Thursday, January 29, 2009

1st Hard Run and New Easton Bars

Today was one of those days you want to bottle up and save for a rainy day. At lunch I did an 1:20 run in 70 degree, perfectly sunny weather. 90% of it was on this extensive greenbelt system near my office in Scottsdale. Sweet. I hat paved anything. At home, I run exclusively on the trails. At work, the greenbelt.

The end of the run kind of took some of the fun out of the day, but it was good training nonetheless. I did 1hr mellow / easy with the final 20min at LT/race pace. Seemed easy enough before the set, but it was hard. I hadn't gone that hard running since....well....Maui/October.
I crashed my MTB a couple of weeks back, as I do on occasion, and scored my carbon handlebars. Not bad or anything and probably ok to ride, but I am totally not even close to wanting to test it. So, having wanted to try some riser bars for some time now, I got the Easton Monkeylite SL Riser Bars. I slapped on a new pair of my favorite grips, green ESI grips and did one ride thus far. Pretty nice. It opens up my grip quite a bit which might help with breathing and the position is more relaxed / not as aggressive as the bars sweep and rise up.
I am pre-riding McDowell this weekend and doing a double-bypass in the middle. I will get a good feel for the new setup on next weekend's race course along with on some good, long climbs and steep, techie descents.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What I Learned This Week

Very insightful stuff...

I ride better when I don't run a ton of miles.

I swim better when I don't eat a Taco Bell bean burrito right before a workout (hey...less than once a year kind of splurge).

Good weekend overall. I got in 6.5hrs of riding, an hour run and 3k of swimming. As I mentioned above, I ride better when I don't run too much. Unlike prior weeks, I had only run 2x prior to Saturday's group ride. Maybe it was the beautiful, 70 degree day or fresh legs, but I climbed very well. Part of the fun was seeing nice power numbers, but the main thing was how I felt while climbing....really great. I know, it's who cares??

If you recall, I mentioned a couple of days ago that I've been doing quite a bit of bike intensity via lots of group rides and not that I don't want to be getting faster, but there is a strategic growth and balance of fitness that must occur over the course of a season. Just as I was getting "worried" about too much too soon...I looked at my plan for the upcoming week. Balance has been restored. Less bikes with the only intensity coming on the weekend. Plenty of rest.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Xterra Triathlon Northwest Cup

I've refined my race schedule and now have Idaho on my mind. My tentative schedule is over on the right hand side a little ways down. As you will see, there are two Idaho races in June. #1 is the Xterra Northwest Cup in Farragut, ID. The following week is the Idaho 70.3. I want to do both. We've never been to Idaho, so it warrants a decent trip and of course some racing. I am pretty excited with Xterra's new expanded "Cup" series. Lots of new courses with plenty of exploring to do. Until these venue etc changes I was disenchanted with possibility of going back to the same old places, again...

Although the course for the Xterra Northwest Cup hasn't been posted, Idid a little research and will make a guess that it is at/around Lake Pend Orielle. Check out this map with pics and route of what the bike course could entail. 20 miles and 5,000ft of climbing. Sounds about right for Xterra. As you can see from this pic, the area has two classic Xterra elements....a sweet alpine-ish lake and elevation. Nice.

Another thing to discuss a little bit more in detail is my venturing into the 70.3 world. We'll see if this trip materializes, but I hope it does. To support the longer events, I really need to alter my training very little...I think. I certainly swim and ride enough in frequency, duration and intensity. My running right now is probably pretty close, but I will likely need to change a few things up to ensure I can race 13.1 miles. I regularly go close to this far at least once a week as is. You'll also notice that to support my road-tri itch, I have built in two additional, semi-local Olympic distance road tris to help me get the feel for road. I've done them before and typically don't like them, particularly the run, but I am looking to branch out, so let the branching proceed.

Now all I need is a road tri bike. Hmmm....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New 2009 Triathlon Sponsors

Quite a lot of support. Wow. Here are the first two (more to follow...check the pics/links on the left hand side >>)

Headlining is Trisports. They have it all. Best products. Best service. The true one-stop-shop. Go online, shop using this code BBAR-S and save 10% on your order. Last time I was at Trisports incredible shop in Tucson, they spent 2hrs fitting me to the perfect wetsuit using their expertise and their endless pool.

Next is Zoot. I've already boasted about their Zenith wetsuit (that I raced in during '08) and now I will get to race in their newest Zenith, race clothing and their new 2009 Ultra Race 2.0 Running Shoes. (HINT: follow the link to, use the code above and get these sweet shoes before anyone else at 10% off) I will be reviewing all of this new, sweet gear soon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Triathlon is a Process

Thank goodness! If Triathlon were a point-in-time sort of thing, it wouldn't be nearly as would probably get in the way. What am I talking about? Well, life outside of triathlon has been very consuming over the past couple of weeks. I know I've argued that my life and triathlon are interconnected, and they are, but at different times of the year there are different levels of importance placed on things. Just as in my training right now I am emphasizing my run and bike training, in life, I am emphasizing family and work over tri.

