Training Update

I just completed a ridiculously intense 2 weeks of training, with a spotlight on running -- crunch time to get me ready for that Ultraman Day 3 52 mile run.  Almost 25 hours this week, including 60+ miles of running -- by far the most running I have ever done in a week.  The good news: my running is progressing very well.  My endurance is huge and I am gaining confidence in my ability to handle the double marathon.  

The bad news: by Sunday I was totally spent.  Had nothing left in the tank and had to cut my 6 hour ride short; I was borderline hallucinatory and couldn't push my HR above 100;  indicia of extreme fatigue and overtraining.  Despite my obsessive / compulsive urge to get the 6 hours in anyway, I know myself well enough to know when my training becomes counterproductive, so I called it a day.  I suppose this is somewhat good in that it indicates that I gave this 2 week cycle everything I had -- took it all the way to the line.  Today is my first rest day in 2 weeks and this week will be a rest week (16 hours of training is considered a rest week!).  Then this weekend I will attempt that 40 mile run.  I am actually getting excited about it.  And after this past 2 weeks, I have greater confidence in my ability to get it done.

It was a very hot week in the West Valley with temps in the 96 - 98 degree range, so it was a great opportunity to acclimatize to what it will be like in Hawaii.  In particular, I tried to time my runs for the hottest part of the day to work on hydration and nutrition.  Here's how last week went down:

Monday: 3800 yd swim workout followed immediately by 2 hour Z2 (32 mile) ride
Tuesday: 1 hour 45 minute (13 mile) run
Wednesday: 3 hour 45 minute (60 mile) ride
Thursday: 4000 yd swim workout followed immediately by a 2 hr 15 minute (17 mile) run
Friday: 4300 yd swim workout followed immediately by a 3 hour Z2 (50 mile) ride
Saturday: 2 hr 45 minute run in the morning (20+ miles); and 90 minute (11 mile) evening run -- 31 miles of running in one day!
Sunday: was meant to ride 6 hours, but as I said, I was toast.  Put in less than 3 hours of weak effort and had to call it a day.

40 Mile Run -- Say What!?!?

Got some good feedback from my coach Chris Hauth today -- seems I'm progressing nicely in prep for Ultraman, which is now just a little over 8 weeks away, leaving me about 5 weeks of real training before a 3 week taper.

I'm on the second week of a heavy training cycle (24 hours this week), then a rest week, then, ready for this.......a 40 mile run!

Suffice it so say that despite all of the heavy training I have done over the last 7 months, I have never run longer than 2 hours 30 minutes in one session -- part of the Chris Hauth philosophy of building the majority of endurance on the bike and avoiding unnecessary injury.  And although my training is becoming more "run focused" as I approach race day, I have never attempted anything like this.  The run is definitely my blind spot and I am far from even considering myself a "runner" let alone an "ultra-runner".  In fact, the farthest I have ever run at one time is a marathon, and not a very fast one at that.  But obviously, I need to get ready for a 52 mile run (or jog, run, walk), so this type of run is necessary and inevitable.

I need to start mentally preparing now...I am equal parts excited and terrified.  But it will be an adventure.  And I know if I can get through it intact, it will pay huge dividends on the mental front when I'm staring down a boiling hot highway after 2 days of racing trying to finish 52 miles.  I'll keep ya posted!

NYT -- Staying a Step Ahead of Aging

My buddy Arno Kroner sent me the link to this interesting article published early this year in the New York Times on staving off age deterioration through proper training in older athletes.  

The article surveys studies done on runners in their 40's, 50's and 60's and determines that consistent training at high intensity is a key determinative of maintaining or improving performance later in life.  Basically, consistent training at intensity over volume.

Click HERE to check it out.

Training Update and Race Simulation Recap

I just rounded out another 25 hour training week, culminating in another 3 day Ultraman "Race Simulation" over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The good news is that I was able to crank out the simulation stronger, faster and easier than my last bout a few weeks back.  Most noteable is my running ability, which is really progressing well as my training focus has shifted into more running intensive weeks in prep for that daunting Ultraman Day 3 52 mile run.

Here's how it went down:

Monday: was supposed to swim 4800 yds., but had to miss this workout.  I have to work sometimes!  I hate missing any training sessions and have only missed maybe 4-5 over the last 6 months.  But if I have to miss one, the swim workouts are the best to miss for me, as this is my strength.  I can't afford to miss any cycling or running workouts.

