Monday, May 28, 2007

Hills CAN Make You Stronger

Thanks everyone for their comments and emails to help me get over my "hill" about Dave's training plans. We're fine again and stronger than before, actually. It's been tough with him traveling nearly full-time the past couple years. There have been countless good byes, I love yous, I miss yous and welcome homes, but many things not said, come to find out. For instance, I had no idea he'd been planning to do this particular bike training plan for quite a while so it just seemed to come out of the blue. But now I know that he actually has been preparing himself for it and looking forward to it. We're going to work out a way that he can do it without me getting any more gray hairs.

I must admit that some of this was also the result of bad timing as well ... he told me just when my PMS monster had gotten loose! Yup, it was rearing its ugly head snarling and just looking to pick a fight, unfortunately. It's been a while since that nasty bugger got out, but the 3 conditions for its unwelcome appearance happened to occur this weekend: 1) the monthly P loomed, 2) Dave happened to be home, and 3) I had not exercised much this week (still recovering from my last race), which usually keeps it at bay.

Ladies, I know you probably know what I mean and guys, if you don't, beware ... Anyway, I realized later that much of my poor handling of the situation was hormone-related and apologized.

The other interesting thing is that my step-daughter, the person closest to both Dave and I, said something very insightful that made me realize something about myself. In her email to me, she said:

"Finally Shirley, I'm sorry but I don't think it helps to ask such a long list of people for their advice about your first really big fight in years. None of us are experts, so it sounds more like an attempt to get people to validate your opinion, and thus gain ammunition against Dad, than to really have an honest discussion to solve the problem."

You see, I've usually been a very private person in the past and, indeed, to ask for help from others on personal issues would have been very out of character. It would have been much more my style to stick to my guns, hold everything in until I could stand it no more and then explode. And the same with Dave, and probably Katie too. Hence, our few big fights have been real knock-em down, drag'em outside, kick'em in the head and then kick'em some more fight-fests ala the UFC ... figuratively, of course. (For those who don't know, we both have black belts in karate).

But because I don't interact with others much on a daily basis any more, blogging has become my main form of communication with people and also my main means for staying sane. Without a doubt, I can much easier write down what I'm feeling in a blog than pick up a phone and talk to someone about it. Another sad but true statement is that I also think I have many more friends out there in the blog-cyber-virtual world than I have here locally so reaching out to them for help is now second nature and it definitely beats bottling up emotions until I burst.

So thank you again, family and friends, for being there and responding so quickly to my plea for help. Though Dave and I both lost some sleep about it yesterday, there was relatively little "blood" drawn, we set a new shortest fight time PR (personal record), and Dave didn't even have to buy me 3# of Skittles to try to appease the PMS monster, which he's done in the past.

Hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day holiday. This will probably be my last blog entry until I return from Hawaii mid-June.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Am I Being Fair?

All right, friends, I need your help.

My husband Dave and I just got into a big fight about his wanting to do a certain bike training plan while we're in Hawaii for two weeks early June. Knowing that he's been very supportive about my running marathons and doing tris the past few years, I feel terrible about not wanting him to do it and he's very angry at me. But I am truly worried about what might happen if he goes through with it and need some input from others.

The training plan was developed by Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's personal coach, and appeared in Bicycling Magazine May 2007 issue. It's a short 3-week plan called the Spring Break Build Endurance with the last week being pretty much a rest week so I'll just mention the first two weeks.

Week 1 (10-13.5 hrs):
Mon: Rest
Tue: 1-1.5 hr w/ intervals
Wed: 1 hr Endurance
Thu: Rest
Fri: 2.5-3 hrs Endurance
Sat: 3-4 hrs Endurance
Sun: 3-4 hrs Endurance

Week 2 (18-21 hrs):
Mon: 1 hr Recovery
Tue: 2 hrs Endurance w/ 30-45 min Tempo
Wed: 2-3 hrs Endurance w/ 30-45 min Tempo
Thu: 1 hr Recovery
Fri: 4 hrs Endurance
Sat: 4-5 hrs Endurance
Sun: 4-5 hrs Endurance w/ 45-60 min Tempo

The training plan assumes the person typically trains 7-10 hours and says don't worry about overtraining because these are moderate-intensity rides and the person will get plenty of rest the following week. Yet, I am worried, very worried ...

