Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sometimes you just ride...

Wednesday was a rough day. I woke up feeling melancholy and it was all I could do to get out of the bed and get to the gym. One hour of strength (arms, shoulders, legs, and core) later and I was feeling glad I'd gotten out of bed, but still in a funk. I tried cutting off NPR in favor of music on the commute to work, but it was of little help. I think a lot of my mood has to do with the ongoing doom/gloom at work and the world as well as a busy couple of weeks on the horizon.

By Wednesday late afternoon I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I was tired beyond belief and incredibly lethargic (budget cuts also have my southern facing office at close to 87 degrees). I'm staying late at work tonight so I was able to duck out a few minutes early on Wednesday and head home. I changed into my riding clothes and threw the bike in the car. Less than 10 minutes later I was suited up and at the trail head for South Mountain.

Big smile. That's what I wore the whole ride, into the evening, and maybe even a little bit this morning. I decided to just let loose and RIDE my bike. I mashed on the pedals, leaned into the corners, and flew off drops. The harder I rode the more I got out of the bike and the more I came around. This new bike is sick.

There were only MTBers on the trail and it was a super cool vibe on the mountain as the sun was setting and everyone was out riding. I must have seen close to 50 riders last night spread out across the trails and parking lot, but it never felt crowded. I love South Mountain.

Back to the ride. I'm gaining more confidence on the new bike, and while it is definitely heavier and harder to climb with, the DH and rocky sections just disappear as I can sit down and keep my cadence even and strong while watching miles of trail disappear. The 120mm front end feels a little unstable in fast corners (I lowered the tire pressure and that helped some), but it is SO worth it for how it evens out the rest of the trail. I'm still getting used to the feel of the full squish in the back while I'm pedaling hard over rough stuff, but it gets easier every ride. New bb and cranks should arrive this week and I can't wait to throw those on before the next ride.

Wednesday: 1 hr strength, 1hr MTB
Thursday: Hoping to get in a run after work and before the wheelchair basketball event my department is sponsoring on campus tonight

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


This morning I hit the gym before work. I was tired from staying up last night looking at old pictures from college, good times. Short swim cause I had to get to work early to prep for a presentation. Last part of the swim I was struggling with boredom - turned a 400 free into 200 IM. The IM got me fired up and ready for my day presenting at work. Nailed it!

Lift chest/back
1000m (2x400, 200 IM)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Drive by oranging

It happened Friday night while riding from the bowling alley to a friend's house for the post bowling get together. What makes it worse was a bunch of people had racks on their cars and offered to throw the bikes on as we were leaving the bowling alley, but A was in the mood to ride and I'll never pass up the opportunity to spend time cruising around on bikes with her.

We were less than a mile from the party and riding the last section on the sidewalk against traffic. Out of nowhere I feel something smash the stem of my bike and explode, covering me in liquid. My first thought was that it was a beer bottle (I'm from the south) and I started thinking about being cut by the glass, but then I smelled citrus and A, riding behind me, confirmed I'd been hit be an orange.

There were several factors working in my favor this night.
  1. I'd had most of a pitcher and fair amount of JD before leaving the bowling alley and house respectively. No doubt this dulled my reaction to being hit so that I didn't do anything stupid like swerve into traffic, fall off my bike, or try to chase after the perpetrators.
  2. I was riding bikes with A and spending a night with great friends. It would take a lot more than a drive by oranging to kill my positive mood.
  3. I love a good story, and how often do you get to reconvene at a party covered in pieces of orange and pants soaked in orange juice.
  4. Last but not least, it was an incredible shot. I mean, really. A guy leans out the window of a car doing 40 or 45 miles an hour (45 mph limit for all you exaggeration haters) and chucks an orange at me that hits directly on the faceplate of my bike stem exploding ALL over me. It is a horrible thing to do, but I was also a stupid kid once and I have to appreciate the beauty of shot. Incredible.
I've gotten some great feedback since the event. Thanks to Tingle for this great link on fruit defense.

