Thursday, December 31, 2009

Final Run of 2009

Just got back from my final run of the year, and while I'll likely post a detailed yearly review sometime tomorrow I wanted to quickly get my totals up now. I slacked a bit on my cycling over the last few weeks, which would have easily put me over 4500mi if I had remained faithful to my schedule. But either way, I'll leave the analysis to a later post when I have a little more time to look over all of the numbers ;)

2009 Totals:
Running: 2,694.5km (1,674.3mi) - 230h02m (5:07/km avg.)
Walking: 237.0km (147.3mi)
Cycling: 4,058.6km (2,521.9mi) - 134h13m (30.2km/h avg.)
Swimming: 180.7km (112.3mi)
Total: 7,170.8km (4,455.7mi)

Either way, happy new year to all of those reading!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Week 53: Review

With Christmas it's been extremely busy around here, so I'm a bit late in getting this post out - but seeing as it's Wednesday already I figured I'd better get it done ;) Unfortunately, that also meant that my cycling suffered again this week and I wasn't able to get in any mileage unfortunately. With that said, most of that busyness was spending time with family, so it was time well spent either way and I'm not worrying about it too much. I'm still in base training at this point, so missing a bit of mileage isn't a huge deal (especially as cycling will simply be cross training for the next cycle anyway).

Running and Swimming largely went as planned, so there isn't a whole lot to report on that front. The weather has been cold and icy, but that's par for the course this time of year and I'm starting to get used to that. The details are largely covered in my exercise logs, so given time constraints I'll just stick to that at this juncture ;)

In other news, thanks to some Christmas contributions by the family I finally picked up the cyclocomputer and aerobars that I was looking at. I've been playing around with a few options on both fronts for a while now, and working it into Christmas gave me a hard deadline to make a decision on which way to go. I also picked up another saddle and seatpost head, which will allow me to quickly switch between properly fitted positions for both road and TT configurations. Once I get them installed on the bike I'll give some first impressions on both, but it's good to have finally figured it out ;)

Week 53 Totals:
Running: 56.9km (35.4mi)
Walking: 4.0km (2.5mi)
Cycling: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Swimming: 9.2km (5.7mi)
Total: 116.7km (72.5mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,663.4km (1,655.0mi)
Walking: 233.6km (145.2mi)
Cycling: 4,028.5km (2,503.2mi)
Swimming: 175.7km (109.2mi)
Total: 7,101.2km (4,412.5mi)

If I had been a bit more diligent on my cycling this month I may have been able to get that total up to 7,500km but unfortunately that isn't going to happen in the remaining time. Otherwise, the totals for 2009 are looking pretty good - a little lower than last year, but that's largely because I had to cut down on the walking to make room for other things. Either way, I'll make up an explicit year end review sometime on Friday so I shouldn't go on too much about this ;)

The upcoming week will largely be a carbon copy of my normal template. As we're part way through this week already, I've filled out the existing days with what's actually been done. I ended up taking a rest day yesterday, as my plan to go to the pool was thwarted and threw a wrench into the works. As noted in my previous post, I managed to get out this morning with a good strong session, so I'm working on making up for it. Will just have to make sure that I get that cycling session in tomorrow :oP

Tentative Schedule:
Mon Rest
Tue 5K Swim, 6mi Recovery
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 7mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 40K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 30k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD, 10K Ride

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

50m Pools...

As mentioned in my last post, due to a combination of limited holiday hours and pool shutdowns the pools that I typically go to were out of commission this week. As such, I looked for some alternatives and ultimately decided to give the Olympium pool a try this morning. It's one of only three Olympic sized (50m) pools in the entire region, so I figured this was a good opportunity to try out the longer lengths (vs 25m that I usually swim).

Unfortunately, when I got changed and headed in I saw that they had a bulkhead in the middle of the pool that effectively split it into two 25m pools. That was a bit of a disappointment, however the pool itself was much better designed for this type of swimming so it was still quite an improvement over what I am used to. Primarily, the water temperature was much more comfortable than the local facilities (~24C vs. 28C). While it doesn't seem like a whole lot, it makes a huge difference when you've been swimming hard for a significant period of time.

Secondly, the pool had a consistent 2m depth on my side of the bulkhead (judging by the height of the diving boards, the other end was likely substantially deeper) which makes it easier to swim. Further, it also has the side effect of making it less tempting to rest at the ends for longer than necessary as you don't have the option to stand ;)

The other nice thing about the facility is that, despite the fact that it was extremely busy (8 active lanes, 4-5 people/lane) everyone appeared to know the rules well so it wasn't a problem at all. The lifeguards were also very proactive and moved people around as necessary to keep traffic moving at appropriate paces in each of the lanes. Further, the lanes were much wider than they are at the local pools so when passing was required it was reasonably easy to do.

Once I got out and changed I asked at the front desk to see if they have any sessions where the entire pool is available. Unfortunately, they said that the bulkhead only really gets moved ahead of a major swim meet so there's no way to know ahead of time when that will be possible. It sounds like the Douglas Snow pool is operated in a similar manner unfortunately, so the UofT pool is likely the only option if I ever want to give 50m lengths a try.

Unfortunately, the Athletic Centre pool is quite expensive as they don't sell passes simply for the pool itself. To get in you need to buy a day pass for the entire fitness centre, which is several times more than anywhere else (not too bad for a one-off trip, but those fees can add up when you go regularly). Asside from the admission fees, parking down there can also be pretty expensive as well. Just wish that I could convince my brother to get into swimming, as he has unlimited access to that facility as part of his tuition.

Either way, while the pool was nice I don't know that the trip down there is justifyable without the 50m aspect of things. Looking at the schedules it does look like the Thornhill pool is open on Thursday, so I'll likely give that a try instead and see how it is setup. It's only a 25m pool, but it appears to be more of a competitive facility so hopefully their water temperatures will be similar to the Olympium.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Hours...

Between this week and last week, I've had to move my swims around a bit to deal with the modified holiday hours. Fortunately, aside from being closed on a few days the pool that I usually go to is keeping the same basic schedule so it was just a matter of moving days around. When I got to the pool for my planned session this morning, however, there was a sign that it was closed due to a pool malfunction. Making this worse was the fact that the other two pools I typically use are down for scheduled maintenance, so I had to take a look at my other options.

Unfortunately, the holiday hours are pretty pitful at most of the pools and none of them had anything longer than an hour. As I need about two full hours to do my scheduled workout, I figured I'd do the session tomorrow after sitting down with the schedules to figure out what works. Looking at things now, the closest pool that will have sufficient hours is in Thornhill (about a 30min drive) so I'm likely to be going way out of my way. The upside is that that pool (Garnet Williams) is open for 4.5 hours, so I should have enough time to do a few more drills than I'm usually able to get in. The downside, however, is that it is also a much busier pool which is likely to be compounded by the fact that the other pools are closed.

My other option is to head down to the city and take the opportunity to try out one of the 50 meter pools (Douglas Snow or the Olympium). It means a bit more of a drive, but the longer lengths will be a better simulation of open water swimming. I've wanted to try out the bigger pools for a while now, but having to go that far out of my way has always put a damper on that front. They don't have quite as long hours as Garnet, however they're open for more than 2 hours so I shouldn't have any trouble. The other benefit is that the Toronto pools appear to be open on New Years Eve whereas the Vaughan ones are on severely restricted schedules so I'd still be able to get two sessions in this week.

Either way, I'll have to do a bit more digging to figure out what I want to do. At this point what I'm leaning towards is trying out the Garnett pool tomorrow and then heading down to Toronto on Thursday. I havn't visited any of these three pools before, so it would be good to get a feel for what my other options are.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Week 52: Review

With the bike now inside, I'm a lot less sensitive to the weather conditions outside. Adverse conditions are annoying on the run, but they can largely be worked around one way or the other. It may require a different route or a slightly lower pace, but it takes some pretty brutal weather for me to consider missing a session ;)

The downside to this configuration, however, is that it's a lot harder to get in a long ride on the bike when sitting in one place. While the trainer is great for getting nice consistent workouts, and it has the side benefit of being able to give me power numbers, it's psychologically very draining. I managed to work my way up to some longer rides last year, and I'm sure I'll do the same this time around - it's just a matter of getting used to it once again.

Adding to the complexity is that this time of year is very busy, which often causes things to have to be moved around. Rescheduling sessions isn't a huge thing, but when I'm also not looking forward to them it's easy to keep putting them off ;) That happened this week, as I was only able to squeeze in two rides - a 30K on Wednesday and a 20K on Saturday. My running and swimming largely went as planned, but between other commitments the cycling has suffered a bit this week.

