IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Friday, January 26, 2007

Swim Analysis

About two weeks ago, I had a swim analysis done by Brett Petersen of Petersen Performance Lab. I've been swimming for quite a number of years, but I've never seen myself on video and I've never had any type of analysis done.

I was filmed both under water, where I swam directly toward the camera and above water, while he walked alongside the pool as I swam. All in all, the taping part couldn't have been more than 2 minutes. I didn't know what to expect as I anxiously awaited the DVD to come back to me.

As soon as I picked up the DVD and came home, I popped it into the computer. This software automatically downloaded and on my screen there is a large window where the video can be played. To the right of that, there is a comment section. Below those two windows are smaller still frame shots of various points in time during my stroke where Brett felt it was important to point out some key element. Included on the still frames are yellow markings to indicate what to look at in each particular view. If you double click on the still frame, it will pop into the large window on the left and the corresponding comments to that particular position during your stroke show up.

You can view the video all at once or in small sections. There is a drop down menu to select which video you want to see (above surface, below, first swim, second swim, etc.). Now some of the things that were pointed out are not news to me. However, by looking closely at some of the elements of my stroke, I see things that I do in the water that I never realized. You can think you're doing something perfectly correct, that is until you see it on camera!

Since I've reviewed the DVD, I've been focusing on correcting some of the flaws in my stroke. The unfortunate part of working so intensely on technique is that you cannot maintain your speed. I find myself trying to think of about 5-6 different things all at once that I'm trying to imrpove. Next thing you know, I'm being lapped by the other people in my lane!

But this is just the first session of a two-part clinic. The idea is to be taped, review the analysis and work on making improvements, and then I will be taped again in a few weeks. At that time, I will be taped again and then the two videos will be compared to see if I've been able to make any improvements.

I've realized how difficult it is to try to change something that you do on autopilot. You must concentrate on the improvements on every length until it then becomes habit. But when you've done something the same way for so long that you don't even think about it anymore, well, it's easy to be distracted (remember those hairballs I talked about during my 100x100x100 swim??). And then to keep those new and improved skills in tact while you pick up speed and/or try to sprint is even more of a challenge.

So I'm working very hard at trying to improve my stroke and I've even asked my lane mates to point out when they see I'm making some of my habitual mistakes (and they're MORE than happy to help me out with that!). The next taping is at the end of February and it will be interesting to see how much of an improvement, if any I can make. Even more interesting will be to see if I can drop my normal interval times.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

14 Degrees

That was the reading according to my car as I drove to yesterday morning's long run. This was by far the coldest day I had run in this winter. As I pulled into the parking lot to wait for my running companions to arrive, I tried to psych myself up for the drastic temperature change my body was about to experience when I stepped out of the car.

Living my whole life in Chicago and running the past 3 years throughout the winter, I was prepared for this temperature. Unfortunately, I seem to have some circulation issues which make me struggle in effort to keep my toes, fingers, ears and nose warm in this type of weather. Today, I had a doubled up on my pants and socks. I tripled up on upper body coverage and gloves. Add a balaclava and a big, thick hat and I was good to go, or so I thought.

Luckily, it wasn't windy today. No matter how cold it is, you can always's that wind that sometimes will force you to cut a run short (and we all know how much runners hate that!). The first few miles were chilly, but nothing too bad. I decided that I dressed a little TOO warmly on top...should've left the running jacket in the car. And with temperatures so low, ice began to form. It formed on my pants, below my knees. It formed all over my hat. My hair had icicles around it that made it look like strings of spaghetti. And scariest of all is that my eyelashes had developed icicles on them. No matter how many times you try to wipe those away, they just end up coming back. Your best bet is to just leave them there until they melt on their own accord when you get back into the car and crank the heat!

About half way through the run, we circled back to the parking lot to "drop off" those runners who didn't have quite as far to go today. It was at that point I was offered hand warmers. These nifty little things are designed to heat up immediately when you open the package. They are about 3 times the size of a sugar packet and they fit neatly into the second of my 3 pairs of gloves I was wearing. It took about 10 minutes for the heat to restore my fingers with feeling sensation. And I just moved these wonderful little items to the front and back of my fingers and thumbs regularly throughout the rest of the run. It made my run so much more comfortable. The only thing better at that point was going to be the cup of hot chocolate I would wrap my fingers around as soon as I had the opportunity.

I was thankful this run was over. Not for the distance, but for the fact that I couldn't keep my ears, nose and toes warm in the second part of the run. It made the last 3 miles feel like 10. I immediately reminded myself that we are now toward the end of January and very soon, the temperatures will be rising. Couldn't be soon enough.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Strength Training

