Sunday, July 31, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 27


Another week is completed on this quest for Ironman Arizona. Unfortunately, this next week is pretty busy for me, so it has basically turned into a recovery week. Here's my plan:

Monday - Run :45.
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - Run 1:00.
Thursday - rest
Friday - Bike 1:30. Swim 1:00.
Saturday - Bike 1:30. Swim 1:00.
Sunday - Bike 2:15. Run 2:00.

So, rest during the beginning of the week and then I get to do some good workouts towards the end.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Set goals for each workout

The first time that I actually followed a training plan, I was blown away with the results.  For my first three Ironmans, and all of the half marathons and marathons that I had run before those, I didn't stick to my training very well.  And each time, I finished feeling like I could do better.  When I finally followed a plan, almost perfectly, I set a PR that I'm not sure I'll be able to beat!

Before training for the Goofy Challenge, I would just go out and run, or go out and bike, without any purpose other than going for a certain distance.  I now know that having a goal for each and every workout is like racing every day.  It's awesome!  Whether your goal is to keep a certain pace, go for a certain amount of time (which I recommend over using mileage as a goal), or trying to keep your heart rate under or over a certain point, setting goals gives you something to focus on and something to work toward while your training.  It also can break up your workouts into smaller workouts so you feel like your accomplishing something each time you train.  Also, by using certain workouts every few weeks, you can test yourself and see your progress!

It has taken me a few years to really learn some ways that I can get motivated for training and to stay on track.  Without setting daily goals, I would find myself feeling like I was burned out, or feeling like it was ok to skip a few days in a row (which, if you're burned out, then yes, take a few days off!).  Maybe this won't work for you, but you should at least give it a try.


Just for a quick example, I usually set pace goals for my shorter workouts, or the ones where I'm trying to improve my speed.  Typically these are a handful of sprint repeats.  For my mid distance workouts, I also set a pace goal, but I pay more attention to my heart rate.  I try to maintain my goal pace, but will drop back if my heart rate starts to get too high.  For my long workouts, I simply set a time goal and go knock it out.  For these workouts, I pay pretty close attention to my heart rate, and don't really care too much about speed...if I'm doing the right short and mid distance workouts, the speed will be there for the longer workouts.  If this doesn't make sense, let me know and I'll clarify whatever I can for you!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Anyone want to loan me a mountain bike?

One of the better triathlon companies in Arizona is Red Rock Company.  They used to only have a few races each year, and have recently expanded to have a whole slew of triathlons, as well as some running only and biking only events.  You can check out their whole race line up here.


This company puts on some really nice races.  My favorite race that they put on is their Soma Triathlon.  This year will be the 8th installment of this race.  It's a perfect race for anyone planning on competing in Ironman Arizona, as they try to make the Soma course as similar to the Ironman course as possible.  Another reason why this company scores top marks in my book is their refund policy.  Their policy actually changed within the last year.  Red Rock Co. does not actually have "refunds", but what they offer is just as good.  Essentially, if you decide you are not able to race, you can cancel your registration (as long as it's at least 7 days prior to the race).  At this point, your entry fee, minus $20 for processing fees, will be placed in your personal Red Rock account and can be used for any future Red Rock event, up to 1 year later.  If that's not good enough for you, then you can also decide to transfer your registration to anyone else, for no charge.  Pretty awesome if you ask me!

Another race that this company has each year is the Barn Burner 104.  This is a 104-mile mountain bike race, and can be done in any combination of riders from solo to a group of 4.  Here's the promo video:
Looks pretty awesome, right?  Well, what if you don't own a mountain bike, and have never really ridden a mountain bike?  Why not!  So yes, I've joined a group of riders (who are all going to blow me out of the water!) who were in need of a fourth rider.  Each of us will be completing the 26-mile loop one time, and our goal is to finish under 10 hours.  By doing so, we will earn one of these bad boys:


Of course, if we finish under 10 hours, we'll earn the smaller version.  We would have to finish under 8 hours to earn the large version, which may be possible if the team didn't have a tall, skinny anchor on their team (me!).

Now, according to the website, this mountain bike course is more of a "roadie" mountain bike course, meaning that it is not very technical, and even a road-biker like myself should be able to get through it.  I'll let you know how I feel about that claim once the race is over.  Here's the map of the ride:

Course map
Elevation profile and climb categorization
It may be tough to see, but there are two Category 3 climbs, and one of them is about 600 ft!  In hill categorization, there is Cat 5 (easiest) up to HC (Hors Categorie - French for above category), so Category 3 is right in the middle.  And the best part is that he hardest climb comes near the end of the loop.  Should be pretty interesting!

This all brings me to the main order of business that I need to take care of...does anyone have a decent mountain bike that I can borrow for this race?  I promise to clean it up afterword and return it to you in squeaky clean condition!

Monday, July 25, 2011

These commercials are so funny!

The other day, The Wife and I were watching some television when we saw the most awesome commercial.  Here it is:


There's many different reasons why I think this commercial is awesome.  One of the funniest things to me is how the daughter thinks that if she has a ton of Facebook friends, it's like having real friends!  Sure, Facebook has changed how people interact, but the parents in this commercial, to me at least, are having more fun that the daughter.

