Friday, May 27, 2011

Progressing

Looks like I’ll be bagging yet another long ride this weekend.  I had thought to take my hybrid with me to Columbus GA for the soccer tournament, but after giving it some thought, I changed my mind.  I’m not overly worried about it though.  I was pretty pleased with numbers from Tuesday’s interval ride.  I have committed myself to a long ride next Thursday of at least two hours.  That will pretty much be my last chance to get a long ride in before the race on the 12th.

I had zero luck finding a place to swim in Columbus this weekend.  They have a big ole river there, so one might think they’d have places to swim.  Evidently not.  While I’m willing to skip one workout to get in 9 soccer matches, I’m not willing to skip two.  Thusly, I dragged my happy ass out of bed at 4:30 AM this morning to get my swim on.

My workout for the day had me chuckling.  I always dreaded coach’s swim tests. They came in different flavors:  10x100 w/10 seconds rest, 1x400, 1x500.  I guess it kind of depended on her mood.  That’s why I laughed when I saw a VOS set on my schedule today, with 10 seconds rest.  For those of you not in the know, VOS is a VO2 max swim set.  For me, that’s a “swim as hard as you can pace”, or as I like to think of it, swim hard enough to puke.

So, I drag my happy butt out of the bed at 4:30 AM and head to the gym.  I’m the fourth person to arrive.  I counted.  I was the first person in the pool.  I was the only person in the pool for the whole time I was there.  I warmed up with a 200 yard easy swim, then 300 yards of drill.  I gave myself a short breather before hitting start on the watch, and off I went.

Typical.  My first 100 was my fastest, coming in under my target time of 1:27.  From there, I got progressively worse.  As a matter of fact, that was the only 100 beneath my target time.  I had a few close to one thirty, before settling in at 1:32.  My final five were all in the 1:34 range.

After analyzing my digits, a calculated my T-pace at 1:32, a full second off my previous time.  Now, there’s some improvement!  My swimming has been plateaued for a while.  I’ve seen plenty of running and cycling improvements this year, but my swimming over the last three years has been stagnant.

While I’m not willing to do anything about swimming this year.  It has been noted, and next year, this just won’t do at all…

Have a great weekend, y’all!  See ya on the pitch…

Wes

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Inevitableness of It All

Well, it was bound to happen.  I missed a long ride.  I should be up to about 2 hours now.  I don’t think I’ve gone longer than an hour thirty.  I reffed eight soccer matches over the weekend, starting Friday night.  Four of the matches were a full 90 minutes.  Needless to say, it was a long weekend.  I managed to squeeze in my long swim on Saturday, between my matches and Matthew’s game, but the bike ride just wasn’t happening.

I won’t agonize over it.  I get to do it all over again this weekend.

This time, however, I am taking a different approach.  I did my normal two a day yesterday.  I swam, then I rode my bike on the trainer while we watched American Idol/Dancing with the Stars/The Biggest Loser, all of them finales.  By the way….  Thanks a lot for that network television.  You suck.

The good news…  My legs were ready for the 5x3 minute power intervals, and I hit them all dead on.  I am putting out some power/speed that is encouraging. Tomorrow, I will do my midweek medium run.  Then, I’m moving my long swim to Friday, and taking my hybrid with me to Columbus this weekend.  I’ll be damned if I’m not getting in my long ride :-)

I have three matches a day, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  My running fitness is moving right along!

Wes

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Enter The Krazies

Well, its that time of year.  School is ending.  The State Cup soccer tournament has arrived.  My first triathlon of the year is 3 weeks away.  My carefully laid out schedule and plan is in taters.

Oh joy…

Am I whining?  no. Is my hair getting greyer?  no.  Is that even possible?  :-)  This is all part of the grand plan.  The grand plan trumps the details and guides me on my path.

Reminder:  this triathlon season is non-competitive, a have fun kind of year.

I have 1, 2, 3 weekends of tournaments.  That’s kinda going to make it hard to get in my “big training days” on the weekend and follow this plan as outlined in the book The Time Crunched Triathlete.  This is where a coach makes their money.  The coach keeps you hoppin and a skippin and a jumpin on the path to triathlon greatness, while factoring in the requirements of real life.

I don’t need a coach anymore.  Doesn’t mean I don’t want one.  It just means I don’t need one.

Now, I’m juggling my schedule to get in that long ride and long swim.  I’ll get plenty of running in on the pitch at these tournaments.  As a matter of fact, State Cup should help me shed some excess poundage in the form of sweat.  Columbus is HOT in June.

So, long bike and long swim on Fridays now.  If I can swing it, I’ll swim long one day on the weekend.  I’m already ready to go for the Olympic distance June 12th.  The question is, how ready do I want to be?

