Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Wall at Ironman St George - round 3

Day 106 Bike 3hr 58min - 113 km

A day late in posting my Saturday training - wow it was a hard workout yesterday. I had originally planned on a 4 hr ride (which I did) and a 2:15 run but I felt so bagged after the morning ride that even a nap was not enough to re-energize myself.

I still need to work on better read for my nutrition, 2 large water bottles and three bananas left me a bit short on energy so with about 30 minutes left I downed a bottle of fruit juice, not the best choice but it got me through.

This round of the initial 68 miles of Ironman St George got a bit more of me than the previous workout from 2 weeks ago. After my 10 minute warm-up I was 3:48 (excluding a 3 minute bio break), about 5 minutes slower than last time.

I am guessing that the 2 hr ride late on Friday probably also impacted the Saturday morning ride. Anyways, it was still a respectable ride and good to see what is working and not working so I can feedback the results into training modifications.

Overall I ended the week just over 14 hours and given that I had hardly any running this 10.5 hour bike week did push my legs. This coming week I want to get in a bit more running and swimming but still some good seat time on the bike. At least today I am enjoying a good rest day.

Here are the full computrainer results , note the right-left power split showing weaker right leg.

Computrainer Course Data
Name: StGeorge.3dc Distance: 108.36 KM
Min Grade: -6.6% Avg Grade: -0.0% Max Grade: 9.3%
Total Climbing Meters: 1054

Total Kilometers Ridden: 108.42 Performance Statistics Lap Avg: None
Rolling Calibration: 11: 2.13 C Finish Time: 03:51:04.81 Calories: 2242.6

Watts 169.2
Watts Per KiloGram 2.3
Heart Rate 120.8 (149 max)
KPH 28.1 (48.2 max)
RPM 88.9 (113.0 max)
Overall SpinScan 62.2
Left SpinScan 62.3
Right SpinScan 62.1
Power Split Left 51.1
Power Split Right 48.9
Left ATA 105.1
Right ATA 108.4

Friday, October 29, 2010

Don't Stop Believing, You will go to Kona.

Day 105 Swim 35 minutes - 1750m, Bike 120 minutes - 54km, Run (Water) 60 minutes

Total on Week 603 minutes so far

Finally Friday! I needed to get in some decent time working out today and managed to make it happen with an early morning water run, swim and then late evening compy bike ride. Water run is doing great for my knee, swim went great as well. Today's swim was a 500m technical warm-up followed by the Tony Smith special descending 50's.

This particular interval set starts at the top of the clock, i.e. leaving the wall at the 60s mark. Goal is simple, do 50m and be back by the top of the clock (60 s). For me pretty easy and slow. If you get back early - I got back at about 48 secs you get extra rest, sounds easy again right? 2nd interval leaves at 61 or the 1 second mark, goal again back at the 60. So you get one less second in which to complete. 3rd interval you leave at 62, back by 60. 4th leave at 63, back by 60 and so on...

Since 48sec 50m's is cruise speed for me the first 12 X 50 go smooth and relaxed. You keep following the pattern until you can't get back by the 60. So the next 8 or so 50s get a lot tougher. Usually I fail out at about the 21st interval where you are going sub 40s for 50m. On a good day I can do maybe the 39s or the 38s but today I made the 37s and failed on the 36sec or 25th 50m interval. Yay, go me!

My Friday night date this week was on my Cervelo for an easy bike spin. Needed variety so rode a constant 150 watts on a flat course but set up the computer to surf the net and borrowed Frances' mp3 for music variety to her some 1843 songs. You get new insights to someone by hearing their musical tastes. At 18 hers are pretty broad (even though I was shocked she had Britney Spears). Tonight my song of the day was Journey's, "Don't stop believing" - you're going to Kona!

Consistency, Coaching and Confidence

Day 104 Swim 24 minutes - 1500m, Run (Water) 30 minutes

Another incredibly busy day at work made juggling in my workouts really challenging. However this blog IS about a working man's balance to triathlon training and sometimes life does make it tough to get in your desired volumes and you have to learn to adjust. I had two very tiny windows of training so I made the most of each window and got in a hardish 1500m swim. It went really nice though and was evenly swum (8:07 through 500, 8:09 through the next 500 and then 7:58 through the final 500) which would be my third fastest 1500m pool swim of my life.

The water run was great as well. Not because of the workout but because of what I had the opportunity to observe while doing my water run.

