Sunday, January 31, 2010

Swim Analysis with Lance Leo of Studio 7 Multisport

I became a swimmer 5 days ago. I have been moving through the water in a swim-like manner for only 6 months. However, I became a swimmer 5 days ago. I am super stoked about what happened during my swim analysis! Except I just don’t get it!! I have had formal instruction in swimming for 5 months, yet my stroke just did not feel “right”. Last month, I didn’t renew my instruction with the unmentioned company because something just didn’t feel right in my stroke and I was getting any answers.

Let me preface this next paragraph by saying, there is a HUGE difference in recreational swimming and endurance swimming. What I learned was that this instruction I was receiving was focused more on recreational/fitness swimming than endurance swimming. Therefore, I wasn’t getting detailed instruction on how to improve my stroke because it was “good enough.” I have had lessons at two different teaching facilities and learned the basics; i.e. move your hands like this; move your feet like this: go! I will tell you that I could have saved a WHOLE lot of money if I had a swim analysis with Lance six weeks ago when I started training!

My session with Lance Leo was $85. That includes the video taping, the actual analysis, and drills to help you focus on correcting your errors. My last swim instruction was an 8 week session for $120; one hour session, one day a week for a total of 8 hours. I honestly learned more about swimming in that 90 minutes session than I learned in two months of going to that 1 hour class! Ugh! Not to mention travel time and gas! I was driving across town for these lessons! (Lance lives live 15 minutes from me).

The video will speak for itself. In me session, we cut my stroke count in half! I am using half the energy cost to swim the same length of the pool. More importantly, I know what I am doing right and wrong. Knowledge is power because not only am I aware of my errors, I now know how to correct them. My swimming, in 90 minutes, became more efficient, smoother, and sustainable.

I did my swim workout that evening and was so excited at how much faster and balanced I felt in the water. The best part of this swim analysis was not cutting the stroke count in half. It wasn’t even that I was gliding more and feeling faster. Those things are all arguably extremely important. To me, the best part, however, of the analysis was I AM more confident in the water! Wow, that’s huge! My first Half Ironman is in about 10 weeks. Ten weeks out and I was still a little apprehensive about swim; not anymore! After my analysis, I was more confident in my abilities as a swimmer and to improve as a swimmer.

If you are in Charlotte, NC or the surrounding area, I would totally recommend Lance Leo as a coach! If you are content with training on your own, what do you have to lose by at least stopping by to have a swim analysis done other than time! If you are not in the Charlotte Area and training for a triathlon, please look up your local triathlon/multisport coach that can video tape your swim for analysis. It is a great tool.

OK HERE IT IS THE SWIM ANALYSIS: let me just say I don’t have the perfect stroke but it has gotten so much better than what is was! We joked that my previous stroke looked like I was playing Twister in the pool because it looked so awkward :)

Note: I did not receive any compensation, financial or otherwise, to enter this blog. I am extremely excited about my results and want my fellow brother and sister triathletes to be aware of this training tool. Next up: Bike and Run analysis prior to New Orleans 70.3.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Riding Aero for the First Time and Buying the Blue Seventy Helix

Praises to God! Isn’t it better to say that when things aren’t going our way! When things don’t go the way we have to know (trust) that it is God’s Will and Praise Him for it! I have to update a few things that have been going on. I hope to do these topics justice. It is my intent to update the events as they happen but we know that Life happens.

I calculated that I have 90 minutes of free time a night during the work week. Not that I am complaining, but it doesn’t leave a lot of time for the blog. I usually spend that time looking at something Ironman. Although, lately I have actually been living outside of Ironman videos. I actually caught some real movies!

So let’s back up to about a week ago. I did an 8 mile run and then went to the Original Pancake House (best pancakes in Charlotte!). While there I decided I wanted to go to Inside Out Sports with Kristi. This was completely unplanned; on a whim which is how I roll! Lol I have no problems being spontaneous! Actually, I feel like I have more control when I do things spontaneously than when I try to plan it out; but I digress. So, we go there with the intent of just letting me test ride the Cervelo P2. I wanted to do this mainly because I have never ridden a bike in Aero Plus I wanted to see what the P2 was about.

It was an awesome ride! After about 30 seconds in the seat I got the courage to ride aero! It was so comfortable. A lot more comfortable than riding Aero on my clip on aero bars I have on my Cervelo R3 road bike. This is due to the geometry of the bike. There is a huge, huge difference riding the clip on aero bars on a road bike and riding aero on a triathlon bike. This is mostly due to the different geometry of the road bike vs. a triathlon bike.