I did a YouTube search to find this commercial, and I ended up coming across a few other ones that are just as good.  They're all pretty short, so you should be able to spare a few minutes to check them out.  Here they are:




So awesome!  Alright, that's it for today.  Hope you enjoyed those commercials!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 26

These weeks seem to be flying by at this point.  I can't believe that I only have 17 weeks left until Ironman Arizona!  I guess I better start taking this training seriously!  Another exciting week is planned for week 26.  I had a hard time making room for a super long bike ride, so I have a couple mid distance rides planned instead.  Here's what it all looks like:

Monday - Swim 1:00.
Tuesday - Bike 2:15.  Run 3x1 mile max efforts.
Wednesday - Bike 1:30.
Thursday - Run 6 miles.  Swim 1:00.
Friday - Bike 2:15.
Saturday - Bike 1:30.  Run 13 miles.
Sunday - REST! (Because Sunday is the day of rest, right?)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tour de France - Stage 20

Today is the day.  The 2011 Tour de France will be decided today (and depending on when you're reading this, already has been).  It's been a pretty exciting race this year, with a ton of crashes and many unexpected leaders.  One of the biggest surprises was that Alberto Contador, last year's winner, will probably not be in the top three by the time the race finishes.  Today's race, between the guys who are going to be in the top three, is sure to be very exciting though.

Stage 20 is an individual time trial.  Unlike most days during the Tour, when all the cyclists ride in a big group and can draft off of each other, stage 20 is every cyclist for himself.  And the exciting part is that the top 3 riders are only separated by 57 seconds.  Even more exciting, the top two riders are brothers!  How awesome is that?

Photo taken from Versus.com.  This is the current top 3 riders: Cadel Evans (left), Frank Schleck (middle) and Andy Schleck (right)
When I wrote this post, Andy Schleck, who was 2nd place in last year's Tour, was leading his brother by 54 seconds, and leading Cadel Evans by 57 seconds.  Personally, I'm pulling for the Schleck brothers to finish is first and second, only because I think that would be pretty awesome for them (and the first time that brothers have finished on the podium together during the Tour's 108 year history!).  Unfortunately for them, Cadel Evans is a much better time-trial rider, so this last stage favors him.

I know that I'm going to be watching this stage, and I think you should check it out too.  It will be on Versus (channel 603 on DirecTV) pretty much all day.  If you're reading this early enough, the live airing is at 8:10 a.m. (eastern).  Check it out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Frequency over duration

If you've decided to train for an Ironman, hopefully you did enough research to realize that the training is going to be a part time job, that you're not getting paid for, so you have to be quite motivated.  If you didn't figure this out before you decided on triathlons, well, SURPRISE!  You are now going to have to re-work your life and find 10-20 hours/week for training!

When I started training for my first Ironman, I didn't really have much of a plan.  I tried looking up some things online, but most plans were pretty generic.  And being the moron that I am, I thought I could develop a better plan on my own.  And that plan consisted of riding my bike once or twice a week for as long as I could, running every now and then, and swimming maybe once a week.  I was definitely over-training in the "recovery" discipline.  My first Ironman, though I finished, wasn't what I had envisioned in my head.  I was very, very excited that I was able to cross that finish line, but I was left with the feeling of not having performed to my fullest potential.

Since then, I've read a ton of books, read probably every article on the internet, and even stayed at a couple Holiday Inn's.  I am now under the impression that training more frequently is more important than training for longer durations.  No, I'm not saying that you don't need to run over 20 miles prior to an Ironman, or that you don't need to bike 100 miles prior to an Ironman.  I'm saying that you don't need to do it every week.

For most triathletes, time is very precious.  It's much easier to get in 3 or 4 bike workouts, for a shorter duration, rather than going out for 6 hours (and the same is true for running and swimming).  Most of us have a hard time finding 6 hours in one day to break free and focus on anything, let alone training.  Don't get caught up in thinking that you need to go long every workout, or even every week.  Sure, you need to build up to the race distance and actually do the race distances (separately of course) before the actual race.  But you don't need to run a marathon every weekend.

By working out more often, your body is able to be in an aerobic zone more often, which will train your body to do all of the confusing chemical stuff that it does to allow you to sustain that aerobic effort.  If you only workout a few times per week, you body won't get used to being in that zone.  For me, my body seems to react pretty well to training each sport about 3 times per week.  Some weeks I get in a little more, and some weeks I get in a little less.  Also, by having roughly 9 workouts each week, you only have a few days where you are doubling up on workouts.  For the days where you only have one workout, you can either choose to go longer, or raise the intensity level a bit.  Do keep in mind that rest is important, and if you feel worn out, you probably are...so rest!

So remember, try and do a few shorter workouts and one longer workout for each sport during the week.  If all you do is go long and slow for each workout, you probably won't have a lot of gains.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another haboob, and a workout

Monday night, July 18th, brought the second haboob of the monsoon season here in Arizona.  This one wasn't quite as majestic as the first one, but it was still pretty cool looking.

Photo taken by Cory Hanen

Photo taken by Michelle Halonen
Photo found on ktar.com
These amazing events are normally too harmless, as it's usually just a ton of dust and wind.  There were some pretty bad accidents on the freeways, as visibility was basically 0%.  Luckily, I was at home enjoying some fresh, homemade Chinese chicken salad.

I did have plans with The Captain scheduled for Tuesday morning...a run followed by a swim at an outdoor pool.  Once this haboob started to roll through, I began wondering if my outdoor swimming plans would be ruined.  Knowing that these things are usually just dust, I decided to go ahead with the plans and do the workout as scheduled.

