Friday, April 29, 2011

CTS Field Test

Triathlon training is in full swing.  For this training cycle, I have decided to follow the training plan from Chris Carmichael’s “The Time Crunched Triathlete”.  I chose this plan not so much because I am time crunched, but because I want to be competitive yet still have more time to do other things, like enjoy that beer I mentioned.  The intermediate Olympic plan as three (or more) days off each week, and I find that I am liking it.

After the Georgia Half Marathon, I had exactly 12 weeks until the West Point Olympic Triathlon.  For the first four weeks, I executed the transition plan, also available in the book.  At the end of the four weeks, I wanted to take the fitness tests.  The swim test went off fine.  Not much to say about that.  On that final weekend, I went to Columns Drive to take the bike/run test, only to find that I had left my heart rate strap on my laptop at home.  MINOR FAIL!  I made it an easy workout instead.

Those of you on Facebook know that I have been on staycation all week till Friday.  I got a bunch of stuff done around the house and really enjoyed being able to get my workouts in when and where I wanted.  I thought it would be a good idea to make up the test on Thursday, my last day of staycation.  I brought Dee Dee along to make sure I didn’t screw up again.

You could not have asked for a more beautiful day to take the fitness test.  It was sunny, a little windy, and seventy perfect degrees.  The CTS field test is no secret.  You execute a warm up, then the test itself is 2x8 minute all out efforts with a 10 minute recovery period between tests.  After the last test, you have 10 minutes to recover and get ready to run, then its an 8 minute all out run effort.

All you have to do is bring it…

The warm up consisted of a couple of 1 minute high spins followed by 1 minute recovery, then a couple of power intervals in the same vein. When the charge sounded, I took off.  It helped that the wind was at my back, but I was pretty sure I would give a “max effort” going in either direction.

If you know anything about me, I do not like to test, but I do them.  I worked hard, huffing and puffing, and kept an eye on my speed, to make sure my effort was consistent.  I intentionally ignored HR in order to optimize my chances for an accurate measurement.  After the first test, I spun lightly for the 10 minutes, and was delighted that my course took me back to the parking lot at columns drive, just in time to start the second test with the wind at my back.  That test was more of the same, except I felt like (and later proved) that is was slightly lower than my first test.

Unfortunately, the end of the second bike test found me at the far end of Columns Drive.  It took me about 8 minutes to pedal lightly back to the car.  I took a little longer getting ready for my run than the requisite 10 minutes, but I felt like my effort was good.  I started out the run by warming up for 7 minutes or so, including 5x15 seconds of striders.

At the bell, I started out at the recommended pace (5K), which for me is about a 7:45 mile.  One thing I have learned in this process (and you think I would know this already), running after riding is not the same as just running.  It was hard to hold my 5K pace, and my effort suffered as time elapsed.  When the final bell tolled, I ran slightly over a mile at a 7:53 pace.

I couldn’t wait to get home and upload my data and analyze the tests.  The results were surprising but not unexpected.  My max HR on both bike tests approached my LT threshold from last year, but the average for both was 160 and 158 respectively, 5 points below last years test.  My run test was spot on with the results from my 5K in February.

Despite some concerns, I’m happy with those numbers.  They will guide me through this training cycle, and I can retake the tests after my race(s) in June, if I so choose.

With that out of the way, we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming :-)


Friday, April 22, 2011

What? Me? Worry?

The idea is to run more, swim and bike less, and just enjoy my triathlon season.  Somehow, I think that has gotten away from me.  I’m barely going to get in 1.5 hours of running this week, provided I stick to the plan. 

Where’s the fun in that?  (who am I kidding?)

My running workouts this week consist of three runs, but two of them are off the bike for 15 minutes.  You don’t get a lot of mileage in “off the bike”.  I’m tempted to go into a maintenance running program and swim and bike as cross training.  So far, I am holding out.

I did my first interval session on the bike trainer Thursday.  It was hot.  3x8 minutes in Zone 4 had me sweating.  The floor was covered, and droplets where clinging to the underside of the top tube.  If I had any doubts about my ability get my HR in Zone 4 on the bike, they were quickly dispelled.

