Cycling was the main focus for the first week of Ironman Chattanooga training and it kicked me in the face.  I struggled more than I expected but I also found out that I can take all those struggles and turn them into victories.  I also learned that the plan I have put together for myself, with its sport specific weeks, proved to be successful. As many of you know I have decided to go without a coach for this next Ironman race.  I have truly enjoyed working with both Claudia and Maria but I needed to hit the reset button while also trying out something new.  In training for the Lake Martin 100 I found out that being sport specific, in terms of training, helped me greatly as I was able to become a better runner and a large part of that was being able to overcome the mental hurdles that would come up. Taking that same approach to triathlon was not easy to do.  For years I have been on the swim 3-4x, bike 3-4x, run 3-4x theory.  That plan seemed to work but in the back of my head I kept wondering if there was something else that could be done.  By changing my routine I have gone outside of the box of triathlon and will be focused on becoming a better cyclist, a better runner and a better swimmer. This past week was Bike Week 1.  My plan was to ride approximately 265 miles while running 24 (all brick runs of 4 miles) and swimming a total of 5000 yards.  I wound up finishing at 80% of my overall plan in terms of hours, but what I noticed at the end of the week was that my cycling was much better than I had expected, and that also translated to faster times running of the bike.  The swimming was nothing more than recovery and to break up the monotony therefore nothing to truly be able to gauge. The cycling wound up at 81% of overall planned time because of a late night meeting on Friday and torrential rain on Sunday that led me to only being able to get through 2 hours on the trainer before the mind decided it had enough.  The majority of the riding in this Bike Week 1 was on the trainer and while I would rather ride outdoors I need to be more efficient with my time. What came out of this week were the following two quotes while on the road with my buddies and these comments not only gave me a confidence boost but also gave me a peek into how well this particular type of training was working for me.

  • Quote 1:  Your fitness on this ride has improved dramatically from the ride we did two weeks ago.
  • Quote 2: Great job on pulling us up that hill at the end of this ride.  I was exhausted but did what I had to do to keep up with you and you did not look like you were struggling.

I cannot tell you if working on the sports instead of triathlon will prove to be the best plan but after a week it looks good.  I was asked why I decided to train this way and my comment back was that as triathletes we are so focused on getting in that number of swim, bike and runs that we lose focus on becoming better at each of the sports.  I think that by being able to focus all your energy on that one sport you will learn to become more efficient and we all know efficiency equals speed. This week is Swim Week 1 with a planned 20,000 yards of swimming over the course of approximately 8 hours.  My running miles will stay about the same, but the number of bike miles drops dramatically this week and will allow my legs to recover as they head into week 3 which is a running week with lots of miles. Can this method be successful?  Only time will tell, but after the first 7 days I feel like a stronger cyclist in comparison to Day 1 which was the main goal of the first week of Ironman Chattanooga training. [caption id="attachment_9619" align="aligncenter" width="300"]cycling - ironman - chattanooga - training 15 hours of workouts with 11 of them in the saddle.
Can sport specific training weeks make me a better triathlete?[/caption]

What Has Been Your Experience With Sport Specific Training?

Have You Done Cycling Specific Week Only In Training For An Ironman?

