Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Day of Week - Week Summary

Well this morning started a little different then most Sundays. We got up and went to my in-laws church at 9:00 am. We went for the first hour only because we still have lots of family in town. Afterwards I put the full bike bundle on again and started my ride. I rode my Power Cranks again today and had a very specific workout: Big Gear Climbs. This is a force workout to build muscular strength in cycling specific muscles.

I spent the first half-hour warming up--if that's possible in 30 degree weather! Then I shifted into the big chain ring and 15 in the back and climbed up Allena Gallegos (A 2 mile road that's between a 2 and 5 degree pitch). Each interval was 5 minutes; my heart rate was less than 150; and, my cadence was >50 RPMs. I do 5 of these intervals with about a 10 minute active recovery in between each set. It's additionally hard using the Power Cranks on these intervals because each leg is pushing/pulling the whole time. This workout is basically like lifting weights but on a bike.

Each set was challenging but uneventful. Just as I began to start my last set, my brother-in-law Kyler rolled up on his new Litespeed Terramo he got for Christmas. This was the first time he's been able to ride it. I could tell he was very impressed with its ride quality. He joined me for my last set, and we rode home together.

I can't say enough about the ride quality of Litespeed bikes. I love my Siena. Titanium is the best ride there is. I've tried them all: aluminum, carbon, and steel. My training bike is an all alluminum Cannondale, which, coupled with the PowerCranks, is an abusive ride. It beats me up on the bumps and theres a bit of a shimy on descents. My Siena is just plain solid all around. Sure, it may be a bit heavier than some of these other carbon bikes, but, the difference in weight is marginal (1-2 lbs.). I can lose that in my gut. Furthermore, let me pose the question to you: which bike will still be riding the same 5 years from now? The Litespeed is the right answer.

After my ride, I hung out with the family and played lots of games: Scrabble (the best game ever; I kicked Tanya's butt with a 69 point word!), Big Trouble (a new game we got for Christmas, which is a bit weird), Boggle, and Catch Phrase. Besides the ride, it was lazy day.

Total Training Hours: 14.15
Bike: 7.25 Hours/126 Miles
Running: 4 Hours/26.67 Miles
Swimming: 2.5 Hours/4,550 Yards
Strength: 30 Minutes - I don't like weights!
Lost 1 day to sickness!

Bike: 9 hours
Running: 5 hours
Swimming: 3 hours
Weights: 1 hour

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Typical Saturday

Today I got up early (6:45 AM) and loaded my bike and riding clothes in the car and headed to the pool. I was a very cold morning. I was in the pool by 7:45 AM) I swam 1500 meters, again working on stroke drills. It's starting to come back to me again. My back is still too stiff/sore to do kick-turns, but I think a trip to the Chiro will help that.

After my swim (8:30), I rushed to change into my cycling clothes and get my contacts in. In the cold winter, it takes a long time to get all your clothes on. I have my bib shorts, leg warmers, wool socks, cycling shoes, shoe warmers, heart-rate monitor, undershirt, Long-sleeve jersey, thermal jacket, Balaclava, hat, helmet, liner gloves, and outer gloves.

After changing, I rushed to get some breakfast--Blakes Breakfast Burrito and orange Gatorade. Perhaps not the healthiest breakfast but it'll do in a pinch. I slammed the food down while driving to the group ride meeting spot--UNM's Lobo statue. I get there and get ready just in the nick of time.

As I roll up to the Lobo, there's only 6 people there. Historically, this ride usually has 20-30 people. It doesn't help that it's less than 30 degrees outside and overcast. Three of the people there are real hammer heads (i.e. they like to ride at a really brisk pace). Generally this doesn't bother me; however, my bike has these cranks called Power Cranks. These cranks operate independent of each other, and each leg has to turn complete circles without the benefit of the other leg's help. They help you build strength, and they're supposed to help with your running stride. At any rate, they're really tough!

Oh well, I'm here now no use in backing out. We take off and head south to Belen. I'm comfortable with The pace and pull through on all my pulls with any problem. After 2 hours of riding I'm still fine but legs are getting a bit knackered. You generally feel the pain in your hip flexors.

