Friday, December 31, 2010

The offseason

So it has been a very long time since I have posted anything. There are a lot of reasons for this. The primary reason is my new job as the company has internet access locked down. As a result I don’t tend to think about the blog that much. It also means I don’t read others nearly as often. The second reason is that it is the off-season. And while I am training hard, it just isn’t the same as having race results to talk about.

Anyway, here is what is new with me. As those of you reading this may recall, during my last few postings I was having a lot of issues with the Crohns disease. After several discussions with the doctor and several problems we made an increase to one of my medications (Humira) and did another short round of prednisone. I am happy to report that I have been off the prednisone for a couple months and I have not had a single flare up. For that I am very grateful. I had sworn off salads and rough veggies for a while, but am back to eating the occasional salad to try and maintain a somewhat healthy diet.

On another good note, I have avoided gaining 10-15lbs like in other off seasons. This year I had gained no weight up until my trip to Mexico where I gained about 3-4lbs. I am now sitting at about 206. This is also very good news as my weight loss effort usually gets serious in January. I know I said I was going to start right away…but I think we all knew that was total bullshit. It’s the off season. My plan of attack for the last several weeks has been to eat all the junk I can so it is removed from the house. I will not purchase any more junk moving forward. My only concern on the weight loss front is my workouts. Due to my new coaching I have more recovery time and less calorie burning time. I’ll discuss that in more detail later in the blog. Anyway, the push to get to 190 is starting slowly this week…but once the holidays are over it will be in full swing.

I have no real injuries to report at this time. Considering the workouts I am doing, this is a success. I do have some lingering tightness in my hip and ankle, but nothing serious. Both respond well to stretching.

I have come to set my actual race goals for next season and a little beyond. After just missing the qualifications for the ITU World Championships the powers that be decided to give folks another chance. Pigman in Iowa will be another qualification race. To qualify I need to get top 5 in my age-group and top 10 gets a roll-down slot. Last year 5th place was near a 5:15. I could do that without any trouble right now. But I suspect the competition at the race next year will be a bit tougher. It was also REALLY hot last year, so the times were a bit slower. For a realistic off-season goal I’d like to be under 4:30…and realistically that should get me qualified.

So my basic plan for the race season is to do Triple-T in May. This is 4 races in a 3-day span. A Super sprint on Friday evening. Two Olympic distance races on Saturday. And a ½ iron on Sunday. In total it is a full Ironman distance race broken into pieces. I won’t like, I am intimidated.

Beyond that I am sure I will do a small race or two while training for Pigman as that race isn’t until August. Should I qualify at Pigman I will then be finishing my season with the ITU WC’s in November. That race is in Las Vegas Nevada and is a 4k swim, 120k bike ride, and a 30k run. It is considered one of the most difficult courses in the world and features 9700ft of climbing on the bike and 2000ft on the run.

In essence I will be training for 2 ½ Iron distance races and a full Iron race. ITU is a bit shorter than a full Iron, but the course is challenging enough to require the fitness of a full Iron.

My goals for beyond this year are simple. 2011 is a springboard to IMWI 2012 where I would like to qualify for a Kona slot. That will take some work.

Bike Fit:
One of the things I knew last season, but didn’t know how to fix, was my bike fit. While the fit was very comfy, it was slow. It was my original fit to this bike when I had ZERO fitness, ZERO riding background, and NO idea what I was doing. Since then I have gained a lot of fitness and some knowledge. After my race in SC I had Scott and Matt come over for some end-of-season beers. It took them all of 5 minutes to look at my bike and ask if I actually rode it like that. Matt’s comment was something to the effect of “you’re like a big sail, you have zero drop!”. (Drop is basically seat height to the aero bar pads) More aero positions typically have your aero bar pads below the height of your seat, dropping your torso down. It is more complex than that…but that is the gist of things. In my case I had zero drop.

That is one VERY good reason for why my race times did not reflect my power output. Working with Matt and Scott I made couple changes. First they yanked all the spacers beneath my stem. That dropped my down by about 8cm.

After that change I rode against them outside and my FTP instantly dropped 30 watts. BUT, I was also only 4-5 minutes behind them in the time trial. So despite the power loss I was as close to them as I would have been in-season. It just happened that my first ride in that new position was the TT with them.

After that I also bought a new stem with a steeper down angle. That dropped me down about another 3cm. And recently I added new aero bars with a lower profile. I kept myself about level with that change but could easily drop another 3-4cm if I want. I do my best to post before and after pictures in the near future. The change is VERY dramatic. I am somewhat anxious to get back outside just to see what the difference in aerodynamics means from a time perspective.

My real Off-season (Out-Season) began November 1. Prior to that I had taken a little time off. At that time I had become a full member of Endurance Nation. Last season I had read a lot of their materials and built my own training plan based on their guiding principles. Compare to years past I had a LOT of success. But I made a lot of mistakes as well. I did some very foolish things and fried myself on many occasions. I never had a real clear cut training “plan” or goals. Now with EN I have those plans and goals. Scott B. has also been like a 3rd coach to me. I have a nasty natural tendency to bury myself…he talks me off the ledge. When I need to be treated like an idiot, he does that too.

The first 8 weeks consisted of threshold work. A lot of 15-20 minute sets at a very hard effort. Running on the track at zone 4 type pace. Here are my results.

In week 1 I tested my fitness and found my FTP was 270 in the new aero position. I was not happy with how low that power number was, but that’s just the way it goes. The aerodynamics will lead to time improvements just as much as increased power will. All of my riding is on the aero bars. Last season I was very disappointed in the difference of my FTP rides sitting up vs. races while aero. I don’t want to repeat that, so all intervals are aero and the wattage numbers are lower in that position. I am sad to report 350 watts by the end of this OS won’t happen in the aero tuck. But I am still hopeful I’ll bump up to about 310-315. That will represent a significant speed increase in my new position.

In the week 1 run test I really struggled. I finished with a 5k time of roughly 21:00. I wasn’t in the greatest running shape, that’s just how it goes after a little break.

In week 8 I retested. Due to the fit changes I was a little concerned about my bike testing and progress. I just wasn’t sure my body was acclimating to the new hip angle. I was wrong.

My FTP went from a 270 to 286. I probably could have squeezed another watt or two with better pacing. That is about a 6% increase in speed and all things being equal is about .6mph according to the calculator. Overall I was pretty happy. With slightly better pacing I might have been able to get a couple extra watts.

For the run test I went to the Petit track. I was using my new Garmin foot pod and went a 20:18. I was happy in the sense that this was a lifetime PR. I was a little aggravated because I REALLY wanted to break 20 minutes. Again, it is what it is. It is still a pretty significant improvement.

All in all I was happy. The training is obviously working and I am getting faster. Losing the last 10-15lbs should make a really significant difference in my run speed. In fact 15lbs might give me an additional 30s of speed per mile dropping my 5k to 19:45. Especially since the last 15lbs are all around my belly and not muscle!! We’ll see what happens.

The next 6 weeks consist of V02 work. And the final 6 weeks are more threshold work. It will be a challenging 12 weeks of hard work, but I am already looking forward to the season.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone. I will try to post a little bit more in the future.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why resting sucks!!

Apparently resting is no good.

During the season I had my share of problems. No big deal, you work through like everyone else. I had a couple weeks of down time planned before starting a training plan again. I wanted to do some light stuff, but nothing much. A couple light trainer rides and some jogging for fun. Nothing big, nothing hard, most importantly, nothing over 60 minutes!! Right off the bat, problems start hitting. And since one of my favorite hobbies is poking fun at myself, I thought I’d share.  "They called me Mr. Glass" Samual L Jackson - Unbreakable.

First, my Crohns flares again. Frankly I am getting tired of this annoying little disease. I don’t know what the problem is. My diet is fine, my health is fine. But this disease just won’t go back into remission. Called the doc, we’re increasing my other meds. Unfortunately that is more of a long-term solution. In the short term I have another call into him today because I’m irritated with the continual problems. I am aggressive by my nature and want to pound the disease into submission…even if that means a month or two on prednisone. I want to kick its ass back into remission and then keep it there!

Then I went to my Rheumatologist for a checkup. I have rheumatoid arthritis (caused by the crohns), but it has been under control for years. So this is just a formality with some blood work. I typically get worked up to see him because he nags me about my blood pressure. Apparently I was more than a little worked up. 150/100 – NOT GOOD!! I think he suspected I might have a stroke right there!  He made me promise to see my General Practitioner. CRAP!

Went and saw the GP, and we can add another med to the list. An ACE inhibitor which should not have an effect on athletics. Wonderful.

By the way, I hate medications. All medications have side-effects. They all screw with your body. I prefer a more natural approach. Unfortunately I don’t have much choice in the matter as my BP isn’t a diet thing, weight thing, or stress thing. It is most likely a genetic thing.

Third, I start running and my calves are tight. Not just a little tight…but really tight. The kind that doesn’t seem to warm up. I sleep with the boot, I stretch, I foam roll. Nothing seems to help. I don’t know what I was going to do about it because then I sneezed…and the FOURTH ailment to hit in a 2-week span is a strained lower abdomen. It was bad enough, and in a sensitive enough location to make me think I had a hernia. No joke. It was bad enough to get me back to see my GP 2 days after seeing him for my BP.
Doc, you are welcome, please enjoy your visit to the Cayman Islands on me!
“Haywood leads the league in most offensive categories including nose hair. When this guy sneezes he looks like a party favor!” - Major League.

The good news is my tight calves don’t have to run. I can’t run with my ab strain…I can hardly get out of a chair. What a wimp!!

What self respecting athlete sneezes and strains their abs? Seriously?! I can handle pain. With Crohns that comes with the territory, especially if I am ready for the pain. The abs hurt badly. I couldn’t sit or stand easily. Lying down or getting up – no good. Sneezing or coughing was like death. They still hurt and I can’t train at all. Once again my body’s way of making sure I rest.

There was a quote from the movie “Twins” with Ahnuld Schwarzenegger! It went something like this...the doctor was talking to Danny Divito and Ahnuld…I can’t remember the character names.