Published in Train
Heroes Ride is by far the best ride I have done in Texas.  The combination of the purpose of the ride combined with the scenery, the perfect roads, the weather and the company and this is a ride that will be on the calendar for the foreseeable future.  I decided to do the Heroes Ride when I realized that Karen would be out-of-town and I could get in two long rides this weekend.  I went to Bicycle Rides Of Texas and found two rides for this past weekend.  There was one in Mineral Wells that would only take me 1 hour to get to after work on Friday.  The other was the Heroes Ride which is a 3+ hour drive south, but Jeff lives in the area and as I was not able to persuade others to join me in Mineral Wells I packed my bags so that I could head to Jeff and Annie's house on Friday after work. When I got to Jeff's house it was late.  Well late for this soon to be 40-year-old.  We watched as the Cardinals kicked the Dodgers teeth in and made plans to get up around 5-5:15am, eat a quick breakfast and slurp down coffee before heading out on the 40 minute drive to Conroe.  I know Conroe rather well at this point as I have done the Great Planes ride twice as well as the fact that the Ironman Texas bike course goes through the area. When we got to the ride area it was a quick setup and realization that the weather was not what we had expected.  Standing around for a bit we could feel the wind gusting through and jumped into my Xterra to wait the 30-40 minutes before heading to the front of the ride.  After we got our bikes and made our way to the front the director of the ride began the ceremonies.  Looking around I realized that there was not a lot of people there and I had hoped that it wasn't the weather that pushed the riders away.  The idea behind the Heroes Ride is to recognize those who lost their lives protecting us.  Fire, Police and Soldiers were being honored.  The Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner made the start to the ride an experience but they were second to the fact that some of the families of those lost and recognized that morning were leading us out.  It was an incredible feeling to be a part of this. When the director got us going Jeff and I slow-pedaled as we allowed the families victims to have their moment.  After about 5 minutes he asked me if it was ok to go around them and I said I cannot see why not.  We proceeded to pass them on the left but as we passed each one we said good morning and a thank you.  Now we were into the ride and within seconds of making the second right hand turn we realized what the entire day was going to be like.  Pushing our heart rate and watts but going nowhere.  That is because this ride is full of ups and ups and ups.  Seriously I am not kidding.  In addition to that we were headed into the wind and the 5-6 mph winds we were expecting had to be gusts of up to 15-20 mph.  It made the ride tough to start out.  Jeff kept rattling off his :30 Watt numbers and every one of them was above 200 while our paces were below 18 mph.  Not a good combination. When we got to the first rest stop Jeff asked if I wanted to pull in and I said sure why not.  What I did not expect was that this was going to become a common occurrence.  When you are used to riding in 100* heat indexes you consume liquids and lots of them.  Fearing dehydration or lack of calories we drank as if we were in 100* heat but our bodies were not just converting that liquid and energy to sweat to cool off.  Instead, our bodies were saying ok enough liquids I need to get rid of these and we are going to do that through peeing.  Peeing on the bike was not an option as the wind was blowing, the temperatures were cold and so the idea of peeing on the bike was out as that would only serve to make us colder. As we left that first aid station we got out on the road and it was glorious in terms of the pavement.  The chip seal was worn down enough that it was smooth.  The asphalt that was out was perfect and the sun started coming out.  The pedaling and the wind continued and this is when Jeff and I noticed that all we were doing was heading north.  By north I am not talking about the direction but instead straight up.  The climbs were constant, but manageable.  When we got to the top of one climb Jeff decided to stop because his rear tire was making some odd noise.  As he inspected we were passed by a group of 4 riders.  Once Jeff was ready he asked if I wanted to bridge the gap.  Sure, why not.  I started pulling and went as hard as I could and then tapped out after a few minutes.  I tried to get on Jeff's wheel but it was impossible.  He caught up to the group of four and I worked my a$$ off to catch up.  After what seemed like an eternity Jeff and I hooked back up and he told me that the lead rider was riding recklessly with the surges and slow-downs.  I looked at my watch and in the course of about 10 miles we went from averaging 17.3 mph to 18.3 mph.  That tells you how fast we were moving at this point of the game. From there we chose to protect Jeff's hamstring as well as not light matches.  We pedaled and just enjoyed all that we were riding in.  I cannot stress enough how gorgeous this ride was.  Every mile was prettier than the last.  The rest stops were well stocked and had some of the friendliest volunteers.  We would know we stopped at 5 of the 6 rest stops along the route.  We used the porto-potties at each and I stocked my jersey with Clif Bars for the ride home.  I realized that when I got into my aero bars I was not quite aerodynamic because of the bulge coming out of my jersey from all the snacks. Around mile 68 you come to a bridge and it just rattles your teeth.  I yelled because it hurt and I heard Jeff laugh.  That would be the last I heard of Jeff.  I kept on riding and after about a mile I turned around and realized he was no longer with me.  Now I have a decision to make.  Stop and wait or pee on myself.  I decided to ride because he couldn't be that far behind and I needed a bathroom.  As life would have it I reached Mile 71 but this wasn't the end.  The ride kept on going and not for one or two miles but for another 5 miles.  When I got to the finish I went right through the gates and straight to the bathroom.  When I got back to my car Jeff told me that the bridge caused his tire to move and the lock on the wheel to pop open so he had to stop. After scoping out the buffet and realizing there was nothing there for a plant-eater Jeff and I said our good-byes and I headed toward home.  On I-35 I proceeded to pee another 3 times and ran into the house when I got there to pee again.  Instead of turning 40 soon I do believe I am turning 80 as that could be the only explanation at this point. In my opinion the Heroes Ride was the best of the rides I did this year and those included Great Planes Ride, 70.3 Puerto Rico, Ironman Texas, Hotter N' Hell, and Pineywoods Purgatory.  The climbing is non-stop and while MapMyRide.com says it was 1178 feet of climbing I had 1325 in the first 41.1 miles.  I found a map that has the elevation at a gain of 2,680 feet which sounds right.  This is a ride that I will be putting on the IMTN training plan as it was that much fun and added the needed climbing. [caption id="attachment_9061" align="aligncenter" width="600"]heroes ride - conroe - texas - cycling Heroes Ride is 76 miles and not 71 but that is the only mistake on this perfect ride.[/caption]  

