Monday, February 25, 2008

Day Off

This is my first day off in some time. Yesterday saw the end of a three week build - my first of the season - in fact my first real build since 2004. My weekly progressions had me crowding 20 hours in my final week. To be frank, by the time I hit Sunday I had anticipated being in the penalty box but I didn't feel too badly at all. Too bad.
However - that all changed when I woke up this morning. My weight was down to 172.5 - a 1/2 pound off my lowest IM weight so that was great but I how I felt was not - light headed and weary to the bone.
Near the end of the build my sleep was starting to get a little disrupted but not bad enough to worry about. It was only the last few nights.
This morning I was on deck for a swim session. I felt like an old man and very nearly needed a lawn chair to make it through the session. Julia, one of the swimmers in my group, had a little boy 7 weeks ago. She brings Lucas to the pool and I keep an eye on him while she schools everyone in the workout. If he gets to fussing I pick him up and pack him about. I generally give the cradle a kick or two to make sure he's okay, that's usually when I get to pick him up. However this morning, after about 5 minutes of bonding time I started to feel light headed. I started to worry I was going to pitch forward and put the both of us in the drink. Lucas went back into the cradle and I did some serious leaning for the remainder of the workout.
So today will be a complete day off and I'll not crack nine hours for the week.
Maybe I'll get something done.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Big Week

Yesterday was another low heart rate run day. I had planned to run an hour but the day got away from me and I had to cut it short. I ended up going 45'. Kept the HR avg at 138 - but the truth is I couldn't have worked any harder. My legs just weren't interested in running.

Spent 4 hours on the bike today and followed it with an easy 20' run off the bike. The run felt better today than yesterday.
I had planned to run the Hatley 8K tomorrow but I'm just too tired. I'd rather try for another long slow one in the trails around Thetis. We'll see how I feel in the morning.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Slow Running

So yesterday I was talking a little bit about slow running. I can not overstate how little of this I've ever done in my life. As a point of fact I should not refer to it as slow running but as low heart rate running.
From the beginning I've pushed myself to run faster. Always faster.
In 1984 my friend Rob Hanke talked me into entering the Sri Chin Moy triathlon. Thus began my running life.
My first run was a 3 mile effort. I ran it as fast as I could. I recorded my time (19:32) and ran the same course for months, always working to go faster. I got faster.
It's 23 years later and while I know better, while I would never allow the athletes I coach to go down that path, running hard is a tough habit to break.
So with the "proper" use of a heart rate monitor and a firm desire to make positive changes I set out to truly embrace the slow burn. The relaxed run.
In the past four months I had done only three runs that lasted more than an hour and each one saw me in the penalty box for a week after - unable to run. Either the knees, Achilles or hamstring would be too damaged to consider putting on the sneakers. That did not bode well for running a IM.
On Feb 5th I decided I would see how it felt to really back off the pace - to run in lower zone 2 as Peter Reid had intended me to do all those years ago.
That meant keeping the heart rate under 145. I went an hour ten and felt great the whole time. My average heart rate for the run was 136.
I really have to say, I was honestly shocked at what a different feeling it was to run and not be uncomfortable. And it was amazing how good I felt after. My legs just didn't have the beat up feeling they would always have after a run of that duration.
It felt like I'd cheated.
Now two weeks later it still feels good.
Today I repeated the same run. I ran it a minute faster and my average heart rate was 128. I find that interesting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A good weekend

