Posts

Showing posts from 2016

GMU S.M.A.R.T. Lab Body Compisition and VO2 Max Testing

For my 32nd birthday my wife got me a session at my local university's Sports Medicine Assessment Research & Testing Lab, aka SMART Lab.  My particular session included a Body Composition Analysis (i.e., body fat analysis) and a VO2 Max test.  They also offer a 3D gait analysis, but that was not part of my trip today.

I think my wife got me the Body Composition analysis to finally prove to me that I am too skinny.  She pretty regularly tells me I could stand to gain a few pounds.  I respond by eating excessive amounts of popcorn, but it doesn't seem to do the trick.  Apparently all that training cancels out all that popcorn.

The Lab is apparently only open in the middle of the week, which means I had to treat this like a doctor's appointment and excuse myself from work.  Finding a time that worked was difficult due to my schedule and the ebbs and flows of my job - the slots were actually very consistently available which made me think that the service is not widely uti…

Jingle Dash Race Report

Image
I'm not really one for race reports, but this was kind of a special one for me.  I've run the Jingle Dash, which is a local community 5k/10k (the latter of which is simply two laps of the 5k course).  I set a PR two years ago when I broke 40 minutes and I came in second last year, which I considered to be an off year.  I was excited to see how I would fare after last year's race.



This year I planned on racing with Ellie in a stroller.  I really wanted to win the race while pushing her, but wasn't confident I'd be able to do it.  Really, I wanted to use her as an excuse if I didn't win.  That excuse was taken from me at the start of the race as my wife decided she wanted to run with Ellie.  Two of our friends were running and I knew it would be more fun for her if she had Ellie while running with them.  Plus, it took away an possible excuse I might have.


Since this is a community event, it took place in my neighborhood and as such, I have run this course numerou…

Kansas Excursion

I recently traveled to Kansas.  I've visted a few times before, but never have I done any exercising.  It's always been to visit family.  I've heard that the only thing to do in Kansas, or any Midwest state, for that matter, is to drink.  In another life, this post would be about that, but alas, the drinking was kept in moderation.  One of the few things I was looking forward to on this trip (aside from seeing my family, of course), was tagging a new state in Strava.  Not knowing what the weather was like I way over packed, but I figure I might as well fill my carry-on up all the way.

I was only there for three days, and I managed to get a run in each day.  If I'm going to be honest, the runs were extremely boring, and it became very quickly apparent that Kansas does not have emissions laws in place for their vehicles.  Or if they do, they are not enforced.  They also don't really like sidewalks.  Though to be fair, there's no place that's really worth walk…

Rainy Run

On Thursdays I go to my "downtown" office, which is about 25 miles away.  If I leave early enough, my commute can be as short as 35 minutes, which gives me plenty of time for a long run at work (either along the park trails nearby, or on the treadmill in the gym within the building).

This past Thursday, I didn't get out of the house as early as I would have liked and my 35 minute commute morphed into an hour.  That could also be partly explained by the rain.  I typically roll right out of bed and get in my car, where I've already put my work bag and my change of clothes.  That day was essentially the same.

When I got to work, I was disheartened to see that all four treadmills were being used.  I put my things away in the locker room and came back out, hoping that somebody had just finished.  They had not.  I then walked around aimlessly in the small gym for a minute or so, hoping that my presence would convince one of the runners that they didn't need to run any…

Results!

Image
I'm not really one for race recaps, but I'll give one a shot here.



I woke up at 5am and ran downstairs to eat some breakfast and have some coffee.  My wife took care of Ellie in the middle of the night, letting me get as much sleep as possible.  I figured I would return the favor and let her get a few extra minutes of sleep that morning.

We planned on leaving at 5:30, but didn't make it on the road until closer to 6.  Not bad considering we had a baby and a dog to contend with.  Also, my sister was coming along for the ride, so we had a pretty full car for the 100 minute drive.

We got to Lake Anna a bit before 8, leaving plenty of time for my packet pickup and to set up my transition area.  I also heard the news that the lake temperature was such that it would be a wetsuit legal race.  I had packed my wetsuit, but since I had never actually swam in it, I was unsure if I would actually use it for the swim.  I figured I could make that decision after I set up my transition a…

Giant Acorn International

Just one short month after the South Riding Triathlon, I have my longest race of the year - the Giant Acorn International.  I ranthisrace for the first time last year and was pretty happy with how I did, especially considering that 1500 meter swim was my first open water swimming race.

