Wednesday, March 30, 2011

3/26 & 3/27 -- A weekend of tempo

This was going to be a tough weekend. Originally I had lined up a long sub-tempo run, a masters swim, a 2 hour bike + 15min run. But as it turned out I had signed up to run with Snapple at the Multisport Expo 5k competition. I didn't want to miss my long tempo run nor did I want to flake on the 5k... so after consulting with Todd, I decided to tempo both. Would my body hold up? I hope so!

Saturday morning was the long run/tempo with some GRC teammates. We ran easy from the store to Hain's Point, at which point we started the tempo. Patrick and I broke away from the B group pack we started out with, and started pushing 5:15-:25s after a 5:30 first mile. That was better than tempo effort, but we were working together and it felt all right. I was feeling a little congested due to the cherry blossoms around me, but completed the almost 4 miles with little difficulty. I definitely won't be running 5:20s on race day, until hopefully the last 3 miles of the race, so this was a good practice, running that pace around Hain's Point, which is more or less the finishing stretch. 3 miles back to the store and workout #1 was finished.

In the afternoon I went to Curl Burke's masters practice at AU since I would have to miss Ward's practice the next morning. It was a pretty sprint-heavy workout, so it was tough on me, since I am pretty much all slowtwitch in the pool now. Several sets of 4x50s all out with 200easy, with some sets having variations on the 200 total of sprint. I hit even times all throughout, :31 avg on the 50s, 1:08 avg on the 100s, :15 avg on the 25s. Not my fastest times by any means, but it was what I could do. Not slowing down was the key.

Sunday was the race. Dirk, Matias, Chip and I as a team... that's pretty good, if you ask me. Dirk, Matias and I took the lead after half a mile and never really relinquished it... all while holding a tempo effort and sticking together. It was fun, and part of the course ran through the old Georgetown Prep Cross Country classic course, so that brought back some memories of high school XC meets there. We had a late challenge by one guy (who turned out to be a pro-level Xterra guy) but he died out on the track in the last 400, and we three passed him. Dirk first, Matias second, me third, separated by 5 seconds between each, around a 16:30 effort or so. Fun, and a good tempo workout. Started to feel some tightness in my calves, unfortunately, so it might have been a bit much. Still, we won free Newton shoes as a prize ($150 value!), so it was good to WIN.

In the afternoon, I biked in the basement, about 2 hours at 215w, staying within L2. My legs were definitely tired from the run, so this wasn't as easy as it should've been. The run afterward wasn't any easier and my legs were REALLY happy to be done when I arrived back home. It was a tough weekend, but it was a lot of fun to get in the hard work. Now is the time to recover and relax and be fresh again for this coming SUNDAY.

The winning Snapple team after our victory at Prep on Sunday... it was pretty cool to race side by side with Dirk and Matias, two of my best training pals and friends. Matias and I should be doing the same at Cherry Blossom!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

3/24 & 3/25 -- Keep plugging away

This has been a tough week. Todd said this and last week were going to be pretty hard. And by Friday I was definitely feeling it. The track workout was good, but it did take a toll on me.

Thursday I just had a bike trainer workout 4x5min @ L4. A pretty basic workout, with a long warmup and long cooldown. Using my new power zones from the ill-fated test from last week, I hit wattages of 261, 265, 266, 274, which are right in the middle of my new L4 (248-273). I felt comfortable. A little tougher than my previous L4 zone, but I kept my cadence level in the high 90s and didn't have trouble maintaining consistent effort.

Friday was a crummy day, really busy at work and it got me pretty tired. I swam at GISC with Michelle in the morning, and felt a little off, tired from the track and bike threshold workout 2 days in a row, but kept my focus on form. I struggled with that at first, but halfway through got comfortable again. Some 300 builds and more drills. After finally GETTING THE WORK DONE at my job, I bolted outside for an easy jog, just to shake out my legs and stretch my feet out. 45 minutes, pretty relaxed. I suppose there's nothing to say about it. I just needed to get something done.

Friday, March 25, 2011

3/23 -- Make Way for Triathletes

Wednesday AM I swam with Michelle at GISC, a pretty relaxed pull-heavy workout. No build sets, just long pull and shorter hard/easy intervals. Really made an effort to focus on form and not look at the clock. I was joined by Michelle AGAIN in the evening, this time for the team track workout, as she has officially joined GRC, providing a huge boost to the growing women's team... it was only a matter of time until we were on the same team. NICE.

Men's workout was 6xmile, with my group, the "B" group going 2x5:15, 2x5:10, 2x5:05. Our group is barely a "B" group as we have guys like Dickson, Patrick, Charlie, Matias and, for today at least, Dirk. That's pretty mighty. Charlie wasn't present for this workout, but we all took turns leading, and produced splits for the first 5 of 5:16, 5:14, 5:09, 5:07 (I led this one), 5:05. Then Matias, Dirk, Patrick and I decided to go HARD on the last one, aiming for sub-5. I stuck behind Patrick for the first 800 as I thought my calves, which were getting some lactic buildup, wouldn't let me go... but they cleared up after about 700m and I moved up to get up with Matias and Dirk... and we WENT. With 400 to go Matias moved ahead of Dirk and I tried to do the same, but BEASTMAN had enough of my insolence, and didn't let me pass. I started losing them with 300 to go, but still came in only 4-5 seconds behind in 4:52. Not a bad way to end the workout! Coach Todd told me to unleash for this workout so I did, and left the workout feeling pretty energized and strong... not in any way depleted or achy.

