Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rest Days Are Good

These last couple of days have been good. Long nights of sleep, not having to pack multiple workout bags, vegging out in front of the TV. It's great. The legs are starting to feel good again. I like to use the recovery week to rejuvenate both my body and my mind. I like to take enough of a break that I get excited about training again for another block.

I've been making some upgrades to my bikes. I'm switching from SRAM to Shimano. Sorry; I'm not a big fan of SRAM. I want reliable shifting and maintenance free--that definitely wasn't the case with my Force group. I had the group for a year and had to get the rear derailleur adjusted every other month. Every time I tried to do it myself, I'd just make it worst. The bike shop would scratch their heads wondering if I bent the rear derailleur hanger, but that wasn't the case. So, after a year of dealing with the rear derailleur issues, I'm throwing up my hands and going with Shimano. I'm also going to increase the crank arm length on my Tri/TT bike to 2.5mm bigger than my road bike crank arm length. I've resisted making this change but after many conversations with TT-focused individuals, the difference in anatomical positions warrants longer crank arms. I just want to be as fast as possible on the bike. If a simple crank arm change can accomplish this--that's low hanging fruit.

People keep asking me what I'm going to do next year. Am I going to continue focusing on the tri thing or get back to bike racing exclusively? That's a tough question. My wife thinks it's cool to tell her friends her husband does Ironmans. I do miss being fit on the bike though; one of my training partners told me I ride like a triathlete (fast on the flats/slow on the climbs). I guess alot has to do with how I do at IMAZ. If I qualify for Kona (just for conversation purposes because I don't want to pressure myself), I'll spend the next year focusing on putting on a good showing for Kona. Otherwise, I don't know yet. Honestly, the tri thing is so expensive. $500 for an Ironman and $250 for a half--that's before travel, food, and hotel. Racing locally is much more cost effective. Sadly, I think I can do well with the Ironman thing--I seem to excel with ultra-endurance events. But, many of the people I train with are roadies who have no intention of running or swimming. It gets tiresome training by myself all the time. So, I don't know what I'm going to do next year. We'll see.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Week 3 -- Finally!

Sorry the posts have been weak. It's all I can do just to get through my training this last week. I'm so happy for a recovery weak. Can I just sleep all week, do 1 long training day for 8 hours, and call it good? Probably not but it's tempting.

Last week, I was able to put together was 17 hours: 150 Miles/9 hours on the bike, 23 miles/3.25 hours running, 12000 meters/4 hours swimming. I took Friday off and was soft on Saturday--I trimmed out 2 hours of my ride. Towards the end of the block, I get so dull tired that it makes more sense in the long term to trim the workouts just to avoid digging too deep of a hole.

Saturday's workout was a swim/bike/run brick work out that included a 2,500 meter swim, with a 50 mile bike ride, and finished with a 1 hour tempo run. The run has really started feeling good again. After working out, I had to change really quick and go to Ethan's basketball game. I didn't get time to eat--big mistake. Ethan's team won. Afterwards, Tanya sent me to the grocery store to pick up some things--another big mistake. I bought things that I know I shouldn't have--but I was pretty hungry. Afterwards, Tanya went shopping with her friend and left me alone to babysat 9 kids--we were having 4 kids spend the night and 2 others playing--another mistake. Actually the kids were well behaved and we watched Call of the Wild and ate lots of Mac & Cheese. After the movie was over, we had a giant James Bond video game tournament.

Sunday started with an early morning swim followed by church. My wife and I escaped in the middle of church and ate brie, crackers, and apples. This is a new tradition we're starting. Don't tell anyone. After church I rode for 2.5 hours in a loop around the city. My original intention was to do big gear climbs up Tramway, but the quads told me otherwise. I settled with working on cadence work on the TT bike for the afternoon. When the body talks...

Afterwards, we took the kids to the park. I went back and forth between pushing the kids in the swing, running with Elise in the grass, and playing basketball. At dark, we put the kids to bed and I celebrated the completion of another training block by eating a bowl of Count Chocula and watching a movie with a wife. Now I'm going to enjoy my recovery week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

That Day

These last months of training, I've been thinking alot of the day my IronMan will take place. I refer to it as "That Day." I keep trying to visualize what it'll be like. As I train, I try to synthisize the pains, the thoughts, the emotions I'll be dealing with. At one point in my training this year, I've done each of the three segments and have a good idea of how I feel after each. But, how will I feel with all three events done consecutively? That's the real question.

