January's over...finally

The good news: the worst month of the year is over. The bad news: the second worst month of the year starts tomorrow.

I've been biking indoors for 8 weeks now, and I think I'm going insane. Unfortunately, I probably have about 6 more weeks of indoor riding before I can ride outdoors. At least I can run outside, although I'm getting really tired of the cold.

I was looking at my workout log from last January, and I definitely stepped things up this year... a lot. Last year I biked 195 miles (not all of them indoors), and I ran 21 miles. That included a half marathon. I ran twice in January before the half marathon, and didn't run at all afterwards. In fact, I didn't run again until April so I'm way ahead of last year. I didn't do any swimming last January. Here are my numbers this year:

Swim: 33,950 yards (19.2 miles)
Bike: 441 miles
Run: 80 miles

If I stick to my Feb schedule, those numbers should increase. That should give me a pretty good base for spring so I can step up the intensity without getting injured.


A heat wave, a tropical heat wave...

Yep, we're having a heat wave here in sunny, southern Wisconsin. It was a scorcher today, topping out at a steamy 30 degrees. Tomorrow it's supposed to be in the mid 40s...again. That will be the second time this January we've hit the 40s. It has been a strange winter. Record snowfalls for Dec, record highs in January, dense fog that caused a 100-car pileup (although you could blame the moron that stopped in the middle of the Interstate), a January thunderstorm, then sub-zero temps and now we're back up to the 40s. Very strange.

The picture is from the vacation Cheri and I took to sunny Jamaica. Unfortunately, there won't be any vacations this year. It's all about the Ironman this summer, and I'm lucky enough to have a very supportive girlfriend who not only understands but actually pushes me to keep up with my training and get my workouts in (especially all those damn core workouts she makes me do). There aren't too many guys who have wives/girlfriends that support them like that. Since she's going to have to put up with my IM training all summer, I told her we'll finally go see Italy next year. She's always wanted to go to Italy, so that's the plan. No vacation this year, but a very memorable one next year.

I just finished up week 6 of training. Everything went well. No missed workouts and I felt pretty good all week. A little tired at times, but not bad.

Week 6 Stats
Total time: 14:04:40
Swim: 3:30 (8500 yards)
Bike: 7:04:24 (125 miles)
Run: 3:30:16 (23 miles)


Coffee and Chlorine

I noticed a few weeks ago that the pool has a few lap lanes open in the morning, so today I decided to get up early and swim before work. I've been a little hesitant to swim in the mornings because I didn't know if I could get a good swim workout in that early and I know a lot of people like to swim in the morning so I thought there might be a lot of people fighting over 2 lanes.

I got to the pool at 6 am, and discovered there was only one other lap swimmer there plus the boy's swim team. I had a lane to myself. Nice. The locker room was clean. No pretzels in the shower. No little kids swimming. No parents in the bleachers. It was great. I didn't have any problems getting in a good workout, so I think I'm going to swim in the mornings a lot more. It's open Monday through Thursday and it's rarely closed in the mornings so it should be easier for me to stick to my schedule. Good deal.

The only problem is that coffee and chlorine don't mix well.

Timetrialapalooza Night: Brutal, brutal workout tonight. I adjusted my power zones from last time because I felt I didn't push hard enough in the first 3 TTs. I figured I could do a little more. I was right, but barely. I hit all of my goals (both power and cadence), but it was really tough. My legs were a little shaky after the workout. To celebrate a good workout, I bring you some entertainment...


Blame Canada

Today, I finally threw in the towel. I admit defeat. Winter wins. It always does.

I tried to fight off the winter depression by focusing on my workouts and running outdoors this winter. I thought if I kept busy the great winter depression wouldn't hit. But it's relentless.

I was doing a decent job, but this cold spell we're in finally got the best of me. Saturday's run was below zero. Monday, it was about 14 degrees when I ran at lunch but I was colder than I was on Saturday because I didn't dress as warm and it was snowing so my face was wet. Today, it was 15 degrees when I ran, and the wind got to me and my right ear was really hurting by the end of the run (despite that, it was a great run).

