Monday, August 31, 2009

91 and eating cake and ice cream like a teenager...

[Photos: Grandma in her favorite chair, her large serving of cake and ice cream, her empty plate!]

Ninety One and eating cake and ice cream like a teenager .. or that's how I'd describe my Grandma today. She may not eat a lot and is getting pretty skinny - but she hasn't lost her appetite for ice cream. (Must be where I get it - years of up bringing at Grandma and Grandpas house. :-)

With a meeting in the morning and Birthday cake and ice cream at lunch time and an evening meeting too ... no time for riding today. I was wanting to do intervals today, but now they will have to wait until Thursday. Life continues to be very full.

The meeting this morning was sharing about the May ride (6 day 600 mile event). It was the first formal presentation that I've given about the ride after being back. It was neat and fun to do. I had seven sevens worth of slides that guided me through the story of the ride. 

Lunch time was also good to be able to celebrate my Grandmas 91st BD. She can be difficult, but then again she is 91 years old...! Her life could be better from my perspective if she'd let us help her more - but she's a very proud and stubborn lady and from her perspective the loss of Independence must be greater than any benefit I could add. So .. we help the best we can. It can be a challenging road to walk, but that's the way it's supposed to be: walking together..

Tomorrow evening should be the Group ride. No exercise in the AM so I'll be rested for the PM ride. I'm looking forward to a hard ride, good sprint at the end and hopefully a few minutes of getting to know some of the riders before and after. :-)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mystery Photo

As is the case with my mystery photos: this photo has not been touched up or changed in any way. It is a smaller portion of a larger photo that will be shown in a couple days which will reveal what this is a picture of. 

Sorry - no clues to start with.  Leave your guesses in comments.  :-)

No guessers - so Here's the whole photo.

It's from the bees end and the flower pedal. So, it's Pollen on a Bumble Bee.

This picture was taken 'quickly' as the bee entered the flower on my handy-dandy Canon PowerShot A710IS, with the macro feature turned on.

Four day (brief) report

Last week was difficult to make the extra time to blog the training .. so I'll do it briefly here.

Wed was a 3 3/4 mile run during lunch. It was hot and I cut my 5 mile route short. It wasn't a good experience. My average was just under 9 min/mi with an AHR of 144 and MHR of 158. 

Thursday was 60 minutes on the trainer: 45 minutes at ~18 mph and 15 minutes of intervals. It also wasn't a very hard work out as my HR didn't go over 153. 

Friday was too full - and had no formal exercise. My bike had been making a clicking sound, so I spent some time cleaning and after cleaning and putting the pedals back on - the noise was GONE!! Cool! It's so nice to ride a quiet bike.

Sat was my long ride. I didn't try for 20 mph avg but instead was aiming for 18 and ended up with 17.6. I was wanting 70+ miles or 4 hrs and ended up with 70.6 miles 4:00:22. It was a nice morning with the breeze from the NE. Most of the ride was un-eventful, with the exception of a portion where I saw a rider in my mirror. I don't know why I have such a strong desire to NOT be passed. I hadn't seen anyone and then there was someone 1/8 mile or less back. This happened 2 1/2 hrs into the ride, but I still ended up putting a little more into each stroke until I saw the rider loose ground. This continued for about 6 miles and when I headed back I never saw the rider again. Nutrition on the ride was Clif Shot Chews, GU and part of a Clif bar. I still had (warm) water left when I got home (started with ~ 70 oz).

Sun I decided to go for a run first thing in the morning. Not a part of my normal routine, but I do want to get to a place where running isn't so difficult again. Today's run was 3 miles and just under 7:30 mi/min. The AHR was 150 and the MHR was 170. I like these numbers better - as they are more in line with where they should be if I were training properly / harder / in agreement with my HR.  

Tomorrow (Mon) I have a commitment in the AM - sharing about the May ride: ~20 minutes, 49 power point slides (7 sevens), 5+ topics, Q&A, ... it's going to be fun!  :-)
So the training will be during lunch: yep, you guessed it, intervals at the dam. I'm aiming for 30 seconds of 'sprint for your life' effort and 70 seconds of rest. All managed by my emotionally detached Garmin device. Should be tough - if I don't wimp out or do'em to easy.

My nutritional week spots have been ice cream and chips: not together, but I've had both today ... more than once. Not good. I guess with the increase in stress and decrease in training I tend to bulge in pleasure and nervous foods. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Group Ride - new Max HR

This was my 8 th ride with this Tuesday night group. You would think it would get easier: I would think it would get easier; but tonight's ride was hard just like the previous ones ... :-)

Tonight I meet Craig briefly and then got to ride some with Rick: he's a nice guy and a strong rider. After the hills it's a quick ride back to the last bridge where it's an unwritten rule that it's a race across the bridge to the finish line on the other side. (All in good sport, but a sprint to the finish is a certainty.) I've had the pleasure of riding with Rick before, and remember last time him pulling around me as I fizzled out at the end before the bridge. But all this added to the fun of seeing how long I could hold him off for.

