Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's Getting Better All the Time

Thursday's swim was great. 1600 yards, including another 500. I was tempted to start doing flip turns again but I think I'll wait another couple of weeks for that. Felt really good.

Today's bike ride was also great. My 29-mile course that I previously did in 2:15 I did in 1:58. The main reason was hills. Well, that and no headwinds but mainly I'm faster up the hills. The hill up Woodley is still a killer but I stayed in the saddle again. Balboa was actually not a long torture session. I really noticed progress today.

After the ride I went to A Snail's Pace and bought some running shoes. This was the first time I've gone to a running store and had someone watch me run. I guess I was pronating a bit so the guy brought out several shoes to work with that and provide me lots of support. The fun thing was that he would ask me to run in this long hallway to check my feet and, even though it was only 15 yards or so, I never got even a little winded. Yes, I know that 5k is longer than 15 yards but it was not that long ago that a run of even that length would have gotten me somewhat winded. Not at all this time. Looks like my plan to build an aerobic base with cycling and swimming is working. I settled on the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 8, which was on sale. Wore them out the door and I'll wear them to work on Monday and Wednesday to get used to them. Next Sunday will be my first run.

I saw a site mentioned in one of the BT forums: Wetsuits I wasn't going to buy a wetsuit this season but I've been thinking that I'm going to want to start doing open-water swims in May or June and I'm not convinced the water is going to be all that warm then. That and the L.A. Triathlon has moved to October and I don't know that the water is going to be all that warm then, either. Anyway, this site has great deals on racing suits (really great deals) so I broke down and bought one; a Rocket Science Real Joe Sleeveless for half off. December and January seem to be quite the month for clearance sales in the triathlon world.

Going for another 29-mile ride tomorrow. Next week I'll do 35 on Saturday then the run on Sunday. That's the plan, at least. Four weeks until the Santa Clarita Half Century. Five weeks until the Iron Bruin Triathlon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered

My decision to take time off from training was spot on. During today's swim, after a warm up, I swam 500 yards straight and could have gone farther. Excellent! That was quite the confidence-booster since I now know that I can swim as far as I need to this season. I didn't doubt that was going to happen but today's the day when it happened.

Came across the Breath of Life Ventura Triathlon. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I have been looking for a June triathlon. The Redondo Beach Triathlon just seems too short but the Ventura is just right. This one I might even be able to get my family to attend with me, as my in-laws are in the area. Hmm...

Back to the hill training in the morning. The forecast says it should be in the thirties.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Commitment Time

I finally got tired of talking about events I wanted to do. Time to put my money where my mouth is:

Entered: Santa Clarita Half Century - February 28

I went to enter the Gran Fondo San Diego metric century but they changed it to a 45-mile ride. Meh. I can ride a bit farther and not have to drive so far by doing the Santa Clarita instead.

Entered: UCLA Iron Bruin Triathlon - March 8

Yes, the very next weekend. This will be my first triathlon but I'm treating it as my first brick workout. No Clydesdale division so I'll be an age grouper.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Showers Pass (Overhead)

When I went to bed last night, the weather forecast was for clouds but no rain. Saturday's forecast had been like that for a few days. When I woke up to a drizzly morning, the forecast for the day was now 40% chance of rain. No matter as it gave me a chance to try out my Showers Pass Double Century Jacket which, up to now, had just been keeping me warm on cold mornings.

It was just a short, ten-mile ride and the jacket came through just as advertised but while my upper body stayed dry and warm, the rest of me was pretty wet. It only mattered on my feet. However, this is Los Angeles and it doesn't get so cold when it rains.

I had forgotten how much fun it is to ride in the rain!

Interesting thing happened. On Glenoaks passing the golf course there is a hill that leads up to a stoplight at Osborne. That hill used to wipe me out when I reached the top and I'd have to take a break before making a right at the light because it keeps going up. This time I was taking it easy up the hill and made the right and kept going. However, because of the rain the right shoulder was a torrent of water so I couldn't ride there. This particular stretch of road doesn't even have much of a shoulder plus the drivers around there tend to be jerks so I decided to try and speed through it. To my surprise, I was able to. This tells me two things. One, the hill work is paying off. Two, I need to go faster during my hill workouts because I now know I have it in me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Overtraining? Moi?