It was pretty neat having Matias, Dirk and I work together at the end as the 3 male triathletes on GRC... and seeing Lindsey J and Michelle working out together was pretty intense too. It made me think of this book I read as a younger youngster (hence the title of the post):

Thursday, March 24, 2011

3/21 & 3/22 -- Shaking off the weekend

Monday rolled around and I found it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Luckily for me, Michelle has started coming to Masters practice with me in the evening, so no need to wake up at 5:15AM. GOOD, because I needed the sleep after a tough end of (and, well, whole of) last week. I eschewed an easy spin and decided just to go to my swim lesson with Mark and then swim practice. The lesson was good, Dirk and I worked some drills to open our hips more and rotate better. My stroke count decreased by the end of the lesson, so it was useful. I just need to implement those lessons during my faster sets. For practice, we continued mainly working on drills, with lots of 75s, and ended with a 4x200 descending pull set on 3:00, where I finished my last 200 in 2:22. I like Ward's practices better (this was more of a CUBU practice) as there are longer sets and shorter rests. But I can use the drill work, obviously.

I was feeling better by Tuesday, having fought off a short-lived, one-day "cold" on Monday. My legs were feeling better so I went to South Germantown for an 80 minute ride. It was sort of warm, not really though, as the Germantown Clipper was present as usual. I averaged around 220w for the ride, although this time the Clipper had shifted direction a bit from the usual south or west and I got a little tailwind on the tougher sections, so that was like a reward for my persistence! Then afterward I met Jordan, Scott, Jamie and Steeeeeeve for what was supposed to be a 30 minute run for me. Well, I got excited to be running with them again and kept going... bad idea. We ran a hilly route and I played a part in pushing the pace to under 6:30s. Once I realized what a mistake I was making, I backed off with Steve and stuck to the trails. Still, I think the damage was done as I would be more tired from that RECOVERY run than I should have been. I need to stick to Todd's advice next time!

I was listening to this during work today... I thank Michelle for alerting me to its existence.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3/20 -- My Legs Talk to Me

Sunday AM Dirk and I rampaged to Wards Masters swim practice, which was empty except for us, because most of the other regulars competed at the Albatross meet the day before. Fine by me since my compatriot Dirk was there. We did lots of drills and then a main set nugget of 15x100 (as 5 on 1:30, 5 on 1:25, 5 on 1:20, averaging 1:13/100y), and a 12x50 (4 on :50, 4 on :45, 4 on :40). The 15x100 was great and I felt really good throughout the whole thing. If I can average 1:13s at Columbia, that'll put me in a very good spot, and way better than last year (I guess anything is).

Not long after we dried off, we stampeded to the Capital Crescent Trail for another one of Todd's creations, a long/tempo run, 7 miles out @ 7:00/mile pace, 6 miles back @ 6:00 or faster pace. I've done this twice before, but this version would be a lot longer. And after a pretty tough swim, I didn't know what I could do, but I hoped I would at least give Dirk somewhat of a workout. We went the 7 out on the downhill toward DC at exactly 7:00/mile pace, which felt pretty easy. We turned around and began our fast ascent back to Bethesda. First mile was fast, 5:51, but my legs seemed to say "We're cool... let's keep going." So I said "Ok...really?" And they responded "Yeah, what, you chicken?" And I said "No, no... but Beastman just sai--" But they interjected with "Shut up." So I said "Ok." And just kept going.

Legs were right. 5:51, 5:54, 5:52, 5:40, 5:50, 5:41 were my splits for an uphill run. Faaantastic. And it didn't feel tempo-y even... just a little below that level. I'd say that's what I was shooting for... supposedly you take off 10-15 seconds and that's pace on flat road. And Dirk seemed pretty tired at the end, so that made me feel a little better about the effort. It was uphill so that's good practice for him. Anyway, a fine confidence builder 2 weekends out from Cherry Blossom, and it's showing again that all this cross training is working and making me a stronger runner.

Or maybe I ran fast because this guy was next to me:

Monday, March 21, 2011

3/18 & 3/19 -- Up ol' 28

Friday was an AMAZING weather day, almost. It reached a high of 70, but huh? What's this? Wind? You want to enjoy the day with me? Aw man. 15-20 mph winds put a damper on an otherwise amazing day. But because of the temperature, I decided to get in my long ride today instead of Saturday. Lucas M and I collaborated to meet somewhere halfway between Frederick and Germantown, along MD Route 28. I had never ridden that far up 28 on my bike, so I was a little nervous, especially with the fact that I'd be riding into a headwind, trending uphill. Car speeds reach over 50mph on stretches of that road so I really made sure to hug the shoulder. I rode ZeroZeroTwo as I need to do most of my training on it to prepare better for Columbia. My aero position felt a little odd though and my neck got a little stiff, so I'm going to get it checked by Matt at All-American Bike Center on Tuesday.

