Thursday, October 30, 2008

Taper - Week 1

There are some real challenges with tapering. First--it messes with your mind not to be training as you've done for so long. I've been freaking out thinking about how I didn't train right for this or that. I want to squeeze in that last break through workout that'll magically cover what I forgot. As an endurance athlete, you, strangely, derive a bit of self-worth from how much you flog yourself during training (at least I do). But, if you ease up on the throttle, you start to worry you're losing it. It's such a strange mental struggle. Logically, I know I'm doing the right thing by letting my body recover, but my programming isn't on the same page. I really go stir crazy if I don't put in a long ride over a couple of weeks. It eats me up.

Second--my weight has been shooting up. I still eat like I'm full on training, but I'm not. So, I've been packing in the pounds. I can already see some of you rolling your eyes--"A little more weight will do him some good." I'm not so much a weight freak like some of my other collegues. But, here's were the issue comes into play. A little more weight during a 26 mile run can wreak havoc on an already injured leg, or be the source of a new injury. More weight is actully welcome on the swim; it adds a degree of buyancy. I'm indifferent to more weight on the bike--that is if the course is flat, which IMAZ is relatively flat. But, additional weight on the run can be a deal breaker. There's a bit of a chain reaction that takes place during such an event as an IronMan. The swim doesn't have too much affect other than initiating a bit of fatigue. The 100 mile bike ride is where the chain reaction really begins. Long miles, pushing a big gear, lots of fatigue all add up to a slightly modified running gait. Throw in a bit of additional weight on an altered gait, and you got an injury waiting to happen.

Sadly, I love to eat! Last night my wife made steak with a special cheese sauce pasta. Gosh, it was so good! I ate alot. Even after I was done, I kept eating. I knew I should stop, but the food was so good. After dinner a found myself on the couch with my belt and button undone watching TV. Thank goodness there wasn't any chocolate cake around, I would have eaten that too! At work I find myself eating all day. I have cut out the Coke and chocolate. I've made an effort to eat more fruit. But I love to eat! It's no fair.

Monday, October 27, 2008

End of Week Summary

This was supposed to be my last week of my final block before taper. I really wanted to put up some big numbers, but my leg isn't letting me do the running thing too much right now. I finished the week off with 14 hours, which included 6.5 hours of riding for 135 miles, 6 hours of swimming for 14,000 meters of swimming, 30 minutes of running for 3.2 miles of running, and an hour of walking.

Saturday, I started with a hard tempo 2,000 meter (rougly half the Iron distance) swim just to get a feel for how long my swim will take. It took me 45 minutes sans wetsuit. I figure a wetsuit will cut a bit of time off, but this is still fairly slow. I started to freak out because a ~1.5 hour swim time will put me in a big hole right off the bat. I tried to brush off the time considering it was a fairly long swim week. I cooled down with an easy 1000. Righ after swimming, I jumped on the bike and rode my regular loop (and then some). I finished the ride with 100 miles and 5 hours. It was really windy and the wind kept shifting. The prior day, I changed my stem length from 12CM to 9CM so I could more on top of my aerobars. The change was a good one. I also wore my aero helmet, which probably gave many people a laugh at my expense--"That guy must have really liked the movie Tron!" I wanted to try out the aero helmet over a long distance to see how I felt after the ride. I'm very glad I did take it because the lack of ventilation in the helmet was horrible. I felt like it was raining inside the helmet because I sweat so much. After my ride, I felt like my head was dehaydrated and my eyes were sunken into my skull. Yes...there's a bit of hyperbole here, but the aero helmet adversely affected my performance. Imagine how bad it would be in the hot Arizona sun. No thanks!

After the ride, I loaded up on some Subway and got the girls dressed in their Halloween costumes. I took them and met Tanya at the kids' school fall carnival--not PC to use Halloween at public school functions. I brought a gallon of water and proceeded to gulp it down. After the carnival, we came home and watched some videos. Oh yeah, I polished off half a pint of Ben & Jerry's Brownie Batter ice cream. That probably wasn't the smartest thing to do.

