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Some days you get the bear…

April 28, 2015 1 comment

GRCC

Last night’s ride sucked!

I should qualify that statement a bit.  1) I’m really glad I went.  2) I have several takeaways to make future rides better.  3) I’m then gonna chalk this one up to a crappy ride and a good story, and close the book on it.  No discouragement.  Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you.

Last night I had my second ride with the Grand River Cycling Club.  Monday nights are a routine 43km easy ride (or recovery ride).  Looking back at my race log my 40km bike split is often in the 1:25:00 to 1:35:00 range.  Last night 43km took me 2:03:00!!!  The previous and first ride I did with the club was just over 2 weeks ago, the Sunday morning “touring pace” long ride, which we did 73km that day.  That ride went reasonably fine.  Yesterday went terrible.

Let’s pause there for a second: 73km touring pace went fine, 43km easy pace was a disaster.  What the hell happened?!?

I knew this was going to be tough for an “easy ride” right from the parking lot – a chilly 5°C – where every other rider had riding tights, shoe covers, and other warm riding gear.  Here I was, looking the part of the newbie, in my shorts, breathable summer cycling shoes, and a light spring jacket.  Earlier in the day I was in a running shop buying a few gels for tonight’s ride (foreshadowing: right now would have been a great time to take one of them.  Strike 1) and I saw some clearance runners tights on sale.  I thought about buying a pair, but cheapness frugalness prevailed.  Those tights would have been really nice right about now!  Strike 2

I pulled my bike out of my car and started to get it ready: put the front wheel back on, which I wrenched on there pretty tight, and dug the half full water bottle out of my swim bag and put it onto the bike.  The ride is heading out from a park, so there was nowhere to fill it back up.  Should have brought it into work in between for a fill… whoops.  Strike 3

The ride set out and was uneventful for the slightly downhill first half of the route.  We were a large enough group to ride 2-up, so I had some great chatter with a few other riders, one of whom was at last week’s “easy ride” and told me the group this week was really pushing it relative to last week.  It felt a hair slower than race pace to me – something I shouldn’t have a problem sustaining for 40+km, but at times was hardly easy.  It probably took more energy out of me than I realized, and should have popped a gel right around here.  Strike 4 (starting to see the problem yet?)

The first sign of trouble came around the 2/3 mark.  Riding on a reasonably flat stretch, I was near the front of the group, when I started to fall back from the bike in front.  I tried to close the gap, but I couldn’t.  Riders from behind started to pass me.  I moved from the front of the group, to the back, to behind very suddenly.  I couldn’t catch up.  I was working hard, but not making up ground.  After a few tough km, one of the other riders looped back to ride with me (very nice of him).  He commented that my chain sounded a bit loud, and maybe it was sapping some of my energy efficiency.  I felt like I was laboring, no matter what gear I was in.

Then I heard a sudden loud pop.  My chain ceased briefly, after which I couldn’t switch down out of my big cog.  Something broke (and I’m still not sure what).  I was now limited to the heavy half of my gear options, and the ride home was almost fully uphill.

By the 3/4 mark the clouds were parting and the sun was coming out, and so was the headwind.  A few flags we past were blowing stiffly against us.  By now it was close to 8pm and distinctly colder than when we set out.  I was tired, cold, and starting to get very hungry.  I was thinking back to the morning’s 3,600m swim, to the food I’d eaten during the day.  To the gels I bought, but hadn’t taken yet.  To the running tights I could have bought, but didn’t.  I was falling apart.

My buddy rider stuck with me all the way back, over 2hours to ride 43km.  My hero!  He looked like he was coasting – barely going fast enough to ride a straight line while I was pushing for all I had.

I threw the bike in the car, cranked the heater, ate 2 gels, and drove home to warm up.