“Ahnuld you are perfect in every way. We took the best genetics from all of the donors and gave them to you.” *looks at Danny Devito* “And you were all the sh*t that was left over!!”  In case you're wondering I'm Danny Devito in that little depiction.

I’d like to take this time to thank my parents for giving me all the sh*t left over!! Does my sister have any of these problems…noooooo. Of course not!! She had to wear glasses, that’s about it. She always was the perfect little angel. @#!**#!

Allow me to list my ailments starting with the most severe and getting to just plain silly.
I have Crohns, high blood pressure, and rheumatoid arthritis. We’ll get those out of the way now.
I had bad eyesight requiring lasiks surgery.
I had 4 impacted wisdom teeth. Ouch!
I had a giant bunion on my right foot…that required surgery.
I had a hammer toe because the bunion – also needing surgery.
According to my wife I have poor hearing. (I think she mumbles)
My teeth required years of braces..almost a decade!!
Plantars warts - @#$!& pool decks.
My second toe is too long and buts up against my socks. It hurts.
Lastly…I’m balding.
The balding thing is really just spiteful. 
On the bright side I'm approaching 10 surgeries of some vareity.  At 10 I think I just become bionic and don't have to worry about this crap any more.

Thanks mom and dad!! You’re the greatest!  To their credit, I almost never get sick.  When I do catch something, it is gone in 24 hours or so.  That's a plus I guess.

Does that sound like the prototypical athlete to you? I say NAY! I think it sounds like someone that should be in a group-care facility. Perhaps a facility with a short yellow bus.  I think it’s a miracle I wake up some days. Haha. I’m surprised I’m a functioning adult and not hooked up to a machine clinging to life. (I guess the adult part is up for debate!)

If you can’t tell I’m a bit cranky. There is a good reason for that, today I decided it might be a good idea to go without my morning energy drink. I don’t really care for coffee, so I have a hot chocolate type drink with caffeine and guarana. It is probably worth 3 cups of coffee in one. Typically I only take it during the week anyway, not on weekends. But I thought with high blood pressure and all it may be a great idea to stop this drink and see how it impacts my BP.

I won’t go so far as to say that was a mistake on my part. I will however say I am shocked at how dependent I am on that morning drink. I have a headache, which is pretty rare for me. And while I have been very good about not having soda this week, I am quietly confident that I will be getting a bladder busting mountain dew shortly to make up for this.

A few weeks back I scolded Scott for this same thing. He however gave up on caffeine during his taper for IMWI. I can’t even imagine. If his withdrawal was anything like mine is now…no wonder he was a slobbering emotional mess…tapers suck with caffine. Don’t forget folks…caffeine is a drug like any other. Withdrawal SUCKS. So yes, I am crabby.

Anyway…this post is meant to be funny as one of my favorite hobbies is making fun of myself. Hopefully people take it as such. If you think I’m being a whining little baby…you don’t know me that well.

My training ramps back up in November.  Time to nurse myself back to health...and get used to this no caffeine thing.  blah!!  At least on the weekend I won't think about it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 in Review -- Part Duex

2010 Goals:

For 2010 I had several different goals. I can’t remember if I listed them out on previous blogs, but I will list them here now.

1. Do not get an overuse injury from running/cycling

2. Lose 20 pounds by end of March to assist in this injury free endeavor. (easier on the legs and joints if I am lighter)
--Accomplished. I started the season at 220 and dropped to 200. At my lowest I was 197.

3. Run a sub :43 at an OLY this year.
--Missed/Accomplished. I came very close to doing this. Unfortunately for me, my fastest Oly race of the year was Pleasant Prairie where I sprained my knee. In that race I ran a 43:45ish but honestly had no urgency in that run as I expected to DNF after the swim.

I did Tri-ing for children’s but between a half Iron the week before and a new bike fit, I was wasted and did not race well.

I have zero doubt in my mind that if I were to race an Oly tomorrow I could hit this goal. But because I switched from Oly focus to ½ Iron, I didn’t actually do it. Having said that, it turns out this was a very realistic goal for me this year and one that is essentially complete. So while I did not actually hit it, I am going to check it off the list for the sake of re-writing my goals for 2011.

4. Break 1hr 40K bike ride.
Missed – This was a bit optimistic. But was it?? For almost the entire year I was riding on a very un-aero and improper bike fit. Between my trainer riding sitting upright and my aero position being very sloppy, I never put my best foot forward on race day. I raced many flat courses with very little wind. At my power output I should have been close. But I never was.

While I will be working on building freakishly strong biking legs this off season, I need to address my aero position as well. I did part of that with a new bike fit from Bike Doctor, but I think it is time I suck it up and post some pictures on Slowtwitch for some aero critique. I have little doubt I’ll get called fat and they’ll make fun of whatever they find…I can take it. I’ll have to get Aimee to snap some pictures.

While I did not hit this goal during the season I will say this. The fact that I hit 22.7mph on my bad fit at Racine 70.3 on a calm flat course on 250 watts speaks to the slowness of my fit. I say that because I hit 23.1mph at Myrtle Beach on a flat but very windy course. For much of that ride it was a direct head wind with no shelter. While my ride was 20watts higher, the wind is a HUGE factor and should have slowed me down more with a bad fit. So I know my new fit is better, I just need to get used to it and see what happens on shorter courses.

Matt and Scott have made some changes, I’ll need to evaluate those as well.

5. Break 2:05 at an OLY race this year.
Missed – I missed this for a couple reasons.

First, my bike splits never got fast enough due to the fit and power. Without breaking an hour on the ride, going under 2:05 is tough…especially with my run. If I were a sub 40minute 10k runner, it would be different. But my swim/bike needed to make up for a slower run and they weren’t fast enough.

Second, Elkhart lake was my A race and it was a 45k bike, not 40k. It’s also very hilly. I had a chance at Pleasant Prairie but hurting my knee blew my shot. My swim was slow, my bike was decent but on the slower fit, and my run had no urgency due to the knee. I don’t think I ever hurt (except the knee) during that race. On that relaxed effort I ran a 43:45ish. At Tri-ing for Children’s I just didn’t have it.

If I had done an Oly distance race in later September or gone to USAT short Course Nats, I really think I would have had a shot at making this goal. I might not be quite there yet…but a 19:15 swim followed by a 1:02:15 on the bike leaves me 43:30 for the run to break 2:05:00. I think all of those are within reason when I am in peak form. The bike being the toughest part of that, and I’ve really improved since my last Oly. Unfortunately it will have to wait to next season with my new goals.

6. Qualify for AG Nats.
Complete – both Oly and ½ Iron distance. I almost qualified for ITU World Championships as well.

7. Break 4:50 in a HIM
Complete. Granted I didn’t actually do it. I did 4:53 at Racine. But at Myrtle Beach my times with no swim was a 4:15. You can’t tell me I would have been slower than 35 minutes in the water. With a properly measured swim I should have been near a 26. Add in some transition time and a better paced ride and we’re looking at a 4:45…since I wouldn’t have blown up on the run. (I would have followed my plan).

2011 Goals
Since many of my goals were either met, or I’m so close to them now it doesn’t make sense to keep them, it is time I began to think about new goals. I plan to do things a little differently. On the bike I will no longer be focused on specific time goals other than breaking an hour in the 40K. That is a big cycling benchmark and I need to break that next season. Call me cocky, I just don’t see it as a problem so long as I remain healthy and address my bike position. My run goals will be pace/time based as that’s all I have to work with. My swim goals will remain static. I want to swim and not destroy my shoulder. I will be doing rehab all off-season in the hopes of a pain-free next season. I think I’ll begin swimming in January or so due to a race in late May that will require a lot of fitness, Triple-T. I will list specific race benchmarks…they all assume good race-day conditions.

Pain free swimming. Rehab shoulder and get back to my happy place.

· I want to build my FTP to 375.

This is a LOFTY goal…and I want to get my logic out there so people don’t start to heckle me. First, I have only ridden hard for one year. Years prior I simply went out and rode with no goals, no intervals…all easy stuff. Last year was IMWI, all long slow training.

This off season I trained hard and had a lot of improvement. I know my body and how I react to training and how I built my speed in swimming. I really don’t think I am anywhere near my potential on the bike yet. Second, I hit an FTP of 320 early in the season sitting upright. Aero I am at 305 as I never did any intervals on the aero bars in the off season. My training was very haphazard all season due to my own mistakes, and I really feel like getting back to 320 will be a fast process. After that, going from 320 to 375 is a 17% increase. If I hit 350-360, I’ll still be pretty happy…especially if I weigh 185lbs. (That’s 4.47 w/kg, a crazy high number)

Like I said, it is a lofty goal. I might plateau somewhere in there. I may get too tired with the run program mixed in. I don’t know, but plan to have fun finding out. Call me sick, I love intervals on the trainer. I love hitting number oriented goals. It is translating that to the road where I sometimes struggle. And that is a big part of why I think I can do it. Some hate the pain, I love it. I used to love power lifting and being sore because I knew I worked hard. That translates perfectly to crushing workouts on the bike.

· Goal two is a time goal - break 1 hour in a 40k Oly Race. (not a standalone TT) -Realistically speaking, if I have a truly aero position and am able to hold 365-370 watts, I should be really fast on the bike. By that I mean breaking an hour should be easy.

But this heavily relies on bike handling and aero position. So far my speeds on the bike do not match up with my power outputs. This can only be caused by a couple things…bike handling and aerodynamics. If I want to be at the front of the pack I need to act like I belong there when racing. That means being aggressive on the turns. The final piece is being as aero as possible while maintaining my power. I think my position is un-aero, Matt and Scott agreed…now I need to learn how to correct that.

That is what makes the goal lofty (and fun), power is great…but to see the results on race day coupled with great handling and position.

Goal #1 – 10k in under 40 minutes, in an OLY race, not stand-alone. I think this is very realistic as this is my current 5k pace. Ideally I will be at this pace by the end of January.

