Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vineman 70.3

Yesterday, I signed up for the Vineman 70.3 Half Ironman!!!!

A half ironman is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 run (half marathon).

Vineman takes place in Sonoma County, CA, and the bike ride goes through 4 separate vineyards, and the run is just beautiful I hear.

I am not sure if I am doing this w/ TNT or not yet, but I am doing this in honor of my good friend, Jeff Hartnett. When Jeff got into the UC Berkeley a few years ago, he had his heart set on doing this event. Unfortunately, for the past 2 years, his non hodgkin's lymphoma has prevented him from training and racing this event.

Vineman will also take place on the same day as Ironman Lake Placid, another race Jeff wants to do, and his brother will be participating in that.

This one's for you buddy!

For more info, check out:


40K TT and the Gluteal Region

This past weekend, our saturday workout was a 40K (apx. 24.6 mile) time trial around fiesta island - 6 loops on the long course, with a 4 mile run afterwards.

The purpose of the workout is two fold:

* Gauge the progress of your training this season (and compare to last season)
* Go as hard as you can on the bike without regard for the run so you know what it feels like to hammer the bike, and have a difficult time running afterwards. If done correctly, you will know how hard NOT to go at Lavaman.

For me, I was comparing times against my 40K last year (1:17:00 - but 5 days after giving blood), and this summer: 1:10:47.... but also trying out my new tri bike (Cervelo Dual), and wheels (Zipp 404 Tubulars).

Final Time: 1:06:09
Avg Speed: 22.5mph (Hey, Jeff said he wanted to see 22mph at lavaman, so this was practice!)

Needless to say, I was very pleased with the results!

The workout itself wasn't bad - but because you need to have a permit to have a workout on Fiesta Island, and its only good from 7-9am - DAMN, it was COLD! It musta been a solid 52 degrees with a slight breeze out of the east. Woof. I had no problem borrowing some gloves from my buddy Robbie.

I treated it like a race. Start at a moderate pace, try to find my rhythym, and gradually build. As time went on, I felt myself getting stronger. The cranks kept turning, and my speed kept on creeping up. A few times I hit 25+mph, and could really feel the difference with the wheels. They didn't so much feel different per se, but I noticed when I really hammered, they accelerated very well, and were able to keep the speed going. They were stiff, yet very responsive.

I am not sure what my splits were, but I know the second 20K was faster than the first.

After I finished, I knew I couldn't run just yet, so I did a quick easy spin on the short loop.

After I came to a stop, I got off my bike, and bent over to try and unstrap my shoes.


My butt hurts. My butt is stiff. Why does my BUTT feel this way!?!?!?!?

And then I remembered Gurujan lecturing about really hammering.

When someone is in the aero position for a while, and they are really hammering on the pedals, a lot of that power comes from the gluteus maximus - the BUTT.

It basically felt like I couldnt bend over and stretch because my sit bones were so darn tight. Sorry for the detailed description on how my butt felt, but considering I had to RUN afterwards, I need to paint the picture on how I felt.

After taking about 5 minutes to take off my shoes, and put my bike away, I recruited Nelson to run, errr I mean, hobble with me for the 4 miles. I certainly started off at a pretty slow pace, and after a while, my derriere loosened up a bit, and we picked it up to a respectable clip.

Some say racing comes from the heart. There is no doubt that it does, but today, I learned and laughed that it comes from other prominent places as well.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Triathlon Lifestyle and The power of choice...

When I first heard someone voice the term "the triathlon lifestyle" back when I first started training last year, I thought it was a bunch of hogwash. "Triathlon Lifestyle? Are you kidding me? One more step and I feel like there could be a TV show called Lifestyles of the fast and aerobic." Ok, extremely cheesy, but I digress. Having never really devoted a lot of energy, time and emotion (relatively) to many things before, I was skeptical, and a non-believer. Well, if you are anything like me, if you shun something one day, you end up being it some day in the future. As time went on, I learned...

It definitely is a lifestyle. When someone spends as much time (almost all), emotion (you gotta have heart), and money (don't even wanna go there), plans out their day, week, month, almost half a year to a few years down the road (looking forward to doing IM Australia in 2009), devoted to training and racing, recruiting others to join you in the physical rigors and social aspects of triathlon, and nearly engulfs themselves into the triathlon culture - it becomes a lifestyle. It becomes part of you, and influences the way that you live your life.

