Monday, January 31, 2011

The day that almost was

The weather was awesome Sunday. Warm, very little breeze and sunny. A perfect day to get out and ride. No tights. not base layer needed. just one layer of gloves. I was really looking forward to the chance to try some intervals on real hills.

Unfortunately, the nap monster came for a visit and the compulsion to lay my head on a comfy pillow for a short time was stronger than the desire to expend and burn some calories in the open air. The nap started in early afternoon and I fully expected to wake up in plenty of time to still get out on the road. 30 minutes, 45 minutes tops. Well...... 90 minutes later the sun was going down and it was too late for a ride :(. Oh well. There will be more days in the future.

So I did the workout indoors instead. Today called for another 20 minutes in LT zone but it was split into a 2x 10 @ 83-90% max for the first time. First set was relatively easy and successfully focused on keeping the upper body loose and keeping the cadence smooth @ ~58 rpm in 53-15. Second set as more difficult and had to really focus in the first 5 min. The arms felt a weak and wobbly. Keeping the body as loose as last time was more challenging. Focused on keeping the breathing regular, consuming my liquids and putting the power in through the legs rather than my back and arms as much as possible and not getting worked up over the the loss on one element when the rest were still under control. The first half of the second set was rough and was wondering if I would have to gear down to keep that cadence and HR in the desired zones. But, I seemed to break through some sort of effort barrier and got into a zone for the second 5 minutes. Everything seemed to get easier. Well not easier but more of a rhythm that made it seem just that little bit more bearable.

Distance: 16.24 km

Speed:  21.18 kmh

Cadence:  75 rpm

AVG HR:  159 bpm

Weight:  207.8 lbs

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Double Day

The weather was pleasant Saturday. Temperatures soaring to a balmy 56F. I was looking forward to, the currently 3 week old habit of, riding around the lake with Eric. Given the temperature, I was expecting trail conditions to be quite different compared to the last two "freezing my testicles off" rides and I was not disappointed. The soft ground made for some slick, mucky and wet sections. We had to really focus and pick our lines as the wheels slid side-to-side through mud puddles on downhills, corners and lake shore.

Our speed was slower than past rides but was enjoyable and the effort noticable. I don't know what it is about mud but the more chunks of mud that fly up and hit my back, into my glasses and spatter my jacket the more fun I have. As another bonus from the weather, Eric felt he could do the longer distance today so we were able to include the tennis courts leg and add a few more K's to the ride. Then, to top it off, the last hill seemed easier than last week. I don't know if I chose a better gear, if I was steadier on the effort, or my fitness has hit the sweet spot for that hill but it was slightly exhilarating going up and thinking, "Wow, this is good today!".

While the ride was good, it did not accomplish the training goals for the day of being in the LT zone for 20 steady minutes. So after lunch I hit the trainer and put in official training as well. Today called for the longest time @ LT yet, 20 minutes sustained 83-90% max HR. It was a more difficult that I expected. I was only able to hold a 53-23 gear for the workout part of the session and it was a good thing I was permitted to keep my cadence with a 10 rpm range since I had difficulty holding a steady rhythm. I was most stable @ ~87 rpm, keeping the HR @~87% max but I popped over 90% a few times and under 83% once or twice while the cadence variance was way way larger than normal. I'm thinking the ride earlier in the day might have had someting to do with that.

On the plus side, the longer lake ride and the longer LT workout meant I was over 30K today and probably staved off further weight gain as I start to put my eating habits back on track.

Kona Ride

Distance: 22.6 km

Speed:  16.6 kmh

Cadence:  81 rpm

AVG HR:  139 bpm

Weight:  207.6 lbs

Orbea training

Distance: 13.75 km

Speed:  21.7 kmh

Cadence:  87 rpm

AVG HR:  159bpm

Weight:  207.6 lbs

Friday, January 28, 2011

Good News/Bad News

As if anticipating that Thursday would feel a little rough, the training program I'm using has today an easier endurance training day. After 3 LT workouts + the brutal workout from last night I was dreading another LT workout. Imagine my surprise (and might I say joy) that today's schedule called for 15 minutes of steady riding at a HR below 81% for this particular workout. It took some real focus to stay on track but I'm glad I chose to workout today and build off the push I gave last night. I'll reap the longterm benefits and Friday is a scheduled rest day to wash away all the lactic acid and start the next week's LT building block.