I can't take it anymore. I want to bike outside. I want to run in shorts. I want to feel the warm sunshine. I want to worry about sunburns instead of frostbite.

I'm tired of peeling icicles off my face after my run. I'm tired of the trainer. I'm tired of chlorine. I'm tired of winter jackets (I probably shouldn't complain about this since I just got out my winter jacket 3 days ago) and snow covered roads. I'm tired of the sun setting at 5 pm.

To all the people who enjoy winter: I don't get it. I don't understand how anyone can enjoy this miserable season.

But I don't blame Mother Nature. I blame Canada. All of our cold air comes from them, and it's time to build a wall to keep the cold out.


The right direction

The temp: -2. The run: 45 minutes. The gear: everything I own.

Believe it or not, it wasn't that bad. I actually overdressed and was sweating a lot. And those lobster gloves are so ridiculously warm my hands were soaked with sweat the whole time.

It wasn't my best run ever, but I didn't die out there which is all I was really hoping for. After my run, Cheri had lunch ready for me. Excellente.

This morning, before my run, I competed in the second indoor TT at SBR Coaching. It went well, but I didn't quite hit my goal. I think my goal was a little too lofty so I'm pretty happy with my performance. I started with a better warm up this time. I rode for about a half hour with a 5 minute interval at my threshold power and a 2 minute interval at about 20% above my threshold. This really helped because the effort of the TT didn't feel as tough since I had already hit those power levels in my warm up.

I paced myself better this time and played it smart. I went out a little slower and let my power build up. I wanted to average 300 watts, but I fell a little short. I finished with a 292 average, which is up from 277 at the first TT. I dropped 16 seconds off my time and ended with a 16:20. And I weighed in at 2 pounds less, so I increased my power to weight ratio so I'm headed in the right direction.

Last time I finished in 3rd place, but this time I'll end up in 5th or worse. One guy in the first heat beat my time, and 3 guys in the 3rd heat beat my time. One of the guys in the 3rd heat was an animal and finished in 15:17. or 15:18. He averaged almost 400 watts and just short of 25 mph. It was an impressive ride, that's for sure.

There are 2 more Indoor TTs so I think I'm going to try to bring my time down to around 16:10 next time and then see if I can break 16 minutes on the last one. No chance of catching the leaders and taking home some cash...unless they don't show up.


Training with power

I love my power meter. Tonight I did my first real power based workout. I've done a few recovery workouts that were power based, but I would say they were more cadence based than anything. But tonight I really put my power meter to use and it was great.

I did the Spinervals Timetrialapalooza workout. It's a pretty simple but effective workout. You start with a warm up, then do a 20 minute time trial, followed by a 5 minute recovery. Then 15 minute TT, 5 minute recovery, 10 minute TT, 5 minute recovery, 5 minute TT, cool down. The trick is that you're supposed to increase your power with each interval and drop your cadence a bit.

I did this workout last winter, but started too hard and died by the last 5 minute TT. But tonight I used my power meter and paced myself and nailed the workout. The only thing I came up short on was cadence. I need to work on higher cadences. I'm struggling to put out decent power at a cadence over 91 right now so I didn't hit the 95 cadence goal for the 20 minute TT.

I also learned a little about warming up tonight. I've realized that I didn't warm up enough at the Indoor TT at SBR a few weeks ago. I was afraid of going hard in my warm up for fear of burning out. But it doesn't really work like that. You need to push hard for a little while in your warm up to blow out the carbon (to use a car analogy) and get your legs ready for the open road. Tonight I was a little sluggish in my first TT, but felt much better in the following 3 TTs because my legs were warmed up and ready to go. The second Indoor TT at SBR is this Saturday so I think I'm going to go into this one with a better warm up plan and see if that helps.

