Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Turning and burning

S - 17700 yards (05:15:00, 19%)
B - 294.9 miles (16:37:55, 60%)
R - 47.5 miles (05:45:20, 21%)

Total - 27.64 hours

This week I ascended Mt Lemmon two times (partially both times), firstly by myself for some interval work then secondly with coach Brian for some threshold/tempo efforts

In another ride, I realized the great thing about a grid system layout for a city: it makes it super easy to get places as long as you have landmarks and a general idea of where you are going.  For example, in one ride I wanted to find "A" hill (it's a big hill with an A painted on the top/side on the rocks, for University of Arizona), which Brian and I had ridden earlier in the week.  It's about a 6-9 minute climb depending on how hard you want to work and I wanted to take a picture of the city from the top.  As I was finishing a ride I picked out the hill in the distance and gradually started making my way towards it, turning on some streets and staying straight on others (pretty slick on my part).  I eventually got to the base, climbed at VO2 effort level for a bit before snapping this sweet panoramic shot for all my readers...
This was for you.
I got in two 90 minute + long runs, lots of sleep, and some good swimming.  That pretty much sums up my training week.  Starting on Sunday I got a ride from Brian over to the Westward Look Resort to meet up with Cid and attend two days of informational meetings put on by Cervelo.  Yes, I saw the P5.  Yes, I put my hands on it.  Yes, I rode it.

But that's for next week's blog...

Before heading over on Sunday, however, Brian and I did a nice 2 hour recovery ride on the River Path bike path.  To be able to ride for 2 hours with maybe 1% being on city streets is pretty awesome, especially when the views are like this.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekly recap # who knows

S - 17000 yards
B - 262 miles
R - 51.3 miles

Time - 26.87 hours

This week involved 2 ascents of Mt Lemmon (only 1 of which was successful), 7 days of bike riding, the first true enjoyment of swims, some ups and downs (literally and figuratively) and a lot of awesomeness.

This was my seventh week of good, consistent volume so far this year.  I'm not especially fast but I am very strong and very durable.  Meaning that if you and I are out on a four hour ride I will blow you up the last 60-90 minutes if I want to ;)

I'm still in Arizona, although these next weeks will see me staying with Brian who has generously offered a "homestay" for the remained of my train-cation.  This coming weekend will be a slight departure from normal training on Sunday to attend Cervelo's Brainbike from Sunday PM through Tuesday PM where the dealers will get to learn firsthand from the engineers the philosophies and technical details that go into building Cervelos (more specifically, the ridiculously awesome P5).  I can't wait to see one in person.  Anyway, I'm not feeling very interesting at the moment so this post will remain pretty boring.

I could go into detail about how much amazing stuff Moose and I did; I could post a bunch of awesome pictures but I don't really want to make anyone jealous.  I'll leave you with a couple of videos instead.  The first is a brief clip of our first attempt up Mt Lemmon, the second is cresting the "peak" on Mccain Loop Rd and looking down into the valley.  The videos are both shaky; I apologize.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lance and triathlon

By virtue of being the most recognized professional cyclist of our time (but mainly by virtue of carrying a professional UCI license for the USA) Lance was granted an elite card by USA Triathlon to compete in their sanctioned races in their professional fields.  This day has been long in the making and many a forum has been abuzz over all aspects of his training, his life, his past, his future, his kids, his ball, etc.  You name it; it's been discussed with regard to Lance.

Sure, all the naysayers like to point to various things and say "That's PROOF that he doped" and all that jazz but the fact is that currently, he is not under investigation and he has not been convicted of any violation.  Under United States law, he is innocent.  I'd personally like to believe that Lance has never and will never use performance enhancing drugs but given the prevalence of drugs on the professional peloton I'm not sure I can really believe it.  It's kind of like saying I believe in Santa Claus; despite the vast amount of "evidence" against his existence I really WANT to believe he exists.  The reality of the situation might indicate otherwise, however.