Thursday - Sunday

Thursday: 47 minute trail run. I hit South Mountain after work for a timed run. SoMo has to be one of my favorite places in the valley. There are so many trails that I can just show up and take a different turn every time I'm there and try to get lost.

: 1 hour strength training / 12 mile road bike. I lifted in the morning before work. Went for a full body workout with lots of functional strength. Friday night we rolled out on the commuter bikes and met up with some folks for some bowling and then after party at a friend's house. Got to spend some quality time with a strong bike centric crowd (own a bike shop in MI) and I'm sure I got old asking all my questions that most shop guys are too stuck up to answer. Bummer-drive by oranging occurred this night.

: 1,400m swim / 1hr MTB. A decided to join me for the swim workout before she hit the gym to the lift and I hit the trail. We had a great workout and she killed it. She always tears it up in the pool. This woman is so fast on the road, on the slopes, and in the pool. I think she'll probably divorce me if I try and talk to her one more time about her racing tri, but she would dominate! (200 wu, 4x50 drill, 4x200, 2x100). I hit the trails at SoMo for my first brick workout of the year. I took my new bike, which is sooo sweet, and threw down for the first 5 miles. I started feeling less energetic on the trip back on my out'n'back course. I rode the Desert Classic trail which can be a pretty fast and flat trail, except I always forget how rocky it is. Very glad to be rocking the full squish these days.
my mug on SoMo
empty single track
desert is crazy green from the rain
Sunday: 3.5 mile trail run in the AM. Feeling the fatigue of a long week of training and my first brick workout on Saturday. Still kept it together to do the domestic thing Sunday and installed a new mailbox, motion light, fixed a gate, and took out two trees from the yard. Myrtl exercises while watching the Oscars before finally calling it a day.
work in progress

looking much nicer
Monday: Rest. Much needed and feeling like it is disappearing quickly. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a part of me that wanted to get some kind of quick workout in today, but I know my body really needs this break today in order to stay healthy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The race last weekend was a great boost to my confidence and desire for more training. It has been easier to get up early every morning this week and I've been tearing it up in the pool and the gym. I'm looking forward to a beautiful weekend (80s and sunshine) to start some of my first brick workouts of the year.

Tuesday - 10 minute warm up, lift legs, core. It was all functional strength on the bosu or Myrtl routine work. I used my new blast straps to do some mountain climbers and it was killer!
Wednesday - lifted arms and the hit the pool for 1,100m (5x200 building, 100 cool down)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lost Dutchman Race Report

35:25 - 2nd in Age Group - 25th Overall

This weekend was huge. Friday was spent on the slopes of northern Arizona and Sunday I was lining up for the Lost Dutchman race in Apache Junction, AZ just east of Tempe. My legs were feeling pretty good despite having been skiing for the first time since I was a kid; I was definitely sore. I've never thought of myself as a distance runner and didn't have any expectations for the race on Sunday except to push hard and have a good time. I used this strategy last year in the Chickasaw Trail Run and turned it into a 2nd place AG finish. I see a pattern here....

The Race:
It was a gun start without chip timing and we were late so I was at the back of large pack of racers. It was cold. As soon as the gun went off I started sprinting through the crowd trying to get out in front before the course went off-road and we hit the singletrack. I was feeling strong, despite having a hard time with the cold air on my lungs. At mile 1 my pace was 7:35 and I was surprised at how easy it felt to be on that pace.

I decided to push a little harder and stay focused on my breathing so I didn't blow up later in the race. At mile 2 I was thinking how nice it was to only have to run and how rarely I ever get to feel this fresh during a race. The pack had thinned out at this point and I was picking people off one by one. At mile 2.5 I hit the turn-around and had to deal with some oncoming race traffic on a narrow section of trail. Slowing down here made it hard to pick up the pace again when the trails separated at mile 3. Miles 4 and 5 felt long and I wanted to push a little harder, but felt like I was running a fine edge between having a solid race and losing the whole thing from pushing too hard.

