Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back at it! T-Minus 26 days and counting!

Happy Tuesday and I hope this finds you well.

I have had 3 days off of doing nothing but recovery following my "Big Day" and to be honest, it is time to get back at it. I can't remember the last time I had 3 days off and I am glad it is over! I was able to actually be around the house and spend time with the family which was great. We still had a very busy weekend but no more than usual and we were able to take things as they came vs. having to schedule every waking moment like we have been doing. The good news is that my shoulder feels great with zero pain and I will swim tonight. That will be the test. My lower back is still a little sore in the morning but loosens up as the day goes on. I have a run tonight. The fact that my back didn't bother me much on the big day is a good sign but time will tell.

Nothing much more to report other than a lighter recovery week this week, then a heavy week working down in distance but staying up in intensity during the taper. The weather watch has begun for Tempe trying to figure out what the weather is going to be like. Last year on the 21st it was a low in the upper 40's over night with it warming to the mid 70's peaking at around 2pm then a slow cool into the evening. Just about perfect race conditions with low humidity. Last year when I volunteered I remember it being a little warm mid day but I will be on the bike during that portion so the breeze will make it fine.

Have a great rest of the week!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Big Day Number 2 is in the books

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. I know most of you have read about the "Big Day" and its dual purpose of just a killer peak workout while at the same time being the closest thing to an IRONMAN race simulation available. The idea of the Big Day came from Joe Friel, the author of the Triathlon Training Bible and whose methods are where much of my training is started. You can read a great description here .

Anyway, my first Big Day went very well and to be honest, I thought I was being pretty conservative. The first go around was a month ago and the weather was horrible, chilly and rainy for the bike. I was able to push 160 Watts on the bike and that is comfortably in my "endurance" range. I then went on my run and pushed the run harder than what Coach Jennifer at TriSmart wanted me to but I was able to hold the run pace for the entire two hours. Following several emails and some conversations with Jennifer, we thought that the first Big Day was solid and set a base line tempo that we both felt comfortable with and that I could use on race day. After some conversation, we decided that this time I was going to push the bike harder and see if my results on my run remained solid. If I push the bike and can't hold my run pace that is very telling. If I push the bike and have an equal run, I can change my race plan and push the bike watts per my second big day.

This workout has to get in this weekend or I miss it entirely. The intensity is such that it has to fall immediately before a recovery week (next week) and my builds, recovery, and taper weeks are all scheduled so that I peak the week of IMAZ so get Big Day 2 in this weekend or don't do it at all. Now, for those of you that know me I have OCD about certain thing and the culmination of 2 years of training and a lifetime goal falls into one of those categories. The day of the race will come and many many many things I will not be able to control, however, I want to take as much guess work out of the day as possible so that I can focus on suprises that are bound to arise. Pacing is one of the biggies so looking at the forecast for this weekend being windy and rainy (it is clear as a bell BTW right now) I decided to take a PTO day off work and do my Big Day on Friday and that is what I did.

So, Thursday night I had a short 45 minute run. I ran for about 2 minutes on the treadmill and had to stop because my back hurt so bad. I could have pushed through but I thought it was more important to rest and HOPEFULLY improve enought that I could get my Friday workout in. Same went for my shoulder, take it easy, it was getting better so do nothing on Thursday and give everything one more day of rest.

I was up early, went to the pool with many many old people and got my one hour swim in relatively pain free. My shoulder wasn't 100% but it cooperated enough that it didn't get any worse. I swam slighly off my goal pace but that was expected. It was a much better swim that what it could have been. Jennifer and I decided going in that if my back or shoulder didn't workout I would "bag" the swim and move on. Fortunately, I didn't have to do that.

The Bike:
I was on the bike right on time at 9:00am and once I got out of town I pushed up my watts and rode. It was pretty windy but not horrible. At some moments I was 24MPH and others I was at 15, that is just how it goes but the good news was that I was between 170 and 175 watts the entire time. My legs were feeling fatigued but they should at 90 miles. My avg speed was a little over 18MPH which is good, I would be super pleased if I could get that to 18.5 on race day but that is up to the conditions of the day. I got home, called Rene and told her I was off the bike (she worries on the long rides). Rested per the "Big Day" rules then headed out on the run.

