Saturday, February 28, 2009

A 5000m swim... done, every yard of it. I am a slow kicker. Very slow.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Running fast

On Thursday morning I got to do a 1:30 run with 1:15 at IM pace. My average pace for the 1:15 main set ended up at 6:43/mile with an average HR of 154 bpm. I did this run on a route with some rolling hills. Here's a graph of HR v. pace:

I notice that it took me about 10 minutes of running at IM pace to get my HR up to its steady state level at that pace. I added a horizontal axis to the graph right around my steady state HR (that is, my average HR excluding the first 10 minutes of the IM pace portion of the run), and it looks like my average HR for the last 1:05 of the run is closer to 159 bpm than 154 bpm. 154 bpm for me is just above cruising, while 159 bpm is starting to work a bit - my breath starts to become labored compared to just deep breathing at 154 bpm. I also wonder how being stopped by two lights (the sharp downward spikes in HR) altered my average HR.

On the plus side, many roads were slick with a light layer of ice, and I'm pretty sure the lack of traction on those roads slowed my pace by a few seconds per mile. Still, I was able to cruise at 6:20-6:30 per mile on flats with a HR around 157, and that didn't feel like much work, so that's encouraging. Also, running uphill feels easier than ever, probably since my workouts have had a lot of focus on uphill running. On a side note, Stacey concurs with my uphill running assessment, and feels she's running better than ever. I'm trying to get her to consider what it would take for her to qualify for Kona, but I think she believes she's too far off qualifying times to do so - she just needs to get that bike time down (which should happen to some extent just as a result of doing another year of training) and then hang-on for the run. Of course, not every triathlete has to strive to qualify for Kona.

Looking at my run splits from IMLP '08, I did the first loop at 6:48 per mile feeling very, very comfortable. I slowed a lot on the second loop (mostly around miles 18-26), averaging 8:18 for miles 13-26. I'm pretty sure part of that slowing was due to a lack of calories consumed on the run (e.g., I had maybe 100 calories for the first 8 miles of the marathon), but I'm not sure how much of my slowing is attributable to my poor "nutrition" and how much is due to my lack of leg strength/endurance (or whatever it may be called physiologically).

Still, knowing how comfortable I felt on the first loop gives me confidence that I can run the whole marathon at that pace.

Oh, and the evening "flop" went fine. My stroke count is a comfortable 20-21 for normal swimming, and I can get it down to 17 or 18 when really focusing on it, though I'm not sure how long I could swim straight with a stroke count that low.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feeling good

Monday was an off day, so I had some time to build up my Waterford cyclocross bike with some new SRAM Rival components. This is the first time I've built up a bike from near scratch, though I got some help with the bottom bracket since I don't have a compatible torque wrench and didn't want to over-tighten. The gruppo isn't quite the stunner that the Campy Chorus was, but it will be compatible with my PowerTap. Cantilevered brakes are a pain to work on, and I'll probably have to make some more adjustments to get them dialed in. Pictures coming soon.

My sore throat was nearly gone. I think the home-made dehumidifier I rigged up helped. I filled a large bowl with maybe 2 gallons of water and set it in front of a fan. Then I took a soaking wet towel and placed it over the front of the fan, with the bottom of the towel positioned in the water. I figured as the towel dried, it would draw water upward from the bowl, and air passing through the towel would take some water with it. In the morning, a large portion of the towel was dry and 1.5 gallons of water were missing from the bowl. Stacey is getting a real dehumidifier this week. She mentioned something about asthetics. Whatever, I said, form follows function.

Tuesday included an easy 1:15 treadmill run. The main set inclued 1 hour at 150 bpm, with the incline varying every five minutes (starting at 0% then up to 5% then back to 0%). Cake, I say. An easy 30 minute spin followed in the evening. I obeyed the 120 bpm HR cap.

Wednesday (today) included two workouts. I did them in reverse order, with the riding in the evening to keep the neighbors happy. The first workout was pretty easy. The ride was a moderately hard 1:15 with 5 x 10 minutes consisting of 6 minuntes at 60 rpm and 140 bpm in the aero position, 3 minutes at 60 rpm and 145 bpm standing, and 1 min 90-100 rpm seated. The 6 minute portion was the tough part. I pushed 53x13, then dropped to the 12 for the standing. Now, just to increase the rpm to 100 or so and hold it for a half hour, and I can start winning some ProTour time trials.

