Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Life in the saddle

With my lower back giving me fits I knew this past week would be a good one to get a lot of miles in the saddle on the Specialized Shiv.  I have been working hard at getting rid of the extra weight I gained in Jamaica.  It had been especially difficult to stay at a good weight because I haven't been running.  Of the 3 disciplines in triathlon I have found that I lean down the quickest when I'm able to get my run mileage up.  With a really sore back I haven't been able to do that so I planned to do it on the bike.  Even though the Midwest weather is unreal nice for this time of year with cool temperatures I still put in a lot of time on the trainer.  I had a lot of nights where I climbed on the bike at 9:00 after the kids were sound asleep and rode the bike until 11:00 or later.  I had my highest bike mileage week in over 2 years and I did so on 6 days of riding instead of 7.  For the week I biked 422 miles.  It's much easier to put in this kind of volume when I'm not running.  I was even able to combine the high mileage with good quality and still felt great.  I rode 5x5 minutes hard on the trainer with 5 minutes easy recovery after each at 300 watts on Tuesday.  I have found my best training toy to be my Cycleops Powerbeam Pro trainer.  Being able to program in the wattage I want to hit is a huge benefit when I want to go hard AND when I need to keep the ride easy.  Wednesday was our weekly group ride and I got in a lot of hard efforts on that.  Friday I did short power intervals of 10x30 sec. hard/30 sec. easy, 10x 1 minute hard/1 minute easy, and 10x30 sec. hard/30 easy.  I was able to hold the 30 sec. intervals at 410 watts and the 1 minute at 390.  This is a workout I have programmed into the trainer so the resistance adjusts without me doing anything.  I like this trainer because it forces me to hit the prescribed wattage or I am unable to pedal.  I had times last year when I could not complete that power workout.  Friday I did so without ever being on the edge of cracking.  Sunday I completed the longest ride of my life.  I made it 127 miles and felt amazingly strong especially considering the week I put in.  I started the ride with Charlie Paul, Corey Towle, and Cassidy Moulton.  Those guys helped me get through the first 50 miles and then I was solo for the last 77.  I knew the conditions were perfect for a long one.  It was about 60 degrees out.  The wind was steady at near 15 mph during the last half of the ride but the route I went never was into the wind for more than 1 hour at a time.  When I hit mile 90 I was going through a hilly section from McCausland to Pleasant Valley for the 2nd time of the ride and I decided to increase the power and push all the hills.  I was shocking myself with the power I was able to hit ending such a long ride after a big bike week.  Even after mile 120 I was still climbing hills at over 600 watts which gave me confidence that my cycling legs are in a good spot right now.  With the cool temps I was able to complete the 127 mile ride on 4 bottles of water (2 with GU electrolyte tablets), 1 soda at mile 80, 1 Snickers Marathon bar, and 1 pack of GU chomps. 

In the 2 weeks since vacation I have dropped from 170 lbs. to 162.  I can tell my body fat % is declining quickly.  Attending Barre 563 has been a great thing for me.  My flexibility is better, and my strength in the hips, glutes, core, back, quads, and hip flexors has increased.  Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for a 15 day trial for only $20.00 with half of the money being donated back to iHope.  Check out www.barre563 if you are interested in giving it a try while supporting iHope at the same time.  Enter "iHope" in the checkout promotion box and 1/2 the trial fee will be donated to the foundation. 

As for the back things are finally looking up.  After not running all week I rode the bike to the Bix on Saturday morning after watching the race on television.  The plan was to ride there and meet up with good friend Randy Bill to go for 30-40 miles after he finished running the Bix in a blazing time of 36:45.  I had put some running clothes in Jen's van and wanted to test out the back when I arrived in Davenport.  I changed and headed out for a run.  It only lasted 26 seconds.  My lower back completely seized up on me.  I was forced to stop and was extremely frustrated.  I began to get really nervous about how I am going to finish the last race of the Scheels Duathlon series next week.  I rode back home with Randy and put ice on the back.  It was just throbbing with pain.  Sitting, standing, laying down...it all hurt.  It had been 4 weeks since this back pain started.  Then the craziest thing happened...I laid down flat on my back for 10 minutes.  I laid still trying to think about pulling my spine down to the floor to eliminate this big curve that the tight back muscles were forcing my spine into.  After 10 minutes I got up and the extreme pain I had been in was gone.  I went through the rest of Saturday feeling good.  On Sunday I woke up without the typical morning stiffness that I have had over the past 4 weeks.  It never hurt on the 127 mile ride and even afterwards didn't seem the least bit aggravated.  Yesterday I woke up feeling great again and after my Barre Amped class I ran 4 miles without the slightest bit of pain.  I have no idea what happened when I was laying down on Saturday but my faith tells me that God finally decided to end my suffering and my prayers were answered.  Today I feel great again.  Sitting down doesn't hurt at all.  Over the past 4 weeks sitting has been bad for my back.  Now it feels as if nothing is wrong.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the back pain is in my rear view mirror.  It's crazy for me to think that in 4 weeks I had 2 massages, iced over 40 times, got ART 8 times, took anti-inflammatory medication regularly, spent over 1 hour a day stretching and foam rolling, and none of it seemed to help.  Then after 10 minutes of laying down I got up as if nothing had ever hurt.  It certainly makes me think it was more than coincidence.  I will continue running this week in hopes of getting my run legs back under me soon. 

It was a GREAT week for Jen on the running scene.  On Thursday night Jen set the record in the Master's division of the Brady Street Sprint up the Hill.  She won by 12 seconds on the 400 meter hill and earned $500.00.  Then on Saturday morning she ran the 7 mile Bix and placed 16th in the women's field with a time of 42:24.  She was the top local female finisher earning her a 3rd trumpet in as many years of the trumpet trophy being given to the top local finisher.  It was a big confidence booster for her.  She had been doubting her running this year as a sore Achilles has forced her to run less.  The hill showed how much strength and power she has gained from attending QC Cross-Fit and then she showed she still has pretty good endurance despite not running many miles.  She has been biking about 100 miles a week and swimming a couple days.  In 3 weeks she is going to make her 1/2 Ironman debut at Pigman Longcourse.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!!

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