Monday, February 25, 2013

Week-in-Review: Feb 18 - Feb 24

Swim: 3250 yards
Bike: 60 miles
Run: 18 miles
Strength: 3 Sessions (2 with Sam)

Total: 79 Miles / 9 Hours 55 minutes

The big snow storm gave me two full rest days.  Well, unless you call 2 hours of snow blowing and shoveling snow the normal part of a rest day.  On Thursday we got about 8" - 10" of snow during the day.  I had planned to take the morning off but I couldn't get to the gym Thursday evening to run intervals.  Friday turned into a loss.  I had plans Friday evening so I made sure to get out of the house to hit the gym at 5am.  Unfortunately I forgot to check the YMCA's web site and missed that they were opening 5 hours late. Back home I went.  Now I could have been good and did some core workout stuff at home but I decided I could use a second day off.  Good enough of an excuse for me.

While I did miss a run workout, I actually squeezed in an extra bike session.  Since I was off from work on Monday, I got a swim/bike brick in.  Woo Hoo!  I have my long bike session up to 36 miles (2 hours) and Joe and I met up for a 12 mile run on Sunday.  We started with Dane for the first two miles, as well as his training partner Jason.  Jason is a cross country coach at Park Hill, so he also brought along 8 - 10 XC kids.

Next to Park University, they have some caves for storage and businesses.  There is also no gate to get in and out.  So our first stop on the run was to follow Jason and the XC kids into the cave to learn the "route".  It appears to be about 1.25 miles inside before you start the loop again, so I wouldn't necessarily use it for super long runs when the weather is nasty but it's nice to know there is that option.  Joe and I went the rest of the way on our own.

Our route took us all the way to Argosy Casino.  We passed Dane around mile 4.5 on the way there and never saw him again.  After a quick pit stop at the casino, we went back to our cars.

It was a really beautiful day and perfect for running!

Photo of the Week
Getting ready to shovel snow for the first time in a couple years.  Had I been going for a run I would be wearing tights, warm weather compression shirt and a tech shirt.  I was a bit more fluffy for this "workout".

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekly Training: Feb 11 - Feb 17

Swimming: 3,000 yards
Bike: 44 miles
Run: 26 miles
Weights: 2 sessions

Totals: 71 miles / 10 hours, 2 minutes

A nice ramp up in miles but also a ramp up in weights during my strength training.  Sam killed my arms this week.  Wednesday/Thursday nights were a little restless with how sore they were.

That being said, I'm definitely seeing some benefits of this weight training.  Monday night I did 7 miles on the treadmill by starting out with 8:30 pace and each mile I sped it up and finished at a 7:20 pace.  I had no issues with that pace and it felt good.

Thursday night I sped around the neighborhood for 8 miles at a 7:38 pace while hitting some decent hills.  Once again, feeling great the entire way.  The leg work has helped increase the strength of my legs so they can catch up with my cardio. The core work (directly or secondary) is making it easier for keeping my form.

I got my first trainer ride in on my new bike on Wednesday!  Looking forward to finding that day to take it outside for a spin!

The lovely card my lovely wife made me for Valentine's Day!

Love it!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Off To See The Aerobic WIZARD

This blog post is part of a series of posts associated with the Hospital Hill Run Blog Team.  For more information, see my original post.  To see all blog posts, review those that are tagged as "Hospital Hill Blog Team".  To register for the Hospital Hill Run, check out their website!

Disclaimer: This post discusses some topics on muscle, energy, and oxygen science.  As you may quickly note, I'm not a scientist nor a doctor but I do have muscle (a few pounds of it) and consume energy (not just electronic).  Some of the information could be a bit off base so you may want to consult a true expert on the topic if you want in-depth information.

In my last Hospital Hill Run Blog Team post, I mentioned how I really enjoyed the book  "Smart Exercise: Burning Fat, Getting Fit" by Covert Bailey. If you are curious about how the stresses of working out impacts the body, this is definitely a winner.  I will warn you that Covert doesn't hold back.  He might not be the most politically correct person in this book.  So if you are offending by the use of the phrase "fat people", then you might look somewhere else. I will refrain from the terms though.

One of the things I took away from this book was his discussion of aerobic and anaerobic exercise.  We've all heard the terms but what does it really mean.  How does it come into play when deciding what kind of workout to do?  First off, let's start with some definitions:

Aerobic - With Oxygen
Anaerobic - Without Oxygen

Lesson over.  Thank you and goodnight.

Ok, maybe more detail needs to be uncovered.

