Monday, September 24, 2007

After my last post about how great the weather has been here in Boulder, we experienced another four days of perfect weather. We were lucky enough to have plenty of sunshine, and even a good bit of wind to help with the Hawaiii preparation. Today, on the other hand, is our first really crappy day of the fall. It is barely fifty degrees, and it's raining. Ouch. It's not exactly the best set of conditions for a long run, which is what I have on the plan for today.

I figured I'd have a later start for this run, but now that it's approaching noon, and the sun has still not made a showing, I'm considering moving the long run to tomorrow. It seems silly to head out there into the cold, as this is no where near the conditions I'll be racing in three weeks from now. I'm always preaching to the athletes that I coach that being flexible is key. Let's see if I follow my own advice...

As a side note, I am getting dangerously close to posting photos of the new Javelin Lugano. It's pretty darn close to its race shape, and I'm just about ready to venture down to snap some pics. Along those lines, I might just have to reveal a look at my new helmet as well.... it's always fun to have all the best stuff, just in time for one big race!

Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

We are having the most incredible September here in Boulder. We've been experiencing the most beautiful weather these past few days. We got a bit of scare on Monday when we woke up to overcast skies and rain, but it only lasted until about 10:30 in the morning.

Today Amanda and I got up early to hit the track for a nice little workout. She was planning on doing a light session with Dave Scott's group, and I was intent to do something a little speedier, on my own. It's no fun getting up before the sun is up, but we had to get to the track by 6:45, so we could get in a lengthy warm up.

It was a bit chilly out there to start, so I left some of my warm up gear on during the workout. It kept me sweating a good bit, so I figure it's good prep for next month's race. I'm guessing it won't be 60 degrees in Hawaii... even at 7:00AM.

The funny thing about training for an Ironman is that very often the start of a workout feels very bad. It takes a while to get the blood flowing, and the muscles moving. Today was one of those days where my warm up jog make me feel like a sack of monkey poop. I cannot explain that metaphor. By the time the workout rolled around, I was feeling peppy and fast. I am always telling the athletes I coach that this is a good sign of improved fitness: that it takes a longer time to feel good. Now it's time to hear my own advice: the longer I go, the better I feel... and that's a good thing.

One more thought before I head off for swim practice:

For those of you with cable television, and in particular the Versus network, be sure to tune into this block of Ironman broadcasts. You might just see someone you know:

Check local listings for the exact times in your region:
2007 Versus schedule of Ironman events includes:
Ford Ironman Arizona 9/16 4PM Repeat 9/19 4:30PM
Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene 10/7 4PM Repeat 10/9 4PM
Ford Ironman USA Lake Placid 10/28 4PM Repeat 10/31 4PM
Ford Ironman Louisville 11/18 4PM Repeat 11/21 4PM
Ford Ironman Wisconsin 12/2 5PM Repeat 12/5 3PM
Ford Ironman Florida 12/16 4PM Repeat 12/29 3PM
St. Croix Ironman 70.3 12/23 4PM Repeat 12/26 4PM

Sunday, September 16, 2007

This morning started VERY early in the Lovato Household. Four o'clock was when the first alarm sounded. I made sure Amanda was awake, and promptly pulled the pillow right back over my head. I needed another hour. It was time for the Gillamster to get up, however, as she was heading out to Aurora to race the Harvest Moon half iron. After a few solid weeks of training, she finally decided it was time to test herself at the races.

I, on the other hand, was in need of a long run, in my preparation for Hawaii (in four short weeks). As much as I truly love playing the race sherpa for Amanda, I had to pass the role off to our friend Jen (shout out to J-Mar!), as I really needed to knock out my training before watching the wife race.

So four o'clock came, and four o'clock went (not nearly soon enough). Around 5:00 AM Amanda came back for a good bye kiss, and a good luck wish from me. I sent her on her way, and I dragged myself out of bed. With two+ hours of running in front of me, I had to get to it... as soon as the sun was up.

I ate my breakie and I drank my coffee. And just 'cause I was still sitting there waiting for daylight, I drank some more coffee. Note to self: easy on the pre-workout java.

A bit past six, I deemed it light enough to embark on the run. I had chosen to run south to Chautaqua and Mesa Trail. It's about a four-mile warm up on the roads before those trails go straight up. I needed some strength-building climbs, so I headed to one of the toughest runs around. Sometimes it's hard to drag myself from the sheets, but when I do, I sure do love those early mornings on the roads.

Rather than turn back for and out-and-back route, I came down out of the foothills to finish the run on some rolling terrain... and on the roads. One thing I have really found beneficial is to finish the long runs on the pavement. It's just too much pounding out on the Queen K if the legs aren't tough from some good old road runs.

The run ended up being a great way to start the day, and was definitely a great boost to the fitness. With only a month to go, I am feeling stronger by the day.

As soon as I finished my run, I quickly made my way through my post-workout routine: a bottle of Ultragen, a quick stretch, a shower, a smoothie, and an apple. I hit the road, intent to see Amanda come off the bike out in Aurora.

It may have cost me about ten dollars in tolls, but I made it there quickly and safely. I had some time to spare, so the dogs and I had plenty of time to find Jen, and to position ourselves for some prime viewing.

