Monday, May 31, 2010

Great way to come back

Imagine this:
you’re very successful on what you do and then you’re all over the place portrayed as a BIG CHEAT. It may be you are a singer with a syntethically modified voice. Or you’re just taking the credit from someone else. Or you’re using performance enhancing drugs, like some athletes do.

You pay your price, humiliation, unwanted attention, and everybody looses any respect they had for you. Some years later you come back, and in great form and after a period of re acclimatization you are back being a big shot. And you win a big race.

Lot of people will still call you cheat; many will not want to rate you as high as before, and overall there is a trust bridge that you know has broken.

 How would you cope with that? This guy won the Giro D’Italia for the second time, this time, though, he was clean of drugs.

It is certainly not likely that we, as amateur sportmen/women will experience it. But there are lessons there to be learned.

Lesson 1: I reckon that it takes a lot of guts to admit you were in the wrong and build that into a positive experience.

Lesson 2: You have to really believe in yourself to come back and succeed besides all the naysayers that may be around.

Lesson 3: you have to love your sport. That is the only explanation that I found for someone to do all of the above. It’s certainly not the money, and in many cases not the glory either, so I just take my hat to the new Giro champion.



Training wise I am a bit of a cheat, as I missed my swim for no excuse and I did feel guilty. But is all in the past now, I'm in the comfort of my home just about go to bed.

Date: 31 May
Sport: Running
Dist: 11km
Time: n/a
Comment: 4x7.5 min sets (2.2km) and some warm up. Suprised to heave my HR going up up up, but the legs are fine.

The weekend that was

Saturday:
Day off: I went to an argentinean celebration of our homeland 200 years

Sunday: big, great day out on the bike with my mate Martin. Managed to score 125km at a decent pace. I'm quite happy to see that I am getting stronger and stronger on the bike. The challenge will be to keep this strentgh during the winter months and make myself a different cyclist.

Date: 30 May
Sport: Cyclcing
Time: 255min
Dist: 123km
Comment: Gone west again. I'm liking this route more and more each time I cycle there.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Racing at 40's

I came accross this interview to Greg Bennet and how he intends to make the USA triathlon team for the next olympics, when he'll be 40 years old.

I thought it is amazing and inspiring in equal terms. And a show of how much your determination counts to be successful. Independently of the level you race at, it is always important to know what challenges lay ahead.
This guys is going to be training for a race that will happen in 3 years time; will undergo a lot of physicall pain and probably some setbacks, but he's ready for it. I admire that. And I draw from it for a race that will happen in little over 15 weeks in Hungary.
That was the triathlon highlight of the day for me. The rest was work work work, and some training. Another day off tomorrow so I'm ready for a rest.

Date: 28 May
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 60min /// 70min
Dist: 3.2km /// 16km
Comment: TGIF!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cranking it up

We're now in week 7 of my training. Still doing base training, moderate to low intensity and as many long sessions as I can.
However, every week things change. May be 5 minutes more on the run, or another bike session, or a different speed workout on the monday, or running off the bike. I've also introduced 2x gym sessions starting this week.
I've never been a great fan of gyms, I don't have the mental toughness to be exercising indoor for over an hour and the couple of times I tried it didn't last long. When I started triathlons I thought I would never be in a gym again. I WAS WRONG, the word of mouth first, the blogs later and obviously my coach, tought me of the benefits of core strength and conditioning during base training.
I didn't believe it at first, but after a couple of months I realized they were right, my back and core muscles were always letting me down on the hard races and with time and patience I've won a few battles.
The way it works for me is a 1hr tops session that includes core, strentgh and stretching of different muscle groups and a final 15 min in my new toy (not mine, though, the gym's) the rowing machine.
I never tried one before, but I can tell that is a very cool thing to do.
Going to the gym adds to the constant juggling of my spare time allocation, but I am sure it will be OK.

Date: 27 May
Sport: Cycling /// Gym?
Time: 100min /// 60min
Dist: 52km /// n/a
Comment: looking forward to the weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Endurance dog

Continuing with my weatherman reports I am not very happy to announce that winter is looking very wintry in Auckland. Although we are luckier thatn many other guyst in NZ that have been battered by the weather gods.
So, I had to endure a bit of the bad weather in order to tick the box on my workouts for the week. Wednesday is long run and I had planned to go a new route. I went out later than usual after a power nap with Nat (15 minutes for me, dunno for her) to wait for the rain to ease.
3km into the run I get this walker and her dog on a narrow part of the footpath, I slowed down and continued doing my thing. I realized after some time that the dog was following me, and we got to a part of the road where you have to change footpaths due to some roadworks I crossed and took the dog with me as the owner was not on sight. We waited for some time and the girl told me that it was not her dog, that it had followed her all the way along for some time.
I wasn't carrying my phone, so I discounted calling the animal control services. There were 15km of running still to go, and the girl carried on walking leaving me not many options. I decided not to go back, but to shorten my workout to 10 more km and call from home. I kept running at a comfy 4.30 pace and was escorted by this big brown beast who was keeping the pace quite well. I named him endurance dog.
There's a bit of ondulation on the final 5km and I made sure endurance dog got hydrated and we hit the hills to get back home.
Nat was happily surprised to see me arrive with my new friend and after a call and 30 minutes wait we got someone to pick endurance dog and take him back to the owners, 5km down the road from my place.
The funny thing is that this guy is pretty well known among the animal control people, as he has escaped so many times. I was the 5th person to report him today, and it had already been and broken out of someone else's home.