It is a lifestyle.

One person I have met through this lifestyle is Luke Walton. A former Olympic rower now making his transition to triathlon, Luke has inspirations of becoming a professional triathlete, and qualifying (winning?) for Kona one day. Not only is Luke a great athlete, but is a pretty good writer too. One of his latest blog entries really hits the nail on the head with the power of choice and following your dreams.

You can also read a recent article about in him in the North County Times:

Best of luck in following your dreams Luke!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Iron Mountain Brick

Sometimes you do a workout and the memories stay with you.

Maybe it was the the raw emotion or to digging deep to do it.

Maybe it was because of the damning of a coach who made you do it, bonding with others who were experiencing what you were doing, or maybe the the sights and views while doing it.

Or you have done the workout so many times, you actually time yourself everytime to see if you are getting faster.

In my case, it is all of the above.

It's the Iron Mountain Brick.

I hope you like running UP!

The Iron Mountain brick consists of a 30 mile bike ride on San Diego's Route 67 in East County, with 2500ft of elevation gain.

If that wasn't enough, it is immeditaly followed by a 5.5 mile run UP (and then down) Iron Mountain, with over 1000 feet in elevation gain - in only 2.75 miles!

When training for lavaman last year, I did this with Paul, Jay, Dave and I were all in awe of this incredible workout. AFTER Lavaman, I actually did this workout 3 or 4 times during the summer. (ok, maybe a little extreme, but whatever!)

And last saturday it was time to introduce the new lavaman team to the IM brick.

It was a hot and dry morning, with plenty of winds through the canyons. In a nutshell, the workout was as epic as ever.

I was challenged with a flat tire during the bike portion of it w/ a flat tire, where I got to practice my tire changing skills (changed and on the bike in about 5:30!). After a pretty solid pace w/ Dave Wilcox, Brian Gunn, Greg Kurras, and Pat Drain shortly behind, we started the ascent up the mountain, and were having a grand ol' time. There was an option on the run portion for people to stop after 1.5 miles (and turning around to make it 3 miles round trip), or continue on to the top. Given the elevation change, those that make it to the top are rewarded with fantastic views of San Diego, and possibly Mexico, Orange & Riverside counties, along with San Clemente and Catalina Island, which obviously means you can see the pacific ocean, even though I am about 20-25 miles inland.

When you get to the top - it's kind of humbling seeing everything. Not to mention that you really could use the break! We started our trot back down the mountain, and when we got back to the trail head, we hung out and waited for everyone else to get back, and see the look on their face... when they finished - Experienced... the Iron Mountain Brick!

If you'd like to see what the bike route is, you can check out jaybuddy's GPS motionbased websites:

Bike: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/1538257
Run: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/1538258

got salt?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

VO2 Max Test and Amino Acid Study

A few months back, I decided to take part in a Kinesiologists graduate these study at SDSU. The study was to see if an amino acid alinine could increase endurance in athletes. I also got to take a VO2 max test as part of the study, which is pretty cool.

A VO2 max test measures that maximum oxygen uptake a particular person can achieve. Think of it as someones ability, or capacity, to utilize oxygen while exercising.

In order to measure this, a subject (which is me) is hooked up to a special machine, and an exercise is performed. For this test, it was on a bike. As you can, I have a lot of hardware on my head. That thing in my mouth is measuring my oxygen intake and CO2 exhaust. That thing on my nose is a clip closing off any breath from going in through my snout. That thing around my head holds it all together.

The test itself is pretty tough - pretty similar to a max heart rate test. There was a certain workload (resistance) on the stationary bike, and every 3 minutes, it was increased. I was directed to spin until failure/exhaustion.

This was all hooked up to a computer, the final readings were:

VO2 max: 60.7 ml/kg/min (about what a club athlete would get)
Max power on bike: 316.3 Watts

That was just the baseline test. There was 2 additional tests, that were pretty tough. Each test was the same, with a different drink consumed during each iteration.

The test was 1 hour at a moderate pace (I was averaging about 78% max HR), 5 minute break, and then the equivalent of a 40K Time trial (where I was averaging about 86% max HR). Overall, 2 tough hours on a stationary bike. Oh, and 3 instances of drawing blood - probably one of my least favorite things to do, but oh well.