The interesting thing on the tri-front is that I am still able to get in my prescribed workouts and manage stress quite well. I think it has to do with me having gained experience. I still have a long way to go, but I am moving into my 4th full season of active racing and have focused on learning and retaining knowledge along the way. One thing that I have been not able to avoid is the drain that non-tri related stress puts on training. This stress is real, impactful and flat-out detrimental to performance. But, I know what it is, how it feels and how to manage it...even it if means re-shuffling the training plan deck etc.

So what have I been doing training wise? Well, I am not focusing on the swim. I am only swimming 2x/week, 3000m each time. One day is a mellow drill day with two longer sets at the end. One day has a mix of middle distance stuff with increased intensity, but still fairly easy. I was starting to get fairly fast towards the end of last season and it sucks not ramping right back to where I left off, but I know that my time in the pool will come. No worries....and....not to bask in my current state, but even if I didn't get any faster, I would still be fine competing in the amateur ranks. Who wants to stay put though? Not me. Mental gymnastics are in effect though.

I've been riding with groups more frequently. I've deemed my solo, zone 2 rides my hardest rides. After group rides with a constant incentive to ride hard, fast, long or all of the above, riding "slow" without motivation beyond an ipod is tough. I set out to hit all the Arizona MTB race series this year, but had to miss the first one (last weekend) due to some out of town family stuff. No worries, my "race" intensity is being trained into my system and my MTB mind gets freshened with regular rides with people who are all faster than me. This year I am putting a lot of intensity early-on into my bike. Part of this is to do well at the MTB races, par is to have fun and another part is basically because my body seems to handle it ok. But...."don't try this at home" coach prescribed this after working for years with me and this bike intensity is orchestrated within the context of easy, low volume swimming and the right run balance.

Lots of running these days. It leads to tired legs when biking, but the increased volume is something I haven't done before, so the change should lead to something good. My cardio engine is responding well through monitoring my HR at various paces...basically, I can go a lot faster at a lot lower heart rate week-over-week-over-week. I've got some run-specific races coming up which will be fun. I've almost doubled my volume over previous years.

All in all, I feel I'm becoming more efficient with how I spend my time which is great. I am not stuck on volume for the sake of volume. I'll do my time where applicable for sure though. I can't really take all the credit. Coach Grasky has something to do with it too.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Kicking Off '09 Right - Triple Bypass

What a day 1/1/09 was here in AZ. Backtracking a bit, we had a simple New Year's Eve by grabbing some dinner and hitting a moving. We didn't bother staying up late to ring in the new year which was totally fine by me! In the morning of 1/1/09 we went to IHOP and had way too big of a breakfast, but boy was it good. Just the kind of calories I needed for the day ahead.

At 11am, I met with Dan and Travis (both on the Focus Cyclery MTB team) in North Scottsdale on the west side base of the McDowell mountains. Tough MTB climbing was on tap. The weather was sunny and 70....even though the Phoenix air quality was crappy as usual.

We set out for a triple-bypass, which meant, up-and-over the mountains 3x.....or 27 miles and 5,500ft of vertical ascent...over 4hrs...yeah, its slow going. Riding in the McDowells presents some of the most taxing riding I've ever done. The climbs are steep and long, but the rocks....oh the rocks....make it very hard. It is a total body workout and requires total concentration. I was on my Cannondale Taurine (hardtail) the last time I did this ride and was pretty beat up afterwards. This time I was on my Cannondale Scalpel (full suspension) and was not nearly as "rocked." I usually ride the Scalpel with the rear shock in its most locked out position. However, for this ride, I had the rear shock fully open for about 2/3s of the ride. It made a huge difference by improving my descending and by softening the blows of the constant rocky terrain.

Great way to welcome 2009.

I am really digging First Endurance's products more and more. I put three scoops of First Endurance EFS into my 100oz Camelbak and carried an EFS Liquid Shot flask for my other nutritional needs. Worked perfectly.

I forgot to mention that I found a new trail while running out at Hawes. I had heard there was a new trail, but I haven't been able to find it on my MTB...even though I've been trying. But, thanks to a mellow, long trail run, I found it! As a kid, I played a lot of Nintendo / Super Mario Bros and the like. The feeling I got when finding this new trail, was similar the excitement I use to get when finding a hidden room or moving onto a new level in a video game. What fun! I can't wait to integrate the new trail into my training. Sweet.