[Graph: red is HR, blue is Speed. 187 line is 35 mph, 176 line is 30 mph, etc]

There were three of us together at this point and we've been taking turns pulling the last ~4 miles. As we approached the bridge I was at the end and Rick was in the middle. I don't know the guys name who was with us and in the front, but I'm sure he had no idea of what was about the take place. As we started on the 'bridge' we were going ~27 mph - not a bad speed, but not full effort either. I waited about 15 seconds and Rick didn't make a move so I did: I pulled out and accelerated as hard as I could knowing that Rick was going to pull out on my wheel as soon as I passed him. It was a little early, but I knew if I waited for him to take off I'd never catch him; this way I'd at least get to enjoy being chased down. According to my Garmin, 7 seconds later I was heading across the bridge at 35+ mph. I was in my big gears, head down, rocking side to side and pumping as hard as I remember ever doing. About 25 seconds later I was starting to fade. It was then that I heard my Heart Rate alarm going off - I looked down and saw 191! Cool!! Then Rick pulled passed and crossed the bridge before me with his arms out - you could hear the crowd cheering..!! :-)
The highlights for me were enjoying the comrodery and sportsmanship with Rick. And having a HR of 191. I've not seen a max over 185 for years now; and never on the bike. So, tomorrow I'll send another note to my cardiologist - I'm sure he'll be happy for me.

The bad news it if that's my max - then I need to adjust my training heart rates and train at an adjusted higher rate ... that's go'na hurt.

I took a nice photo of the sunset as I was heading back across the dam, but it's on my phone. I'll try to add it tomorrow. Keep reading ECCLESIASTES.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nope .. not today

Today's been a good day: but unfortunately I've not been able to manage any planned exercise in it. I was hoping for intervals today - but it just didn't happen. Being after 9 already, I'm not going to add them now.

So, training for the Sept ride continues to be difficult: it's difficult when I do train because it's difficult to get the training in that I'd like. It continues to be my delima and difficult problem always there, waiting and ready to spring out and catch me yet again...

Some appropriate closing thoughts:

Ecclesiastes 2: "24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,  25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?  26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

Ecclesiastes 12: " 13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."

Sat - playing out back...

The bike ride was a bit disappointing, but it was lots of fun to be able to ride and watch my kids ride out back. And we were able to teach another on the 50!

And later I was able to play with my grand daughter inside too (she's playing with small K'nex parts).

Fun and good memories on Sat. I have much to be thankful about.

Again - life must be balanced ... forever the struggle in this life of being balanced: work - rest, fun - perseverance, family time - self time, love - hate, etc...

Sat - No excuses...

[Photos: one of my favorite roads: narrow with turn-abouts, trees and few cars; the view coming down TX Plume.]

Wow, it was a nice morning: cool (69) and very light breeze. Two big challenges removed for the ride today.

I've yet to have a training ride of 50+ miles avg 20 miles an hour. That was my goal for today. It was close for the first 2 hrs at just over 19, but once I turned around and headed north the wind had started and I just couldn't sustain the effort. I ended up riding 60.4 miles with an avg of 18.2 mph, AHR 141 and MHR 177.

It was actually a little discouraging and I'm not sure what to do about it yet. For now I'll continue to train, but it may be that I just don't have the time to train at the levels required to attain the goal that I've got before myself. If that's the case, I'll have to change my goal of doing a 5 hr century this year.

The kids are off to their first day of school now. Time to air up the tires and head to the dam for some intervals - yippee!!! (Just kidding.) Yes I like to have done them, but actually doing them isn't usually very fun. Today should be the 30 seconds of effort and I think I'm going to give myself 75 seconds of recovery today and see how that goes. I'll use the timer again so It pushes me.

If any one has any encouragement on how to attaining the sub 5 hr century or to persevere in the training - please feel free. Training alone has it's challenges...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Short duration intervals

I'll try to be brief: I've been told that most aren't as interested in HR info and etc as I am. 

Today I did 15 second maximum effort sprints followed by 60 seconds of recovery. Across the dam and back I did 19 of these.  The HR didn't get real high, due to the short effort, but it was still good to get the full effort for 15 seconds: long enough to get up to speed out of the saddle and sit down and think of smooth circles before the 5 seconds of beeps started to signal the end of the interval. 

One the other end (before the hard part of each interval) there were 5 seconds of warning before the next one started. It was good to have to do it when the timer said instead of deciding myself. I used the thought of a dog chasing me to give motivation for 100% effort - and that was a good motivator.