Using Jack Daniels formulas I am currently sitting at a Vdot of 48. This is from my half marathon split of 1:36. I took off a couple minutes because I could have gone much harder early in the race. This tells me that my threshold pace is around a 7:05, and that is reasonably accurate. If I am going to compete and not get completely crushed on every run I need to get to a Vdot of about 55.

Vdot 55 would get me to a standalone 10k of 38 minutes. I think that is a pretty reasonable goal. My half marathon would be around a 1:25. And my half iron run splits should be in the neighborhood of 1:28-1:32 (assuming I don’t do a 30 minute FTP set at the beginning of the bike leg. Duh!!)

As this will be my 2nd year of real running I am expecting some pretty significant gains. But the biggest factor in my favor is my weight. My Vdot is a 48 at 200-205lbs. If I drop to a lean 185lbs that is a 20lb drop – according to many people that will take 40 seconds per mile off my pace (2s per lb per minute). I could potentially drop from 6:30’s to 5:50’s for my 5k splits based on that alone.

General goals:
Weight – 185-190. This will be look and feel based. I do not think this will be an unhealthy weight for me. This will be one of the biggest factors in hitting my bike/run goals as well. How I look and feel will determine if I drop from 190 to 185.

Injury free – Same as this year. Train smart, avoid over-use injuries. I’ll try not to face-plant myself again too. This goal is a really big deal to me because it encompasses so much. It means my Crohns stays under control. It also means I can train consistently for another full year. The biggest and bestest way to get fast is through consistency. I’m really excited to see what I can do.

Get proficient at the cycle-cross mount and dismount. –No more face plants.

The biggest and final goal of all is going to come in the form of race results. All the run pace and power numbers don’t mean a thing unless I can put it together on race day. So while I won’t put in race result goals right now…my general goals are going to be simple. Race to the potential I know I have, and what my training proves I can accomplish.

Race time goals are a funny thing. If I take my new goals and add them all together for a race time on a flat course, here is what it looks like. 19 swim, 59:40 bike(25mph), and 39:50 run(6:25 pace). That gives me a time of 1:58. Add in transitions and we’re looking at a 2:01 or so. When I look at my goals individually I can see it happening. While they will be very tough, they don’t seem completely unreasonable. But when I put it all together and realize I could potentially go under 2 hours at an Oly. Well let’s just say that sounds a little more unreasonable.

Let’s face it; I’d love to say things like I’m going to beat Matt, Scott, Joe, Justin and other elite triathletes in the area. But I need to be a little realistic too. The advantages I have on the swim and bike over normal age-groupers are completely negated by these guys.

While I could possibly put in the extra yardage and take Matt and Scott in the swim…what would that buy me? Even with a 15s lead out of the water, their run is so much better they’d pass me in transition just getting to my bike. Sadly, that isn’t an exaggeration. In a sense I’m in a bit of a no-man’s-land. I love competition and really enjoy racing specific people, but I don’t know who to choose. Most of the elite GG’s I would enjoy a rivalry with are a couple steps (and years) ahead of me, especially running.

If I am being honest with myself, as painful as it is, it is unrealistic for me to expect miracles like that. Running speed takes time and consistency. Until this season I’ve had neither. Breaking 40 minutes in an Oly 10k will be a big accomplishment for me all by itself as I can still remember running 10min/mile.

The only way I can see getting faster than that is if I lose the 20lbs pretty quickly and have my run times improve by 40s per mile as a result. At that point the rest of my off-season running would be spent improving from a threshold of 6:20 or so. Again, somewhat unrealistic. Having said that…the weight loss plan starts on Monday. J So we’ll see just how unrealistic it is.

So my biggest race goal will be to hit my personal expectations. Should I meet someone who is pretty close to my speed, perhaps we’ll start up a friendly rivalry. Ideally I’d like to qualify for the 70.3 world championships. I am a little torn about accepting a roll down slot. M35-39 is a really hard age group and taking top 2-3 would be quite a race for me. It might take something as crazy as a 4:20…and I doubt I’ll get to that speed that fast. But who knows…a 4:20 comes down to a 26 minute swim, a 2:22 on that bike, followed by a 1:32 run.

I can do a 26 minute swim.
On a calm day I would have easily done a 2:22 bike.
That leaves the run…I can’t do a 1:32 yet, but by the end of this off season I should be able to!

Who knows…one step at a time is a bit easier to deal with than talking about a 4:20.

2010 in Review -- Part 1

By all accounts 2010 was a big success for me. I went from a middle/back of the pack racer to a front/middle of the pack racer. That doesn’t sound like much, but I jumped over a lot of people. I also showed improvement in all three sports including swimming.

It has been a week or so since my final race and I have worked on this post for a few days and tried to think about what I need to do to continue to improve at my current pace, and where some pitfalls might be. I also want to review my pre-season goals and compare against what I actually accomplished. Surprisingly I find myself excited for my off season training plan to begin and am forcing myself to take off 2 weeks. I am still nursing a bit of an injury to my hip/knee/calf/foot. It is really minor, but the pain shoots from my hip all the way down. I need to get it figured out before getting serious again as I suspect my bike fit caused it.

Along with that success, however, have been some pretty large failures. Of particular note, my Crohns disease has been a bigger problem than any year in the past. At its worst, years ago, I would have a very bad occurrence once every 3 months or so. This year I had problems almost every month starting in February. Almost all were very small and did not disrupt my training too much, but they were enough to cause stress and cast some doubts on my ability to maintain my athleticism. This is something I will need to address in the off-season. It may be as simple as short-term medication, or it may require a series of tests to determine what the problem is, or perhaps a new long-term medication. I don’t care to be on medications and will have to address that with my doctor. I have a few months until my next appointment and am hoping to go issue free until then.

One of my main goals this season was to go without an over-use type of injury…mission accomplished. I am proud to say that the only injuries I sustained were from pure stupidity. At Lake Mills I bruised my arse by falling on it. At Elkhart Lake I got bumps and bruises from falling on my face. At Pleasant Prairie I sprained my knee getting into the water. And at the Lake Country half marathon I sprained my calf by running too hard after being sick. None of the injuries prevented me from training, so that is the silver lining.

If nothing else, this new-found injury-free status led to my improvements more than any other tool/technique. I am happy to report that I did not fall, crash, trip, or otherwise cause bodily harm to myself at the USAT National Championships. I am in the middle of 2 easy weeks before I start to do a little training for 2 weeks and then into my Endurance Nation Out-season training plan. Hopefully I don’t fall down between now and then.

2010 Successes:
From a macro perspective it is very easy to say this season was a success. My times in all three sports have come down, some dramatically. I have PR’d every event, every distance this year. I won my age group at Elkhart Lake. I had the fastest swim split at Lake Mills. I qualified for USAT Nationals and was very close to qualifying for ITU Worlds in a competitive field trying to go to Las Vegas. I split above 23mph in a ½ iron distance race. This success stems from several things.

OS Training:
First, my off season training plan was very different than previous years. I used an Endurance Nation type training plan that included a LOT of intervals. I watched my FTP go from an unmeasured 250 up to 320. I then watched it go down to 305 as I tested in the aero bars.

I started a new run program that had me able to run more miles at faster speeds than ever before, and I did it completely injury-free. This program started in November 2009 and had me happily running until my calf strain in September 2010. Even then I was able to maintain 3-4 days of easy running while it healed and had no problems at my race.

I lost a lot of weight getting under 200lbs for the first time since highschool. This played a large role in my running speed and will continue to do so as I drop to 185-190.

The other part of this success came from race simulation. Prior to my big races I went out and trained at race pace and followed it with a hard run to gauge how I felt and my fitness. It gave me a lot of confidence on race day. It is an Endurance Nation philosophy I hope to perfect this coming season. I will say this…I discovered at Myrtle Beach that my “race pace” on training rides was a bit conservative. I really believe that if I had been smart about my pacing and simply held an even-paced 270 watts, I could have held onto that run and finished with a 1:44 split. I need to let it all go, fear, doubt, disbelief. (Morpheus)

While I will also list this under my failures, this software really helped me get an understanding of why I was feeling the way I did. Long hard bike rides come with a cost, and when I would push beyond the prescribed workout I paid the price the following days/week. As a result I began to learn how to dial back my effort and rest where appropriate. This is something that will really help me in the future as I track my efforts.

2010 Failures:

WKO/Workout Consistency
First, I did not use WKO+ to the extent it can be used. Part of this was a conscious decision due to the lack of data. Part was not truly understanding the product. Part was laziness. I simply did not add the notes or information I should because it was boring. As a result of this there were many times I over-trained only to under-train and fall apart. I lost a LOT of training consistency because of this.

This is partly why I am excited about Endurance Nation. I will have a proven template of workouts to use. I can track them in WKO+ and copy them into the tool. It will give me a reference point for all future years, and I won’t have to deal with trial and error as much this year. I will have the workouts, I only need to execute them.

Aside from that, it will give every workout a purpose. I often found myself getting on my bike wondering what I should do and just “going for a ride”. It was simple volume with no clear direction. And while I am new enough to make a program like that work, making sure every workout has a purpose ensures no wasted time or energy. It also forces me to get the rest I need and should dramatically increase my chances of another year of strong improvements.

I never did hit my goal weight this season. I dropped below 200lbs on a few occasions only to jump back over days later. I love food, I love to eat. My sweet tooth is raging out of control. But if I want to reach my potential I need to get to 185-190lbs while maintaining my strength. This should not be a problem as I still have a mid-section to eliminate. I won’t be cutting into muscle at all.

At the end of the day I simply lost my focus. I would really focus for a week and lose a pound or two, only to lose focus the next week. Part of this is the “close enough” mentality. I finished my basement a couple years back. I put in the framing, electrical, drywall, bar, etc. But I’ve not quite gotten around to finishing the ceiling tile or other minor stuff. The reason is because it is “close enough” and certainly usable. Just like me. I saw huge improvements at this weight, close enough. The other problem is the Crohns disease causing trouble. It is tough to lose weight while eating a McDonald’s double cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake.

Well, “good enough” isn’t going to cut it for next season. So this off season I will be really focusing on my nutrition. I will have to be careful with my Crohns as well however.