But the real challenge was that it was all done on a stationary bike. Certainly not the most scenic of bike "rides", but at least I got to pick my own music (pearl jam, beastie boys, and dave matthews band - all out of the high school CD case!).
Overall, the tests were pretty rude, and I won't find out the results of the entire study for at least 6 months. But, it was a cool experience nonetheless, and I got to learn some physiology things from the guy doing the study. I will eventually get some results on the 2 tests, and will post them when I get them.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Open" Swim

We have open swim on tuesday nights. No coaches - just whoever wants to show up, show up, and do a workout. Maybe the swim coaches will post a workout, maybe not. It's totally ad hoc.

and tonight, I loved it.

There was no set workout. There was no times to meet on your 100m intervals. There was no one telling you what to do. There was also no one else in my lane that I had to deal with. There was no friendly competition between lanes.

It's times like these when you really find out if you like what you are doing.

So last night, I just swam.

and swam and swam.

It was great. I just hopped in the water, and started with an easy stroke.

I stopped after a while, and talked with Troy. I went back to swimming, and stopped again to chat w/ Troy, and try to give him a few suggestions on things he try because he would like to get better at his swim.

He asked me, "How many meters have you done?" I said I had no idea.

and then I went back to swimming. Not counting laps. Not looking at the timer. Not even looking at the clock to see how much time I had left to swim.

I just kept swimming. I felt the water glide over my body. I felt the endorphins kick in. I tried to work on my stroke and breathing a little bit. I felt my stroke get stronger as time went on. I felt my body get into a rhythym.

I felt great.

I got out after helping with covers, and had no idea how much I swam. It was well over a mile, but that didn't matter to me.

It was similar to just "going for a bike ride". You know, the times where you wish you didn't have a speedometer, cadence sensor, elevation profile, or distance reading.

Or just "going for a run". Not caring about heart rate, pace, zones, etc. Just running.

Sometimes, we have to do this with the things we do in life. We need to stop doing what are "supposed" to do, and just do it as we want to.

For example - take a photographer. He takes pictures, and sells them as a means to make a living. But sometimes, that person should just go out and just "take pictures". Not worry about f stops, composition lining up perfectly, which exposure compensation value is correct, and if he has the right lens on.

The human mind likes the guidance and discipline of a training plan, mentorship and things that enable to be "better" at the things we like to do.

But our souls reminds us that we are humans, not machines, and that we have inhibitions inside of us that need to be set free sometimes.

and the great thing is, and there isn't a monitor or LCD screen on this beautiful earth that will tell us when we need to "let go".

It comes from inside.

Listen to yourself.

It's the most effective, accurate, efficient, cheapest, quitest, loudest monitor you can have.

Monday, February 12, 2007

1st place with aviators and a de soto trucker hat

Me and 5K's have a little bit of history.

The first time I ran one, it kicked my ass.

Actually, I kicked my own ass.

My original plan was to start slow, and build. In reality, I started way too fast, and finished way too slow.

That was then, this is now, and I can now claim victory against the 5K.

Sunday, February 11th was the San Dieguito Half Marathon/5K. I had a few friends who were doing the half, but I opted for the 5K. I heard it was a challenging 5K due to hills, and I welcomed the challenge.

It was a misty morning, and nice and cool - high 50's - perfect running weather. I did plenty of warm up, and ended up catching up with fellow teammates Greg Kurras and Mary Shvodian. It helped raise my energy level, which was good, because I honestly wasn't that pumped for it. My warm up was kinda sluggish, and I honestly didn't feel like running.

There was the official "3....2....1..... GO!" and off we went.

I was determined to stick with my original plan of starting at a moderate pace, and finish strong. I did just that. Greg and I did the first 3/4 of a mile or so. We were passed by a few people, but having been there before, I opted not to create friendly comeptition.

Then I started to pick it up. I got in my little trance. I started to focus. I got my little metronomic rhythym. Then all the sudden...

tick, tick, tick

I was passing people. One by one, tick by tick. I was starting to get encouraged. As the minutes went on, I was passing more people, and then finally I got to the bottom of the hill started at mile 2.25. It was definitely a respectable hill to finish the race in. I started the ascent, and the ticks kept coming..

