Practicing Nutrition

We got about 6 inches of snow yesterday, so riding outside wasn't an option today. It's not easy getting back on the trainer after a taste of outdoor riding. Luckily, it looks like the snow is melting quickly so it shouldn't be too much longer before I'm back on the roads.

Last weekend I did a long brick and didn't eat enough so I got really hungry on the run. It was a short run, so I survived, but I realized I need to start learning what and how much to eat on long workouts. I've gotten lazy eating during workouts, and many times I eat very little. In fact, I didn't eat anything during most of my 2 1/2 hour trainer rides this winter.

Today's brick had more of a run focus, so nailing the nutrition on the bike was going to be key or the run would be a killer. The bike was 2 hours on the trainer followed by a 90 minute run. I picked up a packet of Hammer Nutrition's Sustained Energy at the bike shop to try on the bike. It's a powder you mix with water and it has about 350 calories.

I did a bit of research and figured 250 calories per hour on the bike should be sufficient. Then I planned on another 180 calories of Hammer Gel on the run. I dug out my Fuel Belt, which I've only used once before and didn't like, to give it another try for the run. I don't know any other way to carry gel and water on the run, so I figured I better get used to it.

Here's the plan for the bike: 1/2 bottle of Sustained Energy and 1 Fig Newton and 1 bottle of water (1 bottle of Nuuns, 1 bottle of Propel) per hour.

The run: 90 calories of Gel about 35 minutes in, another 90 at the 65-70 minute mark. Water when needed.

Afterwards: Endurox with extra Glutamine mixed in for recovery.

Then I layed out my gear for the run...

Then I got the bike set up...



After (not smiling anymore)...

Then the best part of every brick workout... The Ceas (Little Ceasars)...

Here's a picture of Cheri returning from her workout, an 8 mile run. I'm not supposed to post this because she doesn't approve of close ups post workout, but I don't listen very well...

All in all it was a good workout. I'd say I nailed the nutrition because the run went well and I wasn't hungry at any point. I'm not used to eating that much on the bike so I had to force it down a bit, but it was worth it. I'm on the fence with Sustained Energy. It doesn't taste good, which is okay, but it made me belch for the entire 2 hours on the bike. Considering some of the other options, that's not that bad but I think I might try some other drinks to see if there's something else out there I'll like better. The true test will come on a brick that has a 3 or 4 hour bike ride, but this was a good starting point.


Spring? I don't think so.

Yesterday as I rode my bike home from work, and it was sunny and warm, I thought, "it's not going to snow tomorrow. No way."

Today, as we're getting pounded with snow - already a few inches - I'm thinking, "I can't believe I rode my bike outside yesterday." What a difference a day can make.

Last spring I did a few road races and had a blast. Now that spring is here...I mean almost here...I've been bitten by the racing bug, big time. The first race I did was the Pedal for Proceeds race in Whitewater and that race is the same day as Crazylegs this year so I can't do it. The next race I did was the Tour de Dells, and it's not on the schedule so it looks like I can't do that one either. Then there are a ton of TTs on the schedule, which I'm looking forward to doing a few of them, but no road races.

So I started browsing the race schedules for Illinois and Iowa to see if there's anything remotely close coming up, and I found a race that looks interesting: The Hillsboro Roubaix.

The race is March 29, so I would have virtually no time to prepare. And it's not really that close...it's outside St. Louis. About 5 hours from Madison. But it's a road race. It's coming up. And it includes some brick roads so this would truly be a spring classic...a good way to whip myself into shape (and get dropped).

It's a little crazy for me to pack up and head to St. Louis to race considering I only have 150 outdoor miles under my belt and this is a sanctioned race and I don't have a license. I could get a one-day license, so that's not really an issue. I'd probably get shelled, but that's okay. It's March. It's okay to be out of shape in March.

I wonder if Cheri would be up for a road trip? Pack up the bikes and head down to St. Louis Friday evening, race Saturday morning, then head out for a ride afterwards so Cheri can get some miles in and then head home. I still have some Marriott rewards points left so I could get a free hotel room. That's tempting. Hmmmm...

I also came across a double header weekend coming up in Des Moines on April 5 & 6: The Altoona Road Race and The Big Creek Road Race. It's very doubtful I would do that one, but it does look like a lot of fun. Here are a few other upcoming events that look tempting:

4/5 - Black Earth 10 mile race (run)
4/6 - John Frasier Memorial TT - 16K - Chicago
4/12 - American Cancer 5K/10K
4/13 - 20K TT in Kansasville, WI (Milwaukee)
4/20 - Cherry Valley 30K TT - Cherry Valley, IL (Rockford)
4/27 - Harvard Road Race - Harvard, IL
5/3 - Peanut Butter Duathlon - Rockford IL
5/3 - Dar's Midwest TT - 16 miles - Willard, WI

I'm real tempted to get some bike racing in this spring because I don't think I'll be able to this summer. I'll be busy doing triathlons, and many of my weekends will be spent going for long rides (probably followed by a short run).

