Thursday, August 30, 2012


Yesterday’s inaugural open water swim(OSM) did not go as smoothly as planned. That’s too mild…it sucked. However, today is a new day and that means getting right back on that pony!  Drove right back up to the ocean today for a rematch with the mighty Atlantic!

My biggest mistake of the day was before the workout even began-I arrived before the lot attendant called it a day so I ended up forking over $8 for parking. C’est La Vie!

Arriving at the beach during primo beach hours was quite the spectacle. Sunbathers galore during the hottest part of the day and here I come strolling onto the scene with my full wetsuit on. I didn’t want to scare the children so I didn’t put the cap and goggles on till splashdown in the ocean!  BTW- any New Englanders ever notice that people you meet at the beach are so much nicer than strangers you meet everywhere else? Maybe this is just a New England thing…

My swim workout was much better than yesterday’s in both distance and comfort. Don’t get me wrong-I wasn’t at a great pace but I was thrilled that I showed IMPROVEMENT! The self-doubts from the swim portion are not as strong now. There may be a tiny, tiny, tiny lingering doubt somewhere in my thick head but it is much smaller than the previous day(self-doubt, not my head)!

Another win today was remembering my Body Glide and using quite a bit. No friction burns today and the wetsuit came right off. WIN!

Next up was my first time cycling the course I will be racing. I drove the course yesterday and today I was pumped to be cycling it today. My plan- take it easy on the bike today so I can get a feel for the terrain. I’d do a decent pace but I wouldn’t attack any of the course.

The first few miles and the last few miles are incredible- on RT 1A that hugs the coastline for incredible ocean views. There were plenty of other cyclists along this route, every one of them giving a friendly wave that I returned. Deep down, I wonder if each person I see is signed up for this race and they are the competition. Hmmm… you never know.
Post-workout chillin'!

Running shape, Eddie Money, and the 5K

Running has to be my least favorite part of the 3 triathlon disciplines. It’s not that I necessarily struggle with running, I just get bored during workouts. I never run without my 80’s tunes now, and this has helped a little with enjoying my workouts. I haven’t been pushing my distances- staying mainly around 3-4 miles per run. I average 7.5-8 minute miles…


Earlier this year, I ran a 5k road race and came away from it knowing that I wasn’t in the greatest shape- my time was a 1:30 slower than the same race the year before. It wasn’t a bad day, my training was about the same…I was just slower. It was about this time where I committed myself to getting in better shape and doing a triathlon.


Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve had some decent run workouts. I’ve felt a bit better out on the road. My numbers only slightly improved, but I felt much stronger in the workouts. My next step in my run workouts is to meet up with some friends and do group runs or at least with one other person. I guess the same can be said for my cycling and swim workouts too. I have done some research on the internet for Triathlon Clubs/teams my area. I live in Mass right near the NH border so clubs from Boston to Southern NH are all on the table. I found a couple of possible leads. I just want to make sure the group I pick fits my needs- workouts with a reasonable area, a club that actually has regular workouts, and a group that is serious but also doesn’t take themselves too serious(a group that knows how to have fun!). My goal is to join one of these groups by the end of 2012.

My youngest daughter Riley and I, post-race, at my old lunch table from high school                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Last week, I ran my first 5k since picking up my training. The race was a cancer research fundraiser in memory of Marci Lemkin. My old high school hosted the festivities and was the starting point.  I loved the course, mostly flat and along the Merrimack River. I ran at a steady pace the entire race, never sprinting but never slowing down either.  I actually had a little bit of a burst left in me at the end but I misjudged where the finish line was- I never saw it until I was 40 yards away. Another rookie mistake! Also failed to spot the wifey and one of my daughters at the finish line.  I finished the 5k with a time of 22.59.  I was happy with the time and pace I sustained. Much of the credit should go to Vince Neil and Joe Elliot for firing me up with some quality tunes mid-race. Where does Eddie Money come into play from the post-title? “Wanna go back, and do it all over…” Stroll down memory lane while walking through the old school.


