Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 is coming. It's resolution time!

I like New Year's because people leave their Christmas lights up until after the first of the year.

I used to make what some people call resolutions. Whether it was fitness, finances, habits or relationships the moment life gave resistance to my plans my "resolutions" were thrown away. I am not the only one guilty of this. Let's review the facts.

Webster's says: Resolution is defined as: "a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something."

The root word here is resolute. Resolute sounds a bit more FIRM to me. Resolute: an adjective: "firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion; characterized by firmness and determination, as the temper, spirit, actions, etc."

So what's the point?

I would like us - as a country or world - to:

1) Not reserve the beginning of the calendar year to be the only time we become "resolute".
2) Not forget the meaning of the word resolution and be more resolute when we set goals.

I have and will deal with this phenomenon because I am human. Life DOES present real ebb and flow that must be handled. That said, I have changed quite a bit over the past year because I have been consistent and true to my resolutions. My resolutions were NOT made on New Year's 2011 ... but in March. The point is that if something is bothering you that needs to change and that change requires resolution ... do not wait until Monday or New Year's Day. Do it now.

I have more to change and much more to learn in life. I am not making any resolutions in 2012. What I am going to do is continue what I resolved in March of 2011. I hope that this continuation will show me more ways to improve.

Have a great 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A 10 day blog entry gap ... did something bad happen?

I am fine. I am thankful for the holidays, my family and my friends. The two week visit to the "motherland" of western Kentucky was good. I trained, visited, ate, trained, visited, stayed up way too late, trained in the cold Kentucky rain, ate some more and DROVE. I drove nearly 4000 miles in two weeks and 3200 of those miles were driven in four days. It is good to be home to the desert.

My hip flexors and gluts usally take a beating on those long driving days. This time around it was a bit easier ... except for dealing with a virus I contracted a couple of days before we left Kentucky. Sore throat, clogged ears and mucus. Lots of mucus. Gotta love the holidays!

I trained 9 of the 14 available training days during the trip. Of course I was not about to train on the days following the drive IN to Kentucky. But through the power of the human adaptation principle, I did manage to run 9 miles on the day after a 16 hour driving day and run at an 8 min/mile pace. All things considered, I am pleasantly surprised by this trip and the support my whole family showed me by allowing me enough time to train and not giving me too much grief about it. I left the desert weighing 192 and returned 14 days later weighing 192. Considering all that I ate - that is impressive.

I am planning on making my first assault on South Mountain over the weekend. I am going to do brick work on that hill so many times over the next four months that I am sure that I will begin to loathe it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Trained six days in a row - during a holiday visit

So I have backed off on my intensity per my coaches instructions. My body needs to learn how to utilize energy at a lower heart rate to build a stronger base of training. With this lessened intensity comes more responsibility in the diet.

I have managed to train consistently in the first week of our two week Kentucky visit. I am a little surprised. What is nice is that everyone is supporting my efforts. I have already doubled my November's total run mileage and I still have 12 days left. I am not back to the level I was at in September and October yet, but I am still pleased with how it is going.

We had a great visit with some close friends on Friday evening. Most of the people at the gathering have known one another since 1977 or so ... needless to say everybody is fairly comfortable with one another. We laughed, joked, gossiped and razzed until a new day began. We even had an opportunity to play with a 3 week old Boer Goat. He was funny!

I will take a day off tomorrow ... and then plan on hitting it hard through Friday morning.

Be good!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Back to the run

Yesterday I ran a 10 miler at a comfortable 8:25 per mile pace. This was the longest run I have finished since the SOMA 70.3. The good news is that this leisurely pace was still better than my SOMA race pace. Granted, I had not done two other sports prior to this particular run, but this was a stronger pace than most of my training runs prior to the SOMA goodness. The run is sort of rolling, but not bad. My only complaint about my home town course is that the road slope is very noticeable.

After the run and a few more hours of work ... both web design work and teaching duties, Carrie and I went to the gym to lift some weights and swim. I no longer dread swimming. I actually somewhat enjoy it. I slept like a log last night too - which is good considering I have been fighting the sinus monster again this week.

I have an interesting swim to do today - 1800 meters of drills, including 17 reps of 50 meter sprints. I look forward to it. I will probably spin a bit too if I can locate a spin bike at the temporary gym.