Tuesday: 71 mile / 4 hour Zone 2 ride.  Nothing too focused.  Legs felt great after a rest day and a light training weekend due to the Nautica Malibu race.

Wednesday: 15 mile Zone 2 run.  Felt great.  Like brushing my teeth in the morning.

Thursday: 2 hour / 36 mile Zone 2 spin.  Easy riding, nothing to stressful, getting ready for the race simulation.


Friday (DAY 1): 8000 yard swim workout (8x1000 alternating pull/swim); felt great and just as strong on the last 1000 as on the first.  Hopped out of the pool and banged out a 4 hour hard climbing ride on a hot afternoon, including ascents of Topanga and twice up the steep Stunt Road.  Legs fresh as a daisy.  Pushed it hard, trying to simulate race effort and finished strong.

Saturday (DAY 2): 7 hour / 120 mile ride with Kona qualifier Dave Meyer and fellow attorney Bob Steinberg.  Up PCH from Cross Creek, acended Latigo to Mulholland Hwy to Route 23, down into Westlake, around Lake Sherwood, up Portola to Lynn Road and out to Las Posas.  Then cut over and up to Oxnard and north to downtown Ventura, then back to Malibu down PCH.  Long day in the saddle and finished strong, able to hang with Dave for the most part, but struggled a bit on the climbs due to my previous day's ride.  But much stronger and faster than my previous Day 2 simulation.

Sunday (DAY 3): 2 hr 15 minute Zone 2 run in the morning (about 17 miles) and felt incredible.  No residual fatigue from the previous day's long ride, which was amazing.  Legs were tired mid-day, but then went out again in the early evening for another 1 hour 30 minute (almost 10 miles) run and felt great.  Legs were tired for sure, but was able to bang out the same pace and felt I could have kept going at least another 30 minutes at that clip.  This beats my previous simulation not only in pace but in distance / time (added 45 minutes to the runs).  Also, not quite as tired on Sunday night.  Legs were shot, but I wasn't completely out of it, which was great.

Monday: normally this would be a rest day.  But I only have about 6 weeks left of real training, so I was at it again -- 3800 yd swim workout followed immediately by a 2 hour ride.  My legs were fried and had a hard time getting my HR up into Zone 2 - an indication of fatigue.

Here's what's on tap for the rest of the week (24 hours of training total for this week):

Tuesday: 90 minute Zone 2 run
Wednesday:  3 hr 45 minute ride
Thursday: 4000 yd swim / 2 hour run
Friday: 4300 yd swim / 3 hour bike
Saturday: @ hr 30 minute run in the am; 1 hour run in the pm
Sunday: 5 hour ride (a light day!)

Pablo Morales and Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Just a quick little interview I though I would share conducted by Mel Stewart,  1992 200 meter butterfly Gold Medalist in the 200 meter butterfly with my old teammate and friend Pablo Morales, the winningest swimmer in NCAA history, 2 time Olympian and multiple world record holder.

Pablo and I not only swam together at Stanford, we completed our final year at Cornell Law School together when he returned after his historic swimming comeback when he won the Gold Medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the 100 meter butterfly.

Pablo is now the head women's swimming coach at the University of Nebraska and is also a partner in FINIS, the swim training manufacturer that produces the monofin and center-mount snorkel (as well as an assortment of other great swim training products) that have both become integral training tools.

Pablo was not only the Michael Phelps of his day (as well as a huge influence on Phelps himself), he is a first rate class act guy.

Click HERE to view Pablo's Gold Medal winning 100 meter butterfly at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.  After a celebrated 1984 Olympics in which he fell short of an individual Olympic Gold Medal, Pablo overtrained in 1988 and failed to make the Olympic Team, shocking the swimming world0.  He retired from the sport and headed to Cornell Law School, only deciding to attempt a comeback after 2 years of sedentary studies when his mother fell ill and passed away.  Miraculously, he not only made the team in 1992, he won his first Olympic individual Gold, staging one of the greatest comebacks in Olympic history.


Many people ask me,  "How do you handle the mental drudgery on your 7 hour+ rides?"