Today had other good news for me. Today I popped over the distance I rode in January in 2010, so a goal of riding more each month than the year before remains viable and there are 2 more scheduled training days and 2 days where I'll be using the Kona to commute between classes to push that even higher. The other thing I liked about this month was that, as I compared this year's calendar with last year's, I consistently rode more days. The distance per ride was lower but I think the greater consistency will give me a better base. Last year was my best ever on overall distance, avg overall speed, best speed at several different distances, best distances on a single ride and several other metrics so this start will give me a little ray of sun bask in as I head into the dark dreary days of coming February.

On the bad news side, I got a little off track with my heathier eating habits. Had a bag of chips Wednesday, pizza Thursday, did not have my morning smoothie this morning. This it will show up in the weight over the next few day's I'm sure. Not too concerned though since my weight goal for January was 210 and I'm confident I'll be below that come Jan. 31.

Distance: 10.86 km

Speed:  18.62 kmh

Cadence:  95 rpm

AVG HR:  141 bpm

Weight:  206 lbs

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Memories of summer ... and not the good ones

Brutal workout last night. Beaten on by the MOB crew. We skipped a week in the training buildup and hit the week 4 session instead of week 3. It included (amongst other easier elements) 3x3min TTs, a 30 sec per gear progression down then up (starting @ 100 rpm and trying to keep the rpms high) and, the biggy for the day, a 10 min alternating sitting standing gear down 2 then 1 up progression. This one we started in 53-17. It became clear after about the 2nd minute that starting in 53-17 was wrong. So, when I shiffted up I went up 3 gears rather than the one and carried on. I also was not keeping the desired rpm. Not anywhere close in fact (when it called for 85 rpm - the very first step - I was @ 70).

It was tough but I was getting through until about minute 6. At that point, I was leaning heavy on the handlebars, Grinding over the gears, and any semblence of smoothness in my cadence had evaporated. Joe saw I was struggling and barked at me to keep going.  That gave me enough time to call up memories of last summer. I reminded myself that this training is to get over a cat 2 mountain this summer and I thought about how I was feeling during the worst moments of that cat 3 climb. I was in my easiest gear, barely ticking over, heart rate 1% off off complete explosion. I just remembered the searing pain in my legs, the laboured breathing and how I focused on only one revolution. Don't worry about form, just focus on completing one more revolution. One more revolution.

Both last summer and last night were absolutely excrucuatingIy painful but I got through it. Those memories, and being convinced that this interval was not as hard as the one from the summer when in fact was probably just as hard, got me to push through a mental barrier I think.

Legs are very very sore but I'm very happy with the overload effort I put in. Joe suggested afterward I am ready for Hanging Rock, about 1.5 months earlier than I thought I would be.

Distance: 22.86 km

Speed:  20.19 kmh

Cadence:  79 rpm

AVG HR:  170 bpm

Weight:  207.8 lbs

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting dialed in

Another day of LT training. Starting to get the groove. It looks like I can get into 53-17 @85rpm and have the HR slowly build up to desired max 15 min later (today's duration). I popped over 90% with 30 sec left.

I'm starting to see improvements on all fronts. Relaxing the upper body went better. Cadence was definitely smoother. Able to to keep the breathing and HR under control during the last few minutes.

Oh, and in case anyone has been tracking my weight... I've seen the return of sub 210 after this weekends bacchanalian wine consumption (2 bottles), and gorging myself to a state of bloatation on rich and creamy lamb, goat, and cheese Indian dishes with overloaded sideboards of naan. That really pushed up the pounds rather quickly and it looks like it took several days to work its way through the system but all is better now.

Distance: 15.07 km

Speed:  27.4 kmh

Cadence:  86 rpm

AVG HR:  157 bpm

Weight:  209 lbs

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My legs are burning!

Second day doing LT work. Spend most of the very short "easy" day trying to determine gear ratios to allow my HR to start low and end high after a 10min extended steady effort @ 55-60rpm. So far 53-13 keeps me around 78-81% for 3-4 minutes and moving into 53-11 for the final minute raised it from ~80 to 88%.

Also tried to keep the upperbody and arms relaxed and focus on putting the power in through the legs and core alone. Not completely successful. I tended to tense up over time but, when I noticed, I was able to re-relax everything.

By the end the legs were starting to feel the burn, my upperbody was relaxed and HR was increasing @ the desired rate. I think I got everything about right for maybe 30 secs. Now for improvement....

Distance: 13.53 km

Speed:  26.2 kmh

Cadence:  75 rpm

AVG HR:  143 bpm

Weight:  211.8 lbs

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Salem lake AND a trainer ride all in one day

Bit of an oops day. Went around the lake with Eric on the Kona but forgot to reset the Garmin when I got home to do my scheduled training workout on the Orbea. So both rides are part of a single data set.

