Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tri Training...I'm enjoying myself now

Let's face it. This has been an up and down road (sometimes literally!) and there's been a lot of hard work. Sometimes I've really pushed myself, and sometimes I haven't. Most of the time I've been pushing through pain; other times I've made excuses. And let's face it, sometimes life gets in the way of things.

But anyway, I figure I'll update everyone on my last week of training. It was truly an up-and-down week where life kind of got in the way. I took a couple days off due to work being a bitch and also had to take some time off of running due to my foot hurting from hiking last week in Aspen. However, over the past two days, there has been much happiness in training. Girlfriend and I went cycling along the E-470 trail for 12.37 miles, and I felt it was my 2nd best ride of the season. Then yesterday, I went for a 3.35 mile run in Aspen followed by a hike to the top of Buttermilk Mountain.

Yeah, my quads are sore today, but you know what? There's less than a month left til the tri. It ain't gonna wait for sore quads!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bitch-Making and Maroon Creek Road

Brandon already blogged about our ride yesterday, but I said I'd be back with pictures, so back with pictures I am!

As he said, we rode up Maroon Creek Road up to some of the most famous/most photographed peaks IN THE WORLD, the Maroon Bells. I'm too lazy to check, but I'm actually pretty sure I posted a picture of them here on this blog last summer.

Regardless, we decided to cycle it yesterday. We were thinking from the hotel ... and then from Aspen Highlands ... and ended up parking at some point on the road right about a mile before the Ranger station (free to get in on a bike; otherwise ... $10 by car). As he said, the ride to the actual park/forest/what-have-you entrance wasn't bad. It was the next 4.75ish miles that sucked. Hard.

Okay, the first mile or so after the gate wasn't that bad, either. I tried a tactic I read in some book Brandon checked out from the library regarding the Carmichael Training System (lance armstrong's coach ... or former coach ... whatever) - "spinning" my pedals rather than "mashing" them.

In other words, try for a higher cadence at a lower gear rather than the opposite way around.

This helped for a while - I was making it up the road at a fairly decent clip with my cadence somewhere in the mid- to high-90s.

But then the ride started getting tougher. And tougher. And tougher. At about the 3.25ish point on the ol' cyclometer, I stopped to take some pictures.

Maroon Bells Ride
You can kind of see the angle of the road. Yeah, I stopped at the top(ish) part of a hill. Or at the very least, a plateau in the road.

Maroon Bells Ride
The road ahead. It's KIND OF flat.

I kept plugging. Every now and then I'd stop for Brandon to see how he was doing (and to make sure he didn't crash or die along the way) ... and then I'd keep going. My asthma was also giving me major shit - serves me right for forgetting my damned inhaler back in Denver. Oops.

Maroon Bells Ride
Sneak peek of Maroon Bells through the trees. You also can see how the road keeps going up ... and up ... and up ...

Maroon Bells Ride
Brandon making his way up the road, slowly but surely.

I forget exactly where we were at mileage at this point ... 4 miles in? Maybe? ... but the ride was starting to hurt. At one stop, I kept my right calf stretched out. Yeah, that cramped it up. Smart, I know. I was in my lowest possible gear setting and still somehow stomaching out a cadence somewhere in the 60s ... though my mph went to total shit in the mid-single digits. Like 6.0mph, I kid you not. I tried to keep it at 8ish if I could, but even that hurt.

Maroon Bells Ride
Another preview of the Bells.

Still, we kept on plugging. We stopped to sit down at one point at the five mile point and contemplating turning around, especially given that we were starting to get a tad short on time, but I saw a sign up the road that kept me going - the entrance to the actual Maroon Bells Recreation Area. Yeah, I wasn't quitting at that point.

I never really wanted to, though. I knew Brandon was struggling more than I was (and i was struggling quite a bit; not gonna lie), but I tried to help him through it. I told him to keep taking it a tenth of a mile, a quarter of a mile at a time. His running/motivational playlist wasn't working, so I told him to switch to his "Ballin'" playlist. Because really, he was a baller for making it up that road. Maroon Creek Road wasn't making us its bitches - we were making it our bitch.

And we did ... about 5.75 miles after we started and around 40 minutes later, we made it.

Maroon Bells Ride
Brandon at the top!

Maroon Bells Ride
Our bikes. They helped us power up that bitch of a road.

I kind of regret not resetting the cyclometer after we made it to the top - I would have liked to have known my average speed on the way up. I'm sure it was sad and pathetic, but eh. I made it ... I made it up almost 6 miles climbing about 1000 feet in elevation. And the view was worth it from the top.

Maroon Bells Ride
Weee, us!

Maroon Bells Ride
The rewarding view from the top.

Maroon Bells Ride
Exhausted, but smiling.

Seeing as we had to turn it around in time to get lunch, showered and either on the road (me) or back to the airport (brandon), we didn't wander around as much as we normally would have and went on down the hill.

See, that's the great part of the ride - not only are the views rewarding, but so is the ride down. For the first two miles or so, you're going the actual speed limit (35) or faster; I topped out at 42.2mph. Going up, I was in the easiest of gears. Going down, I cranked it up to the hardest gear I have and was still easily pedaling away (but i made sure to keep pedaling!). I was pretty sure I was going to get some bruises on my face from the bugs smacking into me, but alas, none. Which is probably good.

