Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Been so busy training, I haven't blogged!

Holy cow! I think this is the longest I've gone without posting anything here. I guess I've been too busy Instagramming food porn and running around as Spiderman ;) In all seriousness (kinda), I'm in the middle of training for my set of triathlons and so far (knock on wood), things seem to be going ok. Wildflower has come and gone (more on that later) and I've got approximately a month before my next olympic-distance race at the ITU World Triathlon Chicago. I've got the Vineman 70.3 in 2 months time and since my last post, I've signed up for another half-ironman distance race in Lake Tahoe in late September. Leave it to my friends who peer-pressured me into signing up for this even though I haven't completed my first half yet! I'm so weak minded.

So... what's been going on in the last 5 months or so? Here are some of the highlights:

1. Increasing my saddle time 

It became painfully obvious during my first duathlon in early February that I needed to focus more time on the bike and tackle more hills in my training. Since that point, I've ridden more and even completed my first metric century, but I feel like I still have a ways to go before I really feel comfortable in tackling the 56 miles in Vineman and Lake Tahoe. Thankfully I have some friends who cycle quite a bit and encourage me to go ride with them, but this is something I need to deliberately focus on.

2.  Swimming is still a huge challenge

The good thing is, I can now swim at least a mile continuously, without resorting to using the breaststroke. The bad thing is I'm as slow as molasses in the water. I've been reading up on technique recently, but the hardest part is finding time to swim. I don't have easy access to a swimming pool, so I usually end up having one swim workout per week. Even though this is the shortest discipline in triathlon, my swim is probably the area I can improve on the most. I gotta figure out to realistically increase my swim time each week.

3. Running has been solid

I've only run in a handful of organized races so far. Some fun ones that I ran with the MHRC include the LMJS Couples' Relay (my wife and I each ran a 5k around Oakland's Lake Merritt) along with the infamous Bay to Breakers in SF (I ran in a spandex Spiderman costume from head to toe with my fellow MHRC superheroes). They were both a blast! My one "serious" road race so far was the Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon in late March. I ran though the streets of West Oakland which was surprisingly scenic and I just came up short of breaking my PR and finished in 1:38:28.

Tagging in for my leg of the LMJS Couples' Relay
After finishing the Oakland Half Marathon

Bay to Breakers with the MHRC

The highlight of the season so far has to be Wildflower. I raced in the olympic-distance race and it truly lived up to its reputation as the "Woodstock of Triathlon". From the bustling campgrounds to the throngs of spectators and volunteers, the atmosphere was fantastic! The long course/half-ironman distance race was held on Saturday and the olympic-distance race was on Sunday. The weekend's participants were an interesting mix of pros, collegians, and age-groupers. The hilly terrain presented a true challenge, but what was unusual for this particular race was that the swim in Lake San Antonio was moved 2.2 miles south of where it normally takes place due to the lake being dried up because of the California drought. Instead of having a 10 km run after the bike, we had a 2.2 mile run after the swim and a 4 mile run after the bike.

Lake San Antonio: normal site for the swim, but currently all dried up from the CA drought.

To sum the race up:

1. I survived the 1.5 km swim in Harris Creek. I had two waves of swimmers behind me pass me up, but I survived. This was my 3rd time swimming in my wetsuit and my transition went surprisingly fine.

2. The first 2.2 mile leg of the run to the bike transition was harder than I expected because of the first hill out of transition and the amount of sand we had to run through. A lot of the run was on trails that normally are underwater which may be why there was so much sand.

3. I got through the 40 km bike leg better than I thought.  There was a lot of climbing throughout, but I was able to spend some time in aero position too.

4. In hindsight, maybe my nutrition plan wasn't up to par on the bike because I cramped up badly at the start of the second leg of the run and had to walk quite a bit. There was a massive hill at mile 2 which I thought would mess me up even more, but after drinking what seemed like a gallon of Gatorade at each aid station, I was able to regain my running stride and made it to the finish in one piece!


My overall time was 3:25:22 (Swim: 36:36, T1(a+b): 6:05, Bike: 1:41:02, T2: 1:44, Run (combined): 59:55).

All in all, it was truly a memorable experience! It was great having my family and some friends there. One of my friends and training buddy, Andrés, even raced in both of the weekend's races! Crazy!

Next stop: Chicago!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014: The Year of the Triathlon

After doing absolutely nothing for 26 days that spanned from the beginning of December after CIM to the beginning of January and pigging out like nobody's business during the holidays, I have finally decided to get back on the saddle again and start working out. Part of the reason is because of the three goal races for 2014 I've already registered for and the amount of training I'll need if I want to perform at my best in them. The other reason: My belly is getting bigger.

So, what are my goal races for this year?

The olympic distance triathlon at Wildflower, the ITU World Triathlon Series stop in Chicago, and the Ironman Vineman 70.3, my first half-ironman/long course distance triathlon.

The first two triathlons are olympic/international distances which involve swimming 1500 m (~0.93 miles), cycling 40 km (~24.9 miles), and running 10 km (6.2 miles).

The half-ironman/long course/70.3 distance involves swimming 1.2 miles, cycling 56 miles, and running a half-marathon (13.1 miles). Add all those distances up and you get the 70.3 moniker.

Why are these my goal or "A" races?

Wildflower is simply legendary and one of the largest triathlon festivals in the world. It's held at Lake San Antonio in the central coast region of California. Besides the olympic distance race, they more famously host a half-ironman distance race that weekend, which is infamously hilly throughout, along with a mountain bike triathlon. A lot of the racers camp at the race site making it a unique experience. As this is my first olympic distance race, I couldn't think of a better venue to race at.

The ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) is a professional triathlon tour that has stops all around the world and is making it's way to Chicago for the first time ever. Chicago is the third US city ever to host a WTS race and only US host city in 2014. It will also be the first ever US city to host the WTS Grand Final when it makes it's return there in 2015. What appeals to me is a chance to race in my hometown's beautiful downtown landscape as well as the opportunity to race the same course the pros will race later that day.

Vineman 70.3 is an Ironman-branded race held in Sonoma wine country in northern California. Why am I doing this race? I have no idea! I blame my friend Jason for talking me into signing up for this distance. I think this will be my biggest athletic challenge to date, even more so than my previous marathons. It's an extremely popular race and sold out within minutes, but somehow I got in. Also, a number of pros who race the Ironman circuit should be here as well, which will be pretty neat!

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me. Considering that I'm not the best swimmer and haven't put in nearly enough saddle time in the past, I have to be even more focused this year and make sure I devote enough time training in each discipline. I also have a couple of other races lined up to help with my training, including the Du 3 Bears duathlon (run-bike-run) in El Sobrante and the Stanford Treeathlon in Redwood City.

Well, with my race calendar built mainly around those three races, I had to include some "fun" races as well. As of now, I've signed up for the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders (LMJS) Couples 5k Relay with my wife in Oakland, the infamous Bay to Breakers in San Francisco, the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge (ROC) race (think the TV show Wipeout) in San Jose, and the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.

Hopefully I'll have the motivation and desire to train throughout the year, or this will be a very long year.