Post-race summary: I feel better on the course and improvements can be made in my time if I pick up my training. Also, I should know the start and finish better. I was trapped in a slow group at the start(it only held me up a little) and I should have known where the finish was. I also developed a blister from my tight running shoes. Shoes will have to be retired- they are too small. These were old and super cheap so no big loss. My back-up pair of kicks fit fine and they are now my primary ones. They are newer and fit perfect –should have made this switch sooner.


Signed up for two more 5k races that are both next weekend. Never ran races on consecutive days but these races are parts of bigger celebrations that I’m really looking forward to.  Then, 2 weeks of light training before the much anticipated first triathlon!


Off to the ocean for a brick workout on the tri race course!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tri training like a beach bum!

Only 6 days left in my summer vacation so I decide that I will splash down in the ocean for 4 of those days! Although I attended an open water swim clinic, I haven’t done an open water workout yet. Tonight, I call my training partner at the last sec to see if he can do a swim-no goL I decide to drive the 45 minutes anyway to do an ocean swim. I go to Wallis Sands State Beach, site of my upcoming TRI.

Mistakes, mistakes, and more mistakes

It’s just before dinner time when I pull into the parking lot and I stumble upon a group of about a dozen people putting on their wetsuits.  The few fellas I speak to in the parking lot are very friendly, but I don’t hang around long because I’m ocean bound!

Note to self- when you have some type of phobia about swimming in the water, stick with the group swimming! I choose to go solo and last about 20 minutes. A half-ass workout for sure. 

2nd note to self- go pee before jumping in the water. I’m not willing to christen my wetsuit during the 2nd time using out so I call off the workout. The facilities on the beach are closed… Fini, just like that.

Maybe the biggest mistake- I don’t pick up any seafood while at the coast even though it’s dinner time. What was I thinking?

Before I go home, I do drive the bike route for the first time so at least I become a little familiar with things. However, I call it a night with some lingering doubts about the swim. While working out in the pool, I felt like I was cutting through the water and building my endurance a bit. In the open water, I’m not focusing on my technique, some panic sets in, and I fatigue much quicker than the pool. I’m not going to give up with this but it’s clear that I have “miles to go before I sleep…”
Tomorrow- ocean swim, biking the race course, and maybe a short run on the course!

Cycling Training for the Triathlon is more like a rollercoaster ride!

With about 1 month to go before my first triathlon, I’d like to recount the highlights and lowlights of my first couple months of training. To give my loyal reader/s a little background, I am somewhat athletic and coming in to this quest I was in decent shape but not great shape.  I’ve played many sports and the scouting report on me is that I’m decent at most sports, but not good in any of them! Before committing to this triathlon, my normal workout regime was a weekly hockey game. Skating hard for an hour sounds like a great workout, but the post-skate beverages usually wipe out any aerobic benefits!

Training on the bike has been incredibly exciting. About a month into my training, I was able to obtain a used Cannondale from a coworker. My splits immediately shot up and I gained so much more confidence in my cycling. After starting out with 12 mile workouts, I quickly shot up to 19 mile rides and I now max out at about 23. Physically, I feel like I could do much more (maybe even double this distance) but free time to work out is just as big of a barrier for me as physical limitations.

After a couple of weeks on the bike, I made the decision to buy cycling outfits. I was getting tired of baggy shorts getting caught on my seat. Between my shorts and shirt, I felt like a small parasail because of all the wind resistance I generated. After seeing the prices of cycling outfits at bike stores, I decided to scour eBay for decent deals. Within a few I purchased a few outfits…all of them sporting European clubs and nation names. That is the history geek in me! If you see a ‘Euro rider’ flying around the roads of the Merrimack Valley, that’s just me!

In my 3rd month of training I decide to outfit my bike with clip pedals. My loyal cycling shop owner warns me that it’s a rite of passage with clip pedals-you are gonna wipe out. Great! My cycling initiation awaits! I’m fired up for my first ride with the new clips and cycling shoes. I take off on my regular route and I notice the burn in my legs is at a slightly different spot. I come to a couple of stops and successfully unclip the shoes. So far, so good!