A dive team was at the pool practicing - what a sight to watch these kids (some probably only about 8yo) doing flips, tucks and twists with unbelievable confidence. It was a reminder to me of the importance of confidence, commitment and training. You could tell they were well coached. I watched how the coaches counselled them and guided them. You could see the diligence they placed on the finer details, the repetition to develop the muscle memory and the willingness to attempt and fail. Obviously, I saw some good "splats" as dives went awry as well.

Consistency, Coaching and Confidence - interrelated.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fitter than my 2007 and 2009 Ironman Florida

Day 103 Bike 34 minutes - 17 km

Total on week 334 minutes

This morning as I was walking from my car into my office I was happily enjoying the fact my knee felt really good, even as I went up the stairs and down the stairs. Not to say it is anywhere near perfect yet but way better. As the days go by I am shocked by how much closer race date gets - sure its still something like 190 days away still but to me it feels like next month and I can't explain why.

Perhaps its the passion and focus I have had to really train for Ironman this time, perhaps its noticing that I am in 3 digits for number of posts in my daily blog. Either way it's there and to me it's real.

I took a bit of time to reflect and review my training preparation compared to previous Ironman races.

In the 290 days before 2009 Ironman Florida my 100 day volumes were
Run 240 km
Bike 387 km
Swim 0 (yes 0 km swimming for the first 100 days)

Before my PR 2007 Ironman Florida
Run 662 km
Bike 1094 km
Swim 23 km

So far this cycle my first 100 days
Run 618 km
Bike 2276 km
Swim 81 km

My goal is to stay healthy and to stay consistent. Tonight's ride was a short bike warm-up with a 5 X 90 secs interval session at 260+ watts. Step by Step or Line upon Line I will get there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Enjoyable Water Running + IM Calgary 70.3 Video

Day 102 Bike 120 minutes - 54 km, Run (Water) 30 minutes

Total on week 300 minutes

Despite a 6 am start to my work day I was pretty refreshed when I got up at 5:30 am due to getting to bed early for once last night. I re-read a snippet from an old article in the magazine "Triathlete" from about 8 years ago that talked about over living is as bad as over training. The basic premise being you can't separate the impact of work, family and workouts and assume they are independent. A good reminder for me when I try to cram too much into a day.

I decided to finally see my Dr. about a better check into my knee and so have some appointments to that purpose. However, I was still eager after work to try out my new water belt for running. Most normal people would hate water running but having used it to rehab my legs a few other times it was like an old and familiar friend. The 30 minute water run felt great, and felt like a decent workout to boot.

Frances did this motivational mural in my workout room - it's in progress

After getting home and having dinner I hopped on the computrainer (I so love my compy) for an easy 2hr ride and surfed the net with remote devices. While not a real workout by any means it was good "seat" time. I even took a webcam clip to get a view of my aero positioning.

IM 70.3 Calgary Promo Video

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back in the groove and on track

Day 101 Swim 41 minutes - 2500m, Bike 109 minutes - 56km

Total on week 150 minutes (goal 17 hours)

With a bit of effort in scheduling I got in my 2.5 hr start to the week. I need to get in around 2.5 per day M-F and then a 5 hr Saturday to complete the goal this week.

Decided on a steady state swim with paddles and pull bouy. Nice even workout and a pretty solid pace (63ish IM pace). Tonight I did a easy warm-up on the bike followed by the first 40km of the IM SG course (average of 206 watts - need to get that to 210) at about 90 average rpm and 130 HR. The numbers would make that a pretty reasonable pace at Ironman but it felt a bit harder than I would normally go. I was surprised at the computrainer data in that over the first 40km the total meters climbing is 364. That's a non-trivial amount of rollers. For those around Calgary its getting in the range of highway 540 type of terrain towards Highwood House.

Anyways, happy with the ride overall and Melanie bought me an aqua jogger water belt so I can get in the pool and do some water running to save the knee some impact. I have a meeting with my family Doctor tomorrow to initiate the process to get a specialist to check my knee out. I'm not overly worried yet, just being precautionary.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First 100 days - complete!

Day 100 Rest Day

Final week total for last week 515 minutes

Well I sure didn't finish with nearly as many hours as I wanted last week but had a number of really good quality workouts. Work and other responsibilities make it challenging but as today is a landmark day (Day 100) on my journey it was a good day to revisit my focus and where I am at.

1) My swim is exactly where I would like it to be at this stage. I am swimming faster than ever before and have shaved about 2 minutes off my best IM times. I have redefined a number of things that have improved my stroke and got a stronger routine.