Simply put, when working out aerobically, your body is moving at a pace in which the cells of your muscle burn fuel that requires oxygen as part of the "combustion".  This oxygen used is delivered to the muscles through the blood system. At some point, the harder you workout, the more difficult it is for your blood stream to keep up with the oxygen demand by the muscles; therefore, your body converts to using a different kind of fuel that does not require oxygen.  It is at this point in which your body is now working out anaerobically; hence, the definition of "with oxygen" (aerobic) and "without oxygen" (anaerobic).

That is simple way to explain it because we haven't really gotten into the most important part of the conversation: fuel.

Fill'er Up!
I liken your muscle cells to fireplaces.  Covert Bailey uses a similar analogy but I take it a little further.  In order to provide fire you need energy sources.  Generally you start out with kindling (sticks, dry pine needles, newspaper, twine, etc) and then move on to actual logs.  In the body, there are two main energy sources as well. Sugar (stored in the form of glycogen) and fat cells.  The glycogen is equivalent to kindling as fat cells are to logs.

Kindling burns pretty quickly and doesn't take much at all to start.  Logs require a lot more effort to light on their own.

Light'em Up
When your body starts to workout, it needs to decide which fuel source to use, glycogen or fat.  Just as when you are building a fire.  Unless you are a mad wizard at fire building, you will start with kindling to get things going.  Your body does the same thing but uses glycogen.  The need to "fan the flames" with kindling is generally not needed because it will take off pretty quickly.  Similarly, your body doesn't need oxygen to convert glycogen into energy.

After a period of time, your body will realize that you aren't stopping.  It will either continue to use glycogen or start using fat cells for its fuel source.  Your body is smart enough to know you have a limited amount of glycogen in the body.  If it can use fat, it will.  How does it decide when to use fat?  It depends on your body's ability to provide oxygen to the muscles!  If there isn't enough oxygen, it will continue to stay anaerobic and burn glycogen. If it can't, you will run out of glycogen and your body will force you to slow down or stop.  Also known as "bonking".

Long Burn
With your fireplace, you will either need to hunt down more kindling or start using larger logs to keep the fire burning, hot and slow.

Similarly, if your body can use fat due to the available source of oxygen, it will begin using fat cells for energy.  If your muscles need more fat, it will request it and fat cells throughout the body will be released for use as fuel.  If you were to run out of logs, you could go cut down another tree or, in desperation, take apart a couch to throw in the fire.  In other words, there is a near limitless supply of fat on the body, unlike glycogen.

Working in Tandem
So I mentioned that if you run out of glycogen, you "bonk".  So why is it possible that marathoners (or half marathoners!!) who run at a pace that burns fat cells also bonk?  Well, glycogen is also used in the aerobic/log burning phase as well.  Albeit in smaller amounts.  It sort of helps kick-off the fat burn when new fat cells arrive in the muscles.  It is only used in slight amounts compared to anaerobic exercise, but it is used.  So you can still run out of sugary glycogen during aerobic exercise and experience that four letter "b" word.

This is one of the reasons it is imperative that during endurance events like half marathons and up to consider mid-race fueling options.  Whether you are looking for that strong kick at the end or just trying to keep moving past mile 10... or 20... or 30, you need to keep fueling yourself some form of sugar for your body to convert into glycogen.  Many people do this using gel packets like Gu, Cliff Shots, Hammer, etc.

Be a Fire Building WIZARD!
So I mentioned that unless you a fire building wizard, you need to start with kindling to light your fireplace.  The truth is, that's the whole purpose of working out.  In endurance events, we are trying to make our muscles more effective and efficient at burning fat.  We want to burn fat earlier in our workouts.  We are trying to make our blood system more efficient at supplying our muscles with oxygen and fat.

You know the phrase "getting in shape"?  I don't consider "in shape" an outward appearance but rather shaping our blood system and muscles to be more effective at burning fat.

I will talk more about this benefit of "getting in shape" when I get into heart rate-based training and also during a topic on interval training.  I'm hoping to tie it all together for you at that point!

As for now, thanks for stopping by!

Side note: I do realize my comparison of fire from kindling to anaerobic is kind of loose.  Yes, any form of fire needs oxygen but let's just suspend that belief a little bit to make my point. 

Feel free to stop by and ask questions in the comments or hop over to Twitter to chat me there!  You can find me as @ScottyTris.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week in Training: Feb 4 - Feb 10

As I mentioned in last week's post, it was time to take a step back for a recovery week.  My attempt was to keep the distances the same, so let's see how that worked.

