Dogs have no care about power meter woes.

Mar 31: Day 47

Planned Workouts:

Today:

  1. Run, 35 minutes Z1
  2. Swim, 250 yd Z1, 3 x (500 yd Z2, 60″ rest) 250 yd Z1
  3. Yesterday: Bike, 15 minutes Z1, 4 x (2.5 minutes Z4/5 minutes Z1) 15 minutes Z1

Weight: 173


Yesterday’s bike was both a great and frustrating experience.  The good part is, I nailed the intervals without much problem so far as I could tell.  Z4 is a pretty tough intensity, basically the hardest pace you could sustain for about 6 minutes.  By breaking this up, I would be doing 10 minutes total in that zone.  Go out hard early and blow up to the point you can’t finish.  Hold back and you are cheating on the workout.  It’s tough to do properly, but I felt like I did great under the circumstances.  I think so anyway, because…

…The bad part came after interval 2, when my power meter started going all wonky.  It was fluctuating between 0 wattage at all to over 2000 watts.  Now, unless I was suddenly turning into Superman there’s no way I was getting to that number.  Of course, this is not an ideal time in the middle of these sets.  Thinking I could fix it fast I jumped off during the rest period between interval 2 and 3 to try and see the problem.

Sometimes when stuff like this happens it’s the battery.  So I tried swapping that out but it didn’t work.  Then I tried remounting the pedal, different head units, recalibrating, no effect.  Meanwhile, time is ticking and I’m in jeopardy of screwing up the workout entirely by resting too long between sets.

Meanwhile, my poor dog Scully who has been cooped up in the house a lot of this week because of the rain has heard the bike trainer stop and come down thinking I’m done and we can go for a walk now.  So here I am trying to fix a $700 piece of equipment with the frantic speed of a pit crew on a race car, with sweat rolling in my eyes and mounting frustration, clock ticking, and my dog be like:

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Yeah, that face is too cute to stay annoyed at anything.

After about 7 minutes of trying I gave up and hopped back on.  It was SLIGHTLY too long between the hard intervals and of course I wasn’t pedaling in Z1 during the time I was trying to fix the pedal, but I hadn’t dropped my HR below Z1, probably due to the stress.  I figured I could still count the workout but only if I finished right now and worried about it later.

I had to use HR and perceived effort to hit my zones and still feel like I accomplished it.  I have a pretty good sense of what gears and how hard I have to go to approximate those power zones anyway.  Meanwhile I have a message in to PowerTap’s customer service to see what they need me to do.  I’m thinking I’m probably going to have to send it in, which may take up to 30 days between waiting for them to send me a box, shipping, waiting for maintenance, shipping back, etc.  Oh well.  At least it’s now and not in October when I really NEED the thing.

This morning’s run was OK.  I needed a light intensity today because all the intervals lately have me wiped.  The guy who wrote my plan says “Although Recovery Runs are the slowest workouts you will do, they won’t necessarily be the easiest because you will do them on tired legs.”

No freaking kidding.

Tonight there is no rain or thunder in the forecast, so I should get to do my swim on time without any interruption.  Looking forward to that like you wouldn’t believe.

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Meanwhile, happy Friday to everyone, hope you all have fantastic weekends.  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Feeling more confident, but lightning sucks

Mar 29: Day 45

Planned Workouts:

  1. Bike, 60 minutes Z1
  2. Swim, 500 yd Z1, 5 x (100 yd Z3/15″ rest) 250 yd Z1, 10 x (25 yd Z5/10″ rest) 250 yd Z1 Bands

Weight: 173


Yesterday I attended the official Ironman Louisville webinar for those who are doing their first IM. It was mostly stuff I didn’t need, like how to use their training plan and who to hire as a coach (a LOT of it was pushing people towards a coach), but there were a few course specific tips that were helpful to hear, including the river current, what to expect on the bike as far as hills and climbs, things like that.