Also, I noticed my right shoulder was a little sore until Tuesday, but now it's fine. I will pay close attention to it during tomorrow's swim as a caution.

Summary: not sick, feeling good, ready for the tough weekend.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sadistic swim set

First off, I had a sore throat when I awoke this morning. Stacey also did. At first she attributed the soreness to dry air in our apartment, but now nurse Stacey isn't so sure. The soreness lingered throughout the day for both of us, and I'm sure she'll want to examine my throat at some point today. I went forward with today's workout hoping that her initial dry-air prognosis was correct.

Today's swim was not easy. First, it was the most meters I've ever done in a single swim. Second, it was at the end of the week in which I swam more meters than I've ever swam. Third, the pulling had me tired out by the time I reached the hard efforts at the end of the set.

My pacing to for the 300m sets (goal: 1:45 per 100m) was bad. The first one I went way too slow. The second one I paced the first 100m a bit fast, then the second two a bit slow. The third...I don't recall but I know my pacing wasn't great. 1:40 per 100m is so much easier for me to pace because I just go the fastest speed that I feel I can maintain. So, I'll continue to focus on pacing.

The set also included 6 by 50 of "golf." My best score was 84, with a worst of 93. I noticed that my best scores came when I reached extra far.

The tough stuff at the end included 6 x 50 all out (times in seconds: 41, 42, 44, 44, 42, 42) and 400m all out. That 400m sucked. I was exhausted. My time per 100m: 1:50.

Next up was a long run. Incidentally, this run would have tied the longest run I have ever done in training for an IM before. That makes it two of the longest workouts I've done in a single day! Still, the run went well. It took a few minutes to get the legs moving as a result of the swim, but I just felt better and better as the run went on. Because I was afraid I'm getting sick, I kept the effort level fairly low. Plus, we got 6 more inches of snow, so good traction was infrequent. (On a side note: winter, please end. I've had enough already. Seriously, you've already overstayed your welcome by about two weeks. Stop it.) I ended up doing two hours, but was happy with how I felt at the end. I think the secret manuever workouts are working.

I also tackled a few big hills on the run. On most runs over 1 hour, I'm able to make my way over to a big hill that is slightly longer than and of similar gradient to the hill into town on the marathon in Lake Placid. (By the way: damn that hill in Lake Placid and it's placement at mile 24 or so of the marathon! Next year, though, it's going down.)

The goal is to get a good night's sleep tonight. Hopefully, my throat feels normal in the morning and I'm not getting sick.

Swim week update

Saturday -

Bike: 3 hours on the trainer focusing mainly on big gear riding, but also including some high cadence riding. I hit the HR targets on the dot. A nice, tough workout.

Run: immediately after riding, I headed out the door for an hour run. My legs felt great - barely tired from the 3 hour ride. I counted my cadence a few times throughout the run: 84 rpm right off the bat, then 87 rpm and 87 rpm midway through, and then 84 rpm toward the end. (Since I count for 20 seconds, the resolution of these numbers is 3.) I think my cadence increases while on snow because I can't get as much traction on my push-off. The 84 rpm at the end was the only measurement on a road without snow, so I think this number is the most accurate for "normal" running.

Friday - Double swim day!

In the morning, I was running a bit late and ended up cutting 300m off the workout. I felt a bit tired at the start of the swim as a result of Thursday's 3800m effort. Otherwise, nothing too notable.

In the afternoon, the swim went well. I was surprised how much I had recovered from the morning workout (I was afraid I was going to get in the pool and barely be able to make it up and down the lane). For the last set of 5 x 100m, I did the first 100m in 1:35 and had to consciously slow down a bit for the rest of them.

My shoulders were pretty sore Saturday morning, but I'm not sure how of that was due to swimming and how much was due to sleeping awkwardly on the couch because my parents were in town.