4:30 a.m. came quickly.  My alarm woke me up, and I immediately headed downstairs to enjoy my breakfast of champions:

A Marathon Energy Bar, and a pot of coffee
By the time I made the coffee and ate my bar, it was still pretty early:

Yes, that's A.M.
I always try to wake up at least an hour prior to a workout, in order to give me time to eat some food and properly wake up before I get to raising my heart rate.  It's pretty tough to wake up when I'm just hanging out in my house, but when I get to drive somewhere to workout, or get outside pretty quickly, I usually get to see some pretty cool sunrises.  The one today was nice, but the photo didn't really do it any justice:

The sunrise at about 5:35 a.m.
From the view in my car, there were a bunch of rays of light coming up over the clouds and mountains that, unfortunately, didn't turn out in the picture.  Oh well.

Once I got to the pool, The Captain was already there waiting for me.  We quickly got ready and headed out on our run.  We did a nice little warm up, followed by three 1-mile, hard efforts.  We took about 5:00 of rest between each one to make sure we were fully recovered.  After we were done running, we quickly changed and hopped into the pool, which was almost perfectly clean.  I never would have guessed that a big, giant dust cloud just blew over this pool the night before (I was running short on time, so I forgot to snap some pictures of the pool...sorry!).  The swim went pretty much as planned, swimming 40 laps.

Tuesday was a quite successful day, regardless of the haboob repeater that blew by on Monday night.  And again, it was a smart move to schedule a workout with The Captain, because if I hadn't, sleeping in may have won the morning battle that day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My 90 mile bike ride

Last week, The Captain and I embarked on our longest ride of the season, thus far.  Our plan was to head out at 5:00 a.m. and do one massive, massive loop.  Once we completed the loop, we would see how we felt and either add some more time on the road, or head home and jump onto the trainers and finish up on the trainer.

The ride started off great.  We left the house by 5:10 a.m., which was a few minutes late, but not too bad.  We decided that since this ride was out longest to date, we weren't too worried about speed.  Our goal was just to make sure we got the miles in.

The map of our really big loop
Somewhere around mile 62, we stopped to refill our water.  It was only about 100 degrees outside by this point, so we figured we could use some water.  Once we had reloaded the bottles, we began riding again.  We decided that we felt pretty good and we were going to try and add some extra miles outside before heading home to jump on the trainers.

We reached the point in the ride where we needed to decide whether or not to head back or continue.  Since we had already discussed trying to continue on, that's what we went with.  About a mile later, we realized that it was pretty freakin' hot out and our tempo had slowed quite a bit.  So, we made the executive decision to head home and finish the ride on the trainer.

When we got back to the house, we set up our trainers in the living room and got to work.  We had ridden just over 76 miles outside, so my goal was to do another 14 on the trainer to make a total of 90 miles.  It was pretty ugly, but I got it done.

After we were finished, we ended up averaging about 18 mph for the ride, which I'm pretty happy with.  We didn't really push our tempo and work excessively hard, and it was quite hot out.  It's a bit slower than my goal race pace, but I've still got some time to get there.

Congrats to The Captain for finishing this ride!  It was a tough one, but it will only make the next one seem that much easier...right?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 25

Ok, as I alluded to in yesterday's post, I'm beginning the "3 Plus 2" running program this week.  I have it figured out so that I peak for Ironman Arizona.  This particular running plan is nice, because they have specific goals for every single workout that is done.  There's not really a whole lot of thought that needs to go into it.  There's only three runs per week, but I'll also be doing some running with The Wife, as she is training for her first half marathon (and doesn't really like running by herself).  So here is the plan for week 25:

Monday - I had some stuff planned for Monday, but had a rough day at work, so this turned into a rest day.
Tuesday - Run (3 x 1 mile repeats, with 1:00 rest interval).  Swim 1:00.
Wednesday - Bike 2:15.
Thursday - Bike 1:30.  Run (2 easy miles, 2 miles at faster than planned race pace, 2 easy miles).
Friday - Swim 1:00.
Saturday - Bike 1:30.
Sunday - Run 13 miles at race pace, plus :30/mile.  Bike 1:30.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sorry, I've been slacking.

I typically try to have my weekly IMAZ training schedule posted on Sunday mornings.  Well, obviously that didn't happen this week.  I will be getting it up hopefully by Tuesday some time.  In the mean time, here's what is planned for Monday and Tuesday:

Monday - Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.
Tuesday - Run (3x1 mile repeats, with 60 seconds of rest between each mile).
I am now switching over to the Run Less Run Faster plan, which I'll explain when I post my whole weekly schedule.  Until then, watch this:


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Crossfit...endurance?

If you're not aware, there's a pretty big fitness craze out there, and it happens to be called Crossfit.  It is sort of hard to explain exactly what it is, so you might just want to check out their website.  In short, it's a continually changing workout program that is all inclusive, continually changing, and quite possibly the most popular fitness craze right now.  Here's a video of some Crossfit highlights:


It seems like everyone in my job is doing some version of Crossfit.  I have stayed away because I wasn't too sure how well the short, explosive training plan would transfer over into the triathlon world.  Then I found out about Crossfit Endurance:


Kind of a long video, but it sort of explains the difference between Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance.

The way it works is this: you can either join a Crossfit certified gym so you have all of their equipment and coaching at your disposal, or you can go to their website where they will list each day's workout and just go do it on your own.  I will be doing to second option.  The only difference for me is, I will be staying with my training plan, but trying out the Crossfit Endurance daily workouts in place of my current weight training program.

I've done two days worth of workouts so far, and let me tell you, it kicked my but.  Here's a video of one of the workouts I did:


Let's just say that my time wasn't quite as fast as the people in this video.

