Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone.

I just got back from visiting family in El Paso. The weather was really nice there compared to the cold, wet weather I missed in Phoenix. Good stuff. I've really turned into enjoy the Phoenix winter. In El Paso, I was able to get in a couple of rides, runs and strength/core workouts. I really wanted to hook up with some of El Paso's groups, but holiday training schedules and our travel schedule did jive.

After 450 miles in the car yesterday driving home, I hopped in the pool for 3000m of swimming followed by about an hour of strength/core work. It felt really good to get my body moving. I've really grown to like my neighborhood pool. It is one of those combo lap lane/play pools with two roped-off swim lanes. It is a slow, 25m pool, but the convenience and temperature make it a winner. I never have to wait for a lane, it is always open, it is outdoors and the heaters make swimming in any weather manageable. My other swimming option is just down the street from work. It too is outdoors, is heated and has a Masters group option. They just put in new heaters in the "work" pool, so it'll be nice all winter.

I am recovering from our El Paso trip today, but am about to head out for a MTB ride and then a run. Tomorrow I will get in a longer road ride, a swim and hit my strength/core program again. I am already seeing progress with my strength program in the form of being able to do more reps and more weight. Instead of one medium cord, I am using one light cord + one medium cord. Instead of 3x12 reps, I am able to do 3x14 reps of most things.

In just two weeks the AZ MTB race season starts. I will be doing all of the races except where there is a conflict with Xterra. I am excited to get out there and put in some quality suffering.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

First Endurance - A New Sponsor

I've been using First Endurance products for about one year now with great success. I started with Optygen HP. This supplement claims to do everything from increasing endurance to reducing lactic acid. I don't have a team of scientists looking over my training and administering my nutrition, but what I can say are these two things, 1) I achieved my highest power outputs over all durations when I used Optygen HP as suggested and 2) I was able to train with significantly more intensity and recover more quickly when I used Optygen HP as suggested. So, I say the stuff works and I will continue to use it. Next, I began using MultiV vitamin on a daily basis. Again, as with all of their products, First Endurance claims numerous performance enhancing benefits and supports the claims with fairly detailed and robust research. While I know there are numerous factors that go into getting and staying fit, the MultiV seemed to aide in keeping healthy and recovering quickly from high intensity and volume. Another win in my book.

Now, First Endurance is a new sponsor! I take sponsorship from the perspective of partnership. I am not a full time athlete and would still compete irrespective of outside support, so I only seek sponsorship from those companies whose business practices and products I have successfully used and I have had an exceptional experience with. I understand and appreciate the challenges that all businesses face related to maintaining and growing their market share and I truly want to make their commitment to me worth their while. Thank you First Endurance for your support. I will endorse and happily use your products as I feel they aide my success.

I have now branched out into other First Endurance's product lines including their Ultragen recovery mix, EFS Liquid Shot and EFS Sports Drink. While I haven't cracked open Ultragen yet, I have used the EFS products successfully on numerous types of workouts and have had both the proper energy and no digestion issues. Good stuff.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Week 2 Almost Done & Sore Legs

I really like my training plan so far. It is a nice mix of group bike rides, lots of short runs, a couple of swims and strength training. A nice, fun balance. I am really liking the bike. I know I need to focus on it, but I am not even really concerned with tri-specific stuff in the least right now. I am riding for fun, which is fun. I am following my plan, for the most part, but for the first time since I've been structured, I find myself easily exceeding my plan instead of doing the minimum/prescribed amount. I am not riding a lot in the first place, but I've been given the bandwidth to pretty much do what I want intensity wise. Last year, my intensity boundaries basically kept me riding on my own all the time. Not a fun or motivating atmosphere. There are plenty of fast guys and groups to hook up with and I am trying to take advantage of it. My lack of form makes it tough to hang on, but it'll come around.

I am running 5 days a week. Not a lot of volume, but consistent. My instructions most of the time are to JFR (Just Freaking Run). My last two 40min runs felt pretty good. I am not even concerned with speed in the least....JFR. I have some plantar faciatis in my left foot that I need to start looking after, but massage and stretching will sort it out soon.

Swims are the least of my concerns right now. Maintenance is the focus. I will be hooking up with Bill Daniell for some lessons soon. He was first overall out of the water in two Ironmans this year. He swims like 47min or something sick like that. My plan is to get a couple of sessions now, a couple in a couple months and then another set mid season. I want to see how fast I can get on pure form. Lots of free speed to be had.

I can already tell my strength training program is going to produce results. I previously said I was going to do a plan from Hagerman’s “Strength Training for Triathletes” book….but instead I am/will do a Coach Grasky Special. Grasky basically took the best of what’s out there and distilled it down to the best-of-the-best. Plus, I can do it all at home in about 40min. Sweet. I could barely function during the Friday morning group ride due to really sore hip/butt muscles from the strength program. Yeeeooouch.

