Monday, March 31, 2008

Mercer Island Loop ride

I think I made up for a weak training week this weekend. On Friday, I got off work on Friday, hit the ProClub and did my swim homework then I did some interval training on the treadmill. I decided to go out on Friday night and because of this, I could not wake up for the Saturday cycling workout (oops). Instead I went for a run. I ran 4 miles before my feet started to hurt. I got these new orthodics and the arch was hurting my feet so I stopped.

On Sunday, I decided to do a Cascade Training Series (CTS) ride. We met at Magnuson park and when I got there we were put into speed groups and marked with colored ribbons. Since I am new to cycling I went with the slow RED group 12-14 mph.
I took my bike out on the Burke last weekend and had a really good time. This made me a little over confident. The Burke is a really easy ride, there are no hills, no traffic, and the road is nicely paved.
I got a big reality check yesturday - I was not ready for this ride but I finished it. But boy did I learn a great deal. It was 68km of hard work according to my bike computer and I am still really sore from the ride.
When I arrived there was a pretty large group of bikers on site. At the front there was a table for signing in as well as a bunch of organizers for the ride. Each color group had 3 ride leaders, one to lead the pack, one in the middle and one at the end. I was a little worried as I had never been out on a real road before, biked in a big group of people, nor did I know how to change a flat.
The ride leader took the RED group out, there was about 15 of us. The start of the ride took us through various neighbourhoods, thus there was a lot of stopping and going. It was grey outside, but there were still a handful of other riders on the road. Some were really geared up and looked like they stepped out of the movie Tron.
I'm not really comfortable on my bike yet. I find that I need my pedal to be at 3 o'clock on my right side or else I can't get started quickly. Also, stopping after you have come down a really steep hill is difficult and starting on a hill is hard too.
We went over I90 bridge on the way over and back. It was really, really fun. One thing about that portion of the ride is it is really windy and noisy from all the cars but the view was quite nice.
We didn't hit any hills until Mercer Island. There were some rollers, some really curvy snake like roads where we were told a lot of bikers wipe out on and big hills. One of the hills was so steep I had to get off my bike and walk it. Towards the end of the ride, there was this steep hill we had to go down and I could not slow down in time and almost ran into a car! Luckily they slowed down and stopped.
Just before we got back, ride leader Mitch got a flat. But that time, the entire group had separated into various smaller groups. So I he showed me how to patch up a tire. Then he got another flat. Then he showed me how to replace the tube of the tire.
When we got back to Magnuson park, Mitch told me to go practice a few times before our next ride at Marymoor park next Sunday. It will be a 43 mile ride and very hilly. He also told me to get clipless pedals and another water bottle.
To sum up this ride, I thought it was really fun. It took us over 3 hours though! I was so exhausted. I did not expect it to be so scary. I was so tense and probably tired myself even more because of it. One of my biggest fears has always been going too fast. But when you are riding in a group and don't know the way back you have to keep up. I slam on the brakes way more than I should, but I'd rather be safe then sorry.
Things to work on this week: hills and clipless pedals

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hectic past couple of weeks

Man, what a stressful past couple weeks it has been at work and I have yet to file my taxes! We're so behind schedule right now and the pressure is on. It has been a while since I have been so busy, and when things are steaming in the office, I find that at the end of the day, I don't have a lot to give to my training. This week, I did manage to workout every day, but not so hard - just enough to destress me which is really what I need right now. I swam a couple times, did an indoor cycling class, did some weights. I better make up for it this this weekend. So I will try to get out of work early to workout - I normally don't work out on Fridays. Then tomorrow we have indoor cycling which I should follow up with another run. Then Sunday I will pray that the weather is nice enough for me to go for a bike ride else I will do a swim workout.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Beijing Olympics

So I just realized that the Danskin is around the same time as the Olympics. Which means, that I will have to fly back for it or skip it. Since every new triathlete should do the Danskin, I'd rather not miss it.

I started to research the logics of flying to Beijing for the Summer Olympics. It would definitely be the most amazing cultural experience of my life. I doubt that in my lifetime the Olympics would ever go back to China - the country of my ancestors. I have several friends living in Beijing that I could crash with. Unfortunately, they tell me that I might have to scalp for event tickets. The events that I would love to see are: Gymnastics, diving, swimming, badminton, track and triathlon of course!

Simon Whitfield of Canada won the first ever triathlon event held at the Olympics in Syndey 2000. I remember watching this on TV, it was so inspiring!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A little frustrated today

So today was the start of a new swim session and Coach Michael is back from vacation - yeah! Unfortunately, while he was gone my form was left unchecked and I have this funky thing going with my pull. My right arm starts sinking too low when I breathe from the left side. This is because my left arm is already coming up to pull as I breathe when I should be holding it to my side, breathe, then pull. I'm a little frustrated because I had been practicing these past few weeks with the wrong technique and I don't know why Eric didn't notice it. Coach Michael had to look at me swim for a bit to figure out what was going on. But, on a positive note, Coach Michael said, "You've improved in 3 weeks. I don't know what you have been doing or if you have been doing anything."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Getting use to the smell of "Perfume de Pool"

