Mountain Bike Mondays and a Gift from Me to You!!!

Mountain Bike Mondays...

In my training schedule Mondays are usually pretty easy days. I try to get a swim done in the mornings and spend the rest of the day relaxing and gearing up for the week of work and workouts. If the legs are feeling fresh and the weather cooperates, I really like to get outside and jump on the mountain bike. The speed of riding on the road can be fun but there is just something about getting off the asphalt and onto the dirt that really make riding off-road enjoyable.

Me and the Goose overlooking Wandermere Golf Course

I do my best to try and rope in anyone who is interested and head for the trails. This week Nate, Greg and I headed out to see what trouble we could get ourselves in. This time we headed up to the bluff overlooking the Wandermere golf course and were presented with a pretty awesome view.

Nate riding the trails.

A Tricky Descent

Greg and Nate cruising along...

Greg and Nate discussing if it is possible to ride down the face of the cliff...we decided to take the long way down.

Great View!!!

Riding the mountain bikes is a great change in pace and really helps to replenish the tank after a long weekend of tough workouts.

Also a few weeks ago, GU Energy sent me out the new GU Performance Energy Sampler. Now I have tried many of the GU products throughout my training but having the opportunity to try so many different flavors in one easy place...Very Cool.

GU Performance Energy Sampler

You get 9 GU Energy Gels, all 3 GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gels, 2 bags of GU Chomps, 2 packets of GU Electrolyte Brew and 1 packet of GU Recovery Brew. This gives you a great chance to figure out what combination of each will help you stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up throughout your workout or race.

Some other exciting news of GU is the new flavor gel...Mandarin Orange. I have already used a few of these on my workouts and I can tell you, they can't get these out fast enough. Unfortunately, they won't be out until July but keep your eyes open and be sure to give them a try...unless you keep reading and you might not have to wait.

As for the Gift from Me to You...I have a GU Sampler that I plan to give away. All you need to do is comment on this post and you are entered. It's that EASY and you get $35+ in free supplements!!! I will do a random number drawing and will contact the winner for your mailing information. There is a good chance...a definite possibility you will be receiving a few packets of the new Mandarin Orange gels to try out. Sorry I couldn't resist!!!

Raffle ends on Sunday May 30th at 11:59 PM. So have your comment submitted by then.

"GU Energy provided the Performance Energy Sampler free of charge for me to review and the opinions of this post are mine"

Still time to Play!!!

Even though I am in the thick of my Ironman training, I have still been able to find a little bit of time to play. Last year at this time ALL I could think about was Ironman...basically eat, sleep and drink it. This year is different. I know the race is still one of the toughest physical challenges there is so I am trying to force myself to not get complacent, but that doesn't mean having some fun is out of the question.

Underwater Close-Up!

For the past few months my triathlon club, Tri-Fusion, has set aside some money for us to hire professional coaches to instruct us on anything triathlon. From swimming, biking, running or even nutrition. We offer the instructor $50 for their time and in turn get priceless information to help us improve. Basically free coaching...and when it comes to triathlon, free anything is AWESOME!!!

As of now, we have really only used it for our Sunday Master Swims at OZ North. We bring in a swim coach and get technical advice for the 1.5 hour session. Since I get the majority of my distance workouts done during the week, it is really nice focus on technique and all the small things that ALWAYS need a little bit of adjusting.

The other great thing about these swims are the laid back atmosphere and the fun people. We are always cracking jokes at each other, at the coaches and for the most part at ourselves. We try impossible drills like swimming freestyle backwards or doing the V-Skull. Honestly, without these workouts, there is no way I would enjoy this sport and swimming as much as I do.

Cool Picture with the Refraction
Note how big the legs are compared to the tiny heads.

Rotation Drill: Helps you focus on your core while swimming...Way more fun for the person holding the legs.

It almost looks like I know what I am doing right here...ALMOST!

Kick Sets!!! I am pretty sure I will NEVER enjoy these.

Apparently Coach Glory makes fun of me because of how 'unstreamlined' I am when I push off the wall.
How about dem apples?