Heroes Ride Is Worth It. Do You Have One Of Those Perfect Rides?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_8992" align="alignright" width="225"]cycling - triathlon - training - miles 100 Mile Bike Rides Are Now The Norm
Source: Cafe Press[/caption] #CycleSeptember was a personal challenge to myself to ride 650 miles in the month and they all had to be outdoors.  The reasoning behind #CycleSeptember was two-fold:
  1. My buddy Jeff rode 150 miles in one day and I thought to myself. What can you do?
  2. I want to have a big base of bike miles build into my legs so that when Ironman Chattanooga training begins I am not starting from scratch so to speak.
At the time I figured that 650 miles over 30 days would require me to average 22 miles per day or just over one hour.  Obviously, I could not ride everyday and still wanted to get in running and as much open water swimming as I could get.  The open water swims were going to start to dwindle with the change in seasons bringing in colder weather and the later the sun rose the harder it would be because of having to get to work. As I started my cycling and the miles began to pile up I realized that I could easily surpass 650 miles by just doing a bit here or there and then loading up on the weekend.  I was starting to find routes that would get me 25-28 miles which could be done in 1.5 hours and not have me struggling to get in other workouts.  The rides on the weekends consisted of one of two options:
  1. Weekends when we had the little guy I would get in 28 miles after Karen ran and the next day would be 60+ miles for as close to 100 in the weekend as possible.
  2. Weekends when we didn't have my step-son would consist of two long rides of 60+ for 120-150 miles.
The plan worked out so well that I wound up with 747 miles of cycling and of course throughout the process began to consider if I could do 800 miles in October and thus #OchoInOctober.  Of course, if I accomplish this then we are looking at #NueveInNovember.  Before we get to November let us figure out how I am going to get to 800 miles in October since they will not be all outdoors and would require time on the trainer. Using the math that 1.5 hours would net me 27.5 miles I figured I could do 1 hour before work and then 30 minutes after work.  The hour in the morning would be using videos from The Sufferfest and the evening ride would be a simple recovery ride that I could maintain a Zone 2 effort.  Using this theory I would need to do this 3 times during the week for a total of 82.5 miles.  On the weekend another 117.5 miles whether they are 60/60 or 100/20 and I would average 200 miles per week and hit that 800 mile marker in October. [caption id="attachment_8991" align="alignright" width="300"]cycling - triathlon - training - miles This Is What 4 Idiots Look Like At The End Of 124 Miles Of Cycling[/caption] Because the miles in October will be primarily on the trainer my goal is to learn to push the efforts during the early rides and work my threshold level so that I could go harder at a lower heart rate than I am currently.  With September I was able to work on my bike handling, learning cadence turnover on climbing and getting comfortable with riding in aero while climbing and turning.  All of these attributes will help me during races. With these types of numbers and time on the trainer I am looking for partners.  Which of you is willing to join me in the #OchoInOctober challenge?

What Is The Most Amount Of Miles You Have Put In Cycling In One Ride? One Week? One Month?

Published in Train
September is going to be the month of multiple challenges for me.  This past week I have travelled from Dallas to Charlotte to Wichita Falls to Tulsa and am back home for a while and during that time I had an opportunity to see my eating habits from the outside.  While it was fairly healthy there was also a very fair share of added sugar.  I also spoke with my buddy Jeff quite a bit as he embarked on what many will consider a crazy weekend.  From the moment that we raced Hotter 'N Hell Hundred Jeff set off on a 400+ mile cycling WEEK, which included 150 miles in one day.  Yes, I was inspired and so I am going to embark on three challenges this month that should jump-start me on my way to Ironman Number 4, whichever race that may be. [caption id="attachment_8882" align="alignright" width="300"]september challenge - sugar - detox Source: Healthy Pair[/caption]

September Challenge #1

Sugar Detox.  Back in June I went through a month-long sugar detox thanks to Amy and Sarah.  Their 21 Day Sugar detox was a tremendous lift for me after Ironman Texas was finished and I knew that I wasn't going to be putting in multiple daily training sessions or working as hard so I wanted to keep my diet under control. With all the traveling and eating out there was a less restrictive diet than normal and my weight and body fat percentage went in the wrong direction and now is the time to take control of that.  Going  on the sugar detox will not be difficult but when I couple it with the September Challenge #2 and #3. The sugar detox challenge is no added sugar of any kind which means reading labels.  I am also going to ban honey (my oh my!), syrup, molasses and agave.  Getting the sugar and the dependency on sugar out of my system is going to help me in terms of my fitness and allow me to also sleep like baby. [caption id="attachment_8881" align="alignright" width="180"]september challenge - eating - five ingredients - cooking Source: The Wicked Noodle[/caption]

September Challenge #2

The second September challenge I am putting together for myself is 5 Ingredient meals.  I have been toying with this idea for a while, but with the sugar detox happening I thought now would be a good time to implement this challenge as well.  The premise is simple and it is that I can only use 5 ingredients to make a meal.   Ingredients will not include water, spices, or herbs.  They will include hot sauce or sriracha so if I want a bowl of Asian inspired soup then I had better make it with 4 ingredients and pour in the sriracha or make Habanero peppers one of the ingredients. This will be a fun challenge as I will get to see how well I can combine flavors and textures while also exploring various cuisines.  I do not want to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day so really digging into my culinary imagination is going to be a key to this challenge. [caption id="attachment_8880" align="alignright" width="300"]september challenge - cycling - riding - triathlon - training Source: Nesta[/caption]

September Challenge #3

The third of the September challenge trio is going to be riding my bike 650 miles or more this month.  Based on what Jeff did in a week this should be somewhat easy to accomplish and as I am nearing 650 miles and have any time left I will change the mileage.  I chose 650 miles because it averages out to about 21-22 miles per day over 30 days or about an hour of riding per day.  What is going to make this a bit challenging is that no trainer rides can be counted for the mileage.  I have to accomplish all the miles in the great outdoors. I currently have 47.3 miles on the bike as of today (September 3rd) with 40 miles planned for Friday, 80 on Saturday and another 80 on Sunday giving me nearly 250 miles in less than a week.  Maybe I should change that number to 1000? These are the trio of September Challenges and I know that I have Amy and Sarah for motivation for the sugar detox. Maria will be monitoring the cycling through Training Peaks logs and I will be my own policeman for the 5 ingredient challenge. That begs the question:

Which September Challenge Are You Joining Me On And How Can I Help You?

