Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Flies By Fast

The Good
Mentally I feel like I’m really on my game.  While I was sick, I kept thinking about getting back out there.  Generally I’m finding it easy to get out of bed in the morning to go train.

The Bad
This last build and recovery really changed my body.  None of my clothes fit any more, including the new “skinny” stuff that I’ve bought in the last six months.  I’m constantly fiddling with my wedding ring now too as it will simply fall off if my hands are cold.  I have mixed feelings about this change.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the way things are going.  What I struggle with is the reality that I’m not going to go out and replace my work suits, or even my casual clothes for that matter.  At least if you see me out you can recognize me as the skinny guy whose pants would fall off if not for the belt.

And The Ugly…
It’s been less than a year since my last knee surgery and this last week things have started to get worse.  I felt bad enough last week that I called and scheduled an appointment with my Orthopedic Surgeon and since that time things have gotten much worse.  I’m lucky, says the guy who is queuing up for his third knee surgery in four years, in that my knee issues have not been structural.  It’s this fact that I would like to reconfirm when I see the surgeon next week.  There is little doubt that I’m headed for another surgery at this point, so what I want to know is if I’m going to cause any other, bigger issues by continuing to train and then race before I go back under the knife.  The only redeeming fact is that in spite of the pain, my training is still going quite well.

The Numbers

Swim – 11.27 miles – well under last month due to the workouts I missed this week because I was sick.  Regardless, my swimming is getting better and I actually have proof.  My main workout today was a 1750m @ RPE4.  On a lark I hit the lap button at 1000m since I missed my prescribed 1000m swim last weekend.  When I checked, I found that my time was a new PR by over 30 seconds.  Not bad!  I’m still above my silly 20 minute goal from last fall, but technically I have until April to get that done.  Winning!

Bike – 217 miles – way better than last month and right were I need to be.  Not an all-time high, but pretty close.  March will be bigger as I have several long rides on the schedule and one whole week that is focused on the bike.  I got to ride outside several times in February, which is rare for me and really excellent.

Run – 70 miles – Just a touch under last month, again due to workouts missed while I was sick this week.  No worries though as I happy with the way I’ve been running of late.

So that’s the grand total of my February.  I’m really looking forward to March.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm Just One Good Stomach Virus Away From my Target Weight

So we were halfway to DC to visit our youngest daughter when the phone rang.

“G just threw up in my bed” my youngest said to her mother and me, referring to her oldest daughter, “Must be some kind of stomach virus.”

Quick, think, can we just turn around and go home??

No, of course not, G is expecting us to be there when she wakes up in the morning. Ugh. Plus, now we’re “needed” more than ever.

We rang off with “Call if you need us to stop and get anything before we get there.”

Yuck. Nobody wants to head into stomach virus land, but sometimes you have no choice, so you bite the bullet, cross your fingers, wash your hands and hope.

And then you spend the ride home trying not to expel your dinner out one end or the other.

The weekend was great. It’s always fun to see the grandkids and just hang out. We had some things on the agenda, but mostly the plan was baking and eating and then a couple of workouts for me. Saturday was the bad weather day, so I switched my Sunday run to Saturday. I was planning on nine, but my pace and my knee were both good so I ended up doing just under ten in the time allotted. It was one of the better runs I’ve had in a while. I found a nice mix of road and trail and I even worked in two hills. This is the fastest I’ve run in a while so the recovery week that I’ve just finished must have done me some good.

Fortunately G’s stomach issues were relatively short lived and she was a real trooper. By the time Sunday rolled around she was pretty much back to normal, playing outside in her new sandbox and shooting some hoops. Sunday was swim / ride, but the pool I was expecting to use was closed and the alternate did not open until noon. Thus the swim did not get swum. The ride, however, was awesome. The weather was in the high 40s and the sun was out. I was properly dressed, unlike AZ a couple of weeks ago, so I was comfortable on the downhill / flat sections and hot when I had to climb. I rode an easy 30 miles with a reasonable amount of elevation change. This was my third outside ride in February, which is a pretty big deal for me, since I live in the north east. Woot!

Oh, right, almost forgot about the stomach bug thing. We left for home at about 5:30 on Sunday and by the time we got to Breezewood (halfway) I knew something was wrong. I’ll spare you the yucky details, but I will share that I made it home with not a second to spare. I spent Monday in bed and on the couch, skipping my swim. I skipped today as well. I’m still tired and I don’t want to share what I had with anyone else via the local pool. You’re all welcome.

I think I’ll get back at it tomorrow and see how I feel. Thankfully this seems to have been a 24 hour thing, so no harm, no foul. If not tomorrow, I’ll be back on Thursday for my long swim.

So how about you, any stories of sickness or health that are worth sharing?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ride Outside in February? Sign Me Up!

The past few years, we have managed to get in a February snowboard trip and since Denver is so much closer to Phoenix than Pittsburgh, we have tacked on a quick trip to PHX to visit Cath's parents.

This year was much the same, but this year I'm training for IMTX and my Phoenix Saturday included a three hour ride followed by a 30 minute run. So let's ponder on this for just a second: Phoenix in February and three hours on the bike...

Oh Yeah, I get to ride outside!

Of course that happens only if I can find a bike, helmet and route, but how hard can that be, really? As it turns out, it was not hard at all. I hit up a local (PGH) pro on Twitter and @BethShutt recommended @TribeMultiSport. Winner! It was reassuring when other local (PHX) people tweeted their love for Tribe too.

I traded some emails with owner (?) Glen regarding arrangements and we finally settled on a Cervelo P2, and that I would bring shoes and pedals, but not a helmet. Fitting bike gear into my already full snowboard bag was a challenge, but that's a story for another time.