11.58 mi in 59:02; 11.77 mph
Average cadence: 75
Top speed: 42.2mph
Lowest speed: don't want to know
Elevation gained: An ass-ton, but around 1000

Ultimately, I would have to say this was a validating ride. Hard, but worth the pain. I struggled (oh lawd did i struggle), but I'm still impressed with how well I (comparatively) powered through it.

Tri Training...humbling

As everyone knows by now, cycling is the weakest sport of mine in the triathlon sports. For whatever reason, I'm just not strong on the bike. I don't know what is the cause of it (I have pretty strong quads) or why I struggle with it, but regardless, it's where I need to improve the most.

In any event, I'm overnighting in Aspen this month and the next. Since the girl loves Aspen like I do, she has agreed to come up on some of my overnights and bring our bikes so we can cycle. That's what we did yesterday. We cycled.

The Maroon Bells are a series of mountains near Aspen. They are pretty spectacular. It's almost inspiring. We've driven up there a couple times, but never cycled. So yesterday, we parked on the road and unpacked the bikes and began our ride.

The first mile took us to the rangers station. It really wasn't that bad thus far, and we saw a few other cyclists going both up and down the road. At the rangers station, we were told it's about 5 miles to the Bells from the station. Ok, not too bad. But as the ride went on, it got harder and harder. And my speed/cadence/morale suffered ridiculously. At a few points, we both stopped and kept pondering turning around. But we both knew that wasn't an option. At exactly 5 miles, we thought about it, but we were so close and wanted to succeed. So we kept plugging away. And sure enough, we made it!
This is the site we were greeted with. We spent a couple minutes walking around, taking some pictures, and me, I was doing some reflecting. I was pretty proud of myself. Sure, the ride had taken nearly an hour. Sure, I had only covered 5.8 miles. Sure, I still have a loooooong way to go before I will call myself a good cyclist. But I had done it. I pushed, reached inside myself, dug deep to find something I wasn't sure was even there. I just stood there, looking at the Bells, and realized I was really proud of myself.

The ride down was a blast and took maybe 10 minutes. I got to a top speed of 44.5 mph while riding down and it was oh so much fun. That ride, looking at it now, may be the turning point of my tri training, for the positive. A short, 11.7 mile ride.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oh Lawdy ... (teaser post)

Cycled with the boy in Aspen today. Up Maroon Creek Road to Maroon Lake/Maroon Bells.

The ride up there was only 5.75ish miles ... but it was the hardest 5.75ish miles of my life.

More tomorrow (with pictures!). I'm tired now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Go Figure

The motivation I found two weeks ago has been lacking lately. Maybe it's because I was working so much and when I finally stopped my brain and body just gave up on me. Maybe it's an internal self-sabotage. Whatever it is ... it hasn't been good.

The first week of the tri journal was awesome - run, swim, off, cycle/lift, run/softball, off, run/swim. Then ... not so much. Lift, off, off, off (!!!!!!), crappy cycle, longhardcrappy run, cycle around downtown not caring about anything. Then there's been this week - throwing around a softball, crappy run, crappy swim ... and today.

Before I go into today's stupidness, I want to talk about the swim workout Brandon and I did yesterday. We warmed up as usual and after that first 100m, I knew I didn't have it in any way, shape or form. Kind of like a lot of my workouts lately. So, we ended up doing about 250m in 25m chunks chasing each other. One of us started off, the other stayed on their heels so we ended up basically kicking each other - tri style. So, while it wasn't the best swim I've ever had, at least we ended up making it somewhat race-day functional.

So, today. It's been raining A LOT here in Colorado and reminding Brandon of his old life back in Minnesota (seriously, what's with the rain? it's nice that it's green, but sheesh). I scheduled in a two-a-day today - cycling and running. However, it started raining late this morning. And kept raining. So, I told myself that if the rain didn't stop by 2pm, I'd go to the gym and get in a workout on the stationary bike.

So I do. 30:00, level nine, hill setting. Did 10.8 miles which works out to a 21.8mph average ... which I never come close to on an actual bike for an average. I stretch afterward, see my dad playing hooky from work in the pool, say hi, walk outside ...

... and see that it stopped raining. See that it was sunny outside. Look outside the window now, three hours later, and see that it's still freaking sunny.

Oh well, I'll just count that ride as a cadence ride (tried to average around 90rpms; 10 more than i do when outside) and try to get in some sort of run later when Brandon gets home from work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tri traning...the epic story

On June 1st, I started keeping a log of my triathlon training. In this log is the date, the type of workout, and details. Nothing spectacular, but something to keep me honest. I use voomaxer on facebook to keep track of a lot of it, but this is something that will help me record my thoughts and whatnot.

So, you're all probably wondering how things are progressing. I'll fill you in on the big details...

- I've discovered anything chewy or gooey in orange flavor is yucky
- Brick training is going to be a high priority
- I'm more honest about keeping a workout schedule if I write it down
- Cycling is still clearly the weakest of my 3 sports
- I am giving myself a big boost of confidence in swimming by figuring I will be more comfortable than 75% of the people in the water
- My calf muscles are getting very defined
- I am already figuring I will cry when I cross the finish line. Not out of pain, but the demons will be chased away

The workouts have been good. Some of my runs, especially. I did brick training for the first time today...lots to improve on, but no complaints thus far.

46 days until...