Naturally, not all of the paths have been cleared by the city as of yet and I've had to re-route a few of my runs this week. That meant that some of them ended up coming a bit short, as I got near home sooner than expected and didn't really feel like running laps around the block to make up the difference. As such, both my Tuesday and Thursday sessions ended up being only six miles rather than the scheduled seven.

Other than that, things largely went as planned. The weather, while cold, was reasonably predictable and there wasn't any significant precipitation. We did have a few warmer days, and that has done a good job of clearing up a lot of the ice that was an issue last week.

Fortunately, I got a bit of extra inspiration this week as the Olympic torch passed through town. While I'm close to the city, this is a tiny village so it's pretty significant when something like that comes through. As such, the family got together and headed down to the main crossing so that we could grab some pictures. A lot of people came from out of town, and everybody pretty much clustered around one intersection so it was pretty crowded while we waited. Once the torch came through, however, the crowd broke up a bit as people began to follow. Thankfully, when they switched over to a run most of the remaining crowd gave up and things thinned out a lot ;) Didn't get too many great shots as it was difficult to get a good position in town, but was quite a nice experience nonetheless.

Week 52 Totals:
Running: 55.7km (34.6mi)
Walking: 2.6km (1.6mi)
Cycling: 50.0km (31.1mi)
Swimming: 8.4km (5.2mi)
Total: 116.7km (72.5mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,606.5km (1,619.6mi)
Walking: 229.6km (142.7mi)
Cycling: 4,028.5km (2,503.2mi)
Swimming: 166.5km (103.5mi)
Total: 7,031.1km (4,368.9mi)

As the pool will be closed on Thursday, I've had to modify my schedule to work around that. As such, I did the first swim today and will do the second on Wednesday. That should leave enough time for recovery between sessions, and allow me to get both in without having to move things around too much. Naturally, this week is going to be pretty busy so it may need further modifications, but if all goes well this is what I hope to pull off ;)

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 2.5mi Swim
Tue 30K Ride, 7mi Recovery
Wed 2.5mi Swim, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 7mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 30K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 30k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD, 10K Ride

Monday, December 14, 2009

Week 51: Review

As mentioned in the last post, we got our first real shot of winter this week so that's largely governed my activities this week. On Wednesday we got a dumping of snow and rain, which combined with cold winds pretty much covered everything in ice and slush. As such, things were pretty messy for our group run and we only managed to get about 5 miles in (8.2km to be exact). As a lot of the sidewalks hadn't been cleared yet, we stuck to the local subdivision around the Running Room store where we could safely run on the road surface. It took a somewhat convoluted route and a lot of repetition to get that distance in, but we somehow managed ;)

On Thursday things were still pretty messy, so I pushed that run back to Friday to give the crews more time to clear things up and spread salt. I headed out in the morning and did my planned session, including the speedwork. Unfortunately, it was bitterly cold (-7C ambient, with windchills at -20C) so I had to wear a neck warmer over my face. For normal running that isn't a huge problem, but for intervals the restriction in air intake was a bit of a challenge and limited how quickly I could go. Either way, I fought through and had to improvise my route a bit to work around uncleared segments - calling it a day a 6 miles, about 1 short of my plan.

I also got my first session in on the indoor trainer that afternoon. I was supposed to have a session on Wednesday, but as I was cleaning everything up I noticed that the front of one of my cleats was broken. It still clipped in okay, so I have no idea how long it was that way. Regardless, I was a bit concerned it would potentially cause some problems so I held off and brought them in for replacement the next day (cleats are a wear item and have to be replaced periodically). Either way, it's going to take some work in getting used to sitting in the same place for a while so I ended up calling it at 30K.

On Sunday I managed to get another 30K in on the bike, after deciding to put off my long run due to freezing rain in the morning. Fortunately, the temperatures rose that afternoon and between that and the rain a lot of the ice got cleaned up. When I headed out this morning there were still a lot of icy patches thanks to sub-freezing temperatures overnight, but it was a lot better than it looked the day before. I did have to slow down in a few places, and even walk across a few bridges thanks to ice, however overall it didn't have too much of an effect on my performance.

Week 51 Totals:
Running: 59.8km (37.1mi)
Walking: 1.5km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 60.0km (37.3mi)
Swimming: 8.7km (5.4mi)
Total: 130.0km (80.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,550.8km (1,585.0mi)
Walking: 227.0km (141.1mi)
Cycling: 3,978.5km (2,472.1mi)
Swimming: 158.1km (98.2mi)
Total: 6,914.4km (4,296.4mi)

Looking forward, I'm going to have to work my way back up to the long rides on the indoor trainer. I got used to doing them last season, so it's just a matter of conditioning my mind to take it again ;) For the time being, I'll scale back my plans and probably try to get more short sessions in per week. As I get more comfortable about it, I'll try to expand one or two of them slowly and get myself into a rhythm.

Aside from that, the running and swimming will generally stay the same here. Naturally, the running is a bit at the mercy of the elements, but I'll do whatever I can to get in the planned mileage. I hate the treadmill even more than the trainer, so it's generally not an option except for extremely bad conditions (preferably for the shorter runs). I've never managed to get more than 4 miles in on that thing, and I'm hoping to never have to try going past that if I have any say on the matter ;)

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 16mi LSD*
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 7mi Recovery
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 7mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 30K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 30k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD, 10K Ride
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Week 50: Winter Cometh...

It looks like the string of awesome weather we've been having over the last couple of months has come to an end :( I missed my Friday and Saturday rides this week as it was simply too cold out there. I can take it down to about 3C, but it was flirting with -1C on both of those days, and combined with the 30km/h wind generated on the bike that's a bit beyond my threshold. As such, I finally broke down on Friday and brought the bike into the shop to have it switched over to trainer duty for the winter. Was trying to hold off as long as I could, but with 15cm of snow forecast for Wednesday I figured this was pretty much as long as I could hold out.

Part of the issue is that I don't really have much in the way of proper winter clothing for the bike, as it only buys a week or two of extra time per year so it isn't really worth the outlay. The arms and legs are generally okay down to about zero even with my shorts/short sleeve jerseys, but the face and fingers are both pretty exposed any my running stuff doesn't really work on the bike. My gloves are too loose to fit underneath my fingerless cycling gloves, and despite my best efforts I've yet to find a pair of full fingered gloves with the padding necessary for long rides. As for the face, the neck warmer just gets in the way with my head tilted forward so there isn't much I can do on that front either.

Either way, I still havn't gotten around to cleaning off the bike and mounting it on the trainer but I will be doing that for a short ride on Wednesday. I'm not looking forward to spending hours on that machine in the coming months, but it's about the only way to avoid loosing cycling fitness over the winter. The one upside, however, is that it will allow me to get back to the consistency that I was training with in the summer - can't use the weather in the basement as an excuse ;)

Running-wise things went quite well this week as the colder temperatures can actually be helpful on that front. On Tuesday, I headed out with the intention of doing a 7 mile recovery run but I was feeling good and the conditions were near perfect so I stepped it up to a 4:45/km pace and did a 6 mile general aerobic run instead. On Wednesday, the half marathon group was doing a 4K tempo again so I went out with the 10K group to do some hills. The pace was pretty slow (only averaged 5:37/km), but otherwise it was nice to do some hill repeats again. On Friday, I followed that with my scheduled 6 mile run with ten 100m intervals.

Due to scheduling issues, I again moved my long run up to this morning and put in a good 16 miles. It started off with a bit of overcast, but within about 30 minutes it started snowing pretty heavily. Fortunately, it wasn't sticking to the ground and I didn't run into any ice, but in retrospect I should have brought along my sunglasses to keep the flakes out of my eyes ;)

As for swimming, we had our final clinic night last Monday and headed out for drinks afterwards. While we spend many weeks together during the clinic sessions, we didn't really get much in the way of time to just chat so it was good to get to know people better. Still havn't figured out what I'm doing on this front going forward, so for the time being I'll continue my own sessions and just try to work in some more drills to replace the clinic night.