Swim: 1,250 Yards
Bike: 35 Miles
Run: 12 Miles
Strength: 3 Sessions

Total Miles: 48 Miles

I did 66 miles the previous week, but that included 10 miles of test bike rides, so I was right within target.  I would have liked to have gotten a third run in but that's ok.

I actually got in two brick sessions this week (so I guess not truly recovery if adding in new styles of workouts).  On Wednesday I did a 10 mile indoor/trainer ride on the bike and then a 5 mile run.  The 5 mile run clicked off at a 7:45 pace.  I was quite pleased with that and think I can attribute some of that to my new strength training program.

My second brick session came Saturday morning.  I did an hour and a half on the bike (25 miles) and then drove the car to the dealership for a checkup and oil change.  I felt a little self-conscious wearing tights at the dealership but I was off running in no time (they probably wanted me out of there)!  A straight route home would be about 3.5 - 4 miles.  I took a round-a-bout way and hit 7 miles in a little more comfortable 8 minute pace.

It definitely felt good to get some triathlon specific training in.  Sunday I was hoping to get to the gym so I could get a second swim session in this week but my body was saying otherwise.

Back at increasing the base next week!

Addition to Family
So last week I posted about my brother's newest addition to the family, now it's my turn!

It was quite a birth.  It's a 58cm frame, which weighs in around 20 lbs.
My new Felt B12!  You can read about the purchasing process in last weeks post.  I spent Sunday morning removing all the stupid warning stickers, putting on the trainer tire (which only took a couple minutes, thankfully), and doing some final adjustments.

I wanted to put it on the trainer because I had a different style of pedal installed (Speedplays instead of the SPD's I'm used to).  So I got some time to practice those before I try taking it out for a spin.  The weather was nice and warm but it was SUPER windy, so it stayed indoors.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hunt For The New Ride

2011 was my inaugural year of triathlons.  Leading up to that year, I knew I had one major item to purchase.  As much as it would have been OK for me to do triathlons in my Fuji hybrid, I decided to get something a little swifter.  After a few trips to a few local bike stores, I ended up back at the same bike shop where we bought our Fuji bikes, Cycle City in Parkville, MO.

I was just looking for a road bike. I knew about Triathlon (or Time Trial) bikes but I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the sport before spending the big bucks

After test riding a Felt and two Cannondales, I made the easy decision to get the Felt Z85.  I loved everything about the bike.  It was a really good, low-to-mid range aluminum frame road bike.  The color scheme was black with red trim; therefore,  I quickly dubbed it K.I.T.T. We raced 6 triathlons that year, including a half ironman at Beach2Battleship.  In 2012, K.I.T.T. participated in a duathlon and a triathlon and has taken me to and from work plenty of times.  We've been through some good times and some bad times.

Not really a good use for my Z85.
For 2013, I decided to delegate K.I.T.T. to the "practice squad".  It was actually an easy decision.  I am ready to step up my game in the triathlon sport and with the bike leg generally being the longest of the three sports, there is a lot of room for improvement (although I'm hoping for a big gain in running this year based on my 2012 races).

So what are my criteria?
  • Triathlon Bike - These are also known as Time Trial bikes; however, more manufacturers are building Triathlon-specific bikes (the geometry and features of the bike aren't approved for cycling-specific races).  Either is fine for me.
  • Carbon Fiber - it is lighter than aluminum, yet stronger than steel.  One of the two Cannondale road bikes I tested in 2011 was carbon fiber.  I rode it simply to try a carbon fiber bike and it was amazing.  While the Felt wanted to take off when I rode it, this one wanted to fly off into the stratosphere (but was out of budget)
  • Fit - I am not about to drop some $$$$ on a bike that doesn't fit.  I think I lucked out that my Felt Z85 was the perfect fit.  What this means is that if I have a bike in mind that I want and the bike shop does not have it in my size, I'm going to have them order it.  (Yes, I had a bike in mind)  Hopefully any credible bike shop won't let you buy a bike that doesn't fit.
  • Upgraded Componentry - This is the shifters, brakes, cranks, derailleurs.. everything on the bike that moves except the wheels and you.  My road bike has decent components (Shimano 105) but I'm looking to take a step or two up.  It doesn't have to be huge.
My original plan was to look at upgrading mid-summer... until my buddy Aaron forwarded me an email from Cycle City indicating all 2012 bikes were 25% off.  Whoa!  

So that got me in the door.  I actually made two trips to Cycle City to check things out before I came to the realization that they didn't have any 2012 bikes in my size.  What that did do was get my mind wrapped around the prices of the 2013 bikes, which they did have some in stock in my size.  They were in budget!

