Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Tale of Two Rides

We've hit a heat wave here the last few days in Iowa. Temps have been in the 70s so it would have been so wasteful to not get out and ride and take advantage of the warm spell. My last outdoor ride had been in sub-40 weather so I was really chomping at the bit to get out there in some nice weather.

The plan yesterday was to ride about 40 miles, head north and hit some of the good hills that, while big by Iowa standards, probably still won't prepare me properly for Alcatraz. On my longer rides I will use a 48 oz bottle that straps into the aerobars for easy access while riding. The bottle is secured with a couple of rubber bands. After a couple of years of use these were looking pretty brittle and worn. I made a mental note to hit up Wally World for some new bands in the near future.

I took off and enjoyed the 25 mph tail wind while I could. Just six miles into the ride I hear a pop. One of the rubber bands has broken. I debate the likelihood of the other one breaking too and, after deciding that the odds are against it, continue along my way. Well, what do you know, 6 miles later: POP! The other band breaks! You have got to be freaking kidding me!

I pull over and try to MacGyver something to hold the bottle in place, but apparently I'm no Richard Dean Anderson. If only I kept a roll of duct tape, paper clips and some chewing gum in my saddle bag. Resisting the urge to chuck the thing as far as I could into a field, I instead decide to gently toss the bottle into the ditch so I could come back for it later.

At that point, with the fuel supply waning and the prospect of dealing with those ridiculous crosswinds, I decide it's best to just head home. 3 miles later, as if things can't get any worse, my front tire goes flat! Thankfully, I've changed a tire or two so get a new tube and the tire back on pretty quick. Time to test out my new hand/CO2 hybrid pump. What a POS! The hand pump did nothing. I hit it with CO2 and it inflated, but just enough to ride on. I debated using another cartridge, but decided to ride for awhile and stop to hit it with some more CO2 if necessary.

So off into horrendous headwind I go, taking those last nine miles on an underinflated tire slow as snot. I've never been so relieved just to get home!

Fast forward to today. Another beautiful day, but minus the crazy wind from yesterday. I'm armed with rubber bands and a shoelace (to tie the dang bottle to the aerobars if I have to) and ready to go on the rescue mission.

The first twelve miles passed quickly and uneventfully and soon enough I spot the bottle down in the ditch. I grab it and secure it to the aerobars. The rubber bands were a bit short so I ended up having to use the shoelace. Richard would be proud.

With the mission accomplished I start to head back. Twelve more uneventful miles and I'm pulling back in to home, not feeling relief like yesterday, but rather yearning to continue riding on such a perfect day.

The stat's tell the story as well:

Tuesday: 24.20 miles - 1:23:32 - 17.38 mph

Today: 24.22 miles - 1:11:12 - 20.41 mph

What a difference a day makes!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Mundane

Well, I haven't posted about anything in well over a week and that's not quite like me. But what can I say, things have been pretty uneventful around these parts so you should probably assume that no news is good news. There have been no major disturbances in the training schedule and my hip is giving me zero issues so it's all good.

So here is a rundown of some entirely mundane events that have occurred since the last post:

I had my first shorts and tee-shirt run (sweet, it's spring!)

I had by first outdoor ride in shorts (sweet, it was summerish for a day!)

Less than 24 hours after said ride we got a few inches of snow (suckage, winter's back!)

Said snowstorm left things covered in ice making the following morning's 10 miler quite treacherous (Grrrr!)

By the next day the snow had melted and I ran in shorts again (ok last weather related topic I swear)

My tri group substituted in a 50 minute core workout since the pool was closed (That was 4 days ago and I'm still sore!!)

I put ugly blue tires on my tri bike (They were 15 bucks cheaper than black ones)

I found out my 6 mile commute to work takes twice as long on a bike as it does in a car (and my new lights work awesome!)

I worked some ridiculously long hours this week (but it was also a recovery week so I couldn't have asked for better timing)

I nearly accidentally ran a sub-20 minute 5k during a 4 mile training run today (Fan-Friggin-Tastic!)

I'm still determining whether or not ice cream has enough protein in it to constitute viable recovery nutrition (more testing necessary)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Who's afraid of the ironman swim?

Not this guy, that's for sure. Last Friday I decided to take a different approach to my swim workout. I had missed a session the night before due to work so I decided when I got there to swim until a) I completely wore myself out, b) hurt something, c) had a complete breakdown in form or d) went completely insane from boredom.

After awhile I started to feel a little twinge in my left elbow so I called it a day at 4500 yds. I think I was rapidly approaching scenario d as well so it was probably a good thing I called it when I did. Other than that things felt great! It was easily my longest continuous swim ever and after the fact I realized it was further than the Ironman distance of 4224 yds.

Now granted I didn't do the swim in close proximity of 2000 of my best friends and I got that brief second of rest at the wall every lap, but I'm still pretty happy with the feat at this point in the season.

On another note we hit 50 degrees over the weekend and that meant that I got outside for my first ride! It was cold and my head froze, but I was nice to get off the trainer for a bit. More nice weather is in store the rest of the week so I am hoping to hit the road a few more times before the next cold spell hits!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First brick

Well today I did my first brick of the season. Now I don't incorporate a lot of brick sessions into my training. I am one of those fortunate people who can run really well off the bike so my main focus is to usually get in quality workouts of each individual sport. But when your tri group is doing a brick workout you might as well play along. Besides, it's the first week of March and with Alcatraz only 8 weeks away a brick can be a good indicator where my fitness is at right now.

I did my morning workouts on my own (1:20 on the trainer and a 2500 yd swim) so I didn't arrive at the group workout particularly fresh. We met at the local bike shop and set up our trainers inside so I got to drool over several bikes as we rode. The ride was about an hour and fifteen minutes with several sprint and force intervals interspersed throughout.

After that we hit the road for a nice 3.5 mile jaunt. My legs felt fine throughout and our pace was fairly quick, a 7:30 pace. All in all I am pretty happy with the workout. My cycling and running fitness are definitely coming back. I didn't even feel the need to throw on the recovery tights afterward!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Horn Tooting Pt. 2

A few weeks ago (well 8 to be exact) I posted about the improvements that I had made in swimming, which had been my focus all off season. In particular I had trimmed 1:14 off of my 1000 yd Time Trial time. This had come after eight weeks of hard work in the pool. The improvement surprised me a little bit, but I knew I didn't want to stop there.

I decided another 8 weeks of hard work were in order. I wasn't expecting gains akin to the first eight weeks, but I was certain that I could reach my goal of going under 16 minutes for the time trial.

So last night I hopped in the pool again to gauge my progress. I ripped off a 15:37, a time that I am very pleased with. It works out to a pace of 1:34 / 100 yds. I dropped a total of 1:44 from when I tested in November.

I can't wait to see where this lands me come race season. I may have just swam my way out of the middle of the pack!