I'm not going into this race with any specific goals, other than improving on my times from last year.  However, while my running has picked up since the South Riding Triathlon, it's been at the expense of my biking.  I'm not exactly feeling confident in my biking, nor my swimming, for that matter.

Last year when I ran this race, I used my wife's TomTom Runner, which isn't a triathlon watch, but is waterproof.  I was actually pretty impressed with the swim track that it made for me, all things considered.  I just left the watch going the whole time, and then manually split the resulting file into three distinct activities.  This year I'll get to use my Garmin 920XT, which will ce…

South Riding Tri

Image
As I've intimated here multiple times, the South Riding Tri is my marquee race.  I've run it every year since 2011 and since it's the exact same course, it's made it extremely easy to see my progress.  This year my goal was to continue that trend, and my stretch goal was to drop my time from 1:04:21 to sub-60.

This was my first triathlon since my daughter was born, and more importantly, my wife's first triathlon since giving birth.  My mom spent the night with us on the eve of the race for Ellie duty.  Unfortunately, since my wife is still nursing, there's not too much my mother could do.

I swear that Ellie has some sort sense whereby she can tell that there is an important even that we would like to be well rested for the next day and will then have a terrible night sleep.  Ellie required constant attention that night and had my wife up for the day a hair after four.  On top of that, she did everything in her power to make sure that I got a good night's s…

Taper Week

The South Riding Triathlon is this weekend and I am excited.  I consider this to be my premier race for the year, and my measuring stick for my fitness.  I did my first SR Tri back in 2011 (I would have done it in 2010, but it was the same weekend as my wedding, so my better half managed to talk me out of it) and have done it every year since then.  And every year, I have improved my overall time (last year I was slower on the run and bike than I was the year prior to that, but as mentioned in my previous post, I killed it in the transition, so my overall time was lower).

Since the Tri is on Sunday, I've been tapering this last week.  It's been tough since I've felt so good during all my workouts.  I had a 7min/mile 5 mile run, which is the fastest I've done in a long time, and then I rode the bike course and managed to set a personal best.  I was really happy with that since it's an open course and I had to stop/slow down at multiple intersections.  Which means th…

Sad Realization

This morning, as Ellie woke me up at about 30 minutes before my alarm went off, I had the good idea to take her for a walk around the block while Mom was at swim practice.  I got some coffee at Starbucks and then headed over to the pool to watch Mom.  She wasn't exactly in a talking mood, seeing as she was in the middle of a practice, but the swim coach was a bit more open.

He is finishing up college, which immediately made me feel like an old man.  More flatteringly, though, it made me feel like a grizzled vet as I gave him all sorts of triathlon tips and tried to get him to sign up for his first.  Though, I don't think that my pitch to the, ahem, swim coach, of "the swimming part is the least important" really resonated.  I guess I could have phrased that better.

As the conversation moved forward, I mentioned how important transitions are, and then furthering the point of Swims Don't Matter, I told him how last year I took over 2 minutes off my T1 time by clipp…

So Very Tired

Ellie has been going through a bit of a rough patch in terms of sleeping recently.  She goes to sleep easy enough at around 6:30 or 7 (though she still hates the process in general - and lets us know about it), but she only sleeps for a few hours until she awakes, ready for the new day.  The only problem is that it's actually the same day, and, I'm sorry dear, but that wasn't "going to bed" that was a nap.

She doesn't agree with our assessment and will let us know about it.  This past week, upon her first wakeup of the night, it's taken on average about an hour to get her back down.  That includes last night where it only took me 45 minutes to get her back down, as well as earlier in the week when it took two hours.

Nothing like hopping in bed at 10pm with an alarm set for 5:50am, only to have your daughter wake up 30 minutes later and not go back down until 11:30.  At least I got 6.5 hours of sleep.

Except, she really only went down for 10 minutes, and…

Calling an Audible

I've still be feeling out my workout schedule with Ellie in the picture.  With the exception of Saturday morning swims, I've been pretty flexible.  My wife has been even more flexible, of course.

Normally on Thursdays I go into the "downtown" office.  I leave my house around 6 so I can beat as much traffic as I can, and then I go for a run at the office.  Either on the treadmill in the gym there, or out on the trail, weather permitting.  My wife leaves for work the same time that I do, so my mother-in-law is at our house by 6 on those days.

This past Thursday I was conducting a training in the office much closer to my house, which means there was no need to beat traffic.  I told MIL that there was no need get in at 6, and that 7:30 would work just fine.  I figured since things were getting switched up on me, I'd switch up my regular Thursday office run with a trainer ride.  As I mentioned, I know I'm not getting enough time on my bike, so I figured I would tu…

Who needs a training plan?