It was amazing to me how much basic stuff they covered, simple stuff like needing goggles and a helmet.  It occurred to me only then that for some people this isn’t just their first IM, this is their first triathlon of any distance.  That really kinda breaks my brain.  I would never advise someone to start at IM.  That being said, I am sure people do it every race and nobody has to follow my path.  It just really kinda amazed me to realize that.

Beyond all the tips and info though, it set in my mind that this is really happening in a way it hadn’t before.  The coach talked a lot about having a picture in your head of finishing the line, that this image will help you as you fight through the mental and physical challenges. I went on the IM Louisville site and saw the below picture.

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That is so going to be me.

She also said something that struck me, that as each person crosses the finish they announce their name followed by “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.  I bet money when I hear that I start bawling.  That’s OK.  I will have earned it.

My bike this morning was a hour in Z1, recovery pace.  I needed it, because there have been some hard intervals lately.  Tomorrow’s bike is going to have several intervals in Z4, so better to rest up now.

I had a swim tonight too, but unfortunately we are full on lightning in the area all the way past 10PM.  Again.  There’s no way it will hold off long enough for me to do the full planned workout, and I am too exhausted from a long workday to try and wait it out anyway.  So I did some brutal ladder sets with my swim bands after walking the munchkin.  It’s not the SAME as being in the water, but I can feel the burn in my arms!

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So tired of weather maps that look like this on my swim nights.

If you ever sign up for one of these events, go to the webinar.  It will calm your mind and steel your resolve, even if you know everything already.  I’m so glad they do these.

I can do this.

I WILL be an Ironman.

Great runs and….bar tape?

Mar 28: Day 44

Planned workout(s) today: Run, 5 minutes Z1, 5 minutes Z2, 4 x (5 minutes Z3/3 minutes Z1) 5 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Weight: If life has taught me anything, it’s not to weigh the day after pizza.


So, day 44.  I know I said yesterday was day 44.  But apparently at 45 I have lost the ability to count.  At all.  So I went back and fixed the last week’s day numbers because somehow they were off all week.  I think it’s probably due to me going back and copying the previous day’s header to keep the formatting and forgetting to update the date or day at some point, then continuing to not catch the error as I go.

Or birthdays.  It could be birthdays.  But I like the other story better, so I’ll stick to that.

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Apparently.

This morning’s run was a revelation of a sense.  I’d been fasting on Mondays for about a month and had middling Tuesday workouts because of it.  I knew that was the main factor, but man, I did not realize HOW MUCH of a factor it was.  Yesterday I fasted until dinner and then ate too much.  However, I had a TON of energy this morning, so much so I had to keep telling myself to pull back.

I was so pumped up I even engaged in a little chest-thumping after interval 3 when I kept pace uphill for most of the interval.  Like, literally thumping my chest tarzan-style because I was so jacked with adrenaline and enthusiasm.  I’m so glad nobody sees me running in the morning.  They’d probably call the people with nets.

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I did not look even close to this good doing it either.

I had some maintenance done on my road bike earlier this year and decided to replace my bar tape.  For those not who are not bike people, bar tape is the stuff you wrap on the handlebars of road and try bikes to provide comfort and grip over the metal bars.  It’s not glamorous or sexy like getting a power meter or new crank, and it’s one of those things that’s easy to sort of put off and not get around to replacing.  It’s just tape right?

Except, it’s just tape that spends it’s life absorbing sun, rain, fog, dirt, grease, river water, salt water, and sweat.  Lots and lots of sweat.  It gets absorbed by the tape and over time, it starts to get kinda gross.  It’s slick, and not as comfortable, and just really ratty.  Of course, you only think about it when you are on the bike.  It’s rarely something that comes to my mind when I am off it, and because it gets gross over time you really don’t know how bad it has gotten.

Until, like a few months back, you put new tape on only ONE of your bikes.  And then you realize how gross the tape on the other one is.

So now I am obsessed with bar tape reviews.  Yes, bar tape.  I am a bike nerd.  Hear me roar.  I actually think I’ve picked out what I want, a red tape (which will really pop off my Cervelo P2) with really good reviews and high durability in all-weather conditions.  I’ve even watched 2 videos on how to put it on and take it off myself.  When I actually do it, maybe I will make a video also to show you the process.