Wanted to do a separate workout on the Orbea rather than trying to work it into my ride with Eric since he is a little less fit and today was the first LT/strength workout. My effort was going to get up there and a 15 minute ride at this level would have left him behind. Not a desireable outcome if I'm trying to encourage others to ride more. So I just came home and hopped on the trainer without getting out of the tights, wool socks, and underlayer.

Distance: 27.59 km

Speed:  21.41 kmh

Cadence:  87 rpm

AVG HR:  147 bpm

Weight:  208.2 lbs

Friday, January 21, 2011

Road Trip!

First road ride of the year! Thursday's workout called for 75 minutes of 73-81% max HR and a cadence between 90 and 110. That was going to be utterly monotonous on the trainer, especially since I haven't received my latest netflix dvd to distract myself. Fortunately the weather cooperated and by early afternoon the temperature had risen to a balmy 44 F with very little wind. A perfect chance for me to get outside and actually ride my bike. It's been really chilly here lately and not really conducive to riding outside so there was no way I was going to pass up this narrow window of opportunity.

The terrain around here is not condusive to being able to achieve both the cadence goals and the HR goals so I had to choose one or the other. I chose HR. The purpose of the training was endurance not technique so I preferred HR over keeping the cadence high. When possible I brought my cadence into line but I spent a lot more time looking down at the Garmin and willing the HR number not to pop over 81 and give me the dreaded: BEEP "Your HR exceeds desired value" message.

Don't pop! Don't pop! Damn, I popped :(. I popped over and under the zone a few times (typically ascending/descending a short steep hill) but I was actually pretty impressed with my ability to gage that effort.

While I didn't keep my cadence within the zone all the time, I did pedal constantly. My legs did feel the burn of constant motion which I'm telling myself was a good secondary goal. In the past I would coast the descents but yesterday I shifted into gears that allowed me to pedal on the descents as well, which is something my little book as suggested I should try to achieve.

The overall workout was a little ragged but not bad for my first time trying this. Lots to improve, lots to smooth out. Glad I got out rather than doing this inside on the trainer.

And so ends Week 2, the end of the endurance building segment. Time to move to LT work next week.

Distance: 33.40 km

Speed:  22.26 kmh

Cadence:  84 rpm

AVG HR:  155 bpm

Weight:  208.0 lbs

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stand and Deliver

Week 2 of Mock's indoor turbofest last night. Another evening of spinups, TT and climbing intervals. A bit harder than last week. We had two 2 minute TT intervals @ 80 rpm then added two 3 minute TT intervals @ 90 rpm with just 2 minutes rest in between each interval. Did well on that part. I'm pretty well dialed in to how hard I can go and not blow up during defined efforts. Currently I can do these in 53-17 and finished each interval with a HR of ~95%. 

The toughest part for me was the 5 minute standing interval. I had a really rough patch @ around 2 minutes. The legs went a little wobbly, and I lost my rhythm. The dreaded Despair Demon came for a visit and I thought about sitting down but shortened my time horizon from 5 minutes to "just do 15 more seconds" and worked through what was probably going on. I figured I started too hot and was focused on keeping my weight off the bars rather than on finding a sustainable rhythm so dialed back the effort, slowed the cadence, focused on breathing and found the sustainable zone. Back Despair Demon! BACK! It wasn't a pretty 5 minutes, I leaned on the bars quite a bit, but I actually detected improvement over last week. The interval was brutal but bearable while last week if was brutal and almost unbearable. So on the "unbearable to joyous-happy-days" scale I moved up a notch. What made it even more satisfying was that I even made it through the two 15 sec sprints thrown in @ the 2'45" and 4'45" marks. To be fair, I would not call what I did during those 15 secs sprinting but I did increase my cadence so I'm calling that a win.

ILT's were better as well. Smoother and more consistent for longer periods. I'm still using 39-25 and cadence is still on the low side but I want to get the stroke right before increasing the cadence and gearing.

Distance:  22.99 km

Speed:  21.49 kmh

Cadence:  80 rpm

AVG HR:  164 bpm

Weight:  210.6 lbs

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Movin' on up

Today I began basing HR training zones on my LTHR. I realized the book I am using for training workouts used both measurements but recommends LTHR if possible. The endurance LTHR zones are a little higher and than simple %Max.  Since last week was so successful I felt I could move the effort up a notch but not have the increase be too great to disrupt my microcycles.

Today was an easy day of Endurance E4 level so it was a good day to switch.