2) My Bike has improved dramatically and while not yet where I need it to be I figure I am stronger than ever and finally have a good plan that I believe will take me forward.

3) My running is absolutely rocking right now, endurance and speed. The biggest worry and caveat is getting my knee back to better health. Yesterday's run went very well but the knee is weaker and tighter today. I "kneed" to get in some water running and see if that allows the knee to rehab while I can still get training in.

Over the next 80 days or so my key goals are

a) Build up to 4km swims and maintain pace with really easy effort based on technical improvement
b) Build up my bike technique in order to smoothly generate a higher wattage output and do at least 1 high quality watts workout each week.
c) Start bringing in some cross training over the winter months to build core, balance and develop the engine (recommendations by pro triathlete Kyle Marcotte included Stair climber, XC skiing, Snowshoeing)
d) improve the sleep amount and recovery techniques and make sure my easy days and workouts are truly easy and my hard workouts are defined and effective
e) get the knee back to full shape by revising my program appropriately and building swim and bike and substituting some water running in for land runs.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Compression Gear and Recovery

Day 99 Swim 60 minutes - 2500m, Run 101 minutes - 21km

I may not be done my workout day yet depending on my recovery rate. I finally splurged and bought myself some compression tights. Giving them a try now to work on recovery and if they work well enough then I will do a bit of time on the bike tonight.

Maybe its the fact that I made the purchase and I just want to convince myself, or maybe they actually work well. Either way I think they feel great and am glad I bought them. I decided to by the less expensive 2XU brand instead of the Skins or Zoot brands (129 vs 149 vs 199).

The surprise for me was that I am now fitted as "small" when it comes to compression tights. That kind of surprised me.

Today's workouts were with my good friend Bernie. We first did a treadmill run at the gym. I ran the same course profile as the first loop of the IM SG course. Did the 21km in 1:41. We then did a swim 500m technical warm-up, 5X200 on a 3:15 cycle using paddles and pullbouys (2:49, 2:54, 2:56, 2:56, 2:53 - my best ever set) then 100m kick recovery and finished with 18 X 50 descending intervals down to a 42 sec finish on the last one.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Swim Technical Drill Set and Easy Swim

Day 98 Swim 33 minutes - 1500m

Another easy workout day in preparation for a longer training day tomorrow. Today I started with a warm-up 500m technical swim. I am starting to really like the 250m tech drill rotation

5 X 50m

50m EHF catch-up
50m Closed Fist freestyle
50m Neutral Head single side breathing
50m Finishing extension
50m Finger Tip Drag

Usually I am doing that for two cycles as a warm-up 500m. After my warm-up I did 20 X 50m on a 1 minute cycle focusing on stroke technique. Had originally hoped to do a bike tonight but other commitments prevented that from happening.

Warm October Evening Run

Day 97 (Thursday) Run 60 minute - 11 km

Work was very hectic today and it was fairly late before I got a chance to get out and run. Decided to do an easy an hour run at Confederation Park on the grass. First off the evening weather was absolutely amazing, my knee felt quite good, OK a little minor discomfort in the first 15 minutes and I felt really great at the end of the run.

Tomorrow I plan to have another no-run day and see how the knee feels and try a longer day on Saturday. The last couple of easy days have really reminded me to make sure I am doing the proper hard and easy day combinations.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Value of an occasional extra rest day

Day 96 - Unscheduled rest day

The lack of sleep and high amount of other responsibilities at work, church and family caught up with me and I decided to follow some advice that Kyle Marcotte gave me about not being afraid to take an unscheduled rest day if it was warranted.

I just felt if I squeezed in a brief 60 minute run or bike yesterday it would be pretty counter productive. So with that advice I got a few other things out of the way and got some extra sleep.

Hopefully it will pay off with a bit more zip in my day for Thursday's workout. I plan to see how the knee holds up with a slow, but longer run.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adding hours sleep to Ironman Workout Schedule

Day 95 Swim 51 minutes - 3100m, Bike 100 minutes - 50km

Decided to do my longest steady state swim in a very long time. I was very happy with it as I accelerated throughout the swim finishing in under 16 min/km pace. Most of tonight's bike was at easy spin speed but I decided to do a wattage test at the end to get a 20 minute max test in place. The average wattage was 263 over the 21 minute stint. During that same time the average HR was 138 which was less than I would expect although it was 150 bpm at the end. I plan to use this updated data to start developing some interval plans on the bike.