Week 50 Totals:
Running: 61.1km (38.0mi)
Walking: 3.3km (2.1mi)
Cycling: 35.7km (22.2mi)
Swimming: 9.4km (5.8mi)
Total: 109.5km (68.0mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,491.0km (1,547.8mi)
Walking: 225.5km (140.1mi)
Cycling: 3,918.5km (2,434.8mi)
Swimming: 149.4km (92.8mi)
Total: 6,784.4km (4,215.6mi)

This week is likely to see the first significant snowfall of the season, with about 15cm of wet snow expected to fall. That's likely to make runs in the later half of the week a bit interesting, but fortunately as the bike is now inside it shouldn't effect my cycling mileage. The cold is likely to persist as well, but that's easy enough to deal with by selecting appropriate clothing for the conditions. I'm more concerned about runoff from the melting snow freezing and making the pathways icy, but that's just a part of the equation of running around these parts.

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 16mi LSD*
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 7mi Recovery
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 7mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 80k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

While I was down at the bike shop getting it switched over, I took the opportunity to check out the aerobars that they offer and ask a few questions. As they're likely the ones that will be doing the fitting to get everything set up correctly, it's my preference to buy the equipment from them so it's easy to return if there is a fitting issue with my eventual choice. They had a number of the units that I was looking at (Profile Design T2+, T2+Cobra, T-Mag and Sonic CSX), and gave me a rough idea of the cost of the other parts I'd need (Tri-specific saddle at ~$150, reversable seatpost head $30) and the modification to my fitting is included in my three year service plan. With that said, I'm still a bit partial to the design of the HED Clip Lite that has been recomended on a few fora so I'll have to head back there at some point to see if they carry it.

Thanks to the design of the bike I should be able to configure it in such a way that the fit should be comparable to what one could get with a dedicated Tri bike. Naturally, I won't be able to get the extreme drop that more aggressive Tri bikes like the Cervelo P3 offer, however I'm not entirely sure whether my back is flexible enough for that possition anyway ;) Ultimately I will eventually need to buy a proper TT bike for these races, but I figure that this will be a decent stepping stone to that point and should show dramatic improvements over my current road configuration.

The only concern that I do have with these plans is that between the bars and aerodrink assembly, I'm looking at between 1-1.5 pounds of extra weight on the bike. I'm normally of the it's cheaper to knock weight off myself than off my bike gear school of thought, but that's about a 6-9% increase in overall weight so it's not as insignificant as most upgrades. With that said, the decrease in drag when in the aero possition will likely more than offset that, but when I'm in group rides and have to use the road bars it may be a bit of a liability. Either way, I'm doing what I can to keep that penalty down as much as possible and there isn't a whole lot more I can do about it.

On the cycling computer side of things, I've gotten some additional information about the Edge 500 that has tipped me back to focusing on the older (but higher-end) Edge 705 model. I popped into a retailer that sells the unit on the way back from the bike shop and played around with the similar 605 model (they didn't have a display unit of the 705) and it's a pretty impressive little device one way or the other. Further, a recent firmware update (3.1) has partially dealt with the elevation issue that I was primarily concerned with (buggy GPS-based correction of the barometric altimeter data). It's a bit of a roundabout solution unfortunately (it still doesn't allow you to manually seed it directly, but it will pick up the elevation of the first waypoint in a planned trip), but it allows me to work around the problem well enough that it's not a huge sticking point.

I'm still flirting with the idea of the iBike Aero, however from a rational perspective I think the Garmin model is a better fit. I still love the idea of having both air and ground speed data for a ride, as that would provide an incredible ammount of information. Unfortunately, some of the critical design elements of the device still concern me significantly, such that the Garmin still looks to be a better overall computer.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Week 49: Review

The warmer than average November weather continued this week, and while we did get some rain we still have been fortunate enough to avoid snow so far. Unfortunately, the rain on Wednesday and Friday meant that I missed all but my long ride, and a combination of cool temperatures (~4C) and a strong, cold wind meant that I didn't end up going as far out as I would have liked. Either way, rain isn't much of an impediment to running so I managed to nail all of my scheduled miles this week and get a nice clean 40 miles.

I was originally going to try and do a simple brick session on Saturday by combining my long ride and the 4 mile recovery run. Near the beginning of my ride, however, I was stopped at an intersection and a nasty gust of wind managed to push me past my tipping point. While I'm pretty good at unclipping in emergency conditions, as I was already at a full stop my guard was down so my reaction time was slowed down enough that I didn't get my right leg out in time. I would have figured that after 6000+km on the bike I'd be over making ameteur mistakes like that, but apparently not :oP Naturally, zero-speed falls like this aren't a big deal so I just got back up and continued on. Either way, when I got home I figured it made more sense to clean off the scratches on my elbow (just superficial) so I elected to just reschedule the 4 miler for the next day.

This, in turn, moved my long run back to this morning. I was feeling a little tired at the beginning, so I intended to shorten it to 14 miles. Fortunately, once I got going it was actually pretty comfortable so I ended up doing the full 16 miles that I had planned. I did end up overdressing a bit, as when I checked the weather station before setting out it read 1.5C with a 30km/h north wind. As such, I switched over to long pants and a long sleeve base layer and ended up cooking for most of the route. While the ambient temperature and wind were cold, the sun was out in full force and more than offset their effects.

As for swimming, things pretty much went as scheduled. Thanks to some high school gym classes using part of the pool, my Tuesday and Thursday swim sessions were a little more crowded than usual. That meant that I had to move from the medium lane into the fast lane, so it did a bit to push me a little harder ;) The downside is that it limited what types of drills that I could do, as I had to avoid getting in other people's way so slow stuff like kicking drills were out.

It was also a bit of an issue as many of the swimmers spilling over from the slow lane didn't appear to be familiar with the protocols of sharing a lane very well. On the Tuesday session, for instance, when I popped my head up at one point I barely avoided ramming into two people on flutterboards kicking side-by-side while they chatted :oP One would think common sense would at least prevail in these circumstances, but apparently not...

Week 49 Totals:
Running: 64.4km (40.0mi)
Walking: 3.1km (1.9mi)
Cycling: 51.4km (31.9mi)
Swimming: 10.2km (6.3mi)
Total: 129.1km (80.2mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,429.9km (1,509.9mi)
Walking: 222.2km (138.0mi)
Cycling: 3,882.8km (2,412.7mi)
Swimming: 140.0km (87.0mi)
Total: 6,674.9km (4,147.6mi)

Tonight's triathlon swimming clinic will be the last session, so we're going to do a shorter swim than normal and then head out for drinks afterwards to finish things off. I still havn't figured out what I'm going to do after that. I did get a lead on a decent masters swimming class out of Thornhill from one of the other group members that I'm thinking about, however I'm not crazy about the idea of spending finite training time/energy on strokes that won't be useful for my races.

As for the schedule this week, it's again going to basically be the same as previous weeks. Those planned cycling sessions are more than likely just wishful thinking, but if mother nature remains agreeable I'll take every opportunity that I can get. With that said, the city has brine trucks out spraying the roadways during my run and corner markers for the snowplows are starting to pop up, so I will probably be bringing the bike into the shop either this week or next in order to prepare it for the trainer.

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 16mi LSD*, Tri Swim Clinic
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 7mi Recovery
Wed 6mi Recovery, 30K Ride
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 7mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 100k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Contemplating Upgrades...

We've had a great streak of weather this winter, however it's coming near the end at this point so the bike will likely have to be switched over to the trainer soon. I'll be bringing it into the shop to have it tuned up and the rear tire and skewer switched over, and that has got me thinking about potential upgrades that I want to look into over the winter. I'm still riding on a mostly stock configuration of my bike, but as I'm looking at getting into some proper races next season it's likely worth considering a few additions to suit where I want to go with the bike.


The one major change that I'm looking into at this point is adding some aerobars onto the bike to better optimize it for what I'm going to be doing. As it stands, I'm currently riding on a conventional road configuration - using drop bars and a 73 degree seat tube angle. This is ideal for group rides and races where you have the benefit of a draft as it provides more responsive controls. In these scenarios, aerodynamics isn't a huge consideration as you are protected from the wind for large portions of the race/ride. In most Triathlons, however, drafting is not permitted so that balance changes a bit.

Without the protective sheath of the peloton, the aerodynamic drag of the rider and bike is the primary force that a rider's energy is fighting. At my normal flat ground cruising speed (~32km/h), for instance, approximately 78.5% of the power that I am producing is expended to cut through the air. Thanks to this, the market is flush with all kinds of expensive accessories to help improve the aerodynamics of the bike itself - deep dish wheels, wing shaped handlebars, water bottles, etc.