I crossed the line in 35:25 on my watch and couple seconds later on the official "gun" time. 7:05 minute miles off-road on a crowded course. I'll take it! All the off-season 1/2 marathon training is paying huge rewards. It is still early in the season and I'm feeling stronger and fitter than almost any point last year. This weekend got me fired up for more races and showed me the kind of progress I've made as an endurance athlete. Seeing that kind of measurable progress is a powerful motivator.

I was so focused on eating protein pancakes at US Egg I said I didn't want to stick around for awards. Stupid. Now I totally wish I stuck around for the podium and plaque. I never wind up there and the one time I do I skip out. Lame.

Post race smiles
Sunrise driving in
breakfast of champions
Training update:
Friday - all day skiing
Saturday - rest
Sunday - 8k trail race, 20min trainer ride, core
Monday - lift chest / 1,100 swim (200, 16x50 25 free + 25 (back, breast, fly, free), 100 cool down

Furlough in Flagstaff

Friday brought the first of 12 unpaid days thanks to Arizona's lack of love for anything education related. Scheduling furlough time is a tricky beast because I have to find days when my absence won't have a negative impact on the students I serve. I'm working on a plan for a brutal week of two-a-day training over spring break!

Thursday night A and I drove up to our weekend base camp in Prescott Valley, AZ. Friday morning was an early affair and we were on the road for Flagstaff. The car thermometer showed single digits and it brought both of us back to our days in MN.

The closer we got to Flag the deeper the snow got. By the time we reached Snowbowl Rd. I was having doubts about our ability to make it to the top of the mountain. We passed three accidents before reaching the summit on a beautiful clear day.

I was just ahead of A in the equipment rental line and after getting my gear couldn't understand what was taking her so long.....the short version of this story is that I picked up the skis for a 6 year old kid with my same name and was standing there ready to hit the slopes with my 2ft skis listening to this kid tell his mom they called his name but he didn't have his skis. A finally clued me in and I returned the kid's skis and waited for mine.

The day was filled with runs through fresh powder, no lines on the lifts or the slopes, and beautiful weather. Not a bad way to spend a day you're not being paid.
top of the run
on the lift
check out the crowds
Can't believe this is AZ

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Feeling good

Reasons I'm feeling good:
  1. It snowed in the high country all week so the slopes are looking perfect for this weekend.
  2. I learned of an interesting and positive professional opportunity from a colleague in the field.
  3. The four hours of meetings today were not doom/gloom and some coworkers said some incredibly kind words about the job I've been doing.
  4. I've got great friends, of all kinds, all over this country.
  5. My wife continues to be ever more amazing and make me laugh at how I ever wound up so lucky. Seriously.
Thursday training:
45 minute trainer ride this morning (I've got to get stronger on the bike and I really think adding trainer workouts is going to give me that. Exciting stuff).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Race

This weekend is shaping up to be a blast and I'm excited to break out of the funk. With all the rain we've had across the southwest this means snow in the high country and I'm trying to find a way to hit some of the fresh powder and snowboard this weekend.

I've also added a new race on Sunday. This one will be just for fun, but a good way to measure my running progress on the trail after training for the 1/2 marathon in January. It is the Lost Dutchman and I've signed up for the 8k trail race while the wife and friends are probably going to do the 10k road version. I've backed way off the mileage since getting back to three sports, but I'm looking to surprise myself and build some more trail running experience before the XTERRA series.

Tuesday - 30min run
Wednesday - upper body resistance training / swim: 200, 4x100 (25 finger drag, 25 catchup, 25 closed fist, 25 sprint), 4x100 IM, 100m cool down = 1,100 total. This was a fun one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What's going on...

I'm really struggling with balancing work, life, and training these days. That sounds like a bad thing, but I think it is a necessary part of being the best I can be across all aspects of my life. I just didn't think it would be three weeks into the season that I would find myself here.

