't go faster.  I settled into the pace but unfortunately I was starting to lose some focus.  HTFU kept going in my mind and it helped.  Also knowing that I was less than 10 minutes from finishing sweetened it.

4th Mile - 6:50
I started wishing I had my heart rate monitor back.  I attempted to put it back on but decided to focus on my form and race instead.  At this point in the race you can start seeing the Plaza and the two American Century towers.  I tried to kick it up into overdrive during the last .2 of the run. I hit 5:30 for a bit and manage to finish in 26:51, besting last years time by 50 seconds.

This race I decided to go at it alone in the post-race food binge.  There was practically no one there.

There were quite a few options: The Roasterie coffee, Krispey Kremes, bagels, multi-grain rolls, bananas, yogurt, chocolate milk, apple slices, popcorn, pretzels, to name a few.  I decided to line-up for my race time instead of waiting for the results online:

I think I could be a thumb model.  Next career?
Overall a good post-race experience.   I meet up with TKB and waited for the rest of the "team".  We caught Shane and Joe VI but never saw Kristen and Carmen cross.  Danny was also in the race, but never saw him (start or finish).

Even though I dug the post-race food lines, we hit Sharp's 63rd Bar and Grill for some brunch.  And brunch I did:

Farm Boy Benedict: Biscuits, Gravy, Scrambled Eggs, Potatoes.  I barely finished half of it.

Bakon Bloody Mary - Bloody Mary with bacon-infused Vodka.
The weather was so nice I decided to go for a really easy bike ride when I got home.  I guess I felt guilty eating those calories.

The Results

Overall place:283 out of 8419
Division place:53 out of 568
Gender place:255 out of 3513

At the start they announced another record registration count of over 11,000 participants but it looks like a few thousand forgot to set their alarm(s).

This is a well put on event considering how many participants hurl themselves down a 4 mile stretch of road. They perform a fun run for kids and usually have a local sports celebrity run the show.

I'm happy with my results considering my lack of speed work. Nutrition and hydration plan worked but need to figure out what's going on why my heart rate monitor.  I tightened it up after St. Patrick's Day but maybe need more.


Shane screaming into the finish.

Joe VI and Joe VII.  The Joe's were quite troopers.  Joe VI ran back home after the race.

My pre-race prep.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lack of Training or Perfect Amount of Training?

I have been struggling the last two weeks to keep up with the level of training I was doing the two weeks prior.  This time I can't blame it on work (which I never should blame).  Don't get me wrong, the last two weeks have been busy with birthdays, races, friends, and other things but I that shouldn't slow me down.

In reviewing the last four weeks (excluding this week), I have the following:

Week Swim (Meters) Bike (Miles) Run (Miles) Total Miles Time
3/14 - 3/20 9,000 59 16 80 10:27
3/21 - 3/27 10,000 37 20 63 9:33
3/28 - 4/3 5,000 17 16 35 6:07
4/4 - 4/10 6,000 52 4 60 6:30

I feel that my training has no identity and that I'm focusing on quantity rather than quality.  I've been trying to find an identity by researching training programs but when I try to match training programs to where I think I am, it doesn't jive with what I think I need.  I find that my first few weeks are levels for training plans above the olympic distance while the last two weeks may more mimic an olympic distance plan but near the end.  Either way, I'm all over the place amongst the individual disciplines.

In evaluating the first two weeks I am very happy with my distances but I was plagued with overtraining concerns.  Going to bed at night had me feeling like I was having anxiety attacks with my heart rate escalated.  I still had plenty of energy during the day though.

The next two weeks were fewer partly because of my taper for Brew-to-Brew and then recovery from Brew-to-Brew.  While my overtraining symptoms have gone away, guilt did not.

I think the answer is pretty simple.  I'm not training for anything more than an olympic distance triathlon.  I don't need to jump immediately into 2-a-days.  Overtraining = injury.  Acceptance removes the guilt.

What I have enjoyed:

  • Running -- Increased technical analysis increased speed.  This makes me think that I'm heading into the next phase of my running.
  • Swimming -- Hitting that "perfect" stroke and gliding through the water.  Happens about .00005% of the time.
  • Bike -- Seeing my town from a different perspective.

So given that, I want to get an average amount of time in the shoes to work on my new form.  I want to focus on time in the swim but instead of hitting long distance attempt to be more technical to get the form down.  As for time in the saddle, just ride ride ride to build the base.  Lastly, get at least one weight session in.  As for schedule, limit the amount of 2-a-days (except for weight days); however, work in a short brick run after the ride.

Just with any training plans, there will be a long training day on the weekend.  This will be a struggle. I prefer to get up at 4:30am on Saturday to get my training in.  The YMCA isn't open until 7:00am and I'm hesitant biking in the dark.  So any brick session will have to be in reverse.  So be it.

