2014 Goals & Training/Competition Overview

I’m happy that 2013 is in the past. It wasn’t my best race year and towards the end of the season, I became unmotivated. However, in terms of health & fitness, I’ve been eating (somewhat) healthier & started CrossFit, which changed my way of thinking about endurance training.

2014 Health & Fitness goals

  • Train smarter — Rather than just going out and logging miles, I plan to focus more on improving strength, speed & power. Of course, occasional long-distances are still needed to train pacing, I don’t need to go race-distance every time out. A couple weeks ago I started reading “Power Speed Endurance” by CrossFit Endurance founder, Brian MacKenzie. It talks about the importance of strength & skill training in endurance sports. This book, along with other reading, has inspired me to think differently about how I train.
    "The unkowns" a tough WOD that I didn't finish on veterans day.
  • Make rest & recovery a priority — As I write this, I’m nursing a sore throat which is likely the result of having too much fun & poor nutrition over the holiday break. Although I feel slightly guilty about taking two days off in a row, and kind of wanted to see where my “Cindy” (a CrossFit benchmark WOD, which was what I would have done at C-TOWN today) time was, I know taking it easy is the best thing for my body & training efforts today. I’m sure I could have pushed through it, but I also know it would put more stress on my body, which is already fighting whatever I have, & increase recovery time. In the past, I would have just pushed through and made my illness last longer. I’m also using heart rate variability monitoring to gage recovery & determine when to go hard vs take it easy. This metric has been used by pro athletes for years but until recently, has been too complicated & expensive for amateur athletes. Now apps like Sweetwater SweetBeat ($4.99) & inexpensive heart rate monitors like the Polar H7 ($60) make it much more accessible.
    Sweetwater HRV
  • Continue to improve nutrition — I’ve come a long way from eating fast food daily in college until now. I’m forcing myself to try new, healthy foods and incorporating them into my diet on a regular basis. My diet is still far from optimal, but I want to continue to improve what I eat by making intentional food choices based on nutritional needs.
  • Calendar a training schedule — I typically train based on availability & what I’m feeling that day. I’d like to start being more strategic about what I’m doing & make sure I’m constantly varying the training & challenging myself.
    Bike Trainer & Computer

2014 Training & Competition Outlook

  • January — CrossFit 4-6x / week. At least one workout in each sport per week with a focus on skill.
  • February – May — CrossFit 3x / week & re-start Masters swimming once a week. Train each sport twice per week. Traveling to Vegas for work for about a week in April, will need to plan travel workouts—and might drop in a CrossFit gym there!
  • June — Continued training. Electric Run 5k. This just sounds like a great time!
  • July — Continued training. Fairport Triathlon. Will be a “B” race to get ready for GG9. That said, it’s been a challenging race for me (especially the swim) in the past.
  • August — Taper training. Gay Games 9 (GG9). I plan to compete in Sprint Triathlon + 100m Free Swimming. This is my main event for the year and likely one of the biggest competitions I’ll ever compete in.

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So I tried CrossFit…

…and I liked it!

"The unkowns" a tough WOD that I didn't finish on veterans day.
“The unknowns” a tough WOD that I didn’t complete on Veterans day. There’s more to it that didn’t fit on the screen!

I’ve run into so many people over the past year or so who do CrossFit and not one had ever had anything bad to say about it. That said, I had the misconception that it was some crazy, unsafe workout routine where people just got hurt and threw up. About five months ago I decided to give it a shot—after all, no one had anything bad to say, so why not. At that point I was a little burnt out from my tri training, so I needed a change of pace anyways.

There are quite a few CrossFit gyms, or “boxes” as they call them, in the Cleveland area and I knew people at a few of them. I decided to try CTOWN for no other reason than it was a convenient location. They offered a free “Bootcamp” classes try it out, so one warm Saturday afternoon, I showed up and gave it a shot. I arrived about 10 minutes early while another class was wrapping up. Everyone had amazing bodies, dripping with sweat and they all looked like they were going to pass out. Loud music was playing as the coach walked around encouraging everyone to keep going. A buzzer went off and everyone had a sigh of relief. Although for a minute or two everyone looked exhausted, and many laying on the ground, they all quickly recovered and started smiling and congratulating each other on a good workout.

