Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New bikes and aqua belts

I can't believe it's only Wednesday! It feels like this week has been long, like it should be Thursday or Friday. Not that it has been a bad week, by any means, but I am juggling a few more things than I am used too, so it seems like a lot.

The job is still awesome. Seriously love it, and I cannot emphasize how much I am learning. I sold my first bike today! And I know so much more than I thought I would about components and frames and materials and brands...

So this brings me to the next point, which is that I am going to buy a new bike. The guys in the shop of course encourage this a bit, but at the same time I know it is time anyway. And with my new knowledge and new friends I am likely making a very informed decision. At first I was thinking I shouldn't get a new bike until after my next race, so as not to throw a hitch into my training, but I have been demoing different bikes for almost three weeks now and have only trained on my own bike once. And it is painful to get onto at this point. One of the guys at the shop, who was doing a bike fit on me, took a look at my bike and changed his previous opinion (that I should not change it up right before my race) and told me to get a new one. ASAP.

So it is probably time to say goodbye to Mitchell, the trusty aluminum Trek 1220. He has gotten me through several races and lots of learning (and a few crashes) but I have outgrown him. (Not literally though, it turns out he is actually a size too large for me).

What am I getting? Check this baby out:

It's not a done deal, but I think I'll be getting a Cervelo S2. If not, I'll probably be getting an R3. I want an aero frame, but I also want the versatility of a road bike (with aero bars of course) so I think the S2 is going to be the way to go. I'm super excited to demo it tomorrow.

In other news, I have been aquajogging! As I have mentioned before, my mother reads my blog. She hasn't figured out how to comment yet, so usually when we talk on the phone or I come visit, she tells me the things she wanted to comment about. Last weekend she was unhappy that I was embarrassed to aquajog at the Y. As great as this is for rehab, and as much as it will help me, I cannot say that I am not still embarrassed to be wearing this lovely belt.

No I will not give you the satisfaction of seeing me model it. Trust me, it's not a cute look. Maybe on the little old ladies taking water aerobics classes, but not on me, jogging furiously under the watchful and judgmental gaze of the deep end life guard. sigh.

But yes, it will likely save my season. So for that, I am grateful. Ok Mom? :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Recipe: Baked Sockeye Salmon with Bell Peppers and Capers

First things first, I got in a 40 mile training group ride today! It was awesome, and my foot really didn't bother me much, probably because there isn't much flexion involved in riding with bike shoes...

So here is the recipe that I've been meaning to put up for about two weeks now. It is adapted from one I found on My version is for fewer people (its about two servings) and takes less prep work (I don't tell you to char the peppers first, like they do).

Again, when making salmon I urge that you find a sustainable fish! Sockeye salmon wild caught from Alaska are the best choice!

Baked Sockeye Salmon with Bell Peppers and Capers
  • 1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 or 1.5 pounds wild salmon, preferably cut as a long fillet, not steaks
  • 1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed in cold water (cut up if too large)
  • 2 whole peeled garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
Preheat your oven to 375. Rinse off your salmon and pat dry. Coat the bottom of a baking pan with some of your olive oil and lay the fish in the pan, skin side down. Place the peppers, capers, and whole garlic cloves around and on top of the salmon in the pan. Season with salt and pepper (I found it was best to be liberal). Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the fish and bake for 15-16 minutes.

Super easy, super fast and very very good. I only had yellow bell peppers, but it was still great. I served mine along side steamed spinach with balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It Fits in my Fit, but my Foot HURTS!

I got a new car!!! (and by "new" I mean "certified pre-owned") It's a beautiful, adorable, 2008 Honda Fit and it is ORANGE which is my absolute favorite color. I am super excited about it, it makes me so happy! My last car, which was a RAV4, was a hand me up from my younger sister, and I enjoyed that I could easily fit my bike inside, but it wasn't 100% my style.

Then the transmission went, and it was going to cost more to fix than it was worth.

So here I am with an adorable new car (which is, btw, 100% my style!). Right now I need to add in a plug thanking my Mom for her assistance with organizing the towing of my old car, the finding of the new one, and advice, etc. Thanks Mom! And no, style was not the selling point of the car, but it did help!

When I got it, I had a feeling that it might be possible that my bike would fit inside with BOTH wheels on. I knew just from looking that with the front wheel off, the bike would be fine in there, but I had heard great stuff about the room inside the fit when the back seats are down, etc... And the verdict? IT FITS IN MY FIT! Both 700c wheels and all! Check it out!

I mean seriously excited about this. I may add a rack of some sort (roof? hitch?) so that I can transport more than one bike, but for now, this is totally awesome.