After that I did 2 miles of 100+ cadence followed by 2 miles of 105+ cadence. I wanted to shift into a higher gear and go faster at a lower cadence - but that is tomorrows drill. Today it was short intervals and high cadence.

The plan for tomorrow is 2 trips across the dam and back (~16 mi) maintaining a 20 mph avg. The wind will most likely be in my face one way and partially to my back the other. So it should be a good work out.

I had my back wheel in the bike shop today as the free hub has a wobble. Turns out it was tight so it will have to be replaced (part of it at least). That should happen this weekend. I've been appreciating the help and enjoying the new friendships at my local bike store (B&B Bicycles). 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tu - fast hill group ride

I had a meeting last Tuesday, so it was nice to get to ride with the group this Tuesday evening.

It was a smaller group (around 10) and the ride dynamics were very similar to other rides: ride as a group to Lake Ridge and then pick up the pace until TX Plume, then pick up the pace again etc .... By the second time up TX Plume the group has broken into subgroups. There were about 5 of us in the front group, one of them being a rider that I often see in the front group. It was nice to be able to chat a little with him this time and get his name (Arthur). I guess the smaller group made interactions easier, so I was able to talk with another cyclist on the warm up leg. It was nice this week that in addition to the hard work out - there was some time used to get to know two of the other cyclists. That was neat!

Some of the HR info: Max was 182 on the bridge coming back. But I quickly stopped pedaling as I heard a noise that sounded like something fell off my bike. I looked and checked but nothing was missing and everything seemed to be working. But that stopped my HR from going further. In the hills I had a max HR of 180, going from 130 to 180 in about 3 1/2 minutes and then back down to 117 in about 2 1/4 minutes. (The recovery HR info is good to capture and check periodically as it is another measure of fitness.

On the trip after Lake Ridge there were 4 or 5 of us riding together: this is about 4 miles out from the starting point. We were all moving at a good clip 23-24 with people up front changing. So I pulled out and took off, expecting either some followers or the group as a whole to reel me back in shortly. About 20 seconds later Arthur came flying past and I jump on his back wheel. By this time we were going in the low 30's - I told him he was too strong and I was going to hold on as long as I could, but thankfully he dropped it back down a little and Enoch joined us and the 3 of us took turns that last 3+ miles. Over the 3.22 miles we averaged 24.8 with a max of 31.8: 167 AHR and 178 MHR.

It was a neat ride. I used another Strawberry-banana GU and one Clif Shot Chew during the ride. I didn't drink all my water. And the last ~7 miles after the end of the group ride was slow. 

There is good progress / improvement being made. Things I'm noticing is that I am recovering more quickly, which allows me to do more active recovery (work at a reduced HR but still work). The short steep hills are still killer, but I attacked them on this ride and that was much better than just riding up them: they are hard either way - so it makes sense to do it quickly and get it over with. I'm finding that I like to sit up and hold my bars on top about 4 inches from my stem when working up the hills: I can breath better and is more comfortable. Arthur came flying past me on a down hill so I was able to talk to him about that and try to learn some drafting / aerodynamic tips. I continue to learn.

Today is Wed - resting day. Had a yummy tuna sandwich on toasted raisin cinnamon bread ... mmmmmm! I got bit on my hamstring going across the dam. I don't know what it was (probably a bee), but it hurt much for about 2 minutes. And has itched and been all red since.

Tomorrow will be short duration intervals : 15 seconds at 100% followed by 60 seconds recovery. I'm planning on 8 miles of these and then 8 miles of spinning (lighter work higher reps 105+). If after 4 miles the duration is too short I'll adjust for the last 4 miles.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday - Intervals

It's a pretty indisputable training technique for improvement - regular interval workouts. And not just for running, or cycling, but weights and most every sport that can be broken into brief periods of intense activity followed by a period of rest. So, if you want to improve in your sport (go farther, faster, stronger) add some intervals.

Today was the first time in the almost two years that I've had my Garmin Forerunner 305 that I've used the Interval workout on the device. Usually I have some goals related to time and or HR and use those. But with the device running the work out - it was a bit tougher.

I set it up for 20 intervals (not sure how many I'd do, but wanted to error on the high side). Each one was 30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 60 seconds of recovery. I used the ride to and from the dam as my warm up and cool down rides respectively. The dam was full of Dragon Flies. Not as dense as the swarm of bees, but at high effort speeds many of them were not able to get out of the way: hitting a Dragon Fly is much different than having Nat stuck to your face. A proper description of what it feels like at 25+ mph to have them hit you escapes me, but it's not fun and is a bit distracting. Thankfully they were mostly in the first half (2 miles) of the dam.

