Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Save the Landreth's!

When I started training for triathlon in the winter of 2006, I went to my local RoadRunner sports and hopped on their magic foot analyzing machine. I'm pretty sure I didn't run on it the way I normally run, but it spit out that I needed a "neutral" shoe, and the helpful sales girl put me in the 2007 Asics Landreth 3. I did not know it at the time, but this would end up being my favorite running shoe. I ran in the Landreth 3 all winter, and raced in it all through the 2007 season. I probably put 1000 miles on the shoes - which is NOT recommended by anyone who knows about running footwear. When they finally bit the bullet, I went back to RoadRunner to pick up a new pair. I was told that the shoe was discontinued, and that Asics was notorious for that, and they put me in the "replacement" shoe - the Asics Cumulus 10.
My first run in the Cumulus 10 was disappointing, the shoes felt clunky. Heavy. After three months of running in them I had shin splints, a severe ankle problem, and knee pain. I hated those f'ing shoes.
I decided that Asics wasn't going to work for me if they discontinue their shoes that often, and that RoadRunner maybe wasn't as trustworthy as I thought. I went to a local high end running "institute" and got an evaluation. They also determined that a neutral shoe is right for me, and put me into a pair of Brooks Ghost, which are strange. They have weird posts on the forefoot, but I ended up liking them. I did Ironman in them, and have probably put 1000 miles on those as well - they are completely worn out right now.
I was dreading finding a new shoe, and started doing some research. I discovered that the Landreth line of shoes had NOT been discontinued like RoadRunner had told me. In fact, there was a Landreth 4 that was created in 2008 and a Landreth 5 for 2009. Fantastic! I was floating on cloud 9.... for about 2 minutes. Then I read more about the Landreth series of shoes. It turns out that my favorite shoe, the Landreth 3, was a stark departure from the Landreth 2 - and was quite unpopular. L3 was 20% lighter than L2, and the thin cushioning made most people hate it. So L4 got more cushion, and a complete re-design of the upper part of the shoe - and it gained weight. L5 was another huge change from L4, and again it gained weight. The weights are hard to verify, but the best info I can get (from Asics web site) says:
Landreth 2: 10.6 oz
Landreth 3: 8.5 oz
Landreth 4: 11.3 oz
Landreth 5: 11.9 oz
Cumulus 10: 11.8 oz

So the light neutral shoe I loved in the L3, has morphed into the same nearly 12 oz piece of crap that I hated and injured me in the Landreth 5. Eff me!
I looked online, and while some stores showed the Landreth 3 in the catalog, none of them had them in stock. I finally ebay'd the last 3 pairs in my size on the planet (possibly exaggerating this) which you can see here - next to my original beloved pair.

Good news is that I have about 18 months of happy feet in the nearly extinct Landreth 3's! The bad news is that 18 months from now, you'll have to read about how miserable I am that I need to go shopping for running shoes again.

When is a good day a bad day?

Participated in the Carlsbad sprint triathlon this Sunday, and I'm having mixed feelings about it. First, the good stuff:
- It's a really well put on race in a beautiful city
- Lots of fans to cheer you on
- A good pro field, I've raced with Michellie Jones and Kate Major since 2007
- A flat bike course!
- A bike course that is two traffic lanes wide, making it MUCH safer with all the beginners that do sprint distance races. I'm looking at you Solana Beach triathlon - I won't be coming back until you take safety more seriously on your course.
- I beat my race time goal of 1 hour, 30 minutes!

And the bad stuff:
- I didn't do my 100 mile ride the day before the race. I've felt horrible on every run that I've done for two weeks, and woke up Saturday dehydrated and feeling awful. I took a Saturday off for the first time in what feels like 3 years.
- My pre-race jog didn't go well. I did one mile, and was dripping with sweat afterward. For some reason my sweat-rate has gone through the roof lately. I can't keep hydrated and I'm seeing spots/getting dizzy after less than 5 miles of running.
- I poked a hole in my wetsuit trying to pull it on over my sweat-drenched skin. Luckily the fantastic service at De Soto fixed it within hours.

So how'd the race go? Confusing. I started in the first wave, along with the Elite males and females. You kind of get intimidated when the woman in front of you at the starting line has finished in the top 10 in Kona 5 times. The swim was a little rough, I got punched in the goggles at the beginning, and several times had the guy swimming next to me run into me because he couldn't swim straight. There was a lot of kelp in the ocean, which was gross but didn't really slow us down much. I got clear of the main group, and had clear water for most of the swim. I could see the fast group in front of me (waaay in front of me) but nobody else - I wasn't able to draft at all. I hit the shore and glanced at my watch, I had done almost exactly what I had thought, around 15 minutes. I had forgotten to put my bike in an easy gear for the steep hill out of the bike transition, but it worked out for me OK. The guy in front of me wasn't so lucky and tumbled over as he tried to climb a 12% grade from a dead stop while in the big chainring. The bike course was fun. Being in the first wave I knew everyone I passed was a legit pass - and the same was true for anyone passing me. I did get passed by a few people, which I don't enjoy, but I let them go and instead focused on keeping my power at 200 to 250 watts. I had quite a bit of saddle pain during the race which is weird for a 15 mile ride, and after the race I was chaffed pretty badly. I only drank half a bottle of Accelerade (12 oz.) during the bike which was a little light, but not too bad. I couldn't choke any more down because I was breathing hard, and swallowing just made me breathe harder and my heart rate spike. Off the bike and into running shoes, then the race took a turn for the worse. The run begins by going along the beach seawall. I tried to focus on form and foot turnover, but it was a bit of a struggle. After about 1km you run up a very short steep hill to get from ocean level to street level, and that's when I decided I had nothing left. I never recovered and felt like I limped the rest of the way around the run. I couldn't even muster a sprint in the finish chute with all my TCSD friends cheering me on - it was pretty embarrassing. After crossing I nearly fell over as my vision narrowed and I got very dizzy. I had to find a chair quickly and took some rest. Things got better quickly, but how does a 3 mile run do this to me? How am I ever going to run 26 miles in September?!