Yesterday's swim was awful. I couldn't go more than 100 yards at a time before getting exhausted. And for the second night in a row I've waken up at 2:30am for no reason and have had trouble getting back to sleep. I have suspected that I am approaching overtraining and these are the last straws. No hill ride this morning. No swimming tomorrow. Just one ten-mile ride this weekend. Time to plan some cycles in my cycling.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good Morning Santa Clarita!

I made it into Santa Clarita Saturday morning. I wasn't sure exactly how long the route I had planned was but I figured it would be at least 40 miles and if it wasn't I have ways of lengthening it. Turns out I needn't have worried. Riding into SC via Sierra Highway is quite hilly but very doable. Things were going well when I thought I might have missed a turn. I did but kept going and came across a great bike path along the Santa Clarita River. Miles of not having to worry about stoplights! On my way back there was one last hill to go back up and after 30-something miles I had to stop part way up and rest/refuel. Next time I'll make it all the way up. I made up for it by having to use the brakes to keep my speed under 32mph on the downhills during the day. I'm getting less freaked out by going fast downhill but I do have my limits. 46 miles for the day. Whew!

The day after last week's long ride I went for a 30-mile ride but that killed me so this time I only went twenty miles. Much better. However, I was still pretty tired so I didn't get some yardwork done that I wanted to. Next weekend I am not even going to attempt a Sunday ride because I really need to get our arena sprayed.

On Saturday's ride I took energy gel breaks every hour, which seemed to sustain me. I did the Gu thing but I was a bit put off to find out that they have caffeine in them. Why would I want to have a diuretic while training in 80+ degrees (we're have a heat wave down here). While searching for alternatives I came across e-Gel by Crank Sports. They have a good deal on a sampler pack so I ordered some. We'll see what happens.

I had to laugh today when Lance Armstrong posted this pic of him riding "70 kms easy" the day before the opening of the Tour Down Under (catch the coverage on Vs., it's actually pretty exciting). I do 74km and I'm wiped out for the whole weekend :-).

I have been looking for a sprint triathlon around June and I stumbled across the Redondo Beach Triathlon on June 14. Hmm.

This Wednesday evening is my first meeting for Tour of California volunteers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Santa Clarita Another Day and the Road Less Travelled

I didn't have time to post this until now but last Thursday was my first swim workout in about a month, what with a sore shoulder and the pool closed for maintenance. It was pretty lousy. I could only get in 1200 wind-sucking yards. I suspect another workout or two and I'll be back in business. I'll find out tomorrow.

I started off Saturday's long ride on my usual San Fernando Valley 30 route. The wind started up out of the north just as I turned north, of course. There's a short, steep hill at one point and when I started it I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to stay in the saddle and actually made it (previously I could only keep the bike moving by getting out of the saddle). I made a left instead of a right about 20 miles into it--right after going up Balboa. This new route starts out on a hill that turned out to be the steepest and longest I have tried so far. I got out of the saddle and kept going and going. Finally, about twenty yards from the top, I couldn't keep the bike moving anymore. I wasn't able to clip out fast enough so I reached over and held onto the hill, which was right there. Did I mention that this was a narrow, two-lane road? Yeah, I felt pretty stupid as cars crawled by me. I also learned how difficult it is to clip in uphill. Definitely choosing the alternate route next time I try a trip to Santa Clarita until I know I can take this hill.

I rested up and finally crested the hill. I went another mile or so when a long, not-so-steep hill loomed. I was pretty tired by this point so I stopped my bike, looked at the hill, and decided I didn't have enough to go to Santa Clarita that day. I turned around and headed back but I sorta missed a turn and headed down San Fernando Road instead of Foothill Blvd. I decided to go with it. It was a nice ride--except for the dust storm (I need to find me some sunglasses). Too many stoplights once I got into San Fernando but a nice change of pace. 36 miles when I finished.