In true triathlete fashion, it turned into a competition on who could push off the wall and glide the farthest.

So if you are a perfect swimmer and have absolutely NO room for improvement then maybe these swims are not for you but if by some chance you spend countless hours swimming by yourself, watching instructional videos on the internet or reading books, save yourself some time and stop by OZ and get some one on one coaching.

I would like to send out a special thanks to Jessi for getting these organized each week.


One Hill of a Ride!!!

Within all the Ironman training there are a few weekends that you look forward too. I like to refer to them as the 'Easy Weeks'...but the term is used very lightly. As I glance at my workout schedule for each week, the first thing I do is go to my Saturday ride just to see what I am in for and well basically start the mental preparation that it takes for me to convince myself that a 4, 5, or 6 hour ride actually sounds like fun. BTW- I usually fail miserably when my rides exceed the time it takes to drive to Seattle.

After two big weeks in a row, this week was an 'Easy Week' and all I had was a 3 hour ride with a short brick to follow. For the record, I can easily talk myself into believing a 3 hour ride will be fun...how sick is that :)

After meeting up with Eric Worden, Ron Crenshaw and the gang we headed out to find some hills. Now since I haven't been able to get over to the Ironman CDA course very often, finding hills is a must and well I think we found EVERY freakin' one on the north side of Spokane for this ride. It was a ton of fun riding with some new blood and getting out to see what the legs could handle with a little lactic acid as we climbed hill after hill.

So if you are interested adding a few hills to your next ride, try a few of these out.

Take Mill to Waikiki and out Rutter Parkway: 2 Hills
Turn right on Rutter Parkway (towards 9 Mile Falls): No Hills :)
Turn right on Nile Mile Rd: 1 Hill (Big Sandy)
Turn right on Jergens: 1 Hill
Turn left on Swenson: 1 BIG Hill
Turn right on Casburg-Borroughs: No Hills :)
Turn right on Monroe: No Hills :)
Turn left on Staley: 1 Hill
Cross Hwy 395 and head on Denison-Chattaroy: 1 Hill
Turn right on Perry: No Hills :)
Turn right on Chattaroy Rd: 1 STEEP Hill
Turn left on Perry: 1 Hill
Follow to Little Spokane Dr and take to Mill: 1 BIG Hill

Now these are the 'Get out of the Saddle' and 'Wish you had a Grannie Gear' climbs along this route. There are still plenty of rollers and other challenging areas to really make you work.

Thanks to Eric for mapping it out and putting together a great ride.

Eric W. and Ron C. shedding some layers after BIG Sandy

Waiting for the train at the base of one climb...What the Buck!?!?!

You can get very close to the train...these things are LOUD!!!

At least there was some artwork to look at while we waited.

Some more train art...not sure how they paint this, these things are moving pretty quick!

What a great way to enjoy my 'Easy Week' ride. It was a nice change of pace and I was done with my ride and run before NOON!!! For someone training for Ironman, that is like finding the Holy Grail of free time...something I don't have too much of.

We are now 5 weeks out from Ironman...let the countdown begin!!!


Lap After Lap...

On Thursday, Coach Kevin began practice by saying "This is going to be a FUN practice..." and we usually know we are in for some that in all honestly is going to be anything but fun. This is when he asks a few of us to grab the mats and bring them to the end of the pool which in swimmer language means 'ALL KIND OF PAIN' !!!

For many of you it might be difficult to see how FUN and PAIN can be used to describe the same thing but in Kevin's mind...they do.

So on to the all kinds of pain workout. Basically it is dry land exercises mixed in with a bit of swimming.

Main Set:

Swim 100 yards
10 Pull-Ups on the blocks
Swim 100 yards
10 Body Weight Squats
Swim 100 yards
20 Crunches
Swim 100 yards
10 Push-Ups
Swim 100 yards
20 Crunches

and then repeat 4-5 times...

