Saturday, May 29, 2010

BS #4 - Muggy Days Again

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. Its not because I have nothing to write about - there are two posts in the works. Its just that I have been too busy finishing up the school year. Teaching at one of the top high schools in the country has a tendency to drain you during the month of May. June is almost here!

So, about the training. It is going as well as can be expected. The transition from Olympic distance duathlon training to the long distance event specific training is easier than going the other way. Well, it is easier for a 40-something, no-leg-speed guy like me. I have spent almost 20 years working on a 15-mpw running schedule, so the experts would say that I should slowly lengthen my workouts. No way. Not enough time. Besides, my minimalist approach allows for maximum recovery. I continue to train on Tues, Thurs, and Sat with some Sun bike rides.

Those weekday sessions have been intense! Tues is fast run day and Thurs is fast ride day. I have not changed the pattern and build-up of those sessions as I have increased the BS sessions. Admittedly, I was surprised that it took almost 4 weeks for fatigue to set in. And that fatigue was undoubtedly due in part to the stress I encountered. No, problem. Athletes must simply make adjustments when life gets in the way. I use my run/ride sessions to reduce stress by making certain that I focus on the positives (and ignore all negatives!) before, during, and after the sessions. Putting it another way, I view those few hours I train each week as relaxation therapy. I'll explore that in another post.

Last Saturday brought a weird ending to week four of the build-up. Just after sunrise, only 10 minutes into the run and moving downhill on a single track , I turned my ankle badly. Mere inches before planting my left foot I saw a 2-inch box turtle move where the foot was about to land. A crazy mid-air jerk saved the turtle, but caused the foot to land while moving across a root. The sound it made was like tearing fabric. Not good. Some cursing, rubbing, and stretching ensued. A few attempts to run indicated that I could not "run it off." The planned 60-minute run could not happen. I limped home and carried out the first of 5 icing sessions over a 36-hour period. The 90-minute ride was also called off.

I am so glad that happened on a down week when I did not have a BS planned. On the bright side, the ankle meant that I would get maximum recovery. :) By Sunday morning I could extend the toes without too much pain, so I taped the ankle and rode. Those fresh legs caused a few mid-ride turns that resulted in the longest ride of the year - 58 miles with 1900 ft elev. gain at a 21 mph pace. Sunny skies, clear air, and beautiful scenery allowed for an enjoyable ride. More icing was needed to remove the new swelling.

An abbreviated fast run on apshalt Tuesday afternoon allowed the ankle to heal even more. By the weekend the ankle pain had subsided, but the soft tissue was still quite vulnerable to rolling. So the Saturday long run was forced onto the roads. The 3:18 run was on a hilly marathon course I'd previously measured. Minimal water on a warm and muggy day caused me to slow a bit in the last two miles. It is worth noting that I drank 40 oz of H2O from a Nathan Magda 1.5-L Vest, emptied three gels from a flask, and still arrived home weighing 9 pounds less than when I woke up. Later, after much drinking, I felt mostly rehydrated and I rode a casual 60.5 miles in 3:02.

BS is over 6 hrs with six weeks to go before Muncie. I am still getting stronger and faster. And now it is summer break and I can take naps!

Upcoming trips (and posts) will include a winery loop getaway, a rafting/climbing trip in WV with students, and an adventure in the Boone, NC area. Though the planning of it added to my recent stress, I am excited to lead 22 students on the rafting trip on the New River, but a bit anxious as we still need an adult female to sign on. The Boone trip is going to be mostly spontaneous and weather guided, so I am giddy about taking on that unknown event.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Summer on the Horizon

June will be here before we know it. My teaching career has developed in me a sense of anticipation for June that rivals a child's giddy, suspense-filled expectation of Christmas morning. Teaching can be both an incredibly taxing and a character building form of employment. The duties associated with teaching often roll in waves. Those waves can be gentle rollers which uplift the teachers' spirits sufficiently enough to keep us buoyant. Sometimes those waves maliciously elevate us to the point that we can see dark troughs or even larger rogue waves that threaten to upend or submerge us. Each school year brings a few storms brandishing menacing whitecaps that simultaneously test our sanity and cause us to question our choice of profession while tossing us about in torrents of activities. Eventually, though, the waves become more familiar and regimental. These sublime waves allow us to see the orange sun on the horizon or a rainbow painted across the sky or a white sand island beach or distant snow-capped mountains or whatever it is that each one of us calls the summer break.

I am currently enjoying the final waves of work. More importantly, though, I am thrilled to be entrenched in the process of planning another busy summer. Oh sure, there are several family/home projects that need my attention. That's a given! I will complete each one of them in between the workshops and races and trips. It is the planning of the training, racing, and traveling that is on my mind as I write this piece.

