Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Week 8 Training Summary...Overcoming Doubt

Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope the week was a great one. We had a great time with family at my mom's Christmas on Sunday. The week of workouts was equally great as I totalled 23.5 hours of workout time over 18 workouts. For week 8 I ran 50 miles, biked 170 miles, and swam 12,400 yards. In addition to those totals I also lifted weights, did speed drills, strides, push-ups, and lunges all three times, did core work eight times, and jumped rope and did plyometrics twice.
On Tuesday Jen was home with the kids on vacation and I got a call from her at school saying her and Payton were both puking with the flu so my help was needed. I was able to get a sub and get home to help out but unfortunately on Wednesday I woke up feeling terrible. My body ached and I felt completely wiped out. I drove over to Augustana to attempt my weekly track workout but was forced to cut the warm-up short and cancel all my remaining workouts for the day. I had definitely picked up the bug. Fortunately it only lasted 24 hours and I was able to sleep for 13.5 hours to get over it. I felt great on Thursday and put in my biggest training day of the year at 5 hours 40 minutes. On Friday I rode for 30 minutes in the morning and then did a tough swim workout before coming home to start my tempo runs. My tempo workout this week called for a 1 mile warm up followed by 2x 4 miles at tempo pace with an easy 1/2 mile between them. I did the first one in 23:57 (just a tad under 6:00/mile pace) and was on my 1/2 mile easy wondering if I could do the next one. I was really tired from Thursday's volume and the Friday morning workouts. I wasn't sure I could get 4 more miles of tempo in and I only had a few minutes to make up my mind. I began thinking about how tough the Ironman will be at points. I know there will be points in the race when I wonder if I can continue on at my pace. I'll be faced with the decision to slow to a "just finish" pace or continue on racing for the finish. If I begin throwing in the towel in training every time I start to wonder if I'm too tired it will be that much tougher to convince myself on race day I can keep going at my goal pace. I made my mind up that I was going to do the next 4 mile tempo and that I was going to run it even faster than the 1st one. I was able to do just that as I covered the 2nd one in 23:35. I think my legs felt even better on the 2nd one since I had cast away the doubts and told myself to just get it done. So often the mind wants the body to quit far sooner than the body really needs to quit. Learning these valuable lessons in training are perhaps the most important part of my workouts. I try to put workouts together that will allow me to build confidence and this was certainly one of those workouts.
My other great workout this week was on Christmas night when I did a 5x5 session on my trainer. I did this workout last week at 300 watts on the hard periods and this week I bumped it to 310 watts. It was very tough because I had already done two shorter rides earlier in the day. One of my goals is to be able to do the 5x5 workout at 340 watts prior to my Ironman in May. I'll do this workout at least every other week to monitor my progress. It's one of my favorites because counting the warm up and cool down it only lasts 1 hour.
This week should be my highest total volume in a week yet this year. I have the entire week off work so I should have plenty of time to get the workouts in. I'd like to hit 200 miles on the bike for the week and also run 55 miles. I'll add 1 day to my usual 3 in the pool. This will be my 4th week in a row bumping up the volume so I'll use next week as an easy training week to recover and let this most recent block of training set in. Things are going so well right now. I'm well ahead of where I thought I would be at this point. Jen and I have begun to explore the possibility of traveling to San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 19th for a professional 1/2 Ironman race. I don't know exactly whether or not I'll be as ready as I would like due to the lack of outdoor rides between now and then but I do think it would be good to get 1 race in before the Ironman on May 7th. The downside is the cost of flying to the race and shipping my bike. If I can find a way to reduce that I'll be in San Juan for sure on March 19th. As the new year begins this weekend it's a perfect time to set some goals for the triathlon season. I'll release mine next week. Best of luck. DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week 7 Training Summary...Cycleops Powerbeam Pro