The Run:
I started my run conservatively but to my amazement I really had to focus on pulling back on my pace at the beginning. My legs felt surprisingly good and for the first 1/4 mile I was running sub 8 min miles ~ WAY TO FAST ~ so I pulled back and settled in at my goal pace of 9:00 m/m. This time I took my fuel belt with one flast of EFS nutrition mixed with water and 3 flasks of water (last time I ran out). Again, part of the big day is to learn what works and learn from what doesn't and this day was no exception. I then focused on keeping my pace in the 9:00 m/m range. Here are my run splits:

As you can see, my splits are dead on with no degradation over time which was the fear. Jennifer and I still need to review everything but it looks like Big Day two was a success.

Just a general note about the Big Day workouts, THEY ARE TOUGH and to date they are as hard as my 1/2 Ironmen that I have done. As hard as these are, it is difficult for me to fathom how hard the race will be. I will be biking for another 1-2 hours and then running for another 2-3 hours more than yesterday. It will be punishing but all worth it in the end.

Today I am resting - sort of - and I feel amazingly well. I had a muscle cramp in my lower shoulder all day until I went to bed, woke up this morning and it was gone. Yeah.... My back is sore but doing much better and so is my shoulder. Maybe all that I needed was a tough day on the road.

I will probably take it easy tomorrow as well but next week is a lighter training week maintaining fitness and lowering stress... Time to walk the fine line.

All for now, have a great weekend! I think I will even have a beer or two at supper tonight!

Take care


Thursday, October 21, 2010

My back and shoulder are still wrecked

Good Morning,

I rarely post two days in a row but aside from my knee issues well in the past I have not had to deal with many injuries. I had a 2 hour bike ride that went fine last night, no pain and just a good ride. Used the stem unit on my shoulder and was in bed by 9:15 following Parent/Teacher conferences at KGB and NBB's school (great reports by the way). I slept pretty good. I have a meeting tonight with at our office so I didn't go in at my normal 6:00am but instead I got to sleep in a bit, see the kids this morning before I left for work and was able to come in at 8:00am.

Now to the problems. I woke up this morning and had a hard time getting out of bed due to my lower back. My shoulder is improving but not good enough for my scheduled swim at noon today so I am going to bag it. However my back is still a mess. It has been loosening up now that I am moving around but if it doesn't show a marked improvement by mid morning I am going to try to get in for a treatment. It is a bit worrisome because I don't have a lot of swims on the schedule and just with my 1 hour swim last Sunday I could tell my form is slipping just from lack of practice, however, I CAN NOT afford an injury now so it is that balance of pain/training/and preperation. I can deal with a little pain as long as I am confident it will go away in fairly short order. I am not sure what is causing it but suspect it is swimming because I actually "arch" my back to keep my core and legs high in the water and now that this has become normal for me I think it is adding stress.

As I previously posted, I have my second "Big Day" this weekend and the forecast is calling for rain Saturday and Sunday. As much as I hate hate hate to do it I may need to take a PTO day tomorrow to get it in before the weather turns bad. Part of me is thankful that I am part of such a great team at work that makes great decisions in my absence, however, we have so much going on that I want to be here. So it is balancing being out of the office tomorrow vs. this one very important training day peak of a two year build. This too all assumes that my back and shoulder are physically up to it. I need to push but intelligently push.

Anyway, my purpose was not to vent but more to capture where I am at for later review.

All for now, have a great Thursday


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back and Shoulder problems - Great!

Good morning all, I hope this finds you well rested!

I am a little tired on this Wednesday morning. I had an 8 mile run last night that went great. It was a tempo run so it was designed to be faster than normal and with the cool temperatures it was great. I was able to keep my heart rate down but was running fast for me in the 8:00 - 8:30 minute per mile range comfortably. I woke up yesterday with a sore right shoulder, fortuantely I don't have another swim until tomorrow and my hope is that it will improve in time for me to swim. If not, I will skip the swim and keep using the stem unit on the shoulder hoping for improvement. My lower back is giving me problems again. I tell myself these aches and pains are just part of the deal. I can't trace either one of them back to one acute instance so it is frustrating that they crop up. Oh well, I have dealt with them in the past and will continue to deal with them.

I have my second "Big Day" race simulation this Sunday consisting of a 3,000 yard swim, 90+/- miles on the bike followed by a 13-15 mile run. This will be done over a 10 hour period. I really hope my soreness is gone by then. The seoncd time doing this workout I am going to test the upper limits of what I can do aerobically over a long period of time on the bike. The first time around 4 weeks ago the weather was bad, cold, and rainy for the bike portion so I didn't really hammer the bike. Coupled with the fact that I am an idiot and my rear brake rubbed the entire time didn't help things either. This time I am going to increase my average watts on the bike and see if I can match my run pace as the first time I did this workout. If I can, I will know I can go slightly harder on the bike and not "blow up" on the run. If I have a horrible run, I will know that my pacing the first time around is probably best. If I am sore or not healthy going in, comparing the two workouts will be tough.

