The Blue Loop (aka a stupid idea)

This morning I didn't feel like driving to Wausau for the snowshoe race, so I decided to do something really stupid instead. I went to Kettle Moraine to go for a snowshoe run. That's not really the stupid idea though.

The stupid idea was deciding that, of all the loops I could run, I would do the John Muir Blue Loop.

Since I have 5 miles of snowshoe running experience, I figured "most difficult" was the best option.

The run started out great. I was on a well used trail, feeling good and keeping a comfortably fast pace - somewhere around 9:15-9:20. That was the first 3 miles.

This was the start. The trail was wide and really fast. I thought I was in for an easy day.

Then it got narrow, which made it more fun. Still pretty easy to run on.

The sign lists 5 loops, but there are actually 6 loops out there and they overlap a lot so the trail gets beat down which makes it easy to follow and pretty easy to run on. About 3 miles in I came to a split where I was about to follow the Blue Loop only. Had I only known then what I know now...

Looked a little tougher than what I was on, but not so bad.

Quickly getting more difficult.

And eventually, I was on my own...

This was really hard to run through, and it actually got a little worse than this. This went on for about 2 miles.

The 3.5 miles I spent on the Blue Loop only was the toughest 3.5 miles I've ever run. Tougher than the Ironman. I was tired, my legs hurt, my feet were sinking, sliding, slipping. My feet were soaked and cold. I wanted to give up, to go home. But there's no giving up when you're in the middle of nowhere. You have to keep going.

With the absence of tracks, I quickly realized that (apparently) no one snowshoes the Blue Loop. And for good reason. It's tough. I went into the Blue Loop with an average pace of 9:18 and came out with an average of 12:30.

At the 6.5 mile mark I made it back to the main path where I could run easier and hold a quicker pace, but not much quicker. I was spent. Had I skipped the Blue Loop only section, I think my average pace would've been below 10 minute miles. But that section killed me. I was forced to do the Ironman Shuffle for the rest of the run and just try to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It wasn't really a workout anymore. It was survival. Just get to the finish. My average pace for the rest of the run was 11:08.

Distance: 10.25 miles
Time: 2:03:06
Pace: 12:00 min/mile (5 mph)
Average heartrate: 153 bpm
Elevation Gain: 5312 ft (seems high, but that's what my Garmin claims)

I highly recommend snowshoeing the John Muir trails, just not the Blue Loop. Stick to the main trails and do a few laps if you want more miles. The Blue Loop isn't worth it.

My legs hurt.



My best trainer ride of the year so far. I matched my best numbers from last winter.

Interval 1 = 20min = 269 watts
Interval 2 = 15min = 279 watts
Interval 3 = 10min = 290 watts
Interval 4 = 5min = 311 watts

I spent the majority of the ride in my threshold power zone..

The same goes for my heart rate....


Check this out. It's the anti-shoe (aka a stupid idea)...


Coeur D'Alene

Time Trial: So I said I didn't care how I did, which was true...but things have changed now that the results were posted today. Finally....

....I won. By a mere 14 seconds, but it's a win. And that win added $15 to my computrainer account at SBR so tonight I rode for free.

...and there's nothing like a win to get you motivated to keep working hard so you can hopefully win again.

Coeur D'Alene: Tonight I did a 90 minute tempo ride at SBR on the IM Coeur D'Alene course (screenshot above). It's real video from race day and the video moves according to the speed you're going so it's pretty realistic. It helps pass the time when you're doing a long trainer ride.

Snowshoe Run: At lunch today I went to the arb for a snowshoe run to see if I can actually run in those things. My first attempt was in deep snow and that didn't go very well so I thought I might do better running on the trails in the arb, and I did. Snowshoe running is hard enough on trails, and it's just too difficult in deep snow. Today I managed to do 5.1 miles at about a 9:20 pace and it was really fun. Most of it was on trails that were pretty beat down so I stayed on top of the snow and was able to keep my pace up. I did venture off into the woods a bit more in the middle of the run and got into some tougher terrain which slowed my pace, but added a little adventure to the run so that was fun. I was dodging trees and jumping over logs. Nice change of pace from running the Capitol City Trail every day. [I didn't know where I was going and you can see where I ran into a dead end and had to turn around]

Tour Down Under: The 2009 Cycling season has officially started. Lance hasn't done much yet, but he did get 2 days of racing under his belt without problems and finished with the main field each stage.