I am so happy that I took advantage of the beautiful sunny weather on Saturday by going on my first bike ride in 15 years! I know, I am long over due! I biked the North part of the Burke and Lake Sammamish River trail. According to my bike computer I put in 30 km which is not bad. The trail is relatively flat and I was able to get up to 30km/h on a flat (18.6 miles/h) but I was not using my hardest gear. Over the next few weeks I would like to improve my speed - I think some thing closer to 20 miles/h on a flat would be better. The night before my ride, I realized that my tires needed more air, so I took my bike pump out of the packaging. It turns out the valve on a road bike is different than on a mountain bike. Anyways, I first tried with my portable air pump and had no idea how to use it. The end didn't match up with the valve on my tire. So I went to my full size air pump that has a pressure gauge - which I have no idea how to use by the way. Anyways, I was able to fill my tires with the full size pump. Then I proceeded to fiddle with my portable pump some more and ended up bending the valve on my tire (frustration!). So now it's really hard to fill the front tire now :(

The ride was so amazing! I can't believe how good my bike feels, Gregg's did an awesome job fitting me because I didn't have any pain the next day - which is a good sign in my opinion. Also, I had expected the ride to be difficult but the carbon fiber seat post in combination with my women specially designed seat and gel seat cover absorbed all the vibration. The only issue I had was that I ended up dehydrating myself a bit because I didn't know how to pull the water bottle from my bike while riding.

I ended my weekend with a swim workout today. No matter how hard I clean, I smell of chlorine. So I normally run on Sundays, but I don't like running in the rain and cold - I seem to have lost my Canadian edge. When I was younger, I had to walk to school every day in 40 below weather. That's minus 40 degrees celcius people!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Triathlon $tartup costs

So for all your folks interested in doing triathlon, let me just say that it does not come cheap.

PSCTC membership fee: $500
New Trek Roadie: $700+ (and this was on sale!)
Helmet, bike pump, bike trainer, shoes, bike computer, spare parts: $400
Swim suit, fins, trisuit, googles, swim cap: $200
Nike running shoes, iPod running adaptor, fuel belt, heart rate monitor: $200
USA Triathlon membership: $40
Triathlon swim classes: $120
Entry fees for 5 triathlons: ~$350

The feeling of accomplishment you get crossing the finish line: PRICELESS

For everything else, there's Mastercard :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Update on the Seattle Danskin Tri

So a while back, the Seattle Danskin triathlon had their registration open and it filled up really quickly. I ended up having to mail in my registration that day because online registration had closed. And I had to somehow locate a registration form online because they had removed access to that as well. Anyways, I just noticed that my credit card has been charged for the $85 entry fee but I don't have any email confirmation. I'm hoping that they will send me something via mail then. Anyways, I'm so excited that they accepted my registration because technically I was late submitting in my application.

UPDATE: It turns out that you can look up your confirmation online and I see my name on the list. Woohoo!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My killer swim workout

Oh my God, I had the most awesome swim workout tonight! Well, the most awesome thus far.

1 x 50 swim with fins
1 x 50 single arm with fins
1 x 50 catch up with fins
1 x 50 swim with fins
1 x 50 swim with buoy
1 x 50 kick on back with fins
1 x 50 kick with no fins
15 x 50 swim with no fins <-- Yes! 15 continuous laps with no fins free style!
1 x 50 kick with no fins

That's 23 laps total! Now I am ready to take on Whistler and a bowl of vanilla ice cream, yum!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Heart rate monitor

I've been fighting the worst cold ever! It totally whoop my butt. Still not over it and it has almost been 1 week. Tomorrow I have swim class, I better take a lot of antihistamines.

So I just traded in my Movado for a heart rate monitor. Perhaps I should rename my blog to "from yuppie to triathlete."

One thing I like about this model is the lack of chest strap. You place two fingers on the sensors, wait a few seconds and voila...instant heart rate! However the downside is you cannot get a constant heart rate - but I would rather have the convienence of not having to wear a strap.

My new resting heart rate is: 57 beats per minute according to this watch. Thus my target heart rates are:

Based on an age of 29 and using the formula 211 - Age/2
Maximum Heart Rate (Calculated) = 196.5

100% 196.5
95% 186.7
90% 176.8
85% 167.0
80% 157.2
75% 147.4
70% 137.5
65% 127.7
60% 117.9
55% 108.1

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sorry, gotta run!

Last night, I developed a way to use triathlon as an excuse to get away from unwanted attention.

A friend had a massive birthday party and it was full of new faces. She is what most people would regard as a Seattle socialite and there's always something to do when she has your name in her rolodex.

Older Man: "So, I hear you organize hiking trips. Can I give you my business card so that you can add me to your email list?"

Angela's interpretation: Here's my business card, can I get your contact information? Pretty clever...I take his business card, look at it and he turns out to be the owner/president of some real estate development company.

Angela: "So you're a real estate developer. I was looking for a place around Green Lake so that I can run around the lake every morning."

Older Man: "What kind of place were you looking for? I just purchased some property at Bridal Trails, I will be building a 5000 square foot home there. I need a lot of space so that I can throw these lavish parties."