I still need to re-evaluate my training plan and ramp up hours progression. Last nights run intervals did push my knee a bit so I decided to not run today. Most important workout left today is a solid sleep.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Swim with Simon Whitfield (kind of)

Day 94 Swim 30 min - 1600m, Bike 40 min - 20km, Run 40 min - 7.5km

Total on Week so far 110 minutes

Today was a great day for a variety of reasons. First, when I went to the pool Simon Whitfield was there swimming and doing some video clips for beginner tri training (his blog). I was swimming a couple lanes over and after finishing shamelessly asked him to autograph my pull paddle. What a great guy in that not only he accommodated my request but spent a number of minutes chatting triathlon, life and family with me.

After a longish work day I headed back to the gym to test my knee out with some run intervals. One mile warm-up, 5 X 1km on a 6 minute cycle with active rest walk breaks. Did descending splits (3:53, 3:43, 3:38, 3:33 and 3:28 for a 3:39 average) and the knee felt really solid. After my run scooted over to pick up Leah from her XC practice and then off to the polling station to vote in our civic election. Was really pleased to see how great a voter turnout there was.

Went home, ate dinner, spent some time with the kids and then jumped on the trainer for a really easy spin and watched the election coverage and results. Another late night that I will pay for tomorrow but happy to continue the goal towards Kona.

On a small side note as I was running at the gym on the treadmill I noticed in the mirror my right leg didn't look as defined as the left leg. When I got home I did a quick measurement and discovered my leg with the weak knee is almost an inch smaller than the other leg. I will have to do some research to find out if that is needed to be addressed.

4 Keys to Ironman Training Science

Day 93 - Rest Day

Plan for the upcoming week 18+ hours

Enjoyed my regular Sunday rest day this week and finalized my course of action for next week. The knee has continued to improve and I plan to test it out on Monday with my first intervals session in a few weeks to see how it holds up.

As I continue to consider the complexity of moving from the "complete Ironman in a reasonable time" to "Qualify for Kona" mentality I have realized just how much there is an art and a science to the Ironman distance preparation.

First, its the proper mix of volume and technique, interspersed with a planned dose of intensity and supplemented by good recovery workouts.

Second, its the militant observance of nutrition, diet and weight management - if Kona is the goal you have to dial in your best strength to weight ratio.

Third, its getting enough recovery, rest, sleep and staying healthy from disease and injury

Fourth, its a mindset and mental toughness and attitude that will be required to develop the confidence to "race" the entire distance.

Those four things in my mind are key to the science of Ironman Preparation.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Progress towards required watts at St George

Day 92 Bike 220 minutes - 107km

Total on week 12.7 hours

I was a bit disappointed in my overall hours this week but given how busy it was I am not surprised. With no races planned in the short term horizon I will be able to get in a good building block set of weeks. Especially with my decision to not race the marathon in Indianapolis. I plan to take a bit of time tomorrow to revise my original plan on weekly hours for the second and third training trimesters. Not that my training is even remotely comparable to pregnancy.

This next week I am planning to continue the balance of technical workouts in all three disciplines plus at least three key bike workouts. Run will be about recovery for my knee and working back up on the mileage.

Today I scheduled another date with "The Wall" on my Computrainer Ironman St George course. Last time I did the opening stretch and loop in about 3h 53min. Today I crushed the same course in 3h 41min. I didn't even feel as tired when I finished although I am tired now. Average watts was up over 177 (~2.53W/kg) and the average heart rate still controlled at 122. Again it is pretty clear my limiting factor is muscular endurance.

I decided to also pay attention to sweat rate and pre-workout was 153 lbs then I finished the workout at 148 lbs. I chugged three large water bottles of Gatorade over the ride and had about 500 calories worth of energy bars plus 2 bananas. I am going to start calculating the calorie rates and water rates far more tightly to ensure good workouts and faster recoveries.

I still have a ways to go since I need to ride that section in about 3:18. Now the math is not purely linear when it comes to speed and power (watts) but if my increase of an average of 15 watts got me 12 minutes then I will need to find another 23 minutes which will be somewhere around 30 more average watts. Originally I thought I would be good at the 200 range but looks more like 210 will be needed. This makes sense given the data from Slater Fletcher in his blog race report of Ironman St George

Perhaps the happiest recognition for me is that I am enjoying my bike workouts a lot more, which is very motivating for my workouts. If I keep myself humble I am confident that weak things (like my bike workout) can become a strong thing to me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ironmates make all the difference

Day 91 Swim 44 minutes - 2.6km, Run 50 minutes - 10km

Earlier this week I had a discussion with a co-worker about how my life is pretty basic. The triathlon T-shirt slogan of swim, bike, run, eat, sleep is slightly modified for me. I basically was describing to my associate that I really have three big things that get scheduled into my life - work, church service and triathlon training. I have a fourth important priority (family) that I weave throughout the other three in various ways. Its all possible because of an understanding Ironmate, my wife.