Whether or not this will improve my triathlon performance, who knows.  It just seems like it is a good way for me to get in a workout that can apply to both my career, and my hobby.  So now, if you want to do all of the training that I'm doing, all you have to do is check my blog to find out my sport-specific training for the week, and then check out Crossfit Endurance every day to see what strength/crossfit workout I'll be doing for the day!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Rotate Running Shoes

Once you've been competing, or at least completing, endurance sports long enough, you'll start to come up with your own little idiosyncrasies.  Some of them you will pick up from other athletes, and some of them you will come up with all on your own, thinking that they are the greatest thing since Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.  And maybe it is!  The only thing that really matters is that it improves your performance.  If not, then knock it off!

One thing I like to do is order two pairs of running shoes every time I buy new shoes.  I do this for two main reasons.  First is that it makes my shoes last longer.  Not last longer like I can magically put more miles on them before they go bad, but last longer as in an entire season as opposed to half of a season.  The second reason is that by using two pairs of shoes and rotating them, your running shoes get more of a chance to "recover" and you get to run on fresher shoes each time you run.

I'm no scientist, and I have done any specific tests to measure how long it takes a shoe to return to it's normal state after being run in.  I can only speak based off of what I have experienced.  And that is fresh shoes, each and every time I run.

Most recently, I purchased two pairs of the Saucony Progrid Kinvara's.  I purchased two different colors so it's very easy for me to tell which pair I'm using, and which pair is to be used next.  When I was running in my Adidas Adizero Tempo's, I simply wrote a "1" and "2" on the back of the shoe so I could tell them apart.  Pretty simple.

This tip won't apply to everyone, as some people won't see the need to purchase more than one pair of shoes, and I won't argue with them.  I feel that I've been putting a fair amount of miles on my shoes, and having them last for an entire season (and not having to break in a new pair mid-season) is pretty nice.  So try it out the next time you go to order your new running shoes!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maybe I should read my own blog!

My recent 15 mile run while on vacation in California was one of those do as I say, not as I do runs.  It had been a while since I had run that distance outside, and it had also been a while since I had run in a humid environment.

Back on June 17th, I wrote a Weekly Training Tip titled "Save the nips!".   I explained that my trick to preventing nip-chafage was to simply put a band-aid over each nip.  Well, in packing for my trip I disregarded my nip (ha!).  I knew very well that I was going to be running 15 miles, but I failed to consider packing the protection required for that long run.

It wasn't until about mile 10 that I started to notice I was having some extra sensitivity in the nipple region, particularly on the right side.  I started to run through a list of possible causes, knowing deep down inside that it was just a common case of nip tip rub rub.  In other words, my sweaty shirt had been rubbing on my nip for 10 miles, and was starting to cause some irritation.

I tried possible solutions while running, including holding my shirt out and off of my nips, running with my thumbs pressing back into my nips (preventing my shirt from rubbing), and trying to stay very rigid from the waist up to prevent any side-to-side movement.  All attempts were unsuccessful.

When I finally returned back to my starting point, my nips had a nice raw tip.  This rawness was exaggerated when I took a shower...OUCH!  And the next day, scabs began to form.  Fortunately for me I wasn't really bleeding, so there was no photo op of the blood-streaked shirt.  I attempted to take a pic of the raw nips, but then thought that would probably be a weird/inappropriate picture to post on here.  So, you'll just have to refer back to my previous post on saving the nips if you want to see some other pics.

I'm happy to report that everything is back to normal, and I always keep two band-aids inside my running shoes as a reminder to always use protection!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

No flat land in California

This past weekend, the family and I took a little vacation over to California.  We spent a couple of days near Temecula, then headed over to Mission Beach for an afternoon at the ocean before beginning our drive home.  Our first couple of nights, we actually stayed in Canyon Lakes.  This was the scene of my long run for the week.

We were staying in a gated community, which was awesome.  In fact, you couldn't get passed the entry guard unless the person you were visiting called ahead and notified the guard!  My long run was supposed to be 15 miles, and I wasn't too sure I'd be able to find that much distance running around in a neighborhood.  I woke up and was out the door by 7:35 a.m., which was a nice change from the 5:00 a.m. workouts I've been doing in Arizona.  My plan was to head back to the main road and follow it until it ended, and then figure something out from there.

This was taken as soon as I stepped out of the house.

Once I got to the main road, there was a bit of a downhill to start.
When I reached the end of the main road, I was only at about mile 4.5, so I had to start weaving around the neighborhood before I could turn around and back-track.  At one point in the run, I turned into a cul-de-sac and came face to face with some pretty seriously-sized homes.

On the right side of this picture, that's all one house.  Pretty massive.
Once I finally hit a point where I thought I would be alright to turn around and head back, I was definitely ready.  The views were awesome, but it was constant rolling hills.  I'm pretty sure there was 0.0 miles of flat land.  Here's the elevation profile from my Garmin 310xt:

Pretty ugly.
Even with all of the elevation changes (939 feet of climbing all together!), it was still a really great run.  Almost the entire distance, I ran in a "parking" lane, which was more or less a really, really large bike lane.  And on the particular day I ran, I think it must have been Community Fitness Day, because I ran by about 50 people that were either running or riding there bikes.  In fact, there was one guy that I ended up passing about three times during the course of my looping around and whatnot.  The last time that I passed him, he was so enthusiastic and was even cheering me on!  It was so great to run around such upbeat people while training.  One of the highlights was when I ran through the low point of the elevation profile.  It was at the level of the lake.  I took some video, but it's pretty bumpy.  If you shake your head with the video, it's a lot easier to see (seriously, try it.  It works!)

video

Did you try shaking your head?  I sure hope not, because that would only make it worse!  Why in the world would that make watching a video easier?!