These can be useful tools, however the biggest contribution to drag by far is the rider sitting on top of all of that fancy equipment. As such, anything that can be done to get one's body into a more aerodynamic possition will often have much more effect than anything else you can do to the bike. Thanks to this, for events such as Triathlon, the addition of aerobars has the potential to provide a lot more bang for the buck than any other upgrade. The loss of responsiveness is also less of an issue, as the anti-drafting rules force riders to spread out allowing riders more time to react.

The tricky thing is that there are a wide variety of different designs out there, so selecting the appropriate equipment can be tricky for someone like myself that has no experience using them. Adding to the complexity is that I don't have the luxury of a second road bike, so the aerobars have to be configured in such a way that the bike can still be used in the road configuration when necessary (group rides, hilly courses, etc.). I can naturally defer to my bike shop to help me with the details of how to configure these components, however figuring out which parts to buy is something that I'd rather do on my own (as they're likely to push what they carry over other products which may better meet my needs).

On the other end of the equation, one thing that I do have going for me is that my particular bike model was explicitly designed to function well in both road and TT configurations. The seatpost head can be flipped into a different possition that allows it to provide either a 73 or 76 degree seat angle (partially thanks to a bottom bracket located slightly behind the centreline of the seat post), so by purchasing another head and saddle I can switch back and forth between both geometries. That allows me to use full length clip-on aerobars and get my body into a position that is difficult to achieve with most conventional road bike designs.

Either way, I still have a lot more research that I have to do in order to figure out what I'll have to move around to achieve what I'd like to do here. Simple factors like whether the aerobars are mounted above or below the handlebars make a significant difference in how everything is configured, and with competing parameters (eg getting enough drop for the aerobars while not pushing the normal handlebars too low) it's a complex equation. I will naturally have a fitter work out the details once I buy all of the bits, but I'm still a good deal away from that point.

The other, more indirect, benefit to adding aerobars to the bike is that it makes hydration a little easier in a race scenario. Reaching down or back to frame or saddle mounted bottles requires the rider to move out of their normal riding position, slowing down the bike. On a training ride that's not a huge deal, but during a race one has to think twice about when they want to do this and it can ultimately lead to taking in less fluid than one should. With aerobars, however, there are hydration systems (eg Aerodrink) that can mount directly on the cockpit so that the rider can drink without having to move out of position.


I've posted a few times on this topic in the past and have been going back and forth with my choices for a while now, but it's getting to the point where I need to make a decission one way or the other. The tricky thing has been that each of the options has bits that I want, and all of them are missing somewhat critical pieces that another unit has. I had hoped for some new offerings from the vendors over the last year or so that would resolve that, but unfortunately there hasn't been a whole lot on that front.

Polar's CS600X has long been my favorite design amongst the group, however it has one critical flaw that is difficult to overlook. While Garmin's ANT+ protocol has seen wide adoption from third party power meter vendors, Polar's WIND protocol isn't supported outside of their own set of products. The more that I read about power training, the more and more important it seems to be so this is a major consideration on which computer I intend to go with. As ANT+ devices like Garmin and iBike offer a wide range of different choices on this front (Vector, Quarq, Powertap, SRM, etc.) that is a pretty significant edge.

Polar does have their own power meter, and while a novel solution its indirect measurement technique means that accuracy is sensitive to how it is installed. Without any local vendors that have experience installing the product, I'm concerned about how well they'll be able to set it up (and hence the validity of the information that it provides). I've also seen some degree of concern about its reliability, as the wires connecting the main sensor unit to the battery pod appear to come loose periodically.

As such, it's largely down to the Garmin Edge 705 and the newer Edge 500 models at this point in the game. The former has a colour screen and full navigation capabilities which are tempting, but the latter offers all of the core functionality for about half of the price (saving more money for an eventual power meter purchase). The 500 also has the advantage of a more modern design, such as accurate calorie computations (the 705 uses an older algorithm that is horrendously inaccurate) and a better heart rate strap (soft textile vs. hard plastic). It also has longer battery life and comes in a much smaller package. Further, judging by Garmin's behavour in the past it's also more likely to see substansive firmware upgrades in the future.

The iBike Aero is still on my radar, but it is significantly more expensive than the other options and has a bit of a kludgy design (limited UI, short life batteries, offboard wireless radio, etc.). I still love the idea of having air speed data, but I'm not sure that that's enough to offset the disadvantages of the design. iBike is rumored to have a new model coming down the pike in the spring that may resolve these issues, but without specific evidence that it addresses my concerns I've already waited far too long to make this decision.

I'll likely head over to some local shops to check out the two models once the Edge 500 starts coming into stock and make a decision at that point, however after thinking about this for nearly a year I really have to make a move ;) Naturally, if I'm going to get some aerobars mounted it's a good opportunity for them to install the new cyclocomputer and its sensors.

Naturally, I will want to add a power meter to the equation at some point in the future but that doesn't appear to be realistic at this juncture. The Metrigear Vector has the potential to open the door to that, however even at it's expected price it'll still likely take a while to save up the money to add that into the mix. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, as it'll give the new product some time for a shake down in the market before I buy into it.

Either way, I'll be looking into more detail on these topics over the coming weeks and figure out which way I want to go but I wanted to get my thoughts in here in case anyone has any suggestions on either front. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist with these things, and that means I waste a lot of time digging for every shred of information I can find on all of my options. That helps to avoid making mistakes, but it also means that it can take me forever to come to a decision ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Week 48: Review

Been a pretty busy week so I haven't had a chance to write up a review of the previous week as of yet and figured I should get that done before this one is over ;) I'll have to keep it brief as I'm in a bit of a rush to get this down, but fortunately I got most of my thoughts down in this post. As noted, things mostly went as planned thanks to spectacular weather for this time of the year.

The biggest exception to the plan was that I couldn't get the 100K ride in on Saturday due to scheduling conflicts. The weather forecast for the weekend is looking a bit better so I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but I don't think it's going to be good enough to give it a go this time around. Due to those constraints I put off Saturday's recovery run to Sunday, and pushed back the long run to Monday.

Week 48 Totals:
Running: 59.3km (36.8mi)
Walking: 2.9km (1.8mi)
Cycling: 112.6km (70.0mi)
Swimming: 10.1km (6.3mi)
Total: 184.9km (114.9mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,365.5km (1,469.9mi)
Walking: 219.1km (136.1mi)
Cycling: 3,831.4km (2,380.7mi)
Swimming: 129.8km (80.7mi)
Total: 6,545.8km (4,067.4mi)

My schedule is largely the same as last week, although I've modified the early part of the week to account for what I've already done so it's likely to be more accurate than normal ;) As they're calling for rain and possibly some light snow tomorrow, cycling is definitely out of the picture so I elected to move tonight's run to tomorrow to spread the load around a little. I'm still hoping to get out for a long ride on Saturday, but given the weather forecast I'm not sure what I'm going to be able to pull off ;)

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 14mi LSD*, Tri Swim Clinic
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 7mi Recovery
Wed 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim
Fri 7mi Recovery w/10x100m
Sat 4mi Recovery, 100k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hard to believe it's nearing the end of November...

This time last year my training records show that it was -4.5C and snowing, I'd had my bike inside on the trainer for two weeks (and likely should have brought it in earlier) and I was running with full winter clothing on. This year, it's +10C without any sign of snow and I've yet to do a run or ride with anything thicker than a short sleeve shirt and shorts this season. The last few weeks have been about as close to perfect weather as one can get; cool enough to keep down the sweat, but warm enough not to need bundling up.

Yesterday, I managed to squeeze in the third 75K ride in as many weeks and the only reason I've stuck to that distance is that the sun goes down so early ;) I did the 4 mile recovery run that I missed yesterday this morning, and even squeezed in a short 10K ride with my father (trying to help him get into shape) after lunch. Tomorrow I'll be doing another 16 mile run, and it's looking like the weather should be near ideal for that as well.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and it's looking like the temperatures are going to start dropping to seasonal levels next weekend. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll be warm enough to eek in another long ride, however in all likelyhood I'm going to have to start considering bringing the bike in to get it set up for the indoor trainer. Fortunately, if the temperatures they're predicting are accurate (~3C) I'll still be able to comfortably run with shorts - but that's likely not to last much longer either. Still no sign of snow, however that's likely on the horizon as well and when it does come that will be the absolute death kneel for any hope of riding outside :(

Either way, one has to be thankful for getting this far into the season without having to make those sacrifices yet. I'm a little upset that I havn't been able to fully take advantage of this weather by getting in a 100K+ ride in on one of the last few weekends, but between other commitments and the early sundown it hasn't been in the cards. Nonetheless, the 75K rides have been quite enjoyable and beat the crap out of trying to do the same inside ;)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week 47: Review

Weather this week was spectacular and made getting out to do my exercise sessions a pleasure. It's not common that we get weather this nice in mid-November, but when it is around one has to take full advantage of it! Temperatures in the low to mid teens are pretty much perfect, as it's warm enough that you don't need restrictive winter clothing but cool enough that you don't come home drenched in sweat ;)

I did have some scheduling issues which made me miss my Wednesday cycling session, but other than that everything pretty much went to plan. As in previous weeks, the Tuesday and Thursday sessions had to be shortened to 7 miles due to timing issues. Since the pool session ends at 1:00, by the time I get home and make lunch it's generally 2:00 already and leaving enough time between eating and running means that I can't get out the door until 5:00 at the earliest. That unfortunately pins me up against fitting dinner in at an appropriate time, and making enough room to get 8 miles in, cool down and stretch doesn't appear to be practical.