My husband is a 46 year old, 220# disabled veteran who just got back into riding a bike last year after a ~20 year hiatus with help of special knee braces provided to him by the VA. Though he says his knees still hurt while riding, he loves being back on his bike and has lost over 40#. This year he's been consistently racking up 100-125 miles/week (7-8 hours/wk) with usually one long 3-4 hour ride per week. The volume in the second week of the training program would be about 2 to 3 times what he's been doing and he’s planning to ride alone most of the time along the Ironman Kona bike course, which is notoriously difficult with its hilly, windy, and oven-like black lava heat conditions.

What I worry most about is that he's a very heavy sweater and does NOT do well in hot and humid conditions. He does not know his sweat rate, has never used salt tablets, and has no idea how many calories he needs to stay strong. Though he plans to bring fluids and food, he tends to drink and eat only when convenient and often when he is way past needing it. He also has no recovery plan between the 3 back-to-back long workouts each week beyond just resting (no mention of nutrition!), which means he'll probably not recover well and get progressively more exhausted. And there are very few stores/gas stations along the highway, 35+ miles to the nearest one once past the Kona airport, and cell phone coverage can be spotty.

I love Dave very much, but I don't trust his judgment when it comes to things like this. He's a former Marine who has been trained to endure pain and suffering, and has a history of pushing himself too far physically (I'm a wimp compared to him!). 20+ years ago, he completed a long course triathlon and lost nearly 8% of his bodyweight due to dehydration (a visit to the medical tent for most folks). He once ran a marathon with his longest run being only 10 miles and his knees gave out at mile 16, yet he kept going despite excruciating pain and that was the last time he was able to run. More recently on some of our long rides in hot conditions he's become very dehydrated and bonked because he hadn't drunk and eaten as he should. One time he even got dizzy after only 40 miles (2.5 hours) so I had to ride home to get the car to pick him up. Oh, and did I mention that he also has had a number of precancerous skin growths removed as a result of too much sun exposure?

I offered to ride along with Dave or provide sag support by car, but he refused knowing it would impact other things I'd planned to do like swimming, running and relaxing.

I don't know what to do.

To jump into such an aggressive training plan on such an unforgiving course as Kona with chronic knee problems and no sound nutrition plan sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. On the other hand, is it fair to deny someone you love the chance to do something he really wants to do even if it might be the last time he's able to do so?

He says he'd run that marathon again knowing that he'd probably never run again ...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Florida 70.3 Race Report

What a way to kick off my second tri season!

Thanks to relatively cool weather, no illness, and a smarter pacing and nutrition plan, I achieved my main goal to finish the race stronger than last year and ended up with a 32 minute PR. Here’s a comparison of how I did this year versus last year:

1.2 mi Swim (avg pace)1:06:08 (3:28/100m)57:12 (2:52/100m)
56 mi Bike (avg pace)2:50:37 (19.7 mph)2:53:55 (19.3 mph)
13.1 mi Run (avg pace)2:00:45 (9:13/mi)2:38:20 (12:06/mi)
Total Race Time6:07:436:39:51

And here’s what happened …

Swim (1:06:08, 3:28/100m)

On my way down to the swim start, Dave and I bumped into Joe, a fellow runner and triathlete from the Orlando area who I saw at FL 70.3 and IMFL last year. We wished each other luck and about 10 minutes later I was in the water. This year I was in the third wave starting out at 6:27 am, the first age-groupers to go right after the elite men and women. No time to get nervous ;-)

I’m not really sure what caused my swim time to be even slower this year. I did everything I was planning to do. I swam freestyle most of the way, doing the breaststroke only to sight and to recover from a good kick to the chin on the outbound leg. Shortly after rounding the first buoy turn, I found someone who was wearing the same colored cap as I was (dark blue) that I could keep up with so I drafted behind him nearly the entire way to the second buoy turn.

On the final leg back in, I passed the guy I was drafting and swam on my own amidst various colored swim caps, meaning folks from waves that started after me had caught up. Someone nearly pulled off the neoprene band holding my timing chip around my ankle so I had to stop to pull it back on. My swim cap was also creeping up over my forehead and so I had to occasionally push it back down or else I was afraid I might somehow lose my goggles, which were on the outside of the swim cap. Other than those two things, I kept swimming and swimming and swimming until I could put my feet down and run out of the water. I was sure I’d done better than last year and was stunned to see my watch say 1:06.

Whaaaaat?! How could that be???

Well, no time to pout. It’s still very early in the race. All that mattered was that I finished and in plenty of time to make the 8:40 am cut-off. Poor Dave was probably worried about me, though, until he saw me run out of the water.