BUT now for the bad news. Something is wrong with my foot. I have a theory about what happened, but as with most of my injuries, I don't actually know the exact moment of inception. I think what happened was that while trying to avoid a lane mate during a flip turn at the Y, I ended up pushing off from the wall, hard, with JUST my right, big toe. As in, toe bent alllll the way pack, hard push. I think. I remember this vaguely, but I am not sure if that memory is a plant that I created to explain this unbelievable pain. I seem to have pulled/strained/sprained some muscles or tendons or both in my foot. I cannot bend my toe back and it hurts as I put wait on the ball and push off my toe when I walk. So much so that I can merely hobble. It hurts to touch, is slightly puffy, and has been waking me up THROBBING every three hours during the night. Yesterday I was on my feet all day at work and by the end the pain was excruciating. I am spending as many moments as possible with ice on it, and my feet up in the air. Like so:

I won't even get into the injustice of it all. I already wrote that post a while back about my hip (which should heal up nicely while I am totally incapable of walking, let alone running on my foot). I will say, however, that swimming has betrayed me as the one thing I knew would never injure me.

I swam yesterday, avoiding flip turns or only pushing off with my (entire) left foot. The first day it started hurting, Thursday, I went out on my bike and it actually didn't bother me, but the pain hadn't reached the level it has today. I plan to aquajog (so embarrassed to be trying THAT at my Y) today and then see if I can hop on the bike tomorrow.

I'm pretty sure all I can do at this point is laugh. Short of trading in my body for a new one. Sometimes I swear it's a lemon...

Monday, May 16, 2011

It wasn't me, it was my pedals!

So I'm not sure if this is a perk or a pitfall, but working at a bike shop means that by the end of the summer, I will likely have completely upgraded every bike-involved accessory I currently use. In fact, I will also likely end the summer with several kinds accessories I didn't previously own, or know that I needed.

Within the first three weeks, I have already made a few upgrades. First it was my gloves, which seemed innocent enough. Then while helping me change out my pedals between my bike and a demo, one of the shop guys noticed that the axle can come clean out of my cheapo pedals with very little provocation. I also made the mistake of showing him how my cleats are basically crayons and leave red plastic marks all over the pavement when I walk in them.

I left work that day with a pair of Keo Look pedals.

I managed to avoid buying a new set of shoes as well (but it took serious willpower, and it helped that we didn't have the shoes I want in stock in my size).

So after all of this, I have taken my new pedals out on a few rides and have come to one, excellent conclusion. All that trouble I had clipping in? And out? And that spill (or two) I had as a result? IT WASN'T ME! It was my crappy, cheap- a** pedals! Those darn things were so difficult (and dangerous) to use, and I thought I was just void of the necessary skills to use them! bah!! These are a pure delight! Highly recommend!

In other news, I took a path today in an attempt to lengthen my ride that I used to take relatively frequently last summer. It turns out, I have outgrown it. I like to ride much faster than that bumpy, twisty, narrow thing allows. So my ride today was a bit slow.

But here's to learning experiences!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Best Laid Plans

Things have been pretty hectic for the past week. Lack of sleep has been a major factor, as has been the crazy push to the end of the academic semester. My sister graduated from college yesterday (yay!) and the family has been in town for festivities. Today my bike ride, which was supposed to be 2 hours, was cut short by a combination of family visiting and my not being prepared for my final presentation tomorrow. I guess I will count this day as a rest day with a recovery ride and try to get a big workout in tomorrow before I head up North for my last class of the semester.

I have an excellent recipe waiting to be shared with you all, but it will have to wait another day or two while I get through this final push.

On the plus side, I demoed another awesome bike last Thursday on a group ride and really love the bike shop! I am going to learn so so much this summer. Now to get through the rest of this spring in one piece...

More soon, I promise! Happy Training!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

And then life happens...

So this week began with a bit of a tragedy for my family. While I was up in my hometown, one of my family's dogs, my sister's 7 year old doberman named Neo, fell very ill and passed away Tuesday morning. It has been a rough last 36-48 hours for us all. I stuck around all day yesterday so that my sister could get home for a little family burial service and then drive her back down to the DC area. Neo was a very very special, goofy, wonderful dog and he is sorely missed.

Yesterday I couldn't get in the scheduled swim workout, but I did have access to my grandparents' small-ish pool where I tried pool running (aquajogging?) for the first time. There was a bit of a learning curve, and I didn't really figure out how to "go hard" until near the end of the time that I had to work out. After 40 minutes I didn't feel like I had done that much, but I guess it couldn't have hurt. My hip wasn't bothering me after, so that was a plus. I don't think I am going to run at all this week, in an effort to give it more rest.

