Pretend Ironman Training

Caution: Don’t read this post if you don’t want to know what I did in the shower.

Yesterday I actually rode my bike. Outside. On a real road. While riding I made a couple of observations. One, riding outside on the road is different than riding in the garage on the trainer. And two, my neck gets just as tired as my legs.

We had great weather Saturday and I would’ve lost my USAT card had I not gone out for a ride. I did 30 miles on Highway 54. Hwy 53 is a little hilly and there was a decent cross wind, the kind that makes you swerve when the gusts hit you. Also, for whatever reason, Hwy 54 is always littered with dead armadillos, and they stink something fierce.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 7.49.49 PMThe above is the elevation chart but I’m pretty sure each of those points represents a dead armadillo.

I wore my racing kit, because, you know, train how you race. It has two small pockets in the back. I put my iPhone in a sealed baggie, then into one of the pockets. I had a Power Bar in a baggie in the other pocket. The latter was a bad idea. It got all melty and when I pulled it out to eat it literally looked like a turd.

When I got home I got into the shower, racing kit and all. So, I’m getting all showered off, washing my hair, my bod, and all that, and then I take off my kit and start rinsing it out and I feel something rectangular and hard and for a split second I’m like, “What in the world?” but then I remember. My beloved iPhone! Crap! Well, long story short I’m singing the praises of Wal-Mart store brand sandwich bags. The iPhone was dry and in perfect working order.

As for my second observation, I heard once that the guys who do the Race Across America, at least the solo riders, are known to stretch duct tape from their helmets to their backs to help hold their heads up. I think that’s what I need. I just want to hang my head down and look at my top tube, but I’m sure if I did I’d run over an armadillo. I’m going to look for some solutions to the sore neck and back. It may be a bike fitting, but it may just be more training.

I was dissappointed in how I rode. I only averaged 15.9 MPH. My goal for Louisville is 17 MPH over the 112 mile course. So, yeah, I have more work to do. I was encouraged though today when I ran. I did 5 miles and on the treadmill and my legs felt fine, but I’m pretty sure running outside is different from running in the TV room on a treadmill.

Well, I’ll get back to posting my workouts soon since that went over so well last time. I had up to 2 people who thought about posting a comment, probably.

Posted in Cycling, Health and Fitness, Ironman, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Is All this Necessary?

It’s counterintuitive, at least to me, that it’s easier to get ready for a swim at the pool than to leave out my door for a run or a ride. Going over to the pool seems like it should be a big hassle, but in reality all I need is my $10 stopwatch, goggles, and a towel. Yesterday when I went to run, besides my clothes, I needed to gather:

  • Sunglasses
  • Headphones
  • iPod Nano
  • Garmin Forerunner 305
  • Heart rate monitor strap
  • Garmin Vivofit
  • Road ID
  • Pepper spray

The weather is just starting to break, so all winter I also had to round up my watch cap and gloves in addition to the above. Going riding isn’t any better because aside from everything I just mentioned I need a bike helmet, and a bike.

But when I stop and think about it, I don’t really need any of that stuff just to go for a run. Or do I?

  • Sunglasses-It’s easier to look cool when you’re wearing sunglasses, plus they block all of those deadly UV rays.
  • Headphones-It’s nearly impossible to get the sound from your Nano into your ears while running without headphones.
  • iPod Nano-The thoughts in my head are monotonous and boring, which leads to a boring run. The music or podcasts make each step a little more interesting.
  • Garmin Forerunner 305-It tells me how far I went, how long it took, etc. This helps confirm how pitifully slow I am.
  • Heart rate monitor strap-Wearing this is easier than running down the street with my fingers press to my carotid artery.
  • Garmin Vivofit-OK, this may not be that necessary, but I wear it to monitor my daily activity and I hate the idea of leaving something out.
  • Road ID-So my wife will know for sure it’s me when they find my bloated body in a ditch three days after I left for a short run.
  • Pepper spray-I’ve been bit, by a dog. I hope to avoid that in the future.