In general, I don't find it to be that difficult.  I have become acclimated to them and actually find it to be quite meditative.  Generally, the first hour is toughest until I settle into a rhythm, and then I typically enter into a place of total "now" (as Eckhart Tolle would say).  It becomes deeply meditative -- I lose time, I am present and I am nowhere to be found.  Something about being in that Zone 2 aerobic zone allows me to quiet the mind completely.  To coin a trite phrase, it is extremely Zen.  And despite the heavy legs, I generally feel completely refreshed mentally and spiritually afterwards.  It is definitely a spiritual practice, part of what is so appealing about it for me.

But there are times when I need a bit of assistance to get me through the day.  And although I resist overdependence on my iPod, I'm not afraid to use it during my longer training sessions.  But I can only listen to my favorite music so much before I tire of it.  And I can't listen to music for hours on end.  I generally reserve my favorite training tunes for the last hour on a ride or the last half hour on my longer runs when I want to kick things into a higher gear and finish strong.  But what about all the Zone 2 slogging hours?  My solution -- podcasts!  Why not learn something while you are training?  I suppose I could listen to audiobokks (I've done this), but podcasts are free and many can be highly informative.  A simple search on iTunes can bring up podcasts on every conceivable subject you may be interested in.  And I listen to alot.  It can require a bit of experimentation before you land on the ones you really like, as quality varies tremendously -- the vast majority are very hack and amateurish.  But persistence will prevail and you will no doubt find what you are looking for with a little effort.

Because this is a multisport blog, and upon the urging of my fellow multisport buddy Arno Kroner, I thought I would give you a run down on some of the triathlon, endurance training & multisport podcasts I subscribe to -- I have gleaned alot of great information from these and it can be fun and motivating to listen to them while you train.

Here's a list -- I have included links to the respective websites, many of which also have great blogs.  You can also search / subscribe directly through iTunes:

Competitor Radio -- Bob Babbitt of Competitor Magazine & Paul Huddle interview top athletes across a wide variety of multisports; I love these guys.

Ironman Talk -- Top Ironmen Jon Newsom and Bevan James Eyles discuss "all things ironman" from New Zealand.

Deck Pass -- the latest news in competitive swimming.  However, this one seems to be on hiatus at the moment.

Endurance Nation -- great training and racing insights from coaches Rich and Patrick; I've learned alot from these guys.  Great for the first time ironman.

The Age Grouper -- a couple of average Joe's with heavy midwest accents talk about their racing and training.  Sort of a guilty pleasure as these amateurs make their way through the midwest tri circuit.

Endurance Base Camp -- great information on endurance training & nutrition from husband and wife coaching team Gary & Nikki; only annoying when Gary broadcasts while he's running -- it takes him 5 times as long to spit out what he's trying to say.  I don't get the appeal.  But if you can tolerate this, he has some good things to say.

Endurance Corner -- hosted by endurance legend and top coach Gordo Byrne.  This guy really knows his stuff.  It can get highly technical, so get your geek on.  I love Gordo, not only becuase he won Ultraman in 2002, he has been there and done that and is still cranking.  Great tips and some good interviews.  One of my favorite podcasts

Endurance Planet -- Interviews, insights and recaps, mostly from the world of ultramarathon running and cycling; very folksy, but some good interviews with top ultra guys like Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes.

iMultisport -- decent insights on training and racing from the coaches at iMultisport.

IronmanLife -- the official podcast of Ironman, hosted by Kevin McKinnon of and Ironman legend Greg Welch; mostly interviews and race reports from various Ironman events.

Training Bible Coaching -- great training and racing content with interviews and Q&A with Joe Friel and the staff at Joe Friel's TrainingBible coaching.  Highly recommend.

TriTalk -- for the super geek; host Dave Warden will tech talk you until you feel like you are in an engineering or biochemistry lecture.  But I find it super informative on subjects ranging from nutrition, training, biology, mechanics and gadgets / gear.  This guy really does his homework, including reviewing medical journals on the latest findings in sports medecine.  One of my favorites, although he seems to have gone off radar lately.

Non-Multisport Podcasts -- just a few I like:

KCRW's The Business -- Claude Brodesser-Ackner delves into the business of Hollywood.

Ted Talks -- brief 20 minute talks from the Ted Conference; pioneering geniuses bring you insights from the cutting edge of technology, politics, media & science.  This is an AMAZING podcast.