By the time Lucas and I intercepted each other, I had put in 50 minutes and a 224w average, elevated a bit by the headwind. Coming back, I stayed in his slipstream on downhills and pushed pace on the ups to keep the power level. It was a LOT easier coming back, even though Lucas is a much stronger rider. Overall, 40 miles and 221w average. Felt good.

Saturday was a DAY OF REST, which I sure needed. I only rode about an hour total, getting to Michelle's race and rolling back to Germantown with her. A couple hills, but kept my power below 190w to make it a real recovery. I would need it for Sunday...

Friday, March 18, 2011

3/17 -- This is a Test

I woke up not too sore from track the night before thanks to the rolling I did to my calves... but I was TIRED. Race, epic Monday swim and a track workout that should've been a bit easier were taking their toll on me. I had a pasta thing for breakfast and fruits for lunch in an effort to get some decent food into me before the afternoon's bike test to see where I'm at power-wise.

The warmup was 17 minutes L2, 4x60sec 120+ rpm, 2min max effort, 5min recovery, leading into a 20min time trial. I hit 125-130 rpm for the high rpm bursts, and 335w for the 2min max effort (what I can hold for 2min, not all out) @95rpm. I felt... OK. I wanted to feel snappier, but I was already sweating quite a bit and breathing harder than I should have for a warmup. The 5 minute recovery felt too short and I had to get right into the 20min TT. I started out too strong... first 5 minutes at 292, settling a bit to hit 285w for the first 10min. Almost immediately my legs felt like they were overcome by a wave of lactic acid and power started dropping. RPM was ok, high 90s in the 53-19 and low 90s in the 53-17, but I was starting to struggle. I knew at this point I wasn't going to keep 280w, and watched my power slipping into the low 260s/high 250s. I just hung on at this point, feeling overheated and dehydrated and overall TIRED. I averaged 259w for the second half of the ride, which while it WAS my previous 20min best (FTP), it wasn't what I wanted to be doing... surviving to the end. All said and done, averaged 272w for the 20min... a 13w improvement over my previous best from January, but not quite what I wanted.

So my training zones get tougher, which is good, but I feel I let an opportunity to make my training better slip a little. I need to be more conservative when I start out next time, a good lesson and practice for race day as well. I'll also try to be more rested. But I'm happy with improvement. I am getting strong and the training is working!

When the going got tough in the last 6 minutes or so, I turned to one of my favorite songs to cycle to... Big Sky by The Reverend Horton Heat:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

3/16 -- Hi, Foam Roller!

I woke up Wednesday at 5:00 AM, a little earlier than normal to make sure I gathered everything I needed for lunch, as I had a track workout that evening and I wanted to bring the correct pre-workout foods. So what did I do? Of course. I walked out the door to go swimming without any of the food I wanted to bring. I realized this around lunch time, but too late. ARGH.

Met Michelle at GISC, a pleasant deviation from the norm as she usually swims at her clinic Wednesday evening and I do this swim alone. It was a fairly build-heavy swim for me, with a main set containing 4x50, 300, 3x100, all build, with several drill and pull sets surrounding it. As usual with GISC swims, I focused on form, and I really think, as evidenced by Monday's Ward practice, it's starting to come together. Dirk and I will receive a private lesson Monday afternoon to work more on our strokes. We sure need it, and Coach Ward is really enthusiastic about helping us out.

In the evening, I went to GRC track practice at BCC. For the first time in as long as I can remember, it was LIGHT outside, thanks to daylight savings time. It was nice to see where I was stepping on the warmup run for once. The workout was 2000-1600-1200-800-400, starting with 78s/400 for the 2000 and cutting that number down by 2s/400 for each interval. Todd instructed me to slot into the B group but not lead, in order to keep my legs somewhat fresh, as they were still in recovery mode from the 5k. I felt that... what should have felt like a pretty average/comfortable workout was tougher. I wouldn't say it was a struggle, but it was what I could do to stay with the group, making sure I wasn't pushing too hard. 5:12/mile pace for the 2000, 5:04 for the 1600, 4:56/mile pace for the 1200, 2:24 for the 800, and 67 for the 400. After the 20 and 16, my legs loosened a little, but were clearly still feeling the 5k.

I got home, ate a baked pasta thing, ICE CREAM, and then rolled the heck out of my calves on a cylinder of foam. My screams of pain caused Oscar and Simon to flee. Not QUITE this magnitude of screaming, but the cats probably heard and saw it like this:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

3/15 -- Well, at least it's 50 degrees.

Another Tuesday, another cool, windy and cloudy day with a chance of afternoon rain. Welcome to winter/spring in Germantown.