I'm having a hard time committing to one discipline. So far on my race schedule, I've got road races, time trials, 5Ks/10Ks, a half marathon, duathlons, aquathons and triathlons.


Doing a Wolfgram

One of my co-workers rode his bike to work the other day, then rode home and threw his bike on the trainer and rode some more and he was accused of "doing of Wolfgram." I'm not sure if I've ever rode my bike home from work and then put it on the trainer, but I would.

I'm not sure exactly what qualifies, but I may have done a Wolfgram today. I rode my bike to work for the first time this year, then I rode at lunch, then I rode home, then I rode out Paoli and back, then I changed into my running gear and ran 5.5 miles.

This was my second brick of the year, and it was a tough one. I wanted to push hard on this one and go at about 90% effort. The bike was pretty tough because of the wind and the 26 miles I had already ridden today. My legs were feeling it....and, of course, the headwind was on the way home...as always.

The run went surprisingly well. With my legs being tired toward the end of the bike, I thought I was going to struggle through the run but I got into a rhythm and enjoyed the run. I've really been enjoying running lately. I'm getting hooked.

Here's how dumb I am: I had this brick workout planned and knew it was going to be tough so what do I do? I asked a few of my co-workers - who happen to be very good cyclists - if they want to ride out to Paoli and back at lunch tomorrow since there's snow on the way Friday and it's going to be 46 degrees tomorrow. They're up for the ride, but now I'm thinking I just set myself up for a beating. I got in a total of 44 miles today including my commute and I ran 5.5 miles. Tomorrow morning I'm going to get up and run another 5 miles, then bike to work and try to hang with those guys at lunch...which is going to be a challenge. Then I'll ride home and go to the pool. Does that count as a Wolfgram? Two Wolfgrams two days in a row? Good thing Friday is an easy day.

Today, Cheri did her first speed workout on the treadmill. I came up with an interval run for her to do that had a few striders at the end. I tried to make the workout tough, but not an all out beating. I was confident she could hit the times, but she was skeptical. She hit all the pace zones and said the workout wasn't as tough as she thought it was going to be. It was tough, but not brutal, which I was really happy to hear because I've never come up with an interval workout for someone else to do. I know what pace zones I can run, but it's tough figuring that out for someone else.

Her running has been coming along really well, and she's starting to enjoy it a lot. Mainly, because she learning that you don't need to run hard all the time and it's okay to go out and run at a comfortable pace...and you can actually get faster doing that. She'll be doing her longest run ever this weekend - 8 miles. Here's hoping it goes well....


Shamrock Shuffle

I didn't really have any expectations for this race after yesterday's workout. I wanted to do well and run hard, but I didn't expect to set a PR or do very well in the standings. The one goal I had was to finish with negative splits. I always go out too hard and die toward the end and I'm trying to change that and learn to pace myself better.

My legs felt better than I expected this morning. They were a little stiff and sore, but not too bad. I had some Special K and a bagel for breakfast, stretched for a while and headed to the Overture Center to register.

They had to change the course due to all of the ice, so the new course was an out and back on Observatory, which is hilly so I expected the race to be tough. The first mile was a struggle. My legs felt slow and sluggish and Observatory killed me. I was hurtin. But what goes up, must come down and I was able to pick up the pace and recover a bit on the backside of Observatory hill. Then there was a short flat section before the turn around and I was able to hold a steady pace and recover from the hills....just in time to run them again. The second time was tough, but I was able to pick up a few spots and close the gap on two runners in front of me.

I was pretty spent after those hills, and there was still about a half mile to go and two runners in front of me I wanted to pass. I've been reading a book on Steve Prefontaine, and I thought about a quote of his that last half mile that helped me close the gap and eventually pass those 2 runners.

"A lot of people run to see who's the fastest. I run to see who has the mos
t guts."

It's a good quote to think about at the end of a 5K, because everyone is hur
ting that last half mile and it's all about guts at that point. Who's willing to ignore the pain and push themselves to their limits? Who's willing to suffer the most?