The previous Tuesday, I was supposed to do the same basic workout, but ride for an hour.  I opted to ride the hills in my neighborhood instead.  After downloading my data to Training Center, I saw that I spent 23 minutes in Zones 4 and 5.  LOL…  Damn near perfect.  The 1300 feet of total climbing certainly took its toll on my body.

Starting tomorrow, Dee Dee and I are off work until next Thursday.  We plan to get a mini-camp thing going next week, and I’m hoping to make up the fitness test I blew last weekend.

Have a great weekend, y’all!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Training Starts Today

My training for the half marathon found me running six days a week for the first 2-3 weeks, then it tapered off to 5 days, and that suited me just fine.  I worked hard through the winter, and I finally achieved a  time (not a result) of which I was proud. very. proud.

After the race, I began to ease myself back into tri mode.  Sugar plum fairies danced in my head, and I had visions of greatness.   I made plans.  My plans had plans.  I needed to do this.  I needed to do that.  and I worked out, a little.

Then it hit me...  I could no longer see the forest through the trees.  I had lost sight of the big picture.  I was doing all the right things for the wrong reasons.

This year is supposed to be...  I don't want to say an "off season", but rather a "down season".  Don't ask me what kind of fool wants to PR a half marathon and a marathon in their "down season" either.  We all drink from the same kool-aid.  I just want to set a few running PRs and enjoy my wife, children, and beer a little more this year.

In the last month or so, I've basically cut back to 2-3 hours of training.  I made good faith efforts to do my fitness tests.  I set my swim T-pace last week at the pool, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it come it at 1:33.  That's about five to six seconds slower than where I left off last season, but we can't be too serious, right?  I went to Columns Drive to check my bike/run fitness on Sunday, and left my HR strap at home.  Totally pissed me off, but again...  C'est la vie...

Today, I find myself eight weeks out from the West Point Olympic distance triathlon.  It's the course on which I currently hold my International distance PR.  Today marks the day were I start to get a little bit more serious about training. Today marks the day where I end my 18 day streak of beer/wine/liquor drinking and get a little more serious about eating healthy.

Who knows what will happen at West Point... I may bust a move.  I may PR...  but that might be a little too serious, and it's totally not a goal for me this year.


Monday, April 11, 2011


From the top of the bay bridge, I could see for miles and miles.  The sun glistened off the waters of the bay and in the distance, the waters of the gulf were an emerald blue.  The nostalgia was strong, and a small space in my heart ached with the act of leaving.  I had been coming to Panama City Beach since I was about four years old, and now, I was leaving my son there, with my father, in the hopes that he too would cultivate memories he would long cherish.

Back in the real world, I slaved at my desk job and watched the circus that is our Federal government work out their partisan/class warfare bickering in search of a budget.  The highlight of my week was having the strap on my laptop bag come undone (for the third time), which sent my expensive work laptop crashing to the ground.  This time, the damage was severe, and she was no longer functioning.  Friday, my boss asked me to call him at work.  He informed me there was a possibility I would be furloughed on Monday if Congress did not get its act together.  Oh joy....  The carnival just got personal.

Dee Dee and I decided we would put our faith in Ole Betsy, a.k.a. The Silver Streak, and take our bikes with us to Panama City for the weekend.  Unlike the previous Saturday, this ride was rather fast and uneventful.  We pulled into PCB just in time to hear the good news, a budget had been agreed upon.  We were a little too tired to fix the flat on Dee Dee's back tire.  We laid out our plan for the weekend.  Saturday, we would run, swim, and fix Dee Dee's tire.  Sunday, we ride.

Saturday morning, I got up at 9 AM EDT, 8 AM local time, and got ready to run.  The sun came out, and I knew that if I didn't get going, it would be very hot and humid.  Dee Dee joined me, and together we ran a mile or so down the road before turning around and heading back.  Dee Dee's tummy was bothering her, and she'd already put in most of her mileage for the week.   After dropping Dee Dee off, headed back out on my own.  I wanted to get in between 8 and 9 miles, but the heat and humidity encouraged me to cut it short.  I cut through the neighborhoods and managed to find the Ironman Florida running route along the lagoon.  It's always fun for me to catch up with old(ish) memories.