First up is the Appalachian trip in June. My son, Tyler, is attending a week-long Anatomy and Physiology Camp at Appalachian State in Boone, NC. I plan to drive him there and hang out in the area hiking, climbing, cycling, and running while he is at camp. The Boone, NC area is a haven for people like me. I have already discovered so many possible activities that I am wearing a bib while writing this. There will, most certainly, be a few more posts detailing the events of that trip.

Upon returning from the Appalachians I will piddle with those projects while I taper for the Muncie Endurathon Duathlon. I have wanted to race in Muncie for many years, but my shoulder will not allow me to swim even a hundred yards. The reemergence of duathlon has caused the race directors to offer a Du version that I cannot resist. I will race it despite the fact that I have already decided to participate in the Leadville Silver Rush 50 mile trail run in Leadville, CO eight days later.

Those races take place on July 10 and July 18. There is also a 50-mile mountain bike ride on July 17, but I have yet to find a bike. I will only compete in the bike race if a can buy a cheap enough used full suspension bike or borrow one for that race. If anybody has one or knows where I can find one, please contribute to my masochism by letting me know!

Some really great friends and, possibly, some family members are meeting me in CO. They will crew me in the Pb50 and carry/drag me to the top of a to-be-determined 14er. Together, we will see heavenly sights, eat fine food, and drink tasty beers! I am looking forward to this bonding experience in the mountains that I have come to love so much.

My other goal in CO is to climb the rest of the Sawatch Range 14ers. Having summitted only six of the 15 peaks, I have my work cut out for me. Through reading trip reports and carrying on conversations while climbing other mountains, I have developed a strong desire to experience Huron an Antero, but I am sure I will enjoy every climb. If my legs hold up, I will venture into the San Juans for a climb.

Writing about my legs holding up reminds me that it is time to pause the pining and get back to the business of training. And baking cookies! Today I bake (and eat?) two batches!!

BS #3 - Getting There

This long distance training is fun. The slower, low intensity effort is quite different from the short and fast efforts to which I have become accustomed. As a result, I am able to remain more relaxed. I am also capable of better recognizing and appreciating the chirping birds, sprinting squirrels, cowering cats, lumbering turtles, bristling leaves, statuesque deer, and gurgling creeks while cruising along. Another inherent advantage of these LSD efforts is the calming, defusing effect from the "in no hurry" attitude. The only drawback is the time commitment.

I can easily, on any given day, squeeze in an 18-minute 3-mile run or 26-minute 10-mile ride. While these efforts are fine for keeping me fit, they do little to prepare me for half iron du's or 50-mile mountain runs. Thus, I am morphing the training to fit the goals. If you have been following this blog lately, you know that my primary training transition has been BS - Big Saturday. Yesterday was pure BS!

Pure BS in that I had little time to do anything other than train and nap. It was cool (60's), mostly cloudy, and very windy. The wind helped to cool me on the run - until it blew against my back and heated me until a substantial quantity of salty water (9 lbs or > 1 gal.!!) poured from my pores. The sweating did not keep me from enjoying the run and, amazingly, it did not cause me to tighten or cramp. Having decided to push it a little more than last week, I passed through the first 13 miles in just over 89 minutes (6:52 ave). Then I eased back to about 7:05 pace. The goal was to keep the HR at or below 140 (about 70%), so I had to slow a bit in order to offset the dehydration drift.

What a great run! I covered 24.1 miles in just under 2:49. I even pulled off the shoes and ran a K's worth of barefoot strides on USI's carpet-like soccer field at the 2:35 mark. The way my legs responded to the fast pace this late in the run was a pleasant surprise. It seems that all of the experts say we should keep our long run at or below 25% of our weekly mileage. That may be true for big mileage machines, but not for little ole me. Those 24 miles gave me 33 for the week. :)

A 1000-Calorie protein/fruit smoothie followed the run. Then I napped a bit before climbing on the bike for a 2:23 48-mile ride. As usual, the wind tormented me much more at the biking speeds. It was still a fantastic ride. I am very happy to be able to cruise along (HR = 125) on what, for me, is a very long ride. It is worth mentioning that a red-tailed fox ran down the road in front of me for about a quarter of a mile. Watching it nonchalantly stride along at my cycling speed made me envy its efficiency. It was a cool way to end a long day of training.

BS #3 was quite fulfilling. I wish I had an "extra" day each week of the year for BS. Yeah, eight days (in) a week! Oh, well. I am a teacher and summer is almost here. . .