This American Life -- Ira Glass' well known radio show.  I love it, but it can be a bit depressing at times; maybe not the most motivating thing to listen to while training.

LOSTCasts -- I'm such a dork; everything you didn't want to know about LOST and LOST theories.  I'm a nerd; I admit it, but I love it.

Creative Screenwriting Magazine -- Jeff Goldsmith interviews top screenwriters.

Nautica Malibu Olympic Distance Triathlon -- Race Recap

I still have a lot to learn.  But I hate when stuff goes wrong that you have little control over.

I raced the Nautica Malibu Olympic Distance Triathlon on Saturday.  I had a great time doing it, but had some frustrations too.  Here's a bit of a recap:

SWIM: First off, it was a beautiful warm foggy morning.  The ocean was glassy, with the exception of a perfectly formed beach break about 100 feet offshore.  When the gun went off, it was a bit of a run to water's edge (more than I'm used to) and couldn't decide how hard I should hit it -- I didn't want to spike my HR too much before the first stroke.  But competitiveness got the better of me, and I was off.  But once I started swimming, I eased up into a very manageable rhythm and at about 100 meters in, I was tucked in second, with only one other guy on my flank, everyone else in our wake.  The leader rounded the first buoy just ahead of me and I decided to let him go; I promised myself I wouldn't overdo it on the swim.  Soon I was all alone in second with nothing but clear open water.  This can make things difficult, as there is nobody to draft off or follow -- you have to continually lift your head to make sure you are on track, which can be depleting and interrupt your rhythm.  But after about 1/2 mile I started catching the slower swimmers from the previous wave and realized I was about 10 meters too far off shore.  I kept tacking in, crawling all over the other swimmers, but for some reason I remained in this position.  Anyway, no matter.  But then my wetsuit started to collect water in my arms -- just enough in each arm to feel like I had 5 lb weights on each wrist.  This no doubt slowed me considerably and began to unnecessarily fatigue my shoulders.  I'm telling you, I hate wetsuits.  True, they can make you faster and I like the bouyancy in my legs, which I generally just drag behind me with little to no kick.  But I think I need a sleeveless one -- I can't stand not being able to feel the water with my arms -- which is the key to an efficient stroke for me.  Anyway, I still finished in a decent 20:40 -- second in my age group and 4th fastest amateur swim overall (one of the guys who beat me was only 17 years old!) .  Its just annoying when I know I could have gone an 18:00+ without the wetsuit mishap, which would have put me right with the times the top male pros were posting.  My ego wanted that, but I guess it will have to wait for another day.

T1: Terrible.  After 2 weeks of absolutely brutal training, my expectations for this race were pretty low.  My goal was to race smart and controlled.  To be relaxed in T1, allow my HR to drop to a reasonable level and start the bike slow and build.  But I clocked 3:02 in T1, which is frankly embarrassing.  I easily lost another minute here for no reason whatsoever.

BIKE: Again, I promised to start slow and build.  Despite my slow T1, my HR was still racing out of transition -- somewhere around 160+, so I coasted the first half mile, barely pedaling.  I expected my HR to drop, but it was taking a long time!  Still I eased off and waited.  But this was only 40K, so I didn't want to wait too long.  When it got down to about 150, I started an easy pedaling rhythm.  Soon my HR normalized around 148 and I started to feel OK.  But I started getting frustrated when around 8K I started getting passed by guys on top end tri bikes and disc wheels.  I'm a decent cyclist, but I'm still riding my road bike with an average training wheelset.  I hate the fact that I am giving up precious time due to equipment.  Oh well.  I stuck with the plan.  Frankly, I really didn't even start to feel warmed up until just before the halfway mark.  A tribute to all the very long Z2 rides I have been doing, which includes absolutely ZERO speedwork.  No top end.  Anyway, started to increase my push at about 25K and finally began passing some people who had passed me earlier, including a cat and mouse game with one guy that went on for miles.  At about 30K, I felt my bike start to sway a bit in the rear and realized that my rear tire was quickly losing air.  A FLAT!  But it wasn't quite flat all the way, so I pushed on, deciding to take it as far as I could.  With about 5K left, the tire was toast.  Totally flat.  But what was I supposed to do?  I just couldn't bring myself to stop and change the tire with less than 3 miles left, so I leaned my weight far forward, trying to take weight off the back wheel and pedaled on.  But I had to slow down significantly to avoid fishtailing.  So I was getting passed.  Alot.  I gently cruised to the end, barely pedaling, hoping I didn't irreparably damage my Ksyrium ES.  What a disaster.  But I still clocked a semi-respectable 1:08 for the 40K, which gave me a 21.6 mph average.  Not bad, considering.....

