Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Training races

I've signed up for several races to get practice with the wetsuit, transition and nutrition strategies.

Eton SuperSprint (swim 400m, bike 20km, run 5km)
Sunday, May 15th
Set at Eton rowing lake near Windsor.  Swim in a rowing lake, cycle and run around the rowing lake.  Flat cycle/ run, a bit monotonous doing laps of the rowing lake, but a good way to kick-off the season.

swim start/ rowing clubhouse

laps of the rowing lake

the route

The Boskman (2.6km, 120km, 22km)
Sunday, June 5th
Distance roughly half-ironman, set in the New Forest, Hampshire, about 2hr train southwest of London.  Should be a good test for race nutrition and great for scenery.  Natsuko and I are turning it into a long weekend.  I'll go out on Friday for registration, Saturday racking bikes, Sunday race and Natsuko will join.  We'll spend Monday and Tuesday wandering the forest and hopefully taking in some sun.

lake swim

road ride through the park

and a bit of off-road trails
Windsor Swim (3km swim)
Sunday, July 3rd
3km swim in the Thames starting near Windsor castle, head away from London for 1.5km and then back.  Part of Speedo's new open water series of races around London.

Hampton Court Swim (3.6km swim)
Sunday, July 17th
2.25mi (3.6k) from Hampton Court Palace to Kingston.  Did it last year, it's a good time.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Week 17

Fresh from a four day weekend filled with vitamin D and caught up on sleep, I'm ready for the week ahead, mainly because it includes our first holiday out of London since training began!  Natsuko and I are off to Valencia, Spain, on Friday for four and a half days of chillin out, beach, national parks and of course, for me, training in a new locale.

Realizing I may not get everything in this week, I have re-arranged days to get all of the cycling done before we go to focus on swim and run while in Spain.  Training in new locations is always great, uncertain, but offers a chance to meet new people and maybe make a new friend or two.

Separate note, further to the "Team" post thanking those involved for advice and encouragement, I want to include Rob.  We swam together growing up, and he went on to competitive swimming at university before turning to tri and completing his first Ironman in Florida last year.  His experience and training advice for someone coming from a swim background has been worked into Fink's plan so I can hopefully avoid the issues Rob had.  Cheers

Sunday, 24 April 2011


Week 16 has been good.  A recovery week with reduced workload (13hrs sbr + weights), decent sleep, and a four day weekend!

Met with Freddy on Friday, weight relatively stable, body fat down to 7% and no loss of muscle and taking a week off of the supplements (given the reduced workload, time to start cycling on/off the supps).  Though, if lack of sleep continues, we may add some "pre-hab" supps to strengthen bones and joints to avoid injury.

Break through on my Saturday ride, lapped Richmond in 20:50 smashing previous best just below 22:30.  I  was feeling super-focused when I started in East London and still good when I entered the park.  I took that focus and worked a harder than normal, though nowhere near Z4 effort.  Helping the quick time was my first descent of the hill at the back end without tapping the breaks.  As mentioned previously, too much speed scares me, but it's time to man-up, deep breath and just let it go (I hit 78km/ 49mi an hour, or so the Garmin says).

Almost forgot, SUN!  A most amazing week of weather, and for the first time in my life, I feel ok running without a shirt hoping to get rid of my London skin tone.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Halfway mark

Hard to believe we're in week 16, just beyond halfway in the program. Below is a list of how my performance and life have changed.

- much smoother, down to 36-37 strokes per 50m lap, was around 40 before
- loving 50m pool, sessions seem to go faster than in 25m pool and counting laps is easier

- never having trained properly for cycling, my legs are much stronger and my pedalling is now more circular momentum than push/ pull
- dropped average lap at Richmond from above 24min to about 22:30 and looking to get better
- more knowledge of how to cycle, target 90rpm's, fluctuate between 80-100 depending on up or down hill, better cornering (but more improvement on technical aspects needed), losing less momentum when grabbing for water bottles, faster at changing a tire,

- running similar pace as before at lower heart rate

- more confident than ever and growing with each session
- more moody (when I miss a session) and sometimes less patient
- more aggressive (generally I go with the flow, but not in training, don't get in my way!)