Thursday -

Swim: I miscounted getting my T800 time. However, I tried to press the lap function on my watch every 200m to get some splits (I wanted to see if I'm going out too hard on longer efforts). The last time I got was at 600m - 10:08. I think I picked up my speed for the last 200m, but without an official time I'm not sure. So, I guess my T800 pace to be 1:41 per 100m. I was able to hit that time for the next 24 x 100m.

Run: I did a 1:20 treadmill run including 1 hour at 145 bpm. I threw in some big faux hills, positioning the treadmill at a 6% gradient for probably 15 minutes scattered throughout the 1 hour main set.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Three day update

Wednesday - 1:15 run, caveman style. I wore my Garmin, but didn't look at my HR or speed at all. Maybe next time I upload I'll check it out, but I went at a slightly faster than moderate pace - never pushing it (well, other than one time to make a light) but not going easy.

I also did 1:00 on the bike at an easy pace. I inadvertently exceeded the 120 bpm HR cap a few times, but didn't go over 130 bpm and spent 95% of the ride if not more below 120 bpm. Now, the only bad part of the ride was the programming I was watching. I DVRed the ToC and was watching stage 3. (SPOILER ALTER) A breakaway was away for a good portion of the day, but they were caught a few km's from the finish. However, about a km from the line a Rabobank rider took off. Phil Ligget (spelling?) is announcing that the Rabobank rider is 700m from the line with a 30m or so lead. The pack is likely gaining. This is going to be a good finish, I'm thinking. And then, out of no where, my recording ends! Damn you DVR, damn you! Guess I gotta check out

Anyhow, a pretty easy day and I felt good - plenty of spring in the legs.

Tuesday - 3700m swimming with the main sets including 10 x 50 in 40 sec. on 50 sec. and 20 x 125m pulling (paddles + buoy + band). The sprints were tough - I think I only hit 40 sec. the first two, then was over by a second for a few, then over by two seconds. The pulls weren't as hard as Monday's pulls since the effort level was lower. I was able to maintain a pretty constant pace throughout. I also think I might be getting stronger, as my back/shoulders did not get as tired as I would have expected.

Next up was 1:30 riding with three 1 minute sprints. I sat at 130 bpm for most of the ride (though the sprints get my HR so high that I averaged 133 bpm) and had no problem maintaining that effort. The one minute sprints are tough - my legs burn after 30 secs or so, and I do not push a big gear. Guess that's what happens when one rides with a HR below 150 for two years.

Monday - Ugh, I developed a wicked headache around the time I left work. I'm not sure what the cause was, but I guess dehydration could be a possibility. I will try to drink even more on the weekends when not working out to see if that helps. I had had a few headaches, often on Monday, prior to this one, but never as bad. Still, I thought it the cause might have been caffiene related, so two weeks ago I drastically cut my coffee consumption - I'm down to to a few cups a week (and only because I love the taste - not for the pick-me-up).

Anyhow, the workouts were a nice distraction. The swim included 16 x 125 pulling without paddles but at a high effort level (95%). My pace dropped by 10 sec. between the first and third or fourth effort, then held pretty steady.

Finally, the picture at the top is of Battle Creek native, and next door neighbor to my brother's best friend growing up, Chris Baldwin in stage 2 of the ToC, courtesy of (where you can see how one can spend $40,000 on cycling stuff in a single year).

Sunday, February 15, 2009


First up was 3:00 on the trainer. After a long, 30 minute warm-up, the main set included 2 hours at 145 bpm with a cadence in the lower 80s. After every 25 minutes, I threw in 5 minutes of 2 minutes at 60 rpm seated, 2 minutes at 100 rpm in the aerobars, and 1 minute standing (otherwise, I was pretty much in the aerobars the whole time). I averaged 144 bpm for the 2 hours, so almost right on target.

Definitely a strenght workout for me - I've now got a case of A.S.S. (i.e., ass soreness syndrome). I've gained three pounds or so since training started, and I think much of it is muscle. My legs are going to be Stadler-esque by the time IMLP rolls around.

An hour or two post-ride, I did an easy and uneventful 30 minute run. It felt good to move the legs a bit, and they running was no problem despite the relatively tough ride.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

First tough workout after a break

Wednesday I took totally off, Thursday I did 25 minutes of "flopping" in the pool, and Friday I did just under 20 minutes of very slow running on the grass around the perimeter of the park across the street from my apartment. So, I was well rested for today's workout. With all the free time, I was able to do a bit of leisure reading. Here's an interesting article about Svein Tuft, a professional cyclist with an interesting background.