Published in Race
Monday, 26 August 2013 09:04

Hotter N Hell Hundred Bicycle Race Report

Hotter N Hell Hundred and Wee-Chi-Ta race weekend was one for the ages.  I cannot recall how I became registered for these events but I can say that I am glad that I decided to race them this weekend.  As race day drew closer and closer the ideas for the times that we would be completing the bike ride in hovered around 5 hours and the run was discussed to be finished in 2 hours and 30 minutes.  What we hadn't planned on was that the Hotter N Hell Hundred actually meant temperature and not necessarily the mileage of the course. This was the endurance athletes nirvana with races on back to back days.  Actually there is a third race on Friday morning that is a mountain bike race but I will never complete the Triple because you have a better shot of me eating a steak than competing in anything involving a mountain bike.  They scare me as much as snakes so that pretty much rules that ever happening. This race report will get broken down into two days because of the fact that there was a bike race and a running race. That is me being a half-genius.

Hotter N Hell Hundred Race Report

[caption id="attachment_8840" align="alignright" width="225"]hotter n hell hundred - bike race - cycling Our Motel 6 Accommodations for the weekend[/caption] On Thursday night Jeff Irvin came to my house so that we can leave Friday morning to head to Wichita Falls, Texas.  Jeff is in the midst of Ironman Florida training so Friday morning we decided to go for a 1+ mile Open Water Swim and a 6 mile recovery run.  Once we were done with that we took showers and hit the road for the two-hour ride to the race site in Wichita Falls, Texas which is approximately a 2 hour drive from my house. As we pulled into the Motel 6 in Wichita Falls our jaws hit the floor of the car.  Jeff's exact words were:  Is this building abandoned?  From the outside, calling this anything but a sh*t hole would have been a compliment.  We checked in and the lobby actually looked quite nice.  To our surprise, after we parked in the middle of the grass of the hotel, the room was actually very modern.  It turns out that this Motel 6 is under going renovations and so we happened to catch them in the early phase of this renovation. At the expo we picked up our packets for both the Century Ride and Trail Race.  The lines moved fast and the expo was quite expansive.  It makes the Ironman expo look like a race expo for a 5k, but that is to be expected with nearly 15,000 riders participating in the ride.  We hooked up with Bob Shuler, the One Hour Ironman and headed off to dinner.  After eating it was early to bed and early to rise since we paid for the event breakfast which started at 5pm. The alarm went off, we headed to breakfast and then mounted our rides for what would turn out to be the hardest bike ride I have ever done.  There were some jitters at first as I questioned whether or not I could hold a 20 mph average for 100 miles considering I haven't ridden more than 72 miles since Ironman Texas ended and while I have been training it has not been structured and has not had any particular goal in mine.  The cannon sounded, literally, and we were off.  Within a few minutes I could tell something was off as my bike was rattling but I was holding a 22 mph average so I just rolled with it. As I was riding next to another racer he mentioned that my bike sounded weird and when I went to switch into the big ring nothing happened.  Ruh-Roh Raggy!  I rode for a bit longer and then pulled over.  I fiddled with it and put the chain on the big ring.  Spun the pedals and right back into the small ring.  This was going to be a very long day.  I had already lost Jeff, Bob and 2 of Jeff's friends so I would be going at this alone.  Our plan was to meet at the third aid station which was mile 31.  I got there averaging just under 22 mph and felt pretty good.  I went to the bike mechanic but the line was long and he was working on cables.  I jumped back onto the road and figured I would go until Hell's Gate at Mile 60. It was around the 50 mile marker that I could start the feel the heat and with my bike in the small chain ring I was probably doing 100+ RPMs making me work harder to maintain a decent speed.  The course if filled with rollers and tons of chip seal.  It was sapping my energy but I kept telling myself to get to Hell's Gate.  I reached Hell's Gate and this kid was talking to me but I was staring at him blankly.  He must have repeated himself 4 times before I realized he was holding another bike and was asking if he could hold mine.  I gladly gave it to him then went on a banana and orange search along with looking for the porto-john hoping to be able to pee.  At this point of the ride, and being three hours in, I should have pee'd at least twice on the bike but I never had the urge. Sure sign dehydration was setting in.  Once my business was taken care of, I re-filled my water bottles and hit the road again.  I noticed that the salt line on my shorts had gone from crotch level at mile 35 to mid-quad level at Mile 60 and now the work was going to begin.  Staying hydrated as much as possible would be my biggest goal. I told myself when I started pedaling that I only had two hours left. Put your head down and work.  Just pedal and ignore the rest.  Nothing else mattered.  Well, the rest stop at Mile 80 mattered because I was told they had 30 varieties of homemade cookies there.  I got to the rest stop and wasn't feeling hungry and dehydration was certainly there.  I drank two bottles of watered down PowerAde and refilled two more bottles.  I spoke with friends from Dallas and got back on my bike.  I wasn't going to stop again. I was going to pedal all the way through.  I broke down the remaining ride into 5 mile increments in my mind. At one point you pass Dean and their volunteer fire department was out and they had a sign that read like the words were sent down by God himself.  ICE CREAM.  I thought, long and hard, about stopping to get one but I also knew that if I did stop I may not start again and I wanted this ride over.  By the time I hit mile 99 I knew I was done.  I started getting excited until I saw TWO tandem bikes ahead of me and I had to beat them.  I hammered hard and then when my watch went off for mile 100 and I still wasn't finished physically, I was done mentally.  Finally the finish line at mile 101.6. As you cross they want to hand you a medal and if I tried to take one I would have just collapsed.  I stopped my bike took the medal and texted Jeff to find out where he was.  He was at the car and I walked over there.....gingerly!  When I reached him his only words were:  That was fu**ing hard.  I looked at his shorts and they were caked in salt like mine.  Two guys that weigh 140-145 pounds at most had probably lost 10-15 pounds of water and looked so fragile and distraught.  We shared war stories and then started laughing like school kids that we not only decided to do this, but paid for it and would be running a 13 mile trail run the next day. [caption id="attachment_8841" align="alignright" width="200"]hotter n hell hundred - bike race - cycling This was the screen of my iPhone after the ride.[/caption] Bob finished while Jeff and I were at a tent with some friends.  Jeff went to get him and when he came back he was without Bob.  Bob chose to go into the air-conditioned auditorium to recover from the sweltering heat.  Later I found out from Jeff that his Garmin registered 108* which is bananas.  This race was so much harder than Ironman Texas that I can honestly say I would rather race an Ironman and possibly a double before entertaining the thought of doing this again. That is of course until I thought about my Ironman choices for 2014 and if it is Chattanooga or Florida this ride will fit in perfectly to a training schedule.  Of course, being the Endurance Idiot that I am I started looking for other 100 mile bike rides for the rest of this year and think I may have a go at one or two of them before the sun sets on 2013. This was a tremendous ride as well as a test of will for myself. I managed to go 5:16 of pedal time with 29 minutes of stopping for 100+ miles in the small ring. My fitness is not completely lost and gives me hope for what could happen next year at my chosen Ironman.  This is certainly a bucket list race and one that everybody should experience as the entire area comes out in full force to support the riders and the event.  On the news the night before the race they even had coverage of the spaghetti dinner.  It really is an experience and one that I am thrilled to have shared with Jeff, Bob and other friends. Come back tomorrow to see how the Wee-Chi-Ta Half-Marathon Trail race unfolded for me.
Published in Race Reports
Yoga has become a regular practice for me as you may have noticed from the blog posts I wrote here and here.  What I have noticed as I enter the build phase of my training for Ironman Texas is that I want to do more yoga and not less.  I have found that yoga has helped me with my balance and allowed me to be more flexible so that I can keep my head up and my feet toward the top of the water during my swimming.  This has created a very stream lined effect where I am much more efficient than I have ever been resulting in faster swims. For the past two weekends I have had a long ride on Saturday (5 hours) followed by a split workout on Sunday (run, 2 hour minimum break, trainer, run) and during those long days you have time to think.  So much time to think that I created the Waffle-acho or Nacho-ffles (either way they were awesome after the long bike ride) but I was really thinking about how yoga has given me confidence in the pool but also on the bike.  I started to wonder how yoga directly impacted my cycling and while cruising along I realized it has allowed me to stay injury free.  All of the stretching and strengthening has given me a solid core to work from which as an endurance athlete you know that your power is in your core. I go to Bikram Yoga North Texas on a weekly basis, and it used to be on Friday as an active recovery day but with my new schedule it is now on Monday and/or Wednesday.  Yes, I am looking to go twice per week as I feel it has helped me that much.  Plus it is a terrific opportunity to refocus and set a mantra for the day.  Yoga allows me to deal with me and nothing else for 1.5 hours.  There is no cell phone, iPad, laptop or anything in that room besides me and my breath.  Similar to what happens when you are riding.  It is you and your breath as you pedal. So how does yoga help cycling you might ask.  It helps prevent injury because you are stretching which is typically the first thing that goes when the training volume picks up.  As mentioned, it strengthens the core where you power is created.  It also makes you focus and when you are on a bike for that long with only you and your thoughts there is an opportunity to lose focus. Here are a few exercises we do in Bikram Yoga that I believe have a direct impact on cycling performance.