The one possible workaround is to head out in the morning, but as I have the tri swimming clinic Monday night and the group run Wednesday night that doesn't leave a lot of time for recovery. Either way, I managed to squeeze in nearly 40 miles this week so that's not a huge deal. As I'm in the base training period right now, the 7 mile runs are likely more than sufficient. It's not worth the risk of injuring myself by leaving insufficient recovery time for a measly 2 miles.

As with last week, I did a 75K ride on the weekend rather than the 100K one that I was hoping to squeeze in. I was unfortunately pretty busy in the morning, and while I got out earlier than last week I didn't want a repeat of my race against the sun so I didn't push my luck and get out too far. If we get another beautiful day this weekend, however, I'm hoping to head out first thing in the morning to try and get a bit of a longer ride in. It's not looking too likely right now, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed ;)

Week 47 Totals:
Running: 63.8km (39.6mi)
Walking: 2.5km (1.6mi)
Cycling: 111.9km (69.5mi)
Swimming: 9.9km (6.2mi)
Total: 188.1km (116.9mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,306.2km (1,433.0mi)
Walking: 216.2km (134.3mi)
Cycling: 3,718.8km (2,310.8mi)
Swimming: 119.7km (74.4mi)
Total: 6,360.9km (3,952.5mi)

As noted above, I'm shortening down the Tuesday and Thursday sessions to 7 miles this week as the 8 milers just aren't practical at this juncture. Other than that, following basically the same schedule as I've been following over the last few weeks.

We're getting to the point where the bike is going to have to be moved onto the fluid trainer for the winter, but I'm resisting that for as long as I can ;) I'm hoping to be able to squeeze in at least one more long ride before I need to make that particular compromise. Fortunately, mother nature has been agreeable for the time being so I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 16mi LSD*, Tri Swim Clinic
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 7mi Recovery w/10x100m
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 7mi Recovery
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 100k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 46: Review

My schedule this week was pretty unpredictable, so unfortunately I didn't manage to get in all of the miles that I would have liked. Fortunately, the weather over the last couple of days was about as close to perfect as one can get for exercise so that did allow me to somewhat catch up a bit. Either way, not a huge problem as this is my base training period here so falling back a bit isn't a huge problem - just have to call it a recovery week ;)

Things started getting mixed up on Tuesday, as when I was leaving the pool I noticed that the H1N1 vaccination clinic they have there was pretty much empty (a big suprise given the 6 hour wait they had the Friday before). I'm not in the high-risk group so that doesn't help me directly, however my mother has asthma so I grabbed a ticket and called her so that she could get her vaccination. Combined with other commitments I had for the day, by the time I got home there simply wasn't enough time to get out and do the 8 mile run I had planned.

On Wednesday I was out for the evening so I had to do the run in the morning rather than with my group in the afternoon. I did a 7 miler to partially make up for the lost distance on Tuesday, but the timing meant that I wasn't able to fit the bike ride I normally do mid-week. Thursday largely went as planned, doing a 4K swim in the morning and a 7 mile run in the afternoon (had to cut it a mile short due to time constraints). My schedule was packed pretty solid on Friday, and combined with the weather that meant that it wasn't possible to get out on the bike. I had an out of town funeral on Saturday, which meant that I had to leave early in the morning and didn't get back until late. As such, despite incredible weather I wasn't able to get my long ride nor my 4 mile recovery run in.

Fortunately, come Sunday things started to turn around a bit. The weather was pretty much picture perfect for biking (18C, little to no humidity, light breeze from the south) so I elected to push back my long run to Monday and head out on the bike. When I got to the turnaround point for my normal 50K route, things were going so well I elected to keep going and take a longer route to take advantage of this rare weather. As I was approaching my normal apex (Highway 9 and Bathurst), I was still feeling great so I elected to pop up to Newmarket and visit a friend that moved from my local Running Room to the Newmarket store.

After dropping in and quickly catching up, I realized that the sun was setting a bit faster than I was expecting (lousy time change). As such, I hopped back on the bike and started heading back at an accelerated pace. Unfortunately, the sun was winning the battle so I avoided taking any breaks and just powered my way back. Fortunately, the traffic lights were pretty much in my favour for most of the route so I didn't have too many unplanned delays.

Over one 6.2K stretch of Dufferin, I somehow managed an average speed of 47.9km/h against a slight headwind and only a slight downhill near the end of the segment. Unfortunately, after that point I started getting back into traffic and rolling hills which slowed me down. I was largely maintaining a crusing speed of about 36km/h, but between traffic, stops and uphills my average speed ran in the low 30s.

In the final few kilometers, I was getting pretty tired maintaining that aggressive pace but the sun had fallen behind the horizon so I knew that I had very little time before the light disappeared on me. Riding on rural roads with no artificial lighting, that would be a significant problem so I pushed a bit harder and fought my way up the final hill. At this point I was back on well lit suburban roads, so I took it a little easier and allowed myself to cool down for the last few hundred meters. I pulled into the driveway, and by the time I was stretched and had the bike put away it was pretty much pitch black so I'm glad I pushed as hard as I did :oP All said and done, I covered a little under 75km in 2:20:54 with an average speed of 31.8km/h.

Unfortunately, I paid for that push this morning when I headed out for my long run. While I was fine on the flats, whenever I hit a significant incline/decline I got tired pretty quickly so it's obvious that those hard efforts on the bike took their toll on my quads. As I have the Tri swimming clinic tonight, I didn't have much option other than doing it first thing in the morning, but that meant that I didn't have a whole lot of recovery time from yesterday's hard effort.

Compounding the problem was the fact that my legs seemed to have gotten used to the speed from yesterday and didn't want to slow down. As such, despite my efforts to relax my pace a bit to offset the fatigue, I wasn't able to control my pace as well as I would have liked. As I'm in base training at this point, I elected to simply cut the run short and stopped at about 12.6 miles rather than the planned 16. I wasn't going to hit my mileage target either way, so I figured there wasn't much point in fighting through it ;)

Week 46 Totals:
Running: 42.9km (26.7mi)
Walking: 0.4km (0.3mi)
Cycling: 125.9km (78.2mi)
Swimming: 9.5km (5.9mi)
Total: 178.7km (111.0mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,242.4km (1,393.4mi)
Walking: 213.7km (132.7mi)
Cycling: 3,606.9km (2,241.2mi)
Swimming: 109.8km (68.2mi)
Total: 6,172.8km (3,835.6mi)

As I havn't managed to hit my planned schedule for the last couple of weeks, I'm just going to tentatively schedule the same thing this time around (third time's a charm). The weather is looking pretty decent this week, and my schedule isn't quite as full so far, so hopefully I'll be able to actually execute it!

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 12.5mi LSD*, Tri Swim Clinic
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 8mi Recovery w/10x100m
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 8mi Recovery
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 100k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week 45: Review

As is normal for this time of year, the weather has again been somewhat disruptive to my plans this week and I didn't manage to successfully get any cycling mileage in. It's getting to the point where I'm going to have to consider moving the bike in and onto the trainer, but as I'm not really fond of working out indoors I'm resisting that shift as long as practical. Naturally, once it starts snowing then I won't have any issues, but I'll take cold fingers and toes over staring at a wall for hours on end ;) The caveat at this stage has mostly been rain and wind, however, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a stable few days to get a few more long rides in.

Further complicating the schedule was the fact that I couldn't get out to the pool on Tuesday as the power company came to switch the old meter for one of those new smart meters. Unfortunately, when they pulled the old meter out the mount that it attaches to broke (likely due to a lightning strike we had more than 10 years ago) so I hung around until they could get a lineman out to switch off the power at the street and replace the box. That process took a few hours, unfortunately, so I missed the pool session and was lucky to get my run in in the afternoon. I have to give them credit though, they stuck around for the entire time and made sure that it got fixed ASAP.

