Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hills

Remember that awful fake drama on MTV from a few years ago? Maybe (like me) you saw the high low lights on The Soup. Well....this post has nothing to do with that.

Rather, I'm talking about my attempts to get ready for a couple of really steep hills that will make up the first couple of miles in the Horsetooth Half Marathon which is about three weeks away.  Just to give you an idea, here's the profile that the race organizers provided on their website:

It's a little hard to ready, but the grade on that second hill leading to the top of "Monster Mountain" is a whopping 9.2%. Much steeper and I think you'd need climbing equipment. The good news is that after that, its a mostly downhill run. Coincidentally, much of this same course will be on the run section of the HITS 70.3 that I'm running at the end of July.

In anticipation of both, I've begun doing some hill repeats--much like the ones I used to do in high school cross country practice so many years ago.

My home in Parker, Colorado sits among many hills including a rather steep one less than half a mile from my front door. So for the second time this month I headed out to climb that beast multiple times. Here's that profile:

My plan calls for a gradual increase in the number I run until I'm doing several miles worth. It's really hard and my HR shoots right up to the top of Z3 leaving me feeling like I'm going to keel over. I don't doubt that I'll feel the same way in the races, but it is also my hope that these efforts will pay dividends in the form of faster recovery for the balance of the race.

So for now, my training continues. The unusually warm and dry March we're having here has allowed me to be outside for all of my workouts except, of course, the swim. I was at Cherry Creek State Park today and I had to wonder if it was possible to get out the wetsuit and put in a mile, but for now, I'll relent!

More to come regarding my interval ride out there as well as (hopefully) some fairly big new on the bike front.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Running in the Desert

This week finds me back in my former home of Phoenix, Arizona ('96 - '99). Fortunately it's March so temperatures here are much as they are in Colorado in late May.

This is a working trip so my workout had to wait until the end of the day, just as it would if I were home.

Once I checked in, unpacked and got settled, it was time for a six mile run. The Arizona Biltmore where I'm staying is situated on a 2 mile stretch of road that is an ideal place for a run. While there's some traffic, it's minimal. And the views...well you could call this one the Real Estate Tour.

I began right out in front of the hotel.

And then it was off into the sunny afternoon. It's funny, when I lived here, palm trees quickly got to be no big deal. Now that I've been away for several years, they have again conveyed a sort of sense of the exotic.

One of the things I love about this neighborhood is that there's such architectural variety. While in much of the city, stucco and tile roofs dominate, in this enclave, you'll also find Tudor mansions.

Since the Biltmore, along with a lot of other buildings of note were designed by Frank Lloyd-Wright, it only makes sense that you'd see a long flat place like this one:

Alas, the purpose of this run was training, not photography, so many of the near-palaces I passed went un-captured. Here's proof that I really was running not doing it all from my rental car. See the shadow?'s a little more proof:

Tomorrow's plan is to hit the pool. Hopefully that won't prove to challenging at a resort where I suspect the emphasis is not on exercise!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

56 on 85

This past Saturday found me in my home town of Greeley where we were spending the weekend with my parents. Though I was away from home, training had to go on. So I set off just before noon on a 56 mile out and back route that would have me rolling up US 85 through a series of small towns.

In the pre-interstate days, US 85 was the main north-south highway along the Front Range. It connected (and still does) North Dakota with Texas. Much of it has been absorbed into I-25 in Colorado, but this little stretch is much the same as it has been for decades.

My route began near my folks’ house which is almost adjacent to the Poudre River Trail. That took me east to Island Grove Regional Park and then from there it was a quick shot over to the highway. Then it was northward through the towns or Eaton, Ault, Pierce and Nunn. You can tell just by the names that these are small towns. They were spaced out about every five miles and I knew I was getting close to a town when I could see its largest structure: the grain elevator.

Much as I discovered in Maui, the ease with which I rode was due to a tail wind. A wind to which I was totally oblivious until it was time to turn around and head back south. It’s March and it’s Colorado (and the open plains of Northern Colorado at that) so I should have expected it. After months of doing primarily indoor rides, I got a reminder of how much a windy day can impact a ride.

By the time I made it back to the Poudre Trail, I was feeling the toll this ride was taking on my body. Since it is a relatively flat stretch, that meant I was pedaling most of the time with only a couple of places to cruise.

Since this is Eaton/Ault/Pierce/Nunn and not the Honoapiilani Highway, I’ve kept the below video short. There’s not too much of interest to see. Also of note, I think I’ve figured out a better placement for the camera so that the aero bars are out of view.