The trip across had 7 intervals and the trip back had 8: so 15 all together. Looking at the numbers I'd say they weren't all at 100% effort. I read a nice definition of 100% effort: it's how fast you go to save your life. That's pretty simple: you can't go faster than 100% and when your life depends on it - that's your max effort. So today's effort wasn't maximal, but maybe 90%.

I am thinking I will add another day of intervals: Th or Fr, but will change the effort time to be only 15 seconds long and still keep the 60 seconds of recovery. This should facilitate my effort for those 15 seconds to be closer to 100%: it will be out of the saddle maximum acceleration for the first several seconds and then pushing hard in a seated position for the remaining seconds. It sounds like a good work out and will work my body a little differently than 30 seconds at 90%. I'll again let my 305 run the session - it's relentless; couldn't careless if I'd like more time to recover.

[The graph shows the HR and Speed information for the warm up period and then the intervals.]

Instruction before training

Sunday I was thinking it would be good to go for a ride: nothing long, about an hour. I haven't ridden my previous 'Favorite' route for many months now and was thinking that it would be fun.

But, the afternoon ran late and we decided to go to the lake and have some 'instruction' in fishing. My two youngest and my wife are all able to 'fish' on their own for the most part. Now we haven't caught any fish the last two times, but it was a bit late in the evening and we didn't have good bait. This last time we had some shrimp and did get some bites (from little fish). So I will likely rig up the poles for small fish so everyone can catch some next time. Everyone had a good time though.

So what does this have to do with exercise, nutrition and training: Balance is another of the threads that is needed; knowing when to stop training yourself and offer instruction to others. This evening it was instruction in fishing. Good times: good memories: good photo!  :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saturday, another long recovery day

Saturdays ride was different from other normal training rides: over half of my normal route was being used by a formal ride. I didn't stop at any of the rest stops, but I did get the benefit of the officers directing traffic at many intersections and there were lots of other cyclists on the road - much more than normal. [The photo is of one of the cyclists that I talked with briefly.]

I've been trying to keep better track of what I'm eating and when and how it's affecting me. This has been a little tough as the thoughts and feelings get lost from the time on the bike to getting in my blog, so many of the details get foggy or forgotten. I will give what I have for my routine that morning and a little after the ride too - as it was another day that I layed down for quite some time before throwing up and finally feeling better. It was only 57 miles - but I couldn't have gone much further. I came hope feeling bloated and my stomach swashing with water but still very thirsty. It was hotter, so I may have to still figure out some type of drink in addition to the energy eats.

Sat Morning:
- up at 7:30, bm
- 7:40 protein drink: water, olive oil, whey protein, ground almonds
- filled CamelBak with ice and water (70 oz)
- packing camera, phone, 2nd timer, gu, shots, clif bar
- 8:05 bm, getting dressed, sun screen application, HRM, cup of water and morning vitamins / supplements
- 8:23 final preps out front and on the road at 8:29
- 8:50 I was starting to feel a bit tired, so I ate a Clif Shot chew
- 9:10 I had a Strawberry-Banana GU
- 10:13 I had a Clif Shot chew
- 10:45 I had a Clif Shot chew
- 11:02 I had a Clif Shot chew
- 11:32 1/3 Clif bar
- ~11:48 back home, off the bike and layed down in the grass in the shade out front for a minute
- over the next few hours was laying down various places trying to feel better, drinking more water wasn't helping, nor was eating anything
- I had a cramp in my right foot which trying to rub out caused another cram in my thigh: several leg muscles in both legs were threatning cramps at this point
- 1:49 I threw up (not self induced)
- 2:30 I was finally up and able to do things but still was a little queasy

It took 2 1/2 hrs to recover and my body had to empty it's stomach to do so. Last Saturday was a very short recovery and then I went out and worked in the yard. I followed much of the same routine, but I did get out a bit earlier last week and I didn't quite ride as hard last week. It's just really hard to say what all the differences were that had any bearing on the ride.

Saturdays ride was at a good pace as I tend to ride harder with others around - especially when I can see them up the road. It's kind of a goal to push to catch them. I probably passed 30 other riders. Not that it's important, but it's more of a confession: I like to ride hard as my goal is to improve - to ride further faster. After that ride, I don't think I could even ride 100 miles at a hard pace. Ride details: 3:18:21 for 57.3 miles avg 17.3, 151 hr, max 43.8, 178 hr.