Basically trying to get 15+ hours training a week is challenging and I am usually pretty structured with the core activities in my day. During the work week I am often at my desk by 7 am and work until about 5-5:30. I manage to get in a swim 2-3 times a week at lunch for about 40-45 minutes and then after work get in my second workout, a bike or a run. Before the weather turned I could commute to work via bike or running but now that the snow has started to fly and its dark both to and from work it gets harder. Well, dark if I do a workout at work right after work. Saturday is my big workout day at about 5+ hours and then Sunday a day off from training. I then schedule in family activities and church service on the evenings around the training and on Sundays.

I am sure it sounds pretty boring to most people but I am actually quite enjoying the simplicity. Either at breakfast or before bed I can blog and I can still read in the evening a short bit before bed and on a rare occasion (often a Saturday night) enjoy watching something on TV with my wife. I get to spend time with a couple of my kids on workouts when their training can match up with mine, or at church, or even driving one of my daughters each morning to a class when I am on my way to work.

Sunday nights we spend time together and have even started a tradition of playing cards over Skype with my oldest daughter away at University. However, I doubt this would be possible without the support of my wife. She has been a superstar in helping me balance all of these things. Overall I think i have been happier this last few months than I can really remember.

Today did test my schedule - at least my morning heart rate was back to normal at 39 bpm. The pool was closed during lunch so I needed to get in to work earlier than usual and swim at the pool first thing in the morning. Definitely that is one advantage of working on a campus with a pool. Did a steady state swim and was really even through the 2.5km swim averaging within 2 seconds of 8:30 per 500m the whole way. Worked through lunch and then after work did a 10km run on the treadmill. For some people the treadmill is the "Dreadmill". I personally love being able to really specify a workout. For example, tonight I nearly exactly followed the first 10km of the St George Ironman run course. Set up a 1.5% climb for the first mile, a 2% for a half mile, 3% for a mile and 4% for a half mile. Since the treadmills we have in the fitness centre can't do descents I just ran flat level for the remaining 3.23 miles. My knee was a bit tender for about 3 minutes then loosened up and didn't bother me the rest of the run but i will be curious to see how it is tomorrow.

Straight after that I was off to a church meeting and got home just before 10pm. Best reward of the day was my wife offering to cook a meal for me - I am a lucky guy. Three cheers for supportive Ironmates!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Great Wattage Bike Workout

Day 90 Swim 35 min - 1750m, Bike 30 min - 15km

Still not 100% in the mornings, and probably because I was up late doing changes to my Blog layout. Can't let blogging interrupt training like that. Swim was so-so as I did 3X500 on a 10 minute cycle (7:39, 7:40, 7:50) plus an extra 250m.

However I am quite pleased with my bike workout. It was a short workout with a 4 minute warm-up and then wattage intervals at 90 seconds on and 90 seconds off. I ended up doing 9 intervals. I did a similar workout over a month ago where I finished the best one at 210 watts. Today I had a much higher power output (210, 220, 240, 250, 270, 280, 300, 320, 260). Peak heart rate was about 136 bpm and RPMs were between 95 and 105. So basically I averaged 260 watts and can now start working at a more consistent interval level. While I had a bit left in the 320 watt interval I would not be able to hold that for all nine sets - well at least yet.

I am really pleased about how the wattage workout went and my knee feels pretty good still tonight yet I am going to keep with a preventative icing anyways.

As inspiration to what an older triathlete can do watch the following clip of Chris McCormack's last 10 minutes when he held off Raelert. That is dedication.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A run with the SAIT Trojans XC Team

Day 89 Run 36 minutes - 7 km

Morning heart rate was elevated again this morning (up at 46bpm which is high for me) so I re planned the day to be an easy workout. Just over 200 days to go for Ironman St George so need to keep the big picture in focus and not get sick again.

Did a very short run after work and the knee felt not too bad. As I was leaving SAIT's Campus Centre to run the SAIT Trojans Cross Country Team was heading out for an easy run as well so I decided to join them.