As I got out of the pool this morning for my weekly LetSwim master's program, I thought about two exercise related things.  The first was about how this would be the first week in quite some time I wouldn't swim on Saturday for the Tsunami master's program (the gym at which I swim is doing month-long maintenance to the indoor pool and how I would make up that absence.  The second thing I thought about was how consistently I've been working out.  I checked out my Strava training log and noticed that in the past 18 days, I've exercised on 17 of them.  One big reason for that is Ellie is now big enough to go in the jogging stroller.

I'm not following any sort of training plan - I don't think I can make the structure work.  I'm still at the point in having a kid where I just get a workout in whenever I can.  And clearly that's been working pretty well.  Of course, the proof will be in the pudding when I participate in the South Riding Triathlon in just …

Get 'Dem Datas

I love collecting data.  It is a trait that was most likely instilled in me by Pokémon (go Red or go home) back in 1998.  To that end, I love sports gadgets.  I bought a Nike+ foot pod that had a special dongle to work with the iPod Nano that I had to buy to work with my new foot pod way back in 2007 or so.  It's hard to imagine a time before cell phones were good enough to work as a run tracker and music player, but that's what I had.  I remember getting annoyed about the distance never being right and not understanding why that was the case.  I liked trying to convince myself that the mile markers on the trail I ran were incorrect.
My running really fell off a cliff for a few years.  It was some circular reasoning - I had some bad shin splints and as a result I didn't run, and for that (and many other reasons) I put on weight.  Because I put on weight, every time I tried to run, I would re-aggravate the shin splints.  Eventually I just sort of gave up.
During that period…

Training Timings

One of the big unknowns when I had my daughter was when I would be able to train.  I held off on signing up for any significant races because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to put in the hours to be prepared for them.  Prior to Ellie, I was a very finicky about my workouts.  They had to be before a meal (or at least three hours after last eating).  They couldn't be too early (my legs don't seem to work in the morning).  They couldn't be too late (I need proper time to unwind before bed).

Having a kid has certainly changed that outlook (to be fair, having a kid changes a great deal of outlooks in life).

My wife suggested that I get up early to go for my runs or bikes.  I told her that was a good idea conceptually, but not so much practically.  I would set my alarm an hour early, only to waste a few minutes here or there and be left with insufficient time to get a workout in.  Or I would just not wake up at all (until my real alarm went off).

Recently, though, I've…

First Swim Meet Swim in the Books

I definitely should have done this race last year.



This race was so chill and welcoming that I'm really disappointed with myself that I didn't participate it in last year.  It would have provided such a great foundation for open water swimming prior to my first jaunt during my first Olympic distance tri.

In fact, even during this swim, it took me several minutes before I felt comfortable.

The race is organized in waves by swim time.  I estimated very poorly and put 30 minutes for my time.  I was not the only person that put this very general time.  Out of the 400 or so participants, I'd hazard to guess that a full third put 30 minutes as their swim time.

The swim accommodated wet suits, but just barely.  The lake temperature was 77.6° and the cutoff was 78°.  In fact, the two-mile swim that immediately followed the one-mile swim that I participated in did not allow wet suits.

As mentioned, there were multiple waves of swimmers.  They had the racers go over the either the w…

Jim McDonnell Lake Swim Pre-Race Jitters

This Memorial Day weekend, I'm participating in the Jim McDonnell Lake Swim in Reston, VA.  My wife, who was unaware that she was pregnant with our daughter at the time, did the mile swim last year and really enjoyed it.  I chickened out and decided to do my first open water swim several months later as part of the Giant Acorn Triathlon.  Here's a tip for any aspiring triathletes - don't have a race be your first experience with open water swimming.




During the Giant Acorn Tri, I managed to do the 1500 meters in a staggering 35 minutes.  That was really disappointing considering the huge strides I have made over the past several years in the pool (taking off 30 seconds/100m since 2011).  Obviously, in addition to putting the time in at the pool, I have to get out and do some open water swimming, so that's what I'm doing this weekend.

If you're near the mid-Atlantic, you know the weather has been pretty awful recently.  As of about 10 days ago, the lake temperatu…

Another Injury

Nothing like feeling as if you're getting on track with fitness only to be derailed by another injury.  This is a new type of pain in a familiar place.

