Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Megan is doing an amazing job with this charitable women only 5K.
I wrote up (four) six week training plans for the participants, absolute beginner through advanced, that kicked off this week. We have a bunch of women participating and they are meeting on Sunday evenings at the Ridgefield High School track for a weekly workout. I'll be there this Sunday to coach.
This is a great way to spend your mothers day morning, rather than waiting in a brunch line.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I met Ken to run yesterday (Saturday) morning early. This was one of those weekends that brought me back to the things I love - to spring training, so to speak, and the energy around these longer, somewhat warmer days. Ken and I reversed a frequented two hour run loop. Often we get stuck in a pattern of running typical routes in the same direction. Reverse it and you'll be surprised. This route is very challenging in the way that Ken and I usually run it, with a bunch of rolling hills and one two mile steady climb. As challenging as it is in our normal direction, we both found it a son of a bitch in the reverse direction. The hills, though not as long, were quite a bit steeper and came more often. Funny how you don't realize many of the downhills in a two hour run until you run that course in reverse. We finished up this run nice and early, feeling spent yet exhilarated. This is one of my favorite things. I love Saturday mornings - getting out there early and training hard, rolling back in just as most are waking up and getting ready for brunch. I don't know, it just makes me feel very alive and I know my day will be solid. When I first began training for triathlons, I'd wake up early and ride an hour out to Woodbridge to be there by 7am for the weekly Amity Time Trial. This TT was where I developed as a cyclist. In these short TT's, you don't leave anything. If you feel like you can't breathe, or as though your quads are about to combust and you are tasting the previous nights meal, then you are going at the right pace. I'd then spin home and it was still so peaceful out because most were still asleep. The time felt as thought it was my own - as though the roads were mine, and I still embrace these weekend mornings.
Usually Ken and I go for coffee afterwards but I had to shower quick and get my son to his indoor soccer championship game. I try not to discuss my kids to often here but I'll gloat for a second. His team finished the indoor season with one loss and in second in the league, losing only to the top ranked team obviously. The last three weeks consisted of the single elimination tournament and as it should, the #1 ranked team was to play Ryan's team - the # 2 ranked team in the championship. Ryan's team won 6-4 and Ryan played unbelievably amazing. It was a tense game and the place was packed and going nuts. OK, no more gloating here. Ryan was very humble though - probably the thing I was most proud of.
A few birthday parties and NCAA games later and Saturday was done. I love setting the tone of the weekend with the early Saturday morning session. Thinking here now, it not only sets the right tone, but because it was sunny and warmer here, it also signifies to me at least that the season is beginning!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I could tell that my training is going well and that I've upped the ante because I'm starving all the time. Maybe some of that is my metabolism trying to keep this dope (the dope being me in my shorts) warm. In any event, I need to shut my mouth after dinner. Girl Scout cookie season can be dangerous. Although angrily, but thankfully, they have significantly reduced the size of the boxes and the quantities in the boxes. I now feel that a sleeve of thin mints is an exceptable one portion size for an endurance athlete in training.
The one missing link in my own training has still been swimming. I have been using my Vasa trainer religiously though and I'm curious to see how this transfers over. If you have a Vasa trainer, try this session: Put two extra resistance bands on the trainer and set at the highest elevation up front. Do 100 double pulls (similar to fly) focusing on catch and follow through, hop off, do 20 push-ups w/ feet on the physioball, then 20 lateral steps w/ resistance band around ankles, then 15 reps of curl/shoulder press combo, then 25 v-ups, then repeat this sequence two to four more times. It's a killer!
Other than that, I'm getting hammered in my NCAA brackets. I am tied with Obama.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
This was an interesting project and most of the runners had a few things in common:
- at "10K to 1/2 marathon pace effort" their upper body became more tense, and many shrugged their shoulders, drawing them up around their neck.
- many of the runners overstrided or had too much action out in front of their knees. This creates a negative effect on running progression, slowing the runner down.
- many had tight hip flexors or psoas muscles creating a limited stride and rear leg extension.
- many had weak or 'disengaged" gluteal muscles which throws off hip stability and again, limits hip range.
- many had a lot of wasted lateral motion.
This workshop made me realize that most runners and triathletes would really benefit from doing drills frequently in their weekly schedule. I showed the group a bunch of beneficial running drills, which I plan on videotaping (well, I plan on coercing Baker into videoing) and putting up on my site (well, in which Alan will put up on my site). And to all the athletes I coach out there, guess what you will be doing at least three times per week from now on?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
- The raw honesty and emotion in kids is something that we adults could learn a lot from - in terms of being honest with ourselves.