On the final quarter of my workout, disaster strikes. I come to a stop at a large bridge. I’m at a complete stop, waiting for the light to change. I’m in a good spot; I have plenty of room to maneuver and to start cycling again. The light turns green and I push off. As I try to force my free foot into the clip, my shoe slips right past the clip and into my front tire and….POP! Flat tire! My first flat while out on a workout. I am only 3 miles from home and my wife packs up the girls and quickly picks me up. Tube repair kit you may be asking? Of course not. I’m not that skilled yet! Thankfully, my wife arrives quickly and brings me home. My bike shop is only another mile away and my guy fixes the flat within minutes so I will be back in business tomorrow!

The next couple of days are swim and run workouts so I make another trip to the bike shop to buy a tube repair kit with all the accessories. I’ll be damned if this happens again! The next day, I jump on the bike again and I’m 2 miles into my ride going through a construction area (by another bridge!) and all of a sudden my OTHER tire goes flat! I pull over and what do you know…I haven’t put the repair kit into my bike bag yet,it’s still in my garageL

2rides in a row and 2 flats! The only good news is that this flat is right by UMass-Lowell so there are some benches, I am close to home and a quick pick-up, and I have my iPhone to make a call. So glad I have the phone…it was supposed to be for tunes, but the rest comes in handy!

After another quick repair and a couple of off days, I’m back on the bike. I’ve come to the decision that I need to change up my training. I had been training on the flattest route imaginable. Up and down the Merrimack River. Mostly along the route of the Bay Marathon. I need more hills, hills, hills. I tinker with my route and the benefits are many. Tougher workouts and new sights give me a new energy. Why did it take me a couple of months to try new routes? Not too sure but I make a vow to regularly mix things up.

Overall, I’ve learned a few things from my cycling training. 1-Get off my butt and learn how to change a flat. I’ve had 2 chances at different bike shops to learn this and I said I didn’t have the time! Ouch! 2- Carry the extra tube and repair materials with you on your ride! Pretty basic stuff, eh? 3- Keep mixing up your training routes. It is nice to be riding on comfortable routes, but you should give yourself many different options!

Next up- training for the run and the…gulp, swim!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First workout this week...why not a brick?

Decent workout tonight- 16+ on the bike and squeezed in a 2 mile run. Also worked a little on Transition2. First time using elastic laces=success! Also, I came to the conclusion that my cycling training course is way too flat so I’m starting to work in some hills. My lower back could feel it on the run tonight but I stayed at a steady pace. Gotta love the brick workout.
Squeezed all this and the lawn mowing in after the wifey got out of work. Life is good!

Crack of dawn tomorrow for some pool time. Last week of school vacation so I have to squeeze in as much as possible while I still have the time. Longer post about training ups and downs soon to follow!