Trying to figure this out can be a bit overwhelming due to all the variables: meals the day before, sleep the night before, hydration the day before, breakfast before the ride, conditions of the ride (heat, wind, humidity), effort, group dynamics, ... I'm not sure I'll ever figure it out, or it's likely not before the Waco ride.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Th - Bike and Run

Wed ended up being a day off - except for the wrestling in the evening with a couple of the youth after the youth group meeting. (I've got some nice carpet burns on both knees... but am thankful that it's all that hurts today. :-)

So this morning I was up with the alarm to get out for a short ride (an hour). I was out before the sunrise, but watched it rise during the first 15 minutes of my ride. I stopped several times to take photos of it because it was really pretty; and there is something about stopping for a photo that changes the whole mood of the training time. It's a good reminder that it's not just for physical training but has value in being out and enjoying Life. I saw another Road Runner at one point and was able to stop and unzip my camera pouch before it decided to continue into the bushes: they sure are neat birds!

As for the actual training today: it was 16.6 miles on my bike for 62 minutes. The time across the dam was to be done as high cadence work - spinning. For me that means a cadence of 105 and up. (I think my powerband is around 95-115 revolutions per minute. I do pedal at lower and higher cadences, but most of my power comes in that range.) There were times when I wanted to switch to a higher gear, but for the most part I stayed in that range over 105 and even had a couple brief times in the 120's. This training is different from pushing the bigger gears at lower cadences, for me spinning is an easier day but still have good value. My HR never went above 160 for this part of the ride.

I also rode up the Prayer Mountain driveway 3 times today. I started in my lowest gear for the first one, moved up 1 gear for the next trip, moved up another gear for the 3rd trip and then one more gear and failed. (In part due to mechanical problems with my chain jumping around on my 4 sprocket on my rear cog. I need to take it off and clean it and check it as it's giving me problems.) This is kind of a neat exercise as it gets tough pedaling the hill in those 'higher' gears. My lowest is 39 up front and 27, 24, 21, 19, ... in the back. I will likely do this again, but do it in a ladder type of routine where once failure is reached I will return down the hill from that point and then shift down one gear and try it again (repeating as needed); if it's successful then it will be repeated in the next lowest gear until I'm back in my lowest one. That ought to be a good work out and will look to do it next week. 

Until today I've not included any 'failure' type of training in my cycling. This is common in weight training and I know what it's like to be lifting alone and have to crawl out from under the bar when I was trying to get one more rep in on the bench press. It's kind of a scary moment and on the bike it is a little scary too as uncliping can sometimes be trouble when you are pedaling up hill, tired and etc. All of my falls have been at slow speed and usually involve getting in or out of my pedals. Thankfully I didn't fall today, but just stopped.

After getting back home and putting my stuff away, drinking some water and eating another 1/3 of a Clif bar I went for a run. I would like to run atleast once a week to see how realistic it is to think about attempting my first marathon this fall. So today it was only 3 miles, but the pace was a little faster than last week ~8:30. Not where I'd like to be, but I haven't run seriously (trained for it) for a loooong time. My goal would be a sub 8 minute pace.

[Photos: The sunrise was spectacular this morning so I stopped several times to take a picture. One is of a building in the distance reflecting the first rays of the sun; the second is the sun up about 5 minutes later.]

New Mystery photo

I saw this this morning and ... I figured it'd be a good mystery photo. 

What is it?

This is a zoomed in section of the below picture. It's a Loofah sponge. It doesn't come from the ocean (it's not an animal) but is a plant, a type of a gourd.

I have one and use it for cleaning my skin. Our body secretes toxins and waste through our skin each day. So taking care of your skin is an important part of detoxification process. Dry skin brushing and using it in the shower (my preference) are good ways to keep the pores of your skin open and clear: able to 'breathe'. It also stimulates blood and lymph flow throughout the body, leading to a more efficient removal of waste.

If you don't have or use one - it's worth the time to investigate it further and make an inexpensive purchase for better health. And -- it's not something that tastes bad that has to be eaten, it's pretty easy. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mental challenge

I had a meeting tonight, so I wasn't able to do the Tuesday night group ride. So, I went into work early and took a long lunch so I could get in a 40 mile ride during lunch.

The sun was intense, but the wind was very light -- that was hugely encouraging. With the wind so light I left with the goal of averaging 20 mph for the ride. About 45 minutes into the ride I noticed that the wind had picked up, and it was going to be in my face on the way back in about 15 minutes ... I reached my turn around point with 19.9 as the avg, but now the wind was really blowing. It was clear that there was no way to keep the average up. So the trip back was slow and challenging. It took just over 2 hrs and 15 minutes for the ~40 miles today.

With out question, the wind is my biggest nemesis: the benefit of having it to my back is never equal to the cost of having it in my face. Why is that??! It just doesn't make sense. When you ride an 'out and back' you expect that you will have a net cost of zero when it comes to hills and wind - you're going both ways so you should have equal benefit to the cost. But all who train know this is just not reality. There are even times when the wind is in your face both ways. Those are challenging mental days.. days when your character is training as much or more than the heart, lungs and legs.