T1 (6:17)
Like last year, the run from beach to the transition area was long, something like 200 yards. I stopped into a porta-potty (can't yet pee while swimming) and then headed over to my bike, which was in a great spot, very close to the bike exit. Being one of the slowest swimmers in my age-group, my bike was by itself, as usual. My transition went smoothly except for waking up my bike computer. Somehow, I got it into the wrong mode and had to spend some extra time fiddling with it. Finally, I got it to display what I wanted and headed out. To my surprise, we had to cross a 10-15 foot long sand pit (which was not there last year) before mounting our bikes. I can’t believe the race organizers did not somehow cover that up … sand is not good for the bike!

Bike (2:50:37, 19.7 mph)

The rest of the bike course, however, was great. It had been changed from the previous year and all for the better with wider and smoother roads, fewer rolling “hills”, fewer U-turns and far less interaction with cars. The wind was stronger, maybe 8-10 mph, but not bad and being from the northeast, it was helping on the way out and the way back.

My initial plan was to shoot for a little slower bike time than last year, but that didn’t last for long, not after that disappointing swim time and knowing that I was a much stronger cyclist than last year. Instead, I decided to just ride by feel and see what I ended up with. As long as I took it easy and stuck to my nutrition plan, I was confident I could run well afterwards.

On the outbound leg, I was cruising at 21-22 mph and there was a lot of passing going on, both by me and by others. I was thankful to be wearing my Third Eye rearview mirror so I could see behind me without having to turn my head constantly. Of course, if I heard a whirring sound, I knew that someone with a disk wheel was coming up and just made sure I was over to the right.

During the middle portion of the course, the wind was no longer helping and there were a few little rollers to climb over. My pace slowed to about 17-18 mph directly into the wind and even slower as I chose to spin up the hills rather than get out of my saddle and power up them, like some did. No sense in burning up extra energy needlessly, I thought to myself (and riding out of the saddle is very awkward to me because I don't usually train on hills), so I just continued to take it easy.

Around mile 30, I pulled over for a minute to refill my aero bottle and noticed that the distance on my bike computer was off by over a mile (on the high side), which meant my speedometer must have been reading incorrectly (no wonder I seemed to be going so fast before!). I continued on without much concern, though, as I’d already decided to ride by feel so I didn’t really need a speedometer to pace myself. The only bummer was that I had not ridden as far as I’d thought. Oh well …

By mile 45, my bike computer was off by 2 miles but we soon turned south so that the wind was helping again and the last few miles flew by. This stretch was the same as last year and is where I pushed way too hard so I made sure not to do it again. Yet, 20-21 mph felt like a breeze this time.

In the final couple miles I passed Brent and gave him a cheer (I found out later that one of his aero bars had loosened and become unusable during his ride – yikes!). When I got back to the transition area, I saw Dave just before the sand pit and gave him a big smile to let him know I was doing fine. I glanced down at my watch and saw that it said 4:00, which meant a sub-3 hour bike time -– woo hoo!

2 down, 1 to go!!

T2 (3:56)
Another relatively smooth transition except for two things. One, I forgot to take off my bike gloves again, but thankfully I noticed before getting very far from my bike so I ran back and left them on my towel (last year I ended up carrying them my back pocket the entire run). Two, somewhere in the transition area I lost one of my two 10 oz Fuel Belt bottles, probably when I went into the porta-potty. But one bottle was all I really needed (could refill it at the aid stations) and it didn’t feel unbalanced on my belt so all was good.

Run (2:00:45, 9:13/mi)
The run course was 3 laps and about half of each lap was run on an uneven dirt/grassy path without much shade. Fortunately, there was some occasional cloud cover and the temperature was 10-15 degrees cooler than last year. However, the aid station that was there last year about 0.75 miles into each lap was not there this year and so I was very glad that I brought my own water with me during the run.

It took me a couple miles to get my running legs back but I felt no need to walk through the aid stations as I did last year. By the time I reached the last mile of the first lap, I was running much as I normally would and holding a 9-ish min/mile pace comfortably (actually, ran a bit faster on the paved, shady sections and slower on the uneven, sunny sections). I downed a gel near the turnaround where there were a good number of spectators including Dave. Here I am starting lap number two with a little sponge in my hand and psyched that I’m feeling good!

On the first lap, there were some very speedy folks who blew past me (no doubt some of the elites) but the second lap was a different story. There were a lot more regular folks and, unfortunately, some were having a hard time in the heat/humidity and walking. I had to do a fair amount of weaving around them but at least I was passing people rather than being passed like last year. I saw Dave again at the turnaround alongside another guy who looked like Nathan, my former running coach from Track Shack. Just in case, I made sure my running form looked good as I went by them.