My only goal for this race was to run negative splits, and I met that goal so I'm really happy about that. In retrospect, I should've pushed a little harder on that first mile, but I'm not going to stress over that because I had no idea what pace I could hold for 3.1 miles. I haven't run this hard in a long time. It was a good way to start the year.

I think this was a PR too...by a couple of seconds. I'm not sure though. I can't remember what my best time is. If it's not a PR, it's very close. My goal is to break 20 minutes, so I'm not really concerned with PRs that aren't under 20. As for the standings, I have no idea where I finished. They haven't posted the results yet so I'll post those later along with a few pictures. Here are my splits:

Time: 20:25
Mile 1 = 6:53
Mile 2 = 6:36
Mile 3 = 6:32
Last .1 = 5:07

Update: They posted the results. I got 11th place overall, 3rd in my division - better than I thought I did so I'm pretty happy with my results. Officially my time was 20:29.


First annual snot rocket ride

First brick workout of the year. This is a weekend of firsts...first outdoor ride, first brick and first race (tomorrow).

I decided to do the Belleville ride I did last year on March 10th, although it would be more aptly named the New Glarus ride since I ride through Belleville on my way to New Glarus and then home. New Glarus is Wisconsin's Little Switzerland. It's a fun town to ride through on a long ride.

When I left the house the temperature was about 35 degrees and I think it may have dropped a bit on my ride because it was frosty out there. So I've decided to rename this ride the Snot Rocket Ride. I will do this ride every year in the middle of March and leave a 50 mile trail of frozen snot.

Like last year, this ride tore me apart. It was rough out there. It was good on the way out. The temperature was good and I had a tailwind. I wasn't working that hard, and my average speed when I hit Belleville was 20 mph. I didn't check my speed in New Glarus, but I'm guessing it was around 19. I stopped briefly at the park in New Glarus to eat a Clif bar and bundle up a bit more. The wind was getting cold and I needed to put my headband on to keep my ears warm. My skull cap doesn't do a great job covering my ears.

This is when things got ugly. I had a headwind most of the way back from New Glarus, and it was a cold, cold wind. The hills didn't get to me like they did last year (well, not as much as last year), but the temperature did. I was having a hard time staying focused and I was dreaming of a hot shower. By the time I got home my average speed had dropped to 17 and I couldn't feel my fingers or toes. But no hot shower for me. Not yet....

I had a short run scheduled for today, so I figured I may as well do that right after my ride to save time and get my first brick workout in. I was so cold when I got home I did not want to go back out. It took me a little while to get changed into my running gear and then I ran my hands under warm water for a few minutes to get the feeling back because they were hurtin. Then I threw on my new Zoots, and headed out.

My legs were spent from the ride so the run was a little rough. Plus, I quickly discovered I didn't do a good job with my nutrition on the bike. After ten minutes of running, I was no longer dreaming of a hot shower. I was dreaming of Little Ceasars.

The Zoots were good, but the back of the shoe feels a little weird. I think they'll be good for short races because you can get into them so fast, but I wasn't as impressed as I was hoping to be. They're light and comfortable enough (I wore wool socks so I don't know what they're like barefoot yet), but the back of the shoe is really tall and feels a little goofy. Plus they don't have a lot of support so they won't be good for long races. Maybe I just need a little more time to get used to them.

My expectations for the Shamrock Shuffle tomorrow have lowered to nothing. My legs are trashed right now. I'm not used to long outdoor rides with hills and wind followed by a 30 minute run. Just think about how sore I'm going to be after the Ironman. Compared to that, this workout was nothing.

Here's the cycling data from MotionBased, easily the slowest website on the web. I need a new website to upload GPS data to.

Here's the run data...

While I was waiting for the temp to warm up this morning, I came across this picture. He didn't even let go of the umbrella...


First outdoor ride of 08

There it is...my first outdoor ride of the year. Maybe someday I'll get a digital camera so I can post real pictures instead of crappy screenshots of Google Earth or MotionBased (below).

Last year I rode a little outside in January and February, but I didn't really start riding outdoors until March 10. Considering how horrible this winter was, I didn't think I'd get an outdoor ride in until April. But the weather has fin
ally taken a turn for the better.

So this year I get my first ride in on March 14th...not bad. Only 4 days later
than last year. On my first ride last year, I rode 50 miles to Belleville and back on a Saturday morning. The temperature was in the low 50s and I remember the ride was hillier than I thought it was going to be and I was pretty tired when I got home.