I have talked with two local western KY Ironman 2011 finishers this week. One was a Louisville finisher and the other was Florida. I will talk with a third tonight (also Louisville) at a gathering of friends. It is so great to hear the stories of their accomplishment. They keep echoing the same scene that is in my mental imagery ... the moment of crossing the finish line.

The holidays are an interesting time for sure. It is interesting being in town but still having to work during the day. It is what it is. Train hard and behave during the holidays. You can bet I will be doing the same.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday visit - with a twist

Time slipped away on the blog for the last few days. Busy. I am finally getting back into a groove with the training. It makes it interesting to have work, train and visit while not in my own house. I am not that organized at home - yet ... but training out of bags and suitcases makes things interesting. Hats off to the triathlon pros in the world that travel and train like this constantly.

So I have a new task for myself when we arrive back in Phoenix. I am going to super-organize my gear room. Not just triathlon gear, but all of our gear.

The change in climate has really messed with my sinuses. It seems my immunity is always teetering on the brink nowadays. I took an extra day off from training to recover from two days of driving and a nagging sore throat. I went out last night for a very nice and comfortable 5 mile run at an 8 minute pace. It felt good.

This morning I woke up at Oh Dark Thirty and headed out for the pool in Murray for an 1800m swim workout. I like that pool. It seems faster and the water seems to cooperate a little more.

I have scouted out a new bike route that I want to try here. I may do that this afternoon coupled with a shorter higher-paced run.

Happy Holidays. More later.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lactate Threshold Test #3 - The bike

I had intentions of going out early this morning to get this workout done. I had two or three big work items to complete and they were of the type that timing mattered ... so I had to wait until I completed those prior to taking off. I think it helped me. It had warmed up to about 48 degrees by the time I left for the warmup ride.

During the test, I went really hard. My heart rate monitor was screaming at me. "Heart rate too high" it kept flashing and beeping. I just kept working. 30 minutes later I had ridden 11.89 miles for an average of 23.6 miles per hour. This loop I rode was "flat" in total, but there was a rise and fall at the back of the loop that caused my speed to fluctuate quite a bit. I rode between 22 and 25 fairly consistently. I felt a bit pukish after the test. I guess that means I went hard.

So now I know my zones for training at distance. This is a big shift for me. Most of my training has been at a much higher heart rate. The idea of riding or running at my L1 heart rate zones just seems boring. I, however, being a newbie, need to stick to the plan until the plan fails me.

Holidays are upon us ... time to train harder and have some family fun too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lactate Threshold Test #2 - Run

Yes it was a bit chilly this morning. Chilly is relative ... but 30 degrees in the desert is pretty darn cool.

Back in the summer I found this middle school with a packed gravel 400m track. It is sort of tucked away - and that makes it all the more useful. I trained there one morning in June just to test its feasibility for future endeavors. This morning was the first of those endeavors.

I ran two warmup laps. All systems felt fine and I needed to generate some heat so I took off. Lap 1 - 89 seconds. Hmmmm - I wanted faster than that. I am no Michael Johnson (who has done a 42 second 400m in a relay race), but I think I can do much better than this in the future. Of course, I did know going into lap 1 that I had to do 19 more laps after that one, so I may have been my own enemy on that one. Nonetheless, the point of LT Tests is that you go all out.

The good news is that I went as hard as I could go on each of the 20 laps this morning. I ended up with a 21:36 for the 3.10 miles. My average speed was 8.6 mph. That's a 6:58 per mile pace. I am fairly content with that number considering A) There were no rabbits to chase and B) I had to drop off my run training a bit last month due to all the biking I needed to do to prepare for the Tucson and St George rides.

I am taking the afternoon off to recover from the 8 hours of training I have already put in this week. We also need to pack for traveling home for the holidays.

Next LT test ... Friday ... the bike.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lactate Threshold Test #1 - 1000m swim

So I am doing my Lactate Threshold testing this week.

What the heck is that?