Sunday morning, I dragged myself out of bed by 9 AM and went to the pool and swam an easy 2,500 meters. I came home and got ready for church. After church, I took a nap while the kids cleaned their rooms; Tanya went to a friend's house to cook dinners for the rest of the week. When I woke up, I had the kids practice their songs for their piano recital. We then met Tanya at the recital. The kids did well. Piano recitals are very interesting (more on this at a different time).

After piano, I decided to try out the running legs. My leg wasn't bugging me. I fired up the treadmill and ran for 30 minutes/3 miles. It was probably 10 minutes too long. As I was running, it dawned on me why my leg has been bugging me. I've been spending so much time pushing (mashing) a big gear while riding. The strain has been significant on the knees. To do that, and jump off and run isn't the best idea. Saturday, I never left the big chain ring. I averaged 20 MPH, over 5 hours, which included nearly 4,000 feet of elevation gain. There was lots of time I had wind on my face. That's terrible strain on the knees. So, I'm not going to do anymore long rides for awhile and I'll start to ice the knees. Nearly all riding for now on will be small chain ring--at least until the legs/knees recover. I'm fairly optimistic I will have my running legs back for IMAZ--if not sooner.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Forced Recovery Week

This tendinitis behind my knee is really starting to irk me! I've refrained from running since last Saturday and haven't ridden my bike for three days and it seems like my leg is still the same. I've been taking lots of Ibuprofen and doing of alot of icing, yet status quo. I don't want to lose fitness, but I don't want to prolong my injury. It's too close to IMAZ to take any chances. So, it looks like I'm forced to take a recovery week.

Big picture: I want to show up to IMAZ perfectly confident that I've done everything possible to be prepared. Even more so, I want to have great results. The logical part of me says I need to log a tapered weekly training quantity up to that point. The goal-minded side of me, says to push through. But, if I push through with the scheduled training quantity, I risk aggravating my leg more. So, obviously, I'm conflicted. GRRRR! The smart thing is to recover; I know it. But my drive is to log some miles. The only safe thing I can do is swim, which I've done these last few nights.

Have Mercy! This Sucks!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Weekend Ride Data



Here's Day 1. You'll notice between mile 10 and 20 there's a vertical drop. I forgot to turn my GPS on for most of the descent.




Here's Day 2. My GPS battery died just before Emory Pass.


Final Week Of Last Block--Off To A Slow Start

This is supposed to be my last week of my final block and I wanted to work towards 25 hours, but my body isn't cooperating. Monday, I was just so wiped out, that I decided to take the entire day off. Furthermore, all the riding I did last week has given me a mild case of tendinitis behind my left knee. I went out Tuesday at lunch to run, and after about 100 yards realized it was stupid to try to run; I'd just hurt myself and jeopardize prolonging/exacerbating a small injury so close to IMAZ. So, I just walked for an hour. It was nice just to walk around and take in the autumn weather. After work, I swam 3500 meters. This is the first time I've swam in a week. I took a break to get over the Swimmers Ear--this really worked. My ears and sinuses cleared up. I felt good during the swim and didn't feel like I missed anything fitness-wise.

It's now Wednesday morning, my tendinitis is getting better with rest and anti-inflammatory medicine. I'm still going to give myself a couple of days before I start running again. I'm not sure I'm going to be putting up some big numbers this week. I've been sleeping really hard these last few nights recovering from last weekend. I guess this weekend was more intense/demanding than I thought. Tonight, I'll swim for 1.5 hours and bring it home with some time on the trainer. Last night the cold weather came that usually shows up around late October in Albuquerque. I'm probably going to have to live with it now. I'm OK with it though; the warm weather has lasted a long time.

The presidential elections are just around the corner and I'm still not decided. Actually being undecided isn't a fair statement--I'm not enamored with either candidate. Why do we have to only have 2 viable candidates? Both candidates offer a mixed bag of promises--good and bad. During the debates, both candidates were great at discussing their opponent's weaknesses. That being said, I really never got a sense of what the two candidates believe or a fair measure of their quality; I just got lots of buzzwords and distorted claims. What makes it worse are the terrible television political ads airing every commercial break. These need to be illegal; they are about at trustworthy as the National Enquirer. They pander to the lowest lifeforms that claim the title of human being! What a waste of resources. At the end of the day, it seems both candidates are more concerned with winning than being the best man(women) for the job.