Just as a side note - We got our Southwest notification that our trip is around the corner (actually a month away). Most of my hard work and training is done. I have built a good base, now my training is going to shift from build to maintain and peak. Tempe Town lake is now full of water, hopefully some really hot days in the Phoenix area will warm it up a bit but if not, I will deal with it. I am getting excited thinking about the day while at the same time wanting to puke.

I took my bike in for a tune up giving me time to log some miles first. I started putting my check list together for my special needs bag and have begun working on my race plan with my coach. She has to hate me and dealing with the engineer in me. I the triathlon equivalent of planning the exact spot that a gernade is going to land. We are talking about a 12-17 hour event and I am planning each section like I can control it - when I know I can't. Too funny

All for now, I have to video chat with my kids over breakfast....

have a great week

Monday, October 18, 2010

Did you know Combines move at 21 miles per hour?

I didn't either until yesterday, more on that in a bit. Yesterday I had a 3 hour interval ride as described below:

Cruise intervals. Warm up for one hour, Zones 1 and 2. Then perform 5 intervals of 10 minutes in zone 4-5a. Recover 3 minutes between intervals with easy spining. Finish the ride by trying to hold your Ironman goal race pace for the last 30 minutes of the ride. Cool down.

Now zone 4-5a is about 85-90% effort for 10 minutes. This was a challenging but good workout. The weather was beautiful and the trails were packed. There was a cyclist that had to think I was messing with him. Many times on the trail there is way too much "machismo" especially with the cyclists. Well yesterday was no excpetion. I was riding intervals so my speed would fluctuate between 22-24 mph down to 16-17 between intervals. I happend to come up on a cyclist that was riding in the 20 mph range so I would catch him in my 10 minutes interval and then I would slow down, he would catch me. A few minutes go by and I would fly past him again. Finally after doing this about three times we both happened to be stopped at the same light. After a brief conversation I told him I wasn't messing with him, I was doing 10 minute intervals so forgive me for looking like a cycling idiot on the trails. He acknowledged that it was weird and he appreciated me telling him. Wished each other a good day and we were off again. He must have turned off on another trail because I didn't see him anymore that day.

The only other highlight was that I almost got hit by a car that was going way too fast (50ish in a 30). I am alway cautios at interstections when on the road and when roads cross the trails. Yesterday I was coming up on a very lightly traveled road that crossed the trail ( I don't think I have ever seen a car on this road) but I slowed down, sat up, covered my brakes and as I was appoaching the cross street a young girl comes flying up the hill from my right. I looked left and didn't see any cars coming so I braked and turned left at the street into what would be the "on coming" lane. She locked up her brakes and fortuantely held her side of the road in the far lane. I shook my head, told her to slow down before she killed someone (sounding just like my Dad by the way) and continued on. Just reinforcing the fact of how careful you have to be when cars are around.

Now to the combine. The last 30 minutes of my ride are on Moreland road back to my house. It ia great road to ride on with smooth sholders, 2 lanes and not a lot of traffic. It is out in the country with a muny airport and farms all around. This is typically the first and last 30 minutes of every ride. With my intervals my last 30 minutes was race pace. I was feeling really good so I was pushing pretty hard. On an incline section I was passed by a combine that was travelling between fields.

This is what I learned about combines:
1) They are quiet until they pass you, then they are loud
2) I think they drive on the road to clean the corn stalks off of them. He was shedding like a long haired dog in August
3) They move about 23 miles per hour
4) They cut a HUGE hole in the wind, perfect for drafting

I was able to ride in the draft of the combine for about 10 minutes. As I was sitting at the light, my buddy Rick and his wife pulled up along side of me and obviously seen what I was doing and yelled something to the effect of how my race was going with the combine. I couldn't catch it all because I had my headphones in but it was something like that.

This week is a 16 hour training week with 8 my second 8 hour training day coming on Sunday. This is the last of build two so with the race being 34 days out I will have one more build span and then taper focusing on being "race ready" if such state exists. Almost to the home stretch. The goal here is to hit that majical "peak" so that those days fall on race week. The balance between intensity and rest is always a tough one. With increased intensity fitness increases but so does stress making me less race ready. However, too much rest costs fitness that obviously is needed on race day. The balance is always a tough one but fortunately Coach Jen at TriSmart has done a great job with me in the past on the tapers and I am planning on the same happening here. She has a lot of experience, I just need to trust my training and do as she says.

All for now... Have a great week...