First up today was 1:15 swimming, with the main set being one hour straight. The pool was a bit too warm, but otherwise the swim went well. I went a bit slower than I race speed, but it was still a tough effort by the end. Without the adrenalin, focus, and distractions of a race, it's tough to keep the speed up. I'm continuing to work on the high-elbowed catch, but that is going to take a while to get down.

Next up was 1:45 of running. Stacey and I headed to Maybury State Park for the scenery and varied terrain. It snowed about 4 inches last night and, following last week's thaw and subsequent below freezing temperatures, the result was 4 inches of light snow on top of a sheet of ice. Virtually the entire park was covered with ice! We could have literally skated through the park. After 15 minutes or so, we decided it was too dangerous in the park and decided to head out to the surrounding roads. By the time we made it out, Stacey fell five (5!) times and I fell once and caught myself from falling with my hands twice. Luckily, the snow on top of the ice dampened the falls' impacts. (On a side note, what's up with the bad balance, Stacey? Too much water in your ears from swimming affecting your equilibrium?)

Once we got out of the park, I could get into a better rhythm and didn't have to worry as much about traction. I ended up averaging 134 bpm, but was moving alright when on decent surfaces.

After posting this, I'll hop on the trainer for 15 minutes of recovery spinning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sunday - Tuesday

Starting with Sunday and working my way forward, Sunday included a 3 hour ride with a HR cap of 125. The weather here - which had been brutal for a month and a half or so - finally began to improve. Sunday was 45 and sunny, so Stacey and I decided to get the road bikes out of storage and head outdoors. After an hour and a half, a nautre break required that we return to our apartment. Riding outside here is so uninspiring that we both decided to finish the ride on the trainer. Once the weather improves, I think we'll be driving to a better location to do all our long rides. I felt good pretty much the whole ride and my HR didn't have any problem getting up. Outside, I was pleasantly surprised with the gear I could push while keeping my HR down. Stacey kept accusing me of exceeding the HR cap as I breezed up hills and out of her sight.

Next up was 1:15 of running with 30 minutes at 145 bpm. Again, the weather allowed me to run mostly on concrete or dirt, depending on the type of road I was on, instead of snow. The run wasn't too taxing on my body, and I cruised at 7:09/mile with a HR of 147 for the 30 minutes during which I was aiming to average 145 bpm.

Monday included a tough swim and then a 1:30 run. The main set of the swim began with 600m as fast as possible, which ended up being 10:07 (seven seconds too slow!). Next, I did by 6 x 100m at 1:41 per 100m with 10 seconds rest, which didn't require pushing too hard. I repeated the same thing for 400m and 200m, and though my T200 time was slow (1:42), I don't think I missed the time for any of the 100m's. At times, I worked on lifting my elbow with my shoulder to engage my catch, but couldn't keep that technique up the entire time because it made the lateral-most portions of my shoulders sore. I will continue working on acheiving a high-elbow catch, and will get some video posted one of these days, too.

I got out of the pool and onto the treadmill. I set the incline at 1% and after a 15 minute warm-up, did 4 x (1 min walk + 15 minutes at 8.6 mph/just faster than 7:00/mile). My respective HR averages were 152, 156, 157, and 158. Other than needing to vary the incline throughout the run for comfort reasons, the run went well and was surprisingly easy (especially since it immediately succeeded a hard swim).

Today, Tuesday, I did two workouts. The second was a tough bike ride including 4 x 20 minutes. For the first 20 minutes, I stood and did occasional one arm riding. I missed the target HR of 145 bpm by two bpm. Next up, I did 20 minutes in the aero bars, averaging 154 bpm, missing the target by one bpm. For the third set, I did 20 minutes at 156 bpm, missing the target by two bpm. Finally, I bailed halfway through the fourth 20 minutes. I wasn't as focused as normal for this workout, since this was the last workout before a break (and almost not included!). Still, I got in 1:25 on the bike. The effort required for the middle two sets wasn't as high as last week's interval ride. Still, even though my PE was pretty low, I felt like I couldn't have pushed much I didn't have another gear.