It seems like my ability to taper properly is nothing but a failure. Last season for Ironman I was sidelined due to Crohns and injury. Instead of a good taper of lower volume with race pace efforts, etc…I had a week off essentially. Not good for confidence.

This year it was the same story. My calf was worrisome, so I took it very easy running. My bike was in transit and causing other calf problems. So my week leading up to the race wasn’t very good. I am really hoping EN and having a plan to follow resolves this. I also need to address my pre-race stress levels as this may be causing issues with my Crohns.

It isn’t just that however. I really seem to lose focus during my tapers. Perhaps it is the month of September, I don’t know. I hope taking little mini-breaks during the off-season and in-season will alleviate this. A-races are A-races, everything else is a really fast and fun training day.

Until starting to write this posting, I had forgotten about all my goals. I had a general sense of what I wanted to do, and had individual race goals, but never reminded myself about the goals I had set early in the year. In 2011 I am going to print my goals and have them by my trainer so they are burned into my brain.

I fell on my face/ass too much. It was embarrassing, I’m an idiot. I think that sums it up really well.

Changes for 2011
I need to take better notes of my workouts and how I feel afterwards for review later. I need to track my swimming better as well. Adding my yardage and workouts into WKO was an afterthought at best. I have not checked, but if EN gives me swim workouts to complete, that will help quite a bit. They may have me swimming more yardage than I’d like, but I’ll cross that bridge when it comes. Who knows, a little more yardage and speed work may help me drop under 19 for Oly races. I know I am capable if my shoulder holds up.

Considering the limited amount of swimming I currently do, I think 18-minute Oly’s isn’t out of the question. My problem with that is the price I’d have to pay in both pain and time/energy. That time is much better spent on the bike and run until my improvements there slow down.

I think my key change for the upcoming season is going to be focus. I want my workouts to have a purpose. My most bored moments and hated workouts were those when I got on the trainer or road to do an easy workout with no real purpose or goal because I was too tired to do anything else. It bored me to tears and I hated it. If I have sets to accomplish I found it very easy to stay on task. A real training plan should help that quite a bit.

I lost sight of my key races throughout the year. As a result, after key races I never dropped out of race mode and took a break. We have a very short race season in Wisconsin and I really felt I needed to be training and racing through the entire summer. I would have been better served with some planned time off to recover and recharge. It may have prevented some illnesses and other issues.

I also need rest from a day-to-day perspective. Gone are the days of doing 3hr steady state rides at 270 watts only to miss key workouts during the week. Really hard days are great when they are called for, but that is not every weekend! I need to be smarter with my workouts and when I take rest.

Next: Goals

Thursday, October 7, 2010

USAT Nationals

So this past weekend was my last race of the year. I’m happy and bummed about that. Actually thinking I’ll seek out another race to finish the year with. Anyway, we left for Myrtle Beach on Thursday morning. Arrived at the condo that evening got my bike and everything was good to go. We walked around a bit, but nothing excessive.

Friday was packet pickup and bike check in. We had a smaller car and 4 people, so we all went to grab the race packet as we had to do some shopping anyway, plus I didn’t want to drop my bike off that early. Checked out the venue a bit, it was pretty large. I tried to figure out the swim…and it was pretty odd. There was a little ramp in the water that looked like it could handle 4-5 people. I wasn’t sure it could handle the congestion. But I wasn’t sure that was the start either.

Moving along, I got my stuff, got my bike checked in, and took it easy on Thursday evening while everyone else went to the boardwalk and checked things out.

Race Morning.
Realistically speaking this is only my second half Ironman. My first being in Racine where I qualified. I did do Pigman…I don’t count it because it was about 8 years ago and I had no idea what I was doing. I had no nutrition plan, very little fluids, it was over 100 degrees, and I almost died…probably should have. I bring this up because I don’t have a lot of experience to fall back on. What works for Olympic distance races may not work for the half iron distance.

I got up at 4:30, ate a bowl of life cereal, had an Ensure, and a banana. I did some stretching and left the condo at about 5:30. Got to transition and went through my checklist…brakes, wheels, clothes, etc. Everything was set so I went for a light warm-up jog. I got back and was checking everything again when they called everyone over for a critical announcement. The Race Director was practically in tears and people were thinking the whole race was going to be cancelled…only to learn that due to the 20 inches of rain they received the day before, the ecoli levels in the water were at dangerous levels and the swim was cancelled. F***********************CCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK. Really, what else is a swimmer going to say when the swim is cancelled? I was ready for this swim too. I was easily as fast as I was for Elkhart Lake, probably faster. I had every intention of pushing the pace for a fast swim.

Having said that, I’d rather have the swim cancelled than end up in the hospital. Considering the Immunosuppressant drugs I am on, I’d probably get sick. Even though I almost never get sick. In the end, they gathered everyone at the swim exit and had us start one at a time 3 seconds apart as if we were running through transition. Unfortunately that negates a 5-10 minute lead I’d get on a lot of people. I also figured my shot at the ITU World Championships was gone. My bike is fast enough, but my run is not there yet.

So they started me off, I already had my socks on and I ran up to transition, grabbed my bike and took off.

It was an interesting course to race as we were on the freeway system and had all 4 lanes to ourselves. It was very flat and incredibly fast. We did two loops and half the course was into the wind and the other half was with the wind. While the temperature and sun was fantastic, the wind was blowing at about 15mph…maybe a little harder. It would gust occasionally too. The sections that were into the wind were very challenging. I tried to get as low as I possibly could to negate the wind, but it was tough out there with no shelter of any kind. I did my best to legally draft as I passed people or got passed. But I never really found anyone going my pace. So for most of the race I was all alone. I tried to keep my power into the wind in check. But it was a strong wind and holding back meant going really slow.

Anyway, I ripped out of T1, hit the road and was pushing the pace pretty hard right from the start. The first piece of the course was with the wind, so I was moving at a good clip. As I turned into the wind I looked at my wattage I saw a number in the 300’s and thought…”whoa there big stallion!!” Without the swim there I told myself I’d push the bike a little harder but 300+ watts?!?! (I have not reviewed my race data yet, so I don’t have the actual numbers, will post when I look) Anyway, I have my watch set to show me splits every 5 miles. This gives me an alarm every 13-15 minutes or so and reminds me to eat/drink. I had relaxed before the first lap went off, so I wasn’t above 300, but still too high.

I don’t know what my exact wattage was for the next 5 miles, but I know it was too high. At that point I turned for the long section with the wind and said to myself, this is where I need to push the pace and get as much speed as I can. I did my best to hold those laps in the 265-270 range. At that point I realized I had to pee. Badly. I know many racers have successfully been able to pee while riding…I am not one of them. Normally I go in the water…but couldn’t this time.

Anyway, the bike portion was pretty uneventful. I settled myself down and got to a nice range of 260-270 watts. I was hovering right around an average of 23mph. Considering the wind, I was very happy with that. I started to get a bit tired towards the beginning of the 2nd loop…into the wind. I made sure I relaxed and dialed back the effort a notch to allow some recovery there so I could push the pace with the wind.

In the middle of lap 2 while riding with the wind I finally got to the point where I couldn’t tolerate the full bladder any more. In my head I was competing for a spot on the US Team and frankly needed to learn how to pee off the bike. I tried many things…and will spare everyone the details other than to say….SUCCESS!! I *flushed* by taking a bottle of water and spraying my leg down. Oh happy days!!

My nutrition plan consisted of one calorie bottle with 400 calories of Perpeteum and 300 calories of Heed plus 3 salt stick tabs. I also took 2 salt sticks separately. I then had roughly 4 bottles of water, however threw some of that away as I didn’t need it. In total I finished my calorie bottle and had roughly 3-4 bottles of water.

I ended the day with around 271 watts. Quite a bit higher than I had planned. But this led to a bike split of 2:25 which is a PR despite difficult conditions. I saw the split and wondered how much I might pay for that bike split on the run…... (I’m also left wondering how fast I would have been in Racine or on this course without the wind.)

Very uneventful. I already had my race number under my bike jersey so I racked my bike, pulled off the helmet, grabbed my gu flasks and took off. Fortunately I did not fall on my face.

The one thing on my mind for this race was the run. I had been injured the month prior and did not get in the running I wanted to before this race. In my mind the place this would cause a problem was mile 9/10. I knew I was in equal shape to Racine, possibly better shape. But with the limited running I just wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to hold on as that endurance would be the first thing to go.

At Racine my goal was to simply hold 8min/mile. I did that for the first 6 miles or so, but the heat caught up to me and I slowed to 8:30’s for an average pace of 8:20. For this race I wanted to push it harder, and break 1:45 for the run.

I hit the run and immediately had a little issue, my quads felt like they were cramping. I’ve never had this happen other than at IMWI 2009. So I didn’t really know what to do. I had some salt sticks with me so I took one. I hadn’t planned on taking that until mile 1 with some water, but I had a water/gu mix in a flask and used that. Thankfully I never got the cramps or felt that way again.

Shortly after that, the little dudes that run my stomach hung a sign that said “Closed”. The first time I experienced something like this was at an Oly race in Lake Geneva like 7 years ago. I ate a clif bar on the bike and had massive gastro trouble because of it. These days I only take liquids in races to prevent that. But apparently I did something to cause a problem. I do not know if it was too much salt, fluids, calories, or my breakfast causing the problem. I’ll have to look into that. But I was in a fair amount of discomfort from about mile 1.5 on.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle it since there was a lot of racing to go…so I just put my head down and told myself to “giv’er”. Miles 1-6 were all between 7:30’s and 7:45’s. I was really happy with how I felt and pace. My initial thought process was to go as fast as I could for as long as I could. In my head, if I was going to slow down to an 8:30 pace like I did at Racine, I should go 7:30’s prior instead of 8:00’s. Plus it was cooler outside. Again I haven’t reviewed my laps yet…so I don’t know the exact details. But I hit the halfway point, saw Aimee, Jesse, and Jeff and was still moving really well. I still felt pretty good and was maintaining the same basic pace.

