Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Triathlon Hell Part 1

Okay those aren't the Zipps but they ARE a spare. Tri shoes, helmet and other such musings..
Madeline looking every so puuuurdy
When sex met carbon fiber and had a baby..PRO missle stem with SRM and Di2 [shudder]
Part 1 in a series of 3, describing my trials and tribulations as I wrestle my [skinny] [AND vegan] arms around the world of multi-sport.

For the past 2.3333333333333 months, I've been doing multi-sport training. Waking up at ungodly hours of the morning to haul my skinny ass in a pool and swim it out with the rest of the fish. Sometimes, these would be 100, 200 even 1000 m intervals in the pool; othertimes, it would involve zipping up the wetsuit and doing my best sea lion impression in the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay Area. And when I mean cold, I mean holy-shit-I'm-freezing-my-Hawaiian-ass-off cold. In fact, I'll go on record and say Meg Whitman isn't that cold!

And after swimming until my arms felt like they were going to fall off, I had to get on the bike and then run it out in the afternoon. Without question, these are the two strongest sports in my multi-sport 'aresenal' and the two I would rely on most come race day. So take all that, compound that for days and months [2.33333333333333333 to be exact!] and you've got the culmination of my efforts leading into the Santa Cruz Triathlon, Sept. 26, 2010, a day which will live in infamy!

To start with, I had the entire familia regalia out in force. My mom, your mom, my dad, my hermano Andy, his wife Katy, young William [who just turned one!] and Ms. Denise all tagged along for the sojourn to Santa Cruz. You probably want to know what I packed and all so I included that in the above photos. We had all kindsa drinks [just water really....], mixtures, zipp 303s, running shoes, glasses, BME kit, etc, etc. The trip started off with a flat tire...well, the tread literally tore off the tire! FAIL. So we went back, changed it out and then started again. Sigh....
And so we made our way to Santa Cruz and the drive was shy of breath-taking. Lots of produce stands...artichoke and avocados as far as the eye can see. What's a skinny vegan supposed to do except look and drool?

After picking up the registration packet at the expo, I surveyed the course and made the following observations:
1) Shit, the swim looks as daunting as the choppy water.
2) See 1).
3) The bike course is undulating but mostly flat...obviously, there are NO climbs and NO mountains. Darn and darn.
4) The run course has slight inclines followed by slight declines. Maybe 3% gradient at most but otherwise, flat run-in to the finish.

Good. Course recon check! Bananas? Check! Vegan burrito? You know it. Next stop...Sunday....Eagle Day....Race Day.

NOTE: [I made up Eagle Day but it's actually a real day used in the Battle of Britain movie...yea...didn't think I knew that did ya!]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Watt-fest Tuesdays

Thusfar, Tuesdays for me have been triathlon-Tuesdays.
Not a full triathlon but a day where I will complete swimming, cycling and running...just not all at once.

Unfortunately for me though, the day got off to a rough start.
Woke up and realized I forgot my wallet [last time that happened I was in middle school]. FAIL
At the pool I realized I forgot my goggles AND swimming cap. Double FAIL.
Then, like an absolute dipshit, I try and swim in the water. Triple FAIL.

All those failures makes it seem like a Raider game huh? Except not this past Sunday..because the Raiders won a game!!!

Yes, yes, for all that don't know, I follow Raider football like I follow cycling: with enormous passion and an inclination to check all things Raiders and all things cycling [thank you, and].

After my terrible terrible attempt to swim intervals, I drowned my misery in some hearty oatmeal topped with agave syrup 2 whole bananas and some raw vegan chocolate 'raw-nola'. Gimmie two bowls of that and suddenly the war in Afghanistan looks remotely positive. With a full stomach, quality trance music playing on the iPhone, Tuesday workday passed by and I suddenly found myself mounting Madeline [that's my bike's name! sheesh!] getting ready to throw down the intervals. Mind you, I'm racing on Sunday so this was to simply open the legs up a bit - however, it turned into so much more. I realized my Zone 4 power threshold has gone up, Zone 3 tempo is in the 300s and all in all, I think I'm actually LOSING weight [bib shorts are a little loose...]. My last 3 x 3 minute intervals were awful. I felt I was dying a slow death which wasn't fun and after all that nonsense I went running for a nice 20 minute 'jog'. Whew.

Getting cooler and darker here in the Bay Area. Right about now....sure wish I was back on the islands of Hawaii. Oh wait! I will be!

More to come on that later.... :-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Less than 10 days left!

Holy crap! I'm racing on Sunday! No way? Way!
Crazy right....and so begins triathlon tomfoolery sans the water bottles hanging out the okole!
but before I get into my expectations of the race [which are pretty low to say the least] it's time to finish this series with the 'likes'.

Things I like about triathlons
1) Arm muscles - I gotta say, I thought i'd never get biceps or triceps...ask Michael and he would tell you I still dont have em! But yes, dare I say, the peashooter arms are slowly - ever so slowly - becoming arms that resemble something of the humanistic form. That or somebody has been sipping me some animal protein in between my sleep. Hmmm....