Wes

Monday, May 16, 2011

Where the Wild Winds Blow

I wish I had brought my camera…

The alarm went off at 6:30 AM on Saturday.  I had asked Teh Bug to set it for 7:25 AM, but that was the second request.  She had complied with the first request, and that was good enough.  I reset it and went back to sleep.  After the second buzz, I got out of bed and went downstairs to make breakfast.  The Concorde Tri Club was meeting at Red Top Mountain for the their third open water swim of the season.  After the swim, I was headed to Cartersville and the Budweiser Plant for my long ride.

The crowd in the cove was smaller then I remembered.  It seems there were many races going on this weekend.  I quickly signed in and slipped into my wet suit.  The Neosport Sprint is very easy to get in and out of with its cut off legs and sleeveless arms.  The water was a cool 68 degrees and perfect on a cloudy day.

After receiving our instructions, we took off.  New this year were the swim buoys marking our route across the cove then out the entrance.  I wanted to take it easy on the way out, and pound water on the way back.  That would simulate the written workout nicely.  Instead, I got caught up in the crowd and went out quickly, but controlled.  By the time we hit the second buoy, I was well behind the lead pack, swimming with a few other peeps.  I checked around as I hit the wake bouy and headed out into the lake.  I wanted to be sure I was not swimming alone.  I made it to the rocks on the far side of the lake in 14 minutes.

There was a couple of swimmers catching their breath on the rocks when I arrived.  I gave myself a 45 second rest interval before heading back.  I immediately felt like I was working with the tide, not against it, and I picked up my pace.  While it was impossible to follow the same exact route back, I did hit the buoy across the cove before heading back to the start.  I made the swim back in 15 minutes or so, giving me about a 29 minute mile swim.  I was happy with that.

I slipped out of my wet suit, dried off, and hit up the bathroom at the lodge to change into my bike clothes.  I drove out of the north entrance of the park which gave me a fifteen or so minute ride to the Bud Plant.  The parking lot was a lot emptier than I expected.  After gearing up, I slipped out onto the road at 10:30 AM.

The first part of the ride is always the scariest for me.  After leaving the Bud Plant, you make a couple of right turns that put you back on the road that runs to the interstate.  This is the busiest part of the ride, and the place where the cars travel the fastest.  Still, I’ve never had any problems with the folks out there.

At the end of that road, there’s a stop sign where we make a left, leading up to the small town of White.  At the four way stop sign there, we make another left onto  a main road that takes us four miles out of town before making a right onto a country road.  It was here that I began to notice the damage from the recent storms.  Trees were bent over, and debris was lining the road.  As I rode further along, I noticed some trees that had been snapped off twenty feet up, and I noticed the path that the winds took.  I marveled that a lone house was still standing, and it also looked like the school had been missed entirely.

As I passed through the community of Pine Log, I noticed even more damage.  Trees were down.  Barns were destroyed.  Unfortunately, the big sweet gum trees do not an oak tree make.  There was a tree that was big enough around that it would have taken six people holding hands to span its circumference.  It was laying on its side in a yard.  The little back road I took back to the main route was a mess.  The road had been cleared, but the shoulders were full of downed trees and limbs.  I passed a worker clearing trees and he smiled.  I’m sure I was riding with my mouth open.

Just like that, I exited the path of the wind.  Forty-five minutes into my ride, I started my power intervals.  I went by memory, and instead of doing 7x2 minute power intervals, I did 7x3.  I’m still regretting that decision today.  On the way back, I crossed paths with the storm again.  Huge swaths of forest had their tops cut off.  Homes were destroyed.  Barns and houses I had ridden past for years were shattered hulks, and long sheets of roofing material were wrapped around stubs of trees like tissue paper.

The ride back to the car was somber.  I’m not one to shed tears over things that happen to us, rather things that happen because of us.  My heart goes out to the people of Pickens and Gilmere County, and all those other people and places in the path of this terrible storm.  I wish you peace, recovery, and prosperity in these difficult times.

Wes

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Review: Vibram Bikilas

This whole barefoot none sense had been going around the interwebz for a while.  It wasn’t the in your face kind of nonsense.  It was very subtle.  You heard bits and pieces about it here.  Others talking about it there.  Questions were asked.  Answers posed.

My curiosity was piqued.  I could never bring myself to either run nekkid nor buy any barefoot type shoes, until one day we went to The Big Peach looking at shoes for Teh Bug.  They had the new Vibram Five Finger Bikilas in stock, and they were specially designed for running. I tried them on and liked them enough to ask Dee Dee if it was OK if I bought them, and she graciously assented.  They only had a half size to large for me, but I was fine with it.