10 mph winds and chance of rain always equals 20 mph winds and probability of rain at and around the South Germantown Recreation Park. And that's where I often ride... and a ride was on the agenda for today, 75min L2 aerobic. It's a good mix of hills and false flats, fine training grounds indeed. I rode 4.5 big loops, averaging around 220w. Nothing really all that special about this ride. It was nice to be outside, except for having tears ripped out of my eyes every time I angled even slightly toward the Germantown Clipper (the name I'm giving the permanent southerly wind that blows through the area).

I spent part of the evening fiddling around with Sicar, ZeroZeroTwo and CROM (my bicycles). While I was fiddling, I saw Pee-Wee (yes I'm watching a lot of that show suddenly... I'm in a great mood nowadays!) playing with his toys. I love my toys too, Pee-Wee, although mine aren't quite as creepy as yours.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

3/14 -- Get up and SWIM

I woke up early Monday a little stiff from the 5k, but nothing bad. I only had an ache in my shin, but it seems I shook off whatever ached me in my foot. I did some stretches while sitting in on Michelle's swim practice, and I could tell I was in line for some good old DOMS. Sitting at my desk all day (long day at work for me) caused my quads and calves to tighten a little, but after I left the office I walked around the kitchen and dining room, with Simon in close pursuit. He knows what it means to stretch and walk it out. He's an athlete. I've never seen a cat so nimble and agile... and ACTIVE. That guy is never lazy. Never misses a chance to jump and wail on his brother. What that has to do with my legs, I'm not sure, but the point is I stretched the aches out by swim practice, most of them at least.

In the PM Dirk and I roared into Wards masters practice. After about 1.4km of warmup, we started the main set of 5x100 on 1:25, 5x200 on 3:30 descend, 5x100 on 1:20. Sounded really tough, even with the rest on the 200s... Coach Ward wanted us to swim FAST. To complicate things, Dirk and I were stuck with two faster swimmers, particularly Sara C, who has the stamina of a bull. The 100s on 1:25 went fine, a normal interval for me, coming in around 1:12-1:14 for each. To my surprise, I wasn't falling back from Sara... not exactly closing in but at most losing 2-4 seconds per 100. The 200s went very well. I came in at 2:30, 2:27, 2:24, 2:19, 2:20, so while I didn't descend on the last one, I was pretty much at my max. Cool thing is I think that is a PR for 200, the 2:19. That was a fast set for me! And I still wasn't losing too much ground to Deets or Sara. Neat. The last part of the set, the 5x100s on 1:20, went surprisingly well also, coming in at 1:11-1:12 for each 100, and staying right within 6 seconds of Deets. That was a good set... some fast speeds and short intervals mixed together. I think I've overcome the wall I hit for a couple weeks where I couldn't get any faster than 1:15/100y. 1:10/100y pace felt really smooth tonight. Keep it up!

This got me UP for swim practice. I liken it to me and Dirk at practice (the gnarly-ness, not the wiggling and gyrating).... from putting on our wigs (swim caps) to trying to fit in among real pogoers (swimmers, not triathletes!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

3/12 & 3/13 -- Shamrock 5k Race Report

Saturday I did a long ride on the trainer as I wanted to get it done early in the day (too cold outside). About 110 minutes, averaging 208 watts and 94 rpm. It's nice to see that my sustainable/comfortable wattage is increasing. That was definitely an effort that I could've held for a longer time. I ran for 15 minutes afterward, one loop around my neighborhood trail. I felt springy and strong, and I dug into the hills to test my foot, which had been a little achy the past couple days. No pain, no tightness. Good to go for Shamrock 5k.

Sunday was race day. Dirk and I stormed up to Baltimore, zig-zagging through I-95 in an attempt to keep up with Sam and his car full of teammates. We had to wait around a while for the start because the packet pickup closed at 11:30, with the race starting at 1:15. But we were able to relax and get in a solid warmup. It got really crowded at the start line, so strides (downhill strides at that) weren't easy to come by, but I got in 4 sort-of strides. I had plenty of competition at the line, and I recognized two Falls Road guys (Ed Aramayo and Dustin Meeker). I lined up near PMurph as I wanted to stay close to him, since he ran a strong 15:31 last year in this race. Just before the horn went off, I felt a strange serene calm come over me, which I haven't felt before... helped me focus in that last second before the race began.