Now this starts out pretty easy. Your arms are fresh and getting in and out of the pool is not an issue but as you move into sets 3, 4 and 5 each effort is that much more difficult. Then there is the issue of trying to transition back into a perfect stroke for your 100's. Your arms begin to burn in the first 25 and you wish the was a hoist to lift you out of the pool for each exercises.

See it can be fun ;)

So if you are looking to mix things up and try something new, give this a shot. It is a great way to build some additional strength and yet still get a great swim workout in.

Each and every Friday, is called 'Fun Friday' which basically means...we get to use toys during out workout. Fins, cords and weights racks. This is another great way to change up your workouts.

The reason we use the fins is to let us know what it feels like to swim fast...something that will probably never really happen. No really, the reason why is to help you feel drag in the water and eventually help you reduce it and make you a more efficient swimmer. Basically I call it, 'Waiting for a Cramp' set because usually I am trying to kick too hard and almost every time some part of my leg decides to cramp up.

When you are swimming 3-4 times a week, things can get tedious. Back and forth, up and down the lane over and over. Flip turn after flip turn. At our Spokane Waves Masters swim practices we have a few things to mix it up a bit...

Jessi and Tiffany finishing Breastroke with the cords.

The cords are another 'Fun' and yet painful (see I used it again) device to help build power and feel speed in the water. The goal is to swim from one end of the pool to the other trying your hardest to reach the bulkhead before the cord stops you. It starts off easy and as the rubber tubing stretches it gets more and more difficult. Eventually you either stop and have to grab the lane line or you reach the end and grab the bulkhead.

The best part of cords is the way back. You really get an idea of how your body moves through the water.

The weight racks are all about power. You are attached to the rack by a belt and the goal is to swim as hard as you can to pull the weights to the top...and according to Kevin it should be done in about 8 seconds. I am still working on trying to remember pictures and videos during the workout so hopefully next time I can show them off.

So if you are getting bored in the pool and tired of counting lap after lap might I suggest you throw one of these workouts in and see what happens.


New Toys and a Weekday Ride...

The week started off with Jessi giving me a call asking if she should pick me up the same Fuji Waterproof camera that she found for a screaming deal about a month ago. Since my last digital camera was purchased in 2005...there was NO WAY I was going to pass this up! So now there is really no excuse for not having pictures to post on my blog. You can take this thing ANYWHERE, the pool, on rides, even raining runs...it is perfect for a triathletes active and usually unpredictable lifestyle.

So I headed out on my first ride with my new camera and was in store for quite the ride....like stop you dead in my tracks...kind of ride. Serioulsy the wind was that freakin' strong. My body is excited to say that I was able to stay upright and after battling through some of the nastiest conditions of the season, the weather finally broke and the sun came out.

If you look to the left of the picture you will see the nasty rain clouds I had just ridden through and if you look to the right you can see that tiny bit of blue sky...that is where I am headed.

I had to meet a few friends up on the south hill and decided to take a detour over to the Centennial Trail. If you have been following along, yes this is the same trail as the fishnet shirt incident but in a completely different part of town. With the weather was less than ideal, I had the entire road to myself and maybe saw 3 or 4 people the whole ride.

This is a view from the trail near Nine Mile Falls Dam. An absolutely perfect day for a ride.

My planned route had me heading into some familiar territory that I have missed greatly since making the move up north, the old BLT loop (Bike Loop Tuesday). This was where I got my first introduction into group rides with Tri-Fusion, flying along in a pace line and frequently getting dropped off the back. I really enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with getting off the main roads and just riding.

And if you have ever ridden the BLT Loop than you are well aware of Death Hill #1!!! Though I found it not near as 'deathy' as I had in the past. Apparently all this training has done something.

Even though the ride started out crappy with rain and hail and the thought of turning around had snuck into my head, I am glad I decided to stick it out and enjoyed an awesome ride with some great scenery...even if fishnet shirts left at home :(


Race Day Nutrition Test...

Last weekend I had my longest ride of the year on the schedule. With Ironman only 7 weeks away, I know how important it is to get my race day nutrition figured out. Without trying to complicate things too much, the plan was to use the same game plan as last year.

