Sunday, October 30, 2011

Same Race, 8 Years Later

Eight years ago in November of 2003 I did my third triathlon and last weekend, I did the same race.     The Suncoast Triathlon is held at Fort Desoto Park, FL on the Gulf of Mexico (Link to the race site).   
I'll tell you about my first and second triathlons some other time, but my third at Fort Desoto in 2003 is what started me on the current road to fitness, healthier eating, weight loss and endurance sport.  It was fun to return 8 years later and I was accompanied by my kids who braved the chilly morning and got up extra early on a Saturday morning to come see me race.  The Gulf was 69-70 degrees, so I opted for my wetsuit to keep me warm and I feel like a superhero!  Swim times - 2003=10.46, 2011=11.12, but this year they increased the swim distance from 440 yards to 660 yards, so without doing a bunch of math, we'll say I was faster.  Transition was embarrassingly slow due to the extra time to take off my superhero outfit, but I was warm and buoyant, so I'm good with that.

Biking at Fort Desoto can be described in one word...Windy.  Alternating headwinds, crosswinds and thankfully tailwinds made for an inconsistent ride, but on average, my speed was about 20mph.  Not amazing, but I passed a lot of people on the bike and was only passed by tri-studs on really cool bikes, so I'm good with that.  Bike times - 2003=36.06, 2011=29.51.  A good improvement, but considering I did 2003 on my heavy, old, green, beater hybrid bike, it could have been better.   Transition time in 2003 was under 1 minute primarily because of no shoe changing, so tack on 30 seconds to change into my new Newton running shoes.

I felt great on the run and pushed to hold a steady pace the whole way.  About 1/2 mile into the run, I heard heavy breathing and footsteps approaching, but they didn't pass, so I kept pushing.  After about a mile of this, the footsteps went by me on the left and I glanced down at the right calf to see 20...years old that is.  He was either pacing off me, the geiser, or I held him off for over a mile.  In the process of holding him off, I caught and passed a 12 year old girl who was the final leg of a relay team and she was cooking.  It took me over 1.5 miles to reel her in and just about the time I was being passed by Mr. 20, I blew by the 12 year old girl...whew!  She was the picture of efficiency and was really making me work.  Run times - 2003=31.19, 2011=22.17.  Huge improvement for me and a personal best 5k time.  I'm not used to running miles with a 7 in the time, let alone 3 of them in a row, so I'm definitely good with that.  Thank you Newtons.
Overall time 2003=1:21, 2011=1:10 - It was a fun look back and I'm interested to see how things improve as my training becomes more consistent and focused. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Will Work(out) for Donuts

I love donuts!  There, I said it.
Donuts are part of my training and nutrition plan and this should be no surprise to those who know me.
Donuts = Fuel
Donuts = Motivation
Donuts = Yummy Reward


Growing up near Los Angeles in the late 60's, my earliest memory of donuts was of the Helms Bakery truck.  The Helms Bakery trucks slowly roamed the neighborhoods wafting the sweet smells of fresh donuts, cookies, brownies and breads until kids (like me) came running.  It was like the Ice Cream Man, minus the annoying music, but with with donuts.  I distinctly remember the long, wooden drawers filled with glazed donuts that slid open from the back of the truck.  It was genius!  From that point forward, I was hooked.
Next came Winchell's Donut House.  Sometimes on Sunday mornings after church, our family would stop at Winchell's for a sugary treat and my Dad would get a cup of coffee.  I remember leaning against the glass display case to get a better look at what seemed like hundreds of donut options.  When I was in high school, Winchell's correctly assumed that bigger was better and offered huge glazed and twist donuts.  The twist was as over a foot long and the glazed was as big as a trash can lid, minus the handle.  College days and nights saw some Winchell's action as well since they make donuts 7x24.  This only reaffirmed my love of the yeasty treats.

You can't live in Los Angeles without paying homage to Randy's Donuts.  It's near LAX airport and is a SoCal icon.  On a recent visit, I paid my old friend a visit picked up a few for the road.  Yum.  Unfortunately, Randy's no longer sells the Fred-Flintstone-giant-spareribs-tip-over-your-car size as illustrated in the picture.  Too bad.  In Florida, the closest you get to Randy's Donuts is the Rockin' Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios where you get to ride right through the middle.  Sweet!

