Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wins and Smiles

I heard a great story on my trip from a guy who was one of nine that attempted a climb of Mt. McKinley. Before the climb, each of the nine were videotaped separately. One of the questions was, “what do you think it’s going to take to make it to the top?” The four that didn’t make it all said, “we need to stay focused on the goal.” The five that did make it to the top of North America all said, “find joy in each day.”

Training can be a lot like climbing a mountain. We struggle to find enough time, fight injuries, deal with equipment, go through emotional highs and lows, and try to eat right. It can all be a bit overwhelming. Because it takes so long to train for a target race, it can be a slog. Simply focusing on the end goal can be overwhelming.

I try to find little wins with nearly every workout. Sure, there are those shorter, easy recovery runs and rides where we aren’t challenged. But there are plenty of workouts where we have specific goals and we get challenged. Today I rode for 2 hours on the trainer, keeping it at 65% the whole way. Then I hit the road for almost nine miles. Getting down to a 7:30 pace was easy. So today’s wins are…only my second two hour ride this season, my first long brick, the realization that my running has reached a whole new level, and that I did it all in 40 degrees and rain.

Look for small victories.

We can all get a bit too serious out there. We “gut” it out. Take a look at these two pictures:

Other than dominating Kona for the last decade, what do Natash Badmann and Chrissy Wellington have in common? They have reputations of smiling their way to wins. I’m not sure, but I think I’ve heard that there’s actually a beneficial chemical reaction when you smile. Try smiling during your next tough workout or race. See if you have some sort of lift. It seems to work for me.

Last night we went to Nick’s last indoor track meet- the regional “festival”…they avoid the pressure of calling it the season ending championship. He placed fifth out of 19 in the high jump (he was one of only five 7th graders, the rest were in 8th grade). He also ran a great 240, coming from way behind to win his heat, just nipping his best friend at the tape. Here’s a video of one of his jumps.

Friday, March 27, 2009

From S.F.

Waiting to fly home from S.F. I have been comletely seduced by the weather and the Stanford campus. Wednesday morning's run turned out to be very similar to Monday's. Total run was about 8 miles in about 1:05 and had to keep slowing down because I was under 7:30 pace, and occasionally got under 7:00.

The highlight of the trip was swimming in the OUTDOOR 50m pool. The pool was a perfect temperature and there were only about 3 people in my 50m lane. My ribs felt quite a bit better, even after 2000m. I'm looking forward to regaining my swimming shape over the next couple of weeks. The only problem was that the sun was too bright. So tough.

Yesterday I put in 11.5 in 1:30. That's the longest distance and time this year. The legs felt good. Today it was another 5.5. After Sunday's run, this will likely be the most miles I've ever done in one week (38-40). I'll do two more of these by the end of April, then it gets scaled back to a high of 32 for the rest of the season as I add more intensity.

While I'm not looking forward to the redeye tonight, I am looking forward seeing the family again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Strange Bunch

Somewhere between D.C. and S.F…..I normally only blog once per week…yes I have other things to do…but given this painfully long flight and the last two days, I thought I would check in.

For some reason I woke up around 4 yesterday. Out of bed at 4:45, and out the door at 5:15. It was spectacular. Sure, it was still cold (25), but the starry sky was beautiful. I noticed it as I waited for my Garmin to synch up. I hit the road thinking I would stick to my plan for 6 mi. Early on, I felt much lighter and looser than normal. It probably had a lot to do with using the roller last night. I need to do much more of that. By mile 1, and without effort, I was already down to an 8:15 pace. As the run progressed, I felt better and better. So good, in fact, I entertained adding a bit on. By the time I got to the decision point, I was cranking along at 7:30-45, felt great, but realized another mile or so could hamper future workouts. So I decided caution was in order and stuck to my planned route. The next ½ mile was generally up hill. It took a bit more effort, but I didn’t slow down much. Around mile 4, the endorphins were really flowing and I got the pace under 7. Keep in mind that my 10K race pace is somewhere around 6:20. At mile 5, I slowed down to bring it home...It turned out to still be under 8:00. What a great run.

I followed that up with an hour on the trainer. I knew I had a threshold test to do today, so I didn’t want to blow it. After a warm up, I alternated 5 minute periods, 220w seated and 260-280 slower cadence (75-80) standing (FTP is about 275). That went for 35 minutes.

Today I woke up at 2 friggin’ 30 thinking about the FTP test the same way I think about races. It was impossible to go back to sleep. I probably got another 30 minutes of sleep until I got up at 5. After the K.P. warm-up protocol, I dove into the test, stepping up 20w every 4 minutes, starting at 160w. I did this in January and failed after about 30 seconds at 300w, about the same as last year. After I hit 220w, I was sick of the TV, so I put on the iPod and turned the TV off. At 280w the volume went up. Bottom line? I failed after 2 minutes at 320w, a huge improvement over January. That’s my “win” for the day. Total ride 90 minutes.