Seriously, though, the data my Garmin Forerunner gives me is the most important (now if I’d just use it). Without the data how would I ever know if I were getting better. If I just wanted to go jogging with no real goals in mind, then sure, I could do without it.

Some may argue the Road ID is absolutely necessary. I don’t disagree just because of the “what if” factor. I wish that Garmin would incorporate some kind of Road ID-like badge into their devices. Doesn’t it make perfect sense? Are you listening Garmin? That’s a free one. Give us a way to attach a badge to our GPS device straps that gives the same info provided on a Road ID.

Dogs. I’ve been bit, by a dog. So pepper spray makes me feel a little better, though there’s nothing like speed work when you got a dog chasing you intent on taking some flesh.

Nano, iPod. You can’t wear headphones at triathlon races, so I should really train without them, but man, the sound of your steps and your breathing just gets so monotonous after a while.

So, if I had to pick two things to do without I guess I’d pick the sunglasses and the Vivofit. But I’m already carrying all that other stuff so might as well grab them as well.

If there is anything I didn’t mention that I should carry with me, please let me know.

 

Posted in Health and Fitness, iPod, Running, Swimming, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Faster – A Book Review

Faster – Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed, by Jim Gourley, Kindle Edition

I finished the above book about a week ago. I don’t normally write book reviews because I don’t know how, but I thought I’d look at this book because it’s so practical. I really think that this is the second book to read for anyone who is starting to take triathlon seriously and wants to do reasonably well in the three or four races they sign up for this year. The first book would probably be more training specific, but I haven’t read that one perfect book yet.

In Faster Jim Gourley explains the physics of swimming, biking, and running. I know you’re thinking that he just made one of the top 100 exciting endurance sports in the world more boring, but he actually explains the physics in a thoroughly engaging and accessible manner. Yes, there are formulas, but you don’t have to understand them to understand the concepts because Gourley takes time to explain what he’s talking about.

If you are already a physicist of some kind, and have been competing in triathlons for a while, you may not actually learn anything new. If you are not a physicist, then you’ll certainly pick up some important lessons before going out and outfitting your bike with all of the lightest (most expensive) components in hopes of improving your bike split. For instance, when you read the book, you may be surprised to learn what little difference those expensive light-weight components make in terms of saving watts on a climb, but I’ll leave it to Gourley to explain.

Gourley spends a lot of time on the bike, after all, as he points out, the bike is 50% of any triathlon, but he doesn’t neglect the swim and the run. He explains why those swimming speed suits won’t really work for you, and why light-weight running clothes or the top of the line running shoes won’t actually improve your time. But it’s not just about what you wear, it’s how you move through the medium (water and air).

As I mentioned, this is not a book about training for a triathlon, but he does make a number of practical recommendations for racing faster. I’ll give one tid bit away here. He says one of the most overlooked sources of cheap speed on the bike is the tires, and he’s not talking about the weight, he’s referring to the rolling resistance. Overall, though, as he explains, the number one piece of equipment you can get for your bike to improve your bike split is a power meter (I hope to get one some day).

Even if you feel you have a good handle on draft, drag, aerodynamics, mass, force, velocity, etc., you’ll appreciate how Gourley explains their effects on triathlon racing, and it may keep you from going down some expensive rabbit trails on your way to a faster race. The book is not long. You can probably read it in one or two setting, so don’t think it’s a physics text book. Jim Gourley writes at a very practical level, insterting plenty of togue in cheek humor along the way, so you won’t have any trouble getting through this book. You can read more about Jim Gourley here.

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This Week

There’s no way to do this without it being boring, so try to stay awake if you choose to read how my workouts went this week. I do think, however, that I was inspired to work just a little harder knowing that I’d post it here. But, please know, I do not expect anyone to be impressed. Please. I read other blogs and I see the times and miles others post, so I know there is nothing awe inspiring here.