Back up to 177. Damn.
Friday night trainer ride. Usually not that comment worthy but it was this week.
I arrived at the Commonwealth Pool to lead the group through their session only to find a circus like atmosphere going on. There was some kind of a Western Canada swim meet going on.
The parking lot was full and the stands were packed. There was loud music and a constant stream of announcing and cheering.
The area where we usually hold our session was filled with a retail outlet for the meet.
I almost turned around and went home, thinking no one would brave this kind of an environment for an hour on the trainer, but just as I was moving for the door I spotted a bike set up on a trainer tucked in the corner. Jim, one of the more dedicated members of the club, was bound and determined to ride, so I agreed to do it with him.
We found a bare spot behind the T-shirt stand and set up. Within a few minutes three other intrepid souls showed up and there were five of us.
We set to spinning and soon the sweat was dripping. The ride ended up being special - almost surreal. While we were in the midst of a tempo section the woman's 200 IM finals were going on. We couldn't see the pool because of the crowds between us and the water but boy could we hear it! It became quickly apparent that the young woman (Morningstar??) was on track for a short course Canadian record that had stood for some 14 years. The announcer and the crowd were going mad. I believe the gal went 2:07 but the record was set. It was exceedingly cool to be riding hard while this was going on around us.
A few moments later, World Jr Champ Kirsten Sweetland came by and said hi to everyone. For some of the new members to the sport it was a nice moment.

Great riding weather the last few days. The elusive Victoria sun emerged Saturday morning and even though it was a bit cool it sure felt nice to need the dark glasses!
Ten of us showed up for the Saturday Group ride. The goal for the club this week was 2.5 hours of nice base. We did the Peninsula loop and, except for getting harassed by the police at one point, the ride was spectacular. I got in an extra hour and another run up Mt. Tolmie after the run.

Woke up pretty tired this morning. My plan was to coach the Team X group in the morning then get in water with the Victoria Masters, who have the lane after the Xers are gone. I stuck to the plan but was a little shocked when I spotted the main set - 1500 for time. I wasn't quite mentally prepared for that but I pulled on my game face as best I could and set off. There were nine of us in the 50m lane so there were a lot of evasive maneuvers going on. I touched the wall at 24:20. Can't complain about that. I think that's holding 1:37s. Sure would like to find another 5!!
After the swim had a quick lunch, a bit of a nap and headed to the lakes where the idea was to run at least an hour.
My running has not been going all the swell this past year. Last May I injured my Achilles while dodging fecal piles on a beach in India. Before the Achilles it was a nagging hamstring, before that a knee and before that a bad calf. As my old football coach would say - time to buy a new roll of tape.
Right now I'm essentially running pain free but I know in both mind and heart that it is only a matter of time before something else gives out. I believe that the reason I'm getting injured so often is two fold - advancing years and more importantly advancing weight. When I was running my best I kept my weight floating around the 150 mark and I was not a teenager at this time. I was 30 years old. I'm tipping in more than 25 lbs heavier now and the legs just don't want to carry that. For the past few years I've been stubbornly trying to lose the weight by blazing it off - running the way I used to run - like my ass was on fire every time I laced. I never ran easy, not even during warm ups. When Peter was coaching me four years ago he was constantly hammering at me to run in zone two. 90% and more of my running was to be done in this zone but as I pointed out, I can be stubborn. I did as I was told but there's always away to push it. To start with, maybe my max heart rate was calculated a touch high - a beat or two makes a difference - then there's the range between lower zone two and upper zone two. My realistic zone two is between 145-157. Then there's the use of "averages". Pete would call for a 90' run at zone 2. He would add things like "Just enjoy the pace. Look around. If you're with a friend you should easily be able to hold a conversation." Yeah right. I would set my heart rate monitor to AVERAGE and bust out of the gate. I'd make sure that number did not fall below 157. I was doing what I was told but really I was sabatouging the spirit of the workout. I paid the price with injury after injury and no real loss of weight.
So while I may be stubborn, I'm not stupid. I know that if I continue to do the same thing I will just get the same results. I'm making a conscious effort to embrace low heart rate running.
I've been doing it for a month now and the results have been pretty much 100%.
More on this later. Right now it's high noon, the sun is shining and I'm going for a ride.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Windy Day

Rode the waterfront with Adrienne today. This was the windiest conditions I've ever ridden in my life - including a demon day with Pete out on the Queen K.
At it's most sketchy point we were both in our smallest gear, going no more than 14 kph, Adrienne was leaning at a 45% angle and slowly getting pushed into the middle of the road.
Scary but fun.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lights Camera Action

A special day today. After weeks of working to build a new toy - an underwater surveillance camera system with a delayed feedback, I was ready to test the unit.
I dropped the camera in the water during this morning's workout and got the delayed picture going. The swimmer comes into the wall, looks up to the monitor and sees themselves coming in 8 seconds later. It's a great tool for a coach and athlete. It's so much easier to show an athlete what they're doing rather than just tell them.
The submersion unit needs a little alteration to keep it from moving but all in all the test was a complete success.
I'm really looking forward to working with this bad boy!