At mile 7 I did start to slow a bit, and had to quickly stop to go to the bathroom (tree, not port-a-potty). I’m not sure it is physically possible to pee while running. Anyway, I do know that mile was my first slower than an 8min/mile pace at 8:11. I put in some more effort and mile 7 was back below an 8min pace. Things were starting to hurt by then and I had not been able to put down much in the way of salt/calories or anything else. A sip of water here and there was about all. Miles 8 and 9 were a bit slower…but still close to an 8min pace. I wasn’t sure what would happen around mile 8 as that is where I really slowed down at Racine…but I know I held it pretty well.

I got to mile 10 and things got worse. My legs were cashed, hurting, and burning. Here is where my lack of experience came into play. I was hurting and knew that at some point I was going to have to change something. But I didn’t really know what to do. I had taken in enough calories, but wasn’t sure they were getting through. I knew I had not taken in enough water or salt…but didn’t want to try to eat anything else at that point. It was already too late.

An internal debate was raging inside me as I thought it was time to walk the aid stations. (I had not walked one yet). I kept telling myself that once you walk it is easier to walk again…don’t do it. I don’t remember exactly where I first walked on the course…but it was close to mile 10. At that point I wasn’t angry like I was at Racine, mostly because I pushed the bike and run much harder here. I wasn’t sure I could hold on, but wanted to try knowing I might blow up a little bit.

So at that point I employed a walk/run type strategy as even the 8:30 pace I tried to hold was hurting pretty bad. Looking back I am left wondering what would have happened if I simply slowed my run pace to 8:45’s – 9’s. I really don’t know. But I do know that I ended up walking for 30 seconds at every mile, and at one point even the half mile. My overall pace became 8:45’s – 9:15’s or so.

At mile 11, my stomach gave a few gurgles and opened back up for business. I’m not sure if it was the walking or what. But my first thought was, thanks a lot. As food went through I had some pretty bad waves of pain…similar to what I’ve dealt with on several long runs. (gas). I wasn’t worried, but it disrupted things a bit.

Anyway, I kept moving forward, looked at my watch and knew my time would still be better than Racine. Not as good as I wanted, but technically a Half Iron PR. I finished the run around a 1:46. A few of those last miles were at or above a 9 minute pace. Once I look at the race data I’ll have a better idea what happened and when as my memory is only so good. But if I had just been able to hold on a little longer I would have broken 1:45.

The good news is that I was/am very sore. So I know I worked hard as 3 days later I can still feel it. I like that because it reminds stops me from second-guessing myself too much. If I’m still this sore 3 days later, I put in a hard effort.

I placed 18th in the M30-34 age group. Top 20 qualify for ITU Worlds (20-25 are alternates) so great, I made it. BUT WAIT. That’s right…a new rule is in effect. Because I’ll be 35 next season, I have to qualify in the M35-39 age group where my time was good for ----- SURVEY SAYS!!! ---- 29th. Sucks to be me!!

Based on that I’m about 99% sure I will not qualify. I do not know who bumps into or out of the age groups and will get an email sometime this week. Granted I did not really expect to qualify…but had there been a swim, I’m pretty sure I would have been an alternate. I have no doubt there were fast swimmers at this race, but most of them were probably placing top 10-15 and beat me by 15-20 minutes. I would not have caught them. The folks placing 15th-28th however…there is a good chance I would have beaten some of them out of the water by a fair margin and moved up a few places.

I can’t say that for certain, but without taking the current into effect I wanted to go close to a 26 minute swim. With a current my time may have been slower, but my advantage would have been bigger. But who knows. I finished with a 4:15:45. If you add 30 minutes for swim, some additional T1, and a slightly slower bike I’m right around a 4:45. Still a PR.

Race Pace
Ok, I did not get the chance to post the above blog on Tuesday/Wednesday as I wanted to. I don’t have access at work. So I have now had the opportunity to review my race paces and let me say…damn. Someone on Slowtwitch has a signature that goes something like this…..”If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough”. I think that applies to me in this case.

As it turns out I have selective memory. I really really thought that I got myself under control before the 5 mile mark. At it turns out I did the first 5 miles at 312 watts. That’s not a typo…312 watts, 7 watts above my functional power. Lap two – (miles 5-10) were done at 298 watts. Average that out and I rode at FTP for the first 25-30 minutes. As you will see, that decision proved to be somewhat…unfortunate.

My next three laps were around 275 watts. (15 watts higher than my original goal). At that point I got to the halfway point and my brain re-engaged…I purposely slowed down and brought my ride average down to 271. I do want to be clear on that point, at the halfway point I could have maintained my pace but chose to slow down. There was one section into the wind where I rode 254 watts and remember telling myself to relax that once I turned around I could go harder with the wind.

Onto the run. I started just fine. In fact my first 6 miles were right around a 7:40 pace. Aimee saw me at the turn and said I looked great. I did slow down at the halfway point, but didn’t feel bad at that point. But I think it is best that my splits do the talking...

First 6.5 miles – 7:35-7:40 pace. – Doing Great!!
Mile 6.5 – 10 – 8:10 pace. Holding strong!!
Mile 11 – 8:23 -- ummmm, not so good.
Mile 12 – 8:55 – Oh dear god!
Mile 13 – 9:53 – So much for the adrenaline at the last mile. Crash and burn.

And that kids is a lesson on what NOT to do!!

The good news…the two minutes I lost on those last two miles would not have mattered as far as the standings are concerned in M35-39. The guy in front of me beat me by more than I slowed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Looks like the weather will be good for the race.  Other than the 20mph winds they are calling for all day! 

So far feeling pretty good, a little worried about my left leg still, but that is what the off season is for.

Leaving for Myrtle Beach in the morning...back Monday night.  Hopefully my bike is in one piece.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Race Goals

Race goals:

Well, as the race approaches it is time to think about goals. Not that I haven’t prior to now, but now I am putting them into writing.

I need to make a couple assumptions…these may or may not work out.

First, good weather under 80 degrees. That is pretty typical of the area from what I understand.
Second, I am assuming very little wind.
Third, a very flat course – this one is fact.
Fourth, my leg will be fine.
Fifth, shorter transitions. – I will be more focused on transitions this time, but some are longer than others.
Sixth and accurate wetsuit legal swim with no current.

Based on those items, here is what I am thinking I can do given current fitness and health.

Swim – I have been swimming quite a bit and pretty fast. I am faster than I was at Elkhart Lake and feeling very strong in the water. I’m certainly faster than I was in Racine. Wednesday I did 3 fast 100’s. First one was a :59 and I wasn’t breathing that heavy. Next one was a 1:03, third was a :45. Errrr wait…the pace clock broke. Its taper time!! To the hot tub!  Today I did a sprint set of 1x200, 1x100, 1x50, 1x100, 3x50...the 200s and 100s were negative splits and the 50s were sprints.  On the first 200 I did a 2:20 no problem, then I did a 1:07 followed by the 50's which I didn't track that close.  All were near :30s.  I did that set twice and got faster the 2nd time hitting a 2:15 and followed by a 1:03.  So I am feeling very good. 

Assuming the swim course is accurate and the current isn’t severe I should be able to go 26-27 minutes if I don't slack. However I know there is a current for about .3 miles, and I doubt I’ll be able to use a wetsuit. Given those conditions my real goal is to place in the top 10 swimmers. I am in the very first wave with M30-39. That is a big, fast age group and there should be plenty of drafting opportunities. Bring on the feet!!! No wetsuits is a big advantage to us swimmers, especially in a current. I am looking to build a solid lead in the water. So, let’s call it 27 minutes and we’ll see what the day brings.

Bike – It is my understanding that the bike is dead flat. It is on the freeway. So gentle inclines/declines. Nothing severe. This suits my size perfectly. My goal is to average 255-260 watts for the entire ride. That should put me above 23mph. I’d love to hit a 2:24 – 2:26 on the bike. The wind and heat will dictate what is possible. Anything over 85 and I start to melt. At Racine I did 248 watts and knew I was taking it easy due to a lack of long rides prior to the race. This time I don’t have that problem and plan to push the pace a bit harder into zone 3. A month ago I did a 3hr ride at 270 watts and ran an hour at a 7:40 pace. It was a pretty warm day as I recall.

I plan to wear a fuel belt this time. It will have a flask with gu water and salt sticks. I was messing around too much in Racine. This should make the process much easier and I’ll only need water at aid stations. Stick with fuel I’m used to.
Unfortunately I just found out they only have one aid station. So I'll have to carry 3 bottles with me the whole way.  1 for calories and 2 for water.  I'll exchange the waters.

Run – Also a flat course. This will really depend on my calf. I have been doing some running. Overall it feels fine, but I can tell the bike fit is causing a bit of trouble from the hip down to the calf. I need to get this looked at in the off season. But I think I’ve noticed a new potential cause.

Since I started my new job, I’ve been doing a lot of walking. From parking to the buildings and then all over the buildings pretty often. Just from parking to my desk and back is about a mile. And with this job I am in dress shoes. And the bigger item, I’ve noticed it is not my calf that hurts, it is my heel/ankle/Achilles area that is aching. So, I am going to get some walking shoes for the walk and see if that helps.  But I know my leg feels worse after hard rides.  I already have a fitting appointment in October with my PT to get this fixed.  I had a similar problem when I screwed up my own cleat we'll see what Tom has to say this time.

Anyway, for the most part everything is fine. But I am doing a lot of trigger point and heat/ice. My runs have felt great. In fact, I’ve really had to hold back. There have been several instances where I’ve gone for a run only to look at my Garmin to see I’m running a 6:45 pace. Whoa cowboy…easy run. My goal until the race is to get in a 30-45 minute run every other day. That will maintain my running legs and keep me sharp. Ideally without aggravating anything. If I really feel good next week I might get in a threshold/race pace type run.  Running doesn't actually hurt my leg, I think the original calf problem has healed and now I'm left with the aggrivation of the bike fit/walking thingy.

