Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fall Down, Go Boom

It was strange not training as much this week, but I could tell I needed it. I ended the week at a bit over 9 hours, and most of it was fairly easy. The highlight, and lowlight, came today. I went for a ride OUTSIDE with Scott Marr. It was about 38 degrees, windy with bright sunshine. We went for about 1:45. It's amazing how much easier a certain wattage is outside vs. inside. On the trainer, 250 watts is a good amount of work. Outside, I feel like I could go forever at that effort. It felt great to do some work on the bike and actually make forward progress!

Just an hour earlier, I walked up the driveway with Nick and Jasmine. We saw her slip and fall on some ice that looked like water. When I met Scott, I told him about it and that we'd have to be careful. See where I'm going with this? We went through plenty of streams and puddles on the ride due to the melting snow. Getting near the end of the ride, going up a hill on Greely Road in Cumberland, I took the lead. There was a section in the shadows (think cooler), I saw the "water," and went right down. Scott was on my left hip and glanced off my head as it hit the ground (not too hard). The most pain came from what I thought was a calf cramp, but seems like a pull. A few hours later, it's still hard to walk after sitting idle for a while. I also got some good scrapes on my hip and knee.

Back to training...I came up with a good swim set that has a few variations. 6 x (6 x 50 on 45), taking the first four at a long distance race pace, the 5th one is fast, then the 6th very easy. Take some extra time before starting over. Today we did the same structure as 6x100, 6x75 and 6x50. The 1350 yds goes quickly, and it's a high quality set because the repeats are short.

The other high point this week was when I headed out for a run about 20 minutes later than normal because I was only running 4 miles. Right off the bat, I didn't need my headlamp because there was just enough light. Spring is coming!!! Then about half way, when I turned down Field Rd., there was a beautiful sunrise. We can all get a bit too focused on our efforts that it's hard to enjoy our surroundings. This was a great start to the day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


The week is over (exhale). I put in a total of 15 hours, with one day completely off, where my previous maximum was 11.5, done several times. I like to throw in big weeks every now and then, but no more frequent than one every 2 months or so. I'm afraid I'd be asking for an injury to do it more often. As Kurt P. would say, I broke down some barriers. I did 15,700 yds in the pool, which I did a couple of times back in December when I didn't have the bike and run volume I have now. Five hours on the bike, up from a previous high of 4.25, done last week. Other than that, my max had been 3.5 hrs. Today in my long ride I targeted a big 20 minute effort, shooting for 275 watts. That would be my best ever. I ended up averaging 285 watts, and because of that, allowed myself to shorten the ride to 1:45 from an intended 2:00. I ran 30 miles, up from a previous max of 23, done 3 times before. The pace was all fairly manageable, with very little faster than an 8:00. For next week, I need to scale it back to no more than 10 hours. After that, I'll start to gradually introduce some running intensity.

Several times this week I encountered walls that I needed to break through. We all hit these walls. What makes us overcome them and keep going? We all have different reasons and rationales, but they all likely revolve around our own season's goals. I'm struggling with my main goal, or better said, my measuring stick that I'll use at the end of the year to measure success. A bit of history.....

I went to USAT Nationals last year. I thought there was an outside chance I could qualify for the National Team. I needed to place in the top 20 in my AG to be eligible for the rolldown (they took 16), thinking it would take better than a 2:10 to make it. A fair to poor swim, great bike, and super hilly run later, I finished in just over 2:10. When I saw my initial place was 20th, I was on top of the world. Book the flight to Australia! Then I learned that because Worlds are the following year, they drop the current 44 year olds (2) and bring in the 39 year olds (5) to determine the placings. That put me at 23rd, 45 seconds out of 20th, and I was bummed.

In an email to my Tufts swimming coach, Don Megerle (the greatest ever), I said it was hard to be pleased with the result, even though I know I had a good race, because I defined success as making the team. However, I realized that I can't control how fast other people go. In swimming, I could place last, and if I had a career time, I would be satisfied. Triathlon, on the other hand is much harder to quantify results. Results are typically interpreted in terms of 1) placing relative to others that you've competed against before, 2) the run split, and 3) Powertap data. At Nationals, my Powertap data was good. My run split wasn't (42:00 vs. a desired sub-40), but it was incredible hilly. And I only knew one other guy, and I beat him by a satisfying 2:00.

So logically, I should have been satisfied. But I wasn't and I still am not. That is what drives me to overcome the training barriers that get in my way.

Looking forward, Nationals are in Alabama in August. Moving the site from Oregon to Alabama will cause the mix of competitors to change significantly. This will make any sort of prediction harder to make. I can't control who shows up, or how fast they go. So what goals can I set that I can emotionally buy in to?

In my heart, it's to make the team. It's to wear USA on my chest at the World Championships. Logically (if the competition is identical, which it won't be), I should have a better shot than last year for several reasons: 1) Alabama in August likely means no wetsuits, which should give me more than a one minute relative advantage, 2) my biking is at least 10% stronger, 3) I'll put in many more running miles than last year (I didn't go over 30 miles until late June), and 4) it's a much flatter course. The one potential negative is that Alabama + August = Heat, which is hard to train for.

That's enough for today. On to next week and more yards, hours and miles.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wakey, wakey!