T2: My third disaster.  Again, I lollygagged.  How did I spend 2:07 here when everyone else seemed to be between 1:05 - 1:10?  I need some work here.  Another precious minute down the tubes.

RUN: Again, my plan was to build the run.  And this time I did it, and did it well.  I felt great in my Newtons.  Flying in fact.  Surprisingly comfortable at a 160+ HR.  I built into it ever so slightly and just felt superb, passing alot of guys who passed me on the bike.  I didn't feel any residual fatigue from the bike and no energy dropoff, finishing strong and I believe negative splitting the course for a time of 40:55 for a 6:35 / mile pace.  Would have been about 10-15 seconds faster, but we were diverted to the sand for a 200 meter slow jog  to avoid a helicopter taking off to airlift what I believe was a competitor who crashed on the bike.  Don't know any more than this, but I hope he / she is OK.  In any event, the run made my day.

TOTAL TIME: 2:15:43.  38th overall (out of about 500), but only 17th in my 40-44 age group, which I suppose is an indication of how competitive my age group is.  Pretty decent, especially since I have done zero speed work of any kind in any discipline for the last six months.  In fact, I almost never run faster than 8:00 / mile pace, so was quite surprised I could throw down a fairly easy 6:35 pace after the bike.  But not great, considering I know I could have gone at least 2:09 without the wetsuit and tire issues and a little energy in the transitions.  But like my coach says, these races are basically a completely different sport from what I'm training for.  Sort of like a marathoner trying to run the 400 meters.  When I think about it this way, I suppose I should be pleased with my result.

On Sunday, I went back down to the race to watch the start of the Sprint.  There were 10 times the number of people, including a zillion spectators there to catch a glimpse of JLo and Matthew McConnaughey.  I watched Chris McCormack (Macca), Ironman supreme through T1 (way ahead of everyone), then (I admit) I hung around to watch McConnaughey (Movie Macca) start his bike leg before heading out on my 90 minute Z2 training run.  I ran up PCH on the return portion of the bike course (conscious of staying out of everyone's way) and gave Macca a "hang loose" when he passed (he waved back) and Movie Macca a "Hook 'Em Horns" when he passed in his LiveStrong kit (no doubt a gift from Lance himself) (he gave me a shout out back).  Felt great on this run and no soreness or fatigue from the previous day's race.  When I finished I found some friends and chatted before heading into the VIP Brunch (courtesy of my buddy Arno Kroner at Disney), where I felt like an important poseur, sitting at the table next to the one where Movie Macca, his wife & baby, JLo and Mark Anthony were heavy in convo.  Papparazzi flushbulbs everywhere -- Felicity Huffman, William Macy, Bob was quite a scene.  For a triathlon.  Weird.  But I admit it.  It was fun.

Now heading back into another heavy rotation of training.  Ultraman looming......The light at the end of the tunnel approaching fast....

Racing for Recovery & Phoenix Multisport

I was perusing the list of 35 competitors who will be participating in Ultraman and came across Todd Crandell.  I was intrigued.

Like me, Todd is a long-time sober guy turned endurance multi-sport athlete.  But Todd has taken it to whole new level.  Todd is the founder and Executive Director of Racing for Recovery, a non-profit foundation with the mission of preventing substance abuse in adolescents and individuals and offering a positive alternative to those currently battling addiction.

Todd’s own 13-year struggle with drugs and alcohol nearly destroyed his life, devastating relationships with family and friends and shattering the promise of a professional hockey career. He quit using drugs and alcohol on April 15, 1993, and has been sober ever since. In the process of rebuilding his life, Todd realized traditional recovery programs weren’t enough. He needed something more. He chose the most grueling sport imaginable, the Ironman Triathlon – 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. Todd ran his first triathlon in 1999 and has never stopped. He has completed fourteen full-length Ironmans all over the world. His experience running these events and inspiring others on their road to sobriety led him to form Racing for Recovery in 2001.