Distance: 23.69 km

Speed:  21.9 kmh

Cadence:  95 rpm

AVG HR:  152 bpm

Weight:  209.8 lbs

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Endurance level 5 today. A repeat of the infamous Friday session that caused me so much angst. This time I did much better. I made sure I mixed up my cadence and as I was warming up I noticed I could keep my HR in the desired zone just as easily as I did Friday by getting into 39-23 rather than the 53-25 I was using then. The cadence was a littler lower (~93 rpm) but I did rev up to 100, down to 90 and in between every 5-10 minutes to avoid utter monotony. I also made sure to drink both water and electrolytes this time. As a result, the session went much better. 

The need to really focus didn't hit until ~ minute 55 this time (a 15 minute improvement) leaving just a mere 2 minutes of having to close my eyes and concentrate because the 3 minutes to go mark now acts as my "ye haw, I've done it!" trigger for the attendant adrenaline and dopamine rushes.

I think pushing through that session Friday might be significant for me, especially since it occurred so early in the season. I now have something I can think back to when I'm in a tough spot. You could say I've become more one with my bike.

During the cooldown it was also interesting that I lost my rhythm again. It did not last as long as last time and I was able to bring it back but I'll have to note if this starts to happen regularly and what may bring it about.

Finally, the session lasted a little longer than last time since 10 minutes into today's warmup the riding the Garmin froze and I had to restart the whole workout. So I actually did ~26 minutes of warm up rather and the planned 16, I went further and avoided the problems I experienced last time. I think that qualifies as a success.

Distance: 28.58 km

Speed:  20.06 kmh

Cadence:  93 rpm

AVG HR:  128 bpm

Weight:  210.6lbs

Jaunty Salem Lake Cruising

Another endurance workout planned for Saturday's ride. However, Eric wanted to go around Salem lake and invited Dustin and myself along. Since I was scheduled for a light hour long ride I agreed. Was a little skeptical I would be able to accomplish the 60 minute ride @ 77-85% max HR and  the 90-110 rpm given the trail was covered in ice, snow and muck. I also was a little concerned that I might push him and/or Dustin too hard or, given the light nature of the workout, go too slow. 

It was cool but after we got going, it was great biking. The snow was crunchy and allowed good grip for the tires and you could get along the trail nicely as long as you paid attention. The ice was sparse and easy to avoid while the muck laden sections on the north side of the lake were neither deep nor wide. I don't think there was enough time for the ground to thaw and as a result it was easy to ride and worth every last mud caked spattering moment.

Everything went well until the last climb which was still in the shade. Very little of the snow had melted, but one section (right after we took a hairpin turn) had thawed and refroze after some other cyclists had gone through. The tracks were very very slick and rutted.  I hit them a little off balance and had to reacte quickly to stay up and on the path. I bit of an adrenaline rush there. Dustin also made it, adjusting his gearing after seeing what I went through, but Eric was not as lucky. He had to put his foot down onto the ice and almost went down. Good on him for staying upright though! 

Finshed the trail in about 55 minute. The workout had 10 minutes warm up, 60 minute spinning and 5 minute cool down so after biding adieu to my cycling partners I went back out on the trail to finish it off. With only 2-3 brief exceptions (getting up some particularly short steep sections ) I was able to keep the HR and the cadence in the desired range. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the ride.

And so begins Week 2 of the first microcycle.

Distance: 16.86 km

Speed: 14.12 kmh

Cadence: 97 rpm

AVG HR: 154 bpm

Weight: 210 lbs

Thursday, January 13, 2011

50 minute Despair Man

Holy F!#@$. If I thought the endurance workout I did Tuesday was intriguingly challenging (at least from a cognitive perspective) and sufficiently worthwhile to at least continue with currently developed training plan, tonight I'm rueing the day. It was brutal!

I did my regular 15 minute warm up and began the 60 min endurance workout. I found that spinning 39-25 in the high 98-102 rpm range kept the HR steady at about 68% and I settled in for the spinfest. I'm watching my movie, keeping a steady cadence, my HR steady, legs feeling good and fluid. Everything was going great.

I started to feel the burn around 40 minutes and it started to get harder and harder to stay focused. By the time I hit the 50 min mark I was seriously considered just packing it in. I wasn't breathing hard, the legs were barely burning, but my focus got so bad my cadence and HR went to shit. I dropped from my steady 100 rpm, 68-69% HR and started putting up random rpm and HR numbers like some lonely decaying uranium atom. RPM dropping to 85, up to 105, down to 90 then 88 then 95, up to 101. HR dropping to 60%, back to 67, popping over 70% then back to the mid 60's.  I just did not think I was going to be able to hang on. I was under the evil control of despair and there was nothing I could do. It was going to ruin this perfectly physically reasonable workout.