For some reason, I haven't really had the cycling bug yet this year. Bike-
o-rama got me a little fired up, but not as much as I'd hoped. Maybe it's because everything is still covered in snow, ice, sand and salt. The last 2 days have been in the 50s and the snow is finally starting to melt and the grass is starting to show in a few spots. A few of my co-workers went for a lunch ride today and we talked about it for a while when they got back (Dennis hasn't been on the trainer much this winter and he hit a heartrate zone we didn't even know existed on the lunch ride - good stuff). Then I overheard some more of my co-workers talking about the weather changing and how we'll be able to ride outdoors soon. Then, at about 4:00, I checked the weather and it was 49 degrees and sunny. I stepped outside, and it felt really warm (when winter is as cold as this one has been, 49 degrees feels really, really warm). All of a sudden, I felt the need to ride outdoors...immediately. Spring fever. I love it.

My plan was to ride the trainer tonight, but I figured if I hurried home after work and got on my bike right away I could sneak in a one hour ride before the sun went down and the temperature dropped. I had to scramble to get ready since I wasn't prepared to ride outside, but I managed to get out the door by about 5:30.

What a rude awakening this ride was. I've been hitting the trainer pretty hard this winter - and quite a few of those rides have been 40+ miles - so I figured an easy one hour ride would be...well...easy. I forgot how much tougher it can be outdoors. You get this false sense of fitness on the trainer. Sure, you have to pedal the whole time and you don't get any breaks at stoplights and you don't get to coast downhill, but you don't have to deal with hills or wind or rough roads. Almost all of my riding on the trainer has been steady state intervals. I
haven't really trained for those spikes in power and heart rate you get when climbing or riding into a strong headwind.

I didn't go all out tonight, but I didn't make this as easy as I sho
uld have either. I got a little excited being outdoors and decided to push the pace a little more than I had planned. I thought the roads were going to be horrible, but they weren't that bad. A pleasant surprise. I thought I was going to feel strong and fast after all the miles on the trainer (about 1,250) this winter, but I didn't. An unpleasant surprise. I never really felt that good. My legs hurt on the climbs and riding into the wind. I've been training mostly in an aerobic HR zone, so every time my heart rate climbed above 80% of max I struggled. I thought I was in better cycling shape than I am.

Even though the ride didn't go as I expected, it was a lot more fun than being on the trainer. Time goes so much faster outdoors. I've got my work cut out for me, but that's okay. There's still plenty of training time left. The weekend forecast is looking pretty good so I might get out for another ride or two this weekend and see if I can improve my bikejournal ranking of 4267 (in addition to my spreadsheet and trainingpeaks, I log my miles on bikejournal.com - only because that's where I started logging them so all of the miles I've ever ridden are logged there - logging miles is a bit of an obsession for me - it's a sickness - I need help).

I have a 2.5 hour ride scheduled for Sunday, but I'm thinking I might do that ride tomorrow instead. Maybe I'll ride out to Belleville and back like I did last year. I really enjoyed that ride.

Cheri's even thinking of bringing her bike up this weekend so she can get in a ride on Sunday. I'm thinking if I do my long ride tomorrow, I can do the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday (5K) and then go for an easy ride with Cheri (it won't be as easy as it should be though because she never lets me get off easy - she likes to attack when she sees I'm tired - yeah, that's the way she rolls).

Spring is in the air. I'm fired up.


It's Official. It's Spring!

Every March, one of the local bike shops in Madison throws a huge sale at the Alliant Energy Center called Bike-o-Rama. I don't know why, but I feel compelled to go every year. There's something about the large number of people excited about cycling that gets me fired up for spring. So I go knowing that I won't buy anything (I've been there 3 times and spent more on parking than I have on bike stuff).

We went on Sunday, so the place was picked clean already, which is okay because Cheri and I weren't planning on buying anything anyway. I just wanted to go to be around the enthusiasm and see if there were any killer deals I should take advantage of. Nothing. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. But working in the bike industry really takes the fun out of these sales.

So we decided to head over to Erik's Bike Shop to check out the Cannondales. We talked to one of the sales reps for a while, which was fun because he was very helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He talked to Cheri for a while about women's specific road bikes, and now she wants to get a new bike. She was going to wait for next year, but after flipping through the Cannondale catalog she found a bike she really wants and the price is great.

I'm happy she's going to upgrade because I think she'll be much happier with dura-ace components and then I won't have to adjust her derailluers as often. And I think this is a good time to buy a bike. The cost of raw materials in China is going up quite a bit and I think the price of bikes is going to be going up in the next few years.

Here's a picture of the bike she wants:

Except she wants this color:

It's official. Spring is here.... http://www.madison.com/tct/mad/breaking_news/276097

Thanks, Mayor Dave.