I put in my swim today. I was nervous to be alone with my thoughts, but I got through ok. Didn't hurt that it was a truly beautiful day and I got to use the outdoor pool and lie in the sun for few minutes after I finished. I feel a bit better after getting a dose of exercise and sunshine.

R.I.P. Neo, we love you.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rivers, Ice, Swim, Bike, Run

First of all, an update from that run two days ago:
I love the park near my apartment. The run itself went really well, (I think? I hope?). My hip started to ache just the very littlest bit at the end of two miles, so that's when I stopped. I ran on flat, grassy/dirt path, along the side of the road, and stayed on the same side when I changed directions in case there was some unperceived gradation. No downhill. After the run I stretched in the park and dipped my feet in the little river. Very nice.

BUT then I came home and iced, but within an hour my hip was sore. Very sore. I'm frustrated again, but I am also sick of whining about it.

Yesterday I got a nice swim workout in, with longer sets and shorter recoveries. I took a while to warm up and cool down, however. Was also distracted by the very young girl learning butterfly in the lane next to me. She was freakin' good! And seriously small!

Today to bike. Think it will have to be indoors, because I although taking nice long rides has increased my bike comfort, I have a tendency not to push myself has hard as I do on a trainer (probably because there is nothing else entertaining to do on the trainer...). So off I go!!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Run down from a cold

Feelin' mighty sorry for myself the past few days. This cold is kicking my ass, energy wise. It's not the worst I have had, but I am really zapped. Having trouble motivating myself to train, and even more trouble concentrating on getting things done.

Did get a really great group ride yesterday with my bike shop. Got to demo a new bike, which was amazing. Of course now all I want to do is buy a new one. Don't get me wrong, I love my ol' "Mitchell" but he's kind of a hunk-o-junk compared to the stuff I can demo at the shop. I mean daannnggg. Now where to find the money...

Anyway, feelin' pretty crappy today. Really exhausted. Don't feel like doing the tough swim workout I had planned, so I think I am going to take advantage of the nice weather and do a really easy run (or try. See how the hip feels). I was going to try to get work done today, but my concentration is so shot, I might do better with a nap... We shall see!

Two goals for the run:
1. limited/no hip pain (not pushing myself too hard or too long)
2. not hacking up a lung

I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mystery Masters Man

Today when I got to the Y, the indoor pool was unusually crowded for the time of day. It's a bit nippy outside and the usual outdoor swimmers had all decided they weren't up for braving the elements, so we were all sharing lanes. I asked to split with a gray haired, bearded gentlemen who was using doing 50s with fins in the fast lane, and he obliged. After my 250 warm up (in which I accidentally smacked him with my hand during a flip turn) he stopped me and told me that I swim with my head too high in the water. The immediate reaction I get is one of annoyance, but I decided to choke it down and take the criticism. After all, I have been working so hard to improve my biking and running, that my natural sport, swimming, has been getting left behind a bit. So I listened to his logic, tried what he said, and when I came back he told me that was better. Then he gave me a few more pointers and we had a nice conversation. Turns out he is a master swimmer, and he knew what he was talking about, to an extent... Once I shut up my ego, I reminded myself that even if I already know the things he's telling me, it doesn't mean I am doing them as well as I think I am. It does help to have someone else watch my stroke, because obviously I can't see it

So now I am inspired, partly by this guy and partly by a tri swim coach I follow on twitter, to video tape my stroke and see what it looks like from an outside POV. I have an underwater case for my digital camera (I'm a scuba diver), so I just need to rig it up on the bottom of the pool somehow. Probably could film myself from above the water too. Hopefully I can enlist someone to help me out (hey Brad, wanna come swim next week?). I'd ask Erin, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't like to hold her breath for that long... (hockey players often prefer their water frozen)

Anyway, today's workout, with help from Mystery Masters Man:

250 warm up easy
6X25 mixed drills (focused on head position and pull technique) RI= however long MMM spoke
5X100 moderate, RI=5 secs
7X75 VO2 max, RI=30 secs
3X50 kick, RI=15
275 cool down easy

Total 1850 meters

Raelert brothers, switched up training schedule

Had to mix up my training schedule a bit this week because of some (serious) car trouble. Swimming today instead of yesterday, took to the elliptical yesterday to see how my hip is feeling. Not awesome, but not too bad. Gonna give it a rest and swim and bike for the rest of the week I think.