We go to the store with the intent of just test riding this road bike. Ahhh but we stumbled onto a huge wetsuit sell! Inside Out Sports is one of two triathlon specific stores in Charlotte. Having said that, they are the only triathlon store that carries Blue Seventy wetsuits. I have had my eye on the Blue Seventy Helix for some time now. It has done extremely well in reviews! It is certainly a high-end wetsuit with a high-end price tag at about $600! Because it’s the end of the year and they need to make room for the 2010 models, they had these suits on sell for 40% off! That was insane!

They had one my size so I tried it on. It was actually the last one in my size too. This was also my first time in a wetsuit. Wanna talk about feeling the part (feeling like a triathlete). The best part was the size of the wetsuit I am wearing. MEDIUM! That’s just awesome! Look at the pictures below (previous blogs posts in January) and you will know why I am saying that.

After some thinking, I decided I could not let this deal go. So guess who went home with a Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit! Praise God for putting it in me to go to this store and providing what I needed to be able to purchase this suit. Not only was it my first time in a wetsuit, it was also my first time riding a triathlon bike in the aero position. It was truly a great day of firsts. I gotta tell you, Inside Out Sports is a smaller store than Try Sports. That actually works as a plus for them. It’s a little more intimate. When you walk into that store it just feels like a mom and pop store. Even though their franchise is HUGE! They have sponsored Ironman Kona up until recently. Any who, I am excited about the wetsuit and extremely excited about riding the P2.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Starting Does Not Equate Finshing...Make It Count!

Last night I was on the trainer for about 90 minutes. It was an awesome workout! I got off the bike and ran about 2 miles. I was supposed to do 4 but my new shoes are flipping killing me! I hope I don’t have to buy a new pair! Any who, during the trainer session, I watched Kona 2009. The last 30 minutes of my trainer ride I watched the same 6 min 33 seconds of Kona 2009 over, and over, and over. It is near the end where they show people NOT making it. It showed the reality of Ironman; not everyone that toes the line will cross the finish.

I wondered what went wrong in their race that caused them not to finish. I wondered if they trained hard enough. Watching this video made me train harder! You can see how real the pain was they were facing! It wasn’t that these people didn’t have the will. You could see they were pushing through the pain until finally their body just could not go any further.

I was reminded of an article I read on It starts, “Experience is a harsh teacher -- she gives the test before she gives the lesson - and once in a while we need a reminder that toeing the start line at Ironman isn't an automatic ticket to a lifetime of bragging rights.” Sometimes I need to be reminded of this harsh reality. It keeps me from going into a training session unmotivated and not giving my best effort. I don’t want to be “that guy.” Unfortunately, there are no guarantees and the truth is…maybe I will be that guy. If I am, I want to know that during my training I gave it all I had and I didn’t balk and my training.

I am reminded to make every stroke, every pedal, every step count! I have about three months until my first test! Ironman 70.3 New Orleans. I feel I will be ready when that time comes! It still cracks me up that I just learned how to swim in August yet I have the courage to do an Ironman in April! That’s a God thing!

Monday, January 18, 2010

That's what friends are for

Why do people quit?! Because it is easier than not quitting? Or, is it because we lose focus? Forget what we are doing and why we are doing it? This is a journey of a thousand miles (literally if you add all the miles of swimming cycling and running over the course of this training). Every time I train I enjoy it! It’s like practicing for a huge show! Instead of training for an Ironman, I am practicing for it (reference to the book Chi Running). Let me make it clear, I have no intention of quitting. I am just going to acknowledge for a second that this training is demanding yet fun! Long, yet desirable. More important, it gives me an opportunity to share my faith and why I am training for this event.

I forgot about that! Lost focus for a brief second! And in that moment, I learned why we need friends. Gary is someone I have studied the Bible with, well since I’ve studied the Bible (8 months). He is undoubtedly a friend and reminded me what friends are for. I was at church this past Sunday and didn’t realize I have was venting to him about the training and how challenging it is! How uncertain I am about being able to complete this (some days I know I can do it…some days I don’t feel so sure). He emailed me just a few minutes ago with a Bible verse I have heard numerous times! Somehow though, it slipped my mind and I needed to be reminded. And THAT’s what friends are for!

“1: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3: Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

How easy it is, when times get tough, to feel like we are alone. Sometimes, it takes a friend to remind you, me, us…we are NEVER alone! Thanks for the reminder Gary!