Afterwards, Christine and I had a good laugh. Now keep in mind I am a total morning person, and she is far from it. I alluded to my win this morning. I said, “What a great ride. I sat on my bike in the garage, it was 39 degrees (yes, inside the garage), I was alone, pushed myself to failure, and all the while didn’t travel an inch.” We triathletes sure are a strange and driven bunch.

I’m looking forward to unleashing this energy on the competition.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Sitting here in the Shawnee Peak base lodge while Nick and friends ski all day. It would be incredibly boring without my laptop, projects to work on and my iPod. [Phil Collins playing] I’m actually making all sorts of progress on multiple fronts. It’s rare that I get free time like this. This coming week I get even more time as I fly to San Francisco for work. While there, I hope to swim in one of their three 50m outdoor pools with temps in the high 60s! I’ll also get in a bunch of running.

One of my projects is figuring out my training schedule in much greater detail for the rest of the season. When you figure in all of the progression and periodization, 22 weeks to my target race really isn’t that much. That’s especially true when you figure adaptations take several weeks [The Fray] at a time. For those of you aiming for IM LP, in training terms, it’s right around the corner!

Two thirds of my training was great this week. Biking was strong and included a good ride OUTSIDE yesterday. On the run, I’ve just started to add some quicker paces which feel great. It’s amazing how much faster the easy running gets after a few quicker strides. My latest tool/toy is the Garmin Forerunner 305. Even though I have more to learn (S.F. trip), it’s already met my expectations. On Tuesday I ran 10 in Hartford on streets I had never been on. Eventually I found a good out-and-back, making the turn when the watch read 5 mi. [Elton John] It’s amazing how a Garmin or Powertap on the bike can keep you honest or make you more competitive. The numbers don’t lie. The downloads don’t lie. And the analysis is what it is. If you want good and improving numbers, you have to put in the work.

The one third that wasn’t so good was my swimming. My injured ribs caused a good deal of pain on every left arm pull and flip turn. I got in 4 days, SUPER SLOW, for a total of about 6k. Yesterday, after running 6, swimming 500, and kicking 500, I had to get out due to the pain. Damn.

The whole situation with B2B filling up is ridiculous. I read countless stories about those who were on the computer at the designated hour and the connection wouldn’t work. I feel the worst for those who use B2B as their target race and have done it every year since its inception. It seems like the organizers have plenty of ‘splainin to do. [Def Leopard] I understand why organizers have registration limits, but it’s a shame they can’t figure out a way to get more people in. Let’s take Polarbear as an example. That race is limited due to the pool swim and the fact that they have to wait for all of the slow swimmers to finish before starting the next heat. They should organize it so half of the pool is for slow swimmers, half for fast. The fast ones could [U2] run two heats for every one of the slow ones. I bet you could increase the field by 30-40%. The idea here is to get more people racing, whatever the sport. [Axel F]

I get a kick out of the texting language Nick and other kids his age do. You’ve probably seen the “BFF” commercial, so you know that one. How about a few other basics- BRB [Bill Conti (Rocky)], IDK, JK, or JJ? We should develop verbal texting for races. Air is at a premium, so we should economize. [REM- OK, I know I’m slow- I’m distracted] Let’s try:
YLG- You look good.
TFTP- Thanks for the pull (running only).
QDYA- Quit drafting, you asshole.
IGKYA- I’m gonna kick your ass.
YS- You suck.
IH- I hurt.
IFLS- I feel like shit.
TWS- This weather sucks.
[Doobie Brothers]
OYL- On your left (my favorite!)
G- Gatorade
ITPRDYL?- Is that pee running down your leg?
[John Melloncamp]
[Jim Noir]

YBCYS- Yeah, but can you swim?
ITTTS- I’m training through this race.

Now accepting submissions for the Triatlete's Guide to Texting.......

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Love it! Hate it!

I love this sport because of all the stuff. Sure, it sounds materialistic, but let’s face it- it’s fun. There’s always more gear we can go out and get. It keeps getting better, so there’s always a gadget that will make training or racing better, faster or more comfortable. My latest target is a Garmin Forerunner.

I hate this sport because of all the crap you need. Trying to plan and pack for a race never ends. God forbid I forget my electrical tape, salt tablets or allen wrench. Long winter runs take short tights, long pants, shirt, jacket, gloves, fuel belt, bottles, gel, iPod, body glide, reflective vest, head lamp, sneakers, hat, and probably something else I’m forgetting.

I love this sport because there’s always something going well. Three disciplines and something is always feeling good. I love basking in the internal glory of a great workout . Maybe the run wasn’t so great in my brick, but that’s because I kicked ass on the bike.

I hate this sport because something is always suffering. If I bust my ass in the morning on the road, it’s a losing game in the pool at noon when I’m with the masters swim group. [These wimps are only doing one workout today.] It’s tough for my ego to have people pass me who have no right doing so. And have you ever done a race where all three parts were spot on? Maybe the race overall was good, but there’s always something that wasn’t as good as it should be.

I love this sport because I have no trouble falling asleep at night. Up at 5 for a 1-2 hours workout, go to work, swim at noon, back to work, home for the night, head hits the pillow, and GOOD NIGHT!