Will post my swim workout later, gonna do some research, get some lunch, and then head to the Y to pound that out. But first, a lil' training day action from some very cool cats, the Raelert bros:

Monday, May 2, 2011

RACE WEEKEND REPORT: Nanticoke River Sprint Triathlon

Well folks, welcome to my first race report of the season! If you're looking for the quick and dirty version: my hip held up much better than expected, the competition was surprisingly fierce for such a small-scale, local race, and of course I had a great time, as usual!

Now, if you want the real version, get comfy, maybe get a snack and a drink, and dig in:

Last I spoke with you I was worrying my way through my rest day on Friday. I was honestly happy when the rest day was over and I could go to bed. I packed up and checked through all my gear Friday night since we were heading to Salisbury, MD in the morning. I always get out a big plastic bin to pack my stuff, then go through my upcoming race in my head. Swim, T1, Bike, T2, Run. I lay stuff into my bin as I go through the stages, thinking head to toe. I'm a relatively forgetful person, and I almost never travel without forgetting something. And I travel a lot. So I have a fair amount of practice trying out strategies for averting disaster. I have to say, this one works pretty darn well, and I did a great job this time around. I almost forgot to change my shoelaces out for my lock laces, but I remembered while visualizing transition. Highly recommend the technique.

Anyway, went to bed early Friday, trying to be ready to travel Saturday, as well as to try to keep up the good fight against the slight head cold I felt looming in the background. Saturday morning Erin and I finished getting our stuff together, and then went out to tackle the new bike rack for her car. She had sweetly agreed to drive me to the race, and this turned out to be invaluable as my car's transmission decided to fail last week.

So we had this bike rack...It was a hand-me-down from my father, but we've had it for probably 6 months now and haven't attempted to use it yet since normally I can easily fit my bike into my Rav4. Being a familial donation, this bike rack does not come with a manual, so a significant amount of time was spent wrestling this thing onto the trunk of Erin's car, squinting at fuzzy downloaded photos from the internet, and fussing over whether or not the rack would leave marks on her beloved Jetta. Then we had to worry about whether or not the thing could actually keep my bike from flying into any sorry sucker who decided to follow us on our 3 hour trek. Eventually after some interesting antics and tactics, a little cussing, and some creative packing, we were loaded up and ready to go. We only pulled onto the shoulder of the highway once for me to readjust the seemingly tenuous perch of my bike...

We arrived finally in Salisbury with Erin ready to burst. No it was not a bathroom break she needed, but a hockey break. The Flyers were playing the Bruins, game one of the series in the playoffs. Semi-finals of the Eastern Conference. She could go no further until she had her hockey fix, so I dropped her at a pretty neat little bar and restaurant overlooking a small riverfront. The bartender was friendly and found the game for her immediately upon seeing her bright orange jersey. Once I felt she was sufficiently entertained for a while, I left to drive another 20 minutes to Bivalve, MD for packet pickup. Found the restaurant for pickup down a long flat stretch of road that I knew from the course map was part of the bike leg. After getting my packet and swag bag (nice tshirt, a water bottle, and even a pair of socks! sweet!) I took my bike out for a short spin on some of the roads of the course. I don't know about anyone else, but I have mixed feelings about completely flat courses. Of course I appreciate that I won't have to hammer up hills, but on a flat course you have no chance to coast for just a second. I feel like I can never find the right gear for a flat course, and that I have to constantly readjust to avoid..ahem..numbness...So I was mentally preparing myself on this little warm up ride, as well as checking how my bike had fared the bumpy, precarious ride down. Things weren't quite right. The shifting was tough, something seemed to be unhappy about my rear derailer. I decided it would have to do for the race, since on a flat course I shouldn't be shifting much anyway...(heh. suuurrree.)

So I packed it all up and headed back to the place I had last seen my wife. She was still perched on a stool, yelling at the big screen over the bar. Unfortunately, the game didn't go as she would have liked, and the Flyers lost rather spectacularly. I had a pre-race dinner of grilled tilapia, sweet potato fries and lots of water. (not my normal choices, but its what I could get) We then found our hotel (got the job done, but a bit sketchy...) and I ritualistically laid out everything for numbering. I then repacked everything into my transition bag, drank powerade, ate a cliff bar and made Erin go to bed very early...very tolerant of her...

Tossed and turned, but eventually fell asleep. Thank goodness the neighbors we could hear clearly through the wall were morning people, not night owls. They got up and started banging around their room about the same time we did. My pre-race meal is always bagels or bagel thins with peanut butter, which I make sure to have with me. I also get a cup of coffee and usually a banana, but the continental breakfast at our restaurant was sadly lacking in fresh fruit. I also had G1 prime with me (not the drink, but the new little mini-bar things. they're awesome) and I had two in the hours leading up to the race. They're little and tasty and 50 calories each, coming in packs of 4. This was a sprint, so I didn't need to overdo the pre-race nutrition.