Besides, who does not want their toes curled up while they run?  Got ELF?

bikilas
The first thing I noticed when trying them on is that you have to wiggle your toes, just like you do your fingers when putting on a glove.  Once inside though, the fit is snug and comfortable.  For me, the material that runs across the top of the foot is a little snug, but some adjustments fit the bill nicely.  Vibrams put a little strap in the back to help you get the Bikila on and off your heel.  The single strap across the front keeps the Bikila securely in place.

The first time I took the Bikilas out, I ran for 5 minutes.  Why I was surprised, I don’t know.  It was just like running barefooted.  There is no padding.  The sole is stiff yet compliant.  You can feel everything through the bottom of your feet.  I followed up this run with runs of half a mile, 1 mile, 3 miles, and my longest run to date (today), 4 miles.

Yea, I got lambasted for jumping from 1 to 3 miles, but no harm done.  I seem to be fairly resilient, and I am always careful.

As for the Bikilas themselves, I love them.  Right now, I’m planning on running in them once a week, up to 6 miles.  You have to learn to run all over again when you get into barefoot running, otherwise, you might hurt yourself.  I may add some more runs later this year, when I return back to strictly a running regimen.  The only question I have left is:  how durable are they?  It might take me a while to find out.

I purchased these Vibram Bikilas with my own money for my own use.  For those of you interested in barefoot running, these are a good choice.

Wes

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Day Nothing Happened

Mother’s Day weekend dawned:  bright, hot, clear.  As often happens this time of year, Dee Dee, Matthew, and I were up early for a soccer tournament.  Matthew’s club team was playing in the President’s Cup, even as his high school team wrapped up their play offs.  I was going to work this tournament, in preparation for State Cup, but after getting a few subtle hints from Dee Dee, I dropped my availability.

During Matthew’s morning game, I met an old friend that was assessing the referees.  This gentleman had been in the soccer bidness for upwards of thirty years.  I chatted with him a bit about the state of affairs in Georgia Soccer, which also gave me the chance to whine about the new stringent testing requirements for Grade 7 referees.  There are over 4,000 referees in the state, half of which are first year (Grade 9).  There are only 80+ Grade 7s, and fewer than 40 grade 6 and below.  We will lose half of the Grade 9s for various reasons, but most of it due to coach/parent abuse.  It just didn’t make sense to me to make it “harder” to maintain a grade 7.

After Matthew’s club game, we were off to Columbus, GA and back for his high school match, which they won.  I wanted to get some youth matches under my belt before State Cup, so I signed up for a match on Wednesday night.  Unfortunately, this is the next round of the high school play offs, and I’ll now have to miss Matthew’s game.  I admit to being disappointed, but such is the games I have to play to balance my life with that of my family.

I am looking forward to the girl’s match this evening, more so than I was the adult match I had Sunday night.  My assignor had mistakenly believed I was still training for a marathon.  As a result, he had been giving me mostly division 3 and over thirty/forty matches.  I asked for a more competitive match for a “change of pace”.

The teams I reffed Sunday night were division 1 teams.  Being of African/Caribbean ethnicity, both teams had a very casual, laid back style, and they both were very skilled.  The last time I had done one of these teams, things had gotten out of hand a bit, even though it ended well.  I was determined to do a better job on this game.

Part way through the match, I had to pull a player from each team aside and tell them to stop the extracurricular activities.  They were kind of roughing each other up.  I then proceeded to call fouls on each player whenever they touched the other.  They got the message.  One of the teams began to run away with the score.  To keep the other team happy, I tightened up on the winning team, not giving them much lee way foul wise.  I learned this technique from a very wise assessor in my first year.

After the game, the players were shaking hands with me, the assistant refs, and each other when one of the players remarked:

Wow!  No red cards…

He said this in a very casual nonchalant kind of way.  I caught it, but I did not respond.  Inwardly, I was beaming.  I’ve had players tell me how great the game I reffed was, and I’ve also had them tell me how bad I sucked.  It just comes with the territory.  In all our matches, we strive to have our presence felt while being as innocuous as possible.  To have zero drama, and to have one of the players give such a subtle compliment is the result for which we strive.  It keeps us coming back to the game.

Now, if I can just get these 12 year old girls to treat me right…  They’re such trouble makers!

Wes

Monday, May 09, 2011

Controlled

If there was one word to describe my training so far, this would be it.  It sure beats the alternative.  This is why we take the fitness tests.  We use the digits as guidelines to control our training. 

There is a school of thought (old school) that says loudly, base before speed.  The latest thought (new school) says (a good bit of) speed before distance, using the fitness you currently have.  If you were, I dunno, crazy enough to use your digits from last year, then you would have nobody to blame but yourself when you get hurt.

I have also found, during this process, that I am enjoying my workouts more, a lot more.  My data files from my ride yesterday at Columns Drive show me consistently hitting miles in the 21-22 mph range during my 10 minute under/over intervals.  Yet, I wasn’t suffering.  What a huge confidence boost this was for me.

