Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A run across the Golden Gate Bridge

I often travel to the Bay Area of San Francisco – visiting my company’s headquarters in Redwood City.  I’ve been to the downtown area of San Francisco many times for both business and pleasure.  During that time I’ve made a few trips over the Golden Gate bridge to visit places like Sausalito & the redwood forest, but never on foot.

During my last trip, I had a few hours to kill between finishing up work at 6pm on Friday afternoon and my 11pm red-eye flight back to the D.C area.

I wanted to get a run in before I flew home, so I decided to run across the Golden Gate bridge.

I drove over towards Crissy Field, and here’s the view only a few feet away from my car.IMG_1680
By the time I got changed and ready to run, it was about 7:15 – enough time to run up/over/back and still have time to stretch and get some food before the long flight home.

Here’s the route that I tookgg-bridge-map


I started along the flat section toward the bridge along the bay, to get warmed up before climbing up the stairs to the bridge itself. 

Since it was getting close to sunset, I took the path under the bridge to the western side, hoping to get a nice picture, but I couldn’t really get wide enough for a good view.  This is the best I could get.  It came out pretty well, especially from a phone.




From here I re-traced my steps to the eastern side of the bridge.
IMG_1683and then over to the other side.  The view was amazing.IMG_1685IMG_1686This the view towards Alcatraz above, some day I’ll do the escape from Alcatraz triathlon and swim from there to the city.IMG_1689
this was taken from the visitor’s center on the northern side of the bridge.

It was so nice to have a scenic place to run, the time just flew by.  On the way back the sun was
the trail, heading back down towards the cargg-mod3

In the end I ran close to 7 miles in just over an hour – it was a really great experience, one that I would do again in a heartbeat. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kinetic Sprint Triathlon–Race Report

This was my first race of the 2011 season.  It wasn’t really an important race, given the on/off problems I’ve had with both calves, but I wanted to get one race finished before EagleMan in June.

I’ve been training ok in the last few weeks, getting a few runs in, but nothing with any speed.  I haven’t done this race before and didn’t know the course very well – I figured if I had a good day I could finish somewhere around or below 1:35, actually my goals that I filled out earlier in the year had a 1:45.  This race has a longer ride component than other sprints, 18miles vs. 12.

the race was scheduled to start at 9:00am, so I didn't have to get up too early.  I left the house just before 6am and arrived shortly after 7am.  The queue was short for packet pickup and I was one of the early ones in to the transition area.


My spot was pretty good, at the end of the last rack.  The entrance to T1 from the swim is in the background. 


here’s the view towards the bike exit. 

I think this is the best transition spot I’ve had in any race. T1 exit is near the white trailer in the background here.








It  was quite a long run from the swim exit to T1, but it was nice to have a sandy beach to enter/exit the water.

the transition area is way up in the middle of the background.


facing the swim start, and next is turned around towards the transition area.



It was nice to have plenty of time to get setup.  Everything was very well organized, even the parking area was much better than most other raced I have done. 

This is the least cluttered transition area I’ve had.  Especially compared to the person next to/behind me.







I had a work trip to California for the week prior to this race, and it turned out that I had to get the red-eye flight home on Friday night.  I’ve read in many places that the most important sleep before the race is 2 nights before – well I dozed a little, but didn’t get much sleep at all.  The day before the race I felt really weak, and was hoping to turn things around come race day. 

I had a good sleep the night before the race, and was ready to go.  Since I have had some calf issues recently too, I didn’t do any sort of taper – so I was just going to turn up and give it my best effort.

Swim: 13:39 – 3rd in AG

The water was cool enough to wear wetsuits, and since there was a decent sandy beach, it was a beach start.


the first turn buoy is the yellow one in the background.  I started on the left side of everyone for 2 reasons.  It looked to me like a shorter path, and there were less people there too.

I had a great swim, kept a good rhythm, and didn’t go out too hard, like I have done in some other races. 

I am really happy with a 13:39 swim time – first time ever under 14 minutes. The last sprint I did (Culpeper) I went really hard and finished in 14:39.  The wetsuit helped, and I am a better swimmer now too.  My heart rate average for the swim this year was 156 vs. 166 for last year.