I finished up the run and spent the rest of the day hanging out with my family, and going to a birthday party (which was the reason for out trip in the first place).  Here's the completed map of the run:

It wasn't really just an out and back, as I had to do the last 1/3 of the run an extra time.
All together, the trip was a great success.  I was able to get in my weekly long run and was also able to see some good friends and relax a whole heck of a lot.  But, back to reality and the dry heat of lovely Arizona!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Buying produce for cheap!

Once you make the commitment to becoming a triathlete (or pretending to be one, as I do), you find out pretty quickly that some life changes are required.  Among a very, very long list, is they way you eat.  I personally found out that I can no longer have two bowls of ice cream before I go to sleep (side bar: for those of you that don't actually know me, I quite possibly have the biggest sweet tooth you can imagine.  I've been known to destroy the richest, most filling desserts without any hesitation.  I'm not proud of it, it's just a gift I have.), or even have a late night glass of wine or beer if I'm planning an early morning workout.  There's times when I question this commitment I've made, but that only lasts for a few seconds, because I quickly remember that I thoroughly enjoy this hobby and can't really picture what life would be like without it.

Eating for triathletes can be pretty complicated.  Sometimes, people try to play it off as being super easy, but most of the time, it's not.  There's many different opinions out there on how to eat to optimize performance.  Some people think vegan, some people think vegetarian, others think paleo, and others don't really pay attention and eat whatever the heck they want (I fall into this last category sometimes...).  At one point or another, I've thought about trying most "healthy" ways of eating, only to realize that it would be quite tough for me (not that it's not tough for everyone) because I eat at the fire station a few times a week and we all cook and eat together.  I know there's ways I could do it, but it would be quite a struggle.  So, instead, I just try and be health-conscious with my food.

I rarely eat red meat, but I do eat a crap-ton of chicken.  In fact, I probably should buy stock in Foster Farms because I know they'll never go out of business with me eating so much chicken!  On the produce side of things, I try and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.  I used to HATE veggies, but I've actually grown to really like them (I know my mom is doing a little happy dance or a fist pump right now!).  My view of my meals is, when possible, the more veggies, the merrier...although I still like to have that lean protein (chicken) and some cars on my plate.  The downfall of trying to eat healthy is that fresh fruits and veggies cost so much money!  This is where Walmart comes in to play.

I'm not really a fan of Walmart, but I find myself going there about once a week.  The only reason I go is to buy fresh produce.  The reason why I choose Walmart over the other nearby stores is that Walmart will match any advertised price, on anything.  So, I just jump on the futuristic world wide web, and do some Google searches for my local grocery stores.  In Arizona, I use Fry's, Safeway, Albertson's, Food City, Pro's Ranch Market, Basha's, and Sprouts as my comparison stores.  I figure out what things I want to buy, write down the price and from which store, head over to Walmart and get my produce for cheap! The only negative to Walmart's produce is that it isn't always the greatest quality.  It's the type of produce that you have to use within a day or two.  But, with Walmart being only about a mile and a half away, I can take the beach cruiser and not have to waste any gas!

There's a whole underground world of coupon shopping (of which The Wife belongs!), and there's actually a few other ways to save on produce if you're not going to go to Walmart.  This blog really has a ton of info and can help you get started on saving money, if you are willing to put in the time (and you live in Arizona).  At the very least, if you're going to the store to get a lot of produce, it's worth looking into doing some price-matching at Walmart (unfortunately)!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Yes, I'm looking for a new bike...but not this one.

I've been spending a lot of time searching around the internet lately, trying to figure out what bike I'm going to be spending my daughter's college fund on.  I've found a few intriguing prospects, and I've also come across a few that I know are off the list.  Of those bikes not being included on the list, here's the first one:

The new Felt DA (picture taken from FeltBicycles.com)
Sure, that is one awesome looking bike.  In fact, I can't look at it too often because my heart starts racing and I feel like a bank robber seeing the inside of a vault.  Maybe I feel that way because this bike costs $12,499 (MSRP, according to Felt's website).  Over twelve thousand dollars?!  Yeah, I'd love that bike and probably have it buried with me when I die, but I do enjoy being able to eat on a daily basis, so I'll look for a cheaper bike.

Here's another bike that isn't making the cut:

The Scott Plasma 3 (photo taken from TriSports.com)

Yet again, another beautiful looking bike.  And yet again, a bit out of my price range.  This bike comes in at $9,999.95.  Why not just round it up to $10,000?  You're not fooling anyone with that five cent savings.  This price, by the way, was taken from TriSports.com.

I'll tell you one thing I've learned from searching for bikes:  I now completely understand why the general assumption is that Ironman racing is a "rich man's" sport.  Searching around for a tri-specific bike is crazy!  As with everything else, though, there are the more affordable versions of each bike (which is more what I'm looking for...not a bike that requires me to take out a loan).