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Because you needed to see a roll of bar tape today.

Meanwhile, have a great Tuesday.  Cheers!

The Apple Watch for an Age Grouper

Mar 27: Day 43

Planned Workouts: Rest Day

Weight: 173


Today I am going to eat pizza for dinner.  It’s sometimes hard to allow myself to do that, but everyone needs a treat every now and again so long as it is every now and again.  Besides, on the rare occasions I get pizza for the family I’m the most popular guy ever.  That’s a great incentive all by itself!

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This might be my dream pizza.

I purchased an Apple Watch series 2 in the offseason and have been using it as my primary fitness device for these first 6 weeks.  There are tons of detailed reviews on fitness devices out there and I’m not going to begin to try and get as technical as those.  However, I thought it might be useful to folks to get a sense of what it’s like to use the device from a practical usability sense, beyond the technical stuff.

 

I got the series 2 with a Nike band.  I waited for series 2 so I could use the swim features, which were important to me.  I really like this band as it is soft, flexible, and breathable.  I wouldn’t pay for one from Apple though: there are bands available for 5-15 bucks on amazon and I got a red/black one that I literally cannot tell the difference between that one and the official one.

 

For that reason, I wouldn’t bother with the Nike+ version again.  I got it for the band, but you get some special faces too which are really….kinda meh to me.  Other than that it’s just the same thing with the app preinstalled, but you can install it anyway.  So….no big deal either way.

FOR SWIMMING

Coming from a Garmin there are some things I love and hate about swimming with the apple watch.  The built in app is very simplistic, basic lap counter, goal setting, etc but there are other apps available that have more features.  I think Apple’s idea is give you enough to get started but the app store will always be a better source.  I personally use one from swim.com.

The good things about it for swimming:

  1. It does do some HR tracking which is better than I expected, without the need for a strap.
  2. The screen is bright and easy to read in the water, even underwater.
  3. There is a setting on the swim.com app that allows me to do kick sets and still get credit for the distance.  I LOVE THIS.  On my Garmin because my arms are not stroking it does not give credit for time doing kick sets or any drill with a steady arm. This allows me to just twist up the crown, set my drill distance, and twist again when done and I get the distance and time credit.

My wish list:

  1. It can be hard to stop the workout to pause or end, because the default app locks the screen during the workout.  The swim.com app is better, using hard presses on the touchscreen, but it is still harder than physical buttons to do lap counters and quick pauses.
  2. No exportation of fitness data with Training Peaks or other services.  I haven’t found an app yet that will effectively export a workout to one of these features.  That’s annoying.

FOR CYCLING

This is going to depend a lot on whether you even use a watch for cycling or rely on a cycling computer.  If you do use an app on your phone, like Strava or Cyclemeter to track your workouts, the transition to apple watch is great.  I personally use Cyclemeter because I can easily design workouts for each different session.  The app itself is where you do this, and then the screen has start/stop buttons and as many customizable data screens as you like.

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My base ride screen.  Note the dots on the bottom–a quick swipe and I have 6 other screens of data, all fully customizable.

The good:

  1. If you use apps for bike tracking already chances are there is an Apple Watch partner app available.  The interfaces are designed for the type of stuff you’d do on a watch face, and the app is where you do the complicated stuff like set up workouts.
  2. I love the haptic feedback for doing intervals.  I get a “tap” on my wrist when it’s time to change zones.  If you have the audio on for your phone it will tell you there, but the tap tells you too, and the watch face displays for about 3-5 seconds a notification of what you should be doing.  It’s perfect for me.
  3. The customizable screens are colorful and easy to read and manipulate.
  4. I can export my data easily from my phone and load it onto tracking sites like Training Peaks.

Wish list:

  1. There is no ANT+, so any sensors you use have to be Bluetooth compatible.  That might be an issue for some.  That being said, pairing had been a breeze with my bluetooth enabled sensors.
  2. Currently if you use Training Peaks or Garmin Connect to track workouts, you have to manually export.  I’ve yet to find an app that automates this.  It’s a 15 second process so it’s no biggie to me, but it might be for some.