Tuesday was unfortunately one of the near perfect days this week weather-wise, however, so it took away an opportunity to squeeze in a cycling session. Wednesday and Friday were both rainy, and while I could have gone out on Thursday other commitments made that difficult so I didn't get a chance. I was hoping to get out on Saturday, but extremely heavy winds (50+km/h with gusts up to 90km/h) made me decide against it for safety reasons.

Fortunately, I did manage to get all of my runs in, although due to scheduling issues I ended up shortening the 8 milers to 6 and the 16 miler to 14.3. In addition, the guys from the running group are back to fighting shape so we did a good hard run on Wednesday rather than the recovery pace that I expected. We started out pretty slow, but by the end we were approaching 4:00/km pace for the last 1000m or so - felt good to stretch the legs out in a sustained manner like that for a change!

In the pool, I saw some significant improvements this week. During the clinic our instructor gave us some suggestions on improving our drive stroke, and it appears to be paying off directly in speed improvements. It was difficult to judge during the clinic itself as we were wearing flippers for most of the session, but when I got out on Wednesday and Friday my 750 and 1,000m meter sets were significantly faster (~15sec/100m) with little additional effort.

Week 45 Totals:
Running: 56.7km (35.2mi)
Walking: 2.3km (1.4mi)
Cycling: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Swimming: 8.9km (5.5mi)
Total: 67.9km (42.2mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,199.5km (1,366.7mi)
Walking: 213.3km (132.5mi)
Cycling: 3,481.0km (2,163.0mi)
Swimming: 100.3km (62.3mi)
Total: 5,994.1km (3,724.6mi)

Fortunately, the weather today looks pretty good so I'll be heading out for a 50K ride right after lunch (which should comfortably take me over 6,000km for the year). If the forecast holds, Friday and Saturday are likely to be pretty good as well so hopefully I'll be able to work in another 50K and hopefully a 100K on the weekend. Wednesday is likely to be a write-off, so I didn't bother scheduling a bike session on that day anyway. Running and swimming will likely be as normal, as neither is really that dependent on weather.

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 50K Ride, Tri Swim Clinic
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 8mi Recovery w/10x100m
Wed 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 8mi Recovery
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 100k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Looking Forward...

With this season all but wrapped up, it's time to start thinking about what comes next. The original plan was to focus on refining my marathon performance and focusing on getting it down to 3:10 in order to qualify for Boston. Playing around with Triathlons, however, has drawn my attention away from that singular target so things are a bit more complicated at this point. Trying to get to the point where I can run an entire marathon at a 4:30/km pace is a daunting task in and of itself, and trying to do that while I'm also training for two other sports may not be realistic.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I thoroughly enjoyed the Triathlon that I did back in September and would like to push forward on that front. Over the last couple of years, I have constantly been pushing out towards larger goals down the road. Training to improve my marathon times was enjoyable, but simply being a refinement of an already achieved goal wasn't quite the same as aiming for something new and untested. As such, my secondary goal of pulling off my first triathlon became more and more significant and the excitement of mixing in the new sports helped to drive me on.

Looking at the race schedules for next year, it doesn't really look like the Triathlon events start until June. As such, I'm tentatively thinking about focusing on a spring marathon (probably Mississauga on May 16th) and then switch gears to Triathlons for the fall season. Aiming for a 3:20 target at that point is likely within reach, and if that goes well then I can try for the elusive 3:10 in a following year. That would allow me to exclusively focus on the training for each sport in separate seasons, while allowing me to track both of my goals without too much overlap. The only concern is how quickly I can recover in time for an early-June Triathlon following a marathon in mid-May.

If I do follow this plan, my year would look something like this:

Winter/Spring Season (Marathon):
I'd like to work the Sporting Life 10K into there as well, as I've heard a lot of good things about it but that will depend on it's proximity to Mississauga (they havn't published a date for 2010 yet). Working in the Chilly Half Marathon would be nice as well, but it's a week before the Achilles 5K and I'd like to take a chance of beating my personal best at that race once again.

Summer/Fall Season (Triathlon):
After which, I'll decide what to do in August and September based on how well I do in the above races. Ideally, I'd like to work up to a half-Ironman distance by the end of this season but that's a big step so I need to judge how well my body deals with the above first. I'm very comfortable running the half-marathon distance and covering the bike leg distance (90km) at this point but the swim will be challenging as will the task of doing all three in succession. With that said, I've got ten months to build up to it so hopefully that will be enough time ;)

Worst case scenario, if I determine that I'm not up to the task of such a race I can fall back to shorter distances or even just aim for a fall marathon. I don't want to step into a 5-6 hour race without sufficient preparation, so I'll have to see how the Olympic distance race goes and determine whether or not it is realistic. With that said, if I do try the half-ironman distance, the goal will simply be to finish and not so much to go all out - that will have to wait for a future year ;)

Either way, I'm still considering my options but the above is roughly what I am hoping to achieve in the coming year. It is undoubtedly an aggressive plan one way or the other and it may need to be scaled back, but I'd rather aim high and have to pull back then aim low and wonder if I could have done more ;) For the time being, my focus will have to be on improving my swimming and getting my base fitness up to the level that will be required to train for this schedule. I also have to look into getting some books on Triathlon training so that I can build a formal schedule to work my way up this ladder.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Week 44: Review

For the early part of this week the weather was pretty bad once again, making it difficult to get out on the bike. Monday would have worked, but as I did last week's long run in the morning I figured it wasn't wise to risk heading out for a bike ride (especially considering I also had the Triathlon swimming clinic in the evening). Unfortunately, both Wednesday and Friday saw heavy rain so there wasn't much of an opportunity to safely head out on the bike.

Things cleared up a bit for the weekend, so I managed to get rides in on both Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately while Saturday ended up being decent, the forecasts were showing unpredictability and there were some very strong winds out so I stayed on a route close to home to play it safe. As this meant riding on residential roads rather than arterial roads, however, it was difficult to get a good workout in so I called it after a couple of laps and headed home after a little less than 15K.

Sunday, however, saw near perfect weather (clear skies, ~16C and only moderate winds) so I put my long run off to today and took the bike out instead. Unfortunately I couldn't get out until about 2:30, and as the sun goes down pretty early this time of year that limited how far out I could go. I wanted to head up to Newmarket and back, however that's between 80-100km (depending on the route) and I simply didn't have the time to pull that off. As such, I headed out for my normal 50K route and figured I'd play it by ear.

As I headed north via Jane, I saw that the fall colours were pretty much out in full force at this point. Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of trees along that stretch as it's mostly farmland so when I got up to Kettleby, I headed through the town and took Keele back. That is a much hillier route than Jane is, but it goes through a few pretty dense forests so the scenery on the way back was quite impressive. Either way, it was a good workout as it's been a while since I've taken that particular set of hills ;)

Running-wise, I ended up missing a couple of sessions (Tuesday's 8 miler and Saturday's 4 miler) due to logistical reasons, however that's not such a critical thing in base training so I'm not too worried about it. The speedwork session I did on Thursday was a little rough as I did some relatively intense breathing exercises in the pool a few hours earlier, and that resulted in a couple of side stitches when I was pushing it on the road. Fortunately, I fought through and got all ten of the scheduled intervals out in respetible times.

Like Sunday, today's weather was pretty much textbook perfect for my long (16 mile) run. Due to this, it was a bit of a fight to try and keep my pace down as everything felt so comfortable, but other than that the session went quite well. I'm not likely to push my long runs much further than this until I start formally training again, however I would like to get my mid-week distances up a bit more and settle at a 30-40mile/week level.

In the water, things went quite well this week. I'm starting to get the hang of the proper stroke at this point, and it's feeling a lot more natural. It's going to take a while before it's ingrained enough that I don't have to think about it, but it's taking less and less effort to accomplish. As the technique drills last week worked out well, I decided to continue doing them this week despite the clinic being back. As such, after each of the 3.25K swims I did a short technique session (450 and 800m respectively) to work on my problem areas. Aside from the second session's effects on my interval session, this worked out quite well so I think I'll keep up with it for the time being (although I'll probably try squeezing the running in before the pool if possible).