- Girls vs. boys; my daughter was so expressive pre-race. She voiced her concerns about racing and hoping that she did well. She said "boy, I'm so nervous to race!" to which I replied "how come Kate, you have run much further than this before?", and her response was "yeah, I know I can do it, but I've never been a race before. I don't want to come in last Dad. Look how many kids there are, it's a nice day to run though, I'm hungry, are there snacks after we finish, blah, blah, blah, blah..." She has that female Hodska talking gene. My son was nervous also, however I knew this because he gets quiet and focused. He holds it in. My daughter also loves the accolades after the race where Ryan still doesn't discuss it much.
- The last 100 meters of a neck to neck race will also teach you a hell of a lot. You may not win, but if you gut it out until the end, it shows your competitive nature. There are many who will see that they aren't going to take it and just back off, and then there are those that concede before even starting the sprint. My son was side by side with an 11 year old with 100 meters to go and they both glanced at each other and then sprinted with everything they had. It was so cool to see and had I been racing, I would have missed this.
- When you learn biomechanics as a kid, it's instilled for life. Sure it takes a bit as we age to resurrect the form we once had, but it's in there somewhere. The best evidence of this is in swimming. Lisa ran track through high school and college and has beautiful running form. She's run maybe once in the past three months and hopped in this race with a cold and ran comfortably 8 minute miles.
- A friend of mine who's wife was running was there. He was an incredibly accomplished soccer player and he said to me before the race "To me, I know I won't win. If I don't have a chance to win, then why race? I can just go run four miles back home." There are many that probably feel this way. It's hard to explain that most out there are racing against themselves, the clock, personal demons, ... That there is no way you'd push as hard running four miles alone back home as you would in a race situation. And that there is a unity, a common bond that occurs at races regardless of where you place.
- I saw a few friends and acquaintances who were surprised that I didn't figure out a way to also run. I explained that I was purely there for support and that it was my family's turn.
- As much as I enjoyed being support that day and seeing my family and friends race, I'd much rather be a participant.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Uconn lost to Syracuse last night in six overtimes in the Big East tournament! They had the lead in the first five overtimes only to let Syracuse tie it up each time and then they end up losing by ten points in the sixth overtime?! That's like leading a 1/2 IM by a shoulder length over a competitor through the whole race and then walking in the last 200 meters as your competitor sprints in.
I needed an easy run today so I hit the trails and realized I didn't put my watch on as I walked down my driveway to begin. I headed out anyways and soon realized that I need to do more runs without a watch or heart rate monitor and just enjoy the simplicity of running. Good stuff.
I've had a few people recently tell me that I need to open a Twitter account. Now, I'm still trying to come to grips with blogging. As self-absorbed as blogging is, it doesn't compare at all to Twitter. Similar to facebook (in which, thanks to my wife, I do have an account), I have no interest in knowing that "Leslie is psyched today!" or that "Burt is packing his gym bag to go running later." Give me a F'kin break! Okay, I know I post a lot of bullshit here like my dental habits which is boring and useless, but come on already. Enough time is wasted on useless things like television, slowtwitch, ... Baker or Straz or Molson or anyone, if i ever open a twitter account, please kick me in the groin as hard as your girly legs will allow. No man should have a Twitter account. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go shave my legs.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I've kept things pretty easy this week training wise, making sure I recover from the big training of last week. I have to admit, I am feeling a bit fatigued. Although that could also have to do with the fact that two nights ago, Lisa and I watched three episodes of 24 back to back to back. The lesson here is that if you have a few episodes of 24 tivo'd, make sure you block off the time to watch them all, because once you start, ...
I registered for the Providence, RI 70.3 race this week. It feels good to put a goal out there.
That's all for now. I'll try to be more in depth and philosophical next time. As they say back here in CT, Las huevos arroz con playa dirty gringos!
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Thursday and Friday
The plan for Thursday was a long ride and a 1 hr run. The weather was in the low 80’s w/ sun and a bit of cloud cover. After the 95 degree temps earlier in the week, the air upon leaving on the bikes felt cool. The weather at this camp could not have been better. Sure it was really hot the first few days but we didn’t experience one drop of rain the whole week, and we never needed even arm warmers or a vest on the bike. I received maybe 30 emails from people beginning with “Arizona sounds great, I’m so jealous!” – and you know what, they should have been jealous because the weather was ideal. I have to say that the campers coming from cold climates really did well handling the heat for the most part. It’s really challenging to come from a winter of sub 30 degree weather and step off a plane into bright, strong sunshine and 95 degrees and be told by your unsympathetic coach that you are riding in this heat up Mt. Lemmon on day two.