Still, all that being said, Lance has (in my opinion) practically transcended sport.  Livestrong does so much for raising cancer awareness and helping in ongoing issues like survivorship that I almost feel like even if he did in some ways he has made up for it.  He's created a platform based off his success as an athlete and as a cancer survivor and I'm not sure anyone can really take that away from him.  I certainly don't want to.

Lance was a professional triathlete before he became a professional cyclist.  He was, in fact, a VERY GOOD triathlete.  Despite not swimming (that we know of) for ~20 years he jumped back in the pool and we all discovered that hey, he's a damn good swimmer as well!  His running has always been the question mark.  He's become a beefier guy than when he was a cyclist and as Chris Lieto and others (Norman Stadler, Bjorn and Sindballe come to mind first) have proven that it's tough to win even if you come off the bike first and you're not a "natural" runner.

This past weekend at Panama 70.3 the triathlon community was on the edge of their respective seats for Lance's debut at the half ironman (and re-debut at triathlon).  By now, without going too far into details, we're all well aware of his competitiveness in triathlon.  The dude is a stud.

A lot of people are probably wondering what the hell the pro triathletes are doing that this 40 year old retired cyclist can come in and put a whooping on most of them at THEIR sport.  I think that it actually shows off how RIDICULOUS of an athlete Lance is.  It also is worth mentioning that he has so many advisors, coaches, assistants, helpers, etc that the training aspect is probably "easy."  He doesn't have to worry about sponsorships, travel, wheel use, bike, etc.  That's all accounted for.  He trains.  He advocates. He travels. He races.  He does awesome.

Lance is the reason I love cycling.  Period.  Well, that and the fact that it's TOTALLY AWESOME.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Arizona bound!

S - 16,100 yards
B - 260.4 miles
R - 45.7 miles

Time - 24.37 hours

Despite feeling sort of all over the map this week I managed to come out the rear end with a pretty strong showing.  Run miles were down a good bit but I also had 2 days of no running, which is something that hasn't happened in over four weeks.  This whole week I was really just excited to be going to Tucson on Friday morning so it was all basically leading up to that!

I arrived in Tucson on Friday afternoon, excited to meet Moose at the airport and later meet Brian for the first time (despite having been in "an open relationship" for over a year...I mean coaching relationship).  Funny story: when Moose and I went to swim at this pool that afternoon
I quickly realized that I had left my suit at home.  This left me with three options:

1) Swim in the way too big and way too saggy speedo in the lost and found.  Trust me, nobody would have liked that.
2) Swim in the shorts that I wore to the pool (baggy, "athletic" shorts with big ol' pockets)
3) Not swim

I tried option 1 and decided it was a bad idea then temporarily contemplated option 3 before deciding I'd feel better about myself if I went through door number 2.  So I did a pretty meager swim (although my arms were toast due to the incredible drag the shorts produced) and had only boxers and a towel to wear out of the pool.  Moose and I drove to Brian's house to meet up with him and his girlfriend for dinner and I knocked on the door, which was answered by Brian wearing a towel having just gotten out of the shower.  Too funny.  Maybe he'd prefer it if I didn't tell that story but oh well, worth it.

I'll finish the main part of this blog by saying that beginning in the first week of March I'll be trying to fill in for Bob's shoes at Inside Out Sports in Charlotte.  He's heading off on another adventure and it seemed like a really good fit for me to make a move toward a job that's more time consuming but also still flexible enough to allow me to pretend to be a good triathlete all while working at my favorite store for my favorite "brand."  Anyway, that was some big news in my life that has heretofore gone unannounced (although it's very recent).

Now for some pics!

Moose riding too hard for me

McCain Loop, a cyclists' favorite

Mountains everywhere

A cereal bar; how totally awesome?!

Kelly and Moose somewhere near the end of a road

Same, but looking back towards Tucson

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On fitting

I think the concept of saddle choice is highly underrated for triathletes.  Well, maybe it's better to say that it is under-appreciated.  Too many are fit (or choose to sit) in a position that resembles their road bike position (or what it would be on a road bike).  There is a major problem with this though: road bikes are not tri bikes.  The whole point of a triathlon bike is to establish appropriate geometry that allows your body to maintain a relaxed, powerful, aerodynamic position for the entirety of the bike leg of a race.