As I saw the finish line, I started strategizing where to drop the hammer. I was about 100 -150m out, and then I picked it up. I saw about 3 people in front of me, and thought "there is no way I can pass them in this limited space". I felt like Macca chasing down Stadler (only of extremely small proportions). I picked it up even more. I got in my typical "long stride look like I am about to bust a gut "form.

And I passed them all. I came tearing past the finish line, barely able to stop in the 50m allotment for slowing down.

I waited for Greg Kurras at the finish, and we hung out for a while afterwards, grabbing all the free stuff we could. We were enjoying our chili under the pavillion, and they started with awards ceremony. I thought "there is no way that I won my age division, but I'd be curious to see what the winning time was". When I heard the times of people who won previous age divisions, I thought of the saying "no way in hell". But then they announced the Men's 25-29 age group. The #2 person had a 21:52.

I said to myself "wait, I thought I got better than that". and then BAM "And #1 - RYAN DENNER!"



I know it's a long post, but this was multiple victories for me:

* I actually came in first place in a race! I don't care if it wasn't the fastest 5K out there, a win is a win!
* I stuck with the plan! Start slow/moderate and build. It seemed to have worked wonders.
* I was able to take off a full 2 minutes off my thanskgiving day 5K on a harder course!
* I won by 1 second!!
* I did it all in aviators and a de soto trucker hat!


What is the significance of the aviators and a de soto trucker hat?

I was partly motivated by a post on slowtwitch.com forums:

"At Alcatraz I was going out on the run, trying to beat the band to catch my wife who had about a minute on me by then. I am about a 1/2 mile away from the transition area and here comes this buff looking dude. He is prety much flying. Bare in mind, this guy is a 1/2 mile from the finish line and I am a 1/2 mile into the run. So basically he has a 7 mile lead on me. The dude is the same age as me. It was Emilio DeSoto of DeSoto Sports. He is wearing one of those gawd-awful, dorky "DeSoto" trucker caps. Those must be cool in California. Anyway. "

Who does that? Who wears aviators? Who wears a trucker hat? What triathlon company makes a trucker hat?

De Soto Triathlon company, and its president have inspired me!'
Thank you emilio!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


... errr I mean speedplay. errr, I mean - a good workout that makes you faster.

Fartlek (Swedish for "speed play"), as funny as that name sounds (don't mind my childish tendencies), is actually a very common and effective type of workout used in endurance and multisport training, along with just general fitness.

Others just call it an "Interval" workout.

But, I will use the term Fartlek becomes it sounds like a lot better.

A Fartlek workout is a workout with varying degrees of intensity,that typically work the aerobic (endurance) and anaerobic (speed) systems. Typically track practice and spin classes (see anything relating to "sweat" in previous posts) are Fartlek type workouts. Most track workouts are running a prescribed distance around the track at a certain pace (5K, 10K, or Heart Rate Zone), with some sort of rest afterwards.- Usually the rest is active recovery, which basically means to keep moving, rather than just standing still. Sorry, no funny swedish name for active recovery.

Yesterday's workout was 1200m at 5K pace (6:47 min/mile), along with a run up the hill outside of the track, with a very slow walk back to the start. Tough enough in and of itself.

After the second 1200m + hill, we did a series of plyometric exercises: Skils, Frog Jumps, and Mountain Climbers. Plyometrics are exercises that are done at high intensity and are explosive in nature, to help develop acceleration and speed.

That's a somewhat formal explanation.

The less information explanation is they jack your heart rate up!!!

Track last night was a really good workout, and I look forward to giving my legs a break today to rest up for the time trial (more on that later) friday morning!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Macca Mate!

For the past 2 months, 2 very prominent australian triathletes have been the guest speakers at the San Diego Triathlon Club meetings. Back in December, it was Michellie Jones, who won the Ironman Championship in 2006. In January, it was Chris "Macca" McCormack. Chris has had quite a career as a professional triathlete - to much to list here. But to sum it up, he was named the triathlete of the year by multiple triathlon & endurance media companies. He's pretty damn good. Oh, and he was second this year at the Hawaii Ironman Championship - by only 71 seconds. He was only 71 seconds back in a 8+ hour race. Insane.