There’s a place in a triathlon training plan for suffering.  But not now, and not in mine, nor this season.  My first race is now officially five weeks away.  My plan is shifting to power, and I have just tons of refereeing stuff coming up with State Cup.

Things should get interesting.  I hope y’all had a great weekend!

Wes

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Fuzzy Swim Math

We used to tease The ELF about this all the time.  She would “sneak” these little snafus into her swim workouts.  The described yardage a bit shorter than the actual yardage.

It doesn’t hurt to be an anal retentive digit analyzer….

Based on past experience, I’ve gotten into the habit of adding up my swim yardage for every workout.  You know.  Just to be sure.  The prescribed workout in my book called for 1800 yards, but the digits only added up to 1600.

This just won’t do.

What to do?  What to do?  The main set consisted of a power swim set (+/- 5 seconds off my critical swim pace) of 4x200 yards on fifteen seconds rest.  It was obvious that by simply adding another 200 to the set, my problem would be solved, and I’m sure that this is what the book’s author had intended.

My power swim set interval is 1:34 to 1:42 per hundred, and I nailed every interval the top side of that range.  The swimming is coming back.  I’m much more focused on what I should be doing, rather than what I want to be doing (going fast).  Training smarter allowed me to save some energy for my hour long bike ride that afternoon.

Sometimes, mental progress is just as significant as physical progress.

I have saved every swim workout that my coach ever gave me.  The workouts I am doing now are simple and effective, but they in no way compare to the creative ass-kicking variety that is the ELF produced workout.

The upside…  I don’t have to bring a stack of sandwich baggee wrapped index cards to the pool…

Wes

Monday, May 02, 2011

Intervals

Be careful what you wish for…

Seems like all I am doing these days is intervals. Intervals.  Intervals.  more intervals.  If you want to race fast, you have to train fast.  If you want to be competitive on 5-8 hours a week, then you need to do intervals, and lots of them.

Never mind that you have not a base in any other discipline but running.  That’s why we take those dayum tests.  We do our intervals with the fitness with have, at the proper pace, for the proper amount of time.

Don’t be stupid…

After my test on Thursday, which wasn’t on the schedule, by the way, I was not looking forward to Saturday’s forty-five minute run.  It called for three, six minute steady state intervals with four minutes of recovery.

I waited a little late on Saturday to get started, but I needed the sleep.  Hobgood Park’s half mile track was my course of choice.  A girl’s softball tournament was being held at the site, and it provided some distraction from misery.  I warmed up for five minutes before starting my first interval.  My idea was to hold around an 8 minute pace, although anything under 8:33 would have been fine.  As is often the case, each interval got harder as the day got hotter.  I ran a  little over 5 miles in my allotted time for an over all pace of 8:56.  I wrapped up the training day with a 1500 yard swim in the pool.  Just basic endurance stuff, but it did serve to cool my body down.

Sunday, I woke up feeling the stiffness in my legs, and I wondered if the prescribed workout was the “right thing to do”.  I’m all about listening to my body.  Following standard procedure, I decided to give it a go and see how I felt.  There’s always time to make adjustments.

I’m not a big fan of interval training on the road.  This workout called for 3x10 minutes of under/overs.  The idea was to hit one heart rate zone for 3 minutes, then a higher heart rate zone for 2 minutes, then repeat.  That brings us to the necessary ten minutes, after which I would rest for five minutes.  I gave myself 25 minutes to get warmed up before starting the first interval.  I was flying.

You know you are doing something right when you hit known points along the Silver Comet Trail five minutes early.  I hit the turn around at the midway point of my second interval and started back.  The wind was in my face, but it didn’t matter. The workout was prescribed by heart rate, and that’s what I stuck too.  Still, I managed to negative split the ride back by 1.5 minutes.

When I leave to go workout in the morning, invariably I always wonder what I forgot.  On this day, it was my socks for my run off :-)  Good thing the K-swiss Blade Run Lights were designed to be ran in bare feet.  I quickly changed and hit the restroom on the way out, which led to the discovery that I had put my tri shorts on backwards.  HA!  After quickly rectifying the situation, I hit the trail for my tempo run off. I knew this was going to hurt.

Fortunately for me, the first mile of the Silver Comet Trail is slightly down hill.  I was able to hit my pace at a more relaxed effort.  Still, I had to come back up that path to complete my workout.  At the turn around, I settled in about thirty yards behind another runner, who was running at about my pace.  I gained on her a little bit when she had to wait to go around some walkers.  About one hundred yards from the trailhead, I passed her and led the way into the finish.  In fifteen minutes, I ran 1.85 miles for an 8:07 pace.

I was very pleased to have nailed my workouts for the day, and I rode home feeling so very blessed to have the health and fitness to do the things I love to do.

Wes