An additional twist, two weeks after KC Triathlon is Hospital Hill Half-Marathon.  I'd love to improve my half-marathon PR, so I may get in some extract time in the shoes.

As for the training plan for KC Tri, I'm going to find one and insert myself into whatever week I should be in but adapter for my needs.

Any recommendations?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Next Up: Trolley Run

Well, I couldn't wait long to put a new blog post out there so as to not re-live my troubled Sunday every time I visit my blog (only slightly vain here... someone has to keep my blog statistics up).

I've decided my pre-season ends with the completion of Brew-to-Brew.  Just like football, I have four races to get in shape.  In football, the 3rd game is effectively the last game of the pre-season as the starters sometimes play into the second half.  That was St. Patty's Day four mile run where I hit a sub-7:30 pace.

So the first race is Trolley Run.  This is "the nation's largest timed four-mile run"with nearly 10,000 participants.  The unique nature of this point-to-point race is it's nearly all downhill.  Last year's Garmin data showed only a 14 feet elevation gain.  Because of this I have decided to keep this race in its own PR category, which is currently set at 6:54 pace.

To be honest, I was probably further along in my running last year than this year due my time spent on Swim and Bike; however, the cross training may allow my legs to be fresher this time.  I've become more technical in my running but hopefully I can still see the forest for the trees.

The Trolley Run benefits the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Introducing #TheDeck and #TheDrunk

This past weekend was one of the best weekends in a long time.  It was TKB’s and my birthday weekend.  It’s the weekend that falls between our birthdays as we were born 7 days apart (I'm older :P). In typical Scott and Tricia Bowling family fashion, we put together a little party but only giving everyone two days notice.  One of the catalyst for the event was that we had a deck installed on our house last fall that is nearly 3 times the size of the previous deck (at 10’ x 10’, it’s not hard to increase the size though).  I’ve decided to christen our deck with the name of #TheDeck (Yes, that’s a twitter hashtag thing) and believe you me, it was christen quite a few times as the wind knocked over people’s drinks.

Saturday was sitting out on #TheDeck from noon to 6:30pm as friends and family came and went.  Then Joe VI, TKB, and I went to a movie (Paul – Hilarious!).  After the movie TKB and I hung outside for another hour.  #TheDeck saw more action Sunday evening as my brother and his lovely family came over for dinner (we had tons of leftovers from Saturday).  Unfortunately I did not take a SINGLE picture of Saturday but managed a couple snap shots on Sunday.

I'm getting the "You're taking photos like your Mom" look from Mike and Amanda.  TKB is doing her best Forgetting Sarah Marshall brunch scene impression.

The other side of #TheDeck.

I don’t know if you can tell, but there is something in the first shot that turned out to be my Achilles’ heel for the evening.  If you can’t see it, let me point it out.

This is one of my favorite drinks: Margaritas! The recipe I use is pretty strong.  No wait.  It’s EXTREMELY strong.  Two of those glasses gets me in a pretty good mood.  Apparently, last night, it put me in such a good mood that I went for a third glass.  This time, I neglected to fill the glass up with ice like normal.  In essence, I had 2 – 3 glasses of Margarita in one serving.  Fortunately, the impact of this oversight occurred as my brother’s family (read: kids) were just leaving so they (read: parents) only got to enjoy them through TKB's twitter feed:

Needless to say, swimming on Monday morning was cancelled.  Now let's be clear here, I'm not a lush.  I hardly ever get like this.  If I have one cocktail more than once a week, then it must be due to a special occasion.  After this weekend I ended up with about 30 leftover bottles of near-beer (Bud Light, Miller Light) in my basement and I really have no idea what to do with them. This episode only happened due to poor planning on my decision to not fill up my glass with ice.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lost in Transition

I wondered when they would start.  They are inevitable and you just hope they don't freak you out enough to stop everything and run the other direction.  Just as soon as I started wondering when they would show up, they did.  Self-fulfilling proficiency?  Likely.  My first one was two weekends ago and the second was on Monday.  What are they?


Triathlon related dreams, of course.  So far the two that I had weren't nightmare-ish but I suspect one will come eventually.

  1. This was a few weeks ago and so I don't remember too much of it.  What I do remember is I couldn't get clipped into my pedal on the bike.  After repeated attempts I eventually stopped to notice the clip on the shoe was broken.  I chalked this one up to the fact I'm still learning how to get clipped in efficiently.
  2. After getting out of the water from my swim I got lost navigating to the transition area.  I ended up on the other side of the lake.  Seriously.  I think this one stems from the fact that I have horrible vision.  My glasses are pop bottles.  I use a pair of prescription goggles at the pool and will definitely be using them for all triathlons.  I even have a backup pair just in case.
Do you have triathlon dreams?  Feel free to share but I might not read them until after the season is over.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Adventurous Scotty

OK.  Maybe not that adventurous but I did my longest bike ride so far.  I hit 20 miles on a route that got me close to my childhood home.  Maybe in a few more weeks I'll go all the way up to my parent's house.  This route was relatively flat compared to my ride around Weatherby Lake on Wednesday (17 miles), so I wasn't too worn out.