Horn went off, even though we were 2 meters behind the start line. As vets of this race said would happen, we were shot out of a cannon, right into a downhill first half mile. I saw Patrick go hard, ahead of Dirk and Sam, and I held back a little, just to make sure I wasn't overdoing it. We reached the bottom of the hill, and I was in the lead pack of 10 or so runners, and caught up to Patrick. We passed a few more and settled into pace. We hit the first mile in 4:45-4:47, and I was pleased to feel strong. I saw Dirk and Sam not too far ahead, as well as Ed and Dustin. Patrick and I approached the turnaround, and I was still feeling good, but now is when the race began. We turned right into the 15mph headwind, and I saw Ed, a little closer than before. I focused on catching up. Hit the 2-mile in 9:50something, and knew then that I could beat my track PR... my road PR was toast, but I REALLY wanted to get under 15:44. So I picked up the effort and caught Ed a quarter mile later. My focus now was to stay ahead of him and try to catch Dustin. I inched closer and closer to Dustin, but I wasn't able to find another gear... probably due to only recently being on the track? Being local guys, I heard lots of cheers for Ed to catch me and telling Dustin I was behind him... so I wasn't going to sneak up on anyone. Hit 3 miles in 15:04 and Joe told me to MOVE. The PR was definitely realistic, but I wanted to get under 15:30 and catch Dustin. Didn't do either as I lacked that GEAR X, but I held off Ed and came in at 15:37, 5th overall! Cooled down for a couple miles, got my age group award (a cup), got a free t-shirt from some local strippers (yeah... about that), and had a great chicken tender lunch.

Pretty happy about it. I accomplished my goals of sub-16 road and my A-goal of besting my track 5k PR. The hills helped me stay strong and I was really focused on the competition and my effort level... not distracted by anything else as I've been in the past. Nice to do also without tapering, and training through it.

Team PRs also, as Mike C and Scott got under 17:00. Patrick was 8th and Dirk ran well, first race back since October, and got 2nd overall. Sam won. Then we got kicked out for accepting t-shirts from strippers (or maybe because Charlie Ban was posing pantsless in the fountain). Overall success!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

3/11 -- At least I can dream

I had a dream during my slumber Thursday night that I was racing in the Shamrock 5k. The race took place inside the Safeway grocery store on MacArthur Boulevard, and there were several other GRCers racing, but I didn't recognize their faces. But it was GREAT, because I came through the 3 mile mark near the checkout lines in 15:00. I apparently took my time getting through the last .1 miles, but I finished in 15:43! A PR! I argued with the first place female who declared that I got a 15:44, but the point is that I actually had a positive dream about racing, for once! All my worst dreams happen before my worst races. Perhaps this dream was a portent of good things to come on race day.

Friday AM I met with Michelle for a swim at GISC. A couple sets of 100s, pulling and easy/fast, and a morsel of 2x300 build, which felt like I swam pretty fast. I didn't look at time, but by feel I was hitting 1:15/100y, maybe under 1:10 on the last 100 of each.

In the afternoon I got to test out my foot which had been bothering me on Thursday. I consulted with Towpath, who told me it may have something to do with my plantar, but didn't seem too concerned. I ran for an hour at my 2.75 mile loop, and felt nothing. No pain, no tightness. I picked up my stride a little and dug into hills to flex my foot a little more, and still nothing. Happy Andy! I stretched the foot afterward and it was indeed still sore when I fully flexed the foot, but much better from Thursday, despite walking and running on it, so it won't affect my race. I'm not wearing my lightest race flats just to be on the safe side... I'll wear my track flats, which are definitely race worthy, just a teensy-weensy bit heavier.

So about that dream... it was a good dream for sure... but not nearly as great as the dream Pee-Wee Herman's brain had:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

3/10 -- An easier day

I woke up Thursday AM with a little fright, as the bottom of my right foot was pretty sore, mainly around the balls of my foot. Not really when I walked or jogged, just when I flexed the foot. No pain to the touch either. I greatly fear injury so this wasn't a nice thing to wake up to. I decided to switch workouts between Thursday and Friday, spinning easy for an hour instead of an hour run. TOWPATH theorizes this is a small plantar issue caused by the 400s I did Wednesday, from pushing off with my toes for the first time in a while. A little rest could do it some good.

I swam during lunch hour, with a main set comprising mainly of drills, some fast 50s and a 400 build, which I did in 5:00, a 1:15/100y clip, not my best, but only 8 seconds off my last race (which was off the blocks). Focused a lot on form this swim.

The hour spin had a focus on RPM, not power, so I was in recovery zone for the ride, focusing on keeping my RPMs between 100 and 115. Felt good to shake out the legs and it gave whatever was bothering me in my foot a chance to rest a bit. Foot felt a lot better by the end of the day, too!

Friday, March 11, 2011

3/9 -- Shamrock 5k Preparations

Wednesday, just like Monday and Tuesday, had the rare distinction of featuring only one workout for the day... a rarity in my life. The track workout was supposed to be a little more speedy, but mainly a tuneup to get me ready for the Shamrock 5k this weekend. 10x400 @ or around 5k pace with 200 jog recovery.