The week started with a nice surprise when I stepped on the scale and it read 159. That meant down 4 lbs. for the week and down 12 through my first 6 weeks of training. I can really tell the difference especially in my running. Super Mom thinks I need new jeans as I can now put them on and take them off without unbuttoning them. My belt is hanging out like it was last year but I'm still a ways from where I'll need to be on May 7 for Ironman St. George. I had some people ask me this week what my goal race weight is and I'm thinking 148. The biggest key for me however is to get there without sacrificing power. If I lose muscle mass and power on the bike it will not be worth the trade in weight.
Week 7 was another great one. My confidence is growing with each passing week. For the week my total training time was 21 hours. Through 18 workouts I put in 160 miles on the bike, 45 miles running, and 10,100 yards swimming. I also lifted weights, did lunges, push-ups, speed drills, and strides all 3 times, plyometrics twice, core work 9 times, and jumped rope once. My swim goal was 10,000 yards through 3 swims but I expected to surpass that like usual but had a tough week in the water because the high school team had meets on the 3 days I swim and the Fitness Center pool was out of commission forcing me to go to the YMCA where they have swim lessons basically all day and the pool is rarely open for lap swimming in the evening. They have 1 hour from 5-6 for lap swimming and the guards were standing at the water flagging me out at exactly 6 so I was only able to get 1 hour workouts in on Tuesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday I ventured over to my alma mater, Augustana College to join the track team for a tough indoor track workout at the Pepsico Center. They have a tremendous distance program and I wasn't sure I would be ready to run with them but I'm trying to overcome any fears about competing with other guys this year so I knew I better join them. We did a 5.5 mile warm up and then hit the track for 2x 1200's, 2x 1000's, and 2x 800's all with 2 minutes rest between each. The 1200's were at 5:20 mile pace and I hit those a bit under with ease in 3:58 each. The 1,000's were where the workout got tough. They were to be run at 4:55 mile pace and I was able to hit them but they were not easy. 4:55 pace is faster than any intervals I've done so far this year. The 800's were to be in 2:24 (4:48 mile pace) and I began to suffer. Try as I may I could not hit the times as I came in at 2:25 and 2:29. It was the first running workout since last February that I've really suffered in. My form was falling apart and every muscle in my legs was on fire. I was excited to finish the workout with the guys and will be joining them for more punishing sessions after break is over. Hopefully with a couple more weeks and having one under my belt I'll be better prepared for that kind of pace. This kind of workout should feel easy in another month. Another good running workout was my tempo run on Friday. I broke it up into 2x 3 mile tempo runs with 1/2 mile easy jog between each. I ran 17:54 on the first one and 17:20 on the second one with mile splits of 5:55, 5:49, and 5:34.

The coolest update of the week is that I purchased a super sweet new trainer from Healthy Habits this week. They are running great prices on all their Cycleops trainers and I bought the Cycleops Powerbeam Pro trainer which is ridiculously awesome. It has a wireless remote that straps to the front of my bike and lets me adjust the watts at any time during the ride. Watts are how much power is being put into the pedals. The coolest thing about this trainer is that the remote hooks to my computer where I can download workout data and even enter my own workouts which I did twice. On Saturday night I programmed in a 5x5 minute workout that is one of my staples. I set it up for the first 10 minutes easy with a couple pickup periods to get the legs ready to roll and then put in 5x5 minutes at 300 watts following each with 5 minutes to recover at 160-180 watts. The workout went awesome and I hit the 300 watt segments without killing myself. I bumped it to 310 on the last one and I'll do all 5 at that next time. There is so much more cool stuff I can do with this trainer like adjust the slope I'm riding which of course simulates climbing hills. I think I can even input rides from my outdoor power tap and ride the same simulation on the trainer. I think this trainer will really help me dial in my cycling in preparation for St. George.
The next 2 weeks will be big ones as I'm only working 2 of the next 14 days so I'll have a lot of extra time to get good training in. I can't believe I'm only 49 days into training and I feel as good as I do. It has gone better than I could have expected or hoped at this point. I'd like to wish everyone an awesome Christmas. It's a great time to reflect on all we have to be thankful for...family, friends, health...etc. I know Payton is super charged for Christmas although she is deathly afraid of Santa and doesn't want him coming to our house. Owen is just beginning to want to walk all the time but can't do it on his own yet...maybe by New Year's. If you're looking for last minute stocking stuffers a massage from Laurel Darren would be a great one. She is running a great deal right now for the holidays on 3 one hour massages. All 3 for only $100.00. Most massage therapists charge 1 dollar/minute so that's a great price and she is the best I've ever been to! They help me with recovery but would also be a nice thing for a spouse who may just need to be pampered a bit. Laurel's contact number is 309-230-2484. Thanks for reading and enjoy the holidays! DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 6 Training Summary