At Racine my goal was to run 8:00’s, I ran 8:20’s and really faded in the heat. Despite the injury the half marathon gave me a lot of confidence. Assuming the weather is good, I really think I can break 8min/mile with good pacing on the bike. 255-260 watts is toward the upper end for me, but isn’t out of reason by any means. I've got a lot more hard training under my belt since Racine too.  But like last time, if I look down and see 260 watts with 24mph average, I’ll back off to make sure I have a good run. Going a minute faster on the bike only to die on the run will cost me more than a minute.

Anyway, 27 minutes on the swim, 23mph on the bike, and 8min/mile on the run is a 4:38. Add 2min per transition and we’re looking at a 4:42. That is 11min faster than Racine, a similar but hotter course. If I do that, I’d like to think I’ll make the top 20 in M30-34 and qualify for the ITU World Championships. As always conditions will dictate what is possible. Think cool, dry, calm.

ITU Worlds is on the Silverman course…proclaimed hardest course in the world. Sounds wonderful!  I looked at the profile.  It didnt look fun.

My baby has been shipped down to Myrtle Beach.  I didn't like the way it fit into the box...the big chain ring seemed to bulge the case out quite a bit.  I'll be nervous until I see the bike in one piece.  I was in a big hurry to get it out the door on Wednesday...shipping it home I think I'll remove the chain ring to be safe.  Please nice to my bike!!!

I’ve decided to join Endurance Nation. It’s a good intermediate step between being self coached and a one-on-one coach. I’ll get good training plans, tips, nutrition, race strategy, the works. I’ll start that up in November.

Hopefully next season will be geared towards ITU Worlds.  I have IMWI in my thoughts for 2012.  I want to build up a lot more speed before doing that again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Race Preparations

Race Preparations:

Race day approaches. The next two weeks are shorter and more intense. Unfortunately my running has been not so good. My calf/hamstring are still tight and sore from the half marathon and I think I’ve discovered the underlying problem.

Six weeks ago I got a new fit from John at Bicycle Doctor. I was, and am, very happy with the new fit. I feel strong and solid on the bike. Some of my training rides have been very very good. But in the weeks after the fit, I noticed some problems. Most noticeably my lower back on the left side was sore, going right into my hip/glute. It would not really effect my running, but still hurt and would cause a power drop on the bike. 2.5 weeks ago I went to do a long hard ride to get a solid gauge on my pacing and averaged 270 watts for 3 hours and then ran an hour at a sub-8minute pace. Felt great. But that ride made me go back to see John to figure out what the problem was.

As it turns out, I’m twisted. Anyone who knows me already knows this. But now it is literally true as well as figuratively. Anyway, John noticed that my right side is much stronger on my left side and that I am straining my left back/hip/leg because I am not engaging those muscles appropriately. In fact, my left leg is just tagging along for the ride and doing very little work. The new fit helped fix the problem, but I also had to really focus on using my left leg more while cycling. He felt pretty strongly that once I did that and got used to it, I’d see a pretty significant power spike as both legs shared the load.

The problem however is that my left side and leg were tight and sore from the work. Enter my first half marathon where I was going to take easy. Well, I took it a little harder than easy…and now my hamstring is tight/strained/sore causing tightness and soreness in my calf. I have to say, I was wondering why a run would cause this problem when I was in shape and ready for it. But the timing makes perfect sense. The new fit forced more left leg engagement, even if I wasn’t focused on it, creating a tired left leg…specifically hamstring.

I got a massage yesterday to work on this specifically. I was ready to cry like a girl. She had her elbow in my hamstring and was doing ART type movements with my leg…I yelled mercy once (not kidding)…and was ready to start saying, “thank you sir, may I have another.” It was brutal. The hamstring is really sore, possibly bruised, but it did release a bit. So I’ll be biking and rolling on the trigger point to try and get the muscle to release. Plus ice and heat.

Normally I’d be really freaked with only a little running with 1.5 weeks to go. But I am very confident. I have been doing some running…and actually have to hold myself back a bit. I can’t gain much by running hard at this point, but I can cause a lot of damage. I have really been focused on swimming and biking. I did my 10x100’s last week and finished with a total time of 12:51. So minus the rest I’m at 11:21 which is a 1:08 pace. Not too shabby. I’ve been doing more interval work on the bike to make sure my legs are good and ready for 255-265 watts on race day. And as long as I can run the final couple weeks, even just 30 minutes at a time, I think my run fitness will be there. Aerobically I’m in great shape. I’ll take the run as it comes, but I just don’t think I’ll lose fitness for this race given the additional work I’ve been doing on the bike and being able to at least run 4 times per week. Some people only run 4 times per week…and not doing a long or interval run 3-4 weeks out isn’t necessarily bad either.
Hopefully it will be enough to qualify for the ITU World Championships, I need a top 20 in the age group. 

I am officially stuck inside for the remainder of my cycling season unless I want to drive. Construction is everywhere…and my typical route to leave the neighborhood is buried under heavy equipment and gravel. If only they could have waited 2 more weeks!! But next year I’ll have some great roads to ride on. That will be nice.

I’ve been thinking about the off-season as well as next season a lot. Specifically I am looking at some Endurance Nation training plans. I really like their mentality when it comes to bike training. I did what I’ll refer to as an intermediate or beginner plan this off season and made big improvements. I’m leaning towards becoming a member.

I’d be putting a really strong emphasis on biking, more than I normally would. But the rides are shorter…which is very helpful. Watching my TSS numbers it is always the long ride that buries me from a stress standpoint. So I think I am going to follow their bike plan with 3-4 HARD interval days per week coupled with their running plan that focuses harder runs…but I may swap a little towards volume instead of speed. I need to discuss that with them.

My ultimate goal is to keep my hours under 10 per week. There won’t be any long rides on the trainer. 2hrs maximum and only on occasion. I’d be riding 5 times and running 6. But many of the runs are nice and small and the rides are almost all around an hour. So that should really do the trick. We’ll see. I have a trial membership to EN and need to ask them some questions.

I’m not sure why, but I really look forward to the shorter harder training sets in the off season. Maybe its because I expect some really good things next season as I continue to improve and drop to 185 pounds. Or…maybe its because I’m tired of going out spending half the day riding/running and waking up early. Sleeping in is GOOOOD!!

Anyway, today is a day off for me as taper time is starting. I need to get things packed and figure out how to take my bike apart and into the case for shipping. Its gotta be at Fedex by the 23rd at noon.  That means late the 22nd.  Thankfully I have a road bike or I’d be without my bike for 8 days right before the race. Since I can’t ride outside anyway, I figure I’ll just put my road bike on the computrainer and do the work there.  Such fun.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lake Country Half Marathon

So as many of you know I was a bit sick last week. I also had my first half marathon race that Saturday. I thought I’d write up a little report on how it went.

After talking with several people I decided that it would be best if I simply ran the race as a training day and dialed back the intensity. Between being sick and needing to have some good training days prior to Nationals, this was the best plan.

The plan was to meet Aimee’s father at the race venue around 6:30 for the race start at 7am. I wasn’t particularly anxious since it wasn’t a big race, otherwise I would have thought things through a little better. Long story short, had there been no traffic or parking trouble everything would have been fine. Unfortunately there was no parking. We ended up parking about a half mile away after waiting in line for about 20 minutes. We got to the race and got out packet in a very hurried manner. I had forgotten my race belt and needed to safety pin my number. I had left my long pants on as it was cold. Next thing I know the announcer is yelling to get people to the start. I rip off my pants and carry them with since I didn’t know what else to do. Ended up getting to the start area and seeded myself at an 8min pace knowing I’d be faster.

No sooner than I got there and the race started. I was still not situated as my pants, keys, and two gu’s were in my hands.

Off we go. Within about 100 yards my keys and gu’s fly out of my hands as I try to tie my pants around my waist. Great start as I nearly kill people trying to get them. Gu’s I can live without…but not the car keys.

Finally I get situated and get a rhythm going.

The first mile was easy. It was my first time running in a group and it was nice. I clipped off an 8:05 pace and wasn’t even trying. I decided to pass a big chunk of people that were annoying me, so the 2nd mile was a 7:47. At that point I made the decision to attack every hill. The pace felt ridiculously easy and off I went. Mile 3 – 7:35.

I liked that pace and everything felt very effortless. HR was in a good spot, legs felt great. People were still near me, but not the bigger packs as I had left the 8min/mile group behind.

At mile 6 there was a bigger climb. In relation to what I normally run on it was average. But it was the biggest climb of the day. I decided to drop the hammer then and there. And I did so not only on the incline, but then again on the decline. I remember looking at my split (7:06) and thinking…oops. But I still felt fine and wasn’t breathing heavy or anything. Unfortunately my HR monitor was going bonkers.

Miles 7 and 8 were both at a 7:18 pace as I dialed it back a notch and was still feeling really good.

At mile 9 my left hip and calf got a bit tight. But I was still feeling great and passing a lot of people. I figured I had taken it easy for long enough and decided to push the pace for the remainder of the race.

Mile 9 – 7:06
Mile 10 – 7:03
Mile 11 – 7:06
Mile 12 - 6:56
Finished with an average of 7:20.

I finished up and was pretty tired. Legs were tight and tired but feeling good. So, mission accomplished. I finished with a 1:36:09 on my garmin. Certainly a PR, although it was my first real run race.

More importantly I did not have to sacrifice any training to recover other than skipping an easy run. Plus I gave myself a shot of confidence. If I had warmed up and started faster I don’t think there is any doubt I could have held a 7:05-7:10 pace. So depending on the weather I really should be able to do a half-ironman run in the 8:40 range with proper pacing. Racine was pretty hot, so my run pacing wasn’t the best. But now I have a better understanding of what I am capable of.

Unfortunately over the week I've noticed my left calf is still a problem.  I took 2 days off of running to recover and ran Tuesday and Wednesday.  Wednesday was probably a little too hard as the calf is still pretty sore and it did hurt during the run.  Therefore I won't run today and bike instead.  I'm not supposed to run tomorrow as it is my day off.  And we'll see how Saturday and Sunday go. 
I want to do a final race simulation on sunday - 3hour ride @ 265 watts followed by a 1hr hard run.  The ride won't be a problem, we'll see how the run feels.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Final stretch

So it has been a little while and a lot has happened. Forgive the long posting.

