Monday, April 30, 2012

Training update

My basic training plan for the ironman consists of five four-week cycles.  The first three cycles have three weeks of increasing hours each week with the last week being mostly rest - except for swimming.  These first three periods are more about volume than intensity.  The last two cycles have three weeks with the same number of hours, but increasing intensity.
Sunday was the last day of my third real week of training.  So far my body seems to be reacting pretty well to training.  I was a little sore on Sunday after running a controlled half-marathon Saturday -  but I was able to make it through my longest swim ever (2 hours), 90 minutes on a trainer and a four-mile run - which put me at 20 hours of total training for the week. 

Monday: 1 hour swim & 2 hour bike
Tuesday: 30 min swim followed by 1 hour run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim & 3 hour bike followed by 30 min run
Thursday: 1 hour bike
Friday: 1 hour swim
Saturday: 1.5 hour run
Sunday: 1 hour bike followed by 30 min run
Total: 14 hours - 7 hours bike 3.5 hours swim 3.5 hours run
Monday: 2 hour bike followed by 30 min run
Tuesday: 45 min run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim & 3 hour bike followed by 30 min run
Thursday: 1 hour bike
Friday: 1 hour swim & 45 min run
Saturday: 1 hour swim & 3 hour bike followed by 30 min run
Sunday: 1 hour  swim & 1.5 hour run
Total: 17.5 hours - 9 hours bike 4 hours swim 4.5 hours run
Monday: 1 hour swim & 2 hour bike followed by 45 min run
Tuesday: 1 hour run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim & 4 hour bike (71 miles)
Thursday: 1 hour run
Friday: 1 hour swim & 2 hour bike followed by 30 min run
Saturday: 1 hour 45 min run (Half-marathon using heart rate moniter 3 miles 140bpm 4 miles 150bpm 3 miles 160bpm 3.1 miles 170bpm - final time 1:20:40)
Sunday: 2 hours swim followed by 90 min bike trainer followed by 30 min run
Total: 20 hours - 9.5 hours bike 5 hours swim 5.5 hours run
Monday: 1 hour swim
Tuesday: 1 hour run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim & 2.5 hour bike followed by 30 min run
Thursday: 1 hour swim
Friday: 1 hour swim
Saturday: 1 hour swim and 2 hour bike followed by 30 min run
Sunday: 1 hour swim & 1 hour run
Total: 13.5 hours - 4.5 hours bike 6 hours swim 3 hours run


What we do when nobody is watching

As I sat on a cold metal bench watching some of the greatest athletes in the world I couldn't help but think - why aren't more people here?  There were about 10,000 people in the old Drake Stadium - many of them competitors or family members of competitors.  What other sport could you pay for decent seats and find yourself sitting behind the women's team from University of Cincinnati and next to some boys from a local high school team?
Lolo Jones might have scratched - but there were plenty of world class performances on the day.  We saw at least two world leading times and one world leading high jump in the 4 hours we were in the stands.  We saw the current world champion 1500m champ Jenny Simpson compete.  We also witnessed the 300 yard stares of young women as they walked single file to the start line next to the hurdles that would soon taunt them.  They looked like they might throw up as they contemplated one of the most cruel races - the 400m hurdles.  One of them clipped her trail leg on the hurdle on the last turn - the whole crowd gasped as her momentum and the sudden change in her direction had her careening violently toward the ground.  She laid - crumpled on the track for a few minutes until they helped her off.  The woman who won ran 400m over hurdles faster than I ever ran it flat out.
We also got a great view of the men's triple jump.  My wife, who had never been to a track meet before was transfixed by one of the jumpers from University of Florida named Omar Craddock.  Wearing wrap around shades on the cloud darkened day - he started his pre-jump ritual with a complex series of movements.  He licked each finger, touched each side of his face with both fingers and then pointed at the pit - shooting his finger at the spot that he wanted to land - and then shaked his head confidently.  Next he started clapping is hands slowly above his head - motioning the crowd to start clapping.  He stood at the end of the runway in total focus, but if the crowd started increasing the rate of clapping too soon he would start slowly clapping again - imploring the crowd to match his beat.
Omar ended up losing by half an inch to Troy Doris - a three-time Big Ten champion from University of Iowa.  Troy jumped 53 feet 10.5 inches.  If he were on an NBA basketball court - he would have started his jump almost seven feet from the half-court line and touched the court only twice before landing on the opposite baseline.
Unfortunately Track & Field is under threat in America.  It doesn't draw big crowds or donors who pay for the privilege of sitting in fancy sky boxes.  Omar's preening may have seemed like something worthy of an NFL receiver, but there's a major difference - he'll never get millions for his superhuman deeds.  He has a chance at maybe going to the Olympics one day - but just as much of a chance that the explosiveness that makes him a world class athlete will also damage his knees.  His performance may have been captivating - but it was also relatively silent - the tree that falls in the forest with no one around.
There is a lot of hand wringing in the United States about what passes for entertainment these days.  The reality shows that pump up people with no talent for anything except making an ass of themselves into idols of popular culture.  Track meets are a kind of antidote to this world where nothing seems to matter unless millions are watching.  That these athletes train hard every day - and then perform superhuman feats in front of a relatively scarce crowd left me feeling good for America. 
If our culture still develops young people who are willing to dedicate themselves to a sport with few rewards and little renown then there's still some hope for this country.  The only thing that gives me pause is that the administrators at our universities seem to have forgotten the value of sports like track and field over the last few decades.  They forget that all sports were at one time merely a way for students to bond - to follow interests and talents - and to compete.  Sports have been simulataneously elevated in importance to the university as a revenue generator (for most schools more from a student recruitment and alumni fundraising standpoint than ticket sales or merchandise) and devalued as a way for students to grow outside the classroom.
I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that if you find yourself with an open Saturday in the next few weeks - do your self a favor and find a local high school or college track meet.  You'll see an incredible cross-section of America coming from every economic and cultural background - all there to see what performances they can wring out of talent and a lot of hard work even if nobody is watching.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Where am I?