6 weeks in...wow it feels awesome to be training consistently again. By this time last year I was already forced to stop running because of pain in my achilles tendon. That was a problem that came and went numerous times before my surgery last April. Although missing nearly 5 months and an entire season of racing last summer was frustrating my hope is that the surgery was a long-term fix. It has felt amazing so far this year. For the week I met all of my goals training through 18 workouts for a total training time of 19.5 hours. I ran 40 miles, biked 120, and swam 11,400 yards. In addition to those totals I lifted weights, did speed drills, strides, lunges, and push-ups all three times, plyometrics twice, core work 9 times, and I jumped rope once. I would like to begin jumping rope twice a week to add lower leg strength. I've been reading a lot of good things about the value of jumping rope and it won't take much additional time to my training to see the benefits. I do a lot of small things in training week in and week out that most people skip because they don't involve a pool, a bike, or running shoes. I think they are well worth the small amount of time they take. Plyometrics for example take me about 10 minutes total each week between my two sessions but the "bang for the buck" is incredible. The amount of time I spend in the weight room is a bit more considerable but again I think it's well worth it. I can tell I've increased my strength significantly over the past 6 weeks. I haven't missed a single session in the weight room. It is also beginning to help me lose weight faster as my metabolic rate (amount of calories burned while at rest) has increased significantly probably because I'm carrying more muscle on my frame. I weighed in at 163 on Monday, 1 lb. down from last week and 8 lbs. down through my first 5 weeks of training. I know from where I'm at now I'll lose at least 2 lbs. this week but I'll wait for the official weigh in tomorrow morning before writing that in stone because Jen's Oreo Balls sitting in the fridge may begin screaming my name in the next hour before I go to bed. I have been trying to silence those voices telling me to eat them! I keep thinking...would Matty Reed or Craig Alexander be eating Orea Balls during training...I hope so, but I can't afford to. I want to toe the line at St. George knowing my power to weight ratio is greater than it has ever been and the huge hills...excuse me...mountains I mean on that course are going to be to my advantage because I'll be lean and strong.
I've trained for 42 days straight now. I view every day as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to get better or an opportunity to get worse. Some days getting better means having an easy day of light training...some days it means running intervals until my lungs are screaming and my legs are jello. That was the case on Friday when I went to Augustana's indoor track for the first time since last February. I love running intervals! I was excited about this workout all day. Jen's college coach, Ron Standley, who is like a drill sergeant in the army made the workout for me. It was an 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, and 800 all to be followed by a 1/4 mile jog recovery. Ron couldn't be there for the workout but told me to try to keep everything at 5:20 pace or 80 seconds/400. My times were just a bit under that as I went 2:35, 3:57, 5:14, 3:55, and 2:32 to finish it off. I ran pretty even through them but had to work very hard over the last half of each interval. I plan to continue running intervals once a week. In addition to the intervals my other semi-hard running day is a tempo run. This week was a 5 mile tempo run and I felt like complete dog crap. I don't know if it was from being a little sick or what but the pace felt much more difficult than it should have. I hit just under my goal of 30:00 by running 29:38 but it wasn't as comfortable as I would have liked. My mile splits were 6:07, 6:03, 5:58, 5:50, and 5:38. I like running the tempo run progressively meaning I get a little bit faster with each mile.

I said last week that it never fails Sunday is the nastiest weather of the week when I have my long run planned. I said it would take a blizzard to keep me off the roads for this run and that is exactly what we had this week. We had snow and 35 mph winds creating blizzard like conditions that made me hungry for Dairy Queen just looking outside. I decided on Saturday night I would do this run on the treadmill...which I hate! The only thing I hate more than running on the treadmill is running for a long time on the treadmill. I did it however. I went 81 minutes covering 11.7 miles. To trick myself into making the run go by quicker I used the incline thing on our treadmill to simulate hills. I kept going up and down although the thing that sucks about treadmills is that you can never simulate running down hill because 0% incline is the bottom. I also threw in 2x 2 miles at goal marathon pace (6:30) although I realize St. George is one of the toughest marathons to finish an Ironman of any out there and I'd be thrilled to run 6:55 pace which would put me under 3 hours. If my memory serves me correct only one pro went sub-3 hours for the marathon there last year and he was the overall winner.
Saturday night I declared a household emergency. I went down stairs to ride on the trainer and Jen asked me how long I was going to ride for. I said somewhere between 1 and 2 hours. When I tightened the trainer to my bike wheel it would not tighten. One of the bolts was stripped and I would not be able to ride. I tried to fix it but it was flat broke! I went up stairs a bit frustrated and told Jen of this emergency. Like all good savers we have been putting money into an emergency fund and this would be the first time we've had to tap into that money since we bought our house 3 and a half years ago. I texted the world's best bike mechanic, Moon Villalobos, from Healthy Habits and he told me to bring the trainer in on Sunday morning. Of course Moon was able to fix it. It didn't even cost me the emergency fund although I did check out all the trainers they have on sale there and I may buy one this week to make sure I don't miss any more rides in the future. This next week will be much like last week with slightly more mileage. I've begun adding some intervals into my bike workouts as I'm now over 600 base miles on the bike. I've also been doing a long swim day which I call my "Ironman Swim Day". I want to make sure that an hour swim doesn't wear me down and I can exit the water in St. George ready to pull back the field through the bike and run. Not a day goes by that I don't think about that race. I knew on Tuesday that I was exactly 5 months away. My mind is focused on the long term goal but also on what I can do each and every day to get myself more ready for the big one. My professional debut...Ironman debut...and marathon debut all in the same day. It's going to be one awesome day and I can't wait to train tomorrow to keep working towards the goal. It feels great to be back into a healthy lifestyle. DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week 5 Training Summary