Upcoming Events

Badger State Games - Snowshoe Race - January 25: I haven't decided if I'm going to sign up for this or not, but I'm tempted. I have running snowshoes and I feel like I need to do a race in them this winter. This is in Wausau so it's a bit of a drive.

Multisport and Running Expo - Jan 31-Feb 1: I've yet to go to an expo that didn't disappoint me, but I think I'll go check this one out nonetheless. There's an 8-hour time trial Saturday, but I don't think I'd be able to find anyone to join me... and I'm not riding a trainer for 8 hours.

ABD Indoor TT - Feb 1: This is part of the MATTS series. I raced a few of the TTs last spring and plan to do a few this year as well. This race falls right in the middle of SBR TTs # 2 and #3 so I think it could be a good training race. Plus you can sign up for 2 races at the ABD events so I can get in 20K of punishment (might make the drive to Chicago a little more worth it).

V-day 5K: Maybe.

SBR TT #3 - Feb 21: Already signed up.

Shamrock Shuffle - March 15 (5k or 10K): I will probably do this race, but it depends on the weather.


If you don't make your booty move....

Indoor TT #1 didn't go very well for me - for various reasons - so I was determined to make this one better. I had only one goal - suffer. I didn't care what place I came in. I wanted to stay focused for the whole race and get my average watts back where I think it should be.

Mission accomplished.

Last time I believe I averaged a little less than 250 watts. This time I finished with an average of 297 (from my Powertap, not SBR's computrainer). I averaged 315
in my best TT last winter so I still have a lot of work to do this year but I finally feel like I'm on track. My focus is back. My motivation is back. My holiday weight is disappearing.

It's amazing how quickly fitness disappears. Last spring at the Double Bong TT I held 280 watts for an hour...and improved my endurance throughout the summer. Now I can barely top that number for 16 minutes. I realize it's important to take a break and recovery both mentally and physically, but it's frustrating to see your fitness disappear.

So it goes.

After the TT, I met Dennis in the arb for some snowshoeing. We looked for the lost city, but it is in fact lost. No sign of it. We figure that's probably because of the snow, so maybe I'll find some remnants of it this summer if I do some trail running in the arb. It could also be because we stuck to the trails and didn't
venture off into the Lost City Forest...maybe there are some signs of it out there.

4 miles

The Lost City was a planned subdivision back in the 1920s. They started it, but didn't get very far for two reasons: the Great Depression and the soil. Basically, it sunk. It's funny how nealy 100 years later it's fun to search for "The Lost City" when in fact it's really nothing more than a bad idea that probably cost some dumbasses their jobs. Big mistakes tend to lead to interesting historical trivia.

As an ex-Teamster I feel it's my obligation to head back there this summer and see i
f Hoffa is buried there. You never know.
I didn't feel like spending a lot of time creating a fancy schmancy spreadsheet for my Great Floridian training, so I joined TrainingPeaks.com. I've been using the software for a year now, but I haven't had the online subscription. Online, you can create and track your training plan. The software just allows you to upload and analyze workouts.

The online version is awesome and I wish I had joined last year. I can create my yearly and weekly workout schedule easily and access it anywhere, which is nice because I tend to forget what my lunc
h workout is supposed to be. I e-mailed it to myself a lot last year, but now I can just log on and see exactly what I'm supposed to do. Here's a shot of the weekly planner for this week. I'm doing 3 weeks of prep before my actual training program begins and I believe this was week 2:

I wanted to post my whole training plan, but the whole thing doesn't fit on one screen and I don't know how to use Hypersnap well enough to get a snapshot of the whole plan. So here's the first few weeks....

This is very similar to the plan I used for IM Wisconsin, except I created it all in a spreadsheet and it took a lot of time. I know it looks involved and confusing, but it's really not that bad...especially when you do it on TrainingPeaks.com. Basically, I'm just following Joel Friel's book and creating my own workouts. The x's on the right side of the page designate the types of workouts I'm supposed to do during the week (speed, muscualar endurance, testing....). I mostly ignore those and do whatever I want. This year I'm going to try to follow the plan a little closer but I suspect that won't really happen. So it goes.