T1 – 2:06 – 4th in AG

transition went pretty well, it was a long jog up to my bike. My wetsuit came off easily and since I had my shoes already clipped in, all I had to do was put my glasses & helmet on.  .  I got in/out pretty quickly, with the exception of having my helmet strap get a bit tangled.  That cost me a few seconds, and is something that I have to check for the next race.

Bike – 50:12 – 6th in AG

This is my first race on the new bike.  I haven’t gotten the final fitting yet, but it felt great for the whole ride.  One out of transition, the first 2.5 miles are up-hill.  I took the time to scout out the bike mount/dismount area and it was relatively steep, so I selected a low gear to I wouldn’t be grinding as soon as I got on the bike.

I stayed out of my shoes for to get to the top of the first climb (only a few hundred yards) and then settled down into a pretty good pace.


here’s the elevation and speed charts recorded on my Garmin Edge 500.  I thought the course was excellent, a good mix of rolling hills, with a few steep sections.  I was in the big chain ring the whole time.

I was hoping for anything above a 21mph average for the bike leg.   After getting through the first few miles and the course flattened out, I knew that this would be possible.

One disappointing thing is that my Edge 500 wasn’t picking up my HR or cadence.  After some research, I found that there is a bug in the latest firmware (see here).  I realized that I had made the mistake of turning the bike computer off and on again before the race started – it found too many HR/Cadence sensors and decided not to re-connect to the ones it already knew.  The workaround is to enter the device id’s directly – which I now have recorded in my phone.  Had I not switched the bike computer off, it would have worked properly.  Lesson learned – this is why you always practice with new gear before any important races.

The nice thing about starting in the 2nd wave was that there weren’t too many bikes out on the course.  I passed a lot of riders from earlier waves, and had no real traffic problems.

I did see a few people cheating – some were constantly swapping positions and drafting each other for as long as I could see them. 

The last part of the course was the downhill 2.5 mile section, the reverse of the start – this helped me to maintain a good fast speed, while getting a little rest for the run leg.


T2 – 0:54 – 4th in AG

Nothing spectacular here, a decent transition.  Legs were feeling pretty good, this is the benefit of the new bike, and also having a good transition spot.  Going to the last row meant no counting and having to remember which one to go to.

Run – 23:16 – 10th in AG

For all of my previous sprint races (3 of them), I have averaged around 26:40 (8:36/mile), this has been my weakest leg.  This time I managed a huge 5k pr of 23:26!   At the start of the run leg, I had a stich that did slow me down a bit, but I kept a decent pace.  Like the bike leg, it was up-hill to start with.  the first hill was quite steep.  I managed to keep a decent pace and was gradually passing people (more than were passing me).  My 2nd mistake of the day was leaving my hand-held drink bottle at home, I usually like to sip water often, but would have to wait until the water stops on the course.

Overall I am very happy with the run leg – my average pace was 7:30/mile.  I think if I hadn’t had the stich (which lasted the whole run), then I could have run faster.  My legs felt great!

Final Time:  1:30:04 – 6th in AG! 

This is a lot better than I had expected, I was strong in all 3 legs and the transitions were not bad either.

  Swim Bike Run
Distance 750meters 18mi 3.1mi
Time 13:39 50:12 23:16
Pace 1:49 / 100m
1:40 / 100y
21.51mph 7:30/mile
HR avg 156 169 168
AG position 3 6 10

I think I am in a decent position now to go to the EagleMan 70.3.  My strategy was not to go all out, take it more like I’d be racing at EagleMan.  Sure i  will have a slightly slower average speed, but I think I can have a good race.

The organizers of this event should be
congratulated – everything went off very well.  They even had post race pizza for all racers, it was sooo good.


The rest of the post race food was also first class.  They even had places to re-cycle the pizza boxes.

Overall I am very happy with this result.  I hope I can come and do this race again next year, or even try the half iron distance the day before.  This might be good preparation for my first full ironman next year.

One thing that I haven’t really figured out yet is nutrition – for a sprint it is not really that important, but the longer races is really is.  For this race I only drank water, and had 1 gel about 11-12 miles in.  I didn’t really feel that I needed the gel, but I had it anyway.

