Saturday, August 27, 2011

Brick # 10

My alarm was set for 7:00 yesterday morning and when it went off I had every intention of getting up and completing my brick--just as I have nine other times in the past. But with each successive hit of the snooze button, my resolve melted away like--well--ice in Colorado this summer.

I slept in thinking I would just do it on Sunday. As the morning passed, my energy level came back up a little bit as did my guilt over not having completed a fairly important training milestone. Around 12:30 I decided I would head out in the afternoon despite temps in the mid to upper nineties.

Rolling out a little after 1:30, I was pleased to see afternoon thunderstorms rolling in. The cloud cover quickly brought the temperature down and it spared me from running in the blistering sun. As a result, I felt good (really good in fact) on the ride. My cadence was nice and smooth and the course seemed to go by much faster than it did a week ago.

Coming into my transition, I still felt good. While the temp had gone down, it was still fairly warm so I had my CamelBak ready with ice cold water to take along just as I did on my last brick before the Creek Streak. Unfortunately, my Garmin FR305 hiccuped as it has on other bricks and two steps out of my driveway it showed me having run 2666 miles! Not good. I did my best to estimate my run and ended up coming a little short of the planned 6.0. The Actual was 5.83 miles but that's 97% of what I planned so close enough.

I was pretty fried afterward but that may have had more to do with lack of nourishment (I wasn't hungry at mid day so I skipped lunch) than with exhaustion from the exercise. Still, I felt reasonably strong and still think I'll be able to handle the TriRock in just over two weeks.

Brick 10 Results:

1) Bike : 23.18 miles, 1:18:32, 17.7 mph average
2) Transition: 1:52
3) Run: 5.83 miles, 1:02:02, 10:37 ppm average

*   *   *

Open Water Swimming Resumes

Today was my first trip back to Grant Ranch since early June. It was a nice return and swimming there was just as enjoyable as I recalled. It was also much warmer than it had been.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was that I swam the 1 mile course with relative ease. The last time I was out I did it, but it seemed harder. By comparison, this went by quickly and while I certainly wasn't leaving a foamy wake behind me, I did move at a steady clip of about 54.4 yards per minute. While a little tired at the end of it, I still felt pretty good and getting on the bike would not have been a problem--even after yesterday's brick.

San Diego will present it's own challenges with much colder water and possible currents, but I think I can handle that. Cold does not bother me once I'm in (I've been playing in the waves there for years) and the salinity combined with the westsuit ought to make me nice and buoyant.

Another week of training awaits and then it's time to taper down for the race. After that, it will be time to start focusing on the run in preparation for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon on October 9.

More to come.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beat By The Heat!

I put yesterday's post prior to heading over to the association pool to do a 30 minute/1500 meter swim. It went well and as usual, heat is not a factor in the pool. I felt pretty good and swam at a respectable 48 yards per minute.

After some lunch and a stop by the sporting goods store to pick up some Gu Brew, it was time for the ride. Regular readers here know that I don't like to ride where there is much traffic. For that matter, what cyclist does?

So off I went to Aurora Reservoir which would serve as the start and finish for what I planned to be a 47 mile ride around the back roads of Arapahoe County. It's essentially the same course I've done a couple of times in the past, but instead of starting and stopping in Bennett, I went to the Res. This is mainly because school is back in session in Bennett and I didn't think I'd better use their parking lot.

It was, to put it mildly, a very warm day. Nevertheless, while challenged by hills and heat, I still felt pretty good. More than 30 minutes in, my insulated water bottle was still providing ice cold water and that was nice.

This was a typical view along the ride. Not much of anything out there at all. Fortunately, that was also true of cars which were infrequent and always gave me a nice wide berth.

After about 16 miles east on Quincy Avenue, it was time to turn north toward Bennett. That's a mostly downhill stretch which was good because I was hitting a head wind that was probably 20 mph! And yes, it was still hot.

Here you can see sunflowers and (faintly) the mountains in the background:

Sorry for the angle, I was fighting wind here and also my own fatigue.

It felt like a long time, but before long I was in Bennett and then past it and heading west toward Watkins. The road has recently been sealed and it made for a smooth ride:

That, however, was about the only positive. The heat was starting to affect me, my water was running low and even my feet hurt at this point. Not wanting to have an incident, I called my wife to come rescue me in Watkins. When she got there, her car thermometer indicated an outside temp of 98*. I'm sure it was even hotter out on the black top.

That cut my ride to just 34 of the 47 I set out to do, but I still feel like I had a respectable ride and no doubt, in cooler weather I would have completed the whole thing. New rule from now on, long rides are not to be done in the heat are especially not to be done far from home.

I'm still struggling to get back into the run, but I'm hoping to get at least a short one in later this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

I've been back from my Italian vacation for about a week, but I still feel like I have not fully returned to my normal training routine--particularly the run. That said, I've managed to hit the major points of my work out, most notably the brick I did last Friday.

This weekend was spent at my father-in-law's for his 60th birthday and I had thought that might put a dent in my training plans. Fortunately, Saturday included a trip to their association pool where I was able to get 30 minutes and 1500 yards in the narrowest lane pool I've seen:

There are 3 lanes on the left side of the picture. The right side is a shallow (like two feet) play pool.