Racing for Recovery now operates a residential facility in Ohio and sponsors support meetings and racing events across the United States to promote a lifestyle of fitness and sobriety. Todd and Racing for Recovery have been featured on CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, and NBC News, ESPN’s SportsCenter, ESPN2’s Cold Pizza, The New York Times, Sports, Runner’s World and Triathlete Magazines, the nationally-syndicated Mitch Albom Radio Show, and a number of other radio, newspaper and magazine interviews across the United States and throughout the world.

In addition, Todd's book, “From Addict To Ironman,” co-written with John Hanc, gives an unflinching account of his addiction and recovery and has motivated thousands in their fight to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. Todd Crandell regularly speaks to groups and individuals to convey one important message: “With sobriety anything is possible.”

Although I have not yet touched on it yet in this blog, I too suffer from the disease of alcoholism and have been in recovery for over 10 years.  Drugs and alcohol came very close to destroying me, but through recovery I have been blessed with a second chance and have taken the miraculous opportunity to rebuild my life into what is now a very rich, full and loving existence.  And a huge aspect of my involvement in endurance multisports is an effort to inspire others, especially those that deal with addiction issues, as a means of promoting a healthy lifestyle alternative to the throes of addiction.  So it goes without saying that I have huge admiration for Todd.  I have had the opportunity to correspond with him a bit lately and am really looking forward to meeting him in Hawaii and helping him out in any way I can.

On a related note, I have also been speaking with a similar organization called Phoenix Multiport, a Boulder Colorado-based non-profit organization that fosters a supportive, physically active community for individuals who are recovering from alcohol and substance abuse and those that choose to live a sober life.  Executive Director Scott Strode will be in LA this week and I am scheduled to get together with him to discuss how I can help the worthy cause.

This is all a long way of saying that I am actively trying to use Ultraman as a platform to promote sober healthy living.  So if anyone out there has any ideas to help further this effort, I'm all ears.  If I can help inspire even one person who is struggling with addiction, then its a good day at the office.

For more information on Todd Crandell and Racing for Recovery, click here.
For more information on Phoenix Multisport, click here.

Training Update

I am cooked.

Back to back 23/24 hour training weeks, including an Ultraman "race simulation".  Tons of climbing, long runs and very high heat.  Today is my first (and much needed) rest day in 2 weeks.

Here is what I've been up to the last 7 days:

Monday: Mt. Baldy climbing ride with Kona qualifier Dave Meyer.  Per my previous post, this was a 28 mile climb to 6350 feet -- 3 hours up, 1 hour down.  As for Meyer, he just won his 45-49 age group in this past weekend's LA Triathlon, clocking the fastest bike & run splits in his division, 66th overall with a time of 2:15 -- including a 41:01 10K run split -- that is 6:36 pace.  And I know he was not rested for this one -- putting in heavy hours getting ready for Kona.  Long way of saying I'm in good company training with this guy.  He is fast.

Tuesday: My "rest day" -- a 3500 swim workout.

Wednesday: 3 hour climbing ride, including hill repeats - 3x Stunt Road, a rather steep unrelenting 4 mile climb right in my backyard.  One (of many) great things about this climb is that there is a water fountain about 1/2 mile from the peak that a friendly resident installed in his driveway.  So I could make quick stops on each descent and take in some water, which was great.  Legs were surprisingly fresh given that I just completed my Ultraman race simulation a couple days prior and clocked relatively even times on each of the 3 repeats.  Felt really good that my legs seem to be recovering quickly not only between workouts but between repeats as well.

Thursday: 90 minute morning pavement run.  Felt pretty darn good considering the cycling miles under my belt over the last week.  Negative split my loop at 8:00 pace overall.  Not bad.  Added a 90 minute afternoon pavement run in the super high heat (100+).  Generally double run days are the toughest for me, but this one felt pretty good and they are getting easier.  I try to do my afternoon runs at the hottest part of the day (around 3pm) on sunny blazing hot pavement as deep in the Valley as possible -- trying to do everything to acclimate myself to high heat in preparation for Hawaii; in this case, I handled the heat well and finished strong.