Week 44 Totals:
Running: 40.3km (25.0mi)
Walking: 1.7km (1.1mi)
Cycling: 78.8km (49.0mi)
Swimming: 8.7km (5.4mi)
Total: 129.5km (80.5mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,142.8km (1,331.5mi)
Walking: 211.0km (131.1mi)
Cycling: 3,481.0km (2,163.0mi)
Swimming: 91.4km (56.8mi)
Total: 5,926.2km (3,682.4mi)

As I didn't manage to get all of the sessions in as planned this week, I'm going to aim to try and do the same thing I intended to do once again. The focus at this point is getting used to longer mileage in the mid-week sessions, so getting comfortable with a pair of 8 milers rather than the 6 milers I've been doing is the main focus.

Mon 16mi (25.7K) LSD*, Tri Swim Clinic
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 8mi Recovery
Wed 40K Ride, 10K Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 8mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 100k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Week 43: Review

Had everything gone as planned, yesterday I would have run my fall marathon and I'd be looking at recovery at this point. The weather turned out to be as close to ideal as possible, and it would have been the perfect conditions to push out a more aggressive time. Unfortunately, the nature of this sport is that injury is part of the equation and while I didn't get my chance yesterday, I have learned a lot in this cycle and will hopefully be able to apply it come spring!

With that said, many people did run yesterday and there were likely a lot of PBs set in the process. Included in that bunch was a friend from college, yumke, who managed to finish in a little over 3:12, good enough to get the elusive Boston qualifier. He ran with me for most of the Mississauga Marathon, and was a huge help in getting that first 42.2 in the books so I'm glad to see him reach his hard fought for goal!

As for my week, things went quite well this week thanks to the beautiful temperatures we've been getting. While the normal population is hauling out the winter jackets and cursing the cold, this ~5-10C weather is just about perfect for running. Cool enough to stay comfortable in even the hardest sessions, but not so cold as we have to start taking out extra clothes. Naturally, normal people think that I'm nuts to be in a t-shirt and shorts in this weather, but you can't really argue with what's comfortable.

As such, I managed to squeeze in most of the running mileage that was planned. I did end up moving the speedwork to Thursday, as I had done last week's 14 mile long run the day before and didn't want to risk anything. My Wednesday session was also about half the distance that was planned as my running group was back from their BQs in the Chicago marathon and needed to take it easy while they recovered. The weekend was a little busy as well, so I ended up shifting Saturday's 4 miler to Sunday and Sunday's 16 miler to today. It was a bit messy, but I got most of the planned mileage in so I'm calling it a success :oP

Unfortunately, the cooler temperatures do make cycling a bit more challenging. When rolling down the road at 30-40km/h, the wind blowing over the skin makes it feel a lot colder than it actually is. It's easy to keep the body and legs warm, but both the hands and face catch the brunt of that cold air and it's difficult to cover them up. The strong need for situational awareness on a bike (high speeds + riding with motorized traffic) makes normal face coverings impractical, and full fingered gloves make it hard to properly operate the shift/brake levers. Fortunately, it's been pretty sunny this week so it's been easy enough to warm up at stop signs, but that's not necessarilly going to be the case in the future.

Compounding this complexity is the fact that my saddle appears to have developed a small hole on the right side of the nose. This is rubbing against my cycling shorts and wearing out the material, so I cut back on my mileage a bit this week until I can get that addressed. On the rides that I did do, I took an older pair of shorts along so that I don't burn through the new pair too quickly. Not sure when I'm going to have the chance to bring it in, but I'm likely looking at buying a new saddle and have to figure out whether to stick with the current design or play around with some other options (this was the stock saddle that came with the bike, so I havn't really tried much else). The new version of this saddle (Selle San Marco Ponza) seems to have a redesigned nose section, so I'm guessing that I'm not the only one that's had this issue. See below for a picture of the problem:

As for swimming, due to Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday our clinic group didn't meet this week. As such, I added some technique drills to the end of my Tuesday and Thursday swimming sessions to try and keep up the practice. On Tuesday I did a number of form drills, worked on my kicking (which still needs some work) and did a few short breathing exercises. On Thursday, I focused mainly on the breathing end of things and did a number of freestyle lengths with progressively longer between breaths (including lengths with no breathing (12) and some 3-5-7-11-25m drills (3)).

In the sessions themselves, I've been focusing a lot on changing my technique and it's starting to pay off. I still have to think about it so my turnover is slower than it was before, but I'm covering a lot more distance per stroke at this point so that's offsetting those losses. Hopefully when I get more practice and the form feels more natural, my turnover will increase again and I'll see some significant gains in speed (right now I'm about on par with what I was before). I've mostly got the body roll down at this point, however I still have to work on my kicking and getting my breathing rythum aligned with the longer strokes.

Either way, things are getting back into the normal routine at this point. The weather is going to get progressively colder over the new month or so, and the winter gear is going to have to start coming out at that point. As such, I have to do my best to enjoy it while it lasts ;) As for the cycling, I'm going to need to move the bike inside to the trainer pretty soon, but I'd really like to squeeze in at least one more good long (ie 100km+) ride before that point. Naturally, mother nature will be the arbiter of that, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get a day suitable for that! I'd like to do that as a group ride, but most of the others appear to be already thinking about moving inside so I'm not sure that I'll be able to talk anyone into going with me on that one ;)

Week 43 Totals:
Running: 56.3km (35.0mi)
Walking: 2.1km (1.3mi)
Cycling: 92.3km (57.4mi)
Swimming: 7.9km (4.9mi)
Total: 158.6km (98.5mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,102.5km (1,306.4mi)
Walking: 209.3km (130.0mi)
Cycling: 3,402.2km (2,114.0mi)
Swimming: 82.7km (51.4mi)
Total: 5,796.7km (3,601.9mi)

As for the upcoming week, pretty much more of the same. We're back to the swim clinic tonight, and I'm looking forward to refining things a bit more. I'll be slightly increasing the mileage on my mid-week runs, but likely keep my long run at the same distance as this week. I'm effectively into base training at this point, and going beyond 16 miles isn't really all that necessary. With respect to the bike, that's going to depend on the weather and when I can get the saddle repaired/replaced so the following is a pretty rough estimate.

Mon 16mi (25.7K) LSD*, Tri Swim Clinic
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 8mi Recovery w/10x100m
Wed 40K Ride, 10K Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 8mi GA
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 100k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

As noted in previous weeks, the Toronto Marathon weekend was pretty much the last set of races for the season so I'm effectively entering the base training period at this point. I'm still not sure what my primary goal will be next season (ie working towards Boston or working up to a half Ironman). Don't have to worry too much about that in the near term, but as I get to the end of this period I will have to figure out which sports to focus on.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Week 42: Review

As expected, the weather this week was a bit unpredictable but fortunately we got enough decent weather that I managed to fit in a few of the cycling sessions. There was isolated showers pretty much all day on Monday, but as I really needed to get out there I looked for an opening and headed out when I got the chance. I did get rained on a few times out there, but the rain wasn't really that heavy so safety wasn't really an issue and I pushed through. Wednesday was a lot more dodgy so I kept off the bike, but as that was only a 30K ride I wasn't too worried.

The weather reports unfortunately called for more rain on Friday, so I elected to swap my Thursday sessions around with it and managed to get a good 50K ride in. On Saturday I hoped to get a long ride in, however between other obligations and watching Kona I couldn't really find the time to do much more than 35K. I had to take an intermission from watching the race to fit in my 4 mile recovery run, but fortunately with an 8+ hour race missing a half hour isn't really a big issue ;)

As for my running, things mostly went as planned. The only major hiccup was that I ended up having a late lunch on Tuesday, and that didn't agree with my digestive system when I went out for a run in the afternoon. I had originally planned to do 6 miles with 6x100m speedwork, but while I pushed through the discomfort for the warmup it was evident after the first interval that it wasn't going to work. As such, I turned around and ran back home at a relatively slow pace (it didn't seem to bother me when my HR was below 160bpm, so a ~5:15/km pace wasn't a big problem) and only got 5K in.