I had a good strength workout yesterday and later this morning I'm off  to the local pool for a swim and then it's off to so a 45 mile + route through Bennett though today it's going to start out at the Aurora Reservoir.

Since it's going to be dry, I'm plan on bringing the camera along. There are not a lot of great shots along the route, but there are a few.

Until later...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Brick # 9

Not even a week back from vacation and here I am back to bricks. No choice, however since the fourth and final multi-sport race of the season is three weeks from Sunday.

I woke up this morning to the pleasant discovery of overcast skies. While I normally like my summer days to be sunny, this was a good thing because heat has truly been my enemy, especially on the run.

Considering I was out when a lot of folks are commuting to work, I decided to stay on the bike path for my ride. It's a little less challenging than some of the other brick rides I've done, but also safer. There's also the fact that the TriRock is a more or less flat course along Harbor Drive so climbing huge hills doesn't serve much of a purpose.

As usual, the bike was fine. I've come to find that success in triathlons is not being able to swim, bike and run, it's being able to run after having swam and biked. In other words, the real test is on the third leg of the race. That's also true on the run leg of a brick. Considering the struggles I had at the Creek Streak I went into the run with a few concerns.

My average HR in the Streak was in the mid 150's which is high even for me. With that in mind, I decided to not worry about my time and instead focus on my heart rate. I'm considering using a heart rate-based training plan for next year's races anyway so this was a good chance to field test it.

For most of the first three miles, I kept it around 130 which is about as low as I get on a run. Gradually, as I went further along it picked up but the max was 160 and that was only in the last few steps. All in, it was a slower brick than I normally run, but I also didn't devastate my body and it was just a little further than the one I ran two weeks before the Streak.

With three weeks to go, the fact that the race is at sea level and the usual increase that comes with a race, I'm confident I can knock some more time off of this one:

Brick 9 Results:

1) Bike : 23.52 miles, 1:22:32, 17.1 mph average
2) Transition: 1:29
3) Run: 6 miles, 1:05:44, 10:57 ppm average
I know I mentioned more pictures but bricks don't really lend themselves to photo-ops. So instead, here's my favorite picture of Venice from my recent trip:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Italian Job - Wrap Up

It had always been my intention to publish all of these posts while I was overseas, but alas, Internet connectivity proved to be either elusive or too expensive. So here I am back in Colorado with my final posting regarding the trip to Italy.

Although a day later than planned, I did manage to get a run in Venice done. Not the full five I had slated, but four and it felt pretty good. Regrettably, I did not have the means to carry a camera (other than holding it the whole time) so all I have from a visual standpoint is the following link to my Garmin Connect Account:

The Venice water front is a nice flat place to run with the exception of the many staircases that cross the canals. That was not so bad, but I'm just as happy not have stairs as part of my regular work out.

So what words of wisdom do I have to anyone who might travel to Italy regarding training? Well, the following nuggets:

1) While full of cars, tour buses and especially scooters, Rome is actually a great place to run. It's also an easy place to get lost so I recommend both studying your routes on a map as well as bringing some kind of GPS enabled device like a smart phone. You also might want to bring cab fare in case you get really lost!

2) Tuscany is absolutely as beautiful as you might imagine. I can't think of a better place to ride a bike. Drivers on the road gave me plenty of space as they passed and in a couple of cases, actually stopped or slowed so they could. I may have just been luck, but I think cycling is a big part of the culture there and accommodating cyclists is the norm. I would recommend getting your reservations to rent a bike in very early. All the shops I contacted were out of them. I'd also recommend a car if you're going to be staying out in the country as I did. Public transportation is okay, but when you're trying to use the precious time to get your ride in, it's worth having.

3) Venice may be about the most ideal place for a run. It's flat, beautiful and no wheeled vehicles of any kind (including bikes) are allowed in the city. On my run encountered several runners (of multiple nationalities) so it's obviously no secret. One disadvantage is that San Marco Island (where the Venice you know from TV and movies resides) is very small so doing a short four miler like mine was easier. Longer distances would be more challenging. Also, narrow streets and alleys are like to cause GPS drop out.

Regrettably, I did not get any swimming done while I was there. This is mostly because I was either too tired and did not want to make the effort in a short pool, or because the pool had closed early. If you really want to swim, you'll probably have to do a fair amount of advance research to find places you can go.

One final point. Europeans smoke. They do so far more than people in the states. That means you're probably going to pass someone puffing away as you exercise. Be warned.

Now that I'm back home it's back into normal training routines. TriRock is less than a month away and I want to be ready. No less pressing is the Rock & Roll Half Marathon which is less than two months away.

More posts and hopefully more pictures coming up!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Italian Job - Tuscany

Sorry for the silence here for the last few days. My internet access in Tuscany was, well, not great. However, Tuscany and my bike ride through its hills are definitely the subject of this post.

I woke a little before 7:00 on Tuesday morning anxious to get the ride done early both to beat the heat as well as leave the rest of the day open for sight-seeing.