1) As in - why have not written a blog post in four weeks?  As many of you know I'm attempting to become a Physician Assistant.  This summer I'll be applying to programs, but right now I'm taking pre-reqs and trying to get some clinical experience.  I've done some shadowing and I currently volunteer at the ER of a local hospital.  I decided that I need to get a little more hands-on experience - so, I've been taking a Certified Nursing Assistant class that's five weeks long.  It is every Saturday and Sunday from 8am-5:30pm - given that I'm also taking Organic Chemistry and Microbiology - I don't exactly have much time or energy to write posts.  We got this weekend off for Easter - next week is our last clinical day on Saturday and our state-test on Sunday.  So, I should have a little more time after that.

2)  As in - where exactly do I live?  I've been meaning to write a post to give my east coast friends a little idea what life is like here in Omaha.
South of Omaha from a bridge crossing the Missouri - Nebraska is to the right and Iowa to the left.  If you were to float downriver you'd find your way to Kansas City, St. Louis (where the Missouri meets the Mississippi) and eventually New Orleans.

For those of you who have traveled across this great country of ours on I-80 - you might think of Nebraska as a boring flat state with no trees that went on for a painfully long time before you got to the majestic mountains of Colorado.  Although southeastern Nebraska is technically part of the great plains - it is hilly.  The Omaha area is marked by being part of the Missouri Valley.  The bluffs overlooking the big muddy might not be thousands of feet high - but they have a certain appeal. 

The constant winds from the west pushed the loose earth of the Missouri Valley towards the east side of the valley where they form the Loess Hills in Iowa.  These hills are actually the perfect place to train for my IM in Wisconsin coming up in September.

Downtown from the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge that spans the Missouri.

Omaha is an actual city.  At over 400,000 residents it's almost as big as Atlanta.  It has the richest man in the U.S. and five Fortune 500 companies (Union Pacific, ConAgra Foods, Kiewit Construction, Berkshire Hathaway, and Mutual of Omaha).  It hosts the College World Series every year - and this year had two rounds of the NCAA tournament and in June it will host the Olympic Swim Trials.  Omaha has a surprisingly strong Indie Rock scene.  Esquire called Omaha's Slowdown the best Indie Rock Club in the country.  Not to mention that the unemployment rate is 4% and housing prices are dirt cheap.  So hate if you must - but Omaha is good living.

Omaha might be relatively large, but it is also very residential.  We live only three miles from downtown, but it feels like we live in the suburbs.  For the first time in my life I live right next to a running trail (pictured below).
 3) Congratulations if you made it this far - so that I can tell you what you probably want to know most - where am I with my training?  Tomorrow marks my first "official" week of training for my first full Ironman in September.  Even though I've been busy I've been keeping up on my training pretty well - but from here out it starts to get intense. 

Monday: 1 hour swim & 30 min run
Tuesday: 2 hour bike
Wednesday: 1.5 hour swim & 30 min run
Thursday: 1.5 hour swim
Friday: 1 hour swim & 45 min run
Saturday: 1 hour bike
Sunday: 45 min run
Total: 10.5 hours - 3 hours bike 5 hours swim 2.5 hours run

Monday: 1 hour bike & 1 hour swim
Tuesday: 45 min run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim & 2 hour bike
Thursday: 30 min run
Friday: 45 min run  & 1 hour swim
Saturday: 1 hour bike
Sunday: 1 hour run
Total: 10 hours - 4 hours bike 3 hours swim 3 hours run

Monday: 1 hour bike & 1 hour swim
Tuesday: 1 hour run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim & 2 hour bike & 30 min run
Thursday: 45 min run
Friday: 1 hour bike & 1 hour swim
Saturday: 45 min run
Sunday: Day Off
Total: 10 hours - 4 hours bike 3 hours swim 3 hours run

Monday: 2 hour bike & 30 min run
Tuesday: 1 hour swim & 45 min run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim & 1 hour run
Thursday: 1 hour bike
Friday: 1 hour swim & 45 min run
Saturday: 1 hour bike
Sunday: Day Off
Total: 10 hours - 4 hours bike 3 hours swim 3 hours run

Monday: 2 hour bike & 30 min run
Tuesday: 1 hour run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim & 1 hour bike
Thursday: Day Off
Friday: 45 min run & 1 hour swim
Saturday: Day Off
Sunday: 1 hour bike & 30 min run
Total: 8 hours - 4 hours bike 2 hours swim 2 hours run

Next week - 4/9-4/15
Monday: 1 hour swim & 2 hour bike & 30 min run
Tuesday: 1 hour run
Wednesday: 1 hour swim & 3 hour bike & 30 min run
Thursday: 1 hour bike & 30 min swim
Friday: 1 hour swim & 30 min run
Saturday: 1 hour bike
Sunday: 1.5 hour run
Total: 14 hours - 7 hours bike 3.5 hours swim 4 hours run