At the risk of offending anyone, these are the political issues that most concern me. If you can find a candidate the best represents my views, I'll vote tomorrow!

1) I'd like to end the war in Iraq. America is using too much of it's resources fighting in Iraq when the benefits are marginal. We don't have the resources to fight a war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and spend 850 billion to sure up our financial system all at the same time. The toll these three major efforts are having on the financial welfare of our country is significant.
2) I don't think it's the government's prerogative to define how much personal income is too much. I've heard it mentioned on numerous occasions by one candidate, that if he's elected, there will be no new taxes unless you make $250K or more. Many of the people who earn upwards of $250K have worked hard through education, taken significant risks, and worked their fingers to the bone to realize the American dream. This tax policy will deter that character. Conversely, are we willing to reward someone for not pursuing the American dream?
3) I'd like a leader to tell the voters it's not just Wall Street that's responsible for the current financial crisis. We chose to purchase homes that we couldn't afford. We chose not to save for a rainy day. We chose to max out our credit cards. We chose to finance cars we couldn't afford. What happened to personal accountability? Being a leader means telling someone something they may not want to here because it's true rather than telling them everything they want to hear to get their votes!
4) I'd like to strive to be an energy independent nation. This means drilling for fossil fuel in Anwar and off-shore or where ever. This means building much more nuclear energy plants. This means funding research for renewable energy technology to make them viable--because now their conceptually nice but extremely impractical. Energy is my professional vocation so I feel strongly about the subject. We shifted so much economic power to the Middle-East with both our excessive demand for oil and our inability to politically allow for us to internally meet that demand. Let's shift the power back home!
5) I have 4 children in public schools. My wife used to be a school teacher. Our public schools are in dire straits. Public teachers, try to support themselves on salaries roughly equal to $25K , which also must be used to for setting up a classroom (i.e. decorations, reading books, and other objects that teachers would use to supplement their teaching). My kids' teachers sell pencils and other school supplies during lunch to the students to raise money for a field trip. That's not right. We need to double, if not triple, teachers' salaries. Our children's' education is one of the most important long-term investments we can make. It's time to make that investment.
6) I'm not hung up on gay marriage or gay rights. I don't publicly display affection for my significant other; all I ask is the same restraint. Why are we making such a big deal about this?
7) I'd like to set term limits for all elected positions. If it were my choice, there would only be one term, but I can live with 2--max. It's distasteful the some politicians make a career out of elected office. That was never the founding fathers' intent! Elected office is a brief civic duty not a career. Congress would function much more efficiently if the elected officials knew they only had 1 term to make a difference--rather than a life time.

I can think of any other pressing political matters, but if you can find a politician that embraces these views, I'll vote today--even if it's a write in candidate!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Big Bike Week Comes To An End

This week I logged 19 hours of training. 17.5 of those hours were on the bike and 290 miles. I was also able to run 1.5 hours and 10 miles. I didn't quite reach my 300 miles on the bike, but with all the elevation gain I picked up, I'm content with the ride. This last weekend, I went with a group of people and rode between Hillsboro, NM, to Silver City, NM. Silver City is the home of the famous Tour of the Gila road bike race. We spent both days covering most of the Gila course. It was a blast! The first day was a 90 mile ride with 8,000 feet of elevation gain. This ride started in Hillsboro and climbed over Emory Pass in the Black Mountain Range and down to a small village called San Lorenzo. From San Lorenzo, we rode through the Mimbres Valley to Lake Roberts, and finally up Sapillo Hill to Pinos Altos and down into Silver City. I was feeling really spunking during the ride and was climbing really hard--some of the people in our group said they hadn't seen me climb that well. In the 35 mile stretch through Mimbres Valley, I ditched the group and rode ahead by myself. I didn't want to get the benefit of a draft. Again, on the climb to Pinos Altos, I put the hammer down and climbed really hard. After the ride, I threw my running clothes on and ran for an hour. Ouch! It's no fun running after killing yourself on the bike. After my run, I came home, cleaned up, ate, and crashed. The next day, we rode to the City of Rocks from Silver City, which is south-east of Silver City. Then we went back to San Lorenzo and proceeded to climb back over Emory Pass and down to Hillsboro. The prior night's run really put my climbing legs out of commission. I was very happy to see Emory Pass after the 1.5 hour climb. The second day ended up being another 90 miles with 7,000 feet of elevation gain. When I got back to the car, it was all I could do to load up my stuff in the car, get changed, and drive home. The weather was perfect, the conditions were optimal, and the locals were very nice.
I have one more week of this training block, then it's taper-time! Today, I think the only thing I can muster is a swim. My legs need a bit of a break. This Saturday, I'm planning on doing my 8-hour workout: 1 hour swim/5 hour bike/2 hour run. I figure, if I can do 90% of the entire event in a training exercise, then I'll have the confidence during the event to know I (nearly) done it before. Wish me lucky!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dusting Off the Lights