The list of bikes that I'm looking at really hasn't been formed quite yet.  I've more just got a sense of what I can and can not afford.  Once I have a price figured out, it'll come down to finding which bike provides me with the most bang for my buck.  One budget bike that I know I am, for sure, not considering is this one:

This is an Iceland Bike!
Although, if I could figure out how to throw on some aerobars and some water bottles, this bike may not be so bad!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 24

Oh boy.  Week 23 was basically a bust.  I knew it was going to be a tough one as I had a pretty tight schedule and actually hard a very hard time trying to figure out when I was going to get in the training.  Add to that the onset of a sore throat and things got pretty ugly.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday went well, but Thursday morning brought a sore throat, so I canceled the day's training in hopes to prevent the sore throat from progressing to anything worse.  By Friday, I felt alright, but the end of the week was when I didn't really have much time to train.  So, I'm erasing week 23 from my mind and moving on to the wonderful plans of week 24!  Here they are:

Monday - Rest day (mainly because I have no time to train...boooo!)
Tuesday - Run :40.
Wednesday - Swim 1:00.  Bike 3:15.
Thursday - Bike 2:00.  Run :30.
Friday - Run 1:00.  Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.
Saturday - Swim 1:00.
Sunday - Bike 2:00.  Run 1:15.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The great Arizona Haboob!

In case your wondering, no I did not just call you a name, and no I'm not trying to get fresh with you.  I'm simply describing one of the coolest sights in Arizona.  According to Wikipedia, a haboob is:
"A haboob (Arabic هبوب) is a type of intense sandstorm commonly observed in arid regions throughout the world. " (taken from Wikipedia)
In Arizona, this happens every other year or so.  And wouldn't you know it, it happened last Tuesday!  Here's some various images of the awesome incident:


It's basically a giant dust storm engulfing the entire city.  The funny thing is, I was at work when all of this happened, and actually had no idea that it was this crazy outside!  I can't imagine what it would have been like to be out on a training ride or run and to turn and see that madness coming...I know my pace would sure pick up on the way home!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Pumping Iron

Okay, so maybe what I do isn't really considered "pumping iron" like these guys:


But my goal isn't to be the size of a freight train.  My goal is to be able to finish Ironman Arizona in under 12:00.  So chances are that I approach the weight room slightly different than those (overly) bulky guys.
On the other hand, I also need to stay relatively strong for my job as a firefighter.  Because of this, I can't strictly follow most of the triathlete-oriented weight lifting programs out there (I'll get to what I do later on).  For the most part, what is recommended for triathletes is lighter weight and more reps.  For example, if you would normally bench press 135 pounds, ten times without too much issue, you would probably drop down to 100 or 115 pounds and try to do 2 or 3 sets of 20 reps.  On top of that, most books out there recommend doing triathlon-specific workouts (one's that will improve the muscles you are going to use during a triathlon).  The almost completely takes out the upper body workouts, other than a few select moves.  Here's a basic weight lifting day for a triathlete:

Squat: 3 sets of 20 reps
Leg press: 3 sets of 15 reps
Circuit (these 3 workouts are done immediately following each other): Straight arm pull down x 20 reps, followed by leg extensions x 15 sets, followed by dumbbell step ups x 20 reps (now do those 3 workouts, three times through).

As you can see, it is largely focused on legs.  Why?  Well, because your legs are what is going to get you to the finish line.  A word of caution though...be sure to not use too much weight.  You should already be doing a fair amount of running and biking, which already puts a lot of stress on your legs, so you don't want to overdo it with the weights.  You really don't want to do more than one "leg day" per week.

As for what I actually do, it's a bit different.  I have to find a balance between training myself to hold a steady state for a long period of time (for triathlons), and training myself to be able to handle moving all of my equipment around (my fire equipment weighs about 75 pounds or so).  To do this, I'm constantly changing my workout routine, to try and include not only workouts with lighter weight and higher reps for my triathlon training, but workouts with heavier weight and less reps.  What's more is that I can't neglect my upper body like those who only need to do weight training for triathlons.  My job requires a fair amount of upper body strength, so I actually have to do a lot of focusing on that.

To put it simply, I usually do a week or two of heavy weight with less reps, followed by a week or two of lighter weight with more reps.  I try and not do the same thing for more than two weeks.

Whether you focus strictly on the triathlon muscles, or you do a whole body workout, I definitely recommend using weights at least one a week during your training, and especially during the off-season.  If you want a more detailed explanation of what I do, just get in contact with me and I'll be more than happy to write out my weekly weight training plan for you.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Don't step in front of the peloton

This year's Tour de France is underway, and already there's been a lot of game-changing events.  First off, on the opening day, Alberto Contador (who has won the Tour de France on three separate occasions: 2007, 2009, and 2010) was booed when he was introduced during the opening ceremonies.  Just watch the first ten seconds or so of this video to see it:


Alberto, by the way, was on Lance Armstrong's team in 2009.  That year, there was some sort of rivalry between the two, and in the end, Alberto went rogue (depending on how you look at it and who you talk to!) and left his teammate to fend for himself.  It worked out well for Contador, since he won the Tour de France that  year.

Back to this year.  The reigning champion is always expected to be a top contender to win again.  This year it was expected to come down to Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador.  This was prediction because last year, Alberto Contador only beat Andy Schleck by thirty-nine seconds.

Stage one starts, and everything is going well with the peloton (the main group of cyclists)...until this happened:


The most significant thing to note from this crash was that Alberto Contador was behind this crash, so he was stuck in the second group.  Andy Schleck, however, was in the front group and was now working to put as much of a gap as he could between himself and Contador.

The craziest part is that later in the race, there was yet another crash!  It was right around the 4km to go mark.  By the end of Stage 1, Andy Schleck was ahead of Contador by one minute and fourteen seconds.  That's already almost double the time difference from last year's race!

Then Stage 2 took place, which was the team time-trial, and Contador lost even more time!  After Stage 2, Contador was one minute and thirty-eight seconds back from Schleck, and that's also the time gap after the third stage.

