Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boston Marathon Weekend!

This past weekend is probably one of my favorite weekends in Boston. This year it was full jam packed with lots of FUN things to do all revolving around sports! How can you not love it! Here goes the list:
·         Boston Red Sox game on Friday night
·         Boston Bruins Game 2 of playoffs on Saturday night
·         Boston Celtics Game 1 of playoffs on Sunday night
·         Boston red Sox game at 11 am and of course the Boston Marathon!!!!!!!!!!
To top that all off, we also had the marathon expo going on with lots of good stuff to sample from gels, bars, recovery drinks, to head phones that are guaranteed to NOT fall out of your year (ummm WRONG) to recovery products such as the Zoot recovery tights, socks, 2XU, Skins, and of course every apparel company you can think of had their own booth! I LOVE walking around checking out new stuff!
I started off my weekend with a long run on Friday afternoon – my longest run to date – 14.1 miles through the Newton hills! It’s this time of the year I always wish I was running the Boston marathon! I had a great run, and as tired and sleep deprived I was, I felt the best I ever felt on any long run. Minus the part, where I didn’t bring gloves thinking it was warm enough, and literally had thoughts of losing my hands in the last few miles! Ouch!
Saturday, I was supposed to ride with few peeps and do my 2:45 long ride. Last minute cancellation, combined with freezing temps, and howling winds, I switched my Saturday and Sunday workouts and did a 1:30 ride, 30 min run BRICK. Turns out 1:30 on the bike are all my frozen feet had in them anyways. I felt like I was running on ice blocks the entire duration of my run! Exactly the same feeling I had last year back in December. It’s April people!
After the ride/run, I cleaned up and headed to the expo! This year I actually even bought something! The new Zoot Sports CompressRx Recovery Sock J 

They are suppose to be just as good as the full tights that I own and wear after most hard workouts, and yes, I do notice a difference in the speed of recovery. There are times however, when in the middle of the summer, it’s simply way too hot to put those on, so I added a pair of fashionable high socks to my assortment. I will now definitely fit in and continue to promote the triathlon fashion of short tights and long socks! :) Buckle up peeps! In the buying process I have actually found out that my calves are size “Medium”! Oh oh, only on size up, and they won’t have a recovery sock for my mega calves! Hello cycling legs! No wonder it took me almost a year to find a pair of skinny jeans that would fit my calves.
I also tried a very cool and super light pair of Saucony racing flats the A4! Very comfy shoe, but I got some work to do before I can run in those I think.

I also tried on bunch of headphones that are supposedly NOT going to fall out of my ear when I run, but I am still not sold. Ear buds are just not for me.
Few hours went by, and I am pretty sure I visit just about every single expo booth, felt more recovered than ever since I just sampled about 100 different recovery bars/drinks, and I was ready for some REAL food! J California Pizza Kitchen here I come! Yum!
Sunday was supposed to be a wash out but it actually turned out pretty nice! Sleep won over my 2:45 bike ride, and I made the decision with the help of my buddy Rod to ride the Boston marathon course on Monday morning instead! What a great choice! I did at least get in the pool and swam 4,000 yards on Sunday … J
Marathon Monday was here before I knew it. Early am wake up call, and off I was. Met up with a few friends, and come 6:45 we were off riding towards the start line in Hopkinton. It sure was WINDY!!!!!!! The headwinds were crazy at times, which meant a great tail wind for everyone on the way back, and of course good for the runners! The sun was coming out, and even though it was actually pretty chilly, I think I managed to get a bit of sun on my face! The first 26 miles to Hopkinton was stop and go due to traffic, but I still managed to pick up couple of rude wheel suckers along the route! I am glad I could be the shield for you two unknown dudes! The motorcycles at Hopkinton were ready! However when some of those guys proceeded to attempt to turn around, we had to move out of the way as one cop told us:"Some of these guys are not that good at riding on these" ... Hmmm .. Sweet? :)

The way back was smooth sailing! Roads closed to traffic, and no one but bunch of us cyclist! Only if roads were like this ALL the time! The tail wind was for real, and actually quite strong and scary especially when it turned into side winds! Myself or my bike nor wheels are made for cross winds! Yikes!  My death grip was in full effect! With the exception of couple cops who tried telling us that roads were closed, I was able to ride all the way to the finish line flying by the countless water stops, volunteers and fans who were getting ready to cheer everyone on! Definitely an awesome,awesome atmosphere and that was at least a good hour before anyone was going to run by these people! They were claiming their first row, and best seats in the house bright and early! J
Now that I can say I rode the course, I definitely want to run it one of these days. It’s just about finding a qualifying race, qualifying, and fitting it into my schedule!
I was back home, and ready to go back to cheer everyone on, and of course watch the pro men and women fly by mile 23 by 11 am.
The leading guys absolutely flying by mile 23!
video

The leading women again flying by mile 23!
video

Now if I can just have half of a kick that Ryan Hall has, I’ll be flying like Chrissie Wellington. I guess you have to kick your own ass with each step when you run sub 5 min miles, sub 4:45 miles most of the way.