After we ate breakfast, we packed up our stuff and headed up to the big pool by the beach.  The water in the pool was cold!  I grabbed my wet suit and headed down to the beach after Matthew and his guest.  They were mucking around in waist deep water.  The gulf was just as cold as the pool.  I slipped into my wet suit and proceeded to get acclimated.  Even so, putting my face in the water to swim still took my breath away.  I headed down towards the St. Andrew's pier for about ten minutes before heading back.  I wasn't all that comfortable swimming by myself.  Most of the beach goers were opting to sun themselves for some reason.  I swam back to the place where I had left Matthew, and I spent about another 25 minutes floating in the gulf.  It was quite refreshing.  I was even able to get into the pool afterwards sans wet suit.

Upwards of 1 PM-ish or so, a fog rolled down the beach and obscured the sun for the rest of the day.  I haven't been in PCB during April very often, but that was a new one on me.  We spent the rest of the day getting ready for and cooking dinner, fixing Dee Dee's bike, and sitting out on the patio with my father, talking and drinking beer/wine.  PCB is definitely a low stress kinda place :-)

Sunday morning we were up and at'em at almost exactly the same time.  Dee Dee and I were out on our bikes by 9-ish.  I needed to do an hour and a half, but given that this was Dee Dee's first ride of the year, I compromised and asked her if she wanted to just ride to the pier and back.  That's almost exactly a twenty mile loop.  We both enjoyed the tail wind on the way down, but on the way back....  not so much.  Still, Dee Dee was a trooper, and she hung tough until we got back to the abode.  We showered, ate breakfast, then packed up and headed for home.

My father stayed behind in Panama City to wait for my sister and her daughter to arrive from Spain.  He earned the right to call Panama City Beach (his second) home.  My opportunity for following in his footsteps has probably passed.  I don't regret the path that I have chosen.  We each march to the sound of our own drummer.  Yet the allure of the beaches, the sweet smell of sea, will always call to me like the song of the Siren.  That soft tug at my heartstrings will probably never go away.  It will just have to be dealt with.  I am my father's son.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Tidbits, and such

Go back to your bench…  I pointed down the sidelines to the place where the players had dropped their bags.

You can’t make me go anywhere, the player responded.  While its true, he wasn’t playing, nor was he in uniform, he had identified himself as a member of the team.  The Laws of the Game applied.

It required some effort on my part not to let out a snicker.  The onus is on the referee to remain professional at all times, even when the players do not.  The game belongs to the players.  Without them, I wouldn’t have a job to do.  They bring courage, skill, and passion to the game.  As a steward of the game, it’s my job to keep that passion within limits to ensure a fair and balanced game and to look after the safety of the players.

But there are certain things we just don’t do during a match.  Like walk up and down the sidelines berating the referee.

That’s fine, I told him. There will be no more soccer played until you do as I ask.

I pondered walking over to my chair on the sidelines and firing up a cigar.  Alas, the young man did not give me enough time.  He sheepishly returned to his technical area, and the match continued.

Overall, I thought I handled that well, and the crotchity old bastard that insulted me in the over 40 match afterwards.  Such is the life of a referee.  At least I wasn’t tired like I was the night of the Georgia Half marathon.  I’ll never do THAT again.  I was a little tired, after dropping Matthew and his friend off in Panama City Beach for the week, but I felt like I gave the players my best, and it was a good effort.

My goals for the two games was to run hard and make up for a lack of workouts for the week.  I took my running stuff with me to Panama City Beach, but I just couldn’t get the mojo to get out the door and run.  I drank beer instead.  I managed one ride on the trainer during the week, one swim, and today, I rode outside, in the wind and sunshine, for the first time since November.

It reminded me that running fitness is not cycling fitness is not swimming fitness.  My VO2 engine is huge from the work I put in over the winter.  I’m hoping and praying that it won’t take long for my muscles to catch back up again.

Have a great week, y’all!