I have accepted the fact that there will be points when I'm tired and want to rest. Maybe I'll want to throw in the towel. I know I'll fight my way through a few bonks during the day. From what I've read, an IronMan's grit shows itself between mile 15-26 of the run for a well trained person. How will I conduct myself on that day? What choices will I make when pushed to the brink? Will I have the fortitude to push through? I think about the heat during the run...the dry mouth...the tired legs. It's a good time to walk; maybe I should find a spot of shade and lay down for a bit. These will be the thoughts I wrestle with.

I haven't put a projected time for when I think I'll finish. If I think about the enormity of the challenge, it's overwhelming. I don't want to think about running a marathon after riding 112 miles. I just think about each individual task seperately with a nutrution plan that bridges the events. I have a pace in mind for the swim, the bike and the run in terms of heart rate and pace. The swim is less concrete; swim my tempo pace. The bike will be to maintain a heart rate of 145-150 BPM and >20 MPH per hour. The run will be to maintain a heart rate ~140 BPM. If I follow my eating plan, I'm hoping the wheels will start to fall off the bus at about mile 20 of the run--that's when I'll have to gut it out. It seems strange to figure out when you'll hit the wall and how long you'll have to endure being at the wall. But, based on my training, this seems to be the most prudent strategy. Until then, I'll be simulating "that day" in each of my training sessions mentally preparing for the biggest event I've ever done.

In many ways an IronMan can be a metaphor for life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Week Closer

This last week, I was able to put in 20.5 hours training. I ran 29 miles in 4.25 hours, swam 10,562 yards in 3.75 hours and rode 225 miles in 12.5 hours. I'm wasted! Saturday was killer. I rode 90 miles in ~4.5 hours on the TT bike, jumped off and ran for an hour and did intervals. The run ended up be 8+ miles. Secretly, I'm trying to push myself so hard that I vomit--it's a sadistic goal of mine. I haven't ever been able to do it though. Other unnamed people I occasionally train with will vomit every time--maybe I push them too hard. At any rate, after my run I was feeling a bit woozy--but that's as good as it got.

The fatigue in my legs keeps accumulating and isn't clearing like I'd like. I probably need to take an ice bath or an Epsom salt bath. They just feel dead. Every time I go to bed, as soon as my head hits the pillow, it seems like it's morning time already. I'm sure anyone would agree, there's just not enough time in the night--or the day!

Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:45AM and joining a bunch of people for a group ride that ended up being 4 hours and 70 miles. I was worried that I'd get dropped due to the lack of snap in my legs, but the route was flat. Surprisingly, I spent most of the day pulling at the front. People kept remarking that I was Mr. Endurance. However, any time we'd hit a punchy climb, I'd lose contact with the group. The rode would flatten again and I'd be right back at the front pushing the pace. The muscles I use while running really affect the way I climb on the bike.

I got home from the ride just in time to join the family at church. After church I took the girls to the park. Tanya and Ethan went to a friends house and hung out. Elise has been wanting to do some cross-country running. I figured the best way to start was by running bare foot in the grass around the park. This is good for building form and foot strength. We did a set of strides, which is more than I should have done given my leg fatigue. Then I had her do 4 laps around the park, which is roughly a mile. If she keeps with it, she could really be a great runner. She's got long legs, a good stride, and the will to push through the pain. Afterwards, I pushed Mia on the swing for a while while the other girls played with a dog at the park. It was good fun.

One of the best things for me about training like I do is getting out all my excess energy. For better or for worse, I was born with an inordinate amount of energy. If I don't manage it, I'm crazy to be around. I'm high strung, moody, and insensitive. When I train out my excess energy, I'm calm and mellow. Everyone is more at ease around me. It's much like a Dalmatian or a Jack Russell Terrier. If you don't walk these dogs, you'll come home with a torn up sofa or rug. I'm not malicious when I do these things, and I get my feeling hurt when scolded, but, gosh, I gotta get it out.