Date: 26 May
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 60min /// 65min
Dist: 3.3km /// 14km
Comment: I think I found a new running partner.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

200 years

Today it was my country's aniversary and I wished I was there for the celebrations. It's a strange tie, the one that still makes me be with one foot in one island and the other in the pampas. Over the years it has been a constant to read the news from both places, follow the fubol league and triathlon races when I'm here. And to check the rugby, the tri races coverage when I am there. I'm not sure I would have got into triathlon if I stayed there, so I'm happy I ended up in NZ, but always mindful of setting a "kiwi tri squad" once I am back home for good.
I did one race close to my home town in 2008, my third triathlon. It was a local race and the best of the region were suppossed to be there. The main aim to do the race was to show mum and dad what it is that got me hooked while in NZ and get them to experience one race first hand. I'm from a lil' farming town where the only elevation is the cow pies. And we don't do a lot of road riding, so it was me on a borrowed MTB doing a "rural triathlon"   (that's how we call them).
The swim was five laps of 100m on a 50m pool, then 20km on the flat dirt roads and a 5k bolt. My parents were quite happy to see me among the top 5 out of the water, and a bit worried that I didn't come as fast on the bike, but happy to see me finish top 10 overall.

I chatted with a few guys and I got a bit of a tease for being an international athlete (ha ha ha), it was good fun. I'm looking forward to race there again, and hopefully do better.

the weather bomb is here, so training is being confined to interior spaces,
Date: 25 May
Sport: cycle /// gym
Time: 45min /// 45min
Dist: n/a /// n/a
Comment: viva la revolucion!

Monday, May 24, 2010

sore downunder

This is the topic I did not wanted to raise. The unspoken subject.
It's been a week now and I'm still sore "down there" from my last long ride. It's been a problem since the start of the season and it's come and gone on a steady weekly pattern, but I am now at a stage that don't want to take it any more.
During my first seasons I used nothing, and until my first half ironman race I never had any issues. But after that I've always had problems coming at intervals. The thing is that I don't think I need to take it any more. So I'm going to start exploring whatever options are available to prevent saddle sores in the future.
So far I've been using vaseline, but it appears that it hasn't done any good. So the next step is to go for chamois cream. I'm going to the bike shop tomorrow morning to get whatever is available and start the testing process.
Monday is going to be the new easy day at the pool due to longer more epic weekends coming soon, so today we started with a fun dips session. I though it was going to be "bread and dips" but it was just the good old dips that make your shoulder muscles ache, 10 sessions of 10 reps after each of the 10 100m that the warm up took.
The evening was rainy, so another easy session at run.
All in all, an easy day.
I like base training, it's always time for nice surprises like today's.

Date: 24 May
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 50min /// 50min
Dist: 2.2km /// 9km
Comment: It feels like tapper week, but it's not.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Healing

When I woke up today, the ball in the calf was still there, not a good sign.
I had planned to take the morning off because Nat was doing a half marathon in the infamous town of Huntly. I say infamous because everybody I know seems to hate it and there are many jokes about it. It is one of those towns that have the misfortune to be in a very uncharacteristic location and have close to nothing to see or do.
Anyway, I knew I wasn't gonna do anything with a sore calf. My main mission of the day was to be support crew for my lovely wife who's taking on a half marathon for the first time ever. She's been training allright for the last two months and even though there were a couple of missed sessions, she was strong.
The night before there were a bit of nerves, but I did my best with a healthy pasta dinner and half a glass of wine for her to sleep well (ha ha ha). Today I woke up, made some toast and we drove to the start line.

(check out the guy having a quick fix before the start of the race)

I had predicted 2 hours 10 and I wasn't that far... she had never run over 90 minutes so there was the doubt she could run the whole course, but she did.. and that's great.
Being support crew (I learned today) is quite a task, you're always on the move trying to catch some sights and assist your athlete. As you're also not excercising that much, you're prone to get cold very easily (we're in winter here) and I hadn't counted on that, so I was red nosed for most of the day.
We were done by two pm and I managed to so some stretches before Nat crossed the line, so that's as far as it went. I did some more stretches and a massage later at home and I am happy to report that the ball has receeded and I'm back on track.

Date: 23 May
Day off to heal the calves.
Lesson learned: keep hydrated through the whole race!, get another bottle cage.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A big big ball

That's what I have in my calf at the moment.
Today it was club races again. The same circuit as in my first report but one more lap, this time we were going for 72km.
As usual I had a good sleep in and this time I went for the year record. I woke up at 9.15am and got off the bed at 9.45. This assured me I was well rested and ready for the kill... well.. kind of.
The day was gorgeous, unlike yesterday, so there was a decent field on the C grade, I reckon it was about 50 of us starting the race, some I knew, some I didn't.