Monday, December 08, 2008

D2D Race Report & Strength Training

The Dawn to Dusk 10hr MTB race was a blast.  Our Focus Cyclery, 4-man team took 2nd place on the day by completing 10x16 miles laps in roughly 9hrs 30min.  I was the slow guy on the team, which sucked, but fortunately my speediness didn't keep our team from winning.  Phew.  Big props to Lane, Travis and Dan, my teammates, for pushing hard and picking up the slack!  Our first two guys, Lane and Travis, did 3 laps each while Dan and I did 2 laps each.  For context, my teammates turned laps in the 54min - 57min range while I turned in 2x1:01 laps.  For only my 2nd day of riding with any intensity in the last month, I'll take it.  My lungs were searing from start to finish because of the effort and my cold, but the goal for the day was to have fun and I definitely did.  
One of my early season objectives is to really focus on the bike and nothing gets the body and, even more importantly, the mind ready like sport-specific racing.  I never, ever go as hard on the MTB portion of an Xterra as I did during this race.  There's no excuse why I shouldn't go just as hard in an Xterra.  It's not a matter of needing to pace during an Xterra to save energy for the run, it's simply a matter of me not pushing hard enough.  I am working on it now though!  Good things to come.
I want to send a shout-out to Coach Grasky for his fantastic solo effort at the race.  He did 128 miles on a mountain bike in one sitting over 9hrs.  Wow.  I can't imagine.  Great work! 
I started a formal strength training program today.  It is modeled after Patrick Hagerman's book, Strength Training for Triathletes.  I am focused on spending roughly 3-4hrs/week on strength for 12 weeks.  This does include flexibility and core work.  I anticipate having to slim this down a bit as my training hours ramp up.  Only so many hours in a day.           

Friday, December 05, 2008

Swim Test Update

**read below entry for full update**
Slow as suspected in the water this morning.  Since the last time I did the same exact 3x300 test 2mths ago, I am 8% slower.  Seeing as I've swam only 6k in the last month, I'm not suprised nor am I unconfident that my times will easily come down fast.  I have some abitious swim goals this year and althought I'm not doing any big swim blocks for a while, I confident that a significant focus on form and engine development form heavy bike and run will get me fast and on track to do well.  I've been consdering opening up my training stats and some details to the public.  It's not like my competition would use the info to race me differently.  So what if someone knows my bike ftp is, say 315 watts?  If you're there or beyond, good for you.  Not like you couldn't figure out where you stacked up by looking at race results anyhow. 

First Swim Test of the New Triathlon Season

My standard swim test is 3x300 and I get to do the first one of the season today, as soon as I finish this cup of coffee here. I get nervous about tests for some reason, probably b/c it's pretty black and white as to exactly where my fitness is for the sport being tested. I did peek at my watch the other day in the pool and I was pretty slow. It really doesn't matter, at all, how fast (or slow) I am today on Dec-5 when my first serious race of the year isn't for another 5mths. So, I will do the test and probably say "DOH!!" and then simply laugh, get out of the water and get into a warm shower.

I still have this cold hanging around, but I still don't feel all that bad. I am listening to it carefully and it should be just fine for Saturday's MTB race. I will likely only do 2, 1hr laps....not too taxing, although they will be all-out efforts course. Just like today's swim test is about to prove and like Wednesday's group road ride proved, my fitness is going to take a little time to return after my month-long, post-season hibernation, so I am not expecting to set any course records. Actually, I will probably be the slowest guy on my team.

Coach Grasky and one of my riding buds Clint Hosman are both doing the thing solo. 10hrs +/- on a MTB doesn't really sound that fun! I'll be content with nice long trainer warm-ups, a couple of fast-ish laps, nice long trainer cool-downs, lounging around in my Zoot compression pants and soaking in the 75 degree, sunny weather. Oh...and...maybe having a beer in there somewhere. The Focus Cyclery trailer has been outfitted with a couple of beer taps and will be stocked with Four Peaks Brewery kegs. Nice.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Day 1 of a New Triathlon Season

I am officially back at it as of today. Nothing major. An hour in the water and 40min of easy running. It feels good. In years past it seemed to be a big deal, but not this year. I think this feeling is positive. There is nothing to stress about and only good things to come. I've gotten out of the swing of training, but my routine will be fixed soon. I am getting about a 3wk later start at the season compared to last year....due to doing Xterra Worlds this year vs. not having done it last year.

I will be doing more group rides on the bike starting with tomorrow morning at 5am. Which reminds about how important the little things are like going to bed early in like...oops...5 minutes, get coffee and clothes ready the night before etc etc.

I am a little surprised how my fitness feels to have fallen off quite a bit over the last month, but I know it will come back. A couple weeks ago I was in the best tri-shape ever, so a drop should be expected. Good news is that my shoulder is feeling better. I still feel it, but it isn't a problem in the water as long as I don't yank on it and I haven't put it through anything close to a masters practice.

I am nursing a cold I picked up over the holiday weekend, but the symptoms aren't all that bad apart from keeping me awake all night last night. I expect to be better for the weekend's MTB race, Dawn to Dusk, where I will race the ~10hr race as a quad team. With 16 mile laps, pretty flat terrain and roughly 3hrs between efforts, I should be fine. I did the race last year as a duo in some of the worst weather ever, so I am looking forward to having a much different experience this year.