Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Long Ride Like it was Summer...sort of

While not a balmy day here on the Front Range, it was still not bad. Mid to upper 50's and a a breeze blowing out of the west but nothing terribly disturbing.

My last long ride was two hours that I did indoors watching television. Nothing wrong with that, especially in the dead of winter when not only the cold, but also snowy and icy roads can keep you in.

Nevertheless, I was especially happy to be able to do my 2 1/2 hour ride outdoors today.

Today's ride is one that I've done before heading more or less south from my home and the east all the way into Elbert County. It's characterized by several rolling hills and few that are just steep. I spent a lot of time in the little ring today and it helped.

One of the high points is right on the Douglas/Elbert County line at about 6400 feet. My picture does not do justice to the view. With the breeze blowing, the air was clear and I could actually see the Flatirons over Boulder.

It may have been sunnier closer to the mountains, but it was more or less overcast where I was. Otherwise, I think we would have easily cleared 60* today.

It's not my fastest outing ever by a long shot and some of those hills slowed me down to single-digit MPH. This is one of the smaller ones

I had to keep telling myself that its good training for both the Boulder Peak and the HITS which have some HUGE hills (in the mountains no less) so better to start preparing a few months ahead of time.

Of course, in true Newtonian fashion, there were opportunities to go down after going up. This is near the bottom of a hill when my speed was picking up.

Because I was moving along so good. that little rise you see in the background presented no real problems.

After another nice drop, and then a slight climb, I got to head down hill for a while. No pictures here since I was hitting speeds in the upper 20's but here's the elevation profile to give you an idea.

As you can see, from about mile 28 on, it was mostly a downhill ride. The last little hill was actually more drawn out than this graph suggests.

Who knows when I'll get to do another outdoor ride like this in Colorado (though Hawaii is another story). For now, despite the cold and the tired, this guy was happy to be riding his bike outdoors on a Sunday afternoon:

Thursday, January 26, 2012


In a previous post, I discussed my training plan. Part and parcel with that are my goals or to put it another way, what I expect to get out of my training plan. They are, likewise, not stringent. Some may even be too far out of reach. Perhaps I’ll get a lesson in that as I start tracking my progress toward them.

Between now and the middle of March, my only goals are to complete my scheduled workouts and stay more less inside my first heart rate zone (Z1) which is 60% - 75% of my max. Workouts are based on time rather than distance and I’m focused on just increasing distance slowly without concern for pace. So far, it seems to be working. I’m actually swimming faster than I expected (nearly 50 ypm) and I’m managing longer and longer rides and runs.

Since I think it served me so well last year, I’ve set up a goals tracking section on my master plan/log that I’ll begin actively tracking on March 12 (the first day of my 70.3 plan).

Here’s an example of my swim pace goal from last year:

Those spikes, by the way, are the result of what I think was a short course for the Aquaman aquathalon series. Their 1500 meters seemed to be much shorter than other versions.

For the coming year, I’ve set up a new goal based about where I am now and anticipating a gradual increase:

I’ve done likewise with the bike and run and then, again like last year, I’ve also got a track for total time:

This one is hard to predict because so many things can change.

By way of example, here’s last year’s track of the same metric:

Pretty close but also not 100% true-to plan.

Some time in April I’ll post an update to show how I’m progressing against what I hope to do. That will also be when I start to see if the results are showing up in races.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

HITS Bike Course on Video

Back in November, I went out and took video the bike course for the HITS 70.3 Triathlon. In fact, if you’re doing the 140.6 it’s the same course, just two loops instead of one. The whole trek took over an hour. In fact, the battery on the video camera I was using died with about two miles to go but you ought to still have a good sense of what the rest of it looks like.

Full disclosure, I am not a videographer. I did my best to hold the camera steady while my wife did the driving, but there are definitely some jerky motions which are made worse by the high-speed playback – my apologies in advance.

Nevertheless, here is the course for your viewing pleasure.


Friday, January 13, 2012

70.3 -- Officially Registered

Just now I have put down my money (not cheap by the way) to run the HITS 70.3 Triathlon in July.

To quote David Byrne:

" God! What have I done?!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Training Plan Refocused

As I looked ahead at the final eight weeks of my Off Season training program, I became concerned about how ready I would be for the more intense preparation for a 70.3 race this summer. While I have one Half Marathon, Three Tri’s and a couple of shorter foot races planned between now and then, make no mistake – the 70.3 is the focus of my year. I don’t know about it being my best performance, but it is, in my mind, my ‘A’ race.