So you're basically working with three distinct influences in terms of your position: comfort, power, and aerodynamics.  Many see these as being mutually exclusive, or at least power and comfort both being exclusionary to aero.  Fortunately for all of us, this is not the case.  It's possible to be comfortable, powerful AND aerodynamic.  Here's a good example of a comfortable, powerful and entirely non aerodynamic position (sorry Jenny).

It's tough to see in this picture, but Jenny is sitting on the back half of her saddle.  This is mostly a comfort thing, but most people don't sit on the proper part of the tri saddle, which is the front 3-4" on the nose.  She's upright, relaxed and very powerful (her watts aren't far away from mine! sort of, watts/kg maybe) but she punches a big hole in the air.  In spite of this, her bike splits have been very good.  So what happens if you simply switch over some spacers and flip the stem?

This is a really good start to what will be an off-the-front type bike split at regional races.  Jenny (and tons of other triathletes) needs to find a saddle that allows her to sit on the front so she can rotate her pelvis forward and flatten out her lower back.  This will also then allow her to further lower and extend the front end until she resembles something more like a bullet than a snow-plow.  When I say front of the saddle I really do mean the front of the saddle.

This is from the Lowe's TT I did last year (and is also present at the top of this page) and is a good example of how forward I mean.

I'm sitting probably 1-2" more forward than I would over a longer race as I'm really struggling to put out as much power as possible.  The more power you put out the less weight you put on your "soft bits" so this is sustainable for a short-term effort.

Now, you may not be able to sit on the front part of your saddle, which means that you need to find a better one! I personally had no issues with the Arione Tri (although there were periods of discomfort in my longer races) but I've always been curious to try something like the ISM Adamo.  One thing that people do a lot with this particular saddle is sit on the wrong part (again, like it's a road saddle on a road ain't).  For example (red is bad, blue is good):
Which, in a picture of a person on a bike looks something like this:

This way, you don't end up with a massively elevated front end like this:

And end up with something more like this

Of course, if your run form is like this

You can make up for an inefficient bike position...

Monday, February 6, 2012


S - 11,600 yards
B - 213.2 miles
R - 58.9 miles

Time - 22.10 hours

I've decided that when it comes to training I can be a total b*tch.  Yea, I said it.  Sometimes I'm not afraid to admit self-weakness to myself (wait...that sounds weird), but sometimes I am.  This is not one of those times.  These past seven days represented two distinct forces warring for my training soul.  Monday through Friday contained (as far as I can remember; I could be wrong) amazing, spectacular weather.  I rode in short sleeves and bibs for the most part.  I got in tons of volume (Monday-Friday contained roughly 17 hours) and nailed one bike workout (I don't want to talk about the other one...) and even managed to get in some decent swimming at 6am on Tuesday and Thursday!

Talk about a high.  Endorphin high that is.  Then comes Saturday morning.  It's cold.  It's rainy.  In short, it's a miserable day for being outside.  Unfortunately for me, this weekend was also supposed to be a very important weekend as far as training goes.  Saturday was scheduled to contain a short-term anaerobic power test within a 3 hour ride and Sunday was an aerobic, 30 minute time trial power test within another 3 hour ride.  Long story short, neither of them happened.  To get in 17 hours during the week (what most would consider a big volume week during the summer) and only get in ~5 hours on the weekend is sad.

It was made even more sad because it was very blatantly reinforced of how big of a wuss I can be on Saturday evening.  Saturday morning Ashley, Scott, Jenny and I met at Inside Out Sports in an attempt to head out and do Spencer/Cramer (4/5 ICE Racing team members).  The only person that rode to the store was Jenny as Ashley, Scott and I all drove.  So she had already showed up the guys before we even rolled out, which is always embarrassing.  After riding for about 15 minutes I said "Guys, I don't think I can do this.  My hands and feet are already soaked and they're not going to dry off so I feel like this is a little unsafe." This wasn't really a cop out as even at ~45 degrees you stand a strong chance of developing hypothermia if you're wet.  I wasn't lying.  I was already freezing.  We turned around and rode back to the store, where Jenny RODE home and Ashley, Scott and I DROVE to Scott's house to get on the indoor bikes for a little while.