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ooops,I messed up my alarm, what am I 10 years old?!?!?

Last week was a solid week of training for me. I was able to get everything in injury free and I was even able to get a question posted and answered on Joe Friel's blog (the owner of training peaks, WKO software, and author of the Triathlete Training Bible

This weekend I had an all day planning meeting for my church so with the exception of an hour swim there was no time for training on Saturday. Sunday there was an organized Century ride that my buddy Don was going to ride a portion of it with me. The plans were to meet in Alton at 6:30 so he could drop off his car, drive over to St. Charles together and begin the ride by 7:30. Alton was the 60ish mile point, he would stop there and make his pre scheduled plans that he had and I would finish the remaining 40 or so miles. After our busy Saturday and after the kids were in bed I readied my bike and clothes. Since this was an organized ride, I didn't need near the amount of nutrition and drinks just because they had stops about every 20 miles with a box lunch mid way. 100 mile rides are always challenging because of all of the stuff that you have to carry to get through it. I was really looking forward to this ride so I set my alarm for 5:30 am and went to bed.

The next thing I remember was waking up, looking at my alarm clock and seeing it was 7:10!?!?!?!?!? I jumped out of bed as mad as I have been in a long time. Went to my phone and saw several messages, texts, smoke signals etc... from Don wondering where the heck I was at. I called him immediately and decided to stay local since we had to be riding by 7:30. There was no way we could have made it. So in the time it took Don to drive from Alton to my house I started packing nutrition, mixing sport drink and getting my bike down off the car. He was really cool about it but I was so mad at myself. I totally derailed not only my day and my plan but now his too.

It actually probably worked out better because Don was going to muscle through it with an injury. He went to Casltewood State Park on Friday afternoon and crashed pretty bad on his mountain bike. Cut his knee open, blunt force trauma and generally just got beat up pretty bad so he was already hurting.

We rode together for an hour and he turned around and rode back. I stayed out riding the trail system (I think I covered almost all of it - see below) to get my 100 miles in. The good news is that in my 5;45 minute ride I was able to push about 10 more watts of power on average than I did on my "Big Day" workout two weeks ago and I felt pretty good. I am still getting used to my new setup on my bike (about 2 months old now) on the longer rides but all things considered it was a solid ride.

This week I am hoping the write up in the Business Journal is printed but we will see.

All for now, have a great week


Friday, October 8, 2010

Muscle Activation Therapy

Good Morning

Let me start by saying I am very very leary of snake oil salesman. I was never a huge fan of chiropractors, muscle stimulation, massages etc... At the risk of sounding like a total psychopath I don't like people touching me. Now, not the extent of Howie Mandell or anything, I just think the whole massage thing is weird and when I have tried it, it has never been the relaxing "ZEN" type experience that they are tyring to sell you. I tell you this only to frame my post.

As I have posted this week, I had a very very long run on Tuesday night and through my own stupidity pushed harder than I probably should have. I have a 2 hour hill ride tonight, a long swim tomorrow and a 100 mile ride on Sunday so this is probably not the week to hurt myself. When my back was bothering me a few weeks back I was so desperate to get over it, I went for a massage but fortunatley, the random person that they gave me was an expert in something called Muscle Activation Therapy or MAT for short. Unlike a typical deep tissue message that focuses on shutting the muscles off through pressure and often times pain, the theory (as I understand it) of MAT is to actually figure out what muscles are not receiving signals from the brain correctly and through very acute pinpoint message "reactivate" those connectsions. The best way that I can explain it is like this:

- Between you knee and your hip you have over 13 different muscles controlling movement. If you would have asked me a week ago I would have said, you have your hamstring and your quads and although these are the largest "groups) that typically do most of the work there are many more subtle muscles that serve a very specific purpose. Through many different vehicles (exercise, fatigue, lack of exercise, stiffness, limitations in motion, injury etc....) Signals from your brain to muscle groups can in effect be shut off thus shifting the work that is typically done by these muscles to other muscles. In shorter distanct efforts you may see this in a break down of technique, or loss of speed etc... however, in endurance efforts and in me specifically it manifests itself as very acute soreness, cramping, overuse, loss of range of motion etc... For me, I actually feel my left leg get tight and if bad enough I actually have a slight limp or change in my running gate. Multiply this times the number of steps or pedals or swim strokes and it becomes a compounding problem. I sent in very skeptical!!!!! But I was desperate. If someone would have told me that I had to stand on one leg and cluck like a duck I would have tried it with a "zen" type massage being a close second.

