Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Penultimate Week of the Year

Last weeks triathlon practice ended up being 14 hours with 13500 yards of swimming, 15 miles of running, and 125 miles of bike. When you look at the totals, it doesn’t seem to be much. But, I’m really feeling it. I’m not sure if it’s the combination or the mix of activities, but I’m having a hard time recovering. I sleep more. I eat more. But, I just feel beat up. On Christmas day, I had to do a 2 hour ride with 12 X 1:30 min climbing intervals. Once the all the presents were open and the kids were lost in Christmas La-La land, I bundled up and went outside with my training buddy, Silvio, and finished my prescribed workout. We went to La Luz road, which is a 3-mile climb that averages 8%. The first 4-5 intervals were hard but didn’t seem to affect me. After the 8th, I was feeling it. By the time I hit 12….I was done. It was a hard workout.

Christmas was good. The kids got some good presents. I picked out an Adidas jacket and pants for Elise and had a friend embroider her swim team logo, Duke City, on the front and her last name on the back. I also got her a bag with the same embroidery. She really liked. It’s funny when she wears the jacket and pants; she looks like a little jock-ette. I picked out an historical NFL book for Ethan. He seemed to be excited about that. Tanya took care of the Grace and Mia’s gifts. Mia’s big present was a Easy Bake Oven. We spent the morning making cakes and cookies. She was really excited about that.

This week seems to be just as hard, if not harder, than last week in terms of training schedule. I am planning on doing the Resolution Ride on Friday, which is a 100 mile ride. This is not part of my training schedule. I’ve done this ride for the past 7 years. It’s done regardless of weather conditions. I can remember the second year I did the ride, the wind was so fierce, we would travel 8 MPH into the headwind and not hear anything but the wind howling and travel 35MPH with the tail wind and hardly any effort. It was an epic day! With the ride down and back to where the Resolution Ride starts, it turns out to be a 120 mile day. It’s a fun way to ring in the New Year. I was a bit disappointed though because Masters was cancelled Friday morning. I wanted to do the double—swim/Resolution Ride.

With the New Year, comes New Year’s Resolutions. I haven’t really spent much time thinking about my resolutions. I guess more of the same…train better, eat better, show up ready for my events. It seems all of my time is already spent working towards a goal. I can hardly imagine doing more or adding a new goal. I just want 2010 to be like 2009. It was an alright year. Looking through my training logs, I put in roughly 730 hours of triathlon practice. I would consider myself blessed if I can manage that training load and keep up with all my other obligations. That’s enough for me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Message

As I read through the news and reflect on the last couple of years of my life, certain thoughts come to my mind...thoughts of experiences, both good and bad. I know there are people hurting right now...hurting because they've lost their jobs and can't provide for their loved ones. There are people hurting because they don't know where there next dollar or meal is going to come from. They've been pushed into a corner...they've been dogged by humiliation. It seems this is every day's news story. It's the same story big town or small. I can't help but wince at the news because I was there just a couple years ago. We were on the brink of financial ruin with no where to turn. It was the hardest time in my life. The anguish of not being able to provide for my family was overwhelming.

Fast forward a few years, and, by all appearances, we survived...we turned the corner. But, the rawness of the experience is still tangible. I reflect on the past and can finally discern what was gained and lost by the experience. I learned that I love my wife and my children. As a father and a husband, my greatest pride is being able to provide for them. I want to do everything to help my wife and children reach their fullest potential and live a full life. That is what's most important to me.

While growing up...I was taught many things both in word and deed. Up until this experience, those things seemed to be important. But, during those tough financial years, it all seemed to melt away. Not knowing if you'd be able to make the mortgage or bring home groceries was the priority. Nothing seemed to alleviate the stress and anxiety. Ultimately, all that was left was my desire to adequately provide for my family. What kind of man would I be if I could not do that?

What does this have to do with Christmas? Well, if you see someone or know of someone down on their luck, offer a prayer for them. If you can spare something for them, do so. The reality is everyone is just a razor's edge from being forced to live such a reality...especially in these challenging times. No one's immune. No one's invulnerable. Luck changes. You never just might be the one asking for help some day. Don't look at the person in need as someone being cursed for a bad deed, but, rather, imagine yourself in his or her shoes. Offer a prayer.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Training Blah Blah Blah!

The first week of my second training block is done and I was able to put in 18.5 hours in the triathlon office. I swam 13,000 yards, rode 150 miles, ran 19 miles and did an hour of core/strength training.

My workout volume, though not as high at last year, seems to be a real challenge because the workouts are very focused and effective. The computrainer really makes my bike workouts much more meaningful than “just riding”. Saturday I had a 4 hour ride scheduled, so I joined a group ride. It was amazing how well I rode. Part of the ride was an extended gradual climb up to the Jemez Dam…I was the first one to the top. Me and a friend left the group and did our own extended ride. At the end of the day, we had 5 hours, and my legs were really strong. Part of the focus emphasized with the Computrainer is cadence work. When I ride, I try to keep my cadence/RPMs at 90 or above at all times. This is done by managing my gears. The focus has really shown a marked efficiency, which translates into a great average speed. One thing bad about the Computrainer was I felt a bit rusty in the peloton, which took a good hour or so to get used to. It’s not too much of a concern though because all my races are non-draft legal. One more point with the Computrainer is that you always have to work…there’s no hiding in a draft as in a group ride. I was very much surprised how little effort is necessary to draft at the back of a big group ride…it’s hardly a productive ride.