During the third hour, the pace began to pick up. I started getting a bit tired by this point. We finally got back to the Lobo after 3 hours and 55 miles.

About this time Every Saturday (12-1), Tanya gets done working out in her kick boxing class and we rendezvous somewhere for lunch. Instead, today we meet at Tanya's parents' house; her brother and family are in town for the New Year's festivities. All of Tanya's family showed up at the house--like me, she's the oldest of seven. There were a lot of people. We hung out and played games and let the kids play with each other. It was a mellow afternoon, which was all right by me because I was tired.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Speed Skills On The Rollers

The weather was a high of 23 degrees, which makes riding outside miserable. Furthermore, when you're bundled up to protect against the cold, your workout is less productive. So, in these conditions; I stay inside and turn to either the rollers or my trainer.

At this point of the season I'm more focused on developing speed skills on the bike, or in other words, training my muscles/nervous system to adapt to maintaining a higher cadence. This promotes muscle efficiency.

My work out is pretty simple but seems to be effective. I do three 15 minute sets with 10 minutes recovery between. I spend the first minute focusing on the push forward of the pedal stroke; I spend the second minute focused on the drag at the bottom of the pedal stroke; and, I spend the third minute focused on the lift of pedal stroke at the back. I rotate every three minutes placing my hands on the hoods of the handlebar or the drops of the handlebar (to learn to be comfortable in an aero position). During the three 15-minute sets, I maintain a pedaling cadence of >100 RPMs and heart rate in Zone 3. During the recovery times I keep the cadence around 90 RPMs and let the heart rate fall to zone 2.

This may be a lot of detail, but what I'm trying to illustrate is the need for specificity. With finite training time, very specific, focused workouts are more effective than meandering around outside in the cold for hours exposing yourself to the risk of a respiratory ailment. Furthermore, speed drills a great for working out the kinks in your knees after a long run.

Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly willing to go outside and brave the cold. Just two weeks ago, I started an early morning ride at 7:00 am and looked down at my bike computer that displays ambient temps to see a -5 degrees. Granted, Silvio (my trusty training partner) and I were descending Tramway. There was a wind chill factor going on. My hands froze and didn't thaw until we got to Bernillilo (the next town over). It was miserable. If you don't have to do it, don't. This was an endurance ride, and couldn't be done indoors.

After my rollers ride, I took my two oldest kids, Elise and Ethan, to the movies and watched I AM LEGEND with Will Smith. It was good perhaps a bit scary for the kids. We'll see tonight if they jump in our bed tonight.

I'm babysitting my nephew tonight for my Brother and Sister-in-law spend a romantic night in a hotel. Tanya's going to a party with her co-workers, so I'm going to be alone with 5 kids. No worries, I'm the oldest of seven.

Perhaps I Should Spend Time Training Water Polo

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Long Run Day - Ibuprofen Day

Today, I wasn't planning on working, but a budgeting emergency struck and it was all hands on deck. I was able to get away for lunch and swim a mile working on some drills. This is my first week of swimming after a brief hiatus (4 months).

I returned back to work and finally finished the budgeting crisis at 4:50. From there I headed straight to the gym (Del Norte Sports and Wellness) to start my long run. The high of the day was 25 degrees and there was a wind chill working as well. So, just after recovering from a small sinus infection, I didn't want to risk the outside weather. Besides, it's cold!

I commandeered a treadmill. Programmed it to run it's longest manual program time 1:30 or 90 minutes. This meant I had to run this in two shifts. No problem!

I pressed start and off I went. I had two water bottles, gels, and Cliff Shot Blocks at the ready, which probably looked a bit excessive to the average 20-minute runner. My objective was not speed but base duration, so I spent the first 90 minutes in 6.5 speed or slightly faster than10-minute miles. The second shift I cranked the speed up a little to 7 or slightly slower than 8-minute miles. This lasted 30 minutes and my knees started to hurt. I backed in down to 6.5 for the remaining hour. Towards the end I was really counting the minutes. This was my longest run to date. The last 10 minutes were very painful on the bottom of my feet. Finally, the second 90 minutes finished and I was done: 3 hours and 20 miles.