Sunday, May 9, 2010

BS #2 Is Blistfully Split

Some time ago, while researching the richly dramatic and multi-faceted development of the atomic model and atomic bomb, I came across a statement by Niels Bohr that I found both thought-provoking and hilarious. For many years Bohr and Einstein "debated"/disagreed about the perceptions and limitations of the laws governing the physical world. Einstein, still struggling to fully understand and explain classical mechanics while simultaneously propelling and refining the concept of the quantum, refused to find much need for or value in Bohr's complementarity principle and quantum mechanics as the "new" physics without first exhausting the exploration of classical mechanics. Bohr and his Copenhagen lab fell in with a large group of the world's physicists who believed that quantum mechanics was needed because classical mechanics had failed to fully understand or explain the uncertainties and probabilities created by its arbitrary nature.

This gentlemenly and always friendly dispute often produced give and take bantor. Among the many statements these two super-celebrity physicists made to the press was one in which Bohr proved that his wit matched his genius. He stated, "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it is about the future."

The philosophy behind that statement serves as the basis for the development of the training plans I create for both myself and the athletes I work with. Goals are great to have. Plans for reaching those goals are only as good as they are flexible. Put another way, focusing on the end result is important, but no more important than realizing that there is more than one pathway to that goal. After recognizing this truth many years ago, I started writing all of my plans in pencil. Then word/data processing made workout adjustments as easy as holding down a backspace button!

Why am I thinking and writing about this? Well, life got in the way again. I asked my AP/IB chemistry students whether they wanted a help session on Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon. "Yes," they replied. So I agreed to conduct AP/IB chemistry help sessions at school for several hours yesterday and today. The planned Big Saturday could not happen. No problem. Both the long run and long bike would be completed, but not in succession. The "plan" is supposed to maximize my endurance and efficiency before I tackle that week in July. Completing a long run and a long bike with only a short "transition" between them could, conceivably, produce an all-day adventure. BS #2 was supposed to be a stepping stone toward making that a reality. It wasn't.

Again, no problem. I simply did what life let me. I first ran 21 miles in 2:30 (7:09 ave), starting at a conservative 7:15 pace and finishing with a few 6:30ish miles. The legs felt absolutely great throughout this hilly run (1360 vert ft). This run was aided by cool air (50's) and hindered by brutally fast moving air (20-30 mph). What an awesome experience! With my heart rate well below normal, I cruised along while waiting to tighten up and or bonk. The fast closing miles resulted when neither scenario occurred.

Then I went for a ride that fit into the schedule. I covered 22 miles in 61 minutes (21.6 mph ave) in the same cool, fast moving air and under a mostly blue sky. Seated climbs into the wind after that run gave me confidence and happiness!

The long bike ride materialized this morning. Donning long sleeves and gloves in May, I completed a 51.2-mile ride in 2:29 (20.6 mph ave) under a cloudless sky. What a ride! I traveled through the rural farm land of two counties with a moderate breeze (8-10 mph) while the temperature climbed from the upper-40's to the mid-50's. I love spring time in southern Indiana farm country. Honest. I encountered more cows and tractors than cars today. Amazingly, I did not see another cyclist.

So, though this latest BS is really BSS, I am content to report that I have more BS in my life. Experience has taught me that I will, eventually, have enough BS left in my wake to allow me to reach my goal.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

BS #1 in the RAIN

Well, the Muncie/Silver Rush Big Saturdays got off to a rather soggy start. Oh, there were definitely periods with little or no rain, but the other tasks I needed to take care of demanded my time and kept me from matching schedules with a clear sky.

The run started well and finished great. In lieu of the rain, I opted for the all-road version of my 13.2-mi training loop. This lollipop loop has 5 "climbs" separated by nearly constant rollers with a total of 560 vert ft of climbing. The first couple of miles came in right at 7 min, but I soon had to restrain myself as the next couple of miles came in sub-6:30. Sprinkles turned into a downpour at 50 minutes. The cool rain was refreshing in the muggy conditions, but it soaked my shoes within minutes. I finished the run in 1:30:00 with a 141 HR ave. This was a relaxed and enjoyable run.

The 40-mile bike (1:55 with HR ave 127) was my longest ride of the year. I sweated profusely and miserably, making sight seeing in the surrounding farm country most difficult. Unlike the burning eyes, the legs felt great throughout the ride.

Recovery included a movie, some great (almost no cheese) vegie pizza, and a couple of New Belgian Mothership Wit beers. Then I baked my awesome vegan oatmeal/blueberry cookies. Yummm! Life is good!

Seriously, I hope all of the BS's come this easy. I look forward to getting back into that Ultra mode with 3-5 hr runs followed by rides of equal duration.

Training Log Notes The year has been "normal" so far. Thru April I had run 310 miles (17 mpw @ 6:34 ave) and cycled 1342 miles (84 mpw @ 21.1 mph ave). The plan calls for significant changes as I move toward that tough week in July. ST