Friday: Double swim day -- 5000 yard interval workout in the am (some pace 1000's and sets of 100's on 1:20); 4000 in the afternoon (some pace 800's and again sets of 100's on 1:20).  I haven't put in 9000 yards of swimming in one day in twenty years.  Felt good to get this done and my per 100 pace is slowly getting better.  Starting to be able to conceptualize a 10K swim.

Saturday: 6 hour ride with my buddy Vinnie Tortorich, ultracyclist supreme, fitness trainer and cancer survivor.  Vinnie is currently training for the Furnance Creek 508 -- the world's premiere ultramarathon bicycle race covering 508 miles (nonstop!) with a total elevation gain of over 35,000 feet crossing ten mountain passes, and stretches from Santa Clarita across the Mojave Desert, through Death Valley, to Twenty Nine Palms.  Vinnie has done this badass race (and many other ultracycling races) many times, and trains like an animal -- generally putting in 12 hour climbing rides most Saturdays.  Anyway, I am proud to report that I hung pretty well with him.  Several hill repeats and some long hard flats.  Given that Vinnie has been doing this for decades and averages about 210 watts on his 12 hour rides, I feel pretty good about being able to stay with him  or at least in his general vicinity.  He would generally pull ahead near the climbing peaks and after a spell on long flats he would drop me, but I stuck it as best I could without exceeding my Zone 2 HR of 130.  And he was a wealth of information and knowledge on training and nutrition.  I learned more from Vinnie in this 6 hours than I could reading 10 books.  Really hot day but improving on my nutrition and finished last hour quite strong.

Sunday: Woke up with super fatigued legs and pounded out a 2 hour trail run up the dirt section of Mulholland Drive from where it dumps out onto Topanga in the Valley all the way to the Nike Missile Lookout above Mandeville Canyon and back.  Lots of long ascents and rollers.  Unfortunately I forgot my fuel belt, so did the whole thing without any water, Cytomax or electrolytes / gels.  This was a very bad idea.  I did take in a bit of water at the Lookout water fountain at the halfway point, but that was it -- and I paid for it.  I was dead in the afternoon after spending a couple hours playing with the kids at the beach on a scorching day, dreading my one hour evening pavement run.  Figured I would survive it and focus on form, but once I got going, felt surprisingly good and built the run to a swift (for me) sub-8 pace for the second half.  An hour after my evening run however, I was as tired as I have been since I started training.  So tired in fact, I had very little appetite and could barely move.  Note to self -- do not forget your fuel belt on long runs.

Monday: Rest day.  Finally.

Scott Jurek -- Ultra Vegan

In the world of endurance running, people may know the name Dean Karnazes, as he has been wildly instrumental in popularizing ultramarathon running and elevating consciousness of the sport into the mainstream.  

But in truth, the undisputed king of ultrarunning is Scott Jurek.  Yeah, you've probably never heard of him, but let me assure you, he is a true badass.  Jurek has won the prestigious  Western States 100 mile race something like 7 times -- a distinction elevated by the fact that he is the youngest winner (1999) and also set the course record in 2004.  In addition, and among countless other ultramarathon victories, Jurek has won the famed Badwater twice -- a blistering and surrealistic 135 mile run across the Mojave Desert in 120 degree heat ending on Mt Whitney at 8350 feet in elevation.

And if you have heard of Jurek, you might not know one very important thing about him -- Jurek fuels his body on a COMPLETELY VEGAN DIET!

In addition to his rigorous training schedule and competing in 10-12 ultramarathons per year, all seven of his consecutive wins at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run were performed on VEGAN FUEL.

Actions speak louder than words people. Again, I'm not advocating a vegan diet for everyone. But even contrarian minds would have to agree that this is is pretty extraordinary evidence that one can excel athletically on a world class level on a vegan diet.

Check out Scott Jurek's website here.
Check out this GREAT interview with Jurek at here.
Check out this interview with Jurek in JAI! Magazine (ironically unrelated) here.

