Archive for April, 2008
OK, so admittedly this is a little off topic, but it’s my blog and after three harrowing years of law school, I feel I’m entitled to a little leeway in this area.
Just over five hours from now I’ll be finished with my last law school exam. Granted, 3.5 of those next five hours are going to be horrible, but I’m used to it by now. I don’t go through the actual ceremony until the end of next week, but as of 12:15 pacific daylight time I will be, for all intensive purposes, a law school graduate.
Now this sounds great, but when I think about it, I’m not sure I’m ready to graduate. Think about it: right now my daily schedule consists of waking up when I wake up (except on school days), working out for a couple of hours, studying for three or four hours, and then basically doing whatever I feel like. No pressing commitments. No bosses. No job. No stress, really.
Not having a job is a big bonus for training. This benefit disappears partially within a few weeks when I start my bar study course, but even then I’m only in class from 9-1 five days a week. Of course, you have to tack on another 4-5 hours of studying every day onto that, so it’s really more like having a full-time job. In September, all the lazy days of summer will disappear completely when I start my job. My first triathlon is the Sunday after my first full week at work, so my timing appears to be good on this as well since I would be in a tapering week anyways (great because I’ll be in training in San Francisco all week). After that training week, I can look forward to a consistent 9-7 schedule five days a week, plus a few hours on the weekend (yeah, I know, but that’s life at a national law firm for you…).
It will be nice to have a consistent income and be able to pay off my student loans, but I’m sure I’ll be longing for those random Tuesdays where my biggest concern was whether I should ride the coastal route or hit the hills for the day.
One thing is for certain though: I will NEVER have to take another law school exam after today. Sure, there’s that whole “bar exam” thing, but I’ve heard California’s is really easy so I’m not too concerned about it.
During my stint with training last year I started to notice something quite odd: every time I either ran or biked by a McDonald’s I found that I was getting cut off by cars either pulling into the parking lot or cars exiting the drive thru (e.g. pulling halfway out into the street and blocking both the sidewalk and the bike lane). I never thought much about it–I figured it was just a silly coincidence based on the simple traffic flows into and out of McDonald’s–but the other day I found a post by another triathlete that lives in Illinois that experienced the same frustrating event (i.e. a car pulling out of the drive thru that almost ends with you flying over their hood and ruining your bike).
Today, it happened to me again on my run. Right as I was running by, a guy (with a breakfast sandwich in his hand no less) almost hits me pulling out the drive thru. I had to jump out of the way of the car just to avoid getting my knees taken out. The worst part was that the guy didn’t even apologize–he looked mad at me for getting in his way.
This event got me thinking: what is it with the McDonald’s Phenomenon? Is it simply a pure coincidence? Is it that it happens everywhere, but I notice it more because it occurs in front of a landmark like McDonald’s? Is it because I harbor some deep down feeling of superiority over people who choose to put that filth into their bodies while I, the superior one, am doing something healthy? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the exact opposite of this last idea: maybe these people are ashamed of what they’re eating and they want to hit me (and all other people who exercise) with their cars because I make them feel even guiltier about shoving down a triple cheeseburger at 10:30 in the morning as I jog or ride by.
This last theory is probably my favorite. The thought of it made me chuckle a couple of times during my run.
But, seriously though, I enjoy a bag of fries from McDonald’s when I’m hungover as much as anyone. All I ask is that if you are going to go to McDonald’s, please look both ways before exiting and remember: that triple cheeseburger will still be there in five minutes, but you might not have a trailer to eat it in four months down the road if you hit me with your car.
This is a question that has run through my mind numerous times as I stare at the black line on the bottom of the pool. Last week, as I went back and forth in the pool, I started to try to pay attention to my body positioning and I realized that one of my biggest problems is probably related to my balance in the water. I feel like I’m dragging my legs at times and any time I’ve tried to do a balance drill I’ve practically drowned myself.
It was then that I decided that I’d go ahead and pony up the $45 for a swimming lesson. If I like the instructor and it helps, I’ll probably go back for a few more. At first, I was reluctant to spend the money on instruction but then I realized that this was just silly–I don’t hesitate to drop 100 times that amount of money on a bike but don’t want to pay for something that will help my form, racing and training. That’s just silly in my opinion.
So, I have my first ever (in my entire life) official swim lesson about 48 hours from now and I’ll post a review of how it went sometime after that. A little over 24 hours from now I’ll be taking my last law school final ever, so I’m pretty happy about that right now. It’s been a long three years. I’m just hoping the next eleven months or so until the 70.3 doesn’t feel like the same amount of time.
[Update: Here’s a post after my first swim lesson.] This post goes into detail about why you might want to invest the money in a good swim coach. That $45 was quite possibly the best money I’ve ever spent on any of my training.
I’ve spoken in earlier posts about the fact that I’ve felt like my legs have hit a wall lately. Even with rest days interspersed, my legs just haven’t had that snap in them over the last week. After taking a look at a couple of online training plans (and realizing that I probably need to just pony up the cash for a coach), I realized that I’ve been leaving out something that I had incorporated into my last training plan: recovery weeks.