So it was today: training on my character; my desire to continue; to finish below the goal - the value of finishing. It's a good lesson that I continue to be challenged with.

I just saw 3 meteors in the sky: one was long the other two were short. This was over about 15 minutes. I think I'm going to take another small bowl of Mint Blue Bell ice cream out with me and my camera and see what I can capture in 15 more minutes. Then I have to get to bed. (Shouldn't be eating the ice cream; I know.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Some days its not how well you do, but that you just tried...

... that was this morning. Using the alarm again to get some discipline into the morning routine.

It was a late night (midnight), so 5:53 came early, actually it was right in the middle of a dream that I can no longer remember now. It was still dark, but I knew I'd need extra time to get all my things together and ready to ride. By the time I was ready it was light but the sun wasn't up over the horizon yet.

Monday has been my 'interval' day for many weeks and so it was today. My Garmin died (I didn't charge the battery after Saturdays ride) when I got to the dam, so I used my CatEye to just mark laps and did an interval every 2 minutes. With out the HR info, the goal of the interval was simple: from a cruising pace, shift into a higher gear that will require 10-15 seconds of out of the saddle pedaling to reach a high cadence and then sit down and try to continue accelerating as long as possible; once acceleration stops try to maintain; once I can't maintain then start recovering for the next one. The intervals lasted anywhere from 26 - 44 seconds. Today there we 11 of them over the duration of the dam.

The thought I had for today was that it's not always how well you do that matters, but often its the perseverance and continuing on and eventually finishing that matters. Specifically I'm thinking of the pursuit of challenging goals. The reality hit me this morning that it's quite likely that I will not be able to do a sub 5 hr century in the ride next month. But, that's OK. I won't know until I train and attempt it. So, for now I will continue with that goal and work towards it. 

My conclusion: On Mondays where it's windy and challenging to get up ... just getting up and doing the work will have a reward in the depth of our character: something that can be drawn from in all areas of life's challenges - not just physical training. 

[PHOTO: windy morning today]

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Energy gel experimentation

Saturday morning: a beautiful clear day with a building South wind - pretty much a normal day.

The distance goal was 50+ miles and as I pulled in just under 3 hrs later it was 50.7 miles. I've got to build back up to some longer weeks and rides over the upcoming weeks. Next Sat I'm thinking 3 1/2 hrs or 60 miles (if it's as windy as it was today). I was hoping for an avg speed of 18, but it was 17.2. My avHR was 138 (on the low side) and the max was 178 (on the bridge in my normal time trial place: 34.2 mph avg for .53 mi).

The 'FUN' parts of the ride for me today were mostly at times above 25 mph:
- on the service road with the wind to my back: 3.3 miles with an avg speed of 27.4 and max of 37.1
- the down hills of Valley View except where I had to slow down for the cars that were in front of me and going slower than I was wanting to go (40)
- the .53 miles of the normal Time Trial over the bridge where the avg was 34.2

The other goal / purpose for today's ride was to continue experimenting with eating on the bike. I left with 1  Lemon Sublime GU, 1 Clif Shot Bloks (6 pieces) and my Camel bak topped off with ice and 70 ozs of filtered water. The GU is a single serve and they recommend using one every 45 minutes. The Bloks are recommended to use 1 every 20 minutes. I also took a Clif Bar but didn't use it (as my ride time increases I will use portions of the Clif Bar too). What I did today was:
- 6:30 bm
- 6:40 glass of soy milk with protein powder and a little olive oil, followed by a glass of water and my morning vitemens and supliments
- 7:40 bm
- approximately 8 I left on my ride
- I ate the GU (Lemon Sublime - Yummy) at 62 minutes into the ride (right after Tx Plume)
- I then at a Blok chew 34 minutes later
- 30 minutes later I had another Blok
- 30 minutes later I had my 3rd Blok

When I got home I was tired, but not worn out. I had a little bit left in my Camel Bak and finished that first. About 15 minutes later I ate about 2/3 rds of my Clif Bar. I was then able to work out back in the sun for almost 2 hrs. I drank more ice water but really felt OK. This is much different from the last formal ride that I did when I came home and had to lay on the floor for over an hour to feel better. I'm thinking the energy foods are working.  Now if I could just improve the quality of my training I may have a chance at a sub 5 hr century .. maybe. 

For future rides that are longer I would likely eat half a Clif Bar at the next 30 minute mark and then repeat back through the cycle of GU and Chews. I'd also like to add another cheap stopwatch as it's hard to keep track of the times between the various foods. The experimentation will continue.

It was good to get a ~ 3 hr ride in and it was nice to be ready to get off the bike but not be so exhausted that I was worthless for the rest of the day. I saw many cyclists out, but none riding at the same time and direction as myself. 