I decided Sunday's ride would be three times around the 10-mile loop in front of my house, which meant I could sleep in since I didn't have to worry so much about cars. First loop clockwise, second counter, third clockwise. We're having a bit of a heatwave right now so I could leave most of the cold weather gear home, though I did keep the long sleeves (turns out I could have gone sleeveless). They were nice laps but I was definitely spent by the third one.

What is it with cyclists not saying anything when they pass you. Not a "Hello." Not a "Good morning." Not a "On your left." Not a "You suck, pokey." Nothing. Two guys passed me towards the end and not a peep out of them. Bozos weren't even going all that fast. What's up with that?

Next Saturday I am going to take a more direct route into Santa Clarita, avoiding that first hill, and see what I have left when I come back to decide whether to take a direct route home or not.

The winner, so far, in the taste test department: Gu Energy Gel over Hammer Gel.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Riding In The Dark

This morning I awoke at 5am for my first morning hill workout. The rest of my family is out of town right now so if I got back later than expected, it wouldn't ruin anybody else's morning routine. I found out a few things by riding in darkness:

How do you clip in if you can't see your pedal? Answer: clip out under a street light.

My Garmin's light doesn't stay on so I'm going to need to set the cadence alert.

Those Flea Lights really are bright for their size.

Believe it or not, I was actually stronger on this hill workout than Saturday's workout.

Even though it's cold, being out for only a half hour means the cold doesn't get very far into me...unlike my long rides on the weekend, when the cold reaches in deep.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Saddle

Hill work went well yesterday. I managed to go up three times in the limited time I gave myself, which represents the limited time I will have Wednesday mornings. The plan is to increase the cadence each week by two. So, 40 rpm this week, 42 next week, etc. I've been looking around for information on hill training and, other than "do hills", the advice isn't very methodical. I'm going to try this cadence thing and see how it works.

Was feeling like another 40+ mile ride today despite doing my first one just this past Friday...because I'm an idiot. I was taking it nice and easy when the winds kicked up. They kept kicking me all the way up Balboa. Then the saddle started making me sore. Then the fatigue from the previous two days' rides kicked in. As I approached the top of Balboa I decided this wouldn't be my day for another long ride so instead of making a left I made a right and headed home. Maybe two long rides in a weekend isn't such a good idea for me at this stage. Still, it was a 29-mile ride, which means I had a 75 mile (three-day) weekend.

I cannot continue to do three- and four-hour rides with the old saddle that came with my bike:

As you may be able to see, it has seen better days. So, after fueling up, resting, and rinsing, I headed over to Montrose Bike Shop because they have quite a selection of saddles. They're all Specialized, of course, but, still, it's quite a selection. First, I got my butt measured (I'm a 143mm, FYI). Then I chose a Phenom based on the recommendation of the guy helping me. Man oh man do I need that split-down-the-middle design. Came home, swapped saddles, tweaked things a bit to get the fit right (and, in the process, found out that my handlebars were too low) and took it for a quick spin. Seems promising. I will know much more next weekend when I plan to head into Santa Clarita for my long ride.

Also did some basic bike maintenance with my spiffy new toolkit. That Chain Scrubber is pretty nift but it's hard to use without a repair stand. I think I'm making that my next purchase.

Friday, January 2, 2009

40 Miles Is A Long Way (for me)

Did my first 40+mile ride today:

Yeah, I'm pretty tired. It will get better, though. It wasn't that long ago that my whole weekend of riding didn't add up to 40 miles. No spoke problems. Hill work tomorrow. Then maybe another 40 on Sunday. I have to find a route with fewer stoplights. I have one in mind but I have to drive it first.

Came across the Santa Clarita Century. It's the day before the Gran Fondo San Diego so I can't do both (well, I could but I'm not going to). The San Diego ride looks like more fun but I wouldn't have to travel far for the Santa Clarita ride (they have a 50-mile version, which is what I would be doing). Hmm.