For the last several weeks I’ve settled into a routine that works for me really well. Monday is a rest day. Tuesday I swim in the morning and bench press in the evening. Wednesday I ride the trainer in the morning and squat in the evening. Thursday I run in the morning and do chin ups and push presses in the evening. Friday is another rest day. On Saturday I’ll try to get in a bike ride and a run or something else that is time consuming. On Sunday I try to get in a longer run (but as you can see below, I flip flopped my Saturday and Sunday). 

Those weekday morning workouts are short and sweet because I need to get back to the house and help get the kids out of the house for school and get myself ready for work. It won’t necessarily be reflected below, but based on what I’m reading and hearing these days these short workouts can still be beneficial if the intensity is high enough. So that is my aim from here on out is to make sure the intensity is high enough, either a faster pace than what I expect to do in a longer race or keeping my heart rate up in the fourth and fifth zones.

Without any further ado, here is how my week went:

Tuesday, 3/25/14.

  • Swim, 1000 yards @ 2:16/100 yards pace (I know, I swim like a sponge. More on that another time.)
  • Bench press, warm up, then 3 sets of 5 at 125 lbs, 2 more sets at the same weight but reps of 3 and then 2. (My goal with any weight is 5 sets of 5.)

Wednesday, 3/26/14

  • Bike, trainer. 10.91 miles, 40 minutes. Average speed of 16.4, average heart rate at 141. (I have a hard time getting my heart rate up on the trainer/bike. I’ll pedal like a mad man and still can’t get it up to where I am when I run, yet my legs are smoked and can’t go any harder. What’s up with that?)
  • Squat, 2 sets of 5 at 105 lbs, then 1 set of 5 at 145 lbs. (I was lazy this day with the squats because I actually waited to ride after I got home from work and then squatted immediately after.)

Thursday, 3/27/14

  • Run, treadmill, 35 minutes. I’d like to say how high my heart rate got and how far I ran, but I forgot to hit start on my Garmin (to record my heart rate) and didn’t look at the distance before I turned off the treadmill. We just got the treadmill about a week ago so I’m still not used to using it. It was a pretty good run, though.
  • Push Press. 5 sets at 80 lbs, with reps of 5, 4, 2, 1, and 1.
  • Chin ups. 5 sets of 5.

Saturday, 3/29/14

  • Run, outside, 9.79 miles. I basically ran 3 5Ks. My overall pace was 7:53. My goal was to keep the first 5K at 8 minutes, the second at 7:30, and then see what I could do on the third. The first was at 8:01, the second at 7:38, and the third at 7:41. Average heart rate, 160. Overall time was 1:17:06, which included a couple of jogs to my house where I left water. Not bad for me.

Sunday, 3/30/14

  • Bike. Rode in and around our small town. 20.82 miles, average speed 16.1, finished in 1:17:29. Quite windy today. If you want to know what it’s like riding around town on your aero bars just ride with your hands behind your back. They should put brakes on aero bars (maybe someone does, I don’t know).
  • Squat. Warm up then 5 sets of 10 at 70 lbs. (I like to do this lighter set after I ride or run on Sundays.)

So there you have it. I hope to post some better times next week. As my Saturdays get more free, after school is out and soccer is over, I’ll insert some long rides, so that should be fun.

 

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Plans for the Year

It’s apparent I need to get busy. 

I have the KC Triathlon in May.

Ironman Louisville in August.

The KC Marathon in October.

I hope to do another race in July but I’m still working on the schedule.

I’m not worried too much about the KC Tri. It’ll be tough, but it’s just an olympic distance race and that seems like a warm up when you have an Iroman race on the schedule. I am concerned about the Ironman race in August. That date is looming larger and larger. The training worries me in that I hope I’m doing the right things at the right time, but there are also a lot of logistics to work out, like hydration and nutrition throughout the race. The KC Marathon, however, seems like a fun way to end the season. Having completed it already this last year there is less anxiety about how I’ll perform. Besides, I figure if I get through Louisville in August the marathon ought to be a cake walk! Right?