When I was ramping up my marathon training last time, I got a pretty bad case of patellar tendinitis from doing an interval workout on a treadmill.  That was a pain that came on from overworking my knee and would flare up as I increased my workouts.  It makes sense since tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendon, so by overusing it I'm rubbing it and causing irritation to it, which makes it progressively get worse.  I had about 12 weeks of PT to get over it.

This injury is not tendinitis, but is still of my patellar tendon.  I was doing some sort of benign movement and there was instant severe pain in my knee.  The remnants of the pain lasted for a couple of minutes, subsiding relatively quickly.  But then I kept reaggrivating the pain by doing a certain combination of rotations and weight bearing on that knee.  I still have…

Back to Work

After four glorious weeks of Parental Leave, I am now back at work.  It's absolutely amazing how quickly that time went by.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, the first four weeks I took off after my daughter's birth also went by in a flash.  I guess it just gives all the more weight to the notion of long days and short years.

My training during that four weeks was haggard.  Since my wife was back at work, I got nightly duty, though saying that is misleading.  I was the first line of defense on the nights that my wife was working, but since we're not bottle feeding, my wife still had to get up on most instances.  However, I am weak and even that small bit of disrupted sleep wrecks havoc on me.  I still don't know how my wife does it.

Training wasn't a priority for me during that four weeks, though.  My priority was bonding with my daughter, which was awesome.  Being the analytical and data-driven person that I am, I meticulously logged every aspect of her day -…

Loudoun Half & 8K Race

Image
Two years ago I participated in the inaugural Loudon Half & 8K.  It is a race put on by a local running store in conjunction with an area running club.  Its proceeds benefit local high school running programs.  Plus, it's at a time of year when the cherry blossoms are still out, making for a really scenic run.

At the time, I had had varying levels of success dating back to my first half marathon in 2007.  I had never broken the two-hour barrier and so I set a conservative goal (based on my training at the time) to simply break two hours.  I smashed that pretty handily at 1:48:12.

Fast forward to this year and I had not run another race of that distance since 2014, let alone any run at all of that distance.  With my daughter being born in January and the fact that I was still recovering from a knee injury, my training was inconsistent, but put it nicely.  I wasn't sure what I'd be able to realistically run the race.  I told my wife that my goal was 1:42, but that was ba…

Week One in the Books

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting being the primary caregiver for my daughter.  I had some fear that it would be more than I could handle, but that turned out to be unfounded.

Things went exceedingly well.  Being the data-collector that I am, I created a log of my daughter's activities (e.g., when she napped, when she ate, how much she ate, etc.) on the first day, and by the second day, I was able to easily predict when it was time to go down for a nap before she was overly tired.  I was able to predict how much milk to defrost before she got so hungry that she threw a fit.  In short, I could not have imagined it going better.

It's a bit ironic, actually - when my wife is around, I don't have carte blanche to feed my daughter.  I always have to be cognizant of where my wife is and if she's not immediately available, I have to hold off my daughter until my wife is available to feed.  When my wife's at work, I don't have that restriction and it makes th…

Parental Leave

I'm pretty spoiled by my job at a Federal consulting firm.  It's really easy to take for granted the lenient policies they have in almost all aspects of employee benefits.  As an example, I have to remind my team (and myself) that you don't actually "request" time off - you simply let your supervisor know that you are taking it.  It's not a request because it can't be denied.

So it's no surprise that the Parental Leave policy here is pretty great as well.  Well, it's mostly great.  I had to do some finagling to actually work it since I'm a dad.  It's funny - the policy was clearly made in such a way as to not discriminate against men, but also in such a way as to ensure that men do not get to be the primary beneficiaries of the policy.

Basically, the policy allows 16 weeks for moms after giving birth.  By default, dad's get two weeks.  The 16 weeks are split into two-eight week blocks.  The first is only usable by mothers that have jus…

Welcome Post

First, an apology: I have a habit of writing about writing, instead of writing about something interesting.  This first post is a perfect example of that.  Instead of knowing that this space is a place for my musings on being a new dad and my passion for middling triathlon, you are focused solely on the meta of this post.  Seeing as I've already committed to the bit, I might as well continue with it.

I've wanted to write for a while, but since I haven't won any awards for my writing since a column I wrote on sporks for my high school newspaper, I just haven't found the motivation I need to put pen to paper, or I suppose in modern parlance, to put finger to molded plastic.  Ironically, it was in listening to the spoken word that I felt the nudge necessary to impulse buy this domain and put something on it.

Listening to a local running podcast, Pace the Nation, I've heard multiple authors interviewed about their books or essays, and gosh darn it, if they can do it, so…