The usual strategy, place myself at the 3rd quarter of the field for the first lap, get to know where the wind is blowing from and what side of the road to sit to do less effort. A bunch containing a guy from a bike shop who's a step above us (to say the least) was setting the pace and it was a fast-ish pace. I found myself at the back of the bunch for half the lap, but no issues as the peloton stuck together.
The back of the bunch is not the place where I feel safer, and it usually means I am doing a lot of work just to catch up. I tried to move up and make sure I was up there on the second lap.
I did not take any food or drink during that first circuit.
I made sure I was ready to respond to a faster pace on the second, but that didn't happen and we rode happily on a recovery mode for some time. It was time to do some work so I went to the front to do my 2 minutes, and try to hang in there so to save some work later on. It just occurred to them that it was time press the gas, and the next 20minutes were pretty hectic (I won't say the hr max. and I made sure the workout is erased from my log). I had half a bottle of water with electrolite tablets (they're my new toy).
The third lap was time to hit the 2 gels I got on my back and stay trouble free, covered and save energy for the hill finish. The only problem was a baby cramp growing on my right calf (bummer... more electrolites!). Two guys made a break and nobody bother to chase, so we were all racing for third. The molesty continued all of the lap so I kept trying to stretch but with not a lot of luck.
If you remember well this was the long hill I didn't know how long it was. This time I've made my homework and stayed on third/fourth wheel at all times. On the last 2 bumps we attacked and I hung in there. Then this guy attacked again, and I gave it my best, but finished third 10 metres behind and with a huge ball on my calf.
But happy.

Date: 22 May
Sport:  Cycling
Time: 130min
Dist: 73km
Comment:  The gear doesn't make you Andy Schleck

Friday, May 21, 2010

Just mean

The alarm clock went out at 5.40, Friday morning. I turned it off and went back to bed for my usual stretching. It was pretty cold. I could hear the rain noise, that was just mean weather. Nat was playing sleeping beauty.
What about staying in?, I thought. Coach is not here, I've had a pretty good attendance record (yes... i'm pretty disciplined) and it would not hurt to rest and recover.
But it wasn't me... it was the infamous little man talking in my head, trying to convince me that it was not the perfect day.
A good motivator in this situations is the fact that the bag with all may clothing and the other bag with the day's food and everything is on the doorstep, so if I stay in I still have to wake up in an hour and get cold to get my clothes and so on. So we got up, dressed and off to the pool. It was miserable to get there, but once we dove into the pool everything bad was left behind.
We had a pretty interesting set and it was all level 2 with some fly interchanged to boost up the shoulders. Good stuff.
The weather didn't improve till well into the afternoon so after checking with my mates from work the midday run was flagged (not for all, though, someone made sure I felt guilty for not going out)
I kept thinking about the perfect day, and realized that it will never happen for someone that works 40 odd hours a week, plus has a life plus trains for triathlons. There are many things that can be an inconvenient, but if I ever concede on any of those things (cold, wet weather; too much to do at work; not the greatest flashest winter gear; blah blah blah) then I'm losing my race.
And I don't want to loose my race. Wanna give it the best shot, and that means ensuring the little man is kept locked on its cave.
Tomorrow's gonna be great day, the weather says, and I so hope it is, coz I'm racing,
stay tuned,

Date: 21 May
Sport: Swimming
Time: 60min
Dist: 3.2km
Comment: Fridays means muffins after pool, Loved'em.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Unescheduled

Hat a catch up with coach, he was leaving for some time so I thought we touch base. We agreed the latest results (plus the bike lab results) show I'm on track. I was told, however to watch my heart rate a bit more closely and make sure I'm working under 80% at all times.
It was a nice way of telling me to hold on a bit more on the speedwork sessions and to use cruise control a bit more on some of the longer runs. I'm not hugely competitive by nature and most times not fuzzed about others going faster than me for a given workout. However I'm sometimes putting some pressure to not to miss to be too far away of the fast guys or not to miss the train.
I reckon that patience and discipline do pay in the long run. And the race in Budapest is still some time far away, so it is a good reminder. Another thing that pays is to listen to one's body, and mine, today, was not on for a workout on the wet cold winter day, so I decided to put it off and have some home time with my wife. I'm off now and be back tomorrow with a mean cruizy swim and a mean cruizy run,
See ya!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hill Reps

It’s been a long long day, so long it started yesterday and just now is my opportunity to sit down and reflect a bit on what’s happened.

And a lot has happened. I went to this resilience workshop. I’ve never heard of them before, but I’m not the kind of guy that searches over and over for the info. Anyway, off I went for most of my day thinking “yet another training course” and I left quite proud of myself after discovering that much of what I do and being doing over the last years is taking me to where I want to go in life.