Our travel day was interesting as we overslept and missed our flight to PHX. Things got worse when the @Southwestair website refused to change our flight because it thought the "new" flight was leaving in under an hour. It wasn't, the dumb website was calculating the departure time against the wrong time zone, but that too is a story for another time. Oh, plus I had a SWA supervisor shrug her shoulders at me and walk away. So much for "listen and respond with empathy"... But I digress. I was talking about getting to ride outside in February!

Saturday came and I found the shop no problem. Everyone at Tribe was really nice and helpful. They got my pedals mounted and before I knew it I was spinning on a trainer for a quick fit check. One or two tweaks later and I was good to go.

After the fit, they set me up with a local map complete with a highlighted route and markers for possible water stops. Based on my desired distance (50 miles) and their recommended route, I decided to load the bike into the car and drive to my starting point. It would have been easier to ride directly from the shop, but the local traffic and the recommended route made that impossible. No big deal though. I found my way to Shea Boulevard, parked at a local McDonald's, unloaded, suited up and started my ride!

Here's a shot of the P2 before I head out.

Shea Blvd was a bit of a drag. It had more traffic and a smaller shoulder than I like, but it was a means to an end and I was only on it for a few miles. From Shea, I turned onto East Palisades and then onto North Fountain Hills. These were both nice roads with few cars and good shoulders. The scenery was nice too. North Fountain Hills turned into McDowell Mountain Road and the scenery got even better. On this road I think I saw more bikes than cars, well maybe not but I sure saw a lot of bikes.

Here's the view on McDowell Mountain Road

Anyway, I turned left onto Forest Road and then left again onto East Rio Verde Drive and headed right into the wind.  In the shop they said something about a long stretch of three percent grade, but I was not paying enough attention to connect the dots on what that actually meant. I had just finished a 14 minute split and I was feeling pretty good, so I put my head down, got small and kept pumping. The wind was thumping and I was crawling along thinking WTF, I’m freezing and I’m moving at a snail’s pace, I hate this wind. What I came to realize, after looking at my GPS data and then seeing a Strava segment, was that I was climbing something the locals call nine mile hill. Needless to say, my next split was well north of 14 minutes.

I finally crested the hill and started down the other side, picking up speed until I had to make the left onto North Pima Road. This continued downhill for an additional five mils (13:48 split!) before it finally leveled out and I got a little lost. After a missed turn and then a wrong turn, I had to dig out my phone and do a quick map check. Turns out I was right where I needed to be but that I was headed the wrong direction. One U-turn later I was back on track and before I knew it, I was at the McDonald's where I started! Total mileage – 49.57, so just under my 50 mile goal – perfect!

I got back in just over three hours and I figure I probably wasted 10 or 15 minutes between the stop signs/lights, wrong turns and map checking, so that puts me right inline with my recent HIM pace. I was also happy with the fit on the P2, so if I do decide to get a TT bike, that one will be on the short list for sure.

It was cold, for AZ anyway, so I'm sure all of the people in long pants and jackets that i passed thought I was crazy for riding in shorts and a short sleeve top. I was cold most of the ride, so the short sleeves were a bad choice, but I was outside, in February, and not in snow or slush - winning.

The 30 minute recovery run was great too as it helped me stretch out my shoulders and back. I think my legs loosened up some too, so the drive back to Glendale was not so bad.

I walked around the bike shop some after returning the bike and I was impressed. I can't say enough good things about Tribe. If you are ever in the area, stop by and check them out, you will not be sorry.

A great bike, nice people, a beautiful route, chilly but tolerable weather and no drama all adds up to an excellent day.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make it happen.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

IronMan Texas, Finally!

If you are following along at home, you know that I've been threatening to register for IronMan Texas (IMTX) for awhile now. I've shared any number of excuses as to why I was waiting. Well, you will all be happy to hear that the waiting is over! I finally put my money where my mouth is and took care of the registration and my travel reservations. It's official!

I'm really happy and excited. Training is hard (ha, there's an understatement) and I'm feeling good about my progress.

There is more to come on this topic, but I wanted to share the news of my commitment while it's still fresh.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Just January!

January was mileage rich, but content poor; sorry about that. Training continues and I'm still procrastinating about registering for IMTX. My current excuse is a snowboard trip to vail in early February. Snowboarding makes my knees hurt these days, so I want to see how I feel after that trip. Plus I have a big ride scheduled immediately after and I want to see how that ride goes. I know, excuses, excuses. Really though I'm uncomfortable with the thought of wasting the entrance fee and the foundation donation, so I'm training hard but waiting as long as possible to put my money on the table.

It's been quite cold this winter, so running has been interesting, to say the least. As for cycling, I wish I could say I'm getting used to the trainer but that would be a lie. Well, maybe I am getting used to it, but I just hate it :-). Regardless, I've been putting in the hours and that's what matters. Plus I get to ride outside in feb when we go to Phoenix. Hopefully that will turn into a blog post but who knows.

One difference that I've noticed between my half and full plan is the swim distances.  I thought I was swimming a lot during the half plan, but it turns out I was not. Now I'm swimming a lot! No really, a lot!!

On to the numbers for my own gratification.

Run Miles: 75 - not quite a record month, but close.
Swim Miles: 17 - big time, serious, major record. Wow
Bike Miles: 142 - almost all on the trainer and not nearly enough. Feb will be much better.

Open Goals:
Back in December I posted a goal about doing a 1000m TT in 20 min or less. That was a glitter and unicorns kind of goal at the time (and it still is) but I'm putting in the kind of miles that might make it possible. I have a recovery week coming up and this one ends with a 1000m TT so I should have a gauge after that. If nothing else, I expect a big PR - I'll be really disappointed if I don't PR.

So that was my January, head down on the trainer, freezing on the run, chlorine bleached hair and LOVING every minute of it!

Hopefully you loved your January too!