The three day break will be nice, and I will not be doing extra work.

Post script: fiften minutes or so after the ride and my legs are feeling it. Ouch!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A-Rod busted

I loved this quote too much not to mention it. Upon hearing that his client, Alex Rodriguez, tested positive for steroids in 2003, agent Scott Boras said, "In a worst-case scenario, if they were true, it was one season."

I think Boras got the phrase "worst-case scenario" confused with the phrase "best-case scenario". The true worst-case scenario, which is probably the more accurate scenario, is that A-Rod has been using steroids and other PEDs since at least the time he entered the majors.
Saturday included a tough trainer ride and a recovery-type swim. The ride wasn't as difficult as I though it would be based on CV's ominous description. The only real killers were the three 2-minute all-out efforts. It felt like 2 minutes has passed 30 seconds into each effort, and I'd repeatedly glance at my watch only to be shocked that just a few seconds had passed since I last looked. I also discovered that I'm no threat to Tom Boonen or Mark Cavendish, as I pushed a pathetic gear during these efforts. I can't even get my HR that high - I maxed out at 169 bpm - because my legs are so weak. For the rest of the sets, I was nearly able to average the target HR for each set, as I was never off by more than 1 bpm. My legs feel good today; they're not too thrashed.

The recovery swim should improve my strength. 2,000m of pulling sandwiched between a warm-up and cool-down. Here's a shot of me swimming, and even though it's not the greatest shot, it's the best my director (i.e., Stacey) was able to capture:

My uneducated thought is that my arms (especially my right arm), drops too long before I initiate the catch and only after the catch do I get my elbow back up.

Friday morning began with an easy 1 hour run. I kept my HR low for an average of 129 bpm. I tried hearing footsteps by using headphones without music, but my headphones are rubber and I found out they don't transmit sound well. I'll have to get some foam ear-plugs to give this drill another shot.

Next up on Friday was a swim with a main set of 10 x 200m @ 95% following a warm-up and 10 x 75 pulling on 1:20. I completed all the 200m's between 3:22 and 3:26, and I think that's a good indication that my swim endurance has improved because my times used to drop off by a greater amount. Still, my shoulders were tired at the end of this swim.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Compared to last year...

...I am working a lot harder. Last year, I would have had to push myself to the limit to do swim 12 x 50m on 1 minute followed by 12 x 100m on 2 minute, if I could even do that set. Plus, the 2600m swim would have been one of the longer swims I did. This year, that set is nearly a recovery set. After 1:30 on the treadmill, I was able to complete the set with only at moderately hard effort at the most.

The treadmill run, but the way, was somewhat hellish just because I was stuck on the treadmill for 1:30. The temp was around 5 degrees yesterday, so I thought the treadmill sounded more appealing than going outside. Bad decision. Plus, the treadmills at my gym, Lifetime Fitness, have the most ill-conceived preprogrammed modes. If one wants to do a "random" set, for example, the speed varies from 4mph to 10mph, which is from 15:00 per mile to 6:00 per mile. Not only that, but the fast parts of the set are not short in duration. So, if I were to do the random set for 1:30 with my top speed set at 6:00 mile, I would run probably 30 minutes at 15 min/mile and 15 minutes at 6 min/mile, with the remainder of the time in between the two speeds. Rediculous.

Complaints over, I ended up running between 7 and 8.5 miles per hour varying the tilt between 0.5% and 1.5% for an average HR of 144 bpm.

Today, I did 1:15 on the trainer with 1:00 at 144 bpm (missing my goal by 1 bpm). I had to push myself a bit to get my HR up, so it was not an easy ride. I'd say 8/10 for perceived exertion. Fortunately, my gearing matched my PE, as I was pushing a decent gear. Again, I simply did not work this hard last year. I probably didn't do a single ride of a similar duration as this ride with a PE over 6/10.

(The view from the trainer. I think I need to be a bit closer to the TV.)

I'm excited by how much harder I am working, and I am confident my results will improve as a result. Now I'm off to Whole Foods to pick up some rotisserie chicken and cake-like corn bread. My appetite is amazing. I eat like Michael Phelps, but a bit healthier and without the weed. (Rimshot, please.)