- by far the best shape of my life
- weight fluctuates daily between 60-62kg (132-137), 60 in the morning or post-workout and 62 fully fed and hydrated
- officially size small and 28" waist
- just as much energy, if not more, than before (as long as I get 6-7hrs sleep at night!)
- burning more calories on similar heart rate as previous (e.g. higher output at the same HR)

- switched to decaff coffee (caffeine is good for endurance athletes, can focus the body on burning fat, but like any drug, the more you have the more your body grows immune, so caffeine reserved for training)
- much more meat and protein (need to maintain the muscle I do have)
- more sweets (as Freddy says, "there are no bad foods, all depends on when you eat them around your training", high fat foods good for depleted state training)

- 6am is the new norm and 730am is the new 'sleep-in'
- weekday showers are 3mins (including dry time)
- not enough time to shave for work every day, down to every two or thee days

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Feeling good

Finally feeling positive again.  I've hit all the sessions this week (even core and weights) and getting a lot done at work.  Also, had that conversation with my manager, and she agreed, we're doing something about the extreme workflow.

Over the last five weeks, I lost site of the end goal, the excitement of Ironman.  Too caught up in the day to day, 'early morning, swim, office, run, office, dinner, office, home late, 4-5hrs sleep and do it all again.'  Not enjoyable.  Mentally I'm not fully recovered but making progress and two four-day weekends in a row this one and next, should be a boost.

Hopefully this means I'm back to blogging about triathlon not work.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Monday update

Feeling calm, collected and in control this morning, I returned from work in a disarray of papers, bad mood and late night conference call.

Down but not out, Natsuko and my mom (via telephone) gave me words of wisdom before ordering me to bed by midnight.  Thanks to them, I'm determined to take this week with a positive attitude, complete all the sessions and have some fun doing it!

Did not have a sit down with my manager, both of us too busy to find 5mins to chat.  Plan for tomorrow.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Great Saturday

Up at 7am and after my quickest organizing for a long bike yet, I was on the road by 7.30.  4hrs cycle followed by 30min run, I was stoked for the session ahead.

Not sunny for my ride,
but a good rep of how I'm feeling today

Before setting off, I decided to take the day at an easier pace than normal.  Usually I push the top end of Z2 HR, but today, I decided not to worry about training, Ironman or if I was working hard enough, I just wanted to ENJOY being out with my bike.  This mentality gave the session a different feel.  I stuck to good technique but checked my HR as little as possible, and took in the surroundings through central London, along the Thames, through Westminster and Chelsea's back roads finally downtown Richmond and out to the Park where bicycles rule the road frustrating hurried drivers as we ride 2, 3 and sometimes 4 across and passing cautious drivers that can't keep up with our pedalling.

The first two hours passed like nothing, gone as quickly as a sneeze the rushes out of nowhere.  Shortly after two hours, I ran into Alan (not literally).  He was supposed to be working but had a cancellation, and as he was still dragging from a 100+ mile ride the previous Saturday,  he joined me in my quest to simply enjoy time on the bike.  It was a good catch-up, chatting for most of the next 90mins, made the ride that much better.  Shortly after 3hrs, I parted ways with my training partner and the park and headed back east.  

Home in what seemed like the blink of an eye, running shoes on and back out for 30min run.  Again, just enjoying the run and by now, the sun was out!

Covered a total of 70miles, 66cycle and 4run, it was a brilliant morning/ early afternoon.

Quick stretch, shower, recovery meal and off to Natsuko and Tammy's Yoga for Japan.  A day of yoga where all proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross to help victims of Japan's earthquake, tsunami and now nuclear disasters.

As Tammy took us through the opening stretch, deep down I was worried.  4.5hrs of training followed by vinyasa/ flow yoga, not sure I could manage, but it's for a good cause, so I thought I'd try my best.  As we got into the flow, pose to pose, I could feel my legs and core loosening up.  With each movement, a pop here or stretch there and the struggle that I expected never came about.  The final relaxation pose was on us, and I was feeling at my best: clear mind, muscles awake, energy alive.

Bus ride home and now hanging out with Natsuko doing work and blogging knowing that all is right in my world.