Anyhow, so these two were the first aussies I have ever met, and they are really cool people. Very down to earth, great accent, and give new definition to the term "laid back". I live in San Diego, and most people here consider themselves "laid back".

San Diegans have nothing on the aussies in the "laid back" department.

So, at this months meeting w/ Macca, I asked him if he would be willing to do a happy birthday video for my buddy Jeff, whose birthday was just this past friday. His response "of course mate, I'd be more than happy to!"

How cool is that!?!? Here is pretty much "the man" in this sport, and here I am, some MOP AG(middle of the pack age grouper), saying hey, can you be in a video with me? We had a blast doing a quick 10 second video wishing jeff happy birthday, good luck w/ the rest of his treatments, and Macca saying that he was gonna hold 2 seats for us at the bar if (when?) we do Ironman Australia in 2009. Here is the video:

Anyhow, so Australians are really cool people, and I think I'd need to travel there to do a triathlon in the future!!!

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Mt. Soledad Ride

When I first moved to San Diego, one day, my father and I were driving around, kind of getting lost, were driving up this insanely steep hill, and finally ended up at the top, and came across whast is known as Mt. Soledad. My dad and I were amazed at this monument. It is up on top of a hill towering above San Diego, Mission Beach, La Jolla, Clairement.... heck EVERYTHING. On clear days, this includes being able to see 70-80 miles. Simply amazing. The two things I took away from this trip was how incredible the view is from up there, and how steep of a climb it was getting up there.....

Every thursday, Ginger and Homa would do this bike ride, and after finding out what the course was, I thought they were psychotic. They would start at the bottom of Torrey Pines, and go up the inside road as their warm up. They would travel down Torrey Pines road, and head down La Jolla Shores, and then up Mt. Soledad.

UP Mt. Soledad.

Homa has a reputation as being very energetic, crazy, and one who somewhat enjoys pain.

Ginger definitely comes across as nice and gentle, but coming from a mountain climbing background, you know she is hardcore.

After a few months of all this fun they were having, and Homa finally talking me into it, I decided to give it a shot.

Here we go.

As I was driving to the start at Torrey Pines state beach for 6:30am, I was greated with a beautiful full moon setting on the horizon to the west, just as the sun was coming up on the other horizon to the east. I knew at this point that it was going to be a great workout.

We started the climb up the inside of TP, made our way down to La Jolla shores, and finally made it to the base of Mt. Soledad. Ginger said "Ryan, you may want to take off the jacket and arm warmers, even though its only about 50-55 degrees out. You will get warm." I happily removed those articles of clothing, and we started up the ascent.

The first challenge is taking "that right at that stop sign", where if you drive a car with a stick shift transmission, you know exactly what I am talking about. It was like a little foreshadowing - as if it's the point of no return - like a warning. Stop, or continue on.

Maybe enter at your own risk would be a more appropriate sign.

Not wanting to stall, I immediately got out of the saddle, and started powering up. I got to a point shortly after the stop sign, and was able to sit back down in the saddle. I continued like this, and was moving at a pretty moderate pace (read: 6mph). A nice little motivation piece was coming to the point where I took one of my favorite pictures in San Diego (look at the ocean swim post for that). I prodded along, and came across a few relatively flat sections, caught my breath, and then looked up.

With the emphasis on the "up". (Are you able to paint a picture yet?)

I noticed the road ahead of me grew steeper.

And then it went around a corner, so the end wasn't in sight. I start to climb, I got out of the saddle, and started powering up. The hill kept coming, and I kept powering. I felt my heart rate increase. The sweat was starting to drip. It was getting harder, and somehow, steeper. I started using my arms to swing the bike back and forth along with my legs to generate more power.

And then I got around the corner.

and I was there.

The summit - I am here!!!!!! WOW!!! THAT WAS AWESOME!!!!!

Ginger and Homa were a little bit hehind, and once they got there, it was nothing but love.

We hung out at the top for a bit...

and enjoyed the views...

made our descent down Mt. Soledad (much more fun!), back UP La Jolla shores (no easy feat either) and back down TP to our cars.

Wow, I really can't think of a better way to start the day!!!

Total Distance: 14 miles
Elevation Gain: over 1000 ft
Time: just under 2 hours

Mt. Soledad ascent: 1 mile
Mt. Soledad Elevation gain: unknown, but somewhere from 500-700 ft.