During the third lap, a few people asked me what lap I was on and I happily told them. One guy was not pleased that he was still on lap number 2 and I mentioned my early wave start, which seemed to make him feel better. Near mile marker 12, another guy who was also on his last lap came up alongside me and said “Come on, let’s finish strong." And that's when my "C race" turned into a real race, the last mile.

He picked up his pace as we went from the dirt/grassy path back onto the pavement and I stayed right behind him. We wove past many others on the narrow shaded bike path as if they were standing still and I could tell he was pushing pretty hard and determined to stay in front. As the path opened up onto the road where the spectators were lined up near the turnaround, however, I had room to make my move. There was only about a ¼ mile left and I knew I had plenty left in the tank, so why not?

Buoyed by the enthusiasm of the crowd, I went ahead and left Mr. “Let’s finish strong” behind. It was hard to tell which athletes in front of me were continuing onto their next lap and which ones were splitting off towards the finish line until the turnoff. Then I knew … just one guy, just a little ways ahead. Sorry dude, you're mine :-)

Once I passed him, I ran down the final stretch all alone. Folks at the finish were cheering for me by name and, unlike last year, I was completely coherent and could hear them clearly, as well as the announcer. I crossed the finish line thrilled to have completed this race well, better than I actually imagined. This is why I love tris so much. Though I need a lot of improvement in my swimming, I can still have a good race. It just keeps me coming back for more!!!

Post-race Thoughts
A number of good swimmers have mentioned that their swim times were a few minutes slower than expected and that the swim course may have been a little long. In addition, I probably shouldn’t have drafted behind that other swimmer for so long. It never occurred to me that someone could swim slower than me and so I assumed I’d be going faster in someone’s wake, though it did feel much easier. Actually, it turns out that about 35 people swam slower than I did, including several in my wave (F45+ and M55+), so now I know I’ve got to be more selective. But, at least I got my first experience drafting someone on the swim and I learned something new.

Also, the final mileage on my bike computer was just a bit over 56 miles, meaning that some of the mile markers must have been off on the bike course and my speedometer was telling the truth. Thanks Dave for pushing me on our bike rides, cheering for me during the race and taking all the photos!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Day before Florida 70.3

Dave and I headed down to Disney to check my bike into the transition area. Boy, were there some REALLY NICE bikes, many in the 5 grand range, easily. It's amazing how much people spend on this sport! Now I don't feel so bad ;-)

We met up with blogger friends Brent (seated next to me), Eric (seated across) and his wife Nicole (who escaped the picture) at the Florida 70.3 expo. Chatted for about an hour and had a fun time sharing stories in person.

Tomorrow looks to be an unusually cool, breezy race day with temps only in the high 70's to low 80's by noon. Great for running, which is last, but the wind will make the bike segment tougher. For some reason, I have some noticeable soreness in both calfs (did I overstretch after my short jog on Thursday?). Hopefully they won't bother me much tomorrow. Otherwise, I feel great.

If anyone is interested in tracking me on race day, my bib number is 240.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Next up: Florida 70.3

It’s been a week since the Colorado Marathon and I'm loving the fact that I ran that race slower. No residual aches or pains. My legs felt great on the 51 mile bike ride I did on Saturday and the 7-mile run on Sunday.

Earlier last week, however, I had a terrible headache from all the brush fire smoke in the air. I’d wake up with a headache and it’d get worse after swimming and doing a bunch of flip turns. Then I’d spend the rest of the day feeling nauseous. Thankfully, the air cleared up on Thursday. I was seriously considering getting one of those masks to wear.

So now it’s the week before Florida 70.3, a half iron tri consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run. Last year it was my second-ever triathlon and coming down with the flu just before the race and lack of experience made for a very challenging day. I had no appetite and didn’t eat much before the race. I swam most of the way by breast stroking (I’d just learned to swim freestyle but not well enough to do so in open water and while coughing). I didn’t eat/drink much on the bike (still no appetite), yet I pushed the pace pretty hard because I just wanted it to be over so I could go on to what I thought would be my strongest event. Boy, was I wrong (bonked!).

Swim 57:12, T1 6:22, Bike 2:53:55, T2 4:04, Run 2:38:20
Total race time: 6:39:51

And then I was sick for another two weeks after the race. Bleah!