Now I am not a nutritionist and who really knows if this is the best plan but it worked for me. When you are racing anywhere from 9+ hours, making sure you have proper fueling and enough calories to get through the entire day is very important. Making sure you body can handle the supplements and still function at such a demanding level is even more critical.

As I left this morning, I had to practically fill my jersey pockets to the top since I was going to be out on the road for 4.5 hours. I tried to grab a mix of different GU gels and GU Chomps. Though I have flavors I really like (Banana is the best) too much of one flavor can get old quick.

So here is the plan: eat GU Energy Gels at :15 and :45 past each hour spent on the bike and half a bag of GU Chomps at :00 and :30. It equates to 380 calories per hour but more importantly it is VERY easy plan to follow. There is no adding time or trying to figure out what I am suppose to take or how long it has been. When I see 15 I take a gel, when I see 30, I go for the Chomps. If I learned anything during last years race, make your fueling plan as SIMPLE as possible. The last thing you want to do is eat on the bike and having to think about it is even worse.

What is left after a 4.5 hour ride...

As you can see it makes for a ton of wrappers when you are done.

I have also struggled recently with hydration, rarely ever drinking enough to keep my above that imaginary BONK line. Today I really focused on many small drinks and by the time the ride was over, I was out of GU Brew and water...Success!!!

I am excited to say that this worked great for today's ride and unless anything crazy happens in one the next few rides, I am pretty sure I will carry this all the way through race day.

Out near Loon Lake...a great new loop!
Less than 5 minutes after this picture the rain and hail started. Thankfully it only lasted a few minutes.

As for the ride itself, went really well even though actually sitting on that saddle again sounds like the worst idea ever. But in all reality, I can only hope for a few more just like it.


Bloomsday 2010- Race Report

Ohh Bloomsday!!! How I forget how much you hurt.

The plan for this race was to run hard, run fast and do whatever I could to try and beat last years time...weather it by 1 second or 1 minute, I really didn't care.

Leading up to the race, I had many people tell me how easy it was going to be because of all the training I have been doing. It can be hard to explain but once again just because this race is shorter, doesn't mean it is easy AT ALL!!! Yes if I needed to, I could have run the course one, two or maybe even three times(ok lets not get too crazy) but when the effort is increased and you are running with your heart wanting to jump out of your chest...it really doesn't matter if it is 100 yards or 100 miles, it all hurts just in a different way.

I am not going to lie, going into Bloomsday I really didn't feel like I was faster than last year. I knew I was in much better shape but faster...not so much. My base training is leaps and bounds ahead of last year but speed work isn't really in the cards when you are training for Ironman.

After looking up last years time and doing a little math...I was going to have to run sub 6:19/mile to beat my time. Well I guess I would have only had to run one mile just one second under that pace and in all reality that would have been perfect.

After a short warmup, getting spoiled with the gear drop for 2nd seed, I found myself one person from the front of the pack. Now this was probably not the smartest idea since I barely qualified last year but it was still pretty freakin' cool standing up front with some amazingly fast runners.

When the gun went off it was time to kick it in high gear and see what this body could do for the next 40 something minutes. After forgetting to start my watch when I crossed the timing mats, I had to rely on my buddy Rob for our Mile 1 split...it was at this point he says 5:45...it was at this point I said...HOLY $%&#!!!

This was way to fast but knowing the first 1.5 miles are down hill I knew it couldn't hurt to bank at least a few seconds for Doomsday Hill. Mile 2 flew by at 5:55 and it was at this point, I wasn't sure if the wheels could hang on for the next 5.5 miles.

Heading up Doomsday Hill...Hurts So Good!!!

Photo by Josh Burdick

I was soon slapped back into reality with a few miles in the high 6:20's and low 6:30's but found a groove and ran my last mile in 6:15 and finished with a new PR for Bloomsday of 46:32...a whole 36 seconds faster than last year. Even though the speed work is all but none existent, my overall endurance is better and I was able to push the entire race and finish strong.

Another successful Bloomsday in the books and I guess I just set the bar that much higher for next year :)

Until next time...