Not too much later, AG came a-crusin' in with about three minutes gap to first place. With the kind of bike miles she has put in lately, I knew she'd be strong enough to have a go at the lead. Sadly, and I'm SURE Amanda's blog will have greater detail, the lead woman made a premature turnaround, and came back to the finish after three miles of running. Oops. By the time I saw Amanda at the halfway turnaround (the actual turning point), she was in the lead. It's not exactly the way you like to take the lead, but it's good enough. We all know the importance of being familiar with the race course!

Cruising back to the finish, the dogs, Jen and I were there to see Amanda take home the victory. I realize I'm biased, but damn, she looked good out there!

Another of the day's highlights was that Amanda and I got to meet some folks we'd only really "met" via these blogs and our email exchanges. One fellow in particular, Cody, was up from NM to race the clydesdale championships. He's a guy who, about three months ago, sent me a heart-felt and sincere note about how he had found inspiration in some of my racing experiences (and not just the wins!). As a result, and through triathlon, he has made some incredible life-changing moves. He's now a part of the triathlon family, and in November will be doing his first Ironman, in Nevada. Best of luck to you Cody, and it was great to meet you in person!

So now that the Lovato clan has its first victory for 2007, I'll have to sign off. I've got a bit more preparation to do today so I can be ready to roll next month.

Until next time.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Timberman 70.3 was over two weeks ago, so, as usual, I'm a bit behind with the race reporting. I'll not bother to apologize for the delay, as it's obviously the norm now.

I traveled to New Hampshire with Simon and his friend Alan. We had a pretty uneventful trip to Boston, and the drive up to Gilford was fairly painless. Both Simon and I were slated to talk at the "Dinner of Champions", along with a few other atheltes. We showed up at the Gunstock Ski Area with just enough time to register for the race, and get in line for some food.

For those of you who have never raced this event, you owe it to youselves to someday make the trip. It's well worth it. Not only is Keith Jordan (and his whole crew at Endorfun) one of the country's premier race directors, but NH and Lake Winnepesauke are just beautiful.

This year's race day weather was absolutely perfect, as there was not a rain cloud in site. The air temps were a bit on the chilly side, but the lack of rain was a welcome change from the past two years. I must admit, I tend to prefer the hot days for my races, but it's always nice to see what you can do under perfect conditions.

My race got off to a great start, as I positioned myself on the feel of Bjorn Andersson and Spencer Smith. While Simon powered away from us farily quickly, we three held a strong pace to the first turn buoy. Somewhere after that first 600+ meters, we were joined by another fast swimming Aussie. I was then fortunate enough to be placed right behind a bit of an "arrowhead" of leaders. I was just nearing the "pat myself on the back" stage of the swim, as we rounded buoy number two (and approximately 1260 meters). At that very moment, the effort proved to be too much for me. I popped. And when I say pop, I mean REALLY popped. In the final 600 meters, I lost exactly one minute 17 seconds to my former group. Ouch. That is not good, but when I blow, I really blow!

I picked up the feet of a chase swimmer who had left the others behind, but had not made our initial foursome. He towed me back in, and I found solid groud, thankful to be heading to my new Javelin Lugano (pictures to follow...SOON!).

I was so whupped from my anaerobic swim efforts, that I struggled to find my legs at the outset of the bike. I even felt my quads cramp up a bit as I attempted (and finally succeeded) to shove my feet in my shoes (about half a mile from transition). After about five miles, I began to build the intensity. I knew my training up to that point would not allow me to wage an all out assault on the bike, but rather I needed to build up to speed. This plan seemed to work well, as I continued to reel in those who beat me out of the water. There must have been one other swimmer I had not accounted for, as I ended up passing three riders in the next twenty five miles.

As I made my way back home, I began to feel stronger and stronger. I always like this feeling when I race, but sadly, strong does not win Half Ironmans anymore; speed is now the winner. It used to be where the strongest athlete wins, as it still is in an Ironman. These days you have to be strong, yet speedy as well.

I came into transition feeling ready to roll. I knew my work would be cut out for me, for sure. The deficit to Bjorn (the day's leader) was ten minutes; the deficit to Simon was about three. I went for it right away. I have run 1:15 on this course before, so if I could do it again, I'd have a shot. I went out hard.

There again I found myself feeling quite strong, but when it came time to notch the miles down to 5:40s and 5:45s, I was not doing it. I was not terribly surprised to be stuck at 6:00 pace, but I kept waiting to find fifth gear. (Note: to those of you who think of 6-minute miles as fifth gear, I apologize; while I agree that this is fast, it is not my fifth gear!)

I continued to apply pressure, as I still had hopes of catching Bjorn. I knew that Simon was gapping me, but Bjorn looked to be fading. While he did, in fact, come back to me, I did not have enough time to catch him.

As always, Timberman was a great test for me. I chased hard, I had fun, and I came away with yet another third place. Three is my lucky number, and this makes three third-place finishes for the year. And in four races up in NH, I have found myself on the podium in each of those years. I'll definitely be back next year, trying to make it back up a step or two.

In the meantime, I'm busy preapring for Hawaii. It's just six weeks away, so the training now is very important. I'm really enjoying it, and will be back soon with some updates, and hopefully some photos!

Thanks for tuning in.