Wow, that brings back some memories. It was 21 years ago I attended SAIT as a student and ran for them the two years I was there (89-91). Chatted with one of the guys on the team during the run and heard that they are a pretty small team this year and while not having a killer year so far they have been improving. Good luck to the Trojans in their meet on the weekend in Camrose.

Little things that help get you to Kona

Day 88 Swim 44 minutes - 2.2km, Bike 120 minutes - 64km

Total on Week so far 348 minutes

Morning heart rate is a tiny bit elevated. Need to watch that and back off if it climbs any more. Or get more sleep. As I keep my focus on Kona it is the little things that are making a huge difference.

Sleep, Nutrition, Rest, Technique. Everyone always wants to know the next big thing that will make you faster. However, I am becoming more convinced its the little things that matter. I would actually love to know the little things guys like McCormack do to keep on top. Given his age in the pro ranks it would be cool to understand his experience that helped pull off the big win at Kona.

courtesy Lucy Pemoni / AP Photo

I note that another company is making a play on the brand power of Ironman with the big announcement at Wheaties. Macca will be the first IM Kona winner on the Wheaties Box. Their press release states "Wheaties FUEL will be supporting its role as the official cereal of the Ironman Triathlon with national television, print and online advertising. The brand will also have on-site activation at upcoming Ironman events in the form of signage, sampling stations and a presence on the run course to help fans encourage their athletes through the finish."

And this is not all. When the Wheaties press engine even reaches out to lowly bloggers like me to make sure people are aware it shows that they have decided Social Media is a key avenue. Now I have not had a chance to sample Wheaties Fuel, perhaps part of the promotion engine would include sending us Bloggers a free box or two.

However, I did a quick scan of their materials and found that they are promoting the blogosphere to share general nutrition tips - and it will be very interesting to see if they can get the 'sphere to do it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Road to Nepal

Day 87 Bike 130 minutes - 62.5 km, run 54 minutes - 10 km

Total on week so far 184 minutes

After taking my usual rest day on Sunday I was able to leverage the Canadian Thanksgiving for a day of hard training. My good friend Bernie invited me for a ride on what he calls the road to Nepal. This out and back section was about 10km from my house so I rode out there as my warm-up and met them for the noon ride.

It was a bit cool and windy with the wind from the south and Bernie didn't seem thrilled at the wind. I didn't think much of it until I realized we were going to be riding south into heavy wind and up some pretty non-trivial hills. Also joining us was another friend of Bernie's, Darcy and his SO - they were riding a tandem bike.

On the first few rollers (probably an underestimate to call them rollers) I was crushed on the downhills as they all rode away from me and was barely catching back up on the uphills but after about 4km in we had a serious climb. Sadly my Garmin is not uploading to my computer today so i have to get the data later. This climb really allowed me to leverage my lighter weight and was able to get ahead of them enough to stay up ahead after the next decline.

The hills were long, steep and into the wind so I was doing a fair bit of standing because I was riding Frances Guru instead of my Cervelo today. Thus no compact crank and a heavier bike required a bit more effort. After finishing the 17.8km out section we rode back with a tailwind and more downhill than up. The rollers back were not as bad given the tailwind and by the time we got back to start I was up over 30km/hr average pace. During some of the big hills heart rate was up in the 156 range, that's near max for me on the bike I think.

After bidding farewell to the rest I rode the 10km home moderately (with tailwind) and then my brother in law who was over with his family for Thanksgiving dinner joined me for a brick 10KM run after my bike. Knee started a bit tight and if I picked it up too fast I could start to feel it - not thrilled about that however ran the 10km in 54 minutes but at an average heart rate of 133 bpm. Note quite a IM pace I want but at the IM heart rate which is good. Overall cardio felt pretty reasonable with some tired legs due to the ride.

Enjoyed a wonderful dinner with extended family and iced my knee to prompt good recovery so I can get in a good workout tomorrow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

IM Hawaii - Kona Broadcast Inspiration

Day 85 Bike 247 minutes - 112 km

What an amazing day! Got up earlier and set up the bike to ride the Real Course Video computrainer while watching the IM Hawaii broadcast online. Great motivation and even more proof of the importance of strong biking. Hearing the wattage the Chris Lieto puts out on the bike (300 watts) it just goes to show how much work is left for me.