This isn't the first time that a spectator has been involved in a crash during the Tour de France.  Here's a few videos for your viewing pleasure:


With how crazy the fans are during the Tour de France, I'm surprised that this doesn't happen more often!  You gotta wonder too, was it really an accident or was that spectator a plant from one of the other teams?  Pretty far fetched, but you never know!

If you happen to find yourself spectating an endurance event, whether it be a marathon, Ironman, or the Tour de France, it's probably a good idea if you don't actually spectate close enough to touch the participants.

Monday, July 4, 2011

New Ironman world record!

Today's post is short.  In fact, it's more of a promo for an article that someone else wrote.  On Sunday morning, a man by the name of Marino Vanhoenacker set a new world record time for completing an Ironman race.  Last year he missed the record by 98 seconds (the previous record was 7:50:27), but he destroyed it this year.  He finished in a time of 7:45:58.  Insane!  You can read the full article from Lava Magazine by clicking here.

Congrats to Marino Vanhoenacker for setting the new Ironman world record!
Oh, and happy 4th of July!  Celebrate and be safe!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 23

Week 22 wasn't so hot.  I mean, it was hot, temperature-wise with almost every day being over 100 degrees, but not so hot on the training front.  I got all my workouts in, I just didn't have time for a long bike ride.  On the positive side, I ran 8 miles with The Wife, which was her longest yet to date!

Moving forward, week 23 is a little tough too.  I have a few scheduling issues that have caused me to have a pretty bad training week, with no long bike ride again...crap!  I'm just going to up the intensity for this week and get back on track with the distances next week.  So here's the plan for week 23:

Monday - Swim 1:00.  Bike 1:30.
Tuesday - Run :55.  Swim 1:00.
Wednesday - Bike 1:00.
Thursday - Run :30.  Bike 1:00.
Friday - Bike 1:00 and BRICK RUN 1:00.
Saturday - unfortunately, no training will take place this day.
Sunday - Run 15 miles.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Meeting Steve on the road

About a week ago I wrote a post about scheduling some workouts with a training partner, in hopes that said training partner will hold you accountable.  What I didn't mention, is that there are obviously times when it is still best to just throw in the towel.  Don't get sucked into forcing yourself to meet up for a workout if you are feeling excessively tired or worn down...chances are that you could actually benefit from the rest!

That's exactly what happened to me the other day.  The Captain and I had an early morning bike ride scheduled (a 5:00 a.m. start) when I received a text from him at about 4:14 a.m. saying that he would not be joining me.  He had been working some crazy hours and was a little short on sleep, so it was definitely better that he take the extra few hours of rest.  As for me, I immediately reset my alarm and went back to sleep too!

I ended up getting out of bed at about 5:30 a.m. so I could be out the door by 6:00 a.m. for a shorter bike ride.  About five minutes after leaving, I received a phone call from The Wife, and being the über-safe person that I am, I answered it while riding my bike (I was wearing my helmet!).  We had a short conversation, and noticed a shadow creep up behind me while I was hanging up.  Once I hung up, I met Steve.

The cyclist that was now riding next to me introduced himself as Steve.  We began talking, and actually had a great conversation.  He does cycling races, and was out to do some hill work that day.  I explained that I was on my way to work and would be turning right when he turned left.  When we came to the intersection, I decided to go straight to add a few more miles, and Steve decided to join.  We continued talking about how he used to live in Scottsdale and always felt that a lot of the cyclists out there feel like they "own the road" and that cars should yield to them...definitely the wrong way to think (the car is going to win that battle every time).  We also talked about our bikes...he rides a '94 Trek that weighs 26 pounds, and doesn't have another bike that he races on.  Pretty impressive.  I also learned that he had a buddy who was killed in a cycling accident...run down from behind (I didn't ask when this happened, but obviously the 3 foot rule was not followed).

It was pretty awesome meeting and talking with Steve because he seemed like a very positive person and just loved riding his bike.  He just moved over into my neck of the woods, or desert I guess, so hopefully I run into this guy again and I can draft off of him for a bit!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Running on a Treadmill

For many runners, the treadmill is their arch nemesis.  Running on a treadmill is viewed as something that "real" runners don't do.  I used to think this way, until I started thinking logically and realized that treadmills are a fantastic tool.

First off, if you're going to run on a treadmill, don't do it like this:


The most obvious use of a treadmill is when there is a day that you need to get a run in, and the weather is not cooperating.  I also find that doing one or two of my weekly runs on a treadmill helps protect my legs a bit.  Running outside, on hard surfaces, takes it toll on your legs.  By running inside on the treadmill, you are able to take away some of that damage that is done.  And yes, I know that running on a treadmill isn't the same as running outside.  My argument to that is this: riding your bike on a trainer is not the same as riding outside, but there are more and more pro's that advocate doing a huge portion of your cycling training on a trainer.

In order to get the treadmill to resemble running outside as much as possible, there's a few adjustments that can be done.  First off, try to keep the incline set to (at least) 1.0.  When you have the treadmill set to an incline of 0, you do not have to work as hard to keep your positioning on the treadmill.  The ground moves for you and all you need to do is shuffle your feet and not really provide yourself with any "forward" momentum.  By increasing that incline, you have to work just a little bit to keep yourself in the middle of that treadmill.

The other thing that I like to do is try and set the treadmill at a slightly faster pace than I would normally run.  Why?  Well, the long and short of it is that if you are training based on your heart rate, running an 8:00/mile pace outside will require a higher heart rate than running an 8:00/mile on a treadmill would.  So in order to bring that heart rate up to the same level, you can increase that speed slightly.

