Sunday, April 24, 2011

Brick # 4

Brick 4 proved to be difficult. For starters, I've had the beginnings of a cold. Not a full-blown cold, but not I've definitely felt less than 100%. It kept me off the bike on Thursday and I've had a general lethargic "blah" kind of feeling for the last few days.

It was also colder than any previous Saturday in April which, unfortunately, is about par for the course when it comes to spring in Colorado. Nevertheless, I managed to drag myself out of bed and go through the usual rituals.

On the outbound portion of the ride, I actually felt pretty good. I did not have my Garmin displaying my MPH, but I felt like I was putting some good power into each rotation and cruising along at a steady speed. I turned around into a fairly strong wind (the wind has pretty much blown constantly all month) and that slowly wore me down. By the time I was back on the sulphur gulch trail for the last four miles, my energy was low and I did not want to push too hard since the run still lay ahead.

I rolled up to the driveway and trotted into the garage for my transition. It did not go very well. I struggled once again with my orthotic inserts. I'm now thinking I may have to go see my podiatrist, Dr. M, for another set that I'll use just for running. I can then more permanently insert them into my running shoes.

Once I was transitioned into running mode, I headed back out on the same four mile course as last week. Unfortunately, like week one, my Garmin got screwed up and suddenly said I had run--get this--over 26,000 miles. That mean rather than having a reliable gage,  I more or less had to guess when I reached four miles. Fortunately, I know my running routes quite well and I guessed right, finishing at just a smidge over four.

So it was not a great day, but I did go longer than any previous brick and I managed to get out when I was feeling less than fantastic. Next week is the last of my five bricks. I'm hoping for better weather, a reliable GPS and most of all, more energy.

On other notes, I'm still very pleased with my running and swimming. Both saw modern day PR's this week. On Tuesday, when I was still feeling well, I did five miles in 44:32 or 8:55 pace which is the first time I broke the 9:00 barrier for that distance this year. I was feeling it at the end, but I really felt good during the first part of the run.

Friday also saw more progress in the pool. I increased the workout time by 200 yards to 1500 and swam it in 34:01 which is a little better than 44 yards per minute which is as fast as I have ever swam.

When I got home from the pool, my new Orca S3 wetsuit had been delivered. I somewhat had to guess on the size but I got it right and after trying it on, I know it will work for my swim. I'm anticipating my first open water swim in about two weeks. I'm excited to see how it goes. I'm also a little nervous.

Another week is about to commence and the big day is now four weeks away. I'm hoping mother nature will cooperate so I can do more outdoor rides.

Brick 4 Results:

1) Bike : 15.09 miles, 55:27, 16.3 mph average
2) Transition: 2:41
3) Run: 4.03 miles, 38:45, 9:37 ppm average

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Brick # 3

Three Saturdays in April and three bricks. Workouts are actually going pretty well.

Before discussing this morning's brick, I wanted to update my progress in the water. Beginning with this month I cut my pool work down to once a week. At the time, I had been making steady progress and felt like I needed to add more rest considering the intensity of the bricks.

Two weeks ago I swam at a pace of about 42.72 yards per minute which was slower than previous workouts by about a whole yard. Knowing that progress is never a straight line, I didn't let it bother me. Last week I resolved to work harder to improve my speed. And I did--by all of 0.16 yard per minute. I was also exhausted during the entire swim.

Last night, I decided not to worry about speed. Instead I just worked on being smooth. Prior to heading to the pool I spent a couple minutes watching the Mr. Smooth animation at the  Swim Smooth website. Once in the water I went easier on my first hundred yards and I only checked my watch when hitting the lap button every four laps. The result: I ended up going at about 43.87 yards per minute, faster than I have to date. It's just more proof (as if I needed any) that swimming is more about good technique!

Today was a lot like last week. At 4:00, my alarm went off and I trudged down to the kitchen to mix up the peanut butter and banana smoothie. It was very satisfying. Remembering last week, I also made a point of finishing a big glass of water and then it was back to bed.

Four hours later I rolled out again was on my way out the door within 15 minutes. It was another cool morning but I felt good and seemed to making good time. I even passed a guy who in all fairness was probably wrapping up a 30 mile ride while I was just doing 12.4, but it still did my ego some good.

Transition is still pretty hard for me. I managed to get my shoes out of the pedals before tipping over, but it was close. Then up the driveway and into the garage. I had a little trouble getting my ruining shoes on. I wear orthotics and they were slipping. I may need to come up with some kind of Velcro solution for that.

I left the transition on the run tracking pretty short strides, but I felt good. Sort of a "I'm really doing this" as I went out and commenced my four mile run.

The run pace was, as expected, much slower than it had been in the last two weeks. I was more interested in going further than faster today. I figure being a little over-trained for the event (which is now five weeks away) rather than trying to gain marginal amounts of speed.

All in all, I was still pleased with my results. Next week includes the same four mile run, but I'll be riding 15 in front of it.