Back to Thursday; we rolled out in three groups with the plan of each group riding either more or less than the others so that we all reached the top of Gates Pass, a fun, steep climb, at the same time. My group stayed together and the pace was easy as we spun along two abreast, talking with the rider next to us. About 90 minutes in, we began the two to three mile ascent up Gates Pass and the attacks came. Waiting at the top were the two other groups who had arrived just shortly before us making the timing perfect. We descended down the back side of gates and entered Madera Canyon. I wanted to open it up for a bit and have my group do some threshold intensity, so the pace through this national park was fast and furious. Anyway, enough of the blow by blow description. My group did great. They stayed together during the spin out and the ride back in, and regrouped after the harder tempo efforts. It made for a fun, quality long ride.
I’m constantly observing at camp. I observe each person, what they eat, how they respond to the demands of the weeks workload, how often they are drinking on the bike, how their mood is each day, … Obviously one of the main reasons for observing is to gain insight towards seeing if the campers are adapting or if we need to adjust. The ride today was evidence that this group of campers really took to heart the very initial discussion where I mentioned that they needed to build into the week. Everyone seemed to be getting stronger as the week went on. I’m certainly not saying they weren’t tired. Everyone also walked around in between training like they had just undergone hip and knee replacement, and they all had the glazed eyed look that signifies they’ve been working and are tired. Yet, when they asked their bodies to perform again in a training session, their bodies responded and responded well. That is, until the Thursday night run:)
Around 4 pm, I drove everyone in the van over to Saguaro National Park for a 1 hr run on road and trail. There is a nine mile loop of freshly paved road around this beautiful park, with a trail winding it’s way through the middle and back third. We did this run earlier in the week and ran it clockwise, making the initial paved section mostly downhills. The instructions I gave this time were that we were to do it counterclockwise. As we started, you could not only feel the fatigue from the days long ride, but also the cumulative effect of a busy, long week. Gus and Kerri once again asserted themselves at the front. The three of us ran over the initial couple of rolling miles on pavement not talking, but rather just concentrating on running and trying to relax and take in the scenery around. We hit the trail and I kept the pace steady. We exited the trail back onto the road to take us back to the parking area. Man, this road seemed to go on for ever and it had steep rollers that went mostly up. I was at the van gasping for a breath and downing water, as Kerri ran in yelling “Man, there are going to be a lot of people that hate you after this run!” Everyone finished strong however, and this was, in my opinion, the most solid day of training at the camp.
We walked to the Italian place down the street for dinner that I renamed “Spinner’s” since he loved the place. The food was really good, and the conversation was as well. This was “The Last Supper” at this camp and the group had bonded as though they had known each other for months if not years. Dessert was once again gelato from Frost, the gelato place that Molson, Gus and I hit every single night while at camp after dinner, with the exception of Wednesday.
The plan for Friday morning was to either join the Trifest bike parade as they did part of Lemmon, or, if you had an early flight, join me back at Sabino Canyon for one last 90 min run over the phoneline trail, done in reverse. It was a beautiful morning for running in Sabino, and as we did, I tallied the weekly numbers in my head: Four hours of swimming, 15.5 to 18.5 hrs of riding, and 6 to 7.5 hrs of running done over the six days. Not bad!
This was my third camp in Tucson with Brian, and they keep getting better. Sure, we had a bit of luck with the weather, but the training we did was not only with point, it was on the best courses that we have done to date. The agenda worked out really well although we did miss a few strength and core sessions – there is only so much you can fit in a day. A camp like this is an accelerated learning process of not only physical conditioning, but also individual personalities. Spend a week like this with a group and you will know that persons true personality better than probably many of their long time acquaintances. Training hard all day for a number of days with someone, you can tell an awful lot about how that person handles themselves in life in general. Some of my key memories of the week:
* 6:10 to Yuma red eye runs in the morning (Thanks Annmarie!)
*Watching 64 year old Canadian Steve perform as though he were 34 day in and day out.
*Also watching Steve jump out the restaurant window one night instead of bothering the people seated to his sides to move while they were eating so that he could go use the rest room.
*The first run of the camp over the phoneline trail. Brian (not Grasky) from Tucson has never even done this run. It’s an amazing way to begin the week.
*Riding up Lemmon on day two of camp in 95 degree heat after the two previous years where we needed jackets, full gloves, tights, … It was 90 degrees on top of the mountain!
*Descending the 26 miles of Lemmon – man, what a rush!
*Dinners with the group. This is a key element to camp. They were fun, relaxing, filled with good food and lots of laughs.
*Leo staying in his RV in the hotel parking lot. The RV looked like the one from “Meet The Fockers”, and I thought he was joking when he said that it was his and that’s where he was staying. He lives like a mile and a half away!
*The run up Seven Falls! Sometimes getting lost makes things that much more fun. Plus the switchback trail at the end where you actually get to see the seven falls was unreal. By far, the best run of the camp.