Here's an example of what I do on a mid-distance type of run:

*I leave the incline set to 1.0, unless I am going to be doing hill work.

Warm up: Start running at a speed of 6.0 for 1:00, followed by :30 of walking at a speed of 3.5.  Then run for 1:00 at a speed of 6.5, followed by a :30 walk at 3.5.  I repeat this process until I reach a distance of 1 mile, which is usually just under 10:00.  Here's a full list of the speeds/times
  • 6.0/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 6.5/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 7.0/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 7.5/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 8.0/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 8.5/1:00 and then I increase to 9.0 until I reach a distance of 9.7, at which point I walk at the 3.5 speed until I reach the 1.0 mile mark.
Main Set:  For this example, I'll use a 6 mile set.  Here's a breakdown of one way to do the set:
  • Mile 1 - use your goal race pace as a starting point.  Let's use 7:15/mile, or a speed of 8.4.
  • Mile 2 - keep the speed where it is.
  • Mile 3 - keep the speed where it is.
  • Mile 4 - keep the speed at 8.4 until you reach a distance of 3.2 miles.  At this point, increase the speed by .1, and continue to do so every .2 miles.
  • Mile 5 - by the start of mile 5 (when you hit 4.0 on the distance), you should be at the speed of 8.9.  Continue to increase the speed by .1 every .2 miles.
  • Mile 6 - by the start of mile 6 (when you hit 5.0 on the distance), you should be at the speed of 9.4.  Here, you can either continue to increase the speed, or keep it where it is, depending on how you feel.
Cool Down:  For every run I do on a treadmill, my cool down is always the same.  I take 5:00 to go roughly 0.3 miles.  I do this by slowing down my speed to 4.5 for 1:00, 4.0 for 1:00, 3.5 for 2:00, and 3.0 for 1:00.

Here is one way to attack a long distance run on the treadmill:

*Again, I keep the incline set to 1.0 for every treadmill run, unless I'm doing hill work.*

Warm up: (the exact same for every workout) Start running at a speed of 6.0 for 1:00, followed by :30 of walking at a speed of 3.5.  Then run for 1:00 at a speed of 6.5, followed by a :30 walk at 3.5.  I repeat this process until I reach a distance of 1 mile, which is usually just under 10:00.  Here's a full list of the speeds/times
  • 6.0/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 6.5/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 7.0/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 7.5/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 8.0/1:00, 3.5/:30
  • 8.5/1:00 and then I increase to 9.0 until I reach a distance of 9.7, at which point I walk at the 3.5 speed until I reach the 1.0 mile mark.
Main Set: Now lets say you are doing a 13 mile run.  In most of my training, my "long" run days are run at a pace slightly slower than my goal race pace.  So let's say you plan on running an average of 8:15/mile for your upcoming race.  On a treadmill, you could set the pace anywhere from 8:30/mile to 8:00/mile and probably be alright.  Here's what I would do:
  • I would break this long run up into smaller, equal parts.  Let's do 3.25 sections (done four times equals 13!)
  • Pick your speed and keep it constant.  Try to resist increasing your speed until the last 3.25 mile section.
  • After each 3.25 mile section, change the speed to 3.5 (or slower) and walk for a couple of minutes.  I don't normally do this when I run outside, but I find that doing it when I am running on a treadmill allows me to focus better.  That couple minute break is more of a mental break from running in place!
  • Most treadmills time-out at an hour (some less!), so make sure you know what your treadmill does before you start.  Personally, I count the "reset" time in my overall time (I figure it's like stopping at an intersection if you're running outside).
  • If you're feeling good after the first 3 sections, go ahead and increase your speed *slightly* for the last few miles.  I say slightly, because the point of the long run is to work on keeping your heart rate BELOW and certain level.  So if you get your heart rate too high at the end, those last few miles are working you anaerobically instead of aerobically.
 Cool Down:  For every run I do on a treadmill, my cool down is always the same.  I take 5:00 to go roughly 0.3 miles.  I do this by slowing down my speed to 4.5 for 1:00, 4.0 for 1:00, 3.5 for 2:00, and 3.0 for 1:00.

Obviously, you would want to adjust the speeds for whatever you goals are, just be sure to not fall off like those knuckleheads from the video.

TREADMILL TIPS
There's a few things I do that make my treadmill experience a little more enjoyable than they used to be.  Here's the short and sweet of them:
  • Bring a sports bottle to drink out of.  Don't try drinking from a regular cup.  Squeeze bottles of the best.
  • I bring a few small hand towels with me.  I tend to get pretty sweaty on the treadmill, so I bring them to wipe off my face and arms.  Actually, I give myself a little wiping every .25 of a mile.  Not only does this keep me from dripping sweat all over the machine (which makes clean up a bit quicker), but it gives my mind another thing to focus on, other than running in place.  I fold the towels in half twice and wipe, repeating to use the same side until I decide it's too sweaty.  Then, I simply switch to a different side of the towel until it's all used up.
  • Just like any other longer workout, don't forget to use a sports drink and/or gel packs (or whatever other nutrition you plan on using during your race).
  • Find something that will keep you motivated during your run, whether it be T.V., a movie, music, reading a book, whatever.
Ok, that's all I can think of for now.  Sorry for such a long post.  I'm trying to do a better job at going a little more in depth, in case there's actually people out there that can use the info that I'm throwing out there!  Now all that's left is for you to hop on a treadmill and get to work!