After the park, we came home and snuggled on the couch and watched TV. Elise has really been getting into cooking, so we watched the cooking channel. Mia and Grace gave me a magic marker pedicure--whatever. It was good just to hang out. I slept like a rock last night. I've got one more week in this training block, then my recovery week. After that, It's my last training block before the big taper. I hope I can make it through!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Break Through Workouts

I didn't want to get up early this morning, so I decided to stack my swim and run workouts after work instead. Getting up early really takes it out of me, so if I can avoid it, I will.

I was able to get out of work right at 5:00; now that I'm moving into another department, I'm getting the cold shoulder. Just as well. I was in the pool by 5:30. I started up with a quick 250 kick to warm up. Then I figured I'd just go as long as I could. I swam 3,000 yards straight! That's 120 lengths of the pool and nearly the entire IronMan distance swim. I had to stop because I started getting dizzy from the flip turns and was also taking on too much water. I warmed down with an easy 1000 yards. I'm happy because this is a break through workout. From an endurance perspective, I felt like I could have swam longer and my pace was reasonably fast and consistent. I took me an hour to do the workout; I'd be happy if I could do the same speed during the actual Ironman event.

After the swim workout, the family went to dinner at Dions for pizza and sandwiches. We took the kids home got them settled with homework and put them to bed. Then I started my long run. I ran for 1:20 at an easy pace. I ran 9 miles. I'm still building up the distance for my long runs; this is only my second long run. I'm hopeful I'll get to 20 miles before the big event.

After my run, I did a bit of stretching and other recover precautions. I'm using icy-hot for the legs and compression sock while I sleep. I'm also using the foam roller. It's too close to the event to jeopardize an injury.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


A confession: I don't like to register my cars! It's such a hassle. Well, I got a ticket (actually a few) about a month ago for expired registration. My registration was out-of-state and expired as of February 2007 (1 year and 7 months). Before that, when I had my truck, the registration was also expired for a duration even longer. I guess I figure, that if I get pulled over, they'll give me a fix-it ticket, then I'll have to update it. Well that happened. So, I registered my car for the state of New Mexico for a duration of 2 years--the longest time available. It cost me $250 for out-of-state title transfer, VIN verification, emissions test, and actual registration. So, now I'm legit.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crazy Week

As you're already aware, I took a week off of the blog last week. I took another job within the company and the transition has been hectic. My last day in this department is the 24th of September. Yes, there's a lot of hurt feelings and closed door meetings. Life goes on though.

Many people have told me it's not a good idea to write about the work place...co-workers or bosses may run across the blog and get worked up. It may lead to hard ship or loss of a job. It's probably a smart thing to do.

Since I missed a week, I wasn't able to give last week's summary workout. If you recall, last week was a recovery week so I try to keep the time to no longer than 10 hours. Coming into the weekend, I only had 3.5 hours--I was really recovering. So, Saturday, I did a mini-triathlon primer just to get a sense where I stood fitness-wise. The morning started at 9:00 am with a 2,000 meter time trial swim, followed-up with an 80 mile bike ride, and finally I jumped on the treadmill and ran 8 miles in an hour. I really want to work on my running speed after the bike, so I'm trying to push really hard right after a long run. The entire day was roughly 6 hours long. With that workout I was able to spend all day Sunday resting, which was nice.

Last week was the first week of my next training block. I was able to put in 16.25 hours. I swam 4 hours and 12,303 yards, rode my bike 8 hours and 138 miles, I ran 4.25 hours and 30 miles. On Tuesday, I got a little post-nasal drip thing going. Nothing that would stop me from pushing through. I took my decongestant and kept working out. By Saturday night, I was really feeling it and the post-nasal drip grew to a minor sinus infection. Sunday morning, I swam 2500 meters before church and had the intention of riding a couple of hours after church, but I was too wiped out. After church I went to bed, waking up intermittently until the next morning. I slept 15 hours. It looks like I'll probably go to the doctor and get some anti-biotics. I don't mind, as long as I can continue working out. I only have 63 days until the big day. That's really quick.