For some background, let me digress a moment and talk a little bit about how I develop my training plans. Like many of you, I peruse the internet for free plans. I’ve had a lot of luck on Trinewbies and Beginner Triathlete as well as cruising some of the chat boards to pick up ideas from my peers. I also got a lot of good information from the book Heart Rate Training which I’ve mentioned before on this blog.

Most of the 70.3 plans I found were 20 weeks long and that suits me. It’s also serendipitous that my 20 weeks leading up to my race begin the week after I’m in Hawaii which means I can focus a little more on enjoying my vacation. In any case, even with such fortunate coincidences, I obviously need to tweak things a little bit. No generic plan is going to anticipate my desire to run the Horsetooth Half Marathon in April or the BolderBoulder in May. Likewise, I’ll be involved in other races and open-water swimming events between now and the big race. It gets more detailed as I want to customize which days are my resting days, etc.

I also prefer to not to run on back-to-back days if at all possible. In fact, I generally don’t like to repeat a workout or strength training session on consecutive days. While a lot of plans recognize this, a surprising number do not. But when you’re in your 40’s, you have to face the reality that running generally means the need to have some recovery from all of that pounding!

What results is a plan that is built on one of the free plans (or more specifically a combination of plans) but which has also been highly customized to suit my own needs. Even then, that is subject to some evolution as I start making progress against it. (By the way, I don’t bother with purchased plans. I’m not convinced they are worth the money.)

Which brings me to where I am now. With the exception of a short interlude to train up for the Rock Canyon Half Marathon in early December, I’ve been treating my off-season time as a chance to take it easier while still staying in reasonably good shape. And from October through the end of the year, I think that made sense. However, as I look at the next couple of months, I have to start thinking about how I will be positioned for the resumption of the season.

Therefore, I have made a few changes:

1) I’ve increased the distance on my various workouts so that I will be at or near the distances of the 70.3 event by the end of March. These are strictly endurance distances so the focus is merely on being able to do them without any concern about how long that takes.

2) I’ve added a significant amount of interval training to the bike and run on the 70.3 plan. Continuing to increase the distance of my long rides and runs is, of course, important, but so is stressing myself so that I’ll be stronger for the demands of several hours on the road either riding or running. The interval refers to the time I need between bursts to recover my heart rate back down to Z1. For example, I’ll run a mile at pace that I know would be far too difficult to maintain over 13.1 miles, but then spend five minutes recovering before repeating. The same applies to the bike and I’ll gradually increase both the speed and the number of repeats. I may also apply something similar to the swim, though I’m feeling pretty good about my swimming ability.

3) I’ve removed the bricks. That’s right – no bricks. I’ve done some reading on this subject and I’ve noted that in several plans that they aren’t there. Bricks were a great way for me to psychologically prepare for triathlons before I had done any and I think they still have some value if you’re focused on Sprint and Olympic distances. However, I don’t think they’re as helpful for the 70.3 event. Still present are two-a-day workouts and some of those may end up being a lot like bricks with just a little bit longer between events.

More than anything else, I’ve found that it helps to think of a training plan as a living document. That means changes may come in the future which will make it a different plan than it is today. That’s fine. However, if my experiences last year taught me anything, this ought to be a fairly good picture of how I’ll be spending the better part of 2012!

One note on the countdown timers: I would have preferred something a little more colorful, but these actually countdown to the minute of the actual event. As I officially register for events, I’ll add the timer so expect to see more pretty soon.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Missing Summer

You might read that title and say, “You are aware that it’s early January, right?” Yeah, I know. Warmer weather is still a long way off and winter officially started less than a month ago. Even when spring officially starts in just over two months, it will probably be marked by lots of snow and corresponding cold temperatures. March in Colorado is our snowiest month.  Once that’s done, I’ll probably have to brave some cold days and even colder temperatures when open water swimming commences. At last year’s first swim at Grant Ranch, water temperatures were a not so pleasant 55*.

Tomorrow I have a 2 hour bike ride planned. In my off-season training I’m rotating the longest workout of the week between swim, bike and run. A pretty nasty sinus infection kept me out of the pool last week so I’ll pick that up again later. In the meantime, my bike ride will be on my trainer. That’s not the worst thing, but then I recall scenes like these:

No question: it will be nice to get back to riding outside and in warmer weather!