And here is Ryan’s garmin file: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/80065732 ... talk about consistency!
 After I spent some time at mile 23, we headed to the finish line! It was a FUN, FUN, FUN day! This is the mayhem of runners trying to meet up with their families! Pure chaos!

Congrats to ALL who crossed the finish line yesterday! Your hard work and countless hours of running in the snow have paid off! J It sure has been a loooong looong winter at least for us locals!
My day ended at 9 pm after some quality time spent with some great company. Marathon Monday is and always will be a super special day in Boston! Can’t wait till next year! J
If you are like me, and are thinking about running Boston, check out E3 Training Solutions(http://www.e3ts.com/) and coach Jorge Martinez (http://coachjorgem.blogspot.com/) who may just help you get to the finish line! This year, he was also the coach for the "Run for Research" team with 240+ runners, helping runners of ALL levels achive the dream of crossing that famous finish line! For you speedsters - the fastest guy from the team crossed the finish line in a blazing fast sub 2:30!!!!! Sign me up! :) Oh wait - we are already working on it! :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My European Adventures - Part 1

This is part 1 of my 10 day business trip to Europe with a brief 3 day stop to my homeland of the Czech Republic. I visited 3 countries – Germany, Czech Republic, and Sweden, completed 7 different flights, and ran 48.61 miles in the process hoping that running will help me keep most of my biking/swimming fitness.
I left Boston on Sunday night - March 20th, and arrived in Munich Monday morning after a brief pit stop at the London Heathrow Int’l airport. The days of sleeping on the plane are gone! The little sleep I got was when dinner was served! Booooo! The flight itself was pretty uneventful. However, once we arrived in Munich, the action picked up a bit thanks to our driver a.k.a Mr. Mullet!  Up first was Ingolstadt, Germany!
Day 1:
Mr. Mullet not only had the best mullet I have seen in a long time (I was too tired to even take a picture, but it looked something like this), but he also thought that he was driving a F1 instead of a 8 passenger minivan with luggage stacked up to the ceiling.

We honestly made it to our hotel in Ingolstadt in about 20 min, when it really should have taken more like 45 min! We were absolutely flying like there were no other cars on the highway. We were going about 200 km/h the entire time! Let’s just say that I am glad we are all still alive. Monday was an arrival day, set up day for our sales meeting presentations the next two days, and we were able to get in the tour of AUDI facility, which was the highlight of the day! I had planned on getting a run in when we got to the hotel, but instead I laid down to take a quick 15 min nap, that turned into a 2 hour one! Oops!  The AUDI tour was awesome! It was a 2 hour tour, that really took us through most of the facility and we were able to witness how AUDI’s are made from scratch! Some quick facts before you are all bored:
·         Around 32,000 employees at the AUDI facility that work around the clock 6 days a week!
·         They make around 2,400 cars EVERY day!
·         Majority of the process is done by robots! Robots that will eat you alive if you bring your cell phone or a camera on the tour hence I don’t have any pictures to show you! They love the wave links! J … and they are HUGE!
·         There is a small grocery store on site that besides food also sells beer! Lots of it!
·         Workers can drink on the job! And they can drink however much they want, but since everyone knows who is responsible for what part on what car, and each car gets put through hell before reaching our hands, I don’t have to tell you what happens when mistakes happen and/or are repeated!
·         Each car travels through the process with a small box attached to the bottom of the car that gives the robots/employees info about what needs to happen at each of their stations in terms of special/custom features etc.
·         The middle console including the radio, gps navigator, cup holders etc. consists of about 150 various pieces, and one person puts it all together in a matter of minutes! It’s  a Lego Land!
·         The car literally gets put through hell, consistent rain, downpour, bumps,ice,  you name it, it probably goes through it,  before it gets into our hands – I would NOT want to be the driver doing the testing in this one tiny room! I am guessing he doesn’t drink much beer on his job! J
·         All employees get asked once a year about their ideas on the overall process improvement/cost savings etc. Couple of years ago, an idea of one of the employees was implemented, which saved AUDI millions! The person was awarded a brand new AUDI of his choice as a sign of appreciation!
·         You can order your own car, travel to Audi, watch them make it, and then drive away in it!
·         Start saving your $$$$$$$$ now! J
And in the end, this is what you get! Apparently this is the up and coming most popular color on the market right now! Think chocolate! Yum!


Day 2:
I wasn’t going to let another day go by without moving, which meant an early am wakeup call! Ingolstadt isn’t exactly a very runner friendly town, and I really wanted to get in a good workout, and work up a great sweat rather then having to stop every 10 yards for lights, cars etc. Our hotel gym didn’t have a treadmill, but we found this!  24 hour McFit gym!  (pic. 39)