 
Unfortunately, though, the timing took me off my scheduled spin training and I improvised a hills repeats session.
Hill repeats are one cheap way to strengthen your legs on the bike. I’ve been pretty agnostic before, but over the last training blitz I did a weekly session over 6 to 8 weeks, and I can tell the benefits are still here right now. Besides, it’s a great way to practice descending and cornering on a relatively safe environment.

 
There are many recipes, but the basic one goes like this:
  • Hills: 1, moderately steep (4 to 10% gradient?) and of a duration no shorter than 90 seconds and no longer than 600 seconds.
  • Athletes: 1
  • Bikes: 1.
- Seat the athlete seated on the bike for most of the duration of the ascent keeping a good, proud form (high head, straight back, slightly bent arms) with a cadence of 60 to 75 rpm

 
 - Keep the athlete seated on the bike for the descent part back to the start line, spin the pedals on a high cadence (95 to 110)

 
 - Repeat the above procedure for 3 to 10 times.

 

It will warm you up on the winter days, and it’ll make your knees feel funny at times (pay attention to it, you don't wanna get injured), but there is no gym that will give you what a good hill repeats sessions can achieve.

  
The secret is to find a nice little hill near home where there’s little traffic. The rest is just going out and doing it.

Date: 18 May
Sport: Cycling
Time: 75 min
Dist: 30km
Comment: cold... then hot

Date: 19 May
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 60min /// 92min
Dist: 3.2km /// 18km
Comment: back yard half again

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cooper’s test night

As I said before, Cooper’s tests are an important part of my run training. Coach uses them as an indicator of our current VO2 Max (the maximum volume of oxygen the body can uptake, typically measured in ml/kg/min). Once the test is done (via a simple formula), we have an idea of where we are. After the that we have a more clear idea of where we want to go and what is actually achievable within the timeframes of the training cycle.

For example, my VO2 Max in April 2009 was of 66.06 ml/kg/min, after some extensive (base) and intensive (speed) training I got to 68.08 in June 69 something and it keep creeping up until 2 weeks prior to my race at worlds in OZ last year.

The Test was invented by this guy called Dr. Coopper (D’oh!) to be used by the US military to check the fitness status of the workforce. It involves running as far as you can within 12 minutes. The length of it makes it difficult to be a sprint, as it will be long enough to melt your fast twitch muscles, it is basically, an endurance test.

I remember my first one and how badly I messed up by going too fast too soon, I was out of running for two days after that experience. On the second one, I went too conservatively, and after that I got the hang of it, but there is always the feel that I could have been a little bit faster on the last lap or a bit more paced at the beginning. My approach is, to start steady for the first 2 min, then to surge and stay for the following 8min and go as hard as I can to the finish, the hard as I can mean doing longer strides than before, at the same cadence.

Today’s result is quite good, (3580m, about 69ml/kg/min) it shows that I’m in better shape than 1 year ago at this point. Taking into account that I’m putting a lot more effort on the bike lately all in all it would be a good thing if I can keep improving at last year’s rate. Attendance was quite good with more new guys turning up, wich will make a more interesting winter, all of them happy with their tests, which is even better.

As for the rest of the day it was

Date: 17 May
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 60min /// 60 min
Dist: 3.4km /// about 7km
Comment: long sets, I like it! /// CT says I’m a machine

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bike Review #2 - the wild west

This time around I ventured on a bunch ride by the city Avanti cycle shop ride. I've riden this bunch intermitently for the last 2 seasons and some of the guys are training mates on the Monday runs, so I knew what I was getting into.
Today was a min. 100km and doing two thirds with a bunch sounded OK to me as the forecast was for rains and the shop was using a brand new ride called "the butter chicken" , I called my mate Gordon and we met at the shop riding from home, it's all about clocking miles on the saddle.
The bunch itself is the same I rode many times before, people is very sure of themselves and the guys from the bike shop have little to worry about, there's a briefing at the begining and then three different groups go out at 2m intervals (it is a very popular spot, indeed). These groups are great options for people with different training needs, the fast guys are real fast, and the slow group is nowhere near slow, just steady, so there's no excuses not to work out. I like to keep the options open. We sat in the mod.fast group.
Being such a big bunch, it is not as friendly, due to the fact that people like me come and go, but the diehards are great riders (roadies, all of them). The riding was a bit frisky to start with and then settled to a more gentle pace, however the slower group cought up and the bunch became too big for my liking.
The ride is hilly/ondulating and the roads were wet, and to be fair, I wasn't feeling the most comfortable guy to ride in the wet among 30 other riders, so I checked with Gordo and went for plan B, keep riding solo to get to bethells beach a nice surf beach on the west coast about 45km out of Auckland. I'll give the bunch a 4/5, the only downside being the size and the pacing being a bit on the fast/competitive side at times. (I know they make an effort to keep the testosterone levels down, but sometimes people that comes to the ride is just on a different frame of mind).
Out we went to the wild west, hoping not to get the rain, on an intersection I saw a sign advertising a coffee shop, which wasn't there the last time I went. Unfortunately, to get to the coffee shop you have to walt 1km to the beach (black wet sand and no spare socks) so we just ate a couple of kick ass bars and headed back home, I ended up doing the last 35ish km by myself, hitting the waterfront hard on tired legs. If you wonder why I said wild west, I hope these photos illustrate a bit more.