Got to the race site feeling good and alert. It was a relatively late starting race, so it was actually light out as I got my body marking and headed in to set up my transition area. The race was a small, local race and they didn't have pre-numbered transition spots. They were catch as catch can. I found a place to set up where I was pretty sure I could find my bike, and then started getting pretty cocky about how well I could do if the race was really as small as the transition area made it look. Looks can be deceiving, however. Getting cocky never ends well for me. I did check myself though. I am coming off this injury, I came in with almost no run training, even if everything went perfectly, I knew I needed to just be happy to finish.

Transition area ready, Erin and I watched the youth tri that started before mine. So adorable and fun. The swim was really close to the transition, which was a nice break from the triathlons I've done in the past where you have to run a half a mile from the beach to T1. Eventually I got my wetsuit on, got into the water to swim a few strokes, pre-race meeting went as usual, and the swim races (2 and 3 milers!) went off. Then it was time to wade into the Nanticoke again and start my first tri of the season!

The water was really nice. I didn't start off with the same panicked feeling I've had for most tris. I expected to be fast and started at the very front of the pack, but for some reason I didn't sprint out off the front the way I normally do, almost like I was too relaxed. Next thing I knew I was getting pummeled by arms and legs and heads and knees and elbows...ah the churn of an open water start. I kept calm, and later wondered if maybe I stayed too calm. I had a good rhythm and form for the whole swim, but didn't come out as early in the pack as I normally do. It started to dawn on me that this might be a really competitive, albeit small, field. My half mile swim was 12:47. Not crazy slow, but definitely not the speed I wanted. I was going more of a mile pace rather than a half mile pace...

Got to T1, struggled with my wetsuit and had an abysmal, 2 minute transition. I mean that's really bad. Guess my transitions have gotten rusty over the course of the off-season...time to brush those up!

Got on my bike, pedaled off into a bit of a headwind and tackled that flat course. Felt all right, but realized quickly I hadn't built enough of a lead on the swim as three or four women from my age group passed me over the course of the ride. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a practice race, I am not in peak fitness, and I'm training for longer, slower races right now. Eventually I got over myself and started to enjoy the race, like I am supposed to. Still, I would have liked to shave 3-5 minutes off of my bike time, which was 50:26 for 15.2 miles.

I was careful not to kill my legs for the run, and I did some high RPM spinning as I came into T2 to get my legs ready for the run. My second transition was a bit slow too. I need to learn how to mount and dismount my bike with my shoes clipped on. New skill goal for the season.

Got out on the run course with that glorious jello leg feeling I love. Seriously, I would prefer to run and race off the bike than just run. Something about the jello makes me embrace the pain rather than fight it. I go hard and love every second. I was cautious at first, worried about my hip and my run fitness. It wasn't till I hit the turn around and realized that I was more than halfway through the run, and had gone further without pain than I'd been able to in a month, that I let a but loose and really took it home. I got the the finish line pain free and with a kick left for a sprint. Erin told me when I crossed the line that I had completed the run around 25 minutes, and at first I didn't believe her. When I checked my time I was astonished. 3.1 miles in 24:51. That is a PR for me, for any 5k, let alone one done after a swim and bike! I mean dang! Maybe my body would prefer I barely trained for running!!What the heck?!

So with a 1:31:02, I finished my first tri of the season. I could definitely take time off my transitions, and would have preferred a faster swim and bike, but I am honestly pretty happy with my time. And it will likely be my only sprint this season (except those I do as a relay team with family), so if I am more tuned into a long distance pace, I guess that's ok! It wasn't enough to get me on the podium, however. I was 3 minutes away from a medal. And the girl who won my age group was 4th in women overall, beating the 2nd place girl in my age group by 11 minutes. She had an 8:30 swim. That's crazy. She was so fast. But my finishers medal has a bottle opener!

The race was pretty well organized, despite being small. They even let my darling wife eat three hamburgers and a hot dog while she waited for me to finish. And they had turkey burgers for those of us who aren't into red meat. I was sore and my hip started to hurt a few hours after the race. Got in lots of protein and let my fully fed wife drive me home. All in all, an excellent first race of the season.

I could go on and on of course, but I've already written a small novel. Took the day off today. Swimming tomorrow, then going to work at the bike shop! And now I am full on fighting this cold...

Happy training everyone!