Last night after work, in the spirit of trying to log 300 miles on the bike this week, I did my 3 hour Troy Jacobson training video. Yes, that means I did 3 hours on the trainer in the garage--the day after doing nearly 2 hours on the trainer. I guess there's a reality that working folks need to embrace: not all training is going to take place during daylight. So, you adapt and work with your constraints to meet your goals. I don't mind riding the trainer--as long as I have a specific workout.

Back to the 3 hour trainer ride: I play a game with myself every time I do it. I tell myself I'll only do 2 hours and see how I feel. After 2 hours, I tell myself I only have an hour to go; I might as well stick it out. Once the full 3 hours are over, I scratch my head amazed that I just did the whole thing. Much like eating an entire package of cookies, which I do weekly. Darn you Tanya and your poor shopping choices!

When the video was over, it was about 9:30. I realized I was about 40 miles shy of what I needed before this weekend to make 300. So, I decided I should commute to work to pick up the rest of the miles. Now that the mornings are fairly dark, I realized it makes sense to dust off the bike lights and put them on the commuter bike. Additionally, I never know how late I'll work, and I don't think it's cool to have my wife come pick me up with all the kids late at night. So I spent the next hour putting on my bike lights and finding my battery charger. By the time I was done with that and packing my clothes for the next day, it was 11:20.

I can't decide whether to wear a black latex body suit or a flesh body stocking for the IronMan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bike Week

It seems that last week in my over-exuberance to add more running miles and running intensity I might have mildly strained my left knee and right shin. I'm going to play it safe and take the week off of running. I ran yesterday, and noticed it was a bit more than muscle soreness. Furthermore, I've been dealing with a mean case of Swimmers Ear for the last few months. I didn't really know what was going on. I though I had a sinus/ear infection. I even went through 2 rounds of antibiotics. But, as soon as I'd seem to get over the infection, it'd come right back. These last few days I've done a bit of research and I've self-diagnosed myself with Swimmers Ear. I don't trust doctors--especially ones that work at an HMO and are allowed no more than 15 minutes per patient and have minimal experience with endurance sports related injuries/ailments. It appears that I got in the pool too soon after my ear infection, which further exacerbated the situation. Sparing you the unseemly details, I've kept reinfecting myself by continuing to swim with an ear infection. That being said, I'm staying out of the pool this week and taking Swimmers Ear drops. It's Wednesday and I'm already seeing positive results.

Now the only training I can do is on the bike, so this has officially become a bike week for me. My goal is to log 300 miles. We'll see. I hope I don't get too bored on the bike. I am looking forward to this weekend in Silver City though. I haven't done a road trip since Boise. That's too long!

On other news. I've been trying to get our rabbit to burrow a hole for the winter. Last night I raked the rocks out from under the shed: the rabbit spends its nights under the shed. I softened the ground up so she'll start digging. I'm hoping at some point her instincts will kick in, and she'll start digging. No luck last night though; I checked this morning and status quo. I don't want the bunny to freeze in the winter, and I don't want the bunny to live in the house either. The other option is to get another bunny for her to snuggle with, but I don't want our backyard to be over run with rabbits. The vegetation can't sustain it. Our bunny has already eaten nearly every shrub in the backyard. At some point, I might have to burrow her a hole and line it with straw. Gosh the nerve of the rabbits these days! Maybe the addition of a pet coyote will solve the burrow problem quicker.