Then it was time for the bootcamp class. Carl, the head coach at CTOWN, rounded up the class and had us run 400m followed by some more warmup drills. After that, he showed us the bootcamp WOD (workout of the day), demonstrated the moves it involved and pointed out how do do them correctly. He spent the most amount of time on squats. I now know why—a large majority of the moves in CrossFit involve some kind of squat movement, including wall balls. If my memory is correct the WOD that day involved rowing, pushups, wall balls and air squats. It was a 20 minute AMREP (as many rounds as possible). The workout was intense, a lot of sweat was shed and I was sore the next day.

After going through their training camp (conditioning program) I’ve continued to go back regularly. What’s great about CrossFit workouts is that they are fast but intense—most WODs are under 30 minutes of work time. I no longer have a concern about the program being unsafe. They spend so much time making sure you are doing the moves right (and safe) emphasizing quality over quantity (or weight you can’t lift). The workouts are also very scalable. If you can’t do a handstand pushup, you can do a box pushup or a regular pushup and work your way up to the full move. The vibe in the gym is nothing but positive. No intimidating body builders making you feel week—just good, encouraging people.

Although I’m currently CrossFitting 4-6 times a week, I’ll probably cut back and focus more on tri-specific training around February. That said, I’ve been read a lot of research lately that talks about how short, high-intensity interval (including strength) training can improve endurance sport performance. Just last week I had my best 100y free swim time in a while—and I haven’t been swimming much in the past few months. CrossFit is, by design, broad and general making it great training for any sport, physically demanding job or just life in general.

Cool graffiti outside the gym
Cool graffiti outside the gym

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Two races in two weeks

Ok so first I need to confess, I’m really late posting this—been lazy about blogging lately…

This summer I competed in two sprint triathlons, two weekends in a row. Although having only one week in-between isn’t ideal, it wasn’t too bad. That said, neither were my best race.

Lake Metroparks Lighthouse Triathlon | Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fairport Tri 2013 by seanskisez

This was my second time competing in this race. I didn’t really take this race too seriously and didn’t prep as I should have. Usually I stay away from alcohol completely for a week prior to a race and I didn’t follow that rule this time. The Friday prior I had drank a little too much thinking it wouldn’t effect me. The night before I also ate dinner late & went to bed late. The race is about a 40 min drive from home and, of course, I was rushing to get there on time giving me almost no time to prep once I got there. Typically I like to get setup in the transition area, warm up, listen to music & mentally prepare for the race ahead—that didn’t happen. Standing at the starting line, I also started to feel dehydrated. I was already off to a bad start and the race hadn’t even started yet.

During the swim I felt overwhelmed and had to stop and catch my breath a few times. Thankfully there were spots I could stand as the course is just off the beach. I just couldn’t get my breathing pattern down right and I felt overwhelmed by the other competitors around me. This theme of just not feeling right continued throughout the race, although not as bad during the bike & run. I finished the race with a time of 1:35:21, much slower than last year’s time of 1:19:10.

Results (Time | Overall place out of 298 | age group (M 25-29) place out of 12)

(500M swim, 20K bike, 5K run)
Swim+T1 23:29 | 260 | 11
Bike+T2 44:43 | 151 | 10
Run 26:59 | 116 | 9
Overall 1:35:21 | 173 | 10
Full results

Cleveland Triathlon | Sunday, August 4, 2013

I’ve competed in the Cleveland tri five times now (2009 super sprint, sprint distance all other years). Disappointed by my swim in the Fairport tri, I was determined to enter the water confident and ready to race, so I dedicated a good amount of my training the week in between to swimming. It paid off! I placed 3rd in my age group (out of 14) in the swim & felt great. I got to the transition area early enough to warm up & prep for the race. I also made sure to get a good position from the start (as to avoid the starting line wrestling match in the water)! The bike went well too. I felt good the entire ride & finished a respectable 4th in my age group. Then it went down hill. I was feeling great up until the first few meters of the run. A sharp pain started in along the tibia on both of my legs. It continued through the entire run. I finished with a pace of 10:32/mi (my normal pace is around 7:30-8:30). I was able to work out the soreness after a day or two, but I still can’t pinpoint why it happened (which is the most frustrating part).

Aside from the run, I was generally happy with my race. My overall time was slower than last year on the same course (2012 > 1:33:03), but I’m sure I would have been at least close had it not been for the sharp pain in my legs.