It went ok, I wanted to hit 75s for each 400 but I generally ran faster when on my own, with Mike C in tow, and right on pace when I was able to latch onto the B group. Splits were 76, 72, 72, 73, 75, 72, 73, 72, 70, 65. So on my own I held 72s, and they felt solid, even with a 15-20mph wind (GOSH DARNIT GO AWAY WIND I'VE HAD ENOUGH). Controlled, smooth, and I felt no pain or agony -- exactly what I was going for in this workout. Not even on the last 65, where I just kicked in with some extra energy that I conserved in the previous 9. And when I ran the 76 and 75 with the group, it felt, well, easy. I take all of this as a good sign that 5:05-5:10 pace should be sustainable at Shamrock... I just need to run smart and stay focused. Sub-16:00 is the goal, as it would be my first road result under 16. I'm really motivated for this race even though I'm not tapering for it and not really training for it specifically. I have a much more positive outlook this year, and I owe it partially to Todd's training.

I'm ready for battle.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

3/8 -- Too many 200s

Because of plans Monday night, I moved my usual Monday swim to Tuesday PM. I couldn't get to Ward's practice, as I had to stay in the immediate Friendship Heights area, so I went to an earlier practice with Curl Burke masters at AU. Practice was a little shorter (75min opposed to normal 90min with Wards), but it was plenty tough. I was joined in a lane by Jacky, who is about my pace in practice, but is really training for backstroke (broke a couple meet records at a Warrenton meet recently) to earn a swim scholarship.

Main set after a 4-3-2-1 warmup was 300 (descend by 50s 1-3, 4-6) and the tasty morsel, 10x200 (odds easy, evens hard). I wasn't at all thrilled with the interval (3:30) as that's too much rest, but I didn't want to do something different from the rest of the group. I came in on 2:40 (1:20/100y) for the easys, and 2:26 (1:13/100y) for the hards, which is decent for me, I'd say. My last 200 I came in on 2:20, which if it is not a PR for me, it's close, considering it's at the end of a hard set. And that was a hard set, actually. I was still feeling kind of tired from the weekend and a lack of sleep the night before (curse you, Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga). I was able to focus on form on the hard intervals, and I'm happy I didn't lose speed as a result. It's starting to come together.

It took me forever to beat this woman, hence my lack of sleep Monday night.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

3/7 -- Feeling sluggy

Monday I woke up and knew it would be a slow day... could barely get out of bed, but not in pain... my legs just felt SLUGGISH. A weekend full of long workouts will do that. The normal Monday PM masters swim was postponed due to a showing of PREDATOR at Towpath's recording studio, so I moved Tuesday's prescribed bike workout to today. SERRRRRRGEEAAAAAAAAAANNTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Workout was 6x4 minutes @ L4, 2min recoveries. Short intervals, but Todd is giving me a slightly easier week this week as promised. So again I assumed this would be an in-and-out workout. No such luck. After a day of dragging myself everywhere, I clambered onto Sicar and began my usual 20min L2 warmup... by not being anywhere NEAR the L2 zone, barely hitting 170 watts at 95 rpm. Whaaaaat? It took a good 10 minutes to get pedaling normally in the 185-200watt range, but it really felt like a struggle. Toward the end of the warmup I was finally feeling OK, but still, muscles weren't firing quickly enough for me. The first interval was a sufferfest. It felt like it should've been my last one. I struggled through it but managed about 249watt average. WHOA that was tough. Fortunately, it got better from there, and each interval got easier and I got more powerful and was able to spin faster (did not change gears either). Finished the last 5 intervals at 251w, 256w, 255w, 262w, 271w, so the last two were into L5... which is OK as long as I don't force the effort. That's when I know my legs were finally responding well.

So yeah... this was pretty tough and I really needed a good cooldown spin. For a short workout (only 24min total of L4), this really floored me, but it wasn't that surprising. It was a relief though that I began to feel fresher as the workout went on.

3/6 -- Saturated gym

Sunday AM Dirk and I teamed up again to take on Ward's Masters practice. I sure was tired from Saturday's ride, so was a little nervous. I did feel a little shoulder ache in the warmup, mainly from holding only two positions on the bike for 3+ hours (problem with using a TT bike for that kind of ride). But after the warmup, the swim went ok, with a main set of 30x50y (10x50 on :50, 10x50 on :45, 10x50 on :40), 2x300 pull, 3x(4x50 descend 1-4 to fastest 50 pace, 4x25 sprint kick, 200 pull), totaling 5000y for the swim. The 50s went pretty well, had no problem hitting the :40 interval, coming in between :35-:37 for each. Mark noted my flipturns are getting better, so that's neat. For some reason though I found my head not leaving the water completely, so I drank a lot of pool. I guess it had something to do with my neck being weak from the ride, since I've never really had the issue before.

Afternoon, Michelle and I bombed to the gym for a, uh, long treadmill run. Not really the desired location for a long run, but it was raining Oscars and Simons outside. I planned to just run 10-12 at an aerobic pace, 6:50-7:15, while Michelle was to do a progression after 5 miles. I decided to do that as well just to mix things up, but only cut down to her paces so I'm not working as hard (although to make up for it I set the incline at 1% during the cutdowns). Felt pretty good, it was darn hot in there and I ended up losing nearly 4 pounds of water (yikes). I forget the paces I cut down to, but it didn't really matter. Just wanted to get in the miles, a little extra work but not feel depleted when I finished.