This is the time of year where I head back into the gym to start working on strength training. The goal of a triathlete is not to "bulk up". I don't know, never really worked out with weights enough for THAT to be a problem. According to Joe Friel, one of triathlon's experts, he recommends the following exercises: Hip extension (squat, leg press or step up), standing bent-arm, lat pull down, chest press/push ups, seated row, working one of your weaknesses, then some sort of ab crunch.
In the past week or so, CJB read some book titled "The New Rules of Weightlifting" or something along those lines. So it has completely changed up what I've known to become the "usual" weight routine.
Now the nice thing about making a change like this is that the first couple of times, you really feel it. Your mucles are sore in places you didn't even know you had. Yes, that's sort of a sick way of looking at it, but if I can feel that weight workout the next day, I feel like I've accomplished something. But here's the problem: It's boring.
Before I started doing triathlons, I stayed completely out of the weight room. Sure, I may have used a few machines here and there, but go in the room with all the free weights, mirrors and all the big, bulky, sweaty guys in their little diego T-shirts making all kinds of grunting noises? Uh uh. Ain't havin' any part of that. No way. I'd look stupid because I wouldn't even know the first thing about what exercise to do.
Well, now that has changed to be almost completely the opposite. Almost all my exercises are in the free weight room, I sorta know what I am doing, but the best part is that there are very few of those dudes that are constantly staring at themselves in the mirrors. Well, I'm sure that still happens at some clubs. And that can be quite intimidating, whether you're a female or not! And I read somewhere that if you have to make some huge kind of noise like that to lift the weight you're using, you're lifting too much weight. And now that I know that, it sort of makes me laugh at the guys that do it.
As we get older, strength training becomes more important. I think I read somewhere that we start losing muscle mass steadily as we get older, IF we do not do some sort of work in the gym. This doesn't have to be some big, long weight routine that needs to be done 3 times a week. Once a week serves the purpose.
Back to my's boring. In fact, if I didn't have a buddy or two that make plans to meet me at the club for a weight session (a.k.a. Eye Candy), well, then I probably wouldn't do it. At least when you go with friends, you have someone to suffer through the workout with. And it does make it less boring. So you get to have a little social time and get your workout in at the same time. It also makes the time go by faster.
I consider myself a novice when it comes to strength training. Most times, I don't know what exercise works which muscles unless there's a little picture on the machine. Last year, it was nice to have my coach tell me what exercises to do and at what weights. But I'm flyin' by the seat of my pants a little more this year. So I don't know if the right way to think about it is "any strength training is better than none" or "You must follow this structured set of exercises or you are wasting your time" is true.
So I guess we'll just follow the book. And as long as I feel that workout in the days after, I guess I'll know at least something is going on over there!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

To Shuffle Or Not To Shuffle?

For the last 5 years, around this time I struggle with the same decision. Should I enter the Shamrock Shuffle? The Shamrock Shuffle is an 8K (4.97 miles) running race held in the city of Chicago. The race is unofficially considered the "kick off" of the new running season. It is the largest 8K in the country with some 15,000 entrants. The race is well run with a very popular post-race party.

Every year, I have flashbacks of the crowds and the hassle to get through packet pick up. Same hassle finding a place to park before the race. Once again, crowded in the starting chute. Really crowded running through the 4.97 miles. More, sweaty crowds at the finish line. Trying to reunite with anyone you came down with requires strategy and excellent vision. I haven't made it to the post-race party in the last 4 years. The traffic jam of people trying to show their wristband to enter was always just too much for me to deal with.

So, last year, I earned myself a "Preferred" Start. This just means I can start a little bit ahead of the main group of runners. Those people would be first-timers, walkers and those runners that treat this race as the name indicates, a "shuffle". Not a big deal, but it sure did make my running experience there last year more pleasant! I didn't have to zig zag around a bunch of walkers or slower runners, nor did I have to try to pass those groups of 3-4 people who line up in a row like they're the linemen stepping up to the line of scrimmage.

Based on my performance last year, I believe I could register for this "Preferred" start again, which is definitely a plus. But is it enough to deal with all the hassle? And the entry fee for the race isn't exactly a bargain. These high-profile races with big perks (like the post-race party featuring a popular band) are never cheap. It's just 4.97 miles. I could put on my shoes, run 5 miles from my house, go in and take a shower and sit down to write another blog entry in the time it would take me to drive down to this race and park!

And every year, I go through this process of trying to decide if it's worth it. Sure, I love driving down with my fellow runners, hanging out with them before the race, sharing stories of each person's individual account of the race when we meet up at the finish line, and I especially love it if I end up running well, but I still waver on whether it's all worth it or not.

Now I know there are a lot of you out there that read this blog and never've TOLD me this! So I'm calling you people out and would like to invite you to share your opinions on the Shamrock Shuffle and whether or not you think I should sign up for the 2007 event. I'd also like to know if any of you struggle with this decision year-to-year or do I just need to get a life!??!?!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Boston Confirmation

**Since I may never get another letter like this, I thought I'd post it to share it with you. -MJ

Dear M J,

This is to notify you that your entry into the 111th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, 2007 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.You can verify your acceptance into the field by searching the 111th Boston Marathon "Entrants" database on the B.A.A. web site, Additionally, an "Acceptance Card" will be mailed to you via US Postal Service mail.In early April 2007, an official Number Pick-up Card and extensive information regarding the B.A.A. Boston Marathon and related race week activities will be mailed to you via US Postal Service first class mail. If you do not receive your Number Pick-up Card (required to claim number) and brochure by April 7, please contact our Registration Office at 508-435-6905 for further instructions. All registration related inquiries may be directed to the same telephone number. All other inquires should be sent to that bib numbers will not be distributed on Race Day. Your travel arrangements should take into account picking up your number at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston on Friday, April 13 from noon to 6:00 p.m., or Saturday, April 14 or Sunday, April 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you in April!


Boston Athletic Association