Race Simulation Recap

Just finished a  pretty intense few days of training, including an Ultraman "Race Simulation".  Over Friday, Saturday & Sunday I put in approximately 90% of the overall Ultraman load (and exceeded the elevation gain I will experience in the race), which gave me an initial taste of how I will feel come race weekend, as well as a very good sense of how prepared I am currently and where I need more work.  Overall I am super pleased with how I handled the heavy load and am feeling great as I embark upon the final 2 months of hard training before I begin my taper.  Here's how it went down:

Friday: I put in a 7500 yard swim workout consisting of some hard long distance repeats -- a series of 800's and 500's interspersed with sets of hard 10x100 repeats.  Jumped right out of the pool and onto my bike for 4 hours of very hard climbing in high heat.  I tackled some of the longer and more challenging climbs in the Santa Monica Mountains, including (if you know the area): Piuma -- a laboring 7 mile / 2 peak climb that never gets too steep but doesn't relent; Rock Store -- a very steep climb (about 3 miles?) that gets tougher as you go; and Kanan.  Felt really strong and had no energy dropoff.  Did a good job of making sure I took in 300 cals / hour, all liquid -- Perpetum and Cytomax.

Saturday:  Joined 2008 Kona qualifier and fellow barrister Dave Meyer for a 7 hour 115 mile ride.  We covered a wide variety of terrain, including some good ascents (Latigo & Portola), descents (Route 23 into the Valley) and flats (Westlake, Lake Sherwood, Hidden Valley, Lynn Road, Las Posas and PCH) across both high heat and cold heavy fog.  We took a few too many pit stops for my liking, but overall a very solid long day in the saddle.  Started to get a bit lightheaded the last hour and a half, so need to work on taking in more solid food earlier and more consistently in the day on my long rides.  But felt great to hold pace with Meyer, who is a very good cyclist and has a higher power output and lactate threshold than I do, based on my most recent test results first week of August.  So this was a great confidence boost and evidence that my cycling is improving significantly, as (based on Dave's power meter) we were throwing down a consistent 200 watts without my HR climbing out of Zone 2. (115-130 bpm).  Overall, a very good day.

Sunday Morning: With VERY heavy and fatigued legs, I put in a super solid 2 hour / 15 mile run in the morning.  Felt great and negative split my loop, finishing strong while remaining in my Zone 2 (125 - 140 bpm).  Could have run another hour at this pace, which I built to a sub 8:00 / mile.  Definitely one of the better runs I have had in a while, all the more satisfying in that it was done in the wake of several very difficult preceding training days (including a hard 15 mile train run on Wednesday).  

Sunday Afternoon: Another 1 hour Zone 2 run.  In general, these double run days are very difficult for me, as I get quite fatigued in the afternoon.  And today did not disappoint.  The first 15 minutes were horrific -- my legs were just cooked.  But after this "warmup", all my base training kicked in, I loosened up and felt just as good as I did in the morning.  Concentrating primarily on good form and swift cadence, I again negative split the course and finished very strong.  An hour later however, my legs were shot -- dead tired.

Monday: My race simulation was technically over but still another hard day on the bike.  Meyer and I embarked from Glendora (east of Pasadena) and headed straight up for the next 3 hours to the ski lifts at Mt. Baldy.  What an incredibly challenging and scenic ride.  22 of the 28 miles of climbing through the Glendora Pass were on a gorgeous road closed to vehicle traffic -- no cars, banked turns, great pavement and breathtaking views.  Just a few cyclists, a couple badass land-lugers and one coyote to keep us company.  We climbed above the snow line into the idyllic Alpine village of Mt. Baldy and finished the last 3 miles of the climb on very steep (15% grade) and trecherous switchbaks all the way to the ski lifts at 6350 feet of altitude.  I felt like I was in Switzerland.  Cool clean (but thin!) air, log cabins and that unmistakeable pine scent.  After a brief rest we headed back down -- and what took us 3 hours to climb only took us 1 only one hour to descend, averaging 28 mph despite rollers and a few climbs!  Again, no cars & banked pavement -- the most fun I've had on a bike in a long time and so refreshing to traverse new terrain.  It was epic!

Nutrition:  For the most part I handled the nutrition / food intake aspect pretty well, although I need to take in more solid real food on the long rides.  I have to start eating more than just bars and Perpetum and get used to real food.  So I still have some experimenting to do here.

All told, the past few days have given me a huge confidence boost going into Ultraman. That 52 mile run still has me scared stiff, but I'm getting there....Today I'm tired, but not too bad.  Ready for more.....