Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Bit of Bother...

Tonight's ride put me into a bit of bother (as Phil Ligget likes to say). It's a repeat of the same ride over the last three weeks. Tonight the plan hurt. I struggled to match last weeks numbers, and looking at the results in WKO+... I didn't make it.

I'm not concerned. There are so many variables contributing to performance on any given day. First there's three weeks of fatigue. I started off a bit hungry. The weather is always different. And on, and on, and on.

I'm interested to see how I bounce back tomorrow. This is definately a week to push things forward. The fall season looms...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Struggling Through That Time Of Year

I thought it was just me. But talking several folks, it seems others are struggling with their training as well. There's something about August.

Maybe it is the heat? It is indeed hot. Daily the heat index has been over 100° F. Rather dismotivating. After a week or two, draining. Even with shortened workout duration, the heat just takes the fight outta ya. Who wants to train in this?

Maybe it's the change of the seasons? Like a guest that has overstayed it's welcome... it's time to kick summer out for hanging around. Combined with anticipation of more comfortable training weather ahead, the days seem to drag on endlessly this time of year. It breeds a theme of -- it's time to move on!

Is there hope? Of course. In about three weeks solid signs of fall will be upon us. When I was last at Double Lake, I noticed the first tinges of fall scent in the forest. The forest smells different in the fall, and it's starting to waft out. The days are getting shorter. I'm just starting to notice that I'm needing lights on the end of my evening training.

I'm taking the approach I had post-surgery. When the instructions said "don't make any big decisions today" as a warning for the anesthetic. August is one of those time when not making any big decisions is probably a good idea. It feels like a good time to give up. To succumb to the heat, the fatigue, the dying season. Give it a month. The world be much fresher. Trodding through what's left of the summer will make the fall that much sweeter!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Hot Lunch

The heat index is a mere 96°F. Overcast skies, and some ominous clouds to the southwest. Today I'm out to shell the legs with a short intense ride. The plan is two sets of ten (10x) intervals that are a mere 10seconds long. On the recovery side, it's 50seconds. The effort level is as hard as possible without leaving the saddle, or losing form. Lots of huff and puff by the end of the 10min set.

Church's Chicken, oh how I loathe thee...

Each time I pass they are frying thier delectably odorifous treats. Tempting, but I resist.

Timing is perfect today. As is the effort. I just barely muster up the last effort interval. I don't think I can do another. I return home just on the ragged edge of bonking. Food comes just in time. And just as I walk in the door the skies let loose with a barrage of rain.

A quick sandwich, cool refreshing watermelon, quick shower, and back to work!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pile Ons

Tonight's workout plan. 5min max. 1 min recovery … 5min max. 2min recovery … 5min max, 3min recovery … 5min max, 4min recovery … 5min max, 5min recovery. The 5min max work intervals are tough to pace. Just the right length to toy with the mind. I spend the first 3minutes thinking it's too easy. And the last 2min thinking "what have I done?" That's about the right pace for the intervals!

The heart rates overlay. Shows the first lap lower, but pretty consistant for the remaining laps. Interesting. There doesn't seem to be much change in *heart rate* for the varying length of rest. Big difference in my respiration rate, though. Sometimes I wish I had a trace of respiration rate as well.

Tomorrow is a skills day... but haven't picked what I will master... hmm...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week-to-Week Comparison

Today's ride is based on a ride I did last week. Last week I attempted three sets of 2min long intervals, maximal effort. I rode them without looking at the PowerTap. After the ride, I noted the efforts. Andrew Coggin recommends looking at the average of the third interval. Which makes sense. The first one is a gimmie. You're fresh. By fifth or sixth you're tired.

Sure enough, there was a big decline in rep one to rep two. But third and after were remarkably close until reached the point where I couldn't complete a full 2min interval. I didn't complete the final set last week.

This week I repeated the same workout. Just for giggles I knocked 20watts off the target for the intervals to see if I could complete all the sets. I pushed things through, and did indeed finish all sets at this slightly lower power level. Could I have finished at the same power level? Donno. These felt way easier. But today's temperature was a significantly lower. 102°F vs. 96°F. The magic number being 98°F (body temperature). Too many variables to control, but things seem to be working OK for now...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How Long Until it's Cool Enough to Ride?

Tonight's tempo ride started late in an attempt to beat the swealtering heat. I waited until 8:25PM. It was still hot. And humid. I cut the ride short. The heat index on return home... was 105°F. AT 9:45PM!

I think the answer to the title of this post is.......October!

Even Though I'm An Adult...

I still like playin' in the dirt. Saturday's dirt tan...

A few hot laps around Double Lake Recreation Area.

Hot describes the weather and the effort. My first lap was fairly leisurely. I even eat some jelly beans!