I lowered my head, closed my eyes and refused to stop. I suffered through 6 more minutes of despair whispering those oh so seductive words, "You did well today. Stopping now is almost like to doing the whole workout. You're just a few minutes short. Not enough to make a difference in the long run. Well done. Just call it a night." These siren songs filled my head for 6 long insufferable minutes. Around the 4 minutes remaining mark I was able to latch onto a memory of what I now realize was from my LTHR test a few days ago. I saw the 3 minutes remaining mark approaching and told myself that once you hit the 3 minute mark you knew you could drive it to the end. That tiny glimmer of hope was sufficient to keep me going for the next 60 seconds.

3 minutes to go. My cadence steadied at 95. My HR settled down to 68%. As I approached the end I watched the timer tick down, calling out (both in my head and by the end out loud) the time remaining to keep despair at bay. The 0 second hit! I did it. I fucking made it through!

Wait. What? Well bitch on a stick! I still have to do my 5 minute cool down.

Normally my cool down is welcome but today the cooldown was exactly like my workout! 5 minutes @ 95 rpm and getting the HR down to the 60's (which it already was).

Oddly, this time seemed to quickly pass though as did this offical end of Week 1, cycle 1. 

Distance: 25.55 km

Speed: 19.16 kmh

Cadence: 96 rpm

AVG HR: 133 bpm

Weight: 211.6 lbs


Are you resting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

First night at this year's indoor turbo training sessions @ MOB. Unlike last year, when I started towards the last half of the sessions and just about died every single night, I was able to keep up with the intervals (I'm starting at the beginning this time after all). The only interval I could not hold was the 5 minute standing interval. I did my first 3 minute standing interval just last month and just about died. Tonight I was able to hold 4 minutes before resting 30 sec and finishing it off. I might have made it through but I lost track of how much time had past (is losing one's peripheral vision normal :) ?). I think if I had known 1 minute remained I would have found a way to stick it out.

Successful first peak day of the current cycle I think. Looking forward to more pain....

Distance: 22.41 km

Speed: 20.06 kmh

Cadence: 76 rpm

AVG HR: 175 bpm

Weight: 208.6 lbs (though I think this is artificially low since I did not take it @ my standard time. Fully expect it to be higher tomorrow.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not working out is hard

First training day. Scheduled a low level short endurance ride where I had to keep my rpm's above 90 but my HR between 60 and 69% max. This was a little more challenging than I expected. I expected to do this workout and just alter the future training to be more challenging but I had to actually pay attention. It is surprisingly easy to spin up to greater than 70%. Get a little far over the bars and your breathing get constricted and HR goes up. Let your rpm's drift up to 95 and your HR quickly rises to the ceiling. Slow down to 90 and HR starts dropping quickly to the floor value.

Distance: 15.74 km

Speed: 18.9 kmh

Cadence: 93

AVG HR: 136 bpm

Weight: 210.8 lbs

Motion to recommit

It's been a while since I posted to this blog but, given I've committed myself to cycling up a category 2 mountain this summer, it seems appropriate to document this sorry attempt I engage in for posterity and possible ridicule. As such, I submit my first post for the 2011 season: the Lactate Threshold Heart Rate Test (LTHR).

Today was the LTHR test. That was tough! Took a little time to adjust to the new front crank but I was back in a rhythm by the end of the 16 min warm-up. Probably started a little hot in the first 10 min of the TT but was settled in for when it counted: the final 20 minutes. I had to gear down twice during the 20 min phase as a result of starting so hot, but pretty happy with how it went overall.

Given I'm doing this inside, on a bicycle hooked to a trainer preventing me from going anywhere, I had lots of time to let my mind wander. A couple of interesting bike relevant observations were (I'll leave out for the moment my thoughts of the role that Chromatin plays in phenotype): The first 10 (of the 20 min) seemed OK but seemed to last forever. The next five was a good steady hard effort but was wondering if I could make it the full 20 min and contributed to my gearing down. When I got to less than 3 min I got a boost to my motivation since the end was in sight. Where was that drive 4 minutes ago? Well, I got through it and have the numbers I need to start my build towards climbing the big mountains this summer.

AVG HR for last 20 min: 192 bpm.
AVG cadence: 89 rpm
20 min Distance: 9.66 km
Speed: 29 kmh
Weigh: 213.8 lb