Gearing Up- Getting Outfitted For Triathlon

Once I made the decision to jump into the world of Triathlons, a co-worker joked that I better start saving up because of all the $$ I was about to spend. At the time, I thought ‘just how hard can it be…a bike, a bathing suit, and some sneakers?’ I already had 2 out of those 3 things. It wouldn’t be too much of a financial commitment, would it? All my TRI expenses would have to be documented so I could prove to myself I didn’t spend that much…or my co-worker and I could have another laugh at my expense! My one plan for buying all my gear is to get a little each week to spread out the hit. Here is a breakdown of my equipment.
The biggest immediate need I had was getting a road bike.  My reliable mountain bike (that I had gotten free back in the day!) just wouldn’t cut it for racing. My first email was to my oldest friend, who is also an Ironman! It turns out that his bike and most high-end race bikes are in the $3k-$10k price range.  That will not quite work for a school teacher’s budget so plan B is to ask around for a used one. After a couple of weeks it turns out that another teacher has a nice Cannondale that they bought and used for only a couple of months. They are willing to let me use it with an option to buy it if I choose to.  Not only is it a great bike, it also greatly improved my split times on my training course!
Racing bike: check! Next up is outfitting the bike. Bike computer-$30. Couple of weeks later: clip pedals and bike shoes- $200. Cycling gloves-$35. Clothing- after cycling for a month in my baggy basketball shorts, I decide it’s time to take the big step of buying some cycling apparel. This is a big step for me. These skin-tight outfits would not have gone over too well back in the old neighborhood where I grew upJ I guess I’ve matured a little since then and I decide to make the leap. I buy 3 outfits on eBay for about $100 and I’m now on my way to at least looking like I’m serious about this.  That week at my weekly adult hockey league game, my buddies quickly lob good-natured digs about my cycling gear and jokingly say that they won’t be seen with me in those outfits!
Swimming: Early in the spring I priced out some wetsuits at a little more than $200. This will have to wait a while. I buy a swimming cap and goggles for about $30 total. Next up is a swimming jammer for $65. By the end of the summer, I signed up for my first swimming training. It is an open-water swimming clinic for beginners. A 2.5 hour clinic that will review the basics of the swim…just what I need! The instructor reminds everyone to bring their wetsuits. There will be no more avoiding it-I need to make the purchase! The night before the clinic, I don’t have the time to make the drive to the surf shop 1 hour away at the beach so I head to Sports Authority. I find a 3/2 BodyGlove swimsuit and it’s only $120. I was willing to spend $200 so I’m very happy with the price. Maybe they are priced lower at the end of the summer? Maybe I just don’t know what I’m buying? Who knows?  All that matters is that I finally have a swimsuit!
Elastic laces, a TRI belt for race number, Body Glide all add up to about $25. For these items I recommend buying online. Personally, online transactions save me time so I have more training time and more time to change diapers at home!
The next expense is the race registration fee. For $90 I sign up and buy and 1-day membership to USAT membership.
At this point, the only thing left on my list is a newer helmet to replace the 10 year old one I have. I read on some TRI site that helmets expire and you could be barred from using an out-of-date one. My local cycle-shop owner says that this rarely happens but I still don’t want to risk it. I’ll probably splurge for a $50 helmet soon.
By the end of the summer, I have now been training for about 4 months. I feel that I have just about all the gear and equipment I will need. I may not fly around my training courses, but I will at least look half-decent working out now. Time to focus on the training!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Introduction from a future triathlete

The journey to becoming a Triathlete has made me take many new steps in my life and the latest groundbreaking step is writing a blog for the first time! The first goal is to compete in the Wallis Sands Triathlon on September 23. It is a Sprint Tri- 1/3 mile swim, 14 on the bike, and a 5k run.

How exactly did I become obsessed with triathlons before participating in even one race? A few things…first, at 39 years old, I’m not getting any younger. Second-I would occasionally run in a 5k and I noticed that my times got a bit slower over the past year. I hadn’t trained much and I’m not trying to win these races, but slowing down significantly and lacking not training much has made me feel a bit unhealthy. Lastly, I want a new challenge and competing in a triathlon is the solution. I’ve always been an average runner and loved cycling, so taking up this challenge has been very exciting. The only obstacle I need to overcome is the swimming portion. I can swim like most people but I am not a swimmer. That may not make sense, but there is a difference between swimming in the water and being able to swim a distance. I need to work on the distance part. 

Since my training began at the beginning of the summer, I have really enjoyed the challenge of all 3 disciplines. I need to make the most improvement in swimming and it turns out that this has become the most exciting part of my training (more on this at a later date).
There are only 4 weeks of training left before becoming an official triathlete! The race is in Rye, NH. You heard that right-Rye Beach, Atlantic Ocean here I come! Why would I want to do an ocean swim for my first tri? It’s pretty simple: timing and location. The end of the tri season (Sept) will give me a little more time to train and the location is…spectacular. For those that are now from New England, the stretch of the New Hampshire seacoast between North Hampton and through Rye is incredible. RT 1A offers many great views of the Atlantic coastline and the Wallis Sands race is mostly on the seacoast. Choosing this tri as my first was an easy decision…I was even able to convince a friend to take part in this race too (his first tri also).

Now that I’ve made up my mind and handed over my registration $$, it is time to get serious about my training. Stay tuned…