In other news, I got my Christmas shopping done. I had some ideas of some gifts not necessarily requested, but things that would be nice. If they don’t work out…there’s always Tanya gifts that followed Santa requests. The downside to balancing the check book in the family is you end up knowing what you’re getting for Christmas…no surprises. I guess the surprises should be for the kids anyways. I’m getting a Garmin Edge 500 GPS for the bike…I’m excited.

Saturday was a pretty eventful day with the kids. I took them grocery shopping with me at Whole Foods. My youngest, Mia, was chasing my son around the store and knocked down a display box of champagne sending eight bottles crashing to the ground. It was very loud and about eleven workers came running straight away to see what happened. Mia was terrified and instantly started crying. I put her in the cart and she didn’t seem to mind. Afterwards, Ethan requested we have crab for dinner…none of the kids have ever had crab. So I bought some pre-cooked Alaskan king crab legs. We came home and had clam chowder with crab legs…the kids tore through the crab in minutes. They had some much fun cracking open the crab and eating it. It was fun and definitely worth doing again soon.

This week is Christmas week and my training plan doesn’t take into account the holidays. I’m going to push through and try and be 100%, but that includes a 2.5 hour ride on Christmas. The weather forecasts call for a high possibility of snow—white Christmas’s are a bugger when you’re trying to train. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Thought This Was A Recovery Week!

This Computrainer is kicking my ass!

We initially bought it for convenience. I could be at home and be able to train while being there for the kids, which would afford my wife the freedom to do school work or attend classes. That the Computrainer was supposed to make you faster wasn't really a factor...everything makes that promise.

Well, Computrainer does make you faster. It's not by magic or some special pill. In my experience, there are no easy improvements, no get-rich-quick realities, no something for nothing. In fact, my personal axiom has always been "If it aint hard, it aint worth having." We'll Computrainer makes you faster the old fasion way: hard, hard work! I can't ride the damn thing without killing myself. If it isn't the pacer, it's the terrrain. If it aint the terrain, it's something else. No matter how I dice it, I've finished each work out and just crawled to bed falling asleep well before my head hits my pillow.

Last night my intent was to ride "easy" and maintain a consistent >90RPM cadence. It was an 1:15 ride. The first 15 minutes were easy. Then the horses inside me wanted to get loose...and by golly, they did! When the 1:15 was over, I met my >90 RPM cadence goal, but "easy" went out the window. My average HR and watts was in zone 3, I beat my pacer, and, once again, I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow. When 4:50 AM rolled around, it was all I could do to wake up, and I was dragging the whole workout. I'm still feeling it...and I've already finished my first RedBull...maybe I need another. Gosh, this better translate into really fast bike splits!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Week 3

The picture above is from my Saturday morning ride. The weather has been extremely cold here, and rather than fight the elements to get in a marginal workout, I rode my Computrainer and previewed the first 60 miles of the St. George IronMan course. It’s a doozey! There’s one point when I was climbing at an 11% grade for more than a mile. The course appears to be covered with lots of chip seal, and I counted at least four cattle guards up to the top of the climb. I ran out of time before I finished the descent, so I don’t know if there are cattle guards on the way down—very dangerous. One year during the Tour of Gila bike race, someone’s front wheel got caught in the opening between cattle guards and sheered off his front fork while traveling at 30+MPH. He took the total fall on his face and had to be air-lifted by helicopter to the hospital.

For the week, I had 17.5 hours of triathlon practice. I swam 13,600 yards, rode my bike 136 miles—all indoor on the computrainer, ran 24 miles, and spent an hour strength training. I’m enjoying my recovery week now. The big weeks haven’t even come close to starting but my training program seems to be working me over pretty good.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My 2009 BAMF Recommendation

As it approaches the end of the year, I’ve decided to offer my suggestion for the 2009 BAMF award. The BAMF acronym is Bad Ass Mother F#@$&* and denotes someone who’s very tough and accomplishes something significant in the face of great obstacles.

My recommendation goes for Maria Ladd, a local triathlete I’ve met through my Masters swim team. Maria is a high school English teacher. By all appearances she’s your standard high school teacher. She’s quiet and somewhat soft spoken. But, her personal fortitude seems to speak for itself.

Maria just recently completed Ironman Arizona and in so doing, improved her personal best time by 50 minutes. She raced a full schedule this season that included Boulder 5430 long-course—she ran 5 minutes faster than me--and the Elephant Man triathlon and others races I’m not aware of. Her big goal was to qualify for Kona at IronMan Arizona, which is really challenging because the race occurs the third week of November. Having a full-year of racing that ends toward the end of November is really hard because of mental and physical fatigue and inclement weather. Winter struck hard a month before the race, yet she soldiered through and kept her training program. Two weeks before IronMan Arizona, she was running on a public trail with a group and was attacked by an unharnessed dog. The dog left its mark in the middle of her thigh. For many this may have been the nail in the coffin for the season…not for her. She seemed unphased and trained through. On race day, Maria let her legs do the talking and shaved significant time off her prior personal best time. By last year’s IronMan standards, she would have won her age category and got the golden ticket to Kona. Last year she finished in third place and there are only two Kona slots allocated to her age category. This year, with a dramatically faster time, she ended up seventh. The top three positions were completed in times akin to the 35-39 Male age group category.

Not one to wallow in self-pity, Maria was back swimming at Masters three days after Ironman Arizona. The following weekend, she ran the local Thanksgiving 5k Turkey Trot and was the 2nd place overall female finisher. Now that’s BAMF!