Things to do better next time

  • configure the edge 500 (bike computer) properly
  • bring the hand-held drink bottle for the run (10oz fuel belt bottle)
  • check the helmet straps in transition
  • drink less on the bike towards T2, I think this might have caused the stitch.    The gel I had may have also contributed

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Endurance swim test

This week I am in California on a Business Trip.  Yesterday I managed to get back to my hotel early enough to complete a decent workout.  The hotel that I stayed at provides free access to the club sport gym next door, which has 2 outdoor heated pools.  The other bonus is that it is open from 5am to 11pm, so I don’t really have any excuse for not at least trying to work out.  I was able to swim outside, under the sun for the first time in a long time!
Since I was traveling and couldn’t complete my usual Masters session, I wanted to attempt a long endurance swim.  Given that I had some free time, I figured it might be a good idea to attempt a 2.4mile swim continuous swim, the same length for an ironman.  Looking at the unit conversion app on my phone, 2.4 miles measures 4223.9 yards – I figured I would round that out to 4,250 – so I would finish on the same end that I started.  I have completed 2 1hr continuous swims in the past 6 months I was confident that I could make the extra time/distance – hoping for something in the 1:16-1:20 time frame (9min/500y).
I ended up finishing in 1:14:54.  I am very happy with that.  I started conservatively and kept a pretty good rhythm throughout the whole swim.  I never felt out of breath, but wasn’t sitting back going too slow either.  I have only been swimming laps for 2 years and am still doing open turns, so there is plenty of room for improvement.  This speed is my current “sweet spot”, exerting enough energy to move at a good pace, but not pushing so hard that I would fatigue early.  My average ended up being 1:46/100y.  Often on shorter efforts I am in the 1:35-1:40 range, so for a long endurance effort I am satisfied with that.  I think I could go a lot faster, but I’m not really training for a swim-only event, I still need to be fresh for the bike/run segments for Triathlons.
I am terrible at counting laps.  I find that my thoughts drift in many directions, and  would often find myself trying to remember how many laps or how far I have gone.  Counting is not so hard for 200/300/400 yards.  2450yards is 170 laps of a 25y pool, that would be too hard.  I’ve been using the Finis Swimsense for a while now.  It is a fantastic tool for keeping track of laps, time, strokes per lap and even stroke type.  After the session I can upload the workout and analyze everything in detail – here are some examples from yesterday’s swim:-
the view above shows the specifics of each lap (25y) – you can click on each one and get the details of that lap.
the stroke count is interesting – what it tells me is that I stayed within a reasonable range of strokes per lap.  I often find that when I am pushing hard, or getting tired, I take more strokes for each lap.  An average of 10 strokes per lap over 170 laps is good for me.  (note:  strokes are counted for a single arm).  Even though my stroke is really not that great (I’m working on it), I can clearly see that I managed to maintain my stroke through the whole effort, exactly what I would want to do for a long course triathlon race.
Having the swimsense is just like having a power meter for the bike or gps for running, you get a lot of detail that can be helpful to analyze your performance, and compare that over time to see improvement, and see where you can improve.
It will be interesting to see how this session matches up to the 2 events I have coming up:-
  • Reston 1 mile open water swim  (May 29)
  • Eagleman 70.3 – 1.2 miles  (June 12)

Monday, May 2, 2011

April Totals

April is a month that i ‘d rather forget from a training perspective.  It started when I returned from a business trip to California – 2 weeks of a flu/heavy cold that I just couldn’t shake.  I tried to complete some light training during this time.  I didn’t push the pace and wasn’t swimming at all during that period.

  Distance Time (hrs) Difference from last month
Swim 11,000 yds 3.25 -6,350
Bike 177 miles 9.2 -52
Run 59.18 miles 8 -30
Other   9 -2
Walking 13 miles 3.5  
off days   7 +3

I also had another strain in my calf, the left one this time.  So for the last few weeks I have backed off the running and added some more physical therapy (part of the “other” category).

I have 2 weeks until my first race of the season – I hope that the calf is better by then, and I can’t wait to try the new bike in competition.