New Zoots

My new shoes arrived today. Yep, bright yellow. Not because I like yellow - I don't - but because that's the only color they come in.

I needed a new pair of race shoes because the ones I've been using have a ton of miles on them and they're, well, a little nasty. Zoot just came out with a line of shoes designed for triathlons so I figured I'd give em a try. What makes them so special, you ask?

They don't have any seams on the inside so you can run with no socks without tearing up your feet. They also have a quick lace system so you don't have to tie them, just give the elastic laces a tug and you're good to go. The back of the shoe is taller than most so you have more shoe to grab to put them on quickly in transition. They also have holes in the bottom so water will drain so your shoes don't fill with water...good for those of us who have a hard time taking water from someone while running and actually getting some of it in our mouths. Best of all, they're super light. I can't wait to get out and take them for a test drive. I'll wait for the snow to melt first.

I did try them on and walk around my apartment a little to see how they feel, and they're great. Very light and comfy. I think they're going to be a great race shoe, but they don't have much support so I don't think I'll be wearing them for the Ironman. Transition times aren't as important in an Ironman so I don't mind taking the time to put on socks and tie my shoes, so I think I'll probably stick with my regular shoes for IM.

I learned something new this winter: you can get a tan in February in Wisconsin. It takes time, but it can be done. I've been running at lunch with a stocking cap on, and Dennis (co-worker) noticed that I have developed a tan line in the middle of my forehead from my cap. Since then I've run a few more times and the tan line has gotten worse. The top of my forehead is bright white, and the middle down is slightly tan. I look ridiculous.

This week is recovery week so I don't have much training to do. I'll probably do about 9 hours vs the 18 hours I did last week. I've gotten so used to training a few hours a day 9 hours a week feels easy now. That's crazy because 9 hours is still a lot of training.

Recovery week is also test week, so I have to do a threshold test tonight on the trainer. The whole ride should take about an hour, and the actual threshold test is only 20 minutes...but that's 20 minutes all out and that hurts. Plus, I now have higher expectations than I did before so I'm all set up for disappointment. Good times.



I've been a runner off and on for most of my life, and the one thing my running has always lacked was discipline. I like short, fast runs and I've never really bothered to put in a decent amount of base miles....and that's why I always get hurt running (hence the torn tendon, which is now healed so I can stop complaining about it).

This year has been different, and I'm really proud of the discipline I've showed with my running. Since returning from my knee injury in late December I've run 230 miles, and I haven't run faster than an 8:30 pace until Sunday. I figured I had a decent base b
uilt and it was finally time to start working in some intervals and working on my speed. I planned a one hour run with a few short intervals at a fast, but manageable pace - meaning a pace that should get me back into the swing of running fast without, you know, tearing a tendon. Nothing too brutal.

Here was the plan:

Warm up = 15 minutes
Main set = repeat 3 times
- 5 minutes 7:00-7:30 pace
- 5 minutes 9:00-9:30 pace
Cool down = 15 minutes

I was in Janesville for the weekend, and since they don't plow the bike path and you can't count on people to shovel their sidewalks, I had to run on the road. There's still a ton of ice left from the ice storm, so I headed down E. Milwaukee to Cty A. I knew
the traffic would be heavy but there wouldn't be much ice. I couldn't risk slipping on ice while doing intervals. Dealing with all the cars wasn't fun, but I had clear roads to run on and that was a nice change of pace.

In the first set I felt a little sluggish and I could tell I haven't pushed the pace in a long time. I've gotten used to long, slow runs (and I've learned to enjoy them). I managed a very uncomfortable 7:22 pace. The second set felt a little better and I finished with a 7:00 pace. The third set was the best. My legs felt good and I finished the set climbing a hill that had about 90 feet of elevation gain over .4 miles. My average pace was 6:59, but my normalized pace (according to Training Peaks) was a 6:22 average so that was nice to see. That was an encouraging set for sure. I can't wait until my next interval run. A few weeks of intervals and it's time to start hill training. I can't wait.

Overall the run went pretty smooth, except for me forgetting when I was supposed to turn around and head home. I was so focused on the intervals I ran way too long on Cty A before I realized I needed to turn around. I had programmed the workout into my watch, so it stopped recording my run at the one hour mark (7 miles), but I still had about a mile left to run before I made it home. I'm really anal about recording my workouts, so I was a little frustrated about that. But overall it was good.

Cheri recently decided that she's going to train for the Madison Half Marathon at the end of May, which I'm planning on doing instead of the Florida Half Ironman, so I'm excited about that. We can train together. I hope she's as excited about running hills as I am.