After yesterday, I am a convert. Following my back treatment, I felt better almost immediately. It was apparant after one session my range of motion got significantly better in the areas that were treated. Following my long run, I knew my week was not going to get any easier and I had already put myself in a compromised position so I went in for a second appointment prior to another run.

Let me tell you, for the first time in a very very long time I was able to run without a change in gate on my left side. Before I left the therapist's office I could tell immediately my range of motion in my left leg improved. If you have read my posts I have always complained of left knee problems. Her theory (and probably on going project) is that my knee is unstable because my brain is not telling all of my muslces to "activate". Over a period of time, the inactive muscles get weak causing even more instability.

The therapy session itself is very straight forward. The therapist puts you in a position and asks you to "resist" the force that she applies so she can see if the muscles are active. If they are active, the force is "smooth" (my words not hers). If the muscles are inactive the response feels "jerky" (again me not her) because other muscles have to compensate for the inactive one and are not as efficient at movement in that specific position and must compensate. Once she determines what muscle is inactive, through message, she reactivates the muscles to brain connection and retests. THE STRANGEIST THING ABOUT THIS PROCESS IS YOU CAN IMMEDIATELY TELL THE DIFFERENCE BEFORE AND AFTER. The activation is called palpation. It is really stange feeling a "jerky" response and then immediately feel a "smooth" response when doing the exact same motion that was done a few minutes before.

My run last night:

I didn't know what to expect. I had a 6 mile tempo run and I was still sore eventhough I had greater range of motion. I could tell immediately that I didn't have my normal slight limp or change in gate on my left side. I had no discomfort at all in my left knee and I just felt like I was using more of my left leg than before with no signs of favoring it.


It may be all in my head but as skeptical as I was going in I highly doubt it. Anyway, my theapists name was Rachel Durnell at The Root of Motion. Her phone number is 314-623-7365 and web site is http:www.therootofmotion.com and the link is below. If you are having exercise related issues, she is worth talking to.

More to come...


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Long night last night - decoupling defined.....UGH

Training is really amping up now. I know I have written that several times but each time I have written or made that comment the current training has been either A) longer or B) more intense than in the past. This week is no excpetion.

I am in what is call "build 2". There are a total of 3 builds over a 12 week span. I will hve three weeks of intense training in each of the three "build" phases seperated by a rest week in between each build. The purpose of each build phase is to increase intensity and duration to get me both mentally and physically ready for the race.

My workout last night was as follows:
Duration: - 2:15 - Tempo finish. The first part of this run is warm-up in heart rate 1-2 zones. Increase the pace of your last 30 minutes to race pace (Zone 3-4)

I had the best of intentions. The night was cool and I was about 2 miles into my run when I crossed paths with Rick. I joined him in his run and that always equals (increase of pace). I hate to slow him down but do like running with someone so I ran faster than what I should have. We proceeded to run the next 4 - 5 miles together. He peeled off at my 1 hour:10 minute mark. I still had another hour to go. I hadn't eaten supper becaues I can't eat right before I run. I didn't take any nutrition (gu gels) and only 10 oz of water. I held my pace for as long as I could. By the time the run was over, I was hurting. I basically ran zone 3-4 with a lot of zone 4 for the entire half marathon plus.

Below you will see a graph of my run. The red line is my heart rate (see it creeping up and to the right). The blue line is pace (see it going down and to the right) The fact that my heart rate and pace are getting farther apart as the run continues is called "decoupling" and is a sign that I pushed too hard. Ideally my heart rate should stay relatively flat compared to my pace. If both lines are flat, decoupling rate is 1%. Anything less than 5% is considered very good. Mine on this run was 11%. I can't get it through my thick skull that pushing at the beginning compounds in the end. This is as much a blog entry for me reminding me not to do anything stupid as it is for you.

Tonight I have another 1 hour run that I am going to take it relativly easy on. I a hill climb bike ride that there is just no way I can do tonight due to time constraints and physically.

All for now....


Monday, October 4, 2010


I am closing the pool this week due to the leaves. I shut the heater off yesterday and with the water temp now 68 degrees I figured it would be the perfect time to test my swim socks and neoprene cap. Since I have never swam with these before it is important to try them out for fit and to makes sure I don't get claustrophobic or the rub etc.... Race day the water temp in Tempe town lake will be upper 50s / lower 60s and If the water is that cold I will be using both to keep my head and feet kinda warm.

The swim went well. No issues. One more thing that I get to check off the prep list for race day. Other than looking like a scooby snack in my rubber suit all is good. read about my inspiration Deborah ... www.olneyfamilyonline.com