Thank You Father for your Son, Your grace, and Your love!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Remembering the past...Dreaming of the Finish

When was the last time you can say you woke up every morning with the same thought in your head? Have you ever? I have. The first time I can remember waking up every day with the same thought in my head was when I was actively drinking. Every single day, EVERY single DAY I woke up with that thought in my head! I couldn’t wait to get home from work to drink a couple bottles of wine.

Now, I wake up every day dreaming of being an Ironman. It isn’t easy some days. There is a lot to sacrifice. Fortunately, I am learning to prioritize. My priorities won’t seem fair to someone on the outside looking in. But someone on the inside looking out…totally gets what this journey is all about! Walking with Christ, raising money for the orphanage, and quieting those damn demons.

Those damn demons…the ones that told me, “No one will love you…take a drink.” “You will never be successful...Here, take a drink my friend.” “Why are you still alive?!...Hell, but while you are here, take another drink. Why the F*@ck not?!” I still hear them except they are whispers now. They tell me I have lost my mind trying to become an Ironman. Maybe I have. But, I think that every person that has crossed the Ironman finish line has lost their mind to even attempt such a task! It is nice to know on the starting line I will be amongst friends!

My mom sent me a picture of me when I was at my top weight! 232lbs. It was 4 years and 52lbs ago (+/- 3lb). It was 2 years of recovery ago. It was 8 months of being a Christian ago. When I saw that person... yes, I saw the weight. It didn’t look like me. It didn’t feel like me. I know it’s because the person in that picture is not ME. It is not the person I am today. Yet, I could see those demons in his eyes. I could feel the pain, the hurt, the disappointment I felt during this time in my life. It was an eye opener.

The Ironman is more than just an endurance event. It is more of a spiritual journey to find out who you/I really am. I am spending the next 300 plus days looking forward to confronting that person in the picture. It will end when I hear those words… “You are an IRONMAN!”

Friday, January 8, 2010

I am a Fan of Chrissie Wellington

“…extract every ounce of strength, energy, passion and fire from my mind and body from beginning to end. That is all I, and every athlete, can ask of themselves.” -Chrissie Wellington.”

I will be honest. I am not one to drool over an athlete because they are the champion or because they are the best in their sport; that is superficial. I often try to find out what they are like behind their fame. It is, therefore, no surprise, why I have to say I am a fan of Chrissie Wellingtons. Not because she is a three-time Ironman World Champion because there will be a time when she is not. I am a fan because of what she brings to the sport of triathlon. I read her blog and have watched her interviews and if there were one triathlete I would ever want to meet, it would be her.

Wellington rolling after her 2008 win in KONA

After breaking the 17-year Kona World Record, she Honor Rolled for Jon Blais. Instead of being wrapped up in her own accomplishment, breaking a 17 year world record at Kona in 2009, she made the win about something bigger than herself! She is an amazing triathlete. KP, can we meet her :) ? Another reason she is a favorite is because she seemingly doesn’t get wrapped up in winning in triathlon. She goes out to do HER best and not necessarily to BEAT the competition. She doesn’t judge herself by what others are doing. She just wants to know she did her best. This is something I struggle with a lot! Doing my best just doesn’t seem to be enough. I ask myself how do I know I did my best. This is what motivates Chrissie:

“…I am motivated by that little something inside. That stubborn streak that will not rest until I know I have fulfilled my potential and been the best that I can be. Most importantly though, there is the platform for change. This drives me every single day. To be able to roll for Jon Blais, to meet so many great people, to raise awareness, to give interviews and speak about things that I am passionate about…” -Wellington

It’s not for money; it’s not for fame; it is for things greater than triathlon. She uses her fame to create change. Any person that can make any sport greater than themselves and the sport itself, in my opinion, is a top tier athlete!

Chrissie, thanks for inspiring us, the age grouper, there mere mortal competitor that will never see a podium, to compete against ourselves in triathlon. Not for podium slots, but for our passion. For things that are bigger than us. You are a true inspiration. A title, few people truly earn and deserve.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Summary of Week Three

I am trying to document my journey as often with as much detail as possible. However, with working 10 plus hour days and training, I barely have a moment. Last week was the base line testing phase of my training. I did several tests that would give my coach an idea of where I am. Last Thursday, my local YMCA was closed and I had to travel to the Dowd YMCA. It boasts it’s the largest YMCA in the Carolinas. I chose this Y because they advertised they had a cold water pool and it as the closest YMCA, I thought, to my home.