Last year I had some success with fairly heavy training individual weeks followed by rest. Something like going from an average of 10 to 15 hours. I did it during February break while my family was away and I needed to be home to let Jasmine out. So I thought I'd give it a shot this year as well. Two more days to go, but so far so good. More details to follow.

I took yesterday off competely so we could take the kids to Boston for the day. We woke them up at 6:50 with reveille from the iPod. Then we took the train down, went to the science museum and aquarium, then took the bus back. The next part took tremendous skill and practice. I was able to get in three naps. Yes, three. The trips down and back, plus a few minutes in the Imax theater. Naps are great.

You know the Horton's commercial where the drill sargent wakes someone up by saying, "Wakey, wakey." That's me. I am absolutely a morning person. It would be tough to take on this sport if I weren't. Simply due to routine, I wake up before 5 nearly every day before my alarm goes off. It all started with HS swim practice.

I maintain that morning people are morally superior. Well, to be accurate, maybe not morally superior, maybe just superior in general. And of course, I'm speaking in generalities. Nevertheless, morning people are the ones that get things done. Show me someone that leads the pack in whatever they do and I'll show you a morning person. Show me someone that is effective at 8 or 9:00 and I'll show you a morning person- they got the blood flowing and the brain thinking before everyone else, so they're ready to go. And they are able to stay productive as long as necessary. By the time they run out of steam, the important part of the day is over anyway.

Another big Saturday morning (run & swim), bike in the afternoon, then 2 hours on the bike on Sunday morning.

Wakey, wakey!

Monday, February 16, 2009


Great workout on a day off from work. Went up to the Freeport Y, swam 5,000 yds, including a 1200 for time. I set the countdown timer on my watch for my average 200 split goal (today a manageable 2:38). I can hear it beep underwater, so I know where I am. Otherwise I'd lose count after 150 yards.

Until this year, I've taken the swim training easy because it was the strongest part of my race, plus the fact that I was tired from the other training. However in 2008, I actually placed higher in the bike and run in a few races. My swim at Nationals was not good. Given that I missed qualifying by 45 seconds, I think I can pick that up just in the swim. The problem is I'm a sprinter by training. I also HATE swimming alone. 1500 yds and I'm out.

So there's a physiological issue, but more importantly, a mental one. A couple of months ago I started a routine that includes one day per week of long swimming, and it's often alone. Twice per month that involves a long time trial. In February, I moved up from 1000 to 1200. Today's swim is evidence that the approach worked. I went long, and did it alone. And believe it or not, I enjoyed it.
After the swim, I did a new favorite run- from the Y to the very end of Winslow Park and back. Even though it's a dreaded out-and-back, it has everything- hills (yes, Mary, there are hills), flats, pavement, gravel, little traffic, woods, and ocean, and it's 6.2 miles (sound familiar?). 20 minutes of weights and I was done for the day.

So what's up with the title of this blog? It isn't an algebra question. It's me drawing parallels between triathlon and other parts of my life. H is for horse. Christine and Leah fell hard for competitive horseback riding last year. It's fantactic for Leah, teaching her the values of hard work, taking risks (imagine riding a 1000 pound bike that gets spooked and can throw you off), routine, what it's like to have nerves in competition, and I'm sure plenty more. P2 is the cost of a Cervelo P2. Leah may move up from a road bike with clip-on aerobars (Jitterbug) to a P2 (Wizard). I've always said I would support whatever passion the kids developed. We don't know if this turns into a lease or a purchase. Buying is where the "4" comes in. One P2 for each leg of the horse.
This isn't entirely selfless on my part. I promised them I wouldn't buy Zipp wheels before a significant investment in their sport. It's about balancing my selfish sport with other family desires. Looks like I'm in the on-deck circle.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sleep is Overrated

Sleep is a valuable commodity to triathletes, especially those who do most of their training early in the morning. I went to bed a little later than normal last night knowing I could afford to get up a bit later for my workout. I'm normally up at 5, often without the need of an alarm, giving me 7 hours of sleep. So at 4:20 AM, I hear Jasmine, our Weimaraner, wretching out in the living room. I sprinted out of bed and tried to get her outside before she did any more damage. That involved opening the door to 20 degrees while in my skivies. Needless to say, the chances of my falling aspeep were slim. I tried, but finally got up at 5. Damn.

Had a good training week, about 11.5 hours. The highlight was my long bike session of the season, two hours. That included a 60 minute time trial in the middle. After downloading the Powertap data, I see my power curve is about 30 watts higher for efforts longer than 20 minutes compared to last year. Good deal. The bike is fairly flat at Tuscaloosa, so I'll need a consistent effort. I wont worry about the shorter, more intense efforts for another several weeks.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Some strange feelings putting up my first blog. Kind of like walking out into a stadium bare naked for all to see. My intent is to...I have no idea how this will go.

I'll start with some comments blending triathlon with politics. Congress just sent an economic stimulous package to the President. No one asked me what we should do to get this economy going. I could really use a pair of Zipp wheels. That would certainly be stimulating, and also economic. Economy on the bike is critical. We all know that you need to be aero so that 1) any energy you put into the pedals is translated into as much speed as possible, or 2) as little energy as possible is used to maintain your speed. In other words, economy.

As far as stimulation goes, what's better than blasting through a bike course? That gives you a great chance to win a race (against the field, an individual or the clock), thereby giving you a wonderful boost to the ego. We Type A's don't really need a further boost, but we always look for it.