I wonder when McDonalds will start opening McFit’s in the U.S! It was more or so a planet fitness type setting, but what we didn’t know that no one works the front desk. We waited around for a bit, and since no one showed up, 3 of us “broke in” to McFit! I didn’t get up at 5:45 am to not get my run in! The rest of the day was spent in meetings, and ended with a quick trip to overpriced German outlet malls, another dinner out, and a few drinks! Come 2 am, I was finally back in bed – phew! What a looooooooong day! 
Day 3:
Another early morning wake up call! This time we decided to run outside! As I suspected, Ingolstadt really wasn’t runner friendly, and this run involved bunch of stopping and going due to traffic etc. , but it was better than nothing! More meetings followed, and in the pm was my flight from Munich to Prague! Czech Republic here I come!  To say that I was excited was an understatement!!!!!!! At this point, I have consumed more alcohol than I had in the past year, and I couldn’t wait to get home to see my family whom I haven’t seen in about 2.5 years! 
Overall, Germany was alright. Sales meeting went great, but  I wasn’t really a fan of Ingolstadt I really wouldn’t care to come back here except if it was to pick my custom made Audi! J
Next up – MY HOME – CZECH REPUBLIC! J

 
 

Friday, April 1, 2011

How NOT to pace a TT!

Fast Splits Time Trial at the Multisport Expo at MIT
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/images/spacer.gif
I did this time trial last year as my first ever time trial. I really had no idea about power or what I was getting myself into at that time, but somehow pretty much exactly one year later, I felt like a super rookie again! Maybe because coach Jorge signed me up to go in the same heat as the elite/pro girls - the likes of Karen Smyers, Kristen Gohr - local pro cyclist, and Crystal Anthony who is training for the TT worlds this year!  Perhaps I should be a bit intimidated by these big names!

I really had a busy Saturday. I was leaving for 11 day trip to Europe the next day and I was only half way packed! I really didn’t have much time to think about this event, but I made my way over to the expo couple of hours before race start, and got my head in the game. Coach Jorge couldn’t be there, but I sure saw many familiar faces, and it was great to catch up with everyone! J

It was finally my turn to go. I got in a great 20 min + warm up with some pickups, and was ready for the show to get started or I should say for the pain to begin! I know by now what these all out efforts are all about! They sure can be extremely rewarding, or humbling! The power meter doesn’t lie! You either have it or you don’t! These tests or time trials are all about even pacing, and I have learned the hard way to not go out too hard because sustaining the super high power for 20 min is near impossible. My best results from the past resulted from a very even pacing or power that would increase as time went on and NOT the other way around.

This was a 6.03 mile time trial so I knew it will take a sub 20 min effort to make it happen. The goal was to try to stick around 240 watts as last time I tested I was around 232 watts. All was great, until we actually got hooked up to the computrainers, and the gun went off.  I honestly lost all senses and started to hammer! I felt great, I felt awesome, and I was hanging in with the big girlz! NOOOOOOT the best idea! As much as I knew I was shooting for around 240 Watts and a nice steady 6.03 mile trip through the hills of Central Park, I was keepin up with the pro’s! Now you can all try to guess without reading any further how long that lasted.

I hung with them for about the first 5 min or 2 or so miles, and then it all went downhill from there! And I mean downhill, straight into the pain cave! I was clearly NOT thinking, and got lost in the heat of the moment – NEVER again do I want to do that! I most definitely had some bad thoughts going through my head knowing I still had 3 or so miles left of this! Ouch! Here are some numbers to show you how “stupid” I was!

Last time I tested back in January my 5 min power was 262 Watts. Today, 1st 5 min of the TT, my power was 266 Watts! 4 watts higher! Now, that’s awesome if this was a 5 min test, but I wasn’t done yet.  I had another 4 miles (13 minutes)  to go! Ooooops! No wonder anything from the 2.5 mile mark onwards felt like eternity.  I was hurting! I managed to hang on to some power, even though it was as hard as ever - burning legs, and screaming lungs would be an understatement. The 6.03 mile mark couldn’t come fast enough! I ended up with average power of 242 Watts for my 17 min and 13 second effort. 10 watts higher than my last test, and on the way to 250, so I am pretty happy about that, but I am not so happy with going out so hard and making myself suffer for good majority of the TT. Lesson learned! After talking with Jorge, he said if I didn’t go nuts the first 5 min, I could have probably gone 245 – 250 watts! I’ll take his word for it!

Coming out of this TT, I also want a new toy! I want to get the computrainer!
J  Since ALL winter – and this winter was, or should I say is so super freaking LONG, I am very much used to riding in one or two gears only, and pushing a steady pace not having to worry about shifting at all. The downhills on this course KILLED me! The thought of riding different courses, and once I may be racing on sounds oh so very appealing!

In the end, I had a blast, and I didn’t come in last – Karen Smyers beat me by about 25 seconds and Crystal A. by 10 seconds .. dammit! It is times like this when I wonder what my power could be if I was strictly concentrating on cycling. I learned a lot from this TT! I am now more confident than ever that 250 watts will be coming my way soon … :) … just have to pace it right!!!!!!!! … and perhaps not take 10 day work trips to Europe? Getting on my bike next week will sure be interesting! J

Final Results in numbers: TT - 6.03 miles – 17:10 min – 242 avg. watts (4.2 watts/kg) – my max power – 535 Watts in the opening seconds … OOPS! I can feel the matches burning now! :)

The blog about my European adventure is up next, and with that bunch of work, not much sleep, and bunch of running, which allowed me to czech out some very cool cities, and re-visit some childhood memories!