So, off I travel excited about the cold water pool. I swim, on occasion at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center (MAC or “mack”) and their pools are unheated. Typically when I swim there I have awesome swims; likely because of the cooler water temperature. I decided against swimming at the MAC because I had strength training following the swim. Therefore, the Dowd it was.

I changed out and made my way to the pool. Just on observation I knew which pool was the cold water pool and which was heated. The heated pool was absolutely crowded while the cold-water pool had only a few people. I felt like this YMCA was the epicenter of triathletes in Charlotte. The guys swimming here did not have the build of swimmers i.e. long thin bodies. These guys were ripped; talk about feeling out of place! Geesh! I could also overhear these guys talking about triathlon training.

The cold water pool was also 9 feet deep which was awesome. I was looking forward to jumping in deep water without panicking. It would be the first time for me to jump in deep water with out being terrified about how far from safety I was. So, I excitedly jump in!! Man was the water cold. Not only cold it was FREEZING! I thought I would get some warm-up laps in and swam two hundred yards. I could barely put together a hundred yards. It was awful. Then I saw the temperature of the pool. 74 degrees! Even in triathlon you can wear a wetsuit at 74 degrees. I tried my hardest just to put a couple of laps together and it was just not working for me.

I reluctantly went over to the warm pool. After being in the 74 degree water, the 84 degree water felt like a hot tube. I put in a hundred yards there and I was done. My spirit and body was just broken on this day. Needless to say, there was no strength training following this swim; just a horrible drive home. This swim set me back mentally because I became inundated with the “what if’s”. What if New Orleans 70.3 swim is this cold? What if, what if, what if? I just beat myself up all the way home. The next day I had given myself some positive affirmations. “The swim in NO wont be as unpleasant as the cold water pool. I will have a wetsuit. I will have improved buoyancy. I can draft.” I don’t know if this is true considering I have never swum in a wetsuit but this is what I told myself.

Two days later, I decided to have “take 2” for the Critical Swim Speed test which consisted of a warm-up and the actual test. This time around I decided to go to the Jewish Community Center to use their pool. The test was approximately half the distance of the Half Ironman Swim. It took about 20 minutes to conduct this test. This, in my opinion, is not that great. It’s a really slow swim. Considering I just learned how to swim a few months ago, I am excited about it! Why, because it’s passing! Lol. My Ironman goal is to swim 2.4 miles in 1hr 20mins. Matt Hoover (the Biggest Loser contestant) swam Kona Ironman in 1:30. I think 1:20 is a reasonable goal. Judging by this time, I am on pace for my goal.

The hardest part, for me, about swimming distance is learning how to pace myself (among other things). It took years to know what my running pace is. Now I instinctively know running pace and can run it on any given Sunday. Swimming is very new and unfamiliar so finding “my” pace is going to be a challenge. Needless to say, I am still very, very concerned about the swimming. My next step is to get a swim technique analysis. Gotta find some overtime quick! I just don’t know how I will find time to ever work it.

The testing also included a 3 mile run test. It was conducted on a treadmill and included a 2 mile warm-up with some intervals. This was followed by the actual test; a 3 mile run. I ran a nine minute mile for 4 miles on a treadmill not so long ago so I felt confident I could do the run at an 8:30 pace. Now I’m not a fast guy so that is smoking fast for me.


"We may see some records broken today"

While performing the warm-up, I was instructed to go really, really slow; I did. I was doing like a 12 minute mile and for the intervals cranked it up to 9 or 8:30 min miles. There was a larger gentleman that came in and ran next to me. He got on his treadmill and began running next to me. I saw him several times during my warm-up looking at my speed on the treadmill. Meanwhile, he was running it up! I was impressed such a big guy could run the way he did for as long as he did. He probably ran a 10:30 min mile for a half mile or so. Any who, I know he was comparing speeds, which I hoped motivate him to run harder. He was clearly outrunning me at this point. He looked at my speed like every 30 seconds to see how fast I was going. We humans, always using others to see how well we are doing! (I’m guilty of it too I know).

Then I cranked it up. I did the three mile run in 25:45 which is about what my goal was. Ya’ll, that run took every bit of life that I had! I was done after that run; DONE, done! My heart rate during that run was really high! Between 170 and 174bpm. I was satisfied with my effort on this run. I feel confident it my best effort.