Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Off to swim...

...but first, comedy showdown. In corner 1, we have the champion, Demetri Martin:

And, in corner 2, we have the challenger, Bacon-advocate, Jim Gaffigan:

Jim, if you haven't noticed, is on the vanguard of the bacon revolution, which is evidence by the following chart quickly spreading around the internet:

Today's day off world-wide-web round-up:

Next up, here's up a great new song by the Great Lake Swimmers:

Also, another great song off Animal Collective's critically acclaimed new album:

Now, I'm not a fan of the Animal Collective album that I already own, which was also critically acclaimed, but I did enjoy Panda Bear's solo effort (Panda Bear, as you may be able to surmise, is a member of the Animal Collective). Maybe I'll give the Collective's newest album a shot. I am sitting on some Amazon points.

Finally, I might also have to pick up a Special's album with some of those points. I had no idea they did this song:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Long day...

I set a new longest training day ever record on Saturday - 7 hours. First up was a 6.5 hour ride. Stacey and I headed out toward Brighton and Milford (via Stacey's Vibe) in hopes of finding a decent route on the outskirts of the collection of parking lots that comprises the metro-Detroit area. We were only moderately successful, as the route was rideable in that almost every road on our route included a shoulder, but the speed limit was still 45 mph and most of the route was moderately busy with traffic. Still, the weather was perfect (75 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, almost windless), and we spent a lot of the ride in two nearly conjoined parks where we felt safe. Also, the route included a few decent hills - I got to use my 39 x 25 more than I have in any ride I've ever done (though the powermeter was partly responsible for that, as I'm finally holding a somewhat constant power while climbing).

Lots of turns on the route:

Pretty close to the beginning of the ride, I realized that 200-210 W results in a 130 bpm HR for me. I tried to keep my wattage around that level when on the flats, but erred on the low side. Climbing, as I mentioned above, can really spike the power. I must have spent a lot of time in IMLP at 300-350 W, as I blew by everyone while climbing (to use Gordo's analogy, I wonder how many candles I unnecessarily burned). Now that I see my output thanks to the Powertap, I realize how easy one must take it while going uphill to keep the power level. There were many climbs where even 39 x 25 at 70 RPM produced 230 or so W. At least hills provide a good return on power spent.

I was also amazed at what gear I can push with ~180 W. My position must be pretty good because even with that measly output I can push a good gear on flat terrain. (I think it's my narrow and thus aerodynamic calves, which most female supermodels would be jealous of.) Of course, I still don't have a speed sensor (damn LBS!), and the speed estimated by the Powertap hub doesn't seem too accurate, so I don't have objective info of my awesome velocity.

I averaged either 181 W at 123 BPM for the whole ride (according to my CPU) or 159 W at 122 BPM according to the PowerAgent software. I wonder what's up with that discrepancy. (POST SCRIPT: I'm guess it's because my CPU does count "zeros" in the average and the software does.) Looking at my power over the course of the ride, its trend appears to be a drop of about 3W/hr, and that concurs with my estimate while cross-referencing my power/HR over the course of the ride.

Despite the downward trend, I still felt strong at the end of the ride. I didn't experience signs of fatigue like having to dig deep to keep my legs going or feeling like I just wanted to get off the bike. Stacey was bothered by my lack of fatigue. "Just lie and tell me you're dying," she pleaded about four hours into the ride because she understands misery's love of company.

I tired on Infinit for the first time. The goal was to hit 400 calories per hour, which would have been a bottle of Infinit mix plus half a Clif Bar. However, we had trouble finding water at various times throughout the ride and my nutrition plan got all mixed up. Instead of scheduled hydration and caloris at my planned intervals, I consumed calories like a camel does water - in bouts. Two or three times during the ride we ran out of water for a while (45 minutes at one point!), then had to try to make up for it when we eventually found fluid. I also forgot to bring a scale with me, so I don't know how much water weight I lost (it probably would not have been pretty). It's tough to keep properly hydrated on new routes without knowledge of where water sources are. I may put another cage on my bike for more liquid capacity. Anyhow, the Infinit was palatable, I didn't have any stomach issues, and I was only mildly sick of it after 6.5 hours, which I'd say overall is a pretty good review.

Specially formulated sugar/protein/electrolyte mix, or $18,000 worth of cocaine?