As such, I elected to simply move the speedwork to my Thursday session and potentially find a way to squeeze the missing three miles into other runs. Unfortunately as my Wednesday running group was tapering for Chicago I didn't want to ask to extend the route any more than planned, and time constraints made it difficult to fit anything extra onto the other runs. Either way, missing 3 miles isn't really all that significant, especially as I'm not really following any formal plan right now ;)

Since I moved my Thursday running sessions to Friday to fit the bike ride in, that meant that I had to deal with rain during my speedwork session. At first I wasn't really looking forward to it, but once I got out there it was actually pretty pleasant to run in. The rain was pretty light, and as I only had to go 6 miles I didn't really get all that soaked, so the cooling effect was quite helpful. Everything, including the intervals, pretty much felt effortless so it turned out to be quite a nice day for a run. Since I was feeling so good, I even threw in a hard finish to get a little extra speedwork into the mix ;)

I also ended up moving my 14 mile long run from Sunday to today as it just wasn't logistically feasible to do it yesterday. The family gets together for Thanksgiving on the Sunday, so I didn't have a lot of time to fit in a multi-hour run unless I wanted to get up really early (which I didn't much feel like doing). As such, I headed out this morning to get the run in and asside from overdressing a bit (wore a jacket when a T-Shirt would have been more than sufficient) it went quite well.

Week 42 Totals:
Running: 53.6km (33.3mi)
Walking: 1.6km (1.0mi)
Cycling: 137.7km (85.6mi)
Swimming: 7.4km (4.6mi)
Total: 200.3km (124.5mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,046.2km (1,271.4mi)
Walking: 207.2km (128.7mi)
Cycling: 3,309.9km (2,056.7mi)
Swimming: 74.8km (46.5mi)
Total: 5,638.1km (3,503.4mi)

This week is going to be more of the same, but fortunately it looks like there will be enough openings to fit things in. As I did my long run today, I'm not planning on doing my normal cycling session today so I'll be a little low this week. I'm also going to have problems trying to fit much in on Saturday, as my brother is flying out in the morning and will likely need help getting to the airport. Additionally, the Toronto bicycle show is on that day as well so I'm likely going to head down as there are a few things I need to pick up and they usually have some pretty decent deals.

Tue 2.5mi Swim, 6mi Recovery w/6x100m
Wed 40K Ride (if weather permits), 10K Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 8mi GA
Fri 80-100K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD

Longer term, I elected to skip the races next week as I'm not likely to improve on my times significantly and the logistics would be somewhat difficult. I was hoping to push out a 3:20 marathon next Sunday, but the injury threw a wrench into those plans. As such, I was considering doing the half marathon, but I'm still working myself back into shape and I figure continuing base building is likely more important than fitting in an extra race.

In other news, the rest of my Wednesday running group headed down to Chicago for the marathon and all managed to qualify for Boston (IIRC their qualifying times were between 3:30-3:35, but all of them managed to get under 3:30). They've been training quite hard and all of that effort appears to have paid off quite well! Hopefully I'll be able to join them in future years, but for now I simply offer my congratulations!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Danger vs. Anoyance...

As predicted, the weather this week has continued to be unstable so it's been a challenge to work everything in. While I'm generally pretty thick skinned when it comes to running, I tend to be a little more sensitive to weather on the bike. Risks are certainly higher given the speed and proximity to fast moving traffic, however it's easy to lean on those excuses and avoid a session because of unpleasantness. Sorting out where the line lies between what is merely an annoyance and what is a legitimate danger is often not such an easy thing to do, especially for a relatively new rider like myself.

As such, I headed out on Monday despite the unstable weather. I got rained on a few times during the ride, and had to slow down due to slick roads in parts, but that's pretty much par for the course this time of year. Aside from the safety aspects, riding in the rain is a lot worse than running in it as (a) those droplets can hit like bullets when you are moving at 30-40km/h and (b) you have to control descending speeds a lot more (60-80km/h is dangerous when your brakes are wet) which cuts down momentum that would normally help with the climbs. Adding to the complexity is the fact that cars tend to get a lot more unpredictable, so you really have to watch out.

With that said, I did stop at 50km as I didn't want to get too far from home in these conditions. When the rain gets really hard motorists visibility gets reduced and they can't always see you quite as well, so one has to be cautious. Further, if electrical activity starts up it's generally not the wisest move to be out in the middle of nowhere ;) Normally I'd just schedule around crappy weather, but as we've had it continuously for the last little while there really isn't an opportunity to do that.

I was supposed to go out today for a short ride, but the winds are brutal out there and I've elected to skip it due to safety concerns. Looking at the weather station, I'm seeing a 60km/h base wind and gusts above 90km/h around here. While the headwinds would make the ride hard (although the tailwinds would likely be awesome), crosswinds of that intensity could easily be a serious hazard when riding alongside traffic. Getting used to dealing with strong winds would likely be beneficial, but given the sheer strength of the winds today it's likely not the best time to do so ;)

As far as the rest of the week, Friday is looking like it will be pretty bad but fortunately tomorrow looks decent so I might just swap tomorrow's run with Friday's ride. Saturday is looking like it might be good as well, so hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in a good long ride. With that said, these reports have been pretty fluid all week so the outlook could easily be very different come tomorrow.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week 41: Review

Weather this week was pretty unpredictable, so I didn't manage to get any of my cycling sessions in as planned. Nearly every day was composed of isolated showers, so while it didn't amount to a whole lot it was enough to make me think twice about getting too far out. I'm likely going to have to take a few more risks in heading out in these circumstances in the future, as the forecasts are showing more of the same for the next week. Tomorrow doesn't look too bad, luckily, so I'm going to try and fit in a long ride (~100km) to make up for the lost mileage this week.

What I should ideally do is grab another rear wheel for my fluid trainer so I can just bring the bike inside on weeks like this. As it stands, however, I need to change out the tire and skewer to switch over and that pretty much means that I only change over when the winter begins in earnest (ie riding outside is largely impossible). Being able to switch between riding on the road and trainer at a whim would help a lot during these transition seasons, as it would allow me to maintain the consistancy of training I'm used to regardless of the weather. Fortunately, there is a bike show in a couple of weeks so I'll keep an eye out for any decent deals.

Fortunately, this type of weather isn't really a problem for running so I managed to get most of those sessions in. I did loose one run on Tuesday, but that was due to scheduling conflicts (a MVP get together surrounding TechDays Toronto) and not so much the weather. To make up for the lost speedwork session, I pushed a little harder than planned on Thursday and added another mile to my long run this morning.

While it has been cool, the humidity has stayed extremely high (usually in the 90% range) despite the rain so it's been difficult to figure out what to wear. I've added a technical t-shirt over my singlet for most of this week, but when it isn't raining that starts to get uncomfortably hot. Unfortunately, the rain is quite cold as well so if it does decide to come down and I don't wear it, I end up freezing. Either way, not a whole lot that can be done about it and fortunately most of my runs are still pretty short due to my recovery so it hasn't been a huge problem. With that said, most people out there likely think I'm insane either way as the general public appears to be getting into the winter mode already (big puffy down coats, toques, etc.) ;)

On the swimming front, I had my first clinic with the Tri swimming group on Monday and it looks like it will be quite helpful. My training until this point was pretty much just a matter of accumulating miles, but as swimming is a lot more dependant on technique than running or cycling, having some properly guided drills should help a lot. I've improved a lot over the last few months, however I've been stuck at the 2:00-2:15/100m pace for a while now so hopefully these clinics will help me accelerate a bit more. Either way, my second session is tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it. One thing I forgot to ask about last week was to get some post swim stretches from the instructor, so I'll have to remember this time around.

Week 41 Totals:
Running: 43.7km (27.2mi)
Walking: 3.2km (2.0mi)
Cycling: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Swimming: 7.5km (4.7mi)
Total: 54.4km (33.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1,992.6km (1,238.1mi)
Walking: 205.6km (127.8mi)
Cycling: 3,172.2km (1,971.1mi)
Swimming: 67.4km (41.9mi)
Total: 5,437.8km (3,378.9mi)

As mentioned above, the weather report for this week is looking just as sketchy as it was last week so fitting in the cycling sessions is going to be tricky. Tomorrow looks pretty good, but the rest of the week is still up in the air and I'm going to have to be flexible about where I fit in the miles.

On the upside, my heart rate is finally starting to fall back into the range it was at before the injury, so I can start pushing the running mileage back up once again. With the Goodlife Marathon in a couple of weeks, I'm still debating whether or not I should bother with the half. My fitness is coming back at this point, but it's still not 100% so I'm not sure that I can beat my previous time. I'm flirting with the idea of just focusing on my base training at this point and worry about racing next season. Either way, I'll try pushing a bit harder this week and make a decision based on how things work out. With that said, this close to the race my decision may be made for me if it sells out ;)

Mon 100K Ride, Swim Clinic
Tue 2mi Swim, 6mi Recovery w/6x100m
Wed 30K Ride (if weather permits), 10K Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 8mi GA
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 80K Ride
Sun 14mi (22.5K) LSD