First, I started a new job. I’m now at Northwestern Mutual with a couple other Gear Grinders and other people I knew. Everything is going well there, but transitioning to a new job is a bit stressful. Especially moving from a “secure” full-time position to an hourly contractor. It is a little nerve wracking and I was feeling the stress most of the week.

I saw my GI doctor about 2 weeks ago. Due to the several bowel obstructions I’ve had over the last several months we decided to try a low dose of prednisone for a month. I started that on the 25th or so. Unfortunately I had another obstruction despite the prednisone. As a result my training almost all week has been nothing.

Starting Saturday I could just tell I was worn down. I certainly don’t have my training plan down as I continue to have great days and then HORRIBLE days. Part of my problem is feeling really good one day and pushing too hard only to suffer later in the week when I am supposed to have a quality workout. I am certainly not doing myself any favors in that regard. This off season I plan to do a lot of reading on proper training plans and things like that.

Anyway, Saturday was supposed to be an interval run. My legs were like lead the entire way so I simply put in a 60 minute run. At this point the volume is as important as any speed work I might do. I followed that up with a 90 min masters swim. Sunday came and I was going to do an easy ride a little longer than normal, about 4 hours. I quickly realized two things when I started riding. #1, I was wasted. Easy ride or not, I was tired. #2, I hate easy rides. I don’t know what it is, easy zone 2 stuff bores me to death. I did one loop at around 30 miles, by the end of that loop I was really negative and wanting to stop. But I forced myself to refill my water bottles and hit loop two. I headed out for loop 2 and gave up 5 miles in and turned around. I just couldn’t get going.

There are a few reasons for what is happening to me…IMO.
  • First, this is by far the biggest training season of my life. I am tracking more and watching more and can easily see the additional volume I’ve done. Realistically it is probably too much considering the number of years I’ve been serious about this sport.
  • Second, I continue to behave as if I don’t actually have Crohns disease. Crohns brings with it a whole host of issues including internal bleeding, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, pain, etc, etc. And I continue to eat and act like I am perfectly healthy. Part of that is normal for me, but this season has been especially bad. Specifically my diet has been very bad with regards to Crohns. The funny thing is that my diet has been very healthy, for the most part. I’ve been eating more salads and a TON more fruit than usual. While that is “healthy” for a normal person, I am far from normal. That roughage is very difficult on my gut and I’ve been ignoring that fact. Yet if I look back, most of my attacks – including this weeks – have come immediately following a very large serving of fruit and/or salad. This is all stuff I know and apparently refuse to acknowledge as I train. 
  • Third, I continue to train in a somewhat foolish and impatient manner. I have great weeks near 15 hours that have both volume and intensity, and then I have weeks with neither volume or intensity. I often times find myself doing the same workouts week in and week out, only trying to do them harder and faster each week. Typically I forget to even look at my training plan as I know what I am supposed to do each day because I never change the plan. However intensity and durations do change, I often don’t look at that until it is too late. 
  • Lastly, I am a little burned out in general. I started training HARD about two weeks after IMWI last year. From that point on I have been running and biking more than I ever have in the past. And during a typical season I would already be done and relaxing by now or at least in my taper. Instead I am training for an “A” race in October. While that is great, it is a lot of extra work.
So here I sit with 4 full weeks until Nationals. I took Tuesday afternoon off, Wednesday completely off, and did only a 20 minute run last night due to my gut issues. The stress from starting a new job seems to have died off as I really like where I am right now.

But now I have a couple things to consider. First off, I have a race tomorrow. It is my wife’s birthday and she wanted to do the lake country half marathon. She’ll be walking with her dad and I’ll be running. While I’ll be rested, I am not sure how hard I want to push as it will hurt my ability to train if I really go hard. Originally I wanted to start at a 7:10 pace and just see if I can hold it. The charts say I should be able to, we’ll see. I think I will make that decision later tonight depending on how my gut feels.

I’ve been having a lot of hip trouble due to my new bike fit. I am getting that looked at on Sunday. Hopefully we’ll get it resolved.

Plus my shoulder has had enough swimming. I doubt I will do any swimming this off season and will focus on rehab and strength instead. At most I swim 10k yards a week and am still a top tri-swimmer. I know I’d be much faster if I swam more, but the shoulder continues to be a problem. I need to correct that if possible. It’s a far cry from my true swimming ability…but I don’t really care that much either. We’re talking about a difference of 1-3 minutes in a half-iron race. I can still get 30 minutes faster in my run and 15 faster on the bike before I am at the elite level. So my time is better spent there as I am an elite swimmer with only 10k yards/week. Plus I can start swimming in March/April and be in 19 minute Oly shape by June.

So, I have a lot of problems and need an off-season to sort through some of this stuff. I’ve been thinking about my off season plans a lot lately too. That is a good indication that I am ready to be done for a while. My current train of thought is to take 2 full weeks off with maybe some minimal running, nothing longer than 30 minutes. After two weeks I think I’ll take another 2 weeks of running only where I continue to build on my volume. No intervals, rather getting from a 30:60:90 run plan up to 40:80:120. That is 400 minutes or a little more than 6.6 hours of running. Roughly 45-50 miles per week depending on pace. That is a lot of volume for me, so I figure my biking will be just enough to maintain bike fitness. I am also assuming that will take me from November – January to get there. If I simply add 10% per week it would only take 5 weeks to make the jump. But realistically it will take a bit longer as I don’t want to get injured. I also want to spend some time doing that volume.

I am thinking that at some point in January I’ll transition over to more of a bike focus and drop my running numbers down to 30:60:90. That way I can drop down 3 quality rides and 2 easier rides during the week and still maintain my running gains. This year I was really able to improve both my run and bike. That was because my initial run volumes were so low I could still bike really hard. As I got to the season and tried that with additional swimming, I couldn’t really maintain it. So my thought process is to improve both again this off season with 3-month spurts in each sport while maintaining the other. So while I focus on my running I will only do 1 hard ride with 2-3 easier rides. The interval ride will only be 60 minutes or so. When I focus on biking I may still run 6 days per week, but there will be no interval running and my long run won’t be longer than 90 minutes. I will stagger things from morning to afternoon for additional recovery. Plus I will take 1 full day off every week. And the biggest change will be eliminating my really long ride as that is what typically hits me with the biggest TSS score. 2 hours will be the maximum on the trainer. And during my run focus I doubt I’ll go that long. I’m not training for an Ironman and once the spring hits getting the endurance for a 3 hour ride is easy. I’m taking an Endurance Nation type of mentality with my training as that is what worked so well this season. Focus on run volume and bike power, to hell with swimming.

Those are my general thoughts right now. They may change as the off-season approaches. We shall see.  I still need to focus on my final race of the year and final preparations.

Good luck to all those doing IMWI.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


So, tomorrow is my last day at this job.  I'm pretty happy about that.  I decided to take a contractor position with NML.  They like to hire good contractors, so I am hoping this will turn into a full-time job.  If not, this contract will most likely last a couple years. 
NML is a solid company, they value PM's and from what I've heard is a good place to work.  My current employer is none of those things.
Anyway, I am happy and hoping I will enjoy this position more than my current role.

Training has been going very well.
Friday I felt a little crohns attack coming, not good.  So I took that morning off.  I was planning a race simulation that weekend, so one of the days was going to be recovery either way.  So, Sunday became the big day.  I was recovered and felt fine.
Originally I wasn't going to be as rested for this workout, so I was only going to hold 260 watts and then do a hard run at an 8 minute pace to see how that felt for an hour.
As I got out there I made the decision to really push things and see how I would hold up.  The weather was near perfect in the high 70's. 
I started up and my first loop was a bit above 270 watts.  I was feeling very good other than my left glute hurting.  It has been bothering me on the bike for a couple weeks.  I think it is related to my fit...but have been working to keep it stretched out.  My fitter thinks I may be sitting on the saddle unevenly...causing this.  But I have to go in to find out...and I haven't had the time during the week.  I will have to figure something out.  Anyway, I took 30 seconds to stretch it out and got moving on the 2nd loop.  I don't like long transitions, I have water bottles all prepped so I just open the car door, dump the old, grab the new and go. 
The 2nd loop felt really solid...and I held 270-275 watts the entire way.  I finished the 2 loops in 3 hours even with an average of 273 watts and a little over 20mph.  Considering the hills, turns, and stop signs that was very good for this course.
I took in 4 full water bottles, 1 bottle of 600 calories and electroylytes, 3 saltstick pills, and 1 caffinated gu.

I pulled in, dropped off the bike, grabbed my fluids for the run and took off.  The first thing I noticed was feeling really good.  I started off, looked down and was a touch under 8 min/mile.  I hit the drumline trail and was off to the races.  Next thing I knew I was holding 7:30's for a couple miles.  Everything was going really well...although it was heating up.  There wasn't much shade.  Hit the halfway point and was still doing really well.  Turned around and started hoofing it back and was still doing well.  At about mile 5 I started to feel it.  At that point I came to the realization that the way out had a slight decline...which I was now climbing.  It wasn't much, but it was enough.  Mile 7 I slowed down a bit and did an 8:10 pace as the wheels started to come off.  The final half mile was warm-down. 
I may have been push a sub 8min pace for mile 8, I doubt I could have beyond that.  But I do think I could have held close to an 8 minute pace for a while longer.  That pace felt pretty good during the warmdown.  All in all, the workout in general were really good.  I was extremely happy with how things went.  It was a great confidence builder and will help me determine where my limits will be down in Myrtle Beach.  My nutrition seems to be in good shape as I have not had any problems in races or training. 