One last note about the ride is that monitoring my cadence was too challenging. I had enough stimulii with tracking our route, holding my HR steady, trying to monitor caloric/water intake, etc. to keep close enough of an eye on cadence. Looking at my data, 80 seemed to be where I hung out most, though 90 is plenty comfortable, too.

We followed up the ride with a 30 minute transition run, during which some old creepy guy told Stacey "Girls like you are why I come to the park" during her run. Scumbag. My legs were pretty tired, and I just plodded along at 130 bpm or so. No land speed records were set.

Afterward, I drank as much as possible given my suspected dehydration.


Today Stacey and I set out for Stoney Creek park for the second time in three days for a hike/run. My legs were feeling the 7 hours of training from yesterday, but the workout wasn't too tough given the slow pace I jogged at. My feet were noticably tired at the end of the workout, so I guess goal achieved. Now, off to the pool for a 45 minute flop (then maybe some TCBY...)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Two days...

I'll start with yesterday (Thursday). First up was a 1:15 run with 1 hour at 150 bpm and five 12 second all out sprints. I had no problem getting my HR up. Indeed, right from the beginning of the run my HR was 150-160 (it settled down a bit lower after a few minutes, but I have been noticing an oddly high HR at the beginning of workouts lately). Despite the high HR/RPE ratio, I felt good.

I followed the ride up with an easy 1:15 while watching the Red Wings beat Columbus. 1 win down, 15 to go. Stats for that ride are 125 W average at 117 bpm average. Hmm...seems like a low W/bpm ratio, but the ride was only an hour or so after the run. (Post script: I looked at the file and realized the 10 minutes of one-legged drills really kill the average W, which otherwise appear to be around 160 W.)

Today started with an hour of secret activity during which I kept the HR around 135 bpm - nothing too tough.

I followed that up with an outdoor ride this evening. A whole lot of time spent in the 12-14 gear range, as the main set was 1 hour @ 145 bpm and 75 rpm. My averages were 223 W at 139 bpm with an average cadence of 72. However, as can be seen from an image of the main set interval below, my levels were all over the place:

I wonder how much coasting and what not affect my average. I don't really want to pay $100 for the WKO software, but it'd be interested to play around with their metrics. I can see how average W would be somewhat misleading, and why the variability thing and normalized power would be more useful.

Also, I've still got to get used to the power meter in many instances. It's useful when climbing, as I can see what gear I should be in what my watts start getting too high. When I approach 280 or so I should definitely get in an easier gear, unless the end of the hill is close.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bike and swim

The ride today included five 4 minute sets including aero position at 60 rpm, standing at 60 rpm, aero at 100 rpm, aero at 60 rpm, and standing at 60 rpm, all with a HR between 145 and 150 rpm and with 1 minute rest between sets. This set was easy, RPE wise.

Next up was 20 minutes at 155 bpm and 70-75 rpm. I hit 155 bpm on the dot with my average HR, my power was 247 average, and my average cadence was 69. My perceived exertion was low, maybe 6 or 7 at the beginning, but up to 8 for the last 5 minutes. Hopefully the low RPE is a result of me being stronger than before, and not the cold's lingering effects on my body somehow raising my HR.

After the ride, I did an hour swim straight, sans one short break just after midway through. I felt good even at the end - no significant muscle fatigue or anything like that.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Long overdue post

Well, I was busy last week with a heavy training schedule, among other things, and didn't regularly update the old blog. The training highlights of the week included a bike test during which I average 248 W for 1.5 hours at 145 bpm and a double run day with 23 miles of running including an hour at 150 bpm and 6:53/mile. Unfortunately, I ended up sick on Friday and just did 45 minutes biking on that day and took the next two days off.

On Monday, I did a very easy 1 hour bike to get back into the swimg of things, though I wasn't feeling quite 100%.

This morning I still only felt about 90%, but by the evening was close to 100%. I headed to the gym and did 3 x 20 on the leg press with 135 lbs after a brief jog for a warm-up. Not much weight, but I haven't lifted in a long, long time and wanted to make sure I started light. I followed that up with a 30 minute run, and didn't feel any fatigue from the lifting. However, my HR appeared a bit higher than normal for the speed I was running at - a bit over 140 bpm at 7.4 mph (or about 8:00/mile). Finally, I cannon-balled into the pool for a pretty easy 40 minute swim with 4 x 200m pulling with paddles and a pull buoy.

Afterwards, I'm feeling good and expect to be back to normal tomorrow. I hate missing training days - especially weekends when the weather is nice - but I've only missed two days now in a little over three months. I just can't miss anymore...