Well, I sure did feel depleted, I lost 4 pounds in 70 minutes!!! I made up for it that evening with a giant feast that Popeye would be proud of and hopefully got those pounds back and more.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

3/5 -- CTR & ZeroZeroTwo vs. Wind

Saturday... another day of 15+ mph winds. Come on, really?

I ran about 9 miles easy in the morning, 4 of which were with Brian to help him through his trail marathon, which he did well in. Wasn't sure of pace, but it wasn't too quick, and I ran the other 5 by myself around aerobic pace. So more miles than planned, but not too taxing. The little ache I had on my plantar/base of left big toe from the beginning of Friday's run was gone, so the preventative measure I took last night (golf ball + homemade strasburg sock) appeared to work.

Early afternoon I met Bart and Dirk at Sibley for a long ride to and through Poolesville. Dirk had just done a 4 mile tempo so was a little tired, so he sat in as Bart and I exchanged pulls... good idea. Bart is POWERFUL. I pulled at 210-240w, averaging between 23-25 mph on my pulls... but when Bart led, my power didn't drop enough (only down to maybe 180 behind him, but really around 210w average). Damn, this was going to hurt. No real recovery on this ride for me and a 15-mph headwind through hills. But I remained pretty strong, surprisingly... I wouldn't have been able to keep this power/pacing going last year, especially with a headwind. About 49 miles in, we had been averaging close to 22 mph even with the brutal hills of poolesville, and I kept a good wattage, around 230w. Hit mile 49.5 and I noticed Dirk was hurting a bit, so I waved Bart on and rode it in with Dirk. The last 10-12k segment on MacArthur was a good one, as I pulled it in, staying around 205-210w, even after feeling tired/weak from sticking with Bart + headwind. For the entire ride, 67 miles, 220 watts.

Overall, a tough but really solid ride for me. I can tell Todd's training has made me stronger and smarter as a cyclist. I was in control for this ride and could find the strength I needed to finish the ride strong. Of course, work remains to be done on controlling my effort up hills. Dirk noted and I agree, Andy of 2010 would not have been able to get the job done in the same conditions. Really motivating to keep the training intensity high as it has been, and not rest on my laurels. It's good to see the work paying off. Also fun to do it with ZeroZeroTwo (TT bike). It's been a while.

But for real, wind, come on. Give me a break.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

3/4 -- CROM!

Friday AM swim @ GISC with Michelle. This was a fast workout, with a long warmup and main set of 3x250 (200build, 50hard, 20" recovery), 300 pull, 10x75 (50mod, 25hard, 10" recovery), 200 pull. Again, didn't time myself, but made myself work and focused again on form. It falls apart the faster I go, but I've gotten better at lengthening my stroke and lowering stroke count in the moderate and build sets, which are paces closer to what I want to do in the 1500m.

I ran for an hour in the afternoon. It was really windy AGAIN. Geez, it's like 3-4 days a week now when we get 15-20+ mph winds. Anyway, good reason to stick to my 2.8 mile loop near my neighborhood. Just ran around 6:45 pace, first loop was a little tough and for some reason difficult to get a fluid stride going, but after one of the short trail branches I found my form and enjoyed the run.

That evening I watched Conan the Barbarian twice in a row to feed my need for intensity and might. Here, he prays to Crom for the first time before his greatest battle:

Conan's Prayer to Crom
Uploaded by vrmgi. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

Friday, March 4, 2011

3/3 -- An easier day and lots of apples

I was happy when Thursday rolled around as it was an easier day on my schedule, with just a bike trainer workout, and not a very tough one at that. A 75 minute ride, with 3x10min builds, starting at tempo/L3 and working up over the 10 minutes. Todd didn't specify a recovery, so I just did 3 minutes in between, making for a 15min warmup and 24min spin cooldown. I stayed in one gear (53/19), working from 91 rpm to 100-105 rpm over the 10min, working from around 218w to the 260s on the first two, and up into the 300s for the last 2 minutes on #3. I wasn't really winded or too pooped by the end of this, so I think it served its purpose for recovery but also working on a little power. It felt good to work a little and mostly spin just under 170w.

Because it was a recovery day, I ate a TON. A breakfast of 2 donuts, 2 apples and a banana. A lunch of a footlong Subway sub (chicken teriyaki w/ pepper jack, extra jalapenos, pickles and southwest sauce), a salad, 2 more apples, another banana, molten hot wing chips, and 2 bottles of water. Dinner consisted of a pizza, baby carrots, tater tots, and ice cream. Maybe not the healthiest day, but I think I can handle it just fine. Apples are the way to go though. They're slowly but surely replacing chips and cookies in my diet, eating upwards of 15-18 a week. Jazz apples. So good. These ones here are PRISTINE. They should have some of that yellow. That's crispiness there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

3/2 -- Time for speed

Wednesday AM I swam at GISC solo. A pretty basic workout, with a main set featuring a 3x200 drill/swim/pull, 5x100 build and 8x50 sprints. I only timed recoveries, which were 10 seconds for all sets, instead just focusing on form and effort. With all the comments Mark has been making on my form, I am determined to fix it and make my stroke more efficient.