As planned my fifth week of training was a good recovery week following 4 weeks of increasing my volume. It worked out well because Super Mom had to visit San Antonio for work on Monday through Thursday so I was able to spend more time with Payton and Owen at home. I think I was more tired by 8:00 when I put them to bed without working out than I am when I work out 3 hours on a typical day after school. My workouts the first three days of the week were primarily in the basement on the trainer and treadmill after they had gone to bed. For the week my total training time was only 14.5 hours. I met all my weekly goals by running 30 miles, swimming 12,000 yards, and biking 70 miles. I also lifted weights, did speed drills and strides, lunges, and push-ups all three times, plyometrics twice, and core work seven times. I began the week with my Monday morning weigh in and the scale read 164. This meant I lost 7 lbs. in my first 4 weeks of training. Getting to my ideal "race weight" is perhaps my biggest goal by Ironman St. George. I read some race reports that people posted last year and just as I already knew the bike and run course are both tremendously hilly. This Ironman is ranked as the toughest in North America...bring on the hills. I'm going to be lean and powerful so that will be a strength for me. I would like to be at 150 by that time. When I earned my pro card winning the amateur race at Ironman Longhorn 70.3 last October I weighed 164. I don't know what the loss of 14 lbs. would mean for my performance but I'm banking on it being substantial.
Wednesday night after the kids went to bed I had a great workout alternating between the trainer and treadmill. I don't typically begin these until February but I needed to get both in and I enjoy these transition run workouts when I can work on running strong off the bike. I did 3x 10 minutes at a steady effort on the bike following each one with a 1.5 mile tempo run. I did the tempo runs in 9:00 (6:00 pace), 8:45 (5:50 pace), and 8:30 (5:40 pace) to finish it off. None of them felt difficult. It was a good boost of confidence that my fitness is improving quickly.

Saturday I was tested with my most swim yards ever in a workout. I swam with our high school team. I knew it would be a tough practice so I was up at 5:30 to get in a solid breakfast so I would have some calories to swim on. From our warm-up set of 20x 100 yards I did not feel good. For whatever reason my arms just lacked the power I have been feeling in the pool lately. Had I been alone for this workout I probably would have suffered through 3,000 yards before calling it a workout. This is where being with the team has really helped me. There was no way I was getting out early. I made my mind up that I would just continue to grind through the yards. After the first 2,900 Coach Tweedy put our main set on the board. For me and 3 other distance swimmers it said, 6x 800 yards (2 swim on 12:00, 2 pull on 13:00, 2 swim with fins on 10:30). If my math served me correct that meant I would be swimming a 4,800 yard set on very tired arms. Instead of thinking I was too tired to do it I made my mind up I would just swim each one without counting until it was time to stop. I made it through the workout and actually felt better at the end than I did when it started. The cool down put me at my first 8,000 yard swim practice ever.

Sunday morning I was driving to Crow Creek Park in Bettendorf to do my weekly long run and my car read the outside temperature to be 10 degrees and that didn't include the wind chill. I'm not sure why it is so cold the first week in December but it would take a blizzard to cause me to miss this workout. The long run each week is one of my 3 most important workouts. It never fails that Sunday seems to be the worst day of the week for these over the past 2 years. It is either the coldest, windiest, or rainiest day of the week and I think it's God's way of testing my resolve to this goal...this journey. I don't really care how crappy it is out for this workout, it is one I must get in regardless. Not only does the run build my phyical toughness but the weather conditions build my mental toughness. When I finished this run my hat was frozen (pictured left) and I have a red spot on my neck that may be mild frost bite. The thing is...during the run I wasn't cold except for the skin that was exposed. Dr. Kaminski hooked me up with a really sweet jacket that I'll call the Magic Jacket because it doesn't matter what I wear under it, I'm always soaked in sweat after running regardless of how cold it is. I had on a dry fit short sleeve t-shirt under this jacket and that was all. After the run the shirt was soaked in sweat. I probably need to invest in one of those neck warmer things so my neck is no longer exposed in sub-0 wind chill. This week will be a much bigger one. 35 days in and I feel great. Jen and I were looking at airline tickets to St. George tonight. I'd say I can't wait but that would be a lie because I've got a ton more work to do to prepare. Someone asked me this week when my next race was and when I told them Ironman St. George in May, they asked me if I was ready. I'm certainly not ready yet, but I'm well on my way to being more ready for this race than I've ever been for a race. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!