The route I took is relatively commercial (office buildings with some hotels) but it was pretty.  Nearly all Bradford Pear trees are blooming:

They are pretty but they are SMELLY when they bloom.
Following the bike ride I decided to shoot for a run.  I don't think I've truly completed a "brick" which I guess is suppose to be a bike then run workout.  I couldn't find a good definition of "brick" workout but it's pretty common terminology in tri parlance.  I only did a 2.5 mile loop but wish I would have gone longer.  I averaged 8 minute mile.  I would be very pleased with this come May 22nd.

The weather is suppose to be 90 degrees tomorrow so I'm going to do a long run in the morning and try to hit the pool at 7am for 4k swim.  So up at 4:30am tomorrow morning.  I'm going to try for double digit run.

It's going to be a long day as we are hosting a birthday party for TKB (4/14) and I (4/7) Saturday afternoon.  Lots of grilling, friends & family, and drinks.  We are going to get a bunch of use out of our new deck tomorrow!!!

OK.. well, this post is pretty much a procrastination post.  I'm in the middle of redesigning one of the web sites I run and was planning to get a lot of work in tonight since TKB is out tonight.  OK... to be honest, that redesign is about 7 years in the making now.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Race Report: Brew-to-Brew 2011

Brew-to-Brew (B2B) is a 44 mile relay race that starts at Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City, MO and ends in Lawrence, KS near Free State Brewery.  The first running was in 1995 with 254 participants.  The race sold out this year, but I don't know the number of participants.  Cystic Fibrosis is the event's charity.

The race start is staggered with the first team's start at 6:00am and continues every 30 minutes until 9:30am. There are 10 total legs, many of which have their own unique challenges.  The challenges are there more due to keeping the course off of major thru-fares than by actual design.  The first few legs involve stairs and climbing up levee walls.  Leg 7 involves a boat crossing (or you can add another mile to your leg to avoid the crossing).  Leg 6 has a massively long hill for 2 - 3 miles and is also one of the longest legs of the race.  Legs 8 & 9 are on gravel and dirt roads.

Make no mistake about it, this is very much a beer/alcohol related event.  Running is probably the only reason this day doesn't get too out of hand.  We had 10 gallons of beerita (see below) to keep our runners hydrated.... oh, plus over 100 bottles of water.

The Day
Our three teams kicked off at 8:30am.  Due to various reasons, we ran between two to four runners during the race event.  The overall group consisted of 20 people: 17 runners and 3 drivers (2 runners came from North Carolina.... Go Kenny and Megan!).  I'll mention now that a lot of effort was put into this event.  Maybe more than the actual event itself.  Organizing 17 runners involves a lot of work that team mom (My wife, TKB) managed quite well.  Along with the 10 gallons of beerita and bottles of water purchased, there were 12 bananas halved, 20 oranges sliced, 20 team t-shirts handcrafted, 50 bags of chips procured, 70 sandwiches made, and thousands upon thousands of words digitized to communicate the plans.

In my typical paranoia of race day, I check the forecast daily as it enters the 10 day forecast range.  It ranged from 50 degrees and cloudy to 80 degrees with isolated thunderstorms.  What we got was sunny and 85 degrees!  Oh... and 25 - 35 mph sustained winds with 45 mph gusts.  With the early spring nature of this race, there was very little blockage of this wind as trees had not developed leaves yet.  The only solace found was in the valley's of hills; however, that meant that as soon as you crested a nasty hill you almost get blown back down it when you hit the wind.  On multiple occasions I heard people say "This was the worst run in my life" due to the wind.

Team T-shirts
Team T-shirts are always difficult to figure out.  While there is a small committee who make the decisions for the race, I finally threw out the idea that was ultimately used:

Joe VI showing off his work.
All runners received "I drink ... beers per mile".  (One runner had one with COCKtails as she was drinking margaritas for the event).  All drivers received "I drive ... drunks per mile".  Here was the deal:  For every beer you drink, you get a black tally.  For every water, you get a blue tally.  Once you hit three black tallies in a row, you must drink a water or no more black marks.  Beautifully executed by Team Mom so that she could throttle the alcohol intake.  I'm pretty sure a few of the team members were thankful for the water rule the day after.  We had plenty of people from other teams request pictures of people with our t-shirts, so I guess it was a success.  For the record, I only had 3 black marks as I was more concerned with keeping things in order (such as not leaving behind a runner at a checkpoint).