After a brief rest, I was overcome by a bit of euphoria--this seems to happen every time I push a new limit. I drove home took a shower. My toes had many blisters in spite of great Thorlos running socks my mom sent me for my birthday. Once the euphoria wore off, I took some Ibuprofen and had some noodle soup and watch a movie with my wife. Life's good!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Christmas Present

Christmas morning, I got a present that many wouldn't consider a present--not me! I got a paid trip to the Arizona Ironman slated for Saturday, November 23, 2008. This event is a qualifier for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii (for 2009, since Kona happens every year in September).

My initial thoughts were as follows:

  1. Excited because this is something I have really wanted to do for a long time (my goal was to complete it before turning 40); I also did a half-ironman last year and really enjoyed it. It's addicting!

  2. Stressed because an event of this nature takes a lot of preparation, dedication, discipline, time, MONEY, blood, sweat, and tears! Furthermore, I have tendency to set high expectations for myself.

Registration for this event opened the last weekend of November and was closed in 10 days. Over 2,300 applicants registered. The registration fee was $500 per entrant--that adds up to a lot of scheckles. In my age category (35-39 Men), there were 403 participants/competitors. My age category, which is generally the biggest, is allowed 15 qualifying slots for Kona. From a straight percentage perspective, I have to be in the top 3% to get a slot; or, in other words, I have to beat 97% of field.

In looking at other full-distance Kona qualifying events, my finishing time needs to be below 9 hours and 30 minutes to qualify for my age category. That means 1 hour swim, 5 hour bike, 3.5 hour run. Ask any athlete if these individual events' times are challenging, you'll get an affirmative response. Now stack them on top of each other, and you'll get something most will shrug their shoulders at as impossible.

So, you may be asking yourself: "Why would anyone want to do this?"

Believe me, I've pondered this question many times. The best answer I can come up with is this: "Because I love it." I love to push myself beyond limitations. I like to recollect after a hard workout and feel the buzz of exhaustion. Sometimes when I'm really tired and I close my eyes, I'm so exhausted that my body feels perfectly calm. I like the strength it gives me. There are times when I'm just suffering and my body is screaming to stop, yet I keep going and push through the pain. Honestly, if it paid the bills, I'd do it full-time.

There are only three ways to get the ticket to the big show: 1) win a lottery selection, 2) qualify in a full ironman distance race, 3) qualify in a half-distance race. I've never really been lucky, so I can't count on the lottery-there's only 200 slots awarded via lottery, and 50 of those are to European applicants. The half distance is uber-competitive because the distance is much shorter. For example, people qualifying in my age category are punching the clock with 4 hour times. Do the math on that: 30 minute swims, 2 hour bike rides, and 1 hour 30 minute runs. That's a drag race. I figure my best chance is the full distance. Competition is little less stiff just because of the sheer magnitude of the event--most athletes do only 1 (if that many) full iron distance events per year, but they'll easily slam 3-4 half distance events. Also many people do an Ironman event as a once in a lifetime quest--asked if they'd come next year to do it again, and they'd laugh in your face. Furthermore, if I fail to qualify; at least I can say I finished. And, that's resume material.

In many respects, it's unfortunate that one has to compete with others to qualify for Kona. I'm not so fond of the competition side of the event. I've never done well in my competitions--in road racing, I'm always happy to finish with the pack. I've never lamented not winning a race. But, afterwards, I always come away feeling good about finishing well. This may sound like a contradiction. The way I see it, If I'm fit enough to finish with the best and not get hurt or humiliated, then it's alright. In road racing, team tactics and strategy play a large role in the outcome. Rarely, is there a situation when raw strength is pitted against raw strength. This isn't the case with an Ironman. You can't draft on the bike. You can't send someone up the road to blow up the competition. You can't have someone fall back and pull you back to the pack. It's all you. You have to manage your pace, your nutrition, and your tactics.

I hope to provide a perspective to all those that sponsored my entrance that will let them see the joy and pain their gift has given me. I'd also like Tanya to share her experiences; so everyone can see the roll a supporting wife plays in a goal of such magnitude.