The lactate threshold (LT) is the exercise intensity at which lactate (more specifically, lactic acid) starts to accumulate in the blood stream. The reason for the acidification of the blood at high exercise intensities is two-fold: the high rates of ATP hydrolysis in the muscle release hydrogen ions, as they are co-transported out of the muscle into the blood via the MCT—monocarboxylate transporter, and also bicarbonate stores in the blood begin to be used up. This happens when lactate is produced faster than it can be removed (metabolized). This point is sometimes referred to as the anaerobic threshold (AT), or the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA). When exercising below the LT intensity any lactate produced by the muscles is removed by the body without it building up. The lactate threshold is a useful measure for deciding exercise intensity for training and racing in endurance sports (e.g. long distance running, cycling, rowing, swimming and cross country skiing), but varies between individuals and can be increased with training. Interval training takes advantage of the body being able to temporarily exceed the lactate threshold, and then recover (reduce blood-lactate) while operating below the threshold and while still doing physical activity. Fartlek and interval training are similar, the main difference being the structure of the exercise. Interval training can take the form of many different types of exercise and should closely replicate the movements found in the sport.

Why is this important? It gives me the zones that I need to train in during my phased approach to Ironman.

This LT test was 1000m swim as fast as I could go. I did the 1000m in 19minutes and 02 seconds. Definitely my fastest swim ever - by a long shot. I was pretty gassed afterwards ... but managed to pull everything together and get in an hour of spin and an hour of Yoga.

Embrace the day!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

... and that's the way it was

I like race days. It's new and familiar at every start line. It's new because I get to see where my progress takes me and it's familiar because every start feels about the same for me. What is that feeling? Nervous tension or potential energy converted into a burst of freedom giving kinetic energy.

The 400m swim went pretty well. I was not at my fastest due to traffic in the pool ... but I was at my most comfortable ever at the end of a 400m pool melee. 8:55. That is a 2:13 per 100m pace which is my second fastest 100m average time to date. The thing is, I felt so strong in the water I actually wanted to swim more. Not today Bryonman. Save it for later. It is time to get on the bike.

The bike. It was cold to start. On the first lap I think I was struggling to get my breathing under control. The 55 degree misty weather felt good except on my knees and hips. I did the first 5 mile loop in about 12:30. On the second lap, things started firing. Okay, here we go. I did the second lap in about 11:55. I was showing 24:25 on my bike computer for the 10.25 miles. I have more in the tank. Lap three was even faster. On the tiny little hill that there is on the course I was RIPPING up the incline at nearly 20mph, I passed 4 cyclists just before a 90 degree right turn and started down the 33-35mph section of the course. POW! - What was that? Oh nothing just keep ... crap. I felt the WHOLE road - every little pebble because I was riding on the rim on the back tire. Well - that's it for the day. I pull off and practice a frantic but controlled tube change. A few minutes later I was back on the road. I was only about 3 miles from the run transition. I hoped my quick repair would hold. It was cool enough today that my CO2 containers were not flowing very freely so I did not get much air out of the canister. I flew down the back stretch well over 30 mph - passing the bulk of the cyclists in the area because I was no longer at the front of the pack with the faster riders. Then I start feeling shaky and unstable on the bike with each pedal stroke. It can't be! A flat on the front too ... and in a turn? Really? I slide outside the cones and into the car lane. I managed to unclip and keep the bike from going down completely. I figured I did not have another spare tube. I was wrong! I had packed two tubes for my recent assault on the Tour of Tucson and they were still in my pack! The front was a lot quicker change because I had just changed a flat - oh about 2 and a half minutes ago. I mount the bike again and pass a ton of bikes to finish up hard. 44:27 ... so I believe my two flats cost me at least 8 minutes and maybe more. Seriously, I was flying today. I felt good on the bike. I started thinking during transition how I was going to blog about this. Then I remembered that I still had to finish the race.

The run was not the best but not the worst either. The truth is that the course has quite a sustained and annoying uphill at about the midway point that lasts almost to the finish. The run was 23:23 (You are welcome Michael Jordan). That is a 7:32 pace. I admit that I did not go 100% because I knew it was a better decision to run this 5K in preparation for my next few weeks of training ... sustaining a pace at a lower heart rate.

My total time: 1:16:45. 5th place in my age group. I firmly believe I would have won the age group today and that my final time would have been down around my goal of 1:05.

I am proud of this race. I am not all that peeved about the result. I learned a ton about my ability to focus under less than ideal circumstances. I also put it in perspective ... even during the race. "Hey, Bryonman you held it together and escaped the race without injury", I said to myself on the 5K. I passed four runners that were 15 years younger than me right at the end of the race on a dead sprint.

Big training weeks ahead. The focus is now on longer distances and more controlled heart rates. I am sharpening my swords. I am ready to work.