Prior to the trip, it had been my hope to rent a bike from a local shop and have them deliver it to the farm where we were staying. Unfortunately, that shop and nearly every other in the area did not have anything available. However, the place I was staying did have a handful of mountain bikes and I figured I'd use on of those.

They were, ahem, not exactly top of the line. As I went through them, I found misaligned brakes, flat tires and a thin layer of dust suggesting they were not often used. I finally settled on something called a "Montanna" and managed to re-inflate its tires using a compressor that was fortunately, fully charged.

So off I went down the little two lane highway, early in the morning. The bike actualy performed pretty well and as I hit the first hill, I was pleased to see it actually was geared pretty well for the climb. I got this shot as I approached the top of the first hill:

Most of Tuscany, or at least the area I was in, looks a lot like this. It's just as picturesque as you see on television or in movies. On I went and the landscape continued to be stunning:

I do wish I had been on a better bike, but that would not have changed the amazingthings I was seeing. I rode through a little town made up of stone houses and right out of central casting was an old woman sweeping her sidewalk with a broom that looked like it belonged in the eighteenth or nineteenth century.

I saw vineyards, and little hamlets built on hills with their church spires standing out distinctly over the tile roofs of the rest of the village. It was truly amazing and I can see why one might want to come here and do a biking vacation.

So you may ask where are the pictures of these things. Well about that...

When we arrived in Siena and then Monteroni d'Arbia (the town where we were staying) I was pretty worn out. I went to bed Monday night early and didn't think about the needs of a long ride. As I result, I got up in the morning and had only some orange juice, water and a few cream wafer cookies to fuel the ride. Not exactly a sound nutrition plan.

So, naturally, I bonked. That combined with my Garmin behaving less than ideally. It had me going down some roads that were not paved and even on a mountain bike, I was less than thrilled with them. So I stayed on the paved roads and that got me a little off track. I was fortunate to have my iPhone and the Google Maps app to help me navigate my way back to Monteroni D'Arbia. However, as I dealt with these challenges, photography sort of went by the wayside.

Ultimately, if you want to have the kind of experience I did, you should really see it for yourself. A good photograph is nothing compared to the sights, sounds and smells (the fertilize a lot of the fields with cow manure) you get on the ride.

For reasons I don't understand, my Garmin decided to use my running footpod rather than the satellite for the first part of the ride until I stopped and corrected it. Imagine a line connecting the start and stop icons and you get an idea of the full loop.

If you go to the details, you'll see what I mean about the hills as well. Some of them were 15% grade according to the road signs!

I'm in my hotel room in Venice as I write this getting ready for our first full day here. I'm planning on doing a run tomorrow after I get the lay of the land. If I'm able, I'd like to bring the camera along for that since, again, the scenery here is nothing short of magnificent. Until then....

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Italian Job - Running Around Rome

Jet lag seem to have the effect of making me very tired on day one and then up early on day two. Such was the case today when I was wide awake a little after 4:30. That was still to early to go running so I killed a couple of hours reading and headed out a little after 6:30.

It was much cooler than yesterday afternoon had been, but the humidity is still very high and I was sweating profusely almost as soon as I started.

The first stop on my running tour was the Pantheon

Later there would be throngs of people, but at this early hour, it was nice and quiet. On I went down a narrow alley and then back onto a major street. A right turn had me facing the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuelle II:

And of course, the most famous of Roman monuments, the Colosseum:

Shortly after this I managed to get myself somewhat lost and spent the rest of the run working on getting myself back to the hotel. It worked and I got in a fairly easy six miles. I was fairly sweaty but not overly tired or warm. All told, it was one of the most scenic runs I've taken in quite a while

Tomorrow is a non-exercise day but I'll be doing an easy three on Sunday then off to Tuscany and I get to add bicycling to the job!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Italian Job - Arrival

ROME--It takes more than a little while to get here, but here we are. Frankly, I've probably slept six out of the last 36 hours and yesterday and today have effectively blended into one.

Despite a plane change in Newark, we got on without any difficulty and arrived in Rome only 20 minutes later than scheduled.

After a breathtakingly expensive cab ride from the airport to our hotel, we checked in and went out to see the sights.

The first was the Spanish Steps:

Later, after much walking around and a much needed nap, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain.

And now we're relaxing before going for some dinner. I have plans for a six mile run around Rome in the morning and as long as it's not to heavy, I'm going to bring along the camera for some pictures along the route. Until then...Buneo Sera!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Italian Job - Day 1

NEWARK, NJ--After I finished the Greeley Triathlon I kicked up my training in anticipation of the Creek Streak. Now that the Streak is over, I'm looking ahead to the TriRock in San Diego on 9/11. Training this week?

Well....I guess that's the Italian job--doing a least a little training while I'm running around the land of Gelato and lots of really tasty but often not-so-healthy food.

As I write this, I'm sitting in Newark's Liberty International airport for my flight to Rome. No, I won't be doing some core exercises on the overnight flight and tomorrow I'm going to just try and recover. Friday, however is slated for a six mile run around the city. I've programmed the course in the FR305 so hopefully that will keep me from getting (too) lost.

I'd post a picture here, but as I mentioned, I'm in Newark and there is really nothing picture-worthy around.

Talk to you later.