Last Thursday night I packed a bag, my SS, and my bike gear into the car and set the alarm for 4:45am. I had made the decision to drive up to Las Vegas to support this year's Carleton Ultimate Team in Trouble in Vegas, the first big tournament of the college ultimate frisbee season. I planned for three days of riding Bootleg Canyon, coaching, drinking, and escaping all the anxiety and stress back in Arizona. Mission accomplished - but with very little riding.

I'll post a full review of my ride in BC soon. I had a blast this weekend, despite the miserable conditions (rain, wind, cold, and more rain). The only problem was that it got me thinking a lot more about playing Ultimate than racing triathlons. The team aspect, all the years I've devoted to the sport, the success and accomplishment, all of that weighed on me as I drove home from Vegas.

The only training I did Thursday-Monday was a 1.5 hr MTB ride on Friday and 45 min on the trainer last night. Today I'm scheduled for a decent run during lunch. I'm finding it hard to focus on these workouts or the upcoming season and have been thinking more about spring tryouts for ultimate. This may just be the letdown from a fabulous weekend, but it is something I'm going to have to figure out soon.

Stay tuned for tons of pics from the weekend and my BC report.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Week 2

I'm eager to get to some harder workouts and know they'll be here soon. The difference from last year to this year shows up in every workout - I'm faster, stronger, and more competent across all three sports. My runs are so much easier and solid thanks to the work I put in for the 1/2 marathon in January. I'm excited to get some longer/harder sets in, but I know I need to build up to that to prevent injury and burnout.

Sunday: 4 mile trail run on SoMo
Monday: rest / light core
Tuesday 3 mile run, intensive weight session
Wednesday: 200m warm up, 15x50 on 60", 2x100, 50 cool down = 1200m total

Training this week has been sweet. Highs in the low 80s!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm an idiot

Last week was a tough week, but not because of training. It feels like I've been bitching an awful lot about my job and the threat of losing it, but trust me, my wife hears more about it than anyone should ever have to endure. The real kicker is that we moved to AZ this summer in part so that I could take this job - a great next step in my higher education career and my chance to build a department in an area I'm passionate about. Who knew that months later the whole economy would come crashing down and the state of Arizona would loose its mind and decide to decimate higher education with cuts that could displace 20,000 current students. Crazy.

I wish I could just let it go, but it hangs over everything I'm doing these days and it's even having a big impact on my training and season. Can I afford to race there? Can I buy this new part? New shoes? Until judgment comes down in the next couple weeks I've put a "freeze" on registering, parts, and shoes. It sucks.

The tough times mean that last week's first swim workout should have been a welcome escape, but I came away feeling worse about everything. I thought I had forgotten how to swim, had developed asthma overnight , or was somehow regressing physically despite solid training over the past year. What was the REAL reason....?

I'm an idiot. There is a reason people hire coaches. There is a reason having a coach is s good idea. It's because when you read your swim workout that dictates rest between sets as the interval for the set you are probably going to feel like crap. Just guessing. That's right, last week's first swim workout of the year that had me flipping out on why it was so hard should have been a walk in the park. The main part of the workout (15 x 50 40") was supposed to mean I had 40 sec rest after each 50, which is way too easy so of course I thought it meant 50s on 40 sec, which for my first workout of the season was totally inappropriate.

Saturday AM I did this same workout, except swam my 50s on 30", and felt like an idiot, but at least had a good laugh and assurance that I didn't in fact have asthma or had forgotten how to swim.

Thanks for reading.

End of Week 1

Set 1 (3x)
jump rope - 2min
50ft walking lunges
20 pushups

Set 2 (3x)
50 ft bear crawl
50ft banded side step
10 squat jumps

Set 3 (3x)
10 25# bicep curls
5 rock ring pullups
10 sec rock ring T hang
8 blast strap rows
Abs (mixed)

1,100 in the pool. I'm an absolute idiot (see other post on coaching). I'm craving some longer distances, but working up to it slowly.

4 mile trail run on SoMo