This year will hopefully be different. I decided not to go to Germany with my husband this week in order to try to stay healthy before the race. I am much more comfortable in the water and can swim freestyle better, though still not fast and I need to breast stroke to sight. I now know a lot more about nutrition and pacing after having trained for an ironman.

My main goal this year is to finish Florida 70.3 feeling stronger than I did last year. It’s a so-called “C race” for me, meaning more of a training day rather than a race. I’m looking to swim a bit faster, bike a bit slower, and run much stronger. Knowing that it’ll probably be in the mid to upper 80's by noon, here’s what I think I might be able to do time-wise if all goes well (i.e., no goggle problems, no flats, no sprained ankle, no GI issues, etc.):

Swim 50-55:00, T1 5:00, Bike 3-3:05:00, T2 5:00, Run 2-2:15:00
Total race time: sub-6:30

I also hope to meet up with fellow bloggers Brent and Eric, who will be at Florida 70.3 as well. If the smoke stays away, it should be a great day!

Monday, May 07, 2007

My Personal Best Personal Worst

With just two weeks until Ironman Florida 70.3, I was unsure how to run the Colorado Marathon. Part of me wanted to "redeem" myself for the two less-than-ideal marathon experiences I had earlier this year. Part of me wanted to run the race very conservatively to make sure I didn't get injured and could recover quickly knowing that the half ironman tri on May 20th would be a much more challenging 6+ hour event for me.

Well, altitude made the decision for me.

The marathon started out at 6100 feet and before we even got running I was noticing its dehydrating effects, most notably the frequent need to pee. It's happened at two other marathons I’ve run that started out at similar elevations and often on planes, too. No matter how little I drink, I seem to have to pee often. I felt like one of those women in those "Gotta Go" commercials.

So I made three visits to the porta-potties before the race started and still ended up needing to stop 5 (or was it 6?) more times by the halfway point. And there always seemed to be a line at the porta-potties -- 5 people in front of me at the first stop -- so obviously I wasn’t the only one having this problem. A couple times I just made a little detour from the course and hid, but there weren’t that many places to hide along this canyon. I figure I probably lost around 10 minutes total from making all the stops.

However, the stops weren’t the only thing slowing me down. Did I mention that the race started at 6100 feet? Yes, the thin air was also making breathing much more difficult. And though we were running downhill, a 9:00-9:30 min/mile pace made my head start to spin so I backed off to a 10:00+ pace. No way was I going to be able to run a 4:00 hour marathon at this altitude.

But, what better race to run slower?

The views of the Poudre Canyon and the Poudre River were simply gorgeous. As I moseyed along, I searched the canyon walls for mountain goats and other critters that may be up early in the morning. I listened to the invigorating sound of the river and watched the water make its way around rocks, turns and other obstacles. I enjoyed the cool, crisp mountain air and the scent of pine trees. And I reminisced about being here 10 years ago when Dave and I had gone river rafting and hiking together in this very same canyon during our first trip to Colorado together.

From the get-go, this race was to be a fun run and I WAS having fun, even with all the stops. Besides, I also knew that running faster on this downhill course would make me regret it dearly later (last August I'd run another downhill course in 4 hours and my quads were fried by mile 18, and for nearly a week afterwards). No, it was good to be running slower.

At mile 13.1, a volunteer called out my split: 2:25, and I knew for sure that I was on course for a new PW. Oh well ...

And then, just like at the two previous races that started out at 5000-6000 feet, the need to pee disappeared after mile 13. Now sips from the bottle of Gatorade that I was carrying with me didn't result in having to make a pit stop (this race was serving HEED electrolyte drink, something I'd never tried before and was not about to after what happened to me at the Olathe Marathon). Finally, my body found a happy equilibrium -- Hooray!

The other good news was that runners were starting to come towards me. Yes, indeed, 13+ miles of downhill running had begun to take its toll, just like I knew it would. There was nothing I could do so I just tried to say something positive as I passed folks who were obviously not pleased. I made no mention of the fact that there was still over 10 miles to go.

Around mile 15, the course actually started rising a little as we exited the Poudre Canyon. We passed by the gas station where I remember Dave and I had met up with the river rafting group and also the first sizable group of spectators, which was really nice. Until then, the only spectators had been the race volunteers (for the safety of the runners, spectators were not allowed to drive up the canyon road).