2) Riding the TT rig - I love riding the road bike but riding the TT rig everywhere is so damn cool! Especially when it's a) Madeline and b) Di2 shifting [pressing buttons son!] and finally c) it's really not butter! It's buttery smooth to shift gears on the bike by pressing buttons...such a fun thing to do...thank goodness for Shimano, Sony and all the other Japanese electronic companies that give me reason to wake up and invest!

3) Balance - Now this one is crucial. For a long long loooooooooooooooooooooong ass time, I've asked myself the following question: Am I a cyclist in a runners body or a runner in a cyclists body? Well, since becoming a triathlete I can safely say I am a cyclist in a runners body. Let's face it, I gotta thing for when the road tilts up and I'm on my bike. Anything that involves lots of attacking at over 660 watts makes like the fire in my trousers. Then again, running 5 min miles aint too shabby either especially when you can repeat these efforts. That's how you know you're getting somewhere! But now, I get to do two things that give me extreme happiness: running and cycling. And thank the lord for that.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Only 10 days left?!?!

So Ms. Denise and I were chit-chatting and she pointed out that I have only 10 days left before my first ever triathlon. Yes indeed, such is the case. As the 26th of September bears down upon us, I figured it would be best to take a moment to see what's happened. As of today, I've been straddling the line between bike-racer / triathlete for the past 2 months and have enjoyed every bit of it. However, as with everything, there are parts that I like and dislike.

1) Swimming - What can I say about this one...I'm skinny [but wasn't always like that!] and therefore, I SINK in the water. Truth is, I don't pack a lot of mass in my upper body and so my arms always feel like lead weights in the water. Let's make no illusions about it: I SUCK at swimming. Will it get better over time? You bet your ass it wil...

2) PAM Spray - Not vegan? Hold your horses Nancy. This isn't to eat. Triathletes must spray themselves with PAM on parts of their body to get the wetsuit to come off easier. Do I do this? Nope. Will I? Probably not. However, I witness it.

3) Waterbottles out the okole - C'mon..any roadie will tell you that having water bottles shooting out your arse is extremely frowned upon in cycling. Triathltes just say 'get over it'. I say: Once a roadie, always a roadie. NEVER EVER EVER will I stoop so low to have bottles out the ass.

4) Choppy water - This needs no explanation. Combine rough water with the fact that I sink in the ocean and you've basically got Titanic Part Deux except without so many people. I'm Jack [Leonardo DiCaprio] sans the douchebag haircut and cheesy I'm-a-figure-drawing-artist-pick-up-lines.

5) [and I guess this is a run off of 4] INGESTING salt water. It's hard not to when you're swimming. Doubly hard when you're swimming in open water and you're all full of lactic acid. I swear, I must take in so much salt water it's no wonder my salt values are always high despite my high sweat-rate on the run!

6) Sockless [running and] Cycling - C'mon. Really. I mean...seriously? Triathletes dont wear socks to increase transition speed among the disciplines. I agree with the concept however, I don't think I'm at the point where I can get used to it. I tried it out a couple of times and was left with bloody blisters from my shoe material scrapping against my bare skin. No bueno. Eventually, I'll have to bite the bullet on this...for now, I'll take my feet the way they are currently...ya know...not bleeding. :-)

tomorrow the LIKES! That'll be enough to tide you over hopefully.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Aiyah! 1.5 hours @ 308 Watts?

Admit it! You wouldn't immediately think: Scottish dude on a bike who can cycle and surf. Neither did I. Until we went up Tantalus Road....
Whoa! Dare I say the boy is getting there. Silly Weegan!

Un momento!!

For some reason, my legs felt really good yesterday so I figured I should go out there and give them a steady workout with some threshold work. That turned out to be a VERY GOOD IDEA. Now, in a triathlon, 'threshold' is n doubt in the pain cave but not in the red-zone. It's a very bearable state of unbearableness. That is, you can endure the suffering - albeit, not for too long! In the middle of this ride I threw in some quality attacks; specifically 12 attacks, each one over 15 sec in duration, each one at or near 660 watts. That felt pretty good too so safe to say the form is coming around. However, I cannot help but feel so compelled to get on the bike and just go back to cycling. Truth is, I love cycling and ya know, I don't think I'm shabby at it. Then again, I ain't chump change at running either ;-)

In other recent news Ms. Denise and I have been having fun trapsing around town, eating indian food and running [she's the runner though...I'm a runner in a cyclist's body]. Her, like many others, are getting used to sight of me using my iphone to check religiously. Another common site to see is legs propped up and watching La Vuelta A Espana on the internet-O [while wolfing down on bananas]. One thing that is very noticeable with me nowadays - more so now that I am a triathlate newbie - is how much I am sleeping. Getting over 7 hours of sleep doesn't cut it anymore and it seems like something along the lines of 8 hours would suffice. However, I also have a day job....

Speaking of day job, let me give a heartfelt congrats to my good friend and guy who mentored me up in cycling, Mike Z. He is a national champion for track cycling. How cool is say I know one is pretty gnarly within say I got routinely humbled by one daily while on training rides is an entirely different story! It was also thanks to him that I got addicted to all things Above & Beyond [really good dance DJs] and Anjunabeats. So when you hear the headphones blaring with some Armin Van Buuren you know who to thank...