FOR RUNNING

Very similar as with cycling.  If you use an app already to track runs no problem, but if you don’t, you can use the on-board workout app.  This is probably where most people use a watch if they use one.  The haptic feedback is similar and most other things are too, with a few nuances:

  1. Many apps require you to still keep your phone, even with the on-board GPS.  Not all, but many.  I hope this changes over time.
  2. Audio controls are easy once you get the hang of it.  You can play music either from the watch or you can control the music on your phone via a watch interface.  I find it easy to double-click the wheel to swap between audio and running app to make audio changes, a heck of a lot easier than digging my phone out of a case or pocket.  Your mileage may vary.
  3. Again, there are no physical buttons so if you count laps and such it may be more annoying, but at least the screen doesn’t lock like in the water.

FOR TRIATHLON

I’ll just say this up-front, I love my apple watch and use it daily for fitness and non-fitness.  But I won’t be taking it on the IM and will borrow a Garmin instead.  There are two simple reasons for this, one that might eventually be addressed and one that likely won’t.  The first is there is no multisport app or mode currently available on the watch.  This means no quick button press to tell the watch you are changing sports.  That makes it difficult to use in a race, but this could be easily addressed by someone, either Apple or a third party, via software changes.

The second is battery.  While for standard use I’ve never had an issue with the battery (usually I have ~60% charge at the end of the day, including whatever workouts I did), but 13 hours of GPS use is not going to happen.  I’m guessing I could get 8, 9 at the most.  If the fix the software issue above I would definitely use it for Olympic or Sprint events without hesitation though.

OVERALL THOUGHTS 

I’ll keep using it and I think for 90-95% of folks out there, even age groupers, it will be plenty of watch.  The HR and GPS are supposedly less accurate but I’ve not had any issues when comparing it to a HR strap or Garmin for either.  They are really, really close to each other 99.9% of the time, close enough for my purposes anyway.  The customization of being able to use whatever tracking app you prefer is fantastic, and because the apps will constantly update I think it will only get better.

I miss some of the physical buttons, especially on the swim.  You have to decide based on how you might use it what you might miss or not miss.  I also haven’t covered the other 90% of the watch features which have nothing to do with workout tracking, and those are well worth considering.

Bottom line, if you are really hardcore or need it for 8+ hour events this probably won’t satisfy you.  Otherwise, I think you will enjoy it.

Lightning delays….

Mar 26: Day 42

Planned Workouts:

  1. Bike, 10 minutes Z1, 10 minutes Z2, 4 x (6 minutes Z3/3 minutes Z1) 29 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
  2. Swim, 300 yd Z1, 900 yd Z2, 300 yd Z1 (Maybe)

Weight: 173



I write this post sitting in the bleachers at the natatorium, waiting to see if I will get to swim.

I did my bike this morning just fine, although it was another leg burner.  The workout says “If you can master this workout, your base speed and VO2max will significantly improve. The key is pacing! Too hard on interval 1, and the workout is a bust.”

Determined NOT to bust, I went hard but steady for the intervals and did all 4 great.  However, by the time I finished the full 90 minutes I was really feeling the burn. I finished near noon, so doing the swim in the afternoon was technically feasible but I figured I’d just go ahead and do it in the evening session. After all, there was rain in the forecast but no lightning. I shouldn’t have any problems, right?

Right?


Apparently there is lightning in the area, or was 10 minutes ago. So the pool is on lockdown for 30 minutes.  Maybe we can get in the pool then.

Maybe.

Maybe if we get in, there won’t be any lightning and I can finish my workout.

Maybe.


Ah, the drudgery of the day to day. Nobody tells you about this stuff. It’s another mental challenge and it’s frustrating that you got out here ready to do the work, and you may not get to do it.  But it’s even harder wondering if you’ll get to do it.

Sigh.

UPDATE!  I got to get it in!  Hooray!  Cheers and enjoy the last bits of weekend!