(find the ostrich)


  






(the sign is on a 60km/h downhill section. Scary, aye?)

Date 16 May
Sport: Cycling
Time: 5hr (approx)
Dist: 110km (give or take)
Comment: I think I found a great way west

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The lone triathlete

Chatting with  a mate the other day I went about the lone triathlete theory. I told them to joint our group for a try and see if they felt it would be OK for them as they were getting into triathlons. She was OK to join but he wasn't, and that's such a common thing. Us guys (at least here in NZ) are a bit more reluctant to get into a beginners group that girls are, and over time we will manage to come up to a reasonable fitness level in most disciplines without any help other than our watch and bits and pieces taken from here and there on the web, bike shop, races and so on.

So I told her: He's a lone triathlete, let him be.. and wait for the moment when he tells you "i'm gonna do an ironman", because the lone triathlete is oh-so-tough that it comes natural for them to go the long hours just running, or riding and the good thing is, that they won't be so much of a drag on the account of their epic outings.

I'm not lone athlete, neither ironman (by the way, I've got to make a decision about that race soon as entries will sell out for IMNZ, I hope my sponsor can fund me) I just feel more comfortable going out with a group that can challenge me, or pace me or lend me a spare CO2 and some times (I am being honest here) boring when going about what I've done for the day. I make a concious effort not to, but sometimes it just happens (i.e. this blog).

Anyway, today was a day off and sooo good to sleep in, catch up with some old friends and carry on with my book. All positive now, and enjoying the last couple of weeks of base training.
Have a great weekend out there, and stay safe.

Friday, May 14, 2010

TGIF

The bad day is behind, and tomorrow is a day off. That leaves us with today. And today is Friday, great day at the office, and the pool.
The weather forecast announced thunderstorms and lightning, which still hasn't arrived, so that's another good news... for now.
Everything ticked along nicely, and I realized today that I've written the 40th post, so what better to celebrate than doing a 40x100's swim. I had the spare time and it provided a good opportunity to practice a bit more of high elbow catch.

Date: 14 May
Sport: Run /// Swim
Time: 60min /// 75min
Dist: 12km /// 4km
Comment: back to the west /// all on 1.40 (including rest)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

bad day at the office

Today was one of those ones.


Work, work, and a backache from my incursions into team sports. We won the game, though, so the office was in good spirits after the victory over our colleagues.
Most of that I ran behind things, and not even for the pleasure of running, it was just luck. Or its lack.
So my hope of doing a crunch run or swim at lunchtime dissapeared pretty soon, and I was left with an outstanding bike workout.
I got home in the dark and took my training bike, fit the lights and out I went for a loop, when I got back I realized I was waaaay too late for a workshop on bike maintenance that coach was putting on for us.

It is days like this one that test my determination and motivation to the ultimate goal of a great race at worlds: the end of the tunnel is so far away and many things get in the middle that the light is hard to see. My antidote for that is just going out and run, or bike, or swim. It just happens that some times I won't be able to do it, so what next?

A good book.I'm reading one about lunar exploration that's got me hooked, I think it's time to go and lay in the sofa and enjoy it.

The kick ass bars have attracted a lot of interest in athletes and non athletes, I did a ad hoc calories count and it is somewhere around the 150Cal. for each bar if we stick to that recipe.

See you on Friday

Date: 13 May
Sport: Cycling
Time: 85min
Dist: 38km
Comment: I've forgotten how awfull is riding in the semi dark.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kick ass bars - or the self sustainable athlete -

So today I'm bringing my Nutrition 1.01 module. I'm gonna try to sell them as as a proper salesman:

Do you know the meaning of BONK??
have you ever had the cravings just before heading to the pool at 5.30 in the morning?
you tired of giving your money away to big corporates like Nestle and the like?
you suffer from 3.30itis?
wanna do reduce your carbon footprint by saving that trip to the bike shop just to buy the same old bars?

Suffer no more!, from the creators of the 3minutes cake, comes the healthy alternative, the biggest breakthrough in sports nutrition. Try the new HOME MADE NUTRITION BARS. Make it happen, suprise your partner with your skills!






Wat you need:
2 Bananas
1 Cup of instant rolled oats
2 teaspoons of olive oil (yes, olive oil, it wont smell it wont taste)
6 teaspons of honey
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup of nuts, dried fruit, coconut or whatever you think OK




Theny you:
mash the bananas into a puree, add the rest of the stuff and mix for a minute with a wooden spoon


Finally, you form the bars and bake for about 40 minutes or until brow and crispy

The finished product
And don't forget the packaging

I also managed to do some training
Date: 12 April
Sport: Swim /// Xtraining (football)
Time: 60min /// 60min
Dist: 3.2km /// bout 6km
Comment: changed the focus to bilateral breathing instead of the high elbow catch /// first game in over a year.. I need a doctor

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gear Talk #2

Today is the turn of the bikes. The second leg of triathlon is the bike leg, and over the last 20 odd years bikes have evolved in many aspects to arrive to what we know today as the tri specific bike, or flying machine. There isn’t a perfect tri bike, although my heart is with the Canadian born Cervelos. The theory suggests that the tri bike geometry and setting allows for a good aerodynamic position, which will economize effort that we later will use for running. What we’re looking at is, distance between seat and handlebars, seat post angle, and head set length. They all need to be supportive of our back and core so we don’t cramp up any muscles. About 75% of any triathlon field will be sporting these nice ox’s for their second legs.