Results (Time | age group (M 30-34) place out of 14)

(0.5mi swim, 16mi bike, 5K run)
Swim 10:21 | 3
T1 3:46
Bike 54:26 | 4
T2 2:33
Run 32:38 | 10
Overall 1:43:45 | 6
Overall place 50 out of 159
Full results

This season I suppose I just wasn’t as motivated as I had been in the past—and it showed in my performance. I think I’ve been a bit bored with tri-specific training & didn’t spend enough time doing it. I plan to compete in sprint triathlon & 100M freestyle swimming in Gay Games 9 when they come to Cleveland in August of 2014. I’m really looking forward to that competition & hoping to come back to tri training in a few months with a renewed motivation for the sport. A few weeks ago I started going to CrossFit and it’s been a great change of pace for me. I look forward to the workouts (even though they kick my ass!) and feel much more motivated to workout than I did prior.

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Share the road, please!

Today I went out for a typical Saturday bike ride. Although I was a little disappointed with the unseasonable chilly weather, I eventually warmed up and started to get into the ride. Then, about 3/4 into the workout, I crashed.

It happened at Clifton & Warren in Lakewood. I was moving East at around 21mph through the intersection while an SUV coming West was in the turning lane, ready to turn. There is no stop sign at this intersection, therefore I clearly had the right-of-way so I didn’t stop or slow down. All of a sudden the SUV makes the turn. I slam on the breaks to avoid hitting it, the bike flips forward and I’m on the pavement while the SUV drives off.

Workout data from Strava at the time of the crash.
Workout data from Strava at the time of the crash.
Scene of the crime.
Scene of the crime.

I blacked out for only a few seconds then made my way to the sidewalk. I didn’t realize how bad I was and for a second contemplated getting back on the bike to ride home, but I didn’t know which way to go. A few people passed by and asked if I was OK and needed help. Someone had called 911 and a cop quickly showed up. I was having trouble talking to him so he called a medic. My blood pressure was high (looking at my workout data, it went from 144 bpm before the crash to 185 bpm right after) and at first I wasn’t remembering things so they put me on a board with a neck brace and took me to Fairview Hospital. In the ambulance I started to remember things and became more cognisant.

The nurses cleaned up my face while a doctor examined me. He used three sutures to close up a cut in my eyebrow and ordered a CT scan of my head and spine to make sure there was no brain bleeding, broken bones or misalignment. The CT came back showing there were no major problems and I was discharged hours later. All and all, I ended up with some bad bruises on my face and back as well as a cut in my eyebrow. Thankfully, I was wearing a helmet. If I wasn’t, things probably would have been a lot worse! WEAR A HELMET! 

Thanks helmet!
Thanks helmet!

Drivers need to realize that cyclists follow the same rules of the road as drivers. I realize that some don’t, and that’s their fault. But unless this driver was distracted and didn’t see me, they likely thought I was supposed to stop for them. This exact situation has happened to me a few times before, although in the past I was able to stop or move out of the way. In one instance, the driver actually gave me the finger for not stoping for him.

Unfortunately this driver will likely get away with it. But if the witness did get the plate number, the driver could be charged with a hit-and-run. I had actually contemplated putting my GoPro on my handelbars facing forward prior to the ride but ended up rushing out the door and not doing it. I was I had, then I would have got the plate on camera (and have some cool footage to share!).

I’m sharing this story in hopes that it plays a tiny part in raising awareness. More people are using bikes, especially in urban areas, and we all just need to share the road. Just this past week Chef Jonathon Sawyer made local headlines when he was clipped by a city bus while on his bike, thankfully he was ok. Its unfortunate that it takes people actually getting hit for this conversation to happen, but I’m glad it’s happening. Ironically, I actually responded to Channel 5 reporter Kristin Volk on Twitter a few days ago sharing this same situation. She was asking for examples of drivers not sharing the road. Little did I know it would happen again today resulting in a crash.

The damage to me. Neck brace was just a precaution before they did a CT scan.
The damage to me. Neck brace was just a precaution before they did a CT scan.
The only damage to my bike. Apparently I shielded it from the road.
The only damage to my bike. Apparently I shielded it from the road.
My trusty Oakley Flak Jackets I've used for at least four years. Partially protected my face, but also cut my eyebrow. There's dried blood on the frame. Looks like it's time for new lenses.
My trusty Oakley Flak Jackets I’ve used for at least four years. Partially protected my face, but also cut my eyebrow. There’s dried blood on the frame. Looks like it’s time for new lenses.
Bike waiting in the ER. Thanks to the medics for taking it with us and not leaving it.
Bike waiting in the ER. Thanks to the medics for taking it with us and not leaving it.

 

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