Well, that's all for this update. I threw down some so-so intervals on la biccicleta yesterday and now I have some V02 max shiete to do on the [running] track. Specifically, 8 x 400m sprints with each lap in the mid 60s. Ouch. I am also coaching girls basketball this fall for my buddshist church here so practice begins in October. Hmm...maybe I should read a book? Nah! Don't tell my dad though! Keep it real knuckleheads! goodnite Canada!

p.s. if you don't already have it, swing on over to iTunes and peep the new Armin Van Buuren CD mirage. I suggest the following songs: Coming Home and Not Giving Up on Love.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

V02 Max interval days on the bike..OUCH!

que pasa amigo!? Those are 4 x 4 minute intervals [probably could have done 5], all of which were done at X > 378 watts, topping out @ 392 watts for 4 minutes. All I gotsta say about that is good laaaaaaaaaaawd that boy likes pain!'s certainly been a hot minute since I've done V02 intervals on the biccicleta but last nights workout called for such a performance. Violent, painful and extreme agony are the words I use to describe last nights pain session. My legs were screaming and it's really humbling to hear your voice breathing so loudly. If my silly NatChamp Scot friend was here he would probably make some doofy comment about my 'running lungs' but I'll save that for another blog post.

This was a very good night for intervalling and while I had the power to eek out one more rep, I figured 4 was enough for now! I am learning not to sacrifice QUALITY over QUANTITY - not that I ever did. At least, that's what she did NOT say! Ahaha! bam! Haven't heard me say that one in a while huh!

On other recent news, I, like all the employees at VegNews, have discovered the beauty that is Diaya 'weegan' cheese! Most 'alternative' cheese you can buy at WholeFoods actually have some milk in it - again, it pays to be a label-reader-er-er-er-er-er! However, daiya is completely soy free, gluten free and cruelty free! And best of all, it melts and tastes like mozzerella [I probably butchered that spelling, ironic given that I'm part eye-talian]. Point is, daiya is now a staple topping for me in my vegan brown rice pasta [along with loads of raw vegan parma and roma tomatoes].

In less exciting news, I had a salad today at this build-your-own-salad bar known as Mix'd Greens. It's essentially a fancy shmancy salad bar catering mainly to overweight single bankers and brainwashed women that a) can't believe it's not butter and b) are slaves to oprah and ellen. This was the first time for me to try and it it will be close to the last. For $9 I got a salad of mixed butter and romaine lettuce along with: grilled portabello mushrooms, avocado, rosemary potatoes, marinated tofu and grilled zucchini. Dare I say it, I can make a better salad that's cheaper from Whole Foods! Nonetheless, if it gets the aforementioned bankers and the aforementioned oprah-watching-chai-tea-guzzling women away from eating at McDonald's I'm all for it...except the fact that there is a McDonald's across the street from the salad joint. FAIL.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Weegan Power Output

To give you a comparison, Bradely Wiggins, a TT specialist can put out 367 watts for an hour long TT. I myself have only done 310 watts for an hour [this ride was 304 watts for the hour]. Ouch....thats demoralizing. Oddly, he and I are equally stick figures with respect to skinniness but he has a good 8-10 kg on me!

So one common misconception among cyclists - especially the ones I keep in contact with - is that vegans lack power because we lack 'animal protein'. Specifically the kind of protein you get when you ingest raw cow, baby goat, and filets of sushi-grade tuna. Now, having indulged in these foods before, I am quite aware of how tasty they are, despite their horrendous effects with respect to animal rights. But before I go off on another veganized rant of all things wrong with the food pyramid and then declair war on America's diet pyramid, let me stop myself now and get into the notion of power. In cycling, the true objective measure of power is wattage - everything is measured in watts. Fortunately for me - and all others owning an SRM - wattage is attainable to all cyclists who are willing to invest in the fancy whizbang gizmo known as an SRM power meter.

So last night, I take the TT biccicletta out for a quiet spin. This was not an all out f*ck-fest of pain and suffering but a very bearable one. I was to keep the heart rate below 170 bpm on the climbing intervals and every 2.5 minutes, attack [on the climb] @ X > 650 watts. Sounds like a lot of fun and really interesting training huh!? So I did just that and was surprised by the output myself. In truth, this is NO WHERE near the big boys of the pro tour. In fact, I'd get dropped from the gruppetto [the struggling group of big legged sprinters that get dropped on the climbs from the light weight skinny kine!]. Then again, the big boys dont get off their bikes and run 13.1 miles huh? ;-)

Nonetheless, I have put on my blog, a YHP running first! Some power output from last nights hour long ride. Nothing especially epic as most of the power was pretty meh with the intervals coming into play every now and again, but it clearly paints one picture: vegan boys got some power. And while the only source of 'animal protein' I get is the occassional bug that flies in my mouth when I'm running / cycling, I am still proud of the output after only 1 year and 2 months being on the bike! Now all I need to do is get the big big legs like Cancellara and then we'll be okay but until then, loads of brown rice and kim chee will have to suffice....
not that I'm complaining mind you! :-)