The second lap was supposed to be up tempo. But, feeling great, I decide to take a peek into where my fitness is at. I crank up the intensity to 11.

Felt great! I'm not deadmanning on the bars. Which a great development. The core work is paying off. The legs feel great. And I'm coping with the heat well.

Until the third lap. In the forest... the trees provide great shade. But it's a pine forest. So when the sun gets directly overhead... that shade vanishes. And it gets H-O-T quickly. I throttle back this lap and head home.

It's a good day!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Skills Day

The day after intense work is a great opportunity to take some time to work on skills. These are light days. Nothing heavy, but if needed to test your skill, go for it. I choose one *specific* thing to work on. Set a goal and go for it.

Today's choice... front brake use. I recently read Keith Code's Twist of the Wrist. He mentions that most bikers when presented with a panic stop almost always grab the rear brake. Why? Because that's what they learned first. And most children when learning to ride are taught not to use the front brake too much. Part of reprogramming yourself is going out an using the front brake, and becoming OK with what happens around the edges of its envelope of use. That was my goal today.

Off to Spotts Park. I dove down the hill and practiced braking all the way to the limit of traction... and a bit beyond. Unlike the childhood stories we all heard... nothing really bad happens when the front wheel locks up. As long as you keep your weight back... the wheel slides long before a trip over the bars occurs.

A bit over an hour of efforts and I'm feeling a new sense of confidence braking heavily. Tomorrow... threshold crossovers and crosstraining.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Not The Heat

Ok, it *is* the heat! Lunchtime ride was under a heat index of 105°F. The evening ride wasn't much better. 102°F. Fortunately, I've planned for this. At this time of year, the intensity cranks up, and the duration decreases. I'm not spending hours out baking in the sun. Lesson learned from last year when at this time I was still doing long rides throughout August. By September I was burnt.

Today's rides were tailermade for the heat. At lunch... Two sets of 10x 30sec long intervals as hard as possible, followed by 30sec 'recovery'. It's over quick, but far from easy. The evening was three sets of 5x 2min maximal effort with 3min recovery, and 6min between sets. Didn't finish my last set before meowing. Legs just couldn't produce anywhere near a sensible target.

Remainder of the eve... Biofreeze, compression tights, feet up on sleeping wedge, and an early bedtime. A fun day tomorrow...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Despite the Gadgets...

PE is still the most important training measurement tool. What's "PE"? Perceived Exertion. Which is a fancy way of saying how hard did the ride feel. WKO+ and PowerTap give me Training Stress Score (TSS) and Intensity Factor (IF).

Comparing yesterday's Tempo paced ride; and today's Intense Interval ride... both rides had an almost identical TSS. Yesterday's ride had a low IF (tempo paced!). Today's ride had a high IF. Yesterday left me feeling fresh -low PE. Today wiped me out -high PE.

Both rides should have left me equally tired. Theoretically. The fact that the intensity left me wiped is telling me I need to work on my intensity training. This despite having worked on this... I need to develop this regime more.

All of this to say... listening to the body is always important. Gadgets help generate data, but unless correlated to what the body is doing... the numbers are useless. There's no more basic measure than "how do I feel?". It's also one of the most important.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vineman Travels

A short break from training for a trip to California's Napa region. I was there to support Jane's ironman triathalon. We touched down in San Francisco and headed directly for the ville of Windsor, CA up the iconic US101 route. Passing over the Golden Gate Bridge was a neat feature. As an engineer, this is a wonderful testiment to times past. The architectural-like details are striking. Amazing to think that every rivet in that structure was placed by hand.

Notables from the trip...

We ate at Real Doner in Petaluma, CA. this was our first stop after touching down. Wonderful Turkish food!

As we dined outside we got our first taste of the weather. Amazing. Temps in the mid-60s and a nice breeze. I relexively ask aloud "I wonder how hot it gets in the summer over here?" Failing to realize this is the summer! Being from the gulf coast, I naturally associate these temperatures with fall or spring.

The race started in Grueneville, CA. This is a town that time seems to have forgotten (for the better) nestled between vineyards and a redwood forest. The race swim was in the Russian River...

Again the weather was absolute perfection. I wrote some messages for Jane.

along her biking route...

It would turn out to be a tough day on the bike for our hero. Suffering from some mechanical issues, and many logistical issues caused by the promoter. Jane would run late into the night, when the promoter ended her race before she was willing to give up. She got robbed.

A painful way to cap off a strong effort of fending off multiple adversities. Everyone should watch an ironman triathalon atleast once. It's an amazing experience to see people come through the event. Folks of all ages, of all types all pushing themselves beyond what nearly everyone thinks is impossible. Just don't stand near the Team In Training folks. ;-)

Departing was difficult. I really enjoyed the stay here. More than anything I didn't want to leave the weather behind...

... ah back to the triple-digit heat of south Texas. *sigh*