On another note, I still don't have my Powertap, but I will call my LBS tomorrow. They are taking forever...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another two day update

Monday's swim:
After warming up and pulling 10 x 50m on 1 min., my main set included 10 broken 250m's, each of which included 100m hard, 75m cruising, 50m all out, and 25m easy. At the beginning of the workout, my 100m time was 1:35, but it dropped to 1:38 or 1:39 by the end. I'd leave on 1:45 or 1:50 for the 75m and come in around 3:05 to 3:15. My 50m time was 45 sec initially, but dropped to 48 sec. by the end. It was not an easy swim - by the end I was just muscling through the water without being able to get myself to breath hard.

Tuesday's run + bike:
I did the run in the morning, and it went fine. I could feel some lingering soreness in my legs, but nothing too bad. My HR average was 140 bpm, so I could probably have taken it a bit easier, thought I'm not working very hard at that pace.

In the evening, I did the interval trainer ride with 4 x 15 minutes. I averaged 149, 150, 154 and 155 bpm for the respective sets, but it wasn't easy. My legs were pretty shot afterwards.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Swim + Stairmaster + Ride

First, 1:30 in the pool. 4000 yards: warm up, 500m freestyle @ 80% with different strokes every 4th length, 2 x 400m @ 85% with paddes + pull buoy + ankle band, 3 x 300m at 90%, 4 x 200m at 95%, and 5 x 100m at 100%. By the 5 x 100m, my back muscles were so tired that I couldn't work hard aerobically. My times were around 1:38-1:40 for the 100m's.

After the pool, it was straight to the stairstepper for 1:30 @ 140 bpm or so. I set the machine on an auto-HR mode in which it selects the level to keep my HR stable. The level varied between 11 and 12. I think I'm improving on the stairstepper already, since this workout wasn't too difficult. Most noticably, the combination of swimming and stairstepper (using no hands, of course) made my abs were very tired. (In response to your note, CV, Stacey indeed has been doing the stairmaster. When the going gets though, she just repeats "buns of steel" over and over to herself. Okay, I made that up.)

Finally, a few hours after the first two workouts, it was trainer time for 1:30 with a HR cap of 120. I spent a lot of time in the aero position and tried to keep my cadence high. Pretty easy.


After exhausting the Gordo's Endurance Corner radio shows and most of the interesting shows from, I'm in search of new podcasts. There are an amazing variety of free shows available through iTunes' directory. I now subscribe to This American Life, Science Friday, and All Songs Considered. I also stumbled across some triathlon show by a guy named Stu, so hopefully that'll be entertaining. Even more cool is the number of free videos available. One can download hours and hours of Yoga instructional videos, guitar lessons, and stand-up comedy, all gratis.

Two day update

Friday only required an easy 50 minute run. I tried to keep my HR below 130bpm and my cadence above 90, but especially at the beginning of the run it was tough to get my HR that low while keeping my cadence really high. I alternated between listening to 4 minutes of a MP3 metronome set at 90 bpm and songs. The second time I listened to the metronome I was able to get into a better rhythm. My strike is significantly shortened by keeping such a high cadence and low HR. I could feel that I was landing further forward on my feet, almost on my toes at times. I tried to remember the feeling of a fore-foot landing for future runs. I will have to try the metronome without the HR cap and see how that feels.

Saturday included an hour bike, an hour and a half run, and a half hour "flop". The hour ride was a strength ride with a fair amount of low RPM pedaling. My legs felt pretty good and I had no problem hitting the target HRs.

The run began with a fast first half-hour. I took off at half-IM pace or slightly faster, and that pace was tough to maintain as a result of some post-ride Clif Bar (non-salmonella variety) loitering in my stomach and the slick, snoy roads. I didn't set any land-speed records this run. The final hour I just went at my normal long run pace, which puts my HR around 145-150, though I didn't pay much attention to it and haven't uploaded my run data. All-in-all, I got in a bit over 12 miles in on some snowy roads. Not too shabby.

My thighs are sore today, though I'm not sure if that is a result of (1) the standing bike sets, (2) the 30 minutes of hard running, or (3) the aggregate of 1 and 2.