Monday, October 13, 2008

First Week of Last Training Block

This week was hectic with work, training, and family activities. My wife got the results back from her first statistics test and got a 97%--the highest grade in the class. I'm hoping she'll do better next time! Seriously though, Tanya and I were the people you hated to have in your class because we loved to screw up the curve. There's nothing better than students in your class asking if the test is going to be graded with a curve, and your teacher responds by saying, "I was planning on it but someone got 100%!" Deep down inside I'd laugh because I was the nerd that got the 100%. Ha ha--you better bring your A game to the next test!

The weather's been messing with me in terms of preparing for Arizona. It's starting to dip--not that this is any different than prior years. But, I was hoping the heat would hold on a little longer so I don't acclimate to cooler temps and melt in Phoenix on the big day. Saturday, it was really windy and cool. I like the wind because riding in it makes you stronger--MASOCHIST! I rode 95 miles that started out with a brisk tailwind out to San Felipe reservation. My average speed was 30 MPH. I knew I was running up the credit card on this one, and paying it back would be long and tedious. Sure enough, I turned around right into a headwind that made my average progress near standstill. I had sand blown in my face the whole way. Someone commented that I didn't put my "foundation" on evenly. Slowly but surely, I made my way back to Albuquerque, hit the river trail and continued south past the city. I came back to Tramway via the Southern route and caught the tailwind back on Tramway. I pleasantly surprised how fresh I felt. I drank 6 water bottles and consumed roughly 1000 calories while riding. I was hauling on the way back on Tramway and ran into my brother and sister-in-law. They pulled over and were laughing because before they knew it was me, the commented on "what idiot would be out on the bike right now!?" Sure enough, it was me. I finished up with a loop to the County Line and back. After the ride, I through on my running clothes and fired up the treadmill for my tempo run. I ran 9.5 miles in 70 minutes. I keep upping the speed and time to adapt to the transition. The first 15 minutes were really painful and I kept rationalizing cutting my run back a bit. I, ultimately, stuck with the plan and finished. Ouch!

And the end of my run, my wife told me I'd been working out all day. She asked me how that made me feel. The only word that came to mind was "empowering". It's kind of like screwing up the curve in a test...it's cool to know you're doing something not many other people would be able too. I don't mean this in a conceited way, but it's cool to tell people what you did with your weekend and people freak out. "You did what!" "You're crazy"

Saturday was the Ironman World Championships in Kona. I read the reports and saw many pictures. I really want to be there next year. I know it's a tall order both to qualify and to afford Kona. I mean I read a story about some guy who won an lottery slot (non-qualifying drawing) to Kona, paid $2,300 for a condo just for the week and a bunch of other money for airline tickets and what not. A week before he was supposed to fly out, he went down on his bike, and hurt himself. That was it. His once-in-a-lifetime lottery slot was gone along with his condo fees. That's alot of money to rustle up, especially if you got a big family. Oh well; I'll cross that bridge if and when I get there.

The times the pros finished in were super-human. The winning pro men finished his marathon in 2:45 and the women pro in 2:58--that's after swimming and biking. I'm guessing they were using the "force" to finish with these times, and they were Jedi's because, otherwise, the results are unbelievable.

My training this week consisted of 17 hours. My bike was really soft with only 6.5 hours and 122 miles. I swam 5 hours for 14,000 yards, and ran 5.5 hours for 38 miles. This week coming up will be heavily weighted towards cycling because I'm going to Silver City for a mini cycling camp. I did this last year and it was a blast. The first day was 90+ miles with 15,000 feet of elevation gain. The second was about the same. I'll probably suffer with all the climbing but it'll be a good workout.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Boycott PayPal!

Anyone who's used Ebay knows about PayPal; it's the transaction processing arm of eBay. Nearly all eBay auctions are funded through you're PayPal account moving funds between the buyer and seller's bank accounts. For the most part, PayPal works fine with the exception of pulling a 6% transaction fee out of the seller's proceeds). But I just got hammered by PayPal, and I'm not too happy.