New cycling gear at a bargain

In case you need new cycling jersey or tights, check Planet X's sale: good quality jerseys £9.99 for short sleeve and £14.99 for long and £19.99 for bib tights.  It's a steal!

The catch, the graphic print isn't perfect.  Their manufacturer messed up printing, so while it won't look perfect, the quality and material is all the same.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Too much

Despite good intentions, I couldn't get up this morning for a swim.  Sleeping by 2.30, the 4.30 alarm was quickly shut off and next thing I knew it was 6.45 and too late to organize myself for the pool.  So, I readily accepted missing a second straight swim session (rather unexpected given I usually hyperventilate if any session even has to be moved from it's scheduled time) got my stuff ready for work and an evening run and headed out the door.

Work day was par for the course lately, a day full of meetings with no time to actually complete any work.  5pm struck and in an overwhelming fit of angst and frustration, I threw together the necessities for my run and took off for the gym.  Good run session, tight at first but opened up after 15mins and covered over 13k (8mi) in about 60min.  Feeling good, I stuck in the gym for a core and legs session.  Brain now clear, I headed back to my desk with a plan.

I've decided that I am going to work this weekend.  I don't mean read a few emails, I mean work, lots of work.  Train, some time with Natusko and work.  And when Monday comes around, I'm going to sit down with my manager, let her know I've caught up on my work, what it took to get me caught up and that the last five weeks are not sustainable, I can not continue at this pace, something has to change.  Forget the fact that I'm training for any sport, I've been working minimum 12hr days for over a month now (including a number of 15, 16, 17hr days) and while I don't mind this for a week or two, I see no let up in site.

Should be an interesting conversation given I'm no good at sticking up for myself.  Not sure what it is, but I have a built in sense that avoids confrontation at almost any cost (I guess impinging on my ability to eat dinner at home and make training sessions is where I feel pushed enough to draw the line).  This will be good for me and fits what I often remind myself, 'doing things out of your comfort zone is how you grow, be it athletics or life in general, so try to do something outside that zone on a daily basis, even if it's something simple.'

Ever wished for more than 24 hours?

Lack of blogging due to overabundance of work.  2am, just home, ready for a few hours sleep then up to do some work before heading to the pool at 6.

24 just isn't enough.

Friday, 8 April 2011

What a Friday

Up at 4am after 3hrs sleep, 2hrs of work then off to the pool for 3000m time trial.  Because of the lack of sleep, I decided beforehand not to push the pace, just finish the 3000m.  Somewhere around 2000m I felt a bit light headed, arms weakening, body line no longer a line and generally not feeling well.  The first time through these 14 weeks I felt maybe I'm pushing too much, 'but if you stop now, could start Friday on a bad foot.'

So, slowed the pace, more focus, and pushed through it.  Finished feeling triumphant in a time of 53min which isn't too bad all things considered.

There was not time, and I was certainly in no mood for the 60min run (including 7.5min Z4 effort) in the morning, so postponed to the evening.

Luckily, it was a beautiful day in London, and the sun was still out strong when I got home around 6.30.  Feeling rough (probably lack of sleep), but conned myself into a "start easy and see how it goes" run, downed a caffeinated gel, filled my sports drink and off I went into the sunshine.  Legs tired, but not a bad start, again, just taking it easy.

About 10-15mins in my legs were loosening up, but still too hazy to gather a decent pace.  25mins in, the caffeine must have kicked in, and I started to feel better topped by sub-5min/ km (sub 8min/ mi) pace at a 135HR.  Gained a bit of mental strength which fed my body which improved performance which drove more mental focus (there's that wonderful upward spiral I've referred to before!).  At 35min, I decided the 7.5min Z4 had to happen.  So, as scheduled, when the clock struck 45min, I took off, and what a pace, covered 2km in the 7.5min hard effort (if maintained would reach approx. 19min 5k).  Exhausted, but done, a good week, didn't miss any SBR sessions.

As the title suggests, what a couple of sessions, what a day and what a week.  While not my best performances, these are the training days that will give me an arsenal to reach for when times get tough on race day.  As I often say to myself on days/ weeks like this, 'I don't live in my successes nor measure myself by achievements.  Live in the lessons learned from battling through difficult situations and measure yourself in improving from failures.'