I could only manage ~1hr or so on the rollers; Scott lasted a little bit longer.  Later in the afternoon I went to swim at the Dowd (which sucked, but luckily not because I don't like swimming; that pool just sucks) before heading over to Jenny's house to help her with her bike fit.  We were going to take some video to send to Brian to get a second opinion (as a side note I would like to post some fit videos on the future to critique some common triathlete problems and mis-perceptions...but that's another week).  Before beginning, Jenny cheerfully informed me that she got in another 1.5hrs on the trainer after getting home to get in her whole workout (as written by Brian).  Needless to say, I felt like a big beyotch.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, girls are WAY tougher than guys.  In just about every way possible, they make us look like silly b*tches.

On the whole, it wasn't really that bad of a week.  While it doesn't quite compare to last week in terms of bike volume I'm still pretty consistent.  My aerobic engine is starting to feel pretty beastly these days.  I may not have a ton of top end power/pace but I can plug away at a fairly quick rate for quite a long time.  I'm certainly at a better spot than I was this time last year and it's only going to get better from this point...

This Friday I head to Tucson, which I'm exceptionally excited about.  I get to spend time with the Girl, I get to finally meet my coach (in person, despite having emailed more with him this past year than anyone else), I get to climb Mt Lemmon, be the first in my family to go to Arizona (despite being an above average traveled family, we never really went west after coming to America way back in the olden days), and I'm sure many other things that have yet to even come to mind!  I leave you with a couple of awesome songs from one of the best moves and soundtracks to hit video in 2012: Drive.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Elite: What does it mean???

Well, not a whole lot really.  It does mean my USAT membership card has some different letter on it and that my license number has changed:

For the foreseeable future, it means that I get to race in the "professional" field.  Or, if you read between the lines, it means I get to have my butt handed to me at every race with a professional field...  It means I'll be 5+ minutes back from the leaders after the swim, that I'll lose a little more time on the bike and then - to top it all off - some more time on the run! It sounds like a cup full of joy to be honest.

While that is my own personal take on "what it means" the official jargon provided by USAT states that:

Elite triathletes and duathletes, also called pros, are those who have taken the sport to the next level. Whether they compete in ITU, Ironman, XTERRA, short course duathlon, Powerman or at the Olympic distance, these competitors have dedicated a great portion of their lives to being the best that they can be. Some elites train and compete full time. Some hold part-time and full-time jobs outside of the sport, using their spare time to train. The main distinction between an elite and amateur athlete is that elite athletes have an elite license issued by USA Triathlon which enables them to compete for prize purses of $5,000 or greater at USA Triathlon sanctioned events. 

So there's really not that much that is different.  Which is probably a good thing, since I'm not all that different!  In races where there are separate professional fields I get to line up and look ridiculously out of place next to people like this:

Which isn't really intimidating at all! I also will probably be beaten at some point (or frequently) by a person of the opposite sex, maybe her:

A fact which will not, in fact, shame me.  I've read some blogs of new "pros" before and frequently they include season goals of "don't get beaten by an age grouper" (with the number of sandbaggers and ridiculously fast "amateurs" out there this is unrealistic) and "don't get chicked" (the only reason I beat Julie Dibens at NOLA this year was b/c of the lack of a swim...if only I could always be so lucky...) but I have no goals that resemble that.  I just want to race fast and learn a lot.  I got in something like 800 hours of training last year and if the last couple of weeks are any indication I'll likely top that this year which continues the multi year process of getting faster...

Anyway, that's a quick summary of what it all means.  I'm heading to Tucson shortly to spend some time with this guy and that girl and the coach and I will be able to hammer out some good chatting (and a race schedule, and actually meet for the first time haha!) while the girl and I will get to hammer out some good training and awesome hang out time.  There is some big training going on this weekend so my weekly recap on Monday will most certainly address that! So exciting...