[PHOTOS: the strong wind as seen in the concrete plant residue, Lemon Sublime GU, a partial shot looking down "the Wall" on Valley View]

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wed-Th (run,bike)

I've been taking Wed off as I have the long ride Tuesday night, but this week I decided to go for a run instead. 

Runs take less preparation and are usually shorter in duration. And with the thoughts of a Winter marathon (it would be my first) after the Sept century, I should start adding some runs in. My normal run route through my neighborhood is just under 5 miles (4.7 according to my Garmin). The run took 41 minutes which is an 8:43 avg pace ... not much to write home about (157 mxHR and 141 avHR).

With all the training on my road bike this year, it seems like my body has transitioned from running to cycling centered:
- the run took at least 10 minutes to get into a rhythm
- it was difficult to get my heart rate up 
- I didn't enjoy it as much as I remember enjoying it in the past
- my thighs ached and were tender for the following 3 days

With a short run like this I didn't take any water with, but probably will next time as I've gotten used to drinking and think that will help - even for short distances like this.

Th was a bike, but with tender legs it wasn't as hard as I had planned before leaving. It was just a trip out to the dam, across and then back home: 14.8 miles, 50 minutes, 17.6 avg speed, 167 mxHR and 140 avHR.

The goal was to ride for sustained effort (something that is difficult for me). So, across the dam for 3.94 miles, 9:38, 24.5 avg speed, 167 mxHR, 153 avHR. That was good. Anytime I break 10 minutes I know I'm working - even if there was a tail wind - for me I'm still working to push for that extended time. Now, the trip back - into the wind, was a modest 16.3 mph and took 14:39 - 5 minutes longer.

O well - such is life --- balance is more important; and to many my balance is still out of balance for them...? It was good to get out and even better to get back!

Nutrition: it's been to long and I don't have record, but I had people over for lunch here at the house 4 times - so I'm sure it was good!  :-)  I am back to a place where my sweat isn't stinking again - that's nice! I have been hungry a lot so controlling my appetite can be a challenge. My weight is up a few lbs, but I'm not worrying much about that right now. (Even with Blue Bell ice cream on sale - I've not bought any as I know I will over eat once it's in the house... got to say no at the store on that one.)

Friday was a rest day - still trying to shake the tender legs before Saturdays ride: which should be 50+ miles and more experimenting with energy gels, hydration and ride nutrition...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday Evening Group ride ... "Nats-ty'

My wife is pretty creative and as I came in from the ride I was greeted by my dogs; but my wife was heading the other direction ... lest I try to be affectionate when I'm in a sweaty state. Tuesday I came in with things on my face and she came in for a closer (guarded) look. I told here there were swarms of Nats on the dam and she walked away saying 'NATS-TY' ... 

You never know what the dam will be like: 
 - some days it seems like the wind is coming from all directions except the one you are currently going
 - I've ridden through a swarm of bees: I mean thousands of them
 - there are often Nat's and other bugs in the summer months
 - people out there testing wireless phones
 - dogs, kids, runners, skaters, walkers, road runners, coyote's, all kinds of birds
 - it's a place of great diversity: but the one thing that you are always safe from is vehicles!

Group Ride Info: this ride was like the others for the most part - fast, challenging and always spent by the end of the group portion and have to limp back the last 8 afterwards. It was 48 miles total with ~ 8 miles each way to the meeting place. The total time was 2:35, avg speed 18.5, Max speed 42.4 (back on Valley View), Avg HR 156 and Max HR 184. It took 4:53 up TX Plume the first time and then 9:42 to go back Lake Ridge and do TX Plume the second time. The return trip with 3 others over the lake to the meeting place avg'd ~ 24 mph for 3.9 miles. Not to far - but challenging just the same.

All the numbers aside - it was a challenging ride. I did use a 'GU' after the second trip up TX Plume - just shy of an hour of riding. About 20 minutes later I had one of the 'chews'. I then tried to have a chew roughly every 20 minutes (as suggested on the packaging) 4 more in total.

What I'm learning as I've used 'GU' and chews twice now is that it's not a replacement for hard training. Meaning: you aren't going to be stronger or faster just because you are using these energy foods during an activity. If you want to ride stronger and faster - then you have to train to do so. This is just a tool and complement to a good training program.

The benefits that I'm seeing are:
- I am coming home tired, but am recovering much quicker once I rest for a bit at home
- I don't feel like I'm as 'dead' during the ride after the 90 minute mark
- I'm not having the upset stomach that I will often get from the sports drinks (although the Chews are pretty sweet and I may have to alternate with something else)
- I think I'm able to train harder physically which is what is needed with the goal of improving

I will continue trying them out. Performance Bikes had a good sale so I've got a few boxes of different flavors to try out as well as a box of chews and some boxes of Clif bars too ... lots to try and find what works for me.