Yoga And Cycling

Camel Pose: This pose intimidated me when I first started practicing, but over time it has become one of my favorite poses because it has proven to me that I can develop a strong back and spine which is something we need when we are spending hours in the aero position.  When we are in aero position if we have a weak spine it can create a dip thus not allowing the air to flow over you.  With a strong back and improved posture developed from doing the camel pose holding your aero position for hours becomes less of a burden on your back or your neck. [caption id="attachment_7823" align="aligncenter" width="204"]yoga - cycling - camel pose - triathlon - ironman Source:[/caption] Half Lord of the Fishes Pose: This pose is tremendous for opening up your hip flexors while also stretching the neck and shoulders.  Couple in the fact that it strengthens the spine and you have an all around pose that aids you from head to toe while on the bike.  Typically I will hear triathletes complain about neck soreness or lower back tightness from riding for long hours and this pose addresses both of those issues.  When you start out your ability to turn around may not be there and that is ok.  Do not get discouraged as that is your current level of ability but the more you practice the stronger and more flexible you become and it will be evident on the bike.  I enjoy this pose as it is the last in the sequence and I can really feel my hip flexors get stretched during this pose. [caption id="attachment_7824" align="aligncenter" width="198"]yoga - cycling - ironman - triathlete - flexibility Source: Yoga Journal[/caption] Wind-Removing Pose: This was a favorite of mine before I learned of the name and then the inner child in me took over and I laugh every time I read it.  Let's get serious for a moment (or at least me) and let me say that this pose loosens the spine and strengthens the muscles of the lower back, which of course helps you stay in aero and just be comfortable for hours on end when you are riding.  It is also a terrific abdominal workout and that helps tone and strengthen your core muscles. [caption id="attachment_7825" align="aligncenter" width="276"]yoga - cycling - triathlon - ironman - training Source: Bikram Yoga Concord[/caption] These are just a few yoga poses that I believe help me with cycling, but truth be told the entire class will benefit your endurance endeavors.  From the practice of breathing and being in the moment to stretching and strengthening muscles that are used repeatedly in training.  The health benefits of yoga when coupled with proper diet can be tremendously beneficial to your quality of life and yes that includes racing 140.6 miles powered only by your will to cross the finish line.

