Friday, July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006 - An unexpected comment

Bike: 10km (25min)

Boy, I sure could have used a few more hours of sleep -- about 10 more. I'm a complete zombie today.

Thankfully I'm awake fully by the time I head out the door (thanks to my daughter's morning routine). Steady headwind again into work, but the weather feels cooler again today (even though the humidity's high again). Tried to give the legs a bit of a rest and geared down pretty much the whole way.

Had a nice 'n'quick conversation with someone in a car while waiting for a red light. He graciously thanked me for following the rules of the road, and for using hand signals. I thanked him for the complement, had a bit more chit-chat, and then we sped off. Nice to know that people appreciate that. I know as a driver that I certainly do, and I always wonder why all cyclists don't ride like that. A bike will never win against a car, no matter how good you are, so don't put yourself in a bad situation.

July 20, 2006 - Where'd this wind come from?

Bike: 10km (25min)

Legs still tired and tight. Pulled back a bit on the intensity to do some "active recovery" - yeah, right. I never hold back enough to do active recovery. And facing a headwind the whole way home (and a strong one at that) didn't help any either. So I dug in a pushed it the whole way home. My quads are done, and my hamstrings are now done as well, since they were busy compensating for the lack of quads in the pedal stroke.

This was one ride that made me happy that it's only 10km! And I'm not even considering swimming tonight. Time for a bit of rest and time with the family.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 20, 2006 -- Cycling and wobbly ladders don't mix

Bike: 10km, ~23min

After my daughter went to bed last night, my wife and I painted the last wall on the main level: the wall adjacent to a curved-staircase to the basement. Rather than spending a few hundred dollars to hire someone, I got a "compound ladder" that you can use on stairs. The idea is that you use it like a step-ladder, but one side slides up and over the other. Then you climb up the side that's above the lower stairs.
This is not a comfortable ladder for me (not that I particularily like ladders to begin with), and it was extra wobbly since it was on steps with carpet....and books under one leg when the curve in the staircase came into play. I was nervous and tense the entire time I was on it.

Then I bike in this morning and realize just how tense I was. My legs were so tired and stiff! I felt like I ran a half marathon! Thankfully, there was a stiff tailwind for me, so I got a bit of a break.

But I'll pay for that when I head home. Solid 25-30kph headwind the whole way, if the forecast is correct.

God, I'm such a fairweather cyclist! I'll run in -40degC weather, windstorms, rainstorms, but I hesitate to jump on the bike if there's the slightest bit of wind or rain!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July 19, 2006 - Now it's time to work the mind

Run: 7.5km, 44min.

Now I knew I'd be tired today, but I didn't expect to be that tired. Thankfully, Rob had to back out of doing kilomter intervals today. Knowing that the run in the triathlon will be anything but comfortable, I headed out towards the trails near work to focus on mental strength, tossing speed out the window.

This was one hard run. I felt like there was nothing in the tank right from the start. "Just keep moving" is what I kept saying in my mind over and over...pretty much for the whole run. My goal was to get through the run when I felt like I couldn't take much more. Goal met.

July 18, 2006 - Gatorade, Mental Barriers and the Path to Enlightenment

Swim: 1h15min, 2100m

I almost didn't make it to the swim. Almost. But I think guilt and the fear of not making the swim portion of my upcoming event beat out being just plain tired. Decided to mix up my second bottle of Gatorade (orange is my fav), drink half, and head out to the pool.

On the whiteboard at the lanes, one of the biggest warmups I've yet to face: 300m free, 2 x 100m IM (individual medley -- all four strokes) as drills, and 8 x 50m free sprints with each one getting faster. Not being like the Ironmen and Ironwomen in the lanes beside me, I only finished 4 of the 8 but for me, that's pretty good.

And then came the set, and given that my legs were pretty much done from the spin earlier today, it certainly looked daunting: 100m on 2min10s, 200m on 4min20s, 300m on 6min30, then 50m easy on 2min. Then repeat. Twice. If you can, do it three times.

Rest breaks? The way my coach lines these up is that you get a rest when you finish your 100m/200m/300m portion before the time given. If your 100m takes 2min, you get a 10sec rest. If you take 2min10 for that 100m, just turn around and keep going.