I think a few things conspired to make yesterday’s ride a complete shit show:

  1. First, I think I need to point a bit of a finger at the engine (aka my early season lack of fitness).  While the first ride may have been okay, I’m still getting my legs back, and did spend a week in between eating and drinking and sitting on my ass in Cuba.  It’s not lost on me that the engine needs some serious work!
  2. This was my first crack at a Masters Swim in the morning on the same day as a Club Ride after work.  I had swam 3,600m earlier that day already, which itself is an amount I’m still getting used to.  I need to figure out how to manage my energy and calories better on Mondays if I’m going to keep doing both
  3. Unless it warms up quickly (and I really hope it does), I need to invest in some warmer cycling clothes!
  4. I need to take my bike into the shop.  The shifting needs to be fixed, but something wasn’t right before that – not sure if the chain just needs to be oiled, or if something’s rubbing against a wheel (is it possible to put the front wheel back on too tightly??).  My bike was working against me – it needs some TLC!

Yesterday’s ride sucked, but there’s be others soon (as soon as the bike is back from the shop).  Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you.  Next week I’ll come back stronger!

The Next Phase

April 27, 2015 3 comments

DCuba15

I love vacation!  I spent last week in sunny Cuba with 14 great friends, weather almost 30°C warmer than it is here now at home, with a Rum Punch in my hand the whole week, and not a cloud in the sky.  That was the life for 8 days.  I did a pair of token 20 minute sessions in the gym at the resort, but we’re not fooling anyone here: I did absolutely zero training last week.  And I loved it!

This trip was on the calendar for months, and I always viewed it as a line in the sand (pun intended).  Up until now I’ve been going through the motions of winter off-season training: hour-long sessions on the spin bikes at the gym, morning treadmill runs watching whatever the gym televisions had to offer as distraction.  Winter base training, mostly done indoors, and sporadically adhering to my training schedule.

But Cuba has come and gone – amazing a trip as it was – and now it’s time to ramp this shit into gear.  Off-season training is over.  May rolls in at the end of this week, so I’m officially declaring it race season!  And I’m really excited.

So, only 4 days back from vacation I kicked off this morning with a 4:15am alarm clock and drove in to Guelph for my swim with The Guelph Marlins masters swimming program.  I’ve swam with them a few times over the past few weeks (again: sporadically), but it’s time to start making this a regular thing.  3,600m swims first thing in the morning are a great way to get the day started (and to make you want to eat all-the-things all day long).

My bike is packed in the car for my after work ride with the Grand River Cycling Club, another group I’ve just recently joined.  Like The Marlins, I’m hoping cycling with a group will help me stick to a schedule, and help me push my training by getting out there with much stronger riders.  Tonight’s planned ride is an “easy recovery” 43km – I guess “easy recovery” is a relative term, and seeing as this will be my second time out on the bike this year it might not be so easy.  That being said, looking back at my data from last year, I didn’t get to my second training ride for the year until… never (yep, excluding races and lots of bicycle commuting, I only went for one single training ride in all of 2014.  Yikes!!!  No wonder my cycling last year was rough!).  I don’t care if it currently feels like 5°C out there – I’m looking forward to this one!

I haven’t joined a running group this summer, and I don’t intend to.  I enjoy the solitude of running alone (or the occasional LSD run with my wife), and frankly scheduling a third group around 3 weekly swims and 3 weekly rides would be a nightmare!

I’m 13 days away from my first race of the year, a fun tune-up 10k run at The Sporting Life 10K.  I do this run annually with a cousin of mine, but it also serves as a gut-check reminder that race season is here and real!  My goal for this race is 59:59 – after last year’s 1:00:07 frustration, I want so badly to run my first ever sub 1hr 10K.  After that, I start to focus on the Toronto Triathlon Festival (Olympic Distance), only 9 weeks away.

It’s coming on fast and furious – summer is here (even if the weather doesn’t know it yet) and race season is right around the corner.  Time to start the next phase of my training.  Time to get to work!!