Do You Incorporate Yoga Into Your Training?

What Is Your Favorite Yoga Pose?

Published in Train

Embrace The Suck.

Embrace The Suck

Embrace The Suck

If you repeat the phrase Embrace The Suck enough it soon begins to get easier.  What am I talking about?  I could be talking about life, but I am referring to riding the trainer.  Putting your bike on the trainer for 1 or even 2 hours is not a big deal, but once you go past that point you have to begin to embrace the suck.  The trainer, like the treadmill, is all mental.  You know it is not going to be fun but you also know the benefits of riding the trainer. I bring this up because this weekend the weather was going to be brutally cold, and not just for Texas.  The temperature at 8am on Saturday was going to be 32* with a feels like temp of 29*.  For me if it is below 45* at the start of the ride I am contemplating riding the trainer because my hands and feet get so cold that there is no benefit to me being outside since I will not be focused on the ride but instead I will be focused on warming up.  Knowing that I was getting on the trainer I asked Maria to set me up with a trainer ride that will make the time go by.  4 hours is not a big deal to me as I have done 6 hours on the trainer before but if I have the opportunity to shake up the work out I will. The program that Maria sent off included easy sets, progressive sets and a Sufferfest video.  There was a rhythm to the workout but there were times where I muttered embrace the suck and by doing that the time flew by and I was ready to start running before I knew it.  As a person, similar to Emily and the treadmill, who enjoys the trainer there are still times I wonder what the benefits are.

Embrace The Suck Benefits:

  • No Stopping or Coasting.  As any cyclist knows there are times where you will coast or have to stop for traffic or stop lights.  On the trainer there is neither and thus you are working from the first pedal stroke until the last.
  • Workouts Done To Perfection. Since there is no stopping if your workout calls for 20 minutes at Ironman pace you know that you will get that in without being interrupted.  You can also include interval sets that will be completed without hesitation.
  • It Takes Less Time. Maria cut 30 minutes off of my overall time for the ride because of the trainer.  Theory holds that the trainer can be 20% less than the road because it is non-stop so if you ride the trainer you are going to spend 'less' time riding.
  • Weather Is Not An Issue. Neither Is Daylight. Just like the benefit of less time, there is the added benefit of doing it whenever you want.  Setup your trainer in front of the TV or the laptop and start.  No need to worry for sun rise or if the weather will hold up.
Riding the trainer is not all unicorns and rainbows though as there are a few drawbacks as well.

Embrace The Suck Disadvantages:

  • No Hills. There are no hills when it comes to riding on the trainer so if you are looking for a 'hilly' ride this is not going to benefit you.
  • Bike Handling. Bike handling is important, especially if you are racing a criterium.  Being able to handle the bike in any situation will give you confidence when riding and there is no bike handling during a trainer ride.
  • Boredom. It is easy to get board and then have your mind sway and lose focus on the sets that you have laid out for yourself.  When you are not focused your cadence can drop and the workout can suffer.
Is riding the trainer a substitute for riding outdoors?  No, but it should be included in your routine.  Why?  Besides the benefits listed above remember that change is the key to consistency and muscle adaptation.  During the week my bike can be found on the trainer as I crank away 1-2 hour sessions with 5-6 layers of clothes on working up a tremendous sweat so that I can mimic the weather that I will face in San Juan at IMTX. [caption id="attachment_7366" align="aligncenter" width="300"]embrace the suck - bike trainer - triathlon - ironman Embrace The Suck But Make It As Enjoyable As Possible.[/caption]

How Do You Embrace The Suck?

Published in Train
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 15:19

Doping.....