Now we're living in Florida and Krispy Kreme opened a new store a few years ago equipped with the donut assembly line and glaze waterfall.  You can't help but make a U-turn when you see the "Hot Light" burning red, signifying fresh donuts being made where the wire conveyor belt is caked with icing and crowded with hot glazed happiness.  Unfortunately this nearby store closed, but it is survived by others in Tampa Bay area that carry on the tradition.  RIP local Krispy Kreme.

A recent addition to the local donut repertoire is Nicolas.  Nicolas makes great donuts, don't get me wrong, but they drive me crazy with their approach.  They make a limited number of donuts and often sell out...a fact that they seem proud of.  The cinnamon twirl is excellent, but you have to get there early or place a special order to guarantee satisfaction.  Donut frustration!

I even tried my hand a making homemade raised donuts.  It took a few hours, was slightly messy, but was totally worth it.  I'll continue to motivate myself with the promise of a donut reward and re-fuel after a long workout with a carb-tastic, sugary donut and a glass of milk.  Donuts are like a sweet training partner who keeps you going when times get tough and is there to celebrate your hard fought victories.  Thanks for being there donut friend.  Now let's get down to business...nom, nom, nom.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Slowest Guy in the Pool...for now

I started swimming with the Masters group twice a week at the Bob Sierra YMCA and I'm officially the slowest guy in the pool. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I'm just stating the cold, wet facts. Most of the group are members of the local T3 Tampa Tri Team triathlon club and have been doing these workouts all season long, while I just started. I'm getting back into a regular training routine and I know I need to build up my swimming endurance and work on technique, so this is perfect for me.

In the first workout I attended, I was working hard to keep up and though I didn't realize it at the time, the coach cut out 600 yards of my workout so I would finish around the same time as everyone else.  2,700 yards in an hour was pretty good for me.

In the second workout, I only missed one repetition of 6 sets and I was thankful that we ran out of time. After a bunch of other laps, we swam 75 yards, jumped out of the pool, did 10 push ups, swam 50 more yards, did 10 more push ups and then did an easy 25. On alternate sets, we did 5 jump squats instead of push ups and by the end, it was all I could do to haul my body out of the pool and flop on the deck before beginning the push ups or squats.

On the third workout, I actually finished everything the coach handed out. Thank goodness for timed intervals that allowed me to catch up before the next set started. I got less rest than my lane mate, but at least I could catch up. This workout was more focused on endurance with 4 x 200's, 3 x 300's and a timed 500 at the end of the hour long workout. I finished the swim hungry and tired, but that's a good thing. I'm thankful for the supportive coach and the faster swimmers who are making me work harder to keep up. I'm sore, but happy with the results.  For now, I'm the slowest guy in the pool and I'm OK with that.  I'll keep coming back.

Also, because the swim workout starts so early I have time for a quick run after the swim.  This has been a great way to test out my new Newton running shoes, but that's another story.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ironman LP Journey - Accommodations...Check

Finding a place to stay in Lake Placid is a breeze if...

  1. You start looking the day after you register (ideally in Lake Placid since you would be there volunteering or racing, which I was not!)
  2. You plan to stay for 7 nights (eek, I only really need 4)
  3. You have a truckload of money ($3,500+...mere pocket change...NOT!)
While my experience was not a breeze, I'm pleased to report that after much emailing, phone calling and searching, I can check this off the long list of things to do before next July.  We'll be staying at "Grammie's House", about 5 minutes walk to the swim start and transition area, under the care of the home's 84 year old owner, Harriet.
Grammie's House Exterior
Grammie's Kitchen

Grammie's House only requires a 5 night stay and is over 4 1/2 times less expensive (you do the math)  and to top it off, Harriet is a sweetheart.  We had a great phone conversation and she told me about living in Lake Placid and how it's a beautiful place regardless of the season.  She told me about how she takes daily walks on a nearby trail and how tropical storm Lee washed out a number or roads in the Lake Placid area and she's hoping they are repaired soon.  We're looking forward to staying at "Grammie's House" and meeting our kind hostess Harriet in July.