Month in Review

March 2, 2015 1 comment

badtri

Looking Back, February 2015:

15FebMonthly15FebWeekly

What do you call something that was less than what you hoped, but better than what you did last time?  An improvement?  A poor expectation?

It’s taken me a good 6 months to get back into training after race season ended last year – if you can call what I’m doing right now ‘into training’ – though I do feel I’m starting to turn a corner.  For me it’s all about consistency of routine, and I’m not nearly as consistent as I’d like to be yet, though I’m probably about as consistent as I’ve ever really been at any point in my training past (and certainly more consistent than at any time in the past 6 months).  So maybe that’s good?  I think I’m thinking of it as good, but with a big asterisk.  I know I can do better…

Looking Forward:

… which means March is the time to put up or shut up.  I have 6.5 weeks until a lovely trip down south that I’m very much looking forward to, and is going to wreck all hell and havoc on my training routine, I just know it.  So I’ve got 6.5 weeks to really make that routine solid before I go, and before I come back and right into my first race in early May.  My weekly training routine is pretty standard (the specific intervals, weights, reps change week to week, but the routine is solid):

15WeeklyRoutine

So what do I need to do to make this happen?

  1. Strength sessions are priority.  Never short change a strength session.  Get strong before you go long!
  2. Saturday Long Run is the most important workout of the week.  Everything else feeds into (or off of) that
  3. Monday evening’s easy spin and Friday morning’s swim are optional.  Hit them when I’m strong.  Take them off when I need rest.  When in doubt, remember points #1 and #2
  4. Get my ass out of bed and hit my morning sessions.  And leave my crap in the gym locker.  I can’t talk myself out of an evening session if I have to go back to pick up my crap anyway.
  5. Laundry must be done Tuesday and Sunday evening.  It is known.  Lack of clean workout clothes is not an excuse.  This should almost be part of my training calendar.
  6. Monday & Thursday am/pm sessions can be swapped if needed, if I get to the gym in the morning and one of the good stationary bikes is free (the ones with the TV that works).  A good stationary bike is key to surviving a 60 minute workout.  Spring can’t come fast enough!!
  7. I think ‘Get my ass out of bed’ needs to go on this list a second time.
  8. Whenever not training (or working, which I’m pretty good about not doing outside of 9-5) spend time with my wife.  This is my time – the rest is her time.

So I guess that’s what I’m focusing on for March.  That’s a pretty big list…

5 Things I Think I Think:

  1. February 2015 was the coldest month in Toronto in the history of ever.  Fuck that shit!
  2. I’m considering joining the Grand River Cycling Club this summer.  I’ve never cycled with a group before.  One of the things I’ve always liked about cycling (and triathlon in general) is the individualistic nature of the sport.  I like team sports – but a 1-2hr cycle is a great chance for some self time.  But perhaps having a group to cycle with would be a good thing, with regular ride times, routes, and paces?  I think it would help with the ‘consistency’ thing I’m going for here
  3. Sports Geek: As I’m typing this, I’m watching a live tweet feed of the Blue Jays intersquad game.  The season hasn’t even started yet.  The preseason hasn’t even started yet.  And. I’m. Already. Geeking. Out.  Opening day is just 5 weeks away.  It’s not just that baseball is awesome (which, it is), but it’s the start of summer.  It’s sitting out in the sun, drinking overpriced crappy beer, and watching a bunch of millionaire grown men play a game.  It’s baseball.  #SoExcited!!
  4. Beer Geek: My wife had a rare weekend off this weekend, so we had a chance to hop across the border for a romp with some American (and international) craft beers.  I got to sample a whole bunch of things, and we brought a whole lot more back with us.  I think my favorite of the night might have been the Allagash Interlude.  Allagash is quickly becoming a favorite brewery of mine.
  5. It’s just started snowing outside my window again as I type this.  *sigh* I’m so ready for spring.

What do you do to make yourself get out and train during the winter?

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