In the evening I had my first full track workout in at least a month and a half. Finally off the hills, I was looking to start running at threshold... no more tempo (or threshold on hills)! The workout seemed daunting, 2 mile @ 78s/400, 1.5 mile @ 76s/400, 1 mile @ 74s/400, .5 mile @ 72s/400. Even though I wasn't sure I could stay with them at this point, I slotted in behind Dickson, Charlie and PMurph. I surprised myself however and ran even and strong with those guys for the whole workout! We actually ran a little fast for each interval:
2mi -- 10:20 (5:10/mi)
1.5 mi -- 7:36 (5:04/mi)
1 mi -- 4:53
.5 mi -- 2:21 (took over the second half)
I'm pretty sure this is one of, if not the best track workout I've ever done, and not just because of the paces (I've never run a sub-5 mile toward the end of a workout) ... what made it so good was that I felt really smooth and comfortable the entire workout. No forcing or dying off. The recoveries were long, however, so that may have affected things. It helped to have a good B group, especially with Dickson and Patrick's encouragement. We have some good workouts ahead of us.

It seems that Todd's training... the hills, building speed on long runs, and even the bike/swim workouts have really helped me get stronger. I really felt it on the 2-mile... that was a 16:00 5k pace, and yet I felt like I could have kept going and sped up for at least another mile. It's making me pretty excited for Shamrock 5k. I'm feeling confidence in my running again, which I hadn't really felt since Columbia 2010.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

3/1 -- Oops, no rests

I woke up pretty tired from Monday's masters practice... Wasn't that hard, but perhaps I need to focus on getting more sleep. I felt a lot better though after a huge breakfast and lots of apples during the workday.

Tuesday PM's bike trainer workout looked kind of easy at first glance: 4x(3min @ L3/L4, 30sec @ 65 rpm biggest gear, 1min L3/L4, 30sec @ 65 rpm biggest gear). But I realized after the warmup that there were NO recoveries for 20 minutes... essentially a zone 4 ride, close to TT. The L3/L4 is the "recovery" which isn't much of a recovery at all! So after the first round, I figured out this wasn't going to be easy! I stuck with it though and maintained some good averages (235-240w for the L3/L4, basically low L4 avg; 310-330w for the low RPM/gear minutes, basically mashing the pedals hard). After the 65 rpm minutes, 240w definitely felt easy, and kept the cadence around 95 rpm. I felt my glutes and other leg muscles being activated in the 65 rpm minutes, which I think was the idea. Overall, a short but intense workout that I definitely felt!

But what's the oops? Turns out I was supposed to take a short recovery after each round! A miscommunication between myself and Todd led to me not knowing. OOPS. But he said the workout looked good even without the recoveries... so it turned out ok! I'm looking forward to a time trial next week so I can see if I've gotten more POWERFUL over the past 2 months. I averaged around 260w (my current FTP) in the 20 minutes, so I imagine with a consistent effort and no shifts, I should be above that in my next test.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2/28 -- Leave me alone, Molten Hot Wing Ruffles

Monday had to have been one of the most annoying days in the past few weeks. The weather just wouldn't make up it's mind. I was promised "strong storms" and tornado watches sprang up mid-morning. Exciting for a weather fan like me! Alas, we got some wind and rain. As a result, I kept postponing my 45-minute recovery run because an 80% chance of thunderstorms loomed until the sun set... and nothing happened. And neither did my run. D'oh. And because I kept postponing the run, I gave myself more and more excuses to keep eating my current favorite potato chip, Ruffles Molten Hot Wing chips. They are awesome. Not really hot, but a great taste and Ruffles are definitely the best, uh, ruffled chip. Just kept eating and eating until I left work. I guess it's a good thing I didn't end up running because for 2-3 hours after the last chip, I had that yucky acid feeling where you burp and taste the stomach acid mixed with buffalo flavor. And it burns too. Oh it burns.

It was gone however by the time swim practice rolled around, thankfully. Wards and Curl Burke merged again for a joint practice. Dirk and I were joined by Jacky and eventually Jason. A good lane. Good thing that Jason doesn't like freestyle, so that he isn't pushing the pace way harder than I can handle. Main set had a NUGGET of 2x (5x100 free on 1:30, 4x50 kick descend 1-4, 8x25 coach's choice). The 5x100s were good and I came in under 1:14 on every one, with the second set averaging 1:12/100y, finishing with a 1:10. It felt very comfortable, which means either I'm in good shape or recovery was too long... I prefer shorter recoveries now so I can see what I can really hold. But as of now, it seems I've made the jump from 1:17 to low 1:teens, and that's pretty nice. The kick sets were hard and Jacky/Jason just brutalized poor Dirk and I, who switched off leading the 5x100s. Overall a good practice, but again I'm looking for shorter recoveries so I can really test that 1:12-1:14/100y average.