*Soaking in the cold flowing water in Sabino Canyon on a 90+ degree day.
*Molson making me laugh not only every day, but just about every hour.
*Running and chatting in Sabino Canyon with Frosty for the last official camp workout.
*The outdoor pool in Oro Valley with the mountains as it’s backdrop.
*Spinner telling Molson he reminds him of Walter Matheau?! WTF?
*Getting to know all the campers was great. I wish all my athletes would take advantage of a training camp. There is a lot to be gained although I think sometimes people fear of being able to “perform” holds them back from moving ahead. Don’t tell that to my new main man Canada Steve!
See you hopefully at the CT or LP camp.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
We started the day in Saguaro Park running for an hour on a mix of pavement and trail. The sun was just popping up over the mountains and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Very similar to the weather back in CT yesterday:) The real fun began around 10am. We sent the first group off, then I lead my group out 30 minutes later. Mt. Lemmon is not necessarily steep but it's 26 miles! It wears on you hard. My group split up pretty quick near the bottom and I rode with Carri until about the 11 mile mark and then waited so that I got the chance to ride with most. Steve from Canada, the 64 year old is a stud. As I rode with him, he was telling me he's out of shape currently, yet he was leading the first group! We had the Cannondale demo truck at the hotel and Rick from Alaska took a demo bike and climbed the mountain! Typically, it's about 30 degrees colder at the top of Lemmon, yet today, in the sun on the top, it was still in the 80's. This heat and this mountain is a nice slap in the face on day two of camp, and their salt caked faces at the top showed the effort. Hey, they could have been home shoveling snow! Gus looked dazed and confused as though he'd been tipping back some cocktails - it was great!
We all met up at the cookie corner for some monster size cookies. I had a coke float. No more pie shop at the top of Lemmon for these camps after the witnessing the sloppy fat guy sneezing all over the pies last year. We began to tackle the small ascent out of the little town on top of Lemmon and I jumped out of the saddle on a steeper part of the climb and heard as huge SNAP as my right leg drove down hard and the bike jerked around hard under me. My brand new chain snapped! I was able to not crash somehow, and sat on my ride and let gravity take me back to the cookie corner where Jill was still loading up some bikes from a few who were toasted and concerned about descending. I took Spinners bike and brought the saddle up about two feet and headed off. The descent is amazing, with huge switch backs and sweeping turns overlooking amazing vistas.
Arriving back at the hotel, the campers looked spent but were all in good spirits and dinner was quite fun. Usually it takes three days or so for everyone to loosen up, but not this year! We have a group that is doing exactly what I asked initially of them, to lift their ego's and fears, and embrace each day.
Be sure to check out my home page at http://www.hodska.com/ for the camp mvp write ups, pictures, and a new Straz article.
Heading to the pool now for a swim session and video work so I'll post again later. As they sat down here in Mexico (Arizona is part of Mexico, right?), Vaios Con Dios Mother F'ers!
Sunday, March 01, 2009
For all of you on the east coast that are getting hit with the current snow storm, you think you have it bad? It was in the high 80's today and I've got a bit of sunburn - that's what tough is.
I like to start out these camps with something that has some impact. The first session should set the tone of the camp, and that is why we began this week and this day with a 90 minute run in Sabino Canyon on the telephone line trail. It was a perfect morning, weather wise, and this trail is really phenomenal. Everyone embraced the challenge and the atmosphere and I could tell that we were/are going to have a great camp.
We have quite the group this year. We have Steve, the 64 year old who drove down from Pendicton, Canada and kept pace with all the cats that are 20 to 30 years younger. Cindy and Rick, or as they are now called - The Palin's, from Alaska, Dan, the Navy stud from California who races pro, Leo from Arizona who was banging out repeat 100's on the 1:10 interval today at the pool, Jeff from Missouri who's trying to convince me it's hilly in Missouri, Carrie from Maryland who finished third in her division in duathlon worlds last year, Carla from Calgary who smiled through all the sessions today, Mike from Chicago who we'll call Ferris and who will qualify for Kona this year - mark my words, then the CT group of Spinner - the mayor of Newtown and Bethel Bike, Annmarie who's fun and way stronger than I think she knows, Jeff who's been to more of my camps than I can count and who's had me laughing my ass off, and Gus who also has attended a ton of my camps and who thrives in this environment.
We also rode for two and a half hours today, and the swam, followed by some assisted stretching.
The group was cramping quite bad towards the end of the ride and the swim. Most have come from cold climates, and even though they were being smart and pacing right today, the dry heat catches up with you.
The group is already gelling - dinner was fun and I can already tell that this is going to be one fun week.