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.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Decisions Decisions

Interesting news.
I was swimming last saturday.  1.5 hour masters swim, great workout.  After we were finished and sitting in the hot tub I was speaking with Correen a coach at the WAC and she started talking about long course nationals and how she had qualified and was going to Myrtle Beach for Halfmax in October.  I mentioned I hadn't qualified and was going to Alabama (cue banjos stage left). 

Apparently the qualification standards for the long course event are different.  I had no idea.  It is a time qualifier as opposed to placing in the top 10% which I had missed by a few spots.  So I looked and the qualification standard was a 5:05 for my age group.  At Racine I did 4:53 and therefore qualified.

I spoke with Aimee about it and we're pretty sure we're going to go to Myrtle Beach and I'll do the long course race.  There are several reasons.....first its Myrtle Beach and not Alabama.  That much is obvious.
Second, the half iron distance is more appealing to me at this point.  I had a lot of fun at Racine and did really well for me.  While I enjoy the OLY distance, I just don't have the top end speed to really compete at that distance. 
Lastly, in the off chance that I do really well and qualify for the ITU World Championships, the long course event is in Vegas for 2011.  The Oly World championships are in Bejing.  I think I know where I'd rather go.

Moving on...I am happy to get into a rythm with my training again.
For the last two weeks I've gotten in 4 solid swims per week.  Minimum yardage has been 2600 yards on a short day.  Otherwise I'm up over 3,000 on weekday mornings and near 4500 on Saturday.  From a speed standpoint I can already see the difference.  In my last blog I mentioned too much racing, and I really suspect that was the problem.  My training had really suffered.  On Wednesday this week, after some solid training days last week I did my swim test - 10x100 w/10s rest.  I finished with a 13:02 which is a 1:09 average. 

My biking has been okay.  I am still struggling from a training plan perspective due to my run focus.  So while I'd love to get in 4 swims, 6 runs, and 4-5 rides, that's just not realistic at this point.  Especially when i watch the impact on WKO.  I simply can't recover.  So for the last two weeks my bike volume has really suffered with only 3 rides.  However I made up for it with a Killer trainer ride on sunday.  I did the TimeTrialPalooza DVD and made sure I was aero for the entire ride.  I wanted to make sure my new fit really took hold, and I wanted to guage my power while aero.  I have not done an FTP test in a while, that will be in about 10 days.

Anyway, I started off the 20 minute set at 290.  I wasn't really sure where to start aero, but 290 is just a hair below what I've done in Oly races.  I held that without any trouble.  For the 15 minute set I held 300 watts.  I was happy with that as I had struggled to hold 300w in the past.  For the 10 minute set I was a little over 305 and for the final 5 minute set I held around 315.  Overall I was really happy.  Next time I'll try to bump my first couple sets by 5 watts.  Based on how I felt I should be able to handle that.

My running has come around a bit as well.  I've been more focused on running than biking the last two weeks, so the volume has been pretty good.  Unfortunately due to the overzealous nature of my training plan I did miss a run or two...but I need to re-arrange my weekday workouts.  I also need to make sure my recovery workouts are done at a recovery pace. 
On a training note, I hit a milestone yesterday in training.  It was a beautiful day, a touch under 80 degrees and lower humidity than normal.  I went out to do a long run and decided I wanted it to be a harder long run and set out to break 1:45 for a 13.1 mile run.  My first mile was a bit slower and I was worried off the bat, 8:11.  But my 2nd mile was 7:48 and made up for it.  After that every mile was between 7:57 and 8:02 with the final mile being a 7:35.  I finished with an average pace of 7:58.

Last weekend I rode with my buddy Brian.  We didn't go real hard, and I felt completely wasted from the start.  But I ended up riding a little over 70 miles at 250 watts.  I had no power on any hills all day.  I think I was a bit worn down from the day prior when I did a really tough interval run on the treadmill.  I hadn't run on the treadmill in months and forgot how tough an interval run can be.
My biggest problem was forgetting my nutrition while riding with friends again.  I took in 2 fewer water bottles and 200 fewer calories despite a longer ride.  I could feel the difference immediately as I started running after the ride.  It is critical for me to drink about of 2 full water bottle per hour.  Racine was a perfect example.  I took in 4 water bottles plus my nutrition liquids.  Thats 5.5 bottles in 2:30, about perfect and my run went great as a result.

This weekend I plan to do another long rind and a 30 minute easy run.  The following weekend is more of a rest weekend.  I think I am going to do a hard race simulation.  So I'll do a 60-65 mile ride, ideally closer to 260-270 watts followed by a hard 1 hour run.  The goal is to see if I can run well after pushing those watts on the bike.  I held back at Racine and stayed with about 250 watts due to a lack in confidence.  I'd like to know what my fitness will truly allow for prior to race day.  Should be fun.

At this point I have zero races until nationals.  I think I am going to keep it that way as I am enjoying consistent training and diet again.  I'm down to 197lbs and hope to be a bit under 190 on race day.