The first rep of these I found myself searching for that smooth, fluid timing that wouldn't make me feel like I was panicking for air. Moving into the last portion of the first 200m part, it finally started to come out. I actually stayed on pace for the first set, but felt rather tired from the fight to find my stroke.

The second rep found my legs slowing down quite a bit - even the coach noticed. I could only stay on pace for about 1/2 of the rep, but I didn't care. My main focus for the night was to prove to myself that I can cover these distances, that I'm not panicking for air, not floundering like I'm going to drown. The long, lean body position, continuous kick and shoulder rotation was what I needed to get into that "muscle memory" that never forgets and makes all this like second nature. I kept pushing on, doing mini-drills when I felt things falling apart. Poor rotation - do some arm recovery drills. Not gliding - do more strokes before recovery. These were the two main fixes for me, getting me back on the top of the water, rotating well, and not sucking in water on recovery. In the end, it worked. I missed the 300m portion by about 30sec, but I did it, and I actually felt like I could keep going.

So I did. I completely wrapped up the second rep and started a third. Only made it through the 100m portion, but I made it to the third rep. And I covered 2100m - the largest volume of swimming in one session that I've ever done. 2000m hung over my head for a long time, and I fought to reach it for months. Tonight, I broke through.

I. Was. Pumped. After last week, I was really questioning my ability to make that swim leg in September. But after tonight, game on. I can get through it. Given the condition I was in when I entered the pool, I covered a lot of ground - far more than I thought I would - and kept on going. Even better, I had something left that I could have gone even more.

The real difference was my mental focus - I gave myself purpose. And I think I gave myself permission to suffer, not like it, but find a better way. It took some time, but I found it, and it felt great.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

July 17, 2006 - So long, farewell.

Spin: 45min (very high intensity). Average HR: 144bpm. Peak HR: 177bpm (about 93%max).

Decided to loosen up the legs today with a spin class, since yesterday was too hot (again) to really do much of anything. It just so happens to be the last class for the Tuesday instructor, who is taking a new job far, far away. She said it would be "fun" and would be playing her favorite music. The music was great, but "fun" isn't the first word that comes to mind for the session.

Actually, I can't think of just one word...I'll make one up: Holycrapmylegsfeellikejellywhyareyoudoingthistous. That about sums it up.

Hill climb. Hill intervals. Sprint intervals. More hill climb. More sprints. And to finish, an 8min high-intensity hill climb.

The trouble is that I really enjoy the classes that this instructor does. They're the most realistic, the most challenging, and the music rocks. They also make it very hard for me to back off and save some energy for things like...oh, I tonight's swim.

On the positive side, I did read that swimming when you're tired forces your body to find a more efficient stroke. If that's the case, I'll be near 100% efficiency in the water tonight!

Monday, July 17, 2006

July 16, 2006 - Where to ride today?

Bike: 38.5km, 1h27min (pace: 26.5kph)
[link to route]

Still hot and humid here, but my wife and I (just like our daughter) needed to get out and move the legs. My wife headed out first and hit the trails that are all over around here. The trails were in great shape, kept her a bit cooler, and she had a great time. Then I put my daughter down for a nap, knowing it was my turn next. Not really knowing where I wanted to go, or even which bike to ride, I finally decided that I'd just take the road bike out and sort of figure the route as I went along.

I started on a stretch with a dedicated bike lane on the shoulder and came up with a few options for the route. The link above shows it. And it worked rather well. Lots of open areas to get used to the wind, and a few hills thrown in the mix too (ed: I still hate hill work). It ended up being a really nice ride, and was even able to stay relatively cool in the 34degC heat.

Then I climbed upstairs to have a shower, and realized how dead my legs were. A very clear sign that I need to incorporate some brick (bike/run) sets with the running focus in August.

My wife, the always-there-for-me-supporting-me-through-thick-and-thin woman that she is, got me a great new gift -- a sport id bracelet. It's from, and it's fantastic. It's small, really comfortable, and it has a water-resistant compartment that holds a piece of waterproof paper that you put your contact and medical information on. You can even get them with the MedicAlert symbol on them. I think it's a fantastic piece that every runner and cyclist should have. I love it!

Totals for Week 2:
Swim: 2h15min (3400m)
Bike: 2h54min (78.5km)
Run: 36min (6.5km)

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