Cedar 12k

Adrienne happy for her friends or the fact that her four hour bike ride to watch the race was over?
Paul, Lysanne and me.

Drove up to the Cedar 12k with Paul Smith and Lysanne Lavigne. We didn't time it great and arrived about 12 minutes before the start. Got our numbers and warmed up for 8 minutes. Felt like crap. My legs were heavy from those repeats up Willis the day before. I know from experience not to trust how I feel during my warm-ups. It can go either way.
In this case the race was much better. I was able to work hard from beginning to end and the Achilles was good. Went 52:12, a minute faster than I did last year. That's positive.
Peter is fond of saying - slow in February, fast in August. This year I'm going to prove him right.
Race weight was 176. Not too bad but still a long way to go.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Big day

The Vitus!
Saturday mornings I take a new Victoria tri club out for a group ride. They're called the Island Triathlon Club - or as I like to call them "I trick." This would be my third Saturday with the gang. The previous three Saturdays all were witness to some extremely ugly days. We got snowed on one time and never did the temperature get above 3 degrees (37 for my Southern friends). Last week I ended up with a flat. Changing a tube with frozen hands is a memorable event - much like a car jacking. This morning it was pretty grey and bleak out there but the cold snap had snapped and it was a balmy 7 degrees (44f). The roads were pretty wet from some heavy rain the night before so I elected to take the Vitus. The Vitus is a legend in this town. It was the first carbon fiber bike to find it's way on the island and back in the day it used to draw crowds when I first started taking it to races. Now it's my winter bike. The 7 speed Durace is as smooth as the day it rolled out of the warehouse. The chain and cluster (it was originally a 6 speed) has been long replaced but everything else on it is original.
Today I planned to take the group through their first set of hill repeats. Here in Victoria the hill repeat of choice for most is The Observatory. There's not much traffic and a solid effort by most will get you to the top in 7-9 minutes.
Another lesser used hill is Willis Point. I hadn't ridden Willis Point since 2004 when Peter was coaching me. He'd have me go up the front side, down the back side than back over. I recalled the back side was far more heinous than the front side. In fact I had it in my head that I popped over the front side in about 5 or 6 minutes without really stressing myself too badly. This seemed to me a better start for a group that contained some pretty new riders. The problem with my thinking was I hadn't taken into account that Reid hadn't sent me to this hill until I'd had three good months of riding, that included dozens of trips up the observatory.
So we started the first climb and after about 8 minutes, when the road kicks up to a good 12% I knew I'd taken these guys up a nasty sharp slap! I made it to the top with a few of the stronger riders already there, gulping in air and peeling off layers.
I immediately wheeled around stopped several of the novice riders from tackling the entire peak. We all regrouped at the bottom.
The Observatory was only five minutes away from Willis Point but these guys were game. We would finish our three repeats here.
Now I love my Vitus. It's is a great ride but the straight seven on the back is not great for climbing - especially when you're not as fit as you want to be. I red lined with all three efforts.

When you're coaching a group you feel like you should be able to "lead" the charges but it wasn't going to happen today. In the end I had to call it my best ride of the year. 3 good hours in the saddle. I did a short 16' run up Mt Tolmie after the ride. My first transition run of the year as well. All in all a great training day.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Day One

I'm probably the last guy on the planet to start a blog. I'm going to use this space to chat about training, racing and coaching in the sport of Triathlon - and anything else that strikes my interest at the time.
I'm signed up for Wildflower and IMC this year so I'll be talking about that journey. For me a HUGE factor in the success of my race season will be to control my weight in this journey.
I want to race at 162.
My previous two IMs (IMC 02 and 04) were tackled at 172 and 174 respectively.
As of this writing tipping in at 179.

Well begun is half done.