What did I learn from this workout?  A couple things really.  First, given good conditions 270 watts come race day is not outside the realm of possibility.  It is probably a little too high, but given how fast I was able to run off the bike, I can certainly go faster than 248 which I did in Racine.  I still have four training weekends to practice my pacing and get in some really tough workouts. 
I also learned that I can run pretty fast after a hard ride.  Perhaps faster than I realized.  In Racine I rode 248 watts and forced myself to run around an 8min/mile pace.  I purposely slowed it down.  Sunday I didn't slow anything down.  My legs were turning over at their pace.  I knew it was only going to be an hour run, so I didn't worry about suffering.  And I was a lot faster as a result.  My final pace for the entire run including warmdown was a 7:48.  Even if I had slowed down to 8:20's like I did in Racine my average pace would have been closer to 8:05 instead of 8:20.  That is a pretty significant time drop, roughly 4 minutes.  A bump in power on the bike from 248 to 270 is worth another 5 minutes (depending on conditions), and my swim should be 3-4 minutes faster as well.  Given similar conditions I could possibly approach 4:40.  Breaking 4:40 is doubtful, but if I break 4:45 I'll be pretty damn happy.

This weekend will be a longer, slower ride.  I want to hold about 250 watts and go for at least 3.5 to 4 hours followed by an easier run.  I need to get in an interval run and it is about time to pick up the swimming again. 

I've decided to do the lake Country half marathon Sept 4th.  Aimee is going to walk it, I'm going to run it.  I've never done a stand alone run race and figure it is about time.  But as a result I don't know what to expect.  According to my 5k time of about 20:00 I should be able to hold 7:10's for a half marathon.  I'm not so sure about that!  That seems awefully fast.  But I also figure...this is the place to see what I can do.  My fastest half marathon ever was a few weeks back in training when I held 7:58 the entire way. 

So I think as a guage I am going to start off running 7:30's like I did on Sunday after my ride.  We'll see how long I can hold that for.  If I hold strong, great.  I'll end up breaking a 1:40.  Perhaps I can pick it up at the end...I really have no idea what to expect in a race situation.  Should be fun.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The quest for the right training mix

So me efforts to find a really solid training week continue.  This week has been pretty good.

So last week I took it pretty easy.  I did all my hard workouts, intervals, long stuff, etc.  But decided to cut some of the filler completely to see how I would recover.  As it turns out I recovered very well and had some solid workouts.  I did make a change due to the heat/humidity and swapped my long run from Thursday to saturday with a short ride and then followed it up with a long ride/easy run on Sunday.  While that worked well I could feel it in my legs on Sunday.  But it wasn't all bad.  I did my first 30 miles at 270 watts and then lost it a bit and my average dropped to 260+ for a final number.  Overall not bad at all.  Had I been fully rested I may have been able to run well after that.  But due to my long run the day before and the riding my legs didn't have it.

This week I added back the filler workouts and have done some really hard sessions as well.  Monday was a swim/ride.  In an effort to keep myself under control I stayed in the small ring for the entire ride and only rode for 45 minutes.  Average power was just under 200 watts.  That's actually zone 2 instead of zone 1, but I still recovered pretty well. 
Tuesday was my interval day, TimeTrialPalooza.  I stayed aero the entire time and finished with 296w, 306w, 311w, 320w.  With my new FTP of 305, this was actually a really good set.  I'll keep working to bump that first 20 minutes up.  I have to admit, it is disheartening to see numbers this low when a few months ago my FTP was 325.  :-( 
Wednesday was a swim and easy run.  Again I had to really focus on staying under control.  That wasn't too hard as I was pretty tired.
Thursday is long run day.  I managed 2 hours at around an 8:30 pace.  Felt pretty darn good the whole way and didn't tighten up until about 1:30 into it.  But I still felt pretty good and when I focused I could pick up the pace without any trouble. 
Today is a swim day and an optional easy ride which I doubt I'll have time for.

With this schedule I've been feeling really good.  My one complaint was swimming today.  I felt pretty beat up this morning.  And for whatever reason my neck and shoulders are really knotted up.  Perhaps I slept funny.  As a result swimming hurt with every stroke.  After 15 minutes I went to the hot tub but am still pretty tender.  Desk jobs I am sure that is most of the cause for this.

Anyway, I'm happy with the plan.  I'm happy with my times and speed.  The one change I might make is the Friday swim.  Instead I may just move it to Thursday morning.  I'll be pretty recovered thursday morning so a good swim would work in the plan.  Plus swimming really shouldn't hurt my long run that afternoon.  That way I can sleep in on Friday and not be so wasted.  Plus I am doing masters swimming on saturday.  I won't be such a wreck for that either.
In total I'll put in about 13-14 hours this week.  It had a nice mix of intensity and recovery.  So I am pretty happy.  I'll make a few tweaks and see how things work out.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

End of season motivation

So it is that time of year where my motivation typically drops.  And this week was the first week.  I figured it is a good time for a little experiment.
In my attempt to run 6 days a week, plus my purchase of WKO I've been watching a number of different variables during training.  In particular I can see the impact of a specific workout on my body and the training stress as it accumulates.  Overall I'd say WKO is pretty accurate with a few exceptions.

The most important thing I've begun to understand is the accumulation of fatigue and the impact each workout has.  As an example...I re-tested my FTP post-fit and exclusively aero.  It came out to 305.  So all my training power zones shifted down about 20 watts.  There are a lot of reasons for this drop.  First, hip angle while aero is different and most people sacrifice power in favor of aerodynamics.  But this does have a significant impact on my training days and the fatigue they create.  Racing at 290-295 watts no longer seems unreasonable with an FTP of 305.

I've noticed a relatively high level of fatigue on long rides.  I'll get home and be wiped out, the days after I need recovery.  Well there is a good reason for that.  My long rides have typically been near 250 watts.  If I sit up completely straight my FTP is 325 and so a 250 watt ride is a zone2/3 ride.  Fairly easy overall.  However I've been completely focused on riding aero.  And while aero my FTP is actually 305.  That is a solid zone 3 effort.  It doesn't feel like a big deal when I'm riding, but I do feel it the next day.

It isn't that a longer zone 3 ride is all that hard.  When I finish my rides I feel fine.  At the Racine 70.3 I was able to run with no problems at all.  But the toll it takes on future training days is pretty dramatic.  My training stress will sometimes drop to a -30.  And my Monday workouts are horrible.  Typically I try to do an easy ride/run on Monday, but then I don't recover at all and Tuesday sucks too.  Tuesday is supposed to be an interval day, so I can't be wasted for that effort.  I have found myself skipping Monday afternoon workouts completely depending on how bad Sunday was - that's not good either.   

Part of the issue is that I am doing harder interval efforts.  It isn't like I am training for Ironman and need to be spending extended amounts of time doing easy zone 2 efforts.  I have been training for Oly and 1/2 Iron races.  As a result I need to be doing harder efforts, zone 3 and zone 4 to build some speed.  But I also need to include some longer endurance work.  Both of those require recovery which my typical training plan appears to be missing.  So while I might be able to get in 15 hours of training where almost all is zone 2...I have found it rather difficult to get in 15 hours with both longer workouts and harder interval workouts in the same week.  When I try my quality workouts suffer big time.  Just getting volume isn't bad, but I need the quality to improve.  Racing 1/2 Irons isn't a zone 2 effort.

So this week has been a bit different.  Sunday it rained fairly bad so I rode on the trainer.  It sucked.  I made it about 2.5 hours before I caved in to the boredom and went for a run afterwards.  I figure 2.5 hours is my 1/2 Iron time.  So good enough.  I felt guilty.  I did a pretty tough DVD, so it was a harder ride in general...and on the trainer I can't coast.  So overall it was a good ride.

Monday I swam, but I took it pretty easy and kept it mostly recovery.  Monday afternoon I took off completely.  Despite my lack of motivation I still felt guilty.  My guilt led to eating.  So I learned that part of why I work out is to prevent eating.  Tuesday I did my interval ride (FTP test) and was pretty happy with my results.  I followed it up with a 40 min run.  Wednesday I slacked again and only swam.  I was going to run and should have run...but it was just so damn hot.  BLAH!!! 
Today I have a 2hr run.  It's even hotter out.  Aimee is trying to talk me out of running.  it won't work.  Missing some of the filler workouts is one thing, missing a key workout is not acceptable even when I am not motivated.  I will say this...if it is still near 95 and so humid you can see the water in the air with blistering sun...the run may stop at 90 minutes.  It will be a game time decision.  2 hours will be my longest run of the season.  Tomorrow I'll do a tougher swim, but plan to keep the afternoon really easy again.  Then I'll move towards a tough weekend of interval running, masters swim, and long ride.

In essence this has become a rest week...but I am trying to guage what I can do from a base fitness standpoint and still be a functioning human.  So this week had several easy days with harder days in between.  I feel good and am recovering no problem.  It is also giving me a bit of a mental break despite the guilt.  WKO reflects the recovery as well. 
Next week I am going add in some very easy workouts on M, W, F just to see how my body handles it and how WKO reflects the difference.  That way I can get a better guage on how I am recovering in general. 

I already know what too difficult is, now I need to get a feel for what too easy is.  Then I can figure out what just right is.  I just know wnen WKO puts me in the -30 range, I'm pretty wasted.  If nothing else I think my Mondays need to be easier, my Wednesday will depend on how hard my Tuesday interval ride is, and Friday is usually an easy day to prep for the weekend which is typically hard.  Realistically I need to determine what to do on Monday and Wednesday afternoon.  Doing an easy ride/run is too much unless I really keep the power waaaaay down.  But that is important.  If my plan calls for an easier ride I do a zone 3 ride, I won't recover.  So I have to keep myself in check.

Like always I want to do more than I am able to or should do.  I need to find the appropriate level of training for my current fitness and build from there.  Jumping into high volume high intensity training is a recipe for injury, burnout, or both.  15 hours with intensity is too much.  My training plan may call for that, but if I never hit it, then the plan was useless.  I need to figure out what I can maintain for longer periods of time as that consistency is what will build my fitness.

From a training perspective it has been an interesting race season.  I really feel like my training has been all over the place.  During the off season I was very focused, the racing really threw that off.  I have some time before Myrtle Beach, I need to get refocused...and then I need to take about a month off of serious training.