Runnin’ in the rain

Mar 25: Day 41

Planned workout(s) today: Run, 5 minutes Z1, 15 minutes Z2, 10 minutes Z3, 15 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1

Weight: 172


Had lightning storms go through last night, and this morning I had wind and rain to deal with on my run.

I think a lot of people when you tell them about the events you do (and I’ve done a ton) think the event itself is what makes you tough.  I’ve had some tough events, to be sure.  But honestly?  It’s running a training session in weather like this, when you are cold, tired, and hate every second, and still do it.  THAT’s what makes you tough.

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When I went out this morning it was a light drizzle with 35 degree temps. By the time it got to my Z2 work, it was full on rain, with sideways wind.  On the Z3 stuff, it was pouring, to the point that I had to keep wiping my eyes under my hat to keep seeing where I was going.  During the Z3 I had a tough hill to climb, but I did it, and kept pace, even though part of me was saying the whole time WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO YOURSELF?

See, when you are racing you have something to achieve.  You’ve spent money, you spent time, you have a ton of people around you to inspire you.  It’s really not hard to keep going in that environment.  You have a finish line to achieve, a tangible goal.  This is something that can keep you going even when conditions are tough.

On a bull$%^& training day in March when conditions are terrible?  It’s easy to ask yourself why?  Why am I doing this to myself?  Just stay home!  Crawl in bed!  It would be so much easier.

Except, those are the moments when you truly forge who you are.  Not when you are racing and everything you have been building towards is on the line.  When you are 7 months out and still make it happen, with nothing you can articulate on the line.  That’s the mark of true discipline.

I was glad I found it today even on dead legs, up hills and into wind and cold rain.  I needed to find it.  It gave me reassurance that no matter what, I CAN do this.  I can make it happen.

At the end of the Z3 I had to walk for about a minute.  That’s OK.  I accelerated into Z2 and finished the full workout afterwards.  Came home to pancakes.  Who doesn’t love pancakes at the end of a run?  🙂

I have to push forward, because I found my tattoo.  THIS is what I want on my leg when I am done.  What do you think?

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Another tough day tomorrow.  I’ll push through, and I hope that YOU all push through whatever challenges face you today.  It’s worth it!  YOU are worth it.

Cheers!

Best Laid Plans

Mar 24: Day 40

Planned workout(s) today: Swim, 500 yd Z1, 5 x (100 yd Z3/15″ rest) 500 yd Z2, 500 yd Z1

Weight: 173


If you’ve ever had one of those days where you know the best course of action would have been to stay in bed, that has been my day.

Pretty much across everything really.  Everything from being held responsible for a parking ticket because someone from the business across the street parked at our building illegally (I control none of this, I just happened to be the first person the guy encountered looking for someone to rant at) to my taxes e-filing being rejected because my son claimed himself as an exemption when he is still a dependant, to getting caught outside in a huge thunderstorm when it rolled in.

There’s some other stuff too, but now I feel whiney so I’ll stop and just acknowledge the truth.  It’s just one of those days.

Of course, as miserable as it is right now, the little girl has no sympathy.  Here she is wanting to play Jolly Ball.  Rain, Snow, Sleet, negative temperatures, no sympathy at all.  It will be no different today.  Jolly Ball is the red ball on a rope you see in the picture next to her.  I don’t know why, but this thing is absolutely the greatest thing in the world for her.  She loves to chase it, to haul it, to fetch it, and when nobody is playing with her to grab the end of the rope in her mouth and twirl like a girl training for the olympic hammer throw.  And she is absolutely relentless about getting me out there to toss it for her.

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It would be annoying if she wasn’t so cute.

Now on the fitness and training front I had a swim planned for today, and it was my only workout, a rarity for a Friday.  Of course, lightning storms will last past when the pool hours are, and they won’t open the pool until there is no lightning “in the area”.  So plan B = swim bands.  I had planned to do those Sunday, but apparently God and the weather had other ideas.  Ah well.  Gotta roll with it!

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Meanwhile, I hope all of you are having really awesome Fridays to make up for it all.  Cheers!