Great watching Chris McCormick (Macca) and Raelert go toe to toe down the wire and also to see Carfrae run a crazy 2:53 in the marathon. It re-energized and inspired my focus. I was also interested to see the guys from last years IM SG do so well on the Kona bike course (20 minutes faster) which tells me how important the bike will be at St George.

I rode the lead 22 miles, plus 1 loop and then 2 mile finish for St George course today. Last time I only did 3 hours and the first 75km or so averaging a pathetic 146 watts. Today I averaged 162 watts, 118 heart rate, 89 rpm and did 109km in 3:54. This is much better but still only 6:28 territory for the bike. That means I need to find another 58 minutes still.

I plan to start doing some rides that break the course into sections and start riding those at the 130 heart rate thresholds. I know from IM Florida that I can ride the entire bike at 130-135 heart rate without too much risk to the run. Therefore time to start training at a bit higher heart rate.

Doing some calculations I figure I need to get close to 190 watts and hold it for the entire distance. For those that know me this will be very valuable for me to understand the stats that will require the results I want. Another ride scheduled for Monday.

Technical effort for Bike Improvement

Day 84 (Friday) Bike 62 minutes - 28km

Today was the start of my concentrated effort to improve my bike and bike technique. The key to my Kona qualification is coming through with an astronomical improvement on the bike. I will need to pedal strong, more efficient and maintain a much higher wattage than ever before.

Tonight my bike was focused on working the entire pedal stroke, spinning at 90-95 rpms and keeping heart rate smooth. I was shocked to see how tired the legs were doing that - I obviously have relied too much on the running centric muscles in the past when biking. Worked at only 130 watts in order to focus on the technique.

Time to get quite serious on the bike. Tomorrow - IMSG course.

Return to Training

Day 83 (Thursday) Swim 28 minutes 1300 m

My first workout post the hard race last week was a smart technical swim workout. Not a lot of distance and easy efforts just to make sure I work my way back into it. Knee was a tiny bit tight on the first few turns but worked into it by the end. Did three hard 100m intervals at the end (1:22 territory and felt great).

After the workout the swim must have loosened the knee quite a bit because it felt great. Tomorrow I will do a bike and see how the knee responds to that.

Patience and Recovery

Day 79-82 Recovery and Rest

After the hard day of racing on Saturday I spent Sunday (regular rest day) and Monday through Wednesday stretching and massaging and icing. By the end of Wednesday I was very motivated to get back training and my morning resting heart rate was back on track.

So Thursday was scheduled for my first workout day to get back on track.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

River Park XC Race and stupidity

Day 78 part 2

Well, decided to race the River Park race 3 hours after the Harvest Half Marathon and it probably was a pretty unwise move. My legs were shot and my knee had survived the first race but I had to tempt fate. Before I get to the details I will say that I should be listening to Dr. Z's advice - I am not 20 something anymore and to try the double race was risky - hopefully nothing serious is buggered up in my knee.

The Calgary Roadrunner XC series is not a soft race series. Its nasty tough courses and meant to test yourself. At any given race half of the elite racers in Calgary are there using it as a tough tempo workout. This particular race runs through the Elbow River (Knee to quad depth) twice and up two cliffs on either side of the river. See race elevation profile below.

So you may ask - why on Earth did I do this double. Well two reasons - one I was stupid and prideful wanting to prove I was tough, but the reason I really convinced myself is I wanted to work on my toughness for Ironman. I wanted to see if I could push through muscle discomfort while already fatigued. It seemed like a good way to build confidence.

I did manage to run the race pretty well, albeit slower than if I had done it fresh. Despite the two river crossings and two massive hills I managed just a hair over 8min / mile, my goal pace at Ironman and realized I could run fast when sore. Heart rate was a bit high but averaged just around 150 for most of the race.


The biggest concern was the beating my knee took. Since I was fatigued and the quads and calves both "beyond" tight the impact went straight to my knee and the tough downhills just pummeled it. It was really sore afterwards. Just to give you an idea this is the second steepest downhill - no picture of the steepest.

My form is anything but pretty as I descended the hill. In addition to the downhill beating on my knee the river crossings took there toll on me. So other than the expected muscle stiffness I will be watching the next few days to see if the knee recovers from the pains it currently has.

Hopefully I have not done it in too much.

Harvest Half Marathon

Day 78 Run 140 minutes - 32 km (Saturday)

Total on week 160 minutes

Didn't sleep that much because I was so hyped for the race. This race for me was pretty important for a few reasons

1) Was a bigger race and potentially a stronger field
2) I was more ready for this half-marathon than any other in years
3) It was a checkpoint on how well my training to run farther at a speed that would equate to a 3:30 Ironman run.