I hate this sport because I have no problem falling asleep...anywhere or anytime. It’s a struggle sometime to get through work in the afternoon. And it isn’t exactly good for marital relations when my head rolls off my shoulders at 8:30. I end up trying all kinds of things just to stay awake until 9:30.

I love this sport because of the satisfaction I get after pushing my limits in races. I tend to focus on the Olympic distance which requires red lining for two hours. Finding that extra gear at the end of a race to pass (or prevent from being passed (A.B.)) feels great. That kind of effort stays with me physically for a day or two, reminding me that I did something few other people even attempt.

I hate this sport because of the anguish we go through while red lining. “This sucks.” “Why do I do this?” “I’m going to pick up curling next year.” “I wonder if my kids are out of bed yet.” “Come on, give me better directions.” “Come on, be ready with the Gatorade.” “My crotch is killing me. ” “I’m never doing an Ironman again.” [By the way, for those of you going into your first one, you will say this repeatedly. Then within 5 minutes of finishing, you’ll want to sign up all over again.]

I love this sport because of the positive stress it generates. I think about training and racing constantly. It’s a great diversion from the negative stress in life, in particular my work. It’s fun to design the next workout, training paces, average power or whatever. Then I get to download the workout data to the computer and analyze it even more. I’m a dreamer, and it literally gives me shivers to think about running down Alii Drive. Or pulling on a USA uniform. Life would be boring without dreaming about reaching new levels.

I hate this sport because of the attention it requires. It’s nearly year-round and permeates so many parts of life, including diet, sleep and the calendar. I know I haven’t given my family as much mental attention as I should. I think I'm getting better.

I love…eating without limits after races, staying fit, breaking down barriers, sharing ideas, camaraderie, rolling out of bed and feeling yesterday’s workout, hill repeats, surging out front at the swim start, and winning.

I hate…chlorine, cold hands and toes, poor etiquette, pain in certain personal areas, poorly organized races, drafting, toe tapping in the swim, injuries, stretching (duh..think there’s a connection?), hill repeats, and losing.


My ribs wouldn’t let me run until this weekend when I hit the trails on snowshoes. After a few minutes, the endorphins masked the pain. Included a run/hite to the top of Ragged Mtn. I didn’t even sniff the pool all week. I was fine on the bike, so pushed that pretty hard. The highlight was meeting with Coach Kurt and coming to the realization that I’m setting myself up for a great season. I thought as much, but it’s nice to get confirmation. Although there’s plenty of physical refining and work to do, mentally, I am so ready to bust out a good race. Polarbear won’t come soon enough.

Found a good weekly IM podcast on iTunes from a couple of guys from New Zealand- IM Talk. In particular, check out the 5/26/08 podcast with Dave Scott and 5/7/07 discussion on training with power. In particular, he talks about eliminating the power spikes in an IM bike. They really sap your energy for the run.

Finally, I signed up for Crank the Kanc. I strongly suggest others do the same. It's a great test at a good time of year. If you do, maybe we can do a bit extra on the end.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fall Down, Go Boom- Parts II and III

We went to Sadddleback Mountain for a weekend of skiing with my parents, brother and his family. Saturday morning I capped off a good training week with a great 1:15 snowshoe on the XC trails. I've been out several times this winter on my shoes. It's a great aerobic workout, and I'm not getting the typical road damage.

To put the rest into context, I became a snowboarder on December 26. I've made tons of progress, but I still have a ways to go.

On Saturday, we tried a really steep, narrow and icy trail from the top. I figured it was best to take by board off and walk down the side until the snow was better. I promptly slipped, fell, and slid about 150 yards at warp speed. Lots o' fun.

Today, while valiantly trying to avoid hitting Leah, I fell with my elbow digging into my ribs. Long story damage to my spleen, probably just a cracked rib or two. Most importantly, the doc said there are no specific restrictions on training other than my own discomfort. I'll take tomorrow off, try the bike Tueday, try to run Wednesday, and try to swim Wednesday or Thurday depending upon how I feel. I don't think flip turns would feel very good right now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Target thresholds

Mary- I remember working towards Eagleman (70.3) which is incredibly flat, so the idea was to hit my target wattage in the race and stay right there. Kurt P. gave me a formula where I targeted about 225 for the race while my FTP was somewhere around 270, which is below failure in a test (300?). I am far from being a coach, but my memory is that you shouldn't be doing much target race pace riding at this point. 1) Do an accurate FTP test- let's say you fail at 210 and FTP is 190. 2) Determine your IM wattage, say 160. 3) Design workouts at this point in the season to work above and below 160w. A good one is "over-unders" where you ride 3-5 min at 180, then the same time at 140, repeat several times with no break inbetween. I think as your season progresses, your acutal work will get closer (narrow) to the target wattage. Something else to keep in mind- you might consider doing long sections (20 min) at 180w to simulate the hills. In the race, those are followed by long down hills where you'll rest as much as possible. Last bit of advice- don't spend much time doing the course- it may not be the right kind of training at this point in the season, and you'll get stale.