[caption id="attachment_6622" align="alignright" width="247"]doping_lancearmstrong_sports_triathlon Source: Venitism[/caption] Doping has become big news lately thanks to USADA and their release of the evidence against Lance Armstrong.  Lance Armstrong has/had become a bigger topic for his transgressions in sports than even Tiger Woods.  Of course Tiger is on the comeback trail and Lance will have to venture down that path at some point as well if he wants to rebuild his sports reputation.  Please do not confuse his sports reputation with his reputation to raise funds for cancer as they are two completely different things.  I applaud Lance for his ability to raise awareness and funds to fight cancer but I will not root for him in any way shape or form as an athlete.  He cheated the system, and even if he says he is clean, there is too much smoke for their not to be a fire.  I am not an attorney or a scientist so I cannot say for certain that he did take performance enhancing drugs but I sure can say that he must not be the nicest person.  Why can I say that?  To have this many people lined up at your door to knock you down you must have really pissed somebody off or just been an asshole to a lot of people.  Either way I will not stand up in support of him as an athlete but wish him well in his ability to continue to raise money to help fight cancer. Then there is the topic of the Christian Hesch and his apology for doping.  Christian Hesch is/was a competitive runner who took EPO to improve his chances of winning running races.  I was sent this article in the NY Times yesterday and I read it with an almost disbelief.  I could not imagine for the life of me why somebody would take drugs to improve his chances at winning a running race in which he was probably barely covering the costs of the drugs, the travel, the entry fee and other items.  It was not as if he was out there winning millions of dollars running these races.  The article points out that he won $40,000 over the course of 3 years in which he was taking the drugs.  That is not a lot of money at all to risk your reputation and who knows what side effects these performance enhancers will have on you in 10 years. The most glaring point about Mr Hesch is that he only came out to tell this story because he got caught.  Had he not been caught by teammates with syringes there is a very good chance he would still be doping.  What is the point?  How much money is he going to make through running these local races or even the Rock and Roll events?  This is not baseball or football where there are million of dollars at stake, and even then I don't see the point.  Can Mr Hesch look at himself in the mirror and say that he ran a 4 minute mile?  Can he look at his kids (if he has any) or his nieces and nephews who had looked up to him because he could run fast?  The only reason he ran the times that he did was because he was taking EPO.  These were not achievements that he accomplished on his own. Back to the NFL and MLB players for a moment.  I am not forgiving them for what they do nor is it more understandable from a money-making perspective.  These athletes have a limited shelf life and need to bring in as much money as they can before they retire and have to go work like the rest of us.  A player like Melky Cabrera who is a border line starter in Major League Baseball, before he took the performance enhancers, makes a decision that could earn him $40 million guaranteed over 4 years.  In baseball where contracts are guaranteed I can see the lure, especially because a lot of the athletes come from poor communities and money is a way to help themselves and their families.  Again, let me reiterate that I do not condone this but the lure of the money may be too great for these played to run away from and thus why they do what they do. [caption id="attachment_6620" align="alignright" width="259"]doping_lancearmstrong_sports_triathlon Source: A Twisted Spoke[/caption] Yesterday after receiving this article from Kevin (Ironman By Thirty) he, Jeff (Dangle The Carrot) and I exchanged emails about this and Jeff made a very good statement.  He said:  I wonder how many AGers are doping?  To this I stop and thought to myself.....how many are?  I have written posts in the past about taking supplements and also about doping but didn't really think about the AG competition doing it.  The first thing I thought of was: How important is it to get to Kona?  How important is it to get to Vegas?  How important is it to get to Boston?  For me being able to qualify for these events ranks right at the top for why I do them but never has it crossed my mind to take performance enhancing drugs to do it.  If I get to Kona, Vegas or Boston it will be through hard work and should I never get there my life will not be worth less.  It certainly would not be worth it to take the drugs to get there and then once there look at myself while getting ready for the race knowing that I did not achieve this status on my own.  I would spend that morning thinking that I stole somebody else's spot and I would not be able to live with myself.  I spend a lot of time speaking to my step-son about working hard.  That hard work is the only way to achieve greatness and to think that there are people out there who believe they are achieving greatness through doping.  Makes no sense to me whatsoever.

How Prevalent Do You Think Doping Is For Age-Groupers?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_6262" align="alignright" width="200"]oakley_splitjacket_sunglasses_lancearmstrong_productreview Lance Armstrong Sporting The Oakley Jawbone[/caption] Oakley Split Jacket sunglasses.....have you ever seen them?  Of course you have.  Lance wears them.  You know the ones with the yellow on the bottom to match his Livestrong company colors.  You have probably seen them on more than just Lance and wondered, like I did, if they were worth the hype and in the end really the cost.  I fortunately, or unfortunately, happened to be in the market for sunglasses and started shopping around. Let me take you back a week and tell you how this whole thing started.  I had just finished my fastest ride on the 60 mile course I have around my house and put up a decent 20 minute run.  I was feeling good and loading my bike into the Team Baha car when I put my sunglasses ear piece into my mouth so I could have use of both hands.  It was then that I tasted metal.  I looked at them after I was done loading the car up and notices that the bars were breaking through the rubber ends and I knew immediately it was time to go sunglass shopping. I am a cheap skate when it comes to sunglasses because I know that with the sport of triathlon it is very easy to leave them at a race, leave them at a hotel, break them as we change from cycling to running.  There are a ton of different ways to lose or break so I tend to be somewhat cheap in terms of pricing, but I still want the best.  The last pair I was using were a prize from Jen over at the blog Miles, Muscles and Mommyhood won over two years ago. [caption id="attachment_6261" align="alignright" width="300"]oakley_splitjacket_sunglasses_review Source: Oakley Vault[/caption] As I was sitting down to do some research I had a few must-haves:
  1. Interchangeable lenses.
  2. No slipping when my face would get sweaty.
  3. Matching colors to the Cook Train Eat Race racing kit.
  4. Travel case.
  5. Price.
I contacted Marni Sumbal of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition as I knew she was an Oakley Ambassador and asked her what pair she would recommend.  I did not give her my list and just let her choose which ones she thought were best.  From there I could make a decision.  Marni did not disapoint and gave me a list of the ones that she likes and different pairs that her husband, Karel, really enjoys riding with.  Then she gave me the best bit of information I could have asked for and told me to visit OakleyVault.com.  This is where Oakley puts their products on sale and it was a home run. As soon as I got there and clicked on men and eyewear there they were staring at me like an epiphany.  The blue stood out as I knew it would match the race kit, then I noticed the price.  $89.99, down from $260.  It was as if my hand took control of my brain and immediately went to add to cart, filled in the information, paid for express shipping (still came out to barely over $100) and they were at my front door before I knew what had happened. I must have refreshed the tracking information every 3 hours for the 2 days it was going to take for the sunglasses to ship from California.  When the door bell rang and the man in brown handed over the package I ripped it open and knew immediately that I had made the right choice. These sunglasses were everything I wanted in a new pair of sunglasses.  The lenses are interchangeable, there was a hard case for traveling with an extra pair of lenses and the blue matched the race kit perfectly.  Next was to test them out. The first few times I used them were on a few runs.  This is where I figured I would put them through their paces because with running I would be bouncing up and down and this would allow them to slide across my face.  As I ran and was sweating in the Texas heat I was amazed that they never moved. Not one slight movement and better than that is that they are so lightweight you barely notice they are on your face. The one downside that I have to get used to is having a bottom frame on the lens.  I have been wearing sunglasses without a bottom frame for the past 4 years and the first time I looked down to see my pace on my watch and saw the lens frame I was freaked out.  I did not know what it was I was looking at and was confused for a moment.  The answer to this:  raise my arm up just a bit more and run in them a couple of more times.  Now I don't notice the bottom frame. So they passed the run test, but lets see how they work on the bike.  Yesterday I had a simple 1 hour recovery spin and would have done this on the trainer but went out into my neighborhood and took the Oakley Polarized Split Jackets with me.  I found them so comfortable that I never pushed them up on my face and when I was heading into a headwind I did not feel any wind coming up under the bottom of them because of the frame touching my cheeks.  Perfect. These lenses also have a venting on them which is great as well as the sunglasses never fogged up with the heat, humidity and sweat pouring onto them.  It is amazing when you focus on these things that you take notice and in this case taking notice meant nothing to see. I am very happy with this purchase and want to say Thank You to Marni for helping me out in choosing these sunglasses.
Published in Product Reviews
Monday, 04 June 2012 11:44