Also, Frances was doing her second half-marathon with me and she was well trained and rested for it. Knee was a bit sensitive during my warm-up but not enough to concern me. Frances and I did my usual pre-race warm-up as we had got to the race with lots of time to spare.

1km easy easy jog then turn around and do drill work back to race start
Drill work was 3 X A's (First step, then skip, then A run)
3 X C's (all C - runs)
then 6 X 50 m accelerations (first at 55%, then 65, 75, 85 and finally 95)
then walk the rest of the way back.

I finally decided on my strategy about 5 minutes before race start. Get into the top 8-12 off the gun then work my way up pending on the pace. Run about 4:00 min/km and watch heart rate and target losing a bit of time if I couldn't handle that pace.

When the gun went off I recognized three guys from the Sheep River Road Race last month. Two of them were in the 30-39 bracket and one had run 36 min low, the other had been in the group of three that beat me by 10 seconds plus the guy who finished about a minute behind me in the 40-49 bracket.

All three took off hard as well as two others and I sat myself in 6th. Pace felt ok but the Garmin showed it to be a bit fast so I settled down and got into a rhythm. Below is the graph of my heart rate data during the race.

So as you can see I managed to run heart rate pretty even through the race. This is not an overly easy half marathon. After the 2km mark you start to climb for the next 3-4 km. You also run about 1 km of trail and then have a number of small and steep rollers as you cross Fish Creek a few times and run over sections of rolling back in the provincial park. Mostly due to adrenaline and a bit because it was early in the race I was under 20 minutes for the first 5km, then through the off-road and roll-y section was slightly over 20 minutes for the second 5km. By this stage in the race the two leaders had dropped everyone else and there was a pack of 4 of us within 50 meters changing lead multiple times. We as a group probably changed positions no less than a dozen times in the race. Mostly as a result of who was stronger on uphills, downhills and flats. See the elevation graph below to get a sense of how much this course rolls.

By the time we got to the midway mark Joseph (guy in my age bracket) had put a bit of distance on myself and Sean and another guy who we had dropped had returned to our pack and started to chase down Joseph. Pace was feeling a bit fast and I started to fall off the back end and had to get my mind into it. Ran the third 5km a second faster than 20 minutes and started to believe I could get back in this. Just before hitting the 15 km mark I was back even with Sean, 50m back of Joseph and the other guy (Jody Klassen) had dropped all of us and was 150m ahead.

Picking up the intensity but not really the pace I started to close on Joesph and at the 17km mark on the large hill out of the valley made a push to catch him. You can see the effort in the heart rate graph as I climbed the hill and notice the pace during the hill climb - uphill and somewhat of a headwind. Pace graph below.

By the time I hit the top of the hill I was in 4th and out of range to catch Jody and Joseph was fading (found out later he had a stomach issue - my condolences) and Sean was hanging a few meters behind me. In the end I pushed hard the last 3 km for the finish and held position for my 4th overall and age cat win in 1:25:05.

Results Here

I have to express appreciation for Sean's support during the race as we ran a lot of it together, as well as Joseph for pushing us so fast through the middle of the race. My 10 plus year PR is in part from them. Frances had a great race (though she said she went too hard early) and finished in 1:48:03 and won the 18 and under female category.

ACL Reconstruction revisited

Day 77 - Swim 20min - 1200m (Friday)

Total on week 20 minutes

It took until Friday before I finally got a workout in. Between my cold, work responsibilities and church responsibilities Thursday just wasn't going to happen. Despite the cold it has probably been good for the knee to not be doing much and the tightness is completely gone. The downside is that I have a pain in the knee on the inside.

I am starting to be concerned that its not just a simply overuse that would heal on its own as the pain is as best I can remember where it used to hurt just after my ACL reconstruction back in 1995. I had torn my ACL, MCL, LCL and damaged medial and lateral meniscus. What I am most concerned about is the volume stressed either the meniscus cartilage or the insertion points where the ACL was re-attached.

What gets me is that when the knee was tight there was no localized pain there and its only surfaced after being off for 6 days.

Today's swim was just to test out the cardio with having been sick and did a bit of up tempo swimming and it feels fine. I decided on a descending ladder workout with 1 X 400, 2 X 200, 4 X 100 with lots of rest (30-60 seconds) between each.

I am quite nervous about tomorrow's race and am hoping to do quite well pending the cold being truly addressed.