My first triathlon I did on a borrowed road bike, the second, third and fourth one I did on my own aluminium road bike, which was also known as treka. Later on, I bought a full carbon bike and that lasted for a year until the frame cracked on a fall. We went together for many miles of training, and a couple of half iroman among other things and overall I many good memories of them both.

The replacement frame is my current bike, an Avanti Quantum 2, nice and stiff full carbon road bike. It is a great bike to do club racing and general road riding, but as soon as I want to go onto a more aerodynamic position trouble starts, because the geometry allows only for a small change. I went to Worlds last year on it, and it was a bit of a problem, but not much different than having a niggle during your run.

The “downside” of the tri bikes is that they can some times be very very pricy. I am still working my head around on how to get hold of a tri bike that will help me to save 3 minutes on the 40km bike leg in Budapest, it’s about 3000 New Zealand Dollars, that one grand a minute, funny, aye?

So far the above reasoning has kept me honest to the reason I race for, and what is important and what is not when deciding how to allocate my pennies. Don’t get me wrong, I love riding, and I’d lover to have a tri bike, but at this point all I can do is to talk about it, ha ha ha.
 
Today it was back to a tuesday indoor training session close to home, we usually do a lil' run off the bike, more to come on that soon.
 
Date: 11 May
Sport: Bike /// Run
Time: 60min /// 14min
Dist: n/a /// 3km and a bit
Comment: I forgot how much I could sweat, awful sight : )

Monday, May 10, 2010

New kids on the block

Starting something new brings some fears and feelings of unease, may it be a new job, buying a house or getting to a new pool squad. As an immigrant I kind of got seasoned in starting from zero at many, many things (fortunately not the english language, although its kiwi variety proved to be enough of a challenge) so when I slowly crawled my way into triathlon (thanks to Leon, a mate now in Spain) I had my ways to be "the new guy" for as little as posible and Valentino as soon as it could be.

There's no clear line that separate when you are the new guy at the training group and when you're "one of the guys/girls". It depends a big deal on personalities, and triathletes personalities many times are quite, ahem... how to word it:....arsy?. Anyway, we all have to go through it at some point or another and the good thing is that as I said before it does not belong to triathlon only but to the general dynamics of any group.

Today I started a covering for someone at my work, and  although corporate politcal correctness rules dictate that many people would be very supportive on paper, there were a couple of genuine shows of support that really made my day.

Other guys started training for a beginners group that the tri club sponsors, it was a huge crowd running the badly lit carpark where the magic happens. I spoke to some of the guys to show a bit of the camaraderie I mentioned in my first posts, and to get to know them as they will be buddies of some kind any time soon, I think it is important to build those bridges and make sure people keep wanting to come back, otherwise races and group trainings are like a boring replay of Friends, and to be frank, that takes the fun part of the sport.

I guess that where this post is going it to the fact that in this sport, as in life in general, we are the new kids on the block many times, in training, in racing, in getting out of town to a race for the first time, in writing your diary, in racing your first time on a distance, and the list goes on for as long as one can think of. I found many times that there's always been someone there to check how was I doing, and I take pride in being that someone to someone else now. So I'm smiling

Back to training, today was the first late arrival to a training session for the year, I just don't know what happened but never heard the alarm and missed the first 10 mim of the morning swim

Date: 10 May
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 50min /// 60min
Dist: 2.5km /// bout 9km
Comment: big tick on all boxes

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Triathlon, and how to do many things along with it.

This is my -no-day-off-weekend: Saturday was the races from 12 to 6pm with travel time and Sunday was an easy 3.5 hr bike wich ended in an extended brunch for Nat and I, and that and a movie later on was the only family time available.
A good mate suggested I raise the topic of how much of a challenge is to be a triathlete, a family man, a working man and a mate to the "normal" friends. He is a 9.30hr ironman, and I'm a 4.40hr half ironman. Another mate is a 2hr standard distance man and we all share the same struggles as many others. To be an amateur sportman is challenging no matter the sport or the level
I thought about it and I don't think I've got anything original to say about it, many people has talked about the issue so many times, that mine would be a very very average post.
What I do think is that triathlon is a lifestyle, and as much a struggle as it is an indulgence. I'm going to Budapest not on a patriotic duty, but to try to achieve the best of my potential as an athlete and in doing so leaving my club and my national federation is good standing, that's pretty much it. The rewards are individual, as it is the solitude of the long dark hours of running in the wet Auckland winter.
Not long from now I know Nat and I will be Nat, me and Co. and I won't be able to commit 10/15 hours of my weekend gone to training. So for now, I am happy I can do it, and try to optimize the opportunities to have a nice time with my wife, then train, then other things.
I cannot afford to waste time in complaining or regretting any decisions to train or not to train, to go or not to go anywhere. That time can be used for things that make me better as an athlete.