Ironman Arizona - Here We Go

[caption id="attachment_5997" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Ironman Arizona: Let's Get It On!"]ironmanarizona_imaz_triathlon_training[/caption] Ironman Arizona is in 168 days or 24 weeks.  What does that mean for me?  It means that training for this race starts today.  I am very excited to get the training going for this race because there are so many people out there that are training right now and I felt out of the loop for two weeks while I recovered. I have set up my spreadsheet to track my mileage for IMAZ and to compare it to IMTX.  I would think that the mileage would be similar but I do think that there will be more swimming mileage.  I have found an open water swim practice hosted by the Frisco Tri Club on Wednesday evenings and I will be attending this practice as often as I can.  Based on the 1:34 I put up at IMTX I could surely use the practice. There will be a few changes going on during this training cycle:
  • My aerobic bike rides will be done at 140 bpm.  My goal will be to race IMAZ at that heart rate so in order to understand how that feels I need to train there. I will still be doing a lot of my work on the trainer during the week in the garage and with extra layers.  I found that this helped me to understand how much liquid to take in.  While it should be somewhat cooler in Arizona in November if I train at a hotter 'climate' then the cooler weather will benefit me on race day.
  • I have picked up a new bike computer.  I will be training with the Garmin Edge 500 so that I can track all my trainer work properly as well as when I head out on the bike.  This will allow me to upload my bike data for Coach so that she can truly adjust any bike sessions she has scheduled.
  • As mentioned above, I will be heading to the lake more often so that I can get the open water swim practice.  The beauty of this is that the summer will be with no wetsuit but IMAZ will most certainly be a wetsuit event.
  • My aerobic runs will be done at 155 bpm.  I raced IMTX in 4:09 which equates to a 9:31/mi pace.  I had some data before my watch died and it showed a 140 bpm during that first 41 minutes.  I ran that first loop in 8:27/mi and the 2nd and 3rd loops at 10:06/mi and 10:04/mi so I don't think my heart rate ever elevated above the 140 bpm which is not bad but I also know that I can run the marathon at a sub-4:00 pace.
  • My diet is going to be dialed in from day one.  I have been on a routine lately that has helped me keep my post-IMTX weight right near race weight.  In addition to that my body fat% is at 6% and that is an improvement from early April.  That being said Summer Bailey and I are going to be comparing the cost of training for an Ironman being a vegetarian versus being a carnivore.  This should be interesting and my spending will be chronicled through 'Feeding An Ironman'
Here are my numbers from  Ironman Texas and we can certainly compare them to Ironman Arizona as the training goes on.  
Swim Bike Run
Miles 110.8 2858.6 633.6
 

I would be ignorant to think that I will get through this on my own so I want to thank my sponsors for helping me out, but first thank you to Karen.  Ready to rock and roll this training?

  • Herbalife 24 - nutrition to help me start, keep going and recover.
  • Boundless Nutrition - when you want great tasting cookies you come to these guys.
  • Grapevine Grains - for the best oats and flours to make healthy dishes go to them. (CTER code gets you a 10% discount)
  • TriSwim / TriSlide - TriSwim removes that chlorine smell, while TriSlide protects against chafing and sores but also removes your wetsuit fast.
  • Sonix Studio - my partnership with Chad in this web design and internet marketing company that allows me the freedom to train and race.
  • Core Power - recovery milk that goes great in an Herbalife 24 smoothie.
And certainly last but not least.....thank you Coach.  Claudia Spooner of iRuniTri Mutlisport has gotten me to the start and finish of IMTX and will now have the task of doing the same at IMAZ.  Be prepared for lots of questions and suggestions Coach.

Thank you for reading and as they say in boxing:  Let's Get It On

Published in Train
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