I had physical therapy this morning, and he told my knee is healing well and that I should cancel the rest of my appointments. He said my goal now is to continue increasing my running mileage slowly while keeping the intensity within reason and I should be fine. That was really encouraging. My knee has been feeling really good lately, but to have someone else confirm that it's finally healing was good to hear.


Month 1 in the books

That's my trainer set up this year. Last year I set it up in front of the TV, but then I had to take it down every time and I got tired of that so this year I went with a permanent set up. Right behind the love seat. Right in front of Square Dog.

My first month of "official" training is over and I'd say it went well. I ran about 54 miles, which isn't high miles by any means but it's a big step in the right direction. And I haven't had any pain in my knee in a while. I think it's actually healing.

For the last 5 weeks, I've been running every other day and I'm finally getting my running fitness back. Now that my knee is feeling pretty good, I've decided to step it up a bit. I'm going to keep the pace slow for a while, but now I've decided to start running 2 days in a row followed by one rest day. This will give me a few more miles every week without putting too much stress on my knee.

The funny thing is I think this knee injury has actually been good for me. I was looking at my past training logs and I noticed I've never put in a lot of base miles for running. Every time I start running, I run for about 2 weeks and then start in with intervals and 5K races. It's no surprise I keep getting injured. So now I'm taking it easy and I'm not worried about my pace. Just having fun running and getting in some miles. Tonight I decided March is going to be the month of 30 runs. I'm going to run 30 out of 31 days. This gives me about 6 weeks to build enough of a base to run for a month without injury. It shouldn't be a problem because most of those runs will be at a slow, comfortable pace. But it should really help take my running to the next level because it has now become my weakness (swimming used to be my biggest weakness).

I also finally got around to reading my book on training with a power meter so I'm working on putting some power based workouts together. I'm really anxious to finally put that power meter to use and see what I can do to improve my cycling. Should be fun...and painful. Everything cycling is supposed to be.

Swimming has been going pretty well too. I've been stuck on the same workout for a few weeks now. I'm not sure why I keep doing this one over and over. It's the one where my main set is 3 sets of 450 yards (1/4 mile). Last week I set my fastest time ever, so I'm pumped about that. Tonight, I didn't match that time, but I was faster than I usually am so I think I'm finding a little more speed again. That's encouraging because I've been stuck in a rut for a little while with swimming. Also, all of my workouts have been 2500 yards for quite a while now so I think I might start mixing in some longer workouts of 3000 and 3500 to step things up a bit. Spring is coming. Gotta get in shape.

Month 2 started today, and I'm feeling pretty good these days so I think this is going to be a good month of training.

Sidenote: For those who doubt the power of echinacea, it's the middle of Jan. in Wisconsin and I have yet to have a cold this winter. That's 12 months without a cold. I'm telling ya, it works.


Healthy Living

One of my resolutions this year is to cook more. I've gotten lazy the last few years and I haven't been making enough good, healthy meals. So this year I vow to make that change.

Today was a good start. Cheri and I typically make eggs and browns on Sunday mornings, but today we mixed it up a bit. Instead of fried eggs, we went with omelets. Then we cooked some grape tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled them with fresh basil. Then we added some pineapple, raspberries and blackberries and a glass of OJ. This was our first time cooking the grape tomatoes, and we both agreed that they tasted good but weren't great for breakfast. We'll have to try them again as a topping on a salad or pasta.

Lunch was excellent. We made salads with loads of veggies...romaine, frisee, radicchio, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, salad seasonings, grilled chicken and some light salad dressing (I went with light ranch, Cheri chose a light raspberry vinaigrette). On the side we had sliced apples and oranges.

Dinner...Turkey burgers on wheat buns, white cheddar mac and cheese, peaches, pineapple, melon and raspberries. Excellente.