Anyway, I just thought about that today in my training ride (the airport loop, topic of a next post) and even thought is not a great argumentation, is something that can be dangerous in the mental prepping of any race.
In a lighter note, I met again with Mr Peacock, a character that I met every now and then. I hope many of you will be able to tell where it resides,

Date 9 May
Sport:  Cycle
Time: 180min
Dist: 75km (give or take)
Comment: I need a speedo!, or a Garmin 310.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday races

This is the third race of the season, and I am happy to report that the legs are getting better and better.
Today we went out to Aka Aka, 1.5 hr away from Auckland to race the cycling club road race. We is for my mate Gordo and me. Gordon was doing his first one so the whole trip was about answering his questions about how the race may unfold. We're doing the Tour of Taranaki together, so is good to have him on board doing some serious racing.

From my previous experiences I knew that I have to have my nutrition and water sorted OK if I wanted to have a chance. The race calendar said 72km but I thought the race may  be shortened to 52 for the grade I race in. It wasn't, so first thing I did was to get a Moro bar just before the race started.

The C grade was a big bunch of about 50 riders at the start. There wasn't a lot of time to play around as the pace was up on the first lap, and as usual I sat in the middle to check who was doing what and try to do a bit of recconnaisance of the course as I didn't remember much from last time. I was happy to learn that it was mostly a flat course with a 600m straight as a finish. By the end of the first lap I was tired OK and had drank little water from my bottle so I took a big sip.

The second lap was on a much amicable pace for the first half, not many were willing to work up front and it suited me to just stay in touch but way back in the bunch. Some guys took over after halfway and they drove a bit faster, only to turn the wrong ways, so there was little damage done. Someone may have had a crash or taken the wrong turn later on because towards the end of the second lap the buch was half the size.
I had half a gel and more water and started working to move up in the bunch, the legs were a bit mor tired, but when the gel kicked in, they responded and I was able to respond to the upping of the pace that usually happens on the last lap.

I stayed on the 4th or 5th wheel for most of the time and did a bit at the front on the final 8 km, as we got closer to the finish a lot of argy bargy started to secure good placing for the sprints. As I am doing this races as part of my training I usually don't risk a lot and try to stay inside and not to cross the centerline. Today's approach was to go fast and stay with the first five guys, and I did that until we turned into the final straight.
200m in and the roaring of the wheels started to get louder, then someone shouted and a 30 bikes sprint started, taking all of the road.
But that didn't last long as a car approached on the other lane, so we all started to crunch in, an elbou here, a near miss there, and I went with 80% of my strength to finish in the top 10 on the sprint. I was boxed and couldnt develop any more speed safely.

All in all it was a happy day, as I felt in control all the time and didn't do any silly mistakes as the previous race. My mate Gordon learned had a bit more difficult race in his grade and ended up on a solo sprint, being passed by a slower bunch in the final 5km, but I think he learned the lesson.

Date: 8 May
Sport: Cycling
Time: 120min (approx)
Dist: 72km
Comment: I need to wash my bike soon.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Four seasons swimmers

Even though is not my strongest at the moment, the swim is the part of the triathlon that I like the most, I only remember one time that I panicked or had a bad day on the swim, even with cramps the floating part has no comparison with the others.
During the winter of 2007 a group of nice people and very handy swimmers joined every Saturday morning for a dip, usually not more than a two or three km of swimming, then muffins and coffee and longer swims as the weather got more gentle (the following summer we did as long as 11km), they were getting ready for a 9km swim. I joined them because I loved the sea swim.

It helped me lots, and I've sorted my unique open water swim cycle (three strokes-right hand side breath-three strokes- left hand side breath-two strokes - left hand side breath-two strokes-left hand side breath head up-and start again) during that winter and also tought me a lot how to navigate in any conditions.
I am not fan of cold water, and some days we had as low as 11.3 C (52F) but the idea was to stick to it and be able to say "I've done back to back seasons" and it was an experience I would happily repeat if it wasn't for this triathlon thing.  Nat joined us every now and then and the photos are hers.
I heard somewhere that they're doing midday swims most days of the week and the constitutional dip on Saturdays, the group is bigger over summer but the core guys (Vic, Jim, Geoff and Hamish) are always there, one of them is getting ready to swim the straight that separates the two islands of New Zealand wich is an epic swim to do. Today I took my lunch hour to meet and swim with this guys after a long long time, and it was just as nice.