Here's part of my training plan from my IM spreadsheet...

I know.... crazy.
I'm not the biggest Lance fan you'll ever meet, but for some reason I'm very interested to see how his comeback goes. Here's a good Lance video...

If you don't make your booty move, your booty must be dead.


Helmet or No Helmet

You decide....

Lance is doing his first race back next week....The Tour Down Under. Should be interesting. He's also on Twitter these days if you're interested in following Lance's life hour by hour.



I don't know who created this video, but someone loves Fabian....



I spent the week visiting friends in Denver, but I forgot to take my cable to upload photos so I couldn't post anything while I was on vacation so here's a week's worth of riding and running in one shot....

I drove out last Sunday and - not being sure of the we
ather - I took tons of winter gear - snow shoes, hats, lobster gloves.... But it was in the 50s and 60s the whole time so I spent the week cycling and running (in shorts).

Since I was doing the drive alone, I picked up a bunch of new CDs to pass the time...every road trip I've taken, there's been a song or band that would later remind me of that vacation. Drops of Jupiter by Train was on the radio a lot a few years ago so that reminds me of driving to Colorado. This time
it's Kings of Leon (thanks Toby for introducing me to them)...

That song was playing as I drove away and started my journey home. I left great weather and drove into freezing rain. It took 2 days to get home.

Day 1, I biked into Denver with Dave on the bike path. They have a great path out there - no streets to cross. That's a picture of the park we biked to. You can see the mountains in the background and off to the right is REI - the mother ship.

After that ride, I ventured out on my own for a few more miles. It was a simple ride - down 100th, left on Riverdale, turn around at the end of Riverdale and come home.

I could instantly tell I wasn't used to the elevation. My HR was hovering between 90% and 98% of my max HR. I started to get used to it a bit and a HR of 92% started to feel relatively comfortable. Riverd
ale is pretty flat and I had a crosswind. I don't get to ride on many roads that go on forever like this so it was pretty fun to just get in my drops and ride. The total ride was almost 22 miles and I averaged 20.4 mph. Total for the day was 47 miles. Then I went out for a 3 mile run, which was really tough, but I had a good case of cabin fever.

Riverdale Road

The next morning, I went to the gym with Jean and let her trainer beat me up. I would've been much better off if they weren't doing legs that day. That workout was brutal and my legs were shaky for the majority of it. That put a hurtin on me so I ditched the long ride I had planned and went back out on the bike path with Dave again.

Wednesday my legs were okay....sore, but not too bad, so I mapped out a 44 mile
ride. I forgot that some roads in CO aren't paved....

Then it got worse....

This road was rough, and I hit it at about 20 mph and almost went down. This went on for a few miles until I hit one of the crappiest small towns I've ever ridden through. After that, the roads were decent.

Later in the week, Jean and Dave dropped me off in Boulder so I could ride to Lyons with all the other cyclists. Apparently this is a popular route because there were a lot of cyclists out. It's one road - Hwy 36 - all the way there with rolling hills. I had a tail/cross wind going out and it was really fast - long descent into Lyons. I maxe
d out at 48.5 mph and was cruising at 37 mph for a while. I averaged 23 mph going to Lyons....

The way back wasn't quite so easy. I had a strong headwind and plenty of climbing for the first half of the ride. I finished with an average of 19.4 so the way back was quite a bit slower...still fun though. 12 miles on one road with no stops. You don't get that in Wisconsin. It made me wish I had brought my TT bike.

After that I got in some more running and the last day Jean, Dave and I biked into Denver again and stopped at Ink (coffee shop) and watched the pups play in the park.

All total, I biked about 200 miles and ran about 15. No swimming. Other than working out, I just hung out with Jean, Dave and....

...Sadie. She's a good pup.

I also met up with a co-worker at the Handlebar and Grill - a bar and grill with cycling memorabilia hanging on the walls...pretty cool. Good burgers too.

No touristy stuff this time. I didn't even make it into the mountains because I wasn't in the mood for snow. We went to some good restaurants and explored the city a bit. It was a great break from our crappy Wisconsin winters. The next time I head out there, I may not return.

Now that it's the new year and my vacation is over, I guess it's time to get in shape and start training for tri season. Spring is just 4 or 5 months away...