Today Cheri and I went for another run - her second winter run - and this one went much better than last week. It's about 20 degrees warmer than last week so the weather wasn't such an issue for her and she's gotten in a few more miles (treadmill) since then so her fitness is coming back. After the run, I went to the pool.

Yesterday, I went to SBR Coaching to ride the Computrainer for a couple of hours. I wanted to do the Janesville Tri course followed by the Diamond in the Rough tri course that I did last time, but SBR wasn't able to convert my gps file of the Janesville tri so I had to pick a different route. I went with the Verona loop of the Wisconsin Ironman course. It was about 42 miles and it took me 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was the toughest workout I've had on the bike since mid-September. It felt great to work that hard, but I was completely spent. I had a swim workout planned for after the ride, so I decided to take it easy and not push the pace too hard in the pool since I was so tired. It was a pretty good workout considering how tired I was.

We had some serious fog today, so bad that there was a massive pileup on the Interstate that has the Interstate closed right now.


Days gone by...

Last night when I swam, it seemed like there was way too much chlorine in the pool. Way too much. Today, when I got to the pool there was a sign on the door that said the pool was closed due to problems with the chemicals. I guess I was right.

So I thought I would reflect a little on 2007 since we're starting a new year, which means a clean start. New goals, new experiences, new memories. I can't wait.

2007 was a good year. I tried some new things and, sadly, said goodbye to some old things. 2007 was the first year since I was 12 years old that I didn't ride a motorcycle. Even though I officially quit racing a few years ago, I still managed to get out for a few rides or races here and there by borrowing a friend's bike. I decided this year that that wasn't working out because I was losing my skills and starting to pay the price. This became very clear when I made a mistake on a series of jumps and jumped off the track and crashed pretty hard in 2006. I miss hanging out at the races and I miss the friends, but sometimes you need to move on.

Here's a good picture of me (191) and my buddy Steve (5) getting mixed up in a first turn crash. Yep, I ran over his arm. No place to go. Once I realized there was no avoiding his arm I gabbed the gas and put a bit of a gap on Steve, who probably caught me later in the race. I don't remember the details of the race, but he was riding really well those days. Don't worry, the dude's arm was okay...I think.

Hello to new things....I did my first triathlon in 2007 in Janesville (my hometown) and I'm hooked. I can't say this first one was that much fun, but that's because I struggled on the swim and my expectations were too high. But I had a lot of fun in the other 2 triathlons I did, and I'm looking forward to doing more triathlons this summer and trying to improve my results. Here's a picture of me right after the Janesville tri...

Cheri also did her first triathlon in Pleasant Prairie this year. She did the Danskin, which had over 4,000 women competing and I proudly say she delivered a serious ass whooping on 94% of the field. That's quite a way to start your triathlon career. She has warned me that her 2008 Danskin training gets serious in March. I can't wait. It's gonna be fun.

I also did the Horribly Hilly 200k this year, my longest ride ever. 132 miles with 11,000 feet of climbing. Yes, it was hilly. Yes, it was horrible. I noticed in my training log that I hurt my left knee on one of my hilly training rides (I forgot about that). Maybe that's when this knee thing started. Here I am...suffering...

Here's my sprint to the finish at the Ripon Triathlon. You can almost see my tendon tearing...

Here's hoping 2008 goes better than this...


The Dow Jones of Healing

I had physical therapy this morning, and I told my doc that my knee was feeling really good for a few days and now suddenly the past two days it's hurting again. I told him that's been the pattern lately. A few good days followed by a few bad days. He said that's typical. They call it the Dow Jones of healing.

Even though I'm making some progress, I'm also becoming convinced that this thing is never going to heal and I'm getting very frustrated and impatient with it. Injuries suck. That's all there is to it.

I went for a run at lunch today and it was only 11 degrees. That's not ideal running conditions, but oddly enough I had my best run since I started running again. Go figure.

It's supposed to warm up this weekend. They're forecasting mid to upper 40s and rain. I can't wait to see some of this snow disappear.