Date: 6 May
Sport: Swim /// Swim
Time: 60min /// 45min
Dist: 2.5km /// 2.2 km
Comment: lots of drills /// sneaky lunch swim

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gear Talk #2

As I was running yesterday I looked at my right foot and realized that the shoes I was running with are starting to give in. It's a small thing and I don't realize until a funny landing sound comes when I do uphills. It's got to do with the type of material of the outer soles as well, but generally Adidas and Nike will do that on me.
With time one becomes sort of an expert in shoes and their different specs. I like Adidas for durability and value for money and I've never used Ascics. Nikes are OK but they wear out too quickly and NB are too wide for my foot most times. Of the shoes currently on my rack, the oldest pair has over 1000km run on them, the second one about 600 and the third one is on the mid 400's. I know, it's about bloody time I get some new ones, but I've been busy. Besides, with this blog and my written log book, I've left behind the electronic log book so the KM counts on shoes has been done by guesstimate.
One of the bad things of reading too much about the sport is that the amount of information sometimes conflicts and some other times it gets annoyingly tecchie and what is worst, scares you off going out and having a good time. I read somewhere that shoes should be changed at 600km, and to be fair, they may well have to. But the shoes I loved and would use for most my runs have been discontinued and the newer model is not quite the same fit, so i've been busy looking for the second most perfect shoe for the last 3 months and I've overworn the others. Shall I stop going for a run until I have some backup ones? Am I an injury waiting to happen?
Dunno, I'm probably too tired today to answer, but I thought it was a good topic to put out there.

Today was a single workout day,
Date: 6 May
Sport: Cycling
Time: 45min
Dist: N/A
Comment: the very last day as a lab rat, here's the data

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another solo run

This is how to do to stuff up a day that had started pretty good training and workwise. The mission was to do the prescribed 90min run with the training group and have a nice relaxing day
12pm: Miss a call from a friend for a sneak 45min ocean swim and regret it.
3.45pm: give up to your cravings and go for a pot of oats and yoghurt.
4.15pm: call your coach and ask him what route the group is doing to meet them 1/3 into the run.
4.50pm: knock off from work, talk to a colleague and loose the 10 min. advantage to the traffic
5.00pm: get stuck in a mini jam
5.03pm: re route to another mini jam
5.15pm: pick up the wife and rush home
5.33pm: get home 5min later and get changed in a flash
5.37pm: realize there's no vaseline or shammy cream you know where (but keep going or you're missing the bunch)
5.38pm: get off to run what you think is 3km and is 4.25km. Eat the rolling hills in a rush up tempo to not to miss the bunch.
6.01pm: wait and see on the meeting point.
6.02pm: keep going, withdraw the catch up mission, settle into a good pace
6.30pm: get to the turnaround point without seen them at all! swear in low voice
7.00pm: start feeling (and listening) the oats and yogurt doing their work.
7.02pm: start doing a mental map of the closest toilet between now and home
7.03pm: withdraw the johnny mission, keep runnin, forest!
7.15pm get home feeling a complete wreck, straigth to the throne
8.00pm: map your run and realize you needed to be out of your home 10min earlier to catch the bunch and, by going all the way, you've done another half marathon! D'oh!.

But there are two positives: the first one is that the first part of the run was intense, but the heart stayed pretty much outside the red zone.
The second one is that I learned what not to eat before this long runs.

Date: 5 May
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 60min /// 95min
Dist: 3km /// 20.5km
Comment: love the 10, 20 or 30 times sets /// it was a long run to the toilet

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gotcha!

One of the most satisfactory feelings when training is to get a particularly difficult workout done to the details prescribed by the coach. It has happened to me several times, particularly close to race days when intensities go up in every sport and sometimes the body is under some strain. Two particular sets are usually troublesome to me but I've tamed them both on my last campaign so hopefully I'll know how to play them when the time comes.
One of them is to run 4 intervals a certain distance in 7.5min. The distance is determined by our results on a VO2 Cooper's test and the idea behind it is that we will be increasing the VO2 values for the next test and therefore improving performance when going anaerobic. It took me quite a few attemps to get it right and this past summer I got there, I did not celebrate property because I was knocked.
The second workout I can't get to do well is a set of 200's on the pool on a given time that allows for little more than 3 seconds rest. This one I managed to get around on the second attempt and the third, but the last time I failed again, a bit demoralizing but nothing to make a big fuzz.
Today I surprised myself with another particularly difficult set nailed. It's my last list at the lab and had to do a 20k TT (better times than 4 weeks ago, so no surprises there) and a 60sec Wingate Test after 5 minutes of complete rest and a bit of spinning to warm the legs up again. I don't know where the idea of a 60sec sprint came in, it's somehow a bit exagerated in my opinion, and I know my legs don't like it either.
But it's all in the name of progress and science, so I'm doing it (ha ha). The suprise came after the longer 60secs of the year so far, when I looked at the chart, it was a perfect descending............. straigth line!!, and all the other variables were OK, so it only meant that my strenght had decayed on a constant rate instead of a big dip, which is, to my interpretation, a big deal, because it means I already have some endurance back in the legs, and this is only the base period. So very happy I decided to do it all again. Not.
I went for a little swim instead, just to stretch, and glide.

Date: 4th May
Sport: Cycling /// Swimming
Time: 70min /// 45min
Dist: n/a /// 2km
Comment: Gotcha! /// pull bouy distance set