I tell you, after sleeping for long durations of time (>10 hours) I feel so weird like I'm in a tunnel. It'll take the whole day to recover from my sleep.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Recovery Week

In everything I've read, you're not supposed to take 2 consecutive days off for recovery, unless you're really in a hole. I wouldn't say I'm in a hole, but I took 2 days off anyways. Monday (Labor Day) was dedicated to reconnecting with my kids with lots of games and fun. During my heavy training weeks, I'm not around as much, getting up early to train, being gone at work all day, and coming home late after training in the evenings. I get some good time with the kids on the weekends, but that's not enough. So, days like this are good too. I don't know who gets more out of spending time together--them or me--because I really like it. It's fun to see the kids with their little personalities. We can really joke with each other and hassle each other over a few games of Horse. Also, as the weeks of training accumulate and I grow exhausted, I am much more terse and stressed. I can be down right grumpy. So, days like this are good because the stress is gone and I can be myself and be fun. No, it's not cool that the kids have to see the range of my moods; I'd like them to always see happy dad. But, regardless of what I was doing, they'd probably still see the full spectrum. The good thing is I know what causes the changes, the cycles, and I (or my wife) can let the kids know it's not them (it's Dad-zilla).

The second day I didn't feel like hassling with packing bags the night before and work has been really hectic. So, I took another day off. In the grand scheme, I think this was a better choice.

Yesterday, I swam 3000 meters after work and got an hour massage afterwards. The massage was the second of three I received for Fathers Day. I like to get massages during my recovery week. So today was as good as any.

In most cases, we associate massages with feeling good or relaxation. That wasn't the case last night. Oh my gosh! Before the massage, the masseuse asked how deep/hard I wanted it to be, being an idiot, I said, "as hard as you can go." The masseuse is pregnant and she likes to lean all of her body weight into her elbow--a detail I forgot since my last massage. Sure enough, the elbow came out and the pain began. I know this is a good pain; since my last massage I've moved, helped someone move, moved my office, changed job responsibilities, trained long hours, worked long hours, raced, and dealt with all the regular day-to-day stresses; so, there was a lot of tension/stress accumulated in my muscles that needed to be worked out. The masseuse did her job and found each knot. Then she proceeded to drop the elbow; inside I was whimpering like a new puppy left outside on a rainy night. The calves, the quads, the muscles around the shoulder blades, and the neck; each a recipient of the elbow. I had visions of the Macho Man Randy Savage dropping down from the ropes elbow first delivering a nearly fatal blow to his opponents. Can I just step into a Slim Jim instead!

The hour was up and she asked me how I felt. Not wanting to admit I'd just been emasculated, I mustered a "Much Better." I went home afterwards and fell into a stupor in front of the television--this is an activity reserved for the longest/hardest training days. It wouldn't have mattered if I was watching Telemundo or Lawrence Welk, all that was registering was the array of moving lights and sounds. I've never taken acid or, for that matter, any other hallucinogenic recreational drug, but I imagine the experience might have been similar. After a while, Tanya told me to go to bed, and I pulled myself off the couch and in to bed to a night laden with strange dreams.

Wow, maybe some massages should be registered with the FDA! I'll have to be less cavalier for my next massage.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Calf Compressor Socks

There's this new thing sweeping the running world--Calf Compressor Socks! And guess what? they work.

Someone recommended these to me the other day. I was tentative. My wife used to wear these while she was pregnant because of blood pressure issues. Additionally, they come with a big price tag. And, they look dorky to any normal person in a Chuck Taylor kind of way. Yet, I'm desperate to rid myself of calf pain when I run. So I jumped on the band wagon and got a pair.

I put these on, along with my short running shorts, and ran for an hour--this was the run after my TT on Sunday. If I had a crystal ball a few years ago and saw myself in the future wearing small running shorts and knee high compression socks, I wouldn't believe it to be true.

My legs felt fine during the run--no pains...nothing. So much so, that I forgot that I've had calf pains these last few months. After the run, I got back in the car and ran consumed with thoughts of the TT I did prior to running. It didn't dawn on me that I was wearing the calf socks until I went to the park in Moriarty where the post TT activities were taking place (i.e. awards ceremony, time posting, and eating). I got out of the car and walked up to the group of cyclists. People kept looking at me weird. Whatever! I assured myself they weren't looking at me weird. Sure enough, they were. My socks looked like I was wearing tights and my shorts made me look like I worship Richard Simmons. Gosh! What have I done to myself? I galloped back to my car much like Napoleon Dynamite would have with his moon boots.

No calf pain--my pride's wincing though.

The week prior, I ran for an hour and couldn't run for 3 days. With the compression socks, my legs felt like I just got done getting a massage. They work!