Here I noticed I was breathing a bit easier than before (we'd dropped nearly a thousand feet in elevation since the start). My legs still felt quite fresh, fortunately, so I picked up my pace a bit while the course went past grassy farmlands. This part was not as scenic as the canyon, nor did it smell as nice, but there were some people in cars going by honking and cheering for us runners, pockets of spectators here and there, and some good-looking 4-legged ones (horses) watching as well.

At miles 17 and 19, there were a couple hills for us to climb. Quite a few people were walking up them but I always find walking up hills to be harder (for one thing, it takes longer) so I shifted into my “granny gear” (shortened my stride while maintaining my cadence), found a runner ahead who looked strong and imagined there was a rope between us pulling me up. The strategy worked better than I expected as I caught up to both runners by the time I reached the top of the hills.

After mile 20, we turned onto a bike path that was nearly flat, as flat as Colorado probably gets. I decided against picking up my pace further since we were still at around 5000 feet and the level of effort actually felt a bit harder because of the hard concrete surface. Nevertheless, I still kept passing folks including a female triathlete I'd met at the start of the race, several college students half my age, and one unfortunate runner who was on the side vomiting (thankfully, he had a friend next to him to make sure he was OK).

I kept my steady pace going until the aid station at mile 25 where I took my last sip of Gatorade and tossed out the bottle I’d carried with me the entire way to begin my final kick to the finish. My legs still felt strong and now with both arms free to pump hard, I knew I was going to move up a little more in the overall rankings.

1, 2, 3 ... and just before the final turn I passed three more including a kid who looked to be only about 15 or 16 (wow, great job!), a short woman (shorter than me :-), and a woman who looked to be in my age group (woo hoo!).

Then I saw the finish line straight ahead, but what the heck??? A railroad crossing and then an intersection with cars driving through in between? YIPES!

OK, just keep running. Keep breathing. Don't worry about the traffic. Someone will stop the cars by the time I get there (I hope). Just don't trip on the tracks.

I made sure to pick up my feet as I crossed over the tracks and just like the parting of the Red Sea, police officers stopped the traffic as I went through the intersection and on towards the finish line. There was a good crowd cheering as I sprinted home with nothing else left in my way and no other runners in front. I thanked them with a big smile and a wave and then heard someone yell my name on the right as the announcer said "Here comes Shirley Pratt all the way from Orlando, Florida! Look at that smile! Shirley, you can come back and run this race any time you want!"

Final race result: Net time 4:32:05, 11th out of 22 F45-49

So, a new personal worst race time but a number of things to be happy about: 1) This is the highest and one of the most scenic races I've ever run (the other 5000-6000 feet altitude races I've done dropped down to 3000 feet by the end); 2) NO ONE passed me the last 10 miles; 3) I ran the second half in 2:07, an 18-minute negative split (~8 minutes if you take out the pitstops); 4) I received a unique, hand-painted ceramic medal to add to my collection and now Colorado is colored in on my U.S. map; and lastly 5) I've never had so much fun running a PW!

PS - The guy who yelled my name at the finish turned out to be Cory from Time On Legs. Thanks Cory!!!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Birthday to Dave

Today is my husband Dave's 46th birthday. Since I'm abandoning him this weekend to run the Colorado Marathon, we're going for a 46 mile bike ride later today. And on Sunday while I'm running the race, he's heading up to St. Augustine, about 2 hours away, to see Drew Kallio who'll do an all-out fitting for Dave on his tri bike and road bike.

What's that involve?

Oh, just 6+ hours of client interview, detailing muscular/skeletal, ride history, bike fit goals, body measurements, flexibility assessment, body analysis/categorization, rotational cleat adjustment, spin technique drills, bike handling drills, computrainer spin scan to measure power wattage output, torque angle, aerodynamic drag analysis, lower limb alignment analysis, metabolic testing, VO2 testing and custom insoles. And another couple hours of the same on the road bike minus the last 3 items.

The funny thing is that Dave does not even race! He just wants to be the best he can (and survive the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred bike ride in August).

Well, I look at it as a good thing since he's my riding partner. Namely, the faster he goes, the faster I'll go, not that he's been my limiter (the opposite is true, usually, unless we're riding 60+ miles in really hot/humid conditions). We averaged over 20 mph on our last 36 mile ride on Wednesday night, a new record for us and one that really pooped me out in the pool the next morning. I was tired just doing the warm-up!

Today, however, is supposed be an easy 46 mile ride since I'm doing a 26.2 mile fun run on Sunday. I just hope we don't see any other cyclists on the road. Like a dog that sees a cat, he'll drop me in a heartbeat to go chasing after them. Then again, it is his birthday ...

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!