Put simply, recovery weeks are weeks where you lower your training sessions, mileage, and time from the previous week. This slight drawback will give your muscles some extra time to deal with the increased strain you’ve been putting on them over the past few weeks and will help give you some of the snap back in your legs. After the recovery week, you go back into a building block of another 4 weeks or so before taking another recovery week.
I’ve lucked out a bit with my schedule in that my school schedule this week (finals week–my last set of finals in law school ever!) was already going to prevent me from putting in as much time as I would have otherwise. So, I’m making this a recovery week. Nothing hard, no interval sets, and one less training session for each sport.
Hopefully I’ll feel the result at the beginning of next week.
If you’ve been into cycling training for any amount of time, you’ve no doubt come across the Computrainer. The Computrainer features power-based training, customizable courses, pedal spin analysis, and much more.
I purchased a Computrainer at the beginning of last summer in part because I knew my work hours would limit my training and in part because it looked really cool. I sold it several months back because, at the time, I wasn’t planning on getting back into triathlon and, if I had decided to, I live in San Diego so weather is rarely a problem. In the time I had it, here’s what I thought:
Setup/Breakdown. The initial set-up can be a bit confusing. The directions included are not the clearest and it took a bit of guess work to get it going the first time. After you figure out the settings and how to get it going, it is fairly easy to get set up again. If you plan on using it on your main training bike, beware that all the cords and attachments (in addition to causing quite a mess), will probably take you about 5-10 minutes to set up each time you’d like to use it (assuming you didn’t leave them attached). Overall, it’s not that big of a hassle, but it does take quite a bit more time than a traditional trainer.
Power Monitoring. This feature is one that separates the Computrainer from most other trainers. The power display provides a constant readout of your wattage output which is a great feature for training. When you combine this feature with the customizable courses and resistance training, this is a very valuable tool.
Resistance & Customizable Courses. This was far and away my favorite feature of the Computrainer. Now, in order to create the customizable courses specific to certain roads (e.g. your favorite local ride), you have to purchase the TopoUSA software and racermate companion which allows you to create routes in TopoUSA and then convert those routes to Computrainer routes. The Computrainer will translate elevation changes into increased resistance to create the sensation of a true outdoor ride (something that no traditional trainer can do). If you don’t want to buy the software, there are many courses available for download for free, including all the Ironman courses.
Spin Scan. Have you ever wondered if you have an efficient pedal stroke? Well the Spin Scan will let you know pretty quickly. It analyzes your stroke and uses graphs to show you where your points of emphasis in your stroke are which can help you to have a more rounded stroke. Pretty useful tool.
Overall, the device is far and away the best trainer on the market. I have the Blackburn Trackstand Ultra as well, and although this is a great stationary trainer, it’s not even in the same league of sophistication as the Computrainer (of course, the $1300 price difference might help to explain some of this variation). The Computrainer is a product best suited for serious triathletes (e.g. training for a half ironman or higher) who have limited time and/or live in an area with inconsistent weather. Of course, having an extra $1600 or so lying around doesn’t hurt either.
I very well may end up purchasing another Computrainer later this year in order to assist with my training after I start work. I really like the device, I just wish it had a wireless cadence meter and handlebar computer.
Admittedly, my legs were still a little tired for some reason, but I forced myself to head out. I think I may have been ramping up my distances a little too quickly and that, combined with the heavy weight lifting, taxed my legs to the point where they just didn’t want to respond anymore. I will be giving my legs a few days off next week due to the last set of finals I’ll be taking in law school, so I’m hoping that I’ll get the snap back in my legs.
As far as the bike, everything I wrote in my first post has held true. The ride comfort on this bike is great. Even in the aero position I find myself feeling comfortable once I get warmed up. The bike handles road noise quite well even with my tires up to 120.
The only trouble I’ve had on the bike was my front derailer was a little off, but I stopped by Nytro on my ride today and they took care of it on the spot.
One thing I’ve come to love on this bike is the handling around curves and corners. Even in the aero bars, a simple lean will take you around a corner no problem. The bike doesn’t shake and exudes confidence in taking corners (something that is nice because I had a couple of unfortunate wrecks on my road bike due to its poor cornering).
My ride speed today was about the same as it was last time, but the winds had gone back to normal so I didn’t experience that flying feeling on the way back. I actually wish the winds were at my back on the second half of that ride…my legs were burning…I could have used the help.
This morning a triathlete was killed by a shark during an open water training session in North County San Diego. Although I didn’t know the victim of the attack, as a triathlete who is a member of the SDTC, my heart goes out to his family, friends, training partners, and all those who were present on the swim this morning.
As an individual who has lived in San Diego for many years, I can tell you that this type of shark attack is unprecedented and having such a freak attack occur while an individual is on a training swim is absolutely tragic. A short write-up of the event is located here.
Update: Click here for a more in-depth story related to the attack.