Legs Breakdown
1: Kenny and Megan
2: Joe VI and Lauren
3: Dan and Anne
4: Carmen and Kristen
5: Danny, Sean, Ben, and Kristin
6: Ben, Kristin, Mark
7: Larianne and Mark
8: Shane and I
9: Stephen and Kenny
10: Stephen and I

Kristin was training for a half-marathon which takes place the following weekend, so she and Ben took two legs in a row.  Due to some last minute shuffling, we had open spots for 9, so Stephen ran two in a row.

My Legs (The route legs, not my appendages)
Leg 8: I actually ran two of the same legs this year as I did previously (last year I actually did leg 4 too).  Leg 8 has rolling hills the entire way.  This helped block the wind but as soon as we reached an open stretch of farmland without trees on the road, we were hit hard.  The first two miles were mostly dirt road but the second half was gravel.  I would never recommend running on a gravel road.  It may strengthen some aspects of leg and foot muscles but this isn't the way you want to start.

Leg 10: This was running on top of a levee for 4 miles and then taking a bridge into Lawrence to hit the finish line.  The first 1.5 miles was full on 35mph wind gusts but once the road started going straight west, there is a nice line of trees to block the wind.  Stephen and I walked a couple times on the route.  The long day was catching up to us.  Stephen was getting some bad dry mouth (he had just completed leg 9) and we found some nice fellow B2B-ers who were willing to share a bottle of water.

My Legs (the appendages, not the route legs)
While my total mileage is less than my current long runs, you do not consider the 6 - 8 previous hours of standing and milling about while you wait for runners to finish their legs.  Running on gravel road and then on a trail just added to it.  While the levee trail was "flat" there was enough variation on the path that your body is constantly making minor adjustments that cause your knees and hips to ache.  Cardio-wise I was in great shape.  If you are digging into the beerita, you'll have some internal issues going on with dehydration.

This day presented another problem that many may not have taken into considerations.  The second half was in 80+ degree weather.  While the wind helped cool the skin, it was still hot.  It takes a few weeks for the body to acclimate itself to running in such warmer weather.

While I did wear my Garmin, I'm not concerned with analyzing the data.  I know my pace times sucked so I'm not going to bother making any sense of them

Overall - Event Critique
Out of this post I have yet to speak of the event organization itself.  They could definitely do a better job with formal communication.  If anything, create a Facebook page for communicating information.  Some information comes from "Kansas City Track Club" and some is decimated from a personal e-mail account of the race director and little concern for privacy as everyone's e-mail addresses are sent out in a massive "TO" line.  This really needs to be changed.  The packet driving directions could be improved over the hand drawn map.  We have the technology... let's use it!

Being a team relay event that takes place all day, I don't expect much from aid stations or post-race festivities.  We didn't stay to see if there was any post-race festivities.  They do provide food and drinks for solo racers but since I didn't run solo, I don't know if that was sufficient.

Overall Overall
It was a very Very VERY long day as we finished around 5:20pm. We had a great time but the wind zapped most of the energy out of people as well as add many layers of grime.  Re-applying sunscreen was like applying sandpaper to the skin.  I didn't get a chance to review the food but when back in KC but we had the right amount of food and beerita.  Not sure when Brew-to-Brew 2012 will be scheduled but you can bet we will be there.  Depending on my training schedule, I might consider doing a solo "6 leg special".  That's right, I said that.

Did you run Brew-to-Brew?  Visit this site and follow the first link to survey it:

The Team!  It was only missing TKB who was taking the photo.

Transition 1 to 2: Kenny handing our "baton" to Joe VI, a ball.  It got lost somewhere.

Transaction 2 to 3: Joe VI receiving his post-run beerita.

Kristin and Ben coming in strong at Transition 6 to 7.  You are ready for your half-marathon for sure!!

My Gatorade Commercial

Shane and I taking off at Transition 7 to 8.

Shane and I coming into Transition 8 to 9.  GRAVEL!

Stephen just finishing leg 9 and prepping for Leg 10.  Me tweeting.

TKB and I's favorite photo of the day.  Ben's look is priceless!!

Bonus - Beerita
Many people wonder what the heck Beerita is.  Well, here it is:

Four 12oz Cans of beer
1 Cup of Tequila
1 Jar of frozen Lime-aide

Serve on ice with a slice of lime.

This recipe may sound absolutely disgusting but is 100% delicious.

This is simply a ratio, so expand as needed.  For instance, our 10 gallons of beerita was 60 cans of beer, 15 jars of frozen lime-aide (I hope no one else at Walmart needed lime-aide that day), and 3.5 liters of tequila.

If you are spending more than $8 - $9 making a gallon of beerita, then you are doing something wrong.  You MUST use the cheapest beer, cheapest tequila, and cheapest lime-aide you can find.  If you use quality ingredients, it will suck.