Tomorrow I'm off to Phoenix. I don't think I'll wear the GoPro on my runs or swim, but hopefully I'll return with some photographic evidence of my efforts.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Going Back to Greeley

Last year at this time, I was sure that the Summer Open Sprint would be my introduction to the sport of triathlon. But then high levels of e coli in the lake forced the cancellation of the swim portion and the event was converted to a duathlon. As a result, the Greeley Triathlon became my first three-sport event and what an impression it made.

Even before I had registered, it had advantages. My parents live in Greeley, all of about 2 miles or so from the race site. I grew up in Greeley and was familiar with the terrain for the bike and run portions. It’s still about the cheapest entry fee out there at $55.

Once I arrived at the venue on race day minus one, my positive impression was improved. The director conducted a complete and informative pre-race meeting. Packet pick-up was easy and took little time. We had full access to the entire venue so it was possible to see everything up close (except go for a swim, but you can’t have everything!).

On race morning, things continued to impress me. Parking was plentiful and nearby. The “time trial” start to the swim made for less of a washing machine effect which was indeed a blessing. The finish experience was great including the iced towel and running under the giant gorilla.

So with all of that, going for it, the decision to run this race again was an easy one. I have now registered and added another countdown alongside the other races. At this point, there’s just one left to consider, the Rattle Snake on August 19. I’m leaning more toward doing this one. Again a familiar venue and closer to home than any race I’ve done to date.

There’s a lot more coming soon. I’ve officially started my 20 week training plan leading up to the HITS 70.3 on July 29. The GoPro should also help a lot in illustrating more of my posts as well.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Ride on the South Maui Coast

I mentioned yesterday that I was hoping to move my bike reservation up by a couple of days. I was successful. Apparently not that many people are interested in renting a road bike this week. So after a phone call to the bike store, I was on my way and shortly had my Look Keo pedals installed on a Specialized Robaix.

The all-carbon frame was incredibly light and I easily flipped it upside down and loaded it into the back seat of my rented Mustang. A short while after getting it home, I decided I might as well go out for a ride so off I went. My route took me east along the Hanoapillani Highway just east of Lahaina. Thought it is very busy, the road has a nice shoulder with distinct markings for cyclists and frequent "Share the Road" signs. I felt safe.

It was a great ride. How can you go wrong cruising along a Hawaiian coast in seventy-something degree weather on a light carbon bike. That's right--you just about can't. Being a road bike, the Robaix did not have aero bars, but I spent a fair amount of time in the drops and kept up a pretty good pace. 

While there is much more I could tell you about the ride, I was able to capture it on my GoPro and I've turned one hour and twenty-two minutes into something more like five plus. I'm not a videographer and of course the point of the GoPro is that I can press a button and forget about it. You can be sure it was not on my mind as I climbed over 500 feet at the end of the ride. So though it can be a little jerky in places I think you'll get a pretty good idea of what it's like to ride on that highway. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Aloha kakahiaka

What? You're not fluent in Hawaiian? Oh...well that basically means good morning. It's anywhere from 10:30 to 1:30 on the mainland, but still before 9:00 in the islands. As I write this, I'm sitting on the patio of our rented home looking across the water at Lanai. It's 70 some degrees and everything around me is lush and green. Yup, it doesn't suck.

The wife and I arrived here around 6:00 Friday evening which was 9:00 by our internal clocks. Needless to say, we were pretty fried by the time dinner was over. Three hours of jet lag and a full day of travel will do that.

Fortunately, that three hours gave me plenty of time to sleep and yesterday I was up for a roughly one hour run around the township of Kahului. It's not the most scenic part of the island and really is more of a port town than a resort--but it's a good place to crash when your flight gets in later and you just want to rest. Here's the run I did:

It was weird but very pleasant to be out running in nothing but shorts and a technical shirt. I forgot how nice it is to not have to bundle up for a run.

I probably pushed it a little harder than I should have, but it's pretty easy for me to go here at sea level. I felt sore for the rest of the day however :-(.

The rest of the day was spent making our way down to Lahaina on the south side of the island. Normally that's a short drive but we chose the scenic route around to the west. On a map, that looks like a two lane highway like you might find through a mountain canyon in Colorado. In reality, it's a much narrower and often much steeper road which was only one car wide in several places. It was also amazing as these pictures show:

Oh yeah....what made it all the better was that we did the drive in this:

Not bad, huh?

I have a strength workout planned for today which I may or may not get done and then it looks as though I may have to juggle my schedule a little bit. Rain is forecast for later in the week and while it will still be hitting highs in the low 80's, I'd rather ride in dry weather if at all possible. I'm going to call the bike shop later when they open and see about moving my rental up.

Lot's more to come from here in the Aloha state including, I hope, some videos involving both training and non-training subject matter.

In the meantime, enjoy your Sunday and mahalo  for reading!