Knocked down 9 times

get up 10.  And the 10th, I'm on my feet faster than the first 9.

What the swim and run couldn't do on Tuesday, subsequent sessions have taken care of.  Averaging just under 5hrs sleep per night including 3 last night and with workflow the same, mentally I'm feeling stronger (and haven't missed any SBR sessions, though have passed on stretching, weights, core and yoga).

This week I hit a low point as described in Fink's book: loss of control, thoughts of not carrying on and total mis-focus.  Having swam, biked and ran my way through it, I'm better for it and that much more equipped to sustain the troughs that will certainly come on July 31.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Not good

I'm not in a good mood.

A feeling that Natsuko has probably never known of me in the two years we have been together, Alan has not seen in the four years we've been doing athletics and possibly something friends from PA and NYC have not experienced from me in the up to 20yrs we've been friends.

This is foreign, the roots of which are typically solved through exercise, but this morning was different.  One hour run and 3000m swim were not enough.  My brain was consumed with worries about work.  These worries usually fade at some point between 500 and 1000m so you can imagine the surprise when it was fresh in my thoughts during the warm down.

The concerns center around the fact that it's now 11pm and instead of getting ready for bed, I see nothing but a long night of work ahead and likely the same for the rest of the week, possibly weekend and into next.  Not fully a concern of the work, because hours and effort I can schedule around, much of it is the uncertainty of some of the work.  I feel for the first time that I am not excelling in my performance at work and to a certain extent maybe letting people down (also a new feeling).

I need to take a break, step back, refocus and appreciate that things are probably not as bad as I'm making them out to be.  The issue, I don't see time for this.  And with that, I'm off to review documents.

Saturday, 2 April 2011


A huge thank you to all that helped get me to this point (in no particular order, except for the first one).

Natsuko - girlfriend, flat-mate, yoga instructor and patient caretaker has to deal with me on a daily basis.  My constant preparing, eating and logging of food and supplements, the early start everyday, the forgetfulness that comes with the focus and the occasional moodiness that didn't exist before ironman training.  Her support is indescribable, and her help keeping my life outside ironman in one piece can not be measured.

Alan - personal trainer, training partner, and great friend, it's been a good start, only 16 weeks to go!

Jakub - work colleague, four-time ironman, sub-2:50 marathoner and facilitator of my meeting with coach Fink.  You can only smile when somebody asks you, "Do you want to join me for a run at lunch?  I usually get 10miles because I only have an hour."  Would love to, but not quite at your level yet.

Mahmoud - another work colleague and also taking part in IronmanUK.  In the "just finish" camp, a good reminder that triathlon/ ironman is not life, don't forget it.

Don Fink - unofficial coach, great program so far, looking forward to the next 16 weeks

Freddy - former boxer turned rower and nutrition-extraordinaire helping me optimize body comp, prepare race nutrition strategy and make sure I'm taking on the right amount and types of calories

Laura - massage therapist, thanks for sorting out my back, would not have made week one without it.

Family - mom, dad, bro, abuelita, cousins, aunts and uncles.  Can't wait to see you all in person sometime soon.

Friends from home - thanks for reading and keeping me motivated, I only hope I can inspire you as much as you guys have inspired me

UK friends - cheers for listening to me drone on about the importance of Z2 training and improving my anaerobic threshold, and for showing interest by asking how my training is going (I couldn't live with myself if the response had to be "uh, it's not going" or "yeah, I'm taking it easy this week")

Work colleagues - thank you for understanding that while I show up after 9, take time to prepare 4 meals a day and nip to the gym around 5, I'm making it up at other times of the day and still working hard alongside you guys

You - last but not least, thanks to all of you for following the blog.  To Adam in Singapore, Aiko in Japan and friends yet to meet in Canada, Thailand and Denmark.  It's great to share this with you all.

Disclaimer: If I've forgotten you, I sincerely apologize.  Give me a shout and I'll give you the proper dues.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Time to rest

Beautiful friday night, out of the office at 7 and with my girlfriend out and friends at the pub, I'm going to sleep.  See you all on Saturday.