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I've finally got the Powertap up and running, so I'll start with today's rides. First up was two hours with ninety minutes at 140 bpm. My legs were a bit tired from yesterday's and Thursday's runs.

During the 90 minutes, I averaged 248 W, 141 bpm, and 79 rpm. The rpm is a bit skewed because I stood every few minutes, and my cadence drops to the low 60s while standing. During normal riding, my cadence was more like 81-82. Here's a graph of the ride:
It's amazing how much power varies even when riding at what feels like a perfectly steading effort (and on the trainer and sans hills, wind, etc.). I think I've got the CPU set for 2 sec. recording, too, which I'd imagine would smooth the curve compared to 1 sec. recoding. For the display, I'm going with 3 or 5 sec. averages, and that also has quite a bit of variance. I've still got to learn to use the CPU for intervals and other features, as it's not very intuitive. Like almost every other electronics company, Cycleops should take a look at Apple's user interfaces. I'd also like 5 or 6 display fields instead of 3. That way, I could simultaneously view power, speed, HR, ride/interval time, and cadence. Oh, and I hope I can set the Cycleops HR strap to work with my Garmin 305, or vice versa, so I don't have to change straps during a race or forego HR. Oh (again), I don't get why the CPU picks up speed when I (1) have no speed sensor and (2) am on a stationary trainer. Still, a very cool toy. For example, I burned approximately 1700 calories in two hours even though a half hour at an easy pace. This is a more accurate and higher number by maybe 400 calories than my Polar watch would have said.

After the first ride, I went for an easy 1 hour run. I kept my HR around 130, though occassionally it got up to 135 or so. Nothing much to note.

A few hours after the ride, I hope back on the bike for a third hour of riding. For the middle half hour, I average 145 bpm and 255 W. My power was all over the place, varying between 220s and 280s as I had a hard time holding a steady HR. As I become more familiar with my power at various HRs, I will try to sit at a power level until my HR rises to a steady state, instead of using a power surge to raise the HR and then backing off to allow the HR to stabilizer. My avg. cadence was also pretty low, just 78 rpm.

On Saturday I did a pair of 0:45 minute runs with a tough swim in between. I haven't checked the run data yet, but for the first run I kept my cadence high (90+ rpm each of the three times I counted). The high cadence results in a quick pace (~6:45/mile) and a HR of 155 bpm or so. Keeping the cadence high while going slow is tough, but I'm working on it. The main set of the swim included 10 broken 150m's, with 75m fast, then 50m all-out, then 25m all-out, each on 1:10. I finished the 75m's aroudn 1:10, so I'd leave on 1:15. This still gave me plenty of rest betwen the 50m and 25m, as well as between the 25m and 75m of the proceding set. Not an easy one. Finally, I did a second 0:45 run. I went slower and kept my HR lower, 135-140 bpm, as I was a bit sore, especially in the hip flexors. Keeping that cadence up works 'em. Not an overly tough day, but not as easy as the 2:30 training time would suggest.

Friday included an easy 0:30 swim. Cake.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Quick update

Starting from Wednesday, after the swim (discussed in my previous post), I did a 1:30 bike including 4 x 15 min at 145-150 bpm. I nailed the first one: 151 bpm. Numeros dos and tres were both 149, which means I was actually riding at ~151-152 because I started from an end of cool-down HR of about 120 bpm. I don't know what happened on number 4, as I had to shift to a harder gear and still couldn't keep my HR up. I ended up averaging 145 bpm for that one. Odd workout, since my PE was much lower than it had been in the past when holding 145-150 bpm. Does this mean I'm getting stronger?

Thursday was a 45 minute jog. I ignored HR and went by feel, keeping it at a moderate effort but throwing in a few repeats of the only nearby hill of any significance. I followed that up with a 1:00 ride in the evening. I kept the HR low, ~120 bpm, for the ride.

Today I did a 2:10 run. For the whole thing, I average 7:30/mile at 142 bpm, but average 7:20/mile at 143 bpm for the non warm-up and cool-down portions. I was tired at the end, but that is the longest IM training run I've ever done (in duration, at least). Like I've said before, how I feel is so much a mental factor - I always notice soreness/tiredness when the end of the run is near. Anyhow, I got in 17.3 miles.

Finally, a note to the cities of Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills: turn on your drinking fountains, please.