Brick 3 Results:

1) Bike : 12.4 miles, 44:14, 16.8 mph average
2) Transition: 1:51
3) Run: 4 miles, 38:21, 9:26 ppm average

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Brick # 2

The second Saturday in April brought my second brick. It was easier this week mostly because I had a better idea of what to expect.

Just like last week, the day began well before it began: I got up at 4:00 and blended up 2 cups of milk, two tablespoons of peanut butter and a frozen banana. Very tasty. I also made a point of having a big drink of water. I was back in bed by4:05 and asleep again by around 4:10.

Once up for good I was fairly ready to go. The bike was already upstairs and I had all of my things on my transition towel. That just left backing the wife's car out of the garage to give myself a good transition area.

The bike was not fast, but it went well. On the more uphill portion of the out and back course I stayed in aero position except to make sharp curves or maneuver around others out on the bike path. I got myself transitioned in a little under two minutes and then it was off on the run.

The run still felt hard, especially at the beginning, but I've never heard it described any other way. I did start out on a more or less down hill for the first half mile this week and that felt better.

The other piece of good news was that the FR305 performed as it was supposed to. No doubt leaving it in the driveway helped.

When it was all over, I had done the run portion in 28:26 or about 9:10 pace and I'm glad about that especially since I felt much slower.

The bike was slower and while part of that was to save some energy for the run, I'd still like to see it get a little faster. The presence of so many hills makes it difficult to get an even pace going. At some point in the next six weeks, I'd like to do a test ride on the SOST course which is nice and flat. At least I'll have an idea of what I can do on a more or less level playing field.

Another week much like this one awaits. Good weather has been holding on for Saturday mornings. Here's hoping that continues!

Brick 2 Results:

1) Bike : 12.7 miles, 47:41, 16.0 mph average
2) Transition: 1:49
3) Run: 3.1 miles, 28:26, 9:10 ppm average

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Brick # 1

Since I decided to start the process of training, Saturday's have almost always been swim days. The wife goes to Zumba class as the rec center and I hit the pool for anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Yesterday was the first break in that routine.

I set my garage (a.k.a.: transition area) up with a saw horse along with my transition towel. I then mounted the bike for a 10 mile ride using a simple out and back ride along the Sulphur Gulch and Cherry Creek trails. It was an ideal morning to be training. There was a bit of wind, but nothing terrible and while warmer, it was still cool enough to be enjoyable.

As I may have alluded to before, I live at the top of the hill so any ride or run that starts at home invariably results in an uphill return and so it was yesterday. I pushed hard to finish my slightly more than 10 mile ride and ended up in front of my garage door huffing and puffing. My legs were pretty tight as I pushed the bike into the garage and hung it on the saw horse.

Right after dismounting the bike, I hit the lap button my Garmin 305. It had been set up for auto multisport mode and it went right into transition. After a hurried change into my running shoes, I hit the lap button again and the run began. I had not even gotten out of the driveway before the watch started beeping lap changes at me every second and before I knew it, I had gone 26 miles!! Well not really, but clearly there was something screwy with the GPS signal while I was somewhat inside. Fortunately the time was accurate but I was not entirely sure of my distance.

Much as expected, the start of the run was hard. My legs were sore, sure, but more than anything, I was breathing hard and my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest. I guess that's not a surprise because my HR monitor showed an average of about 156 bpm which is about 15 above my normal rate. Also, because of the issues with the distance on the watch, I had no really good idea of my pace. I felt slow.

I managed to struggle through the course and finish what I guessed was around 3 miles, possibly a little more. Later on I mapped my distance on Gmap Pedometer and found it to be just over 3.1. That gives me an estimated time for the run of 29:31 or 9:31 per mile which I think is pretty respectable.

Clearly I learned a few lessons from this first brick that will help me when I go out next time:

1) Get plenty of water before hand. I'm usually pretty good about drinking water during the day before a run and usually go out well-hydrated. I did get up early in the morning (around 4:00) to drink a smoothie, and I should have downed a big glass of water then. Given the warmer day we had yesterday, it's not surprise my HR was up due to dehydration.

2) Leave the Garmin outside during transition. I'm a little surprised I lost reception just standing in my open garage, but that seems to be what happened. Next time, I'm going to leave it in the driveway and snap it onto my wrist afterward.

3) Drink lots of water the night before. I don't do very many morning runs so I don't have a hydration routine for them. That needs to change.

4) Consider easing back the last part of the ride. It's great to have a good head of speed on but easing back the HR before transitioning probably makes some sense for the long run.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how this first brick went. That said, I'm also glad I have four more scheduled. They definitely push me in terms of effort and more importantly mentally prepare me for what's ahead:

Brick 1 Results:

1) Bike : 10.14 miles, 35:36, 17.1 mph average
2) Transition: 1:43
3) Run: 3.19 miles, 29:31, 9:31 ppm average