A few weeks ago I sold a bike on eBay. The bike was an older bike with a hodge podge of parts. The frame had a little rust. All these details were disclosed as well as pictures included. I listed the price at a low opening bid. To my surprise, the bike got bid up to $510--I hoped for $250 best case scenario. The buyer provided me with $50 for shipping and did add more for insurance. UPS provides for $100 of insurance unless you pay for more. I paid the local UPS store to pack the bike up and ship it. The total bill came to $60. I was glad to pick up the difference because the bike sold for so high. Anyways, a week later, I get an email from the buyer saying he was going to send the bike back and cancel the PayPal payment because the bike wasn't as described. After a few more emails, I learn that the bike was trashed en route by UPS. The frame got scratched up, the quick releases (which I packed in ziplock bag and taped to the frame) were missing, the chain ring was bent. I told the buyer to file a complaint with UPS and told him he was the one who refused to pay additional insurance. Rather than go to the UPS store, he filed a complaint against me on PayPal. PayPal put a credit for the total amount of the sale and shipping in my account, which gave me a negative balance because I'd already spent the proceeds to switch my road bike from crappy SRAM to Shimano groupo. Both parties then provided their story of what happened. His Explanation: Item doesn't fit description. My explanation was a summary of all the events explained above. At the end of the day, he got all his money back and I got the busted up bike back. After 2 phone calls with PayPal customer services agents, they said I'm completely responsible. This is odd to me because whenever I buy something on eBay, it's the buyer paying for the additional insurance. Because the buyer pays for the insurance, you'd think he or she'd be responsible for all or at least some of the shipping responsibility. Apparently not!

What this means is this: I can buy a brand new complete bike on ebay, take some of the parts and claim the bike was mishandled during shipping, rip up the box a little, and complain to PayPal that the item isn't as described. The seller would be responsible to take back the bike and the buyer would only have to foot the bill for the return shipping. Now I would never do anything like this. And this is an extreme situation. But why would I ever sell anything on eBay and use PayPal? I won't, anymore. For now on, money orders. Meanwhile I have to figure out how to pay off the credit. Grrr!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Boo Hoo Rest Week Is Over!

Yes...today's the first day of my last training block before taper. Rest week was good but I'm still feeling tired. Last week I did a total of 9 hours of training. 4 hours/75 miles bike, 2.5 hours/20 miles running, 2.5 hours/6500 meters swimming. For those of you not familiar with Albuquerque, Saturday the International Balloon Fiesta (IBF) began. IBF is Albuquerque's biggest tourist event in which people come from everywhere to watch 100s of hot air balloons take off in the mornings or light up their balloons at night (balloon glow). It's a novel event, I guess. The one downside to it is avoiding vehicles meandering all over the road as the drivers focus on the balloons above. I went on my Saturday morning ride a little later to avoid this. But, I didn't leave late enough because there were 4-5 occasions where I had to brake really hard (on my bike) not to rear end a vehicle that stopped abruptly in the middle of the road. Why wasn't I on the shoulder you ask? Because the shoulders were lined with people parked gawking out their window watching the balloons land in the middle of the fields between Albuquerque and Bernalillo (my usual Saturday morning ride). It wasn't too bad, but the IBF lasts all week. We'll see.

Fall is now in the air. Fall's my favorite season. I love it when the hot summer breaks and you can smell fire wood burning (as opposed to residents of the valley burning garbage). I'm generally a cool weather creature. I suffer in the hot extremes. For this reason, I'm a bit concerned about the weather in Albuquerque cooling too quick relative to Phoenix. I don't want it to be too hot during the big day and I over heat. The other thing I really like about the fall is Halloween. For those of you who don't know, my birthday is on Halloween. Honestly, I couldn't think of a more fitting day for me to celebrate my birthday. There isn't a better holiday! I'd like the theme of jack-o-lanterns, black cats, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, witches, skeletons, and trick-or-treating to happen year round. Then, this world would be a much better place to live. Business meetings would be less serious because everyone would be dressed up. The office would full of candy all the time. TV programming would have a scary movie theme. Shrieking and howling wouldn't be so frowned upon. Gosh...I get teary eyed just thinking about how much I love Halloween. These last few years I've dressed up like a nun. Now I need to pick something new. We'll see.