Week Summary - Loss of Specificity/Gain In Generality

I finished the third week of this training block with the Record Challenge TT, which is 40K. It was a hard week because of the accumulated training these past few weeks, busy work, stressful living conditions (moving and unpacking and helping my brother-in-law move), and throw in a bit of racing and I was cooked. At the end of the week, I had a total of 14.5 hours. I swam for 3 hours and 8749 yards, rode my bike 9.5 hours and 157 miles, and ran for 2 hours for a total of 15.5 miles. The training alone is fairly scant relative to prior months, but everything else made this a fairly sucessful week.

Yesterday was Labor Day and rather than go out and kill myself training as per usual, I let the whole day be a recovery day. I hung out with the two oldest kids and we just had fun. We played games, watched a movie, and just hung out. It was good fun.

I did the Record Challenge TT, which is 40K (24.76 miles) on Sunday. The course is out-and-back from Moriarty to Estancia and back. It's extremely flat with an oveall elevation gain over the distance of 365 feet. The course is given to gusty wind conditions. The race is held over 2 days; the first day is for solo time trial rides and the second is for specialty type rides (i.e. tandem, team, and other). When I arrived to the course it was pouring rain. The course was wet. Warming up was a real challenge because I had to huddle underneath the rear hatch of my car while on the roller to stay out of the rain. As I warmed up, I couldn't get my heart rate above 165 BPM--just like during the State TT Championships two weeks ago.

After my warm up, I decided to get to the line early to see if there were starting delays due to inclimate weather. As I rolled up to the line at what I thought would be 10 minutes early, they called my name to start in 40 seconds--DOH! How could this be, my watch is GPS. Good thing I came early. I rolled up and got ready to start. After 40 seconds, I was off.

On the way out, there was a headwind that spit rain directly into my face. I was getting drenched. I was killing myself to keep a good cadence and get my heart rate up, but all I could muster was a HR of 165BPM. I couldn't figure out if I was overtrained or too well trained to be able to get my heart rate up. There is a difference. If you're over-trained, your body won't let you get to the upper limits of your heart rate either because of muscle failure or aerobic inability to reach its peak. It just doesn't happen. If you're trained too well--you've trained yourself not to go too high from a HR perspective. Long-distance athletes can't afford to go too hard or they can't finish their long-distance events. They train in tempo heart rate zones and never go higher. This would be me--I never go higher than 165 BPM when I train. During my Ironman, if I see a heart rate at >160BPM, I'm doing something really wrong and am jeopardizing finishing.

I kept pushing with a goal of finishing within or under 1 hour for the entire TT. Near the turnaround in Estancia, the rain let up to a very mild drizzle. I hit the turn around and saw 35 minutes. If I wanted to reach my goal, I would have to make the return trip in 25 minutes. As I turned around, there was a tail wind. I slammed into my biggest gear and started to push. I started to catch people one-by-one until I passed 5 people. Even still with my hard efforts, my heart rate never broke 165BPM. My cadence was around 80 RPMs because I was pushing a bigger gear. Near the end, I did get passed by one person; I tried to keep his pace for a while and almost blew up because I dug too deep. I had to back off a bit and recover. I finished the TT in exactly 1 hour, which means I was able to keep an average speed of nearly 25 MPH for an hour. I was happy with the effort considering the weather conditions.

I warmed down for a few mintues, then changed into running clothes and began to run. I ran for an hour and was able to maintain a 8:30 minute-mile-pace without too much effort. After the run, I was done--I mean I was physically ready to take a nap. That didn't happen because my wife called me on the drive home and pleaded with me to join her for the last hour of church, which I did. Don't ask me what the lesson was about because I was in another place!

In reviewing the results of the TT; I've noticed that my time is much slower than the times of the individuals I used to compete with when I solely raced my bike. Some people put as many as 5 minutes in to me. What's wrong with me? Why was I so slow? Someone once told me triathletes are mediocre in individual sports but fast when all those sports are combined. I think the longer I run and swim, the more I lose my cycling strength specificity, but at the same time I'm improving in my general strength across all three events. It makes perfect sense, but it's humbling none the less when your former competitors ask you what happened? Did you have a mechanical? I hate to go through the long explanation: my priority is triathlons right now. I'll explain to you why I was so slow on the bike...just join me during my run...I explain every thing. I didn't think so. Oh well, I'll just keep getting beat up on the bike and hope it pays off in my triathlons.