Another great thing about Carlsbad is that I've done it every year since I started training, so it's a good way to check my progress. Take a look at how I've done:

Not bad! I met my goal of under 90 minutes, and I've improved greatly. If you compare 2009 to 2008 then I made up 04:41 on the swim! I also gained 1 minute in T1 - this is because I swam with my tri-top on in 2009 instead of trying to put a dry shirt on like I did the previous year. I also skipped putting on my heart rate strap this year. T2 I lost 30 seconds, probably because I had to tie my shoes this year - definitely need speed laces for these short races. I improved by 03:40 on the bike in 2009, but this is misleading. In 2008 I had to stop and get off my bike when the saddle bag fell off - so I think I'm about the same speed as I was last year. On the run, I improved by 42 seconds - but I don't believe this number. I ran really poorly this weekend, my guess is that they're measuring from a different spot this year.
My friend Rachel mentioned to me (and to my shock she is correct) that I'm a swimmer! In terms of how I do versus my peers, I'm a better swimmer than a cyclist! I'm not sure how I feel about that. I know I'm not the cyclist I want to be - but the reality is that I'm good enough that if I want to continue being a triathlete then I'm better off working on running.
So when is a good day a bad day? When you PR a course, beat your pre-race expectations, and still feel like you're nowhere near ready for your next event.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More racing - and SDIT recap

This weekend will mark my third time racing the Carlsbad Triathlon, which is my favorite local sprint race. I had some mechanical issues on the bike last year (again) which caused me to have to get off of the bike and re-adjust my seat. Combine that with my desire to completely hammer this bike course, and I should see some improvement in my T1-to-T2 time. Of course, I do plan to taper for this race by riding a 100 miles the day before - so maybe I won't have the best racing legs when I toe the line Sunday morning.

Last weekend was SDIT, which I really don't like - but will probably continue to do because it's one of the few local non-sprint races. I felt really bad on the bike, and didn't really attack on any of the hills. That was disappointing because this is my home turf - I know the course very well. Despite desire to vomit, I kept my speed relatively high and had a very respectable bike split. The run did not go well. I was no longer able to stave off vomiting, and I marked mile marker #2 with my breakfast. I tried to run properly, but I was suffering from nausea and breathing cramps. A friend of mine who passed me at mile 3 said I was "running with heavy feet" - which is my normal style, but something I need to fix. Somewhere around mile 4 KT came and ran with me, she was very kind saying things like "you look strong" and "you're pace is great". Despite the fact that those were overly kind exaggerations, I appreciated the help. Technically you're not allowed to be paced by someone outside the race - I even got a friendly "hey - no fair being paced by a hot girl!" comment - but I don't think anyone would object to a middle of the pack athlete running with someone for a half mile.
Below is the overview of my stats within the 30-34 Male age group the last two years at SDIT. I improved in 2009, but not as much as I should have. It's a grim reminder that I'm not in Ironman shape, and IMWI is right around the corner.


I followed up the race with some of my worst workouts ever. My week was something like this:
- Sunday: SDIT swim OK, bike tough but OK, run miserable and slow
- Monday: Day off - went drinking with old co-workers from Chicago
- Tuesday: Run at track - ran my best 1 mile TT ever, 6:47. Rest of workout mediocre
- Wednesday: Swim went poorly, found out I'm back to dropping my elbows!
- Thursday: Trail run. Had to cut the planned 10 mile route short to 8, because I felt like death. Started to feel dehydrated.
- Friday: 1 mile ocean swim, goggles leaked and nearly blinded myself with saltwater.
- Saturday: 8 hour, 92 mile ride. That's 11.5 MPH. Ouch.
- Sunday: Long run. Oops, turned into a 60 minute, 6 mile sufferfest.

I'm running like crap right now, even by my own usually pathetic standards. I'm not going to let this continue, and I've told myself "no more bad workouts". If I feel too beat to do a workout, I'm just skipping it. During the workout, I'm going to do it properly - when/if I cannot do it properly, I'm cutting it short. Perfect practice makes perfect, and all that.
My plan of attack for the running is:
- buy new shoes. Not really going to make me faster, but I need them anyway.
- brick off of every bike ride, at least for a few miles
- run with (closer to) proper form, even if that means shorter distances.
- run with more structure. No more "go run x miles" workouts, I need to have some purpose to each run.
- continue trail running. The uneven steps help me to decouple my breathing from my stride
- continue running on the track once a week. I run with much better form when on the track, need to figure out how to transfer that over. Plus we do good drills there.