To hold me a little more accountable and to challenge me more I plan to post some of my training stats here throughout the year. I don’t know yet what format that will take but perhaps if I put them out here for all the world to see (because up to two or three people may read one of these posts) I’ll strive to post better and more impressive numbers which will do nothing but help me in my races.

So, for the first stats of the year: 42 years old, male, 71.5″, 154.5 lbs.

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I’m a Big Ol’ Hypocrite

Earlier today I heard about this story. It explains how a football little league in Texas will no longer give out participant trophies. Only the winners will get trophies.

It’s about time! Why should kids get a trophy for simply participating? Is that how life is? Simply show and get a prize? I don’t think so. Trophies are earned. They’re earned by triumphing over our opponents, by outlasting, outplaying, and outsmarting each and every team we come up against. Only the victors deserve a trophy, not the losers!

What’s that, you say? Oh, this big ol’ finisher medal around my neck. Did I win? Well, no, but I finished, you know, I participated.

I’ve got a number of medals in my bag, and not one of them was earned in the sense I stood on the podium, but dog gone it if I didn’t accept them anyways. What’s that say about me?

This medal I’m wearing below from the KC Marathon is the most impressive medal I’ve received yet. It actually has some heft to it. I came in about the middle of the pack at that race. I’d like to think they gave one that weighs a little bit less to the guy who came in last.

IMG_1258

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Trying to Justify My Heavy Bike

When I grew up, in my house, if you needed something you went out and bought the cheapest (least expensive). We certainly gave no thought to aesthetics and very little to quality. If and when it broke, however, we didn’t throw it out because you never knew when you might need it, even in its broken condition.

I’m a grown up now, responsible for buying my own tools, computers, furniture, etc., and I hate settling for the cheapest example I can find. I don’t trust the quality. I want to know that I’ll be able to use the whatever it is for a good long time. But there is a trait I carried with me from my upbringing; I still don’t like actually spending the money.

When it came time to replace my bike last year I knew I could spend more than what my first car cost and get a very fine bicycle and be quite pleased with it. The cheapskate in me, however, argued against an expensive bike asking, is it really worth it? I decided that it was not and bought a bike you have never heard of for $579.00. (My parents would choke to think anyone would ever spend that much on a bike, but you cyclists know you can’t buy “good” wheels for that.)

The bike weighs in at 22 pounds, so that’s over $26 a pound. The lighter the bike the more you spend per pound, because apparently the more material you actually don’t use the more you have to charge for the bicycle. I could, for instance, buy a 17-18 pound bike for $1500-$2000 or more.

In order to minimize the psychological impact all those extra pounds on my bike would have on my performance I took to the internet to find out what I really already knew: The difference is negligible.

Since I’m not intelligent enough to get all sciencey, read this posted by a fellow named Jim Gourley.

There are scads of other articles out there that also say for us amateurs the best thing we can do to go faster is to train better. So, until I can admit that there is not one more thing I can do conditioning wise, I’ll stick with the anchor I’m riding now. I always assume this is what pushes the pros into trying EPO and growth hormones. If you can’t train any harder and your bike is over the top light and aero, what else is there to do to gain an edge?

Besides, I can’t ride a bike that’s too precious. I predominately ride on a railway converted to a bike trail, the Katy Trail. It stretches from my town, Clinton, MO, on the western side of the state, all the way over to St. Louis. The surface is fine gravel, with the occasional rut and other actual gravel drives and roadways that cross the trail. I’d be too worried about breaking something or getting all of that dust up on some part it’s not supposed to be in.

Will I ever move up to a lighter bike? We’ll see, but for now I’m content. I rode this one at Ironman 70.3 Branson and lived. If it fails me at Ironman Louisville then I’ll think about splurging on less weight.

Gavin Bicycle

Gavin Bicycle

Posted in Cycling, Health and Fitness, Ironman, triathlon | 2 Comments