Next up...Transportation.
We're thinking of taking the Amtrak Auto Train from Orlando, FL to Lorton, VA and doing some sightseeing on our way to Lake Placid, NY.  Sounds like a family vacation is taking shape.  Very exciting.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Journey Begins - Ironman Lake Placid - 2012

My master plan was to volunteer at the 2011 race to ensure my priority registration for the 2012 Ironman race in Lake Placid, NY, but it didn't turn out according to plan.

My flight to Albany and subsequent volunteering at the race were scrubbed at the last minute due to a little detour to the ER and a short stay in the hospital in the week prior to the race.  I'm doing much better now, but I was not ready to jump on a plane and be away from family and physicians without a little more time to recover.

The good news is that I was still able to register on-line for the 2012 race and providing the doctors are OK with it, I'll be training for and racing in my first Ironman race in July of 2012.

More to come...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Unintended Epic Bike Ride

I set out from my house at 5:40am on Saturday, July 2, 2011 for a long bike ride.  I was thinking 50-60 miles up the Suncoast trail.  I returned at 1:30pm from a ride with 6 new friends who let me tag along on their annual "Century Ride" which included about 40 miles in the hills of San Antonio, FL.  It was a great ride to celebrate the start of the Tour de France and my upcoming trip to Lake Placid to volunteer at the Ironman race.

My early morning riding partners were Kevin, Steve, Felix, Shawn, Gary and Angelo. Kevin knew the routes best and was the leader for the adventure.  Gary indicted that we'd be riding the "full hondo" and I was welcome to join in.  The pace was great and I was up for an adventure.  We made our way up the bike trail and turned off the trail after 20 miles to head into the hills of San Antonio.  Fortunately it was slightly overcast, almost foggy, but that didn't make the hills any less steep.  San Ann is known by cyclists and triathletes in the flat lands of central Florida as a great place to ride the hills and we did that day.  I learned about places like Happy Hill Road and the Three Sisters; a challenging set of three hills with a small flat spot between each and the word "Whew!" spray painted on the asphalt at the top.  There is a map available of the San Ann routes (, but I didn't have a copy, so I just followed along with my new riding partners and did my best to keep up.

I also learned that Kevin has been hosting another ride in Florida for the last 20 years.  It's known as the Coast 2 Coast Cross Florida Bike Ride (  Looks like a fun way to explore the back roads of Florida starting in Ormond Beach on the east coast and ending in Tarpon Springs on the Gulf of Mexico.  Kevin was a great leader on our ride and I can see now that he's had plenty of practice.  Check out the C2C ride for yourself.

At one point in the ride, Steve and I stopped at the local Quik Mart for some refreshments.  I couldn't resist the huge Drumstick ice cream and fought to eat it before it melted in the ever warming day.  It turned out to be pretty good fuel for the rest of the trip and sure beat anything I was carrying with me.

There was only one flat tire on the trip and it did heat up on the last 3rd of the ride, but it never got too hot.  The conversation was great as I learned a bit about everyone and was taken into this very generous group of riders.  The cycling and triathlon community in our area is full of great people and I'm so pleased that I was able to join this group for the day, make some new cycling friends and ride my longest bike ride ever; 112 miles.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ironman Lake Placid - I'm Coming to See You!

Jill, a triathlete and friend of mine, twisted my arm a little and convinced me to volunteer at the 2011 Lake Placid Ironman triathlon race.  We're volunteering on the bike course at about 10am so we should have plenty of time to see the start of the race and watch the front of the pack get through T1 and out onto the bike.  The scenery is beautiful and the course runs in and around the Olympic village, complete with the towering ski jumps. 

Take a look at the official web site:

There is a method to the madness.  Volunteers are given preferential registration to the 2012 race, so if I don't chicken out, or forget my wallet, I'll set the wheels in motion for my first Ironman triathlon. 

I'll keep you posted as the journey begins.