Angela: "Wow, that's a really beautiful area. And a really large home."

Older Man: "Yes, I have that place all to myself. I feel very comfortable being single. I didn't feel like that when I was younger though. So right now, I spend a lot of my free time on my sail boat. What type of guy do you like?"

Angela's interpretation: I'm available are you? Am I your type? I'm rich and very well established.

Older Man: "That's a really nice handbag, my ex-girlfriend has about thirty thousand dollars of handbags in her closet. I bought a Louis Vuitton handbag for a friend and couldn't believe it, it was $2000."

Angela's interpretation: I can get a woman if I want. And I can afford to buy you a lot of bling. Be mine!

Angela: "Oh I think the group wants to settle the check."

Older Man: "Are you going to Lucky Strike afterwards? Let me pay for your meal, you're really cool."

Angela's interpretation: Give me a sign that you are interested.
Sorry buddy, you're about to strike out. I'm not interested in you or your money. What a loser...

Angela: "No, I'm going for a run early tomorrow morning. Training to do my first triathlon. It's hard work you know. Sorry gotta run!"

Friday, March 7, 2008

Issaquah Tri

I just joined USAT (USA Triathlon) and signed up for the Issaquah triathlon - which is in 12 weeks! I better practice my swimming some more - make that a lot more.

Anyways, so the PRO Sports Club Triathletes team has a gender distribution unlike anything I have seen. It's kinda surreal to be surounded by so many women because most things in my academic and worklife are male dominated. So you would think that ProClub being mostly a Microsoft fitness club that the team would be prodominently men. The ratio of men to women at Microsoft is 4:1 and the ratio of men to women in Engineering disciplines is around 10:1. But believe or not, there are actually way more women then men on the team. I brought up this fact over lunch today with my pretty much all single male development team:

Angela: "Hey guys, you know there are a lot of women on the PSCT team. I think the ratio is like 75% women....and they are all pretty fit."

The table goes silent, they all look at me....

Male developer: "Geez, there must be an easier way to meet women than having to do triathlons."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I am shrinking

Well, I have been training for 1 month now and all that work has noticeably improved my endurance and fitness. My doctor weighed me today and I lost 5 pounds last month which puts me just under 120 pounds now. I think it was all that swimming that did it. This really demonstrates how turning up the intensity of your workouts can really help with sheding those pounds. I have a feeling that my weight will continue to drop as I build my endurance. Here are some important tips to maintain a healthy waistline, at least this is what works for me.

1) Exercise regularily: I should mention that your workouts should be pretty intense.
2) Eat 5-6 times a day:
Here what I typically eat in a day:
- Breakfast: cereal with soy milk (don't skip this meal)
- Lunch: grilled turkey breast with vegetables
- Snack: 1 low calorie granola bar
- Dinner: pasta with tomato sauce or grilled salmon with rice and salad
- Snack: 1 Apple or sometimes I have a small bowl of ice cream
3) No excuses: Don't skip your workouts, just do it!
4) Workout in the morning: If you can get up early, workout. I think it gets your metabolism going stronger for the rest of the day.
5) Eat plenty of carbs: If you are going to have a really hard workout, eat a lot of carbs the night before. I get so much more gas in the tank.
6) Don't drink your calories: I stick with very low calorie beverages. No soda (diet is OK), no beer, I even drink light OJ.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Funky goo

So triathletes doing long distances need to fuel. One commonly prefered method of refueling is known as "goo" - aka Hammer Gel. After my workout tonight, I decided to sample one of these mysterious packages that was gifted to us by our coaching staff. Let me just say that although it didn't taste too bad, the texture was a little funky - thick, gooey and sticky. Let's just say that it reminds me of something I would rather not swallow.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Keep on running...

I didn't do any cycling this week as I found myself in the pool 4 times. I'm still trying to "find" myself in the water. This leg is definitely my weakest link, but I do enjoy the challenge - not to mention the workout! Coach Michael has been really great at reteaching me how to swim and I am very greatful for that. Definitely a really great coach.

On another note, this morning I went for a run around Green Lake and I timed myself -28:30. It's slow, but it's a start. It felt awesome and I actually contemplated doing a second loop but I remember that I had overtrained a few months ago and found myself getting PT on my knees. I want to make Sunday runs a regular routine from now on. Last week was my first time running around the lake, and I think I started off too fast - around 8 min/mile pace. I found myself out of breath several times and had to walk it out. One thing I have noticed is without some sort of device, it's really hard for me to figure out how fast I am going. Then I remembered that I had purchased a Nike + iPod running device. Bascially, there is a sensor that goes into your Nike running shoes (you need to get a specific pair of shoe that has a socket for the sensor) and there is a wireless adaptor that plugs into your iPod Nano. The data is logged after each run and it keeps track of your stats.

Place the sensor in your left Nike+ shoe, in the built-in pocket beneath the insole.

Attach the receiver to your iPod nano.

Hit the ground running with workout-based voice feedback.

I must say, that I really like my Nike Air Equalon running shoes over my New Balance shoes. The Nikes absorb shock so well and they are so much lighter, although my New Balance offer a lot more stability.