Why do I train? I guess I'm not sure of everyones reasons, but mine are to improve and accomplish a goal that I've set for my self. Earlier this year it was the 6 day 600 mile ride. Now it's aiming for a sub 5 hr century ride in 8 weeks. My time on the bike is limited so it's important to work with purpose and intensity when I am riding. (After the ride in Sept I'm thinking about a marathon - something I've not done yet...) (Just the short answer tonight as it's after 11 and I need to get up early for a sustained effort high cadence workout in the morning.)

[The photo is of my forehead with all the Nats that got stuck to me on the final dam crossing.]

??? Photo exposed

Well, nobody guessed this mystery photo. I thought it looked a bit like a flour tortilla that had been warmed on an iron skillet.

I was working on the drainage this past weekend and moved a large object to discover this huge toad sitting under it. I never saw it move. I ran in and got my camera and it was in the same place as when I went in. This was not a slimy skinned toad, but one of the 'wart' types of skin. The mystery photo is a section of the skin on it's back.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Update on Rob

He is home now: up and walking, talking, laughing ... There is much rejoicing over the successful removal of the tumor (the light spot in the MRI). 

See some of his amazing shots...

Another ??? photo

I saw this and my first thought, or maybe second was, "I've got to get a picture!"  Taking photos is such fun... (taken with my handy-dandy Canon PowerShot A710 IS)

Any ideas on what it is? 

Intervals ... by choice not desire...

With only 8 weeks until my attempt at a sub 5 hour century, I've got to make more time for consistent training. Last week my mileage was under 100 miles for the whole week...sigh. 

So the plan was to get up early Monday morning and get out for a long ride because Sat's ride was cut short by the rain. But instead - I was up late watching a movie with my oldest son the night before and got to bed late, got up late, ... but still forced myself to get out for a higher intensity ride. That was my plan.

I ended up doing 7 intervals that were HR based: going until 165 or higher and then recovering until my HR was under 140. It was usually ~1 minute of hard and 1:20 of recovery. The hr's were 166, 171, 167, 172, 172, 168, 167. I then rode the last 2 miles on the dam at a steady pace ~22 mph with an avg HR of 157.

I'm also trying to make myself ride hard up Mountain creek for the hill there. The quickest is under 2 minutes but normally it's around 2 minutes: today it was 2:18 with a max HR of 176. The total time was 48 minutes for the 14.6 miles -- avg ~18 mph. It was a good work out this morning and my thighs were a little sore this afternoon, so I'm pretty sure I pushed hard at times.

Tomorrow evening will be the hard fast group ride. I am always totally spent after that ride: it's the hardest ride of my week - with out question! I'll see how the gel and energy bloks help with sustaining my energy. It's like an experiment as I try different things at different times in different quantities. Lots of variables.

Sat: Ride and Rain

I was concerned with the rain we had Friday night that Sat would be a rain out - but instead it was nice in the morning, even sunny. Dave was over a little early and I was running a little late, so we started out just after 7:30 AM.

Saturdays ride was to be different from the start for two reasons: I was riding with someone (more emphasis on relationship than just training) and I was trying some new foods along the way. The route is tried and true and we saw several other pairs of cyclists on the road as well as individuals too. The wind was in our faces on the out leg which is mostly Southward, but that means the wind will be to our backs on the return trip which was nice to look forward to.

About 45 minutes into the trip I used my 'GU' packet. It was 'Plain' flavored and seemed to have a fair bit in it. I stopped to open it and eat it and it's going to take some more practice to be able to open it and eat it on the go - but that is my goal. Forty minutes later I opened my CLIF Shot Bloks and had one as we turned and started heading N with the wind not as much to our backs as we were expecting and the sky getting darker by the minute. We decided to try to shorten the route and take the most direct back but still didn't make it before the rain came down. We had about 3/4 mile in the rain before we got to an over pass and called for a SAG pickup. My wife was Great about it.

So, we didn't get in the distance and time to really see how the energy foods helped, but I'm thinking they did and am going to try to open my Clif Shot energy gel during the hard Tuesday night ride, as well as finishing my 'Blocks' too. We rode for just under 2 hours, for 32 miles, 16.6 avg (mostly into the wind). We did get to visit some though and that was good.

It would take a different mind set to actually ride in the rain. I guess I'm a little nervous with the roads wet when it comes to safety, as well as the reduced visibility and my brakes were barely working. For now I continue to be a fair weathered rider when it comes to rain: I'll pull over and wait it out or call for a pick up.

One nice thing about finishing early was going to Home Depot for the Kids Workshop with my wife and younger two. The first Sat of the month. We've been doing these for many years now (not every month but it's always on the radar.)

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