After a week of contemplation and online studying, I decided to go in for a test ride.  I took three bikes for a spin:

Cervelo P2 - Cervelo is the leader in triathlon bikes.  Chrissie Wellington won multiple Ironman World Championships on a P2.  The downfall?  Everyone seems to own one.  I do like to be slightly different but everyone owns a Cervelo for a reason.

I'm still trying to figure out the aerodynamic qualities of the masking tape over the stem.

Cannondale Slice 5 - Good price but the components are the same level as my road bike.  The bike is pretty sexy though.

I do like the black/grey matte finish

Felt S32 - Not really an option due to the aluminum frame but I wanted to ride a Felt triathlon bike in my size.

Hoping it somewhat matches the geometry of the Felt bike I would really like to try.

My route takes me from the bike shop, through the YMCA's parking lot and onto 9 highway.  I then ride 9 highway for a half mile to Main Street.  This will take me all the way down to English Landing Park.  I then follow this in reverse back to the shop.  All in all it's about a 3.5 mile loop; however,  if you've ever ridden, walked, or ran Main Street you know that the return trip is not very forgiving.  It has 130 feet of elevation gain in about half a mile.

Riding these bikes made this incline a lot easier.  They are lighter bikes than my road bike.  I rode the Cervelo first, which actually gave it an unfair disadvantage.  I have never ridden a triathlon bike before, so I spent a lot of the time getting used to the style of bike.  I actually rode it one more time after the Slice to give it another shot.

The Cervelo ticked off all my boxes, although the aerobars need some adjustments for my size.  The Cannondale Slice 5 was the most economical but it didn't have the upgraded components.   If I went up to the higher components then it was likely to be equivalent to or higher priced than the Cervelo.  The Felt S32 was more of a "replacement" test ride.  I've been eyeing a Felt B12 bike but Cycle City didn't have one in stock.  The guy at the bike shop said it would have similar geometry but it's an aluminum bike (although I seriously question the geometry similarities).

B12 - I would love for the colors to be a little more fun, but this is fine.

Based on everything that I've read about the Felt B12 is that it is an amazing bike. It has been completely re-engineered for 2013 and shares many of the "bones" from the flagship DA line.  I love my Felt Z85 so I figured this would have a great chance.

After riding the Felt S32 with the other triathlon bikes, I decided to have them bring one in for me to ride.  The S32 was one of the more comfortable rides but that doesn't necessarily translate to the B12.  This wasn't an easy decision because Cycle City requested a $500 deposit.  While this doesn't lock me into the Felt B12, it locks me into spending $500 at Cycle City.  My size is not an easy sell for a bike shop, so they just wanted to make sure I eventually left their shop with one of their bikes.  If I ended up not liking the Felt, then my decision is to go with the Cervelo.

So now I wait.  I wait for that phone call from Cycle City indicating the Felt is in and I can give it a test ride.  I just hope it's a nice day out and not rainy, snowy, or downright cold.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Week in Review: Jan 28 - Feb 3

Slowly increasing my swim and bike time, but I obviously have a lot of work to do.  I've been debating about joining the local Masters Swim team. I did actually tell the coach I would this off season when I saw him last summer. Maybe he'll forget?

I increased my bike 30 minutes total over the previous week.  During my mid-week trainer rides I have started to enjoy breaking up the time by jumping off the bike and doing squats, pushups, sit-ups, and some other things with the stability ball.  I hope to continue doing this and continue adding more core-related activities.  My weekend bike will be just cycling.

Swim also increased by 250 yards per session.  I'm debating about doing some planned swimming intervals instead of just swimming the distance.  This might improve my swim time, since it has greatly diminished since my first triathlon season.

Swim: 2,500 yards (I'm going to start going by yards.  The YMCA staff tell me it's a 25 meter pool but all of my swim friends say it has to be 25 yards or even less!)

Bike: 42 miles (these miles are a little higher than they probably should be, I'll explain why in a post this week)

Run: 22 miles

Strength: 4 sessions (two with the trainer and two at home doing core stuff)

I'll probably try to stick to these distances this week as well.  The bike may be around 32 miles, not 42. I'm more than doubling the number of workouts I was doing during marathon training.  I think it's time for a little break.

I did a 10 mile run on Sunday at a 8:02 pace.  It was kind of nice seeing that low of a pace again.  I'm expecting a temporary drop in my run fitness as I add in everything else.

Photo of the Week

Seemingly random picture of a trail?  Nope.  This is exactly where I was during Sunday's 10 miler when I was notified by my brother that my new niece had just been "unwrapped"!!!  Congrats Mike and Amanda on the arrival of Audra Kate!  She is absolutely adorable!