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Archive for April, 2012

Swim like a Brick

Posted in P90X, Sports, Triathlons on April 25, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Tired of being bored? Thinking of trying something new? Want to suffer like you’ve never suffered before?

Try a Brick Workout.

Coach Angie appears to subscribe to the Nietzsche School of Workouts; to wit, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

We should be plenty strong by now. Last week’s brick workout saw sufficient bouts of near-death that we might be expected to be invincible now. After a rather exciting and involved swim, where we tried to compress 90 minutes of workout into a mere hour, we quickly changed and met outside to run. And run we did. On Ski Hill Road. I’m going to stress the Hill part. There are many hills on Ski HILL Road. Hill, yes. We were to meet by the blue sign, which happened to be about a mile down the road from the starting point.

You might find this astonishing, but I got lost again.

I blew right by the sign and managed to find the Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. It wasn’t open. Back I ran and caught up to the group, which were enjoying an exciting round of hill repeats. Hill repeats feature a brutal sprint up said hill, and then a “recovery” period on the way down. We did this many, many times, then staggered back to the starting point. That night I ran over 4 miles, and my time for the first mile was around 7:30. Not great, but not bad for hilly conditions.

Wednesday we biked again. We were to do a race-pace loop to the College and back. We did, and finished with a decent time. Then we were told we were to do it again, this time faster than the first loop. I did it, but barely. It actually helped to be warmed up from the first go-round.

I was out of town, so missed the remaining workouts for the week, but managed to get a good bit of biking in.

Monday saw more running. On Ski HILL Road, naturally. Of course, this was after a big time P90X Chest and Back and Abs morning workout. We met at the High School again. This time I knew where the one mile mark was, but we didn’t use it. Instead, we blew past all the way to the other side, and then regrouped to do more Hill Repeats. And these were devastating. Repeat after repeat. It’s like the infinite loop I’ve been caught in when I try to follow exactly the instructions on a shampoo bottle.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Lather. Rinse…

I ended up running over six miles. That’s way farther than I have ever run in my life. And much of it was sprinting. Oh, and my time for the first mile was 6:30 – so I’m improving.

The next morning, I was so sore I could barely move. Luckily, I had Masters swimming to look forward to. After two miles of “Broken 500s,” I was feeling the Broken aspect all too well.

This morning I taught P90X Plyometrics, also called Jump Training or “Cry-o-metrics.” It wasn’t easy, as my legs weren’t enthusiastic about having me repeatedly leave the planet.

So now, tonight, we bike the Loop. I have done some tweaks to my lovely borrowed bike (She’s named Celeste.) We’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed, but I hope to do the entire Loop in under an hour. This of course depends on whether my legs will speak to me.

I think they’re still upset from Cry-o-metrics.


Brick by Brick

Posted in P90X, Sports, Triathlons on April 16, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Bricks are heavy. Most people know this, regardless of if they listened to L7. For last Wednesday’s Tri Class, I was informed we’d be doing a “brick workout.” Not being familiar with the term, I had fleeting thoughts of bricklaying – maybe we could build a foundation for a new edifice! I showed up ready for bike class – indoors again. Coach Angie told us that we were to leave immediately after cycling, change shoes, and go running. This training method – two or more disciplines back-to-back, is called a Brick Workout. Fortunately, it has many other bricklike features, as I was to soon find out. As our hour on the bikes rolled to a close, we jumped off and gathered our gear. This wasn’t easy, as my legs refused to cooperate well, and I looked like a three-sheets-to-the-wind sailor staggering off a ship.

Phase 1 of a Brick Workout: Your legs and feet – they feel like bricks.

Switching into running shoes, we began running. I might add that my gait had not deviated from that of the abovementioned sailor. To wit, I staggered. My calves felt insanely tight, but this moderated after a bit. We ended up running up Water Tower Hill, which has the charming feature of being at an extreme level of elevation compared to the surrounding city – gravity fed water and all that. Not only did we run up it once, we did sprint drills on that hill.

“Recover on the way down!” Coach would yell. Easier said than done.

Phase 2 of a Brick Workout: Your brain has to be over 80% brick to agree to do a brick workout.

We worked on form and psychological aspects of the run segment, which was good, since my body had given up halfway through the first hill climb. The good thing was that it was a gorgeous day, and it was nice to be outside, despite having a brain and legs made out of bricks. Another nice feature: according to my heart rate monitor, my heart still believes I’m in my 20s.

Phase 3 of a Brick Workout: Afterward, you feel like you’ve been pummeled by a great many bricks.

Friday found us cycling indoors as coach gave us important pointers on nutrition necessary for training and competing for events like triathlons. This was in anticipation of Saturday, where we had a fast but brutal swim workout. After a brief hiatus, a group of us got together for a bicycle ride around the Loop – the path/road system between Kenai and Soldotna.

This was the first time I had taken my gorgeous borrowed bicycle outside, so I had no idea what to expect. I had ridden plenty on the trainer, but that’s completely different than actually hurling along outside. I realized that this was the first time I had EVER ridden a true road bike. I had ridden some hybrid mountain/road bikes some two decades ago, but that was it.

I was excited.

We ended up going over 26 miles, with an average speed of 17.5 mph. I think that’s a pretty good starting point. It was way faster than any mountain bike. My borrowed bicycle did brilliantly – smooth and fast and easy to get going. Climbing, in particular, was very fun. Also of note: I hit 36 mph on the downhill from Skyview High School. Good times.

The next day, I did a very less-intensive mountain bike ride between Kenai and Soldotna. I noted how interesting the scenery was – something I had missed completely when road biking.

So, things are rolling (snort) right along with the tri training. I’m going to go for a run tonight before tomorrow’s Swim / Run Brick.

I’ll be the one with the brain and legs made of bricks.


Running shoes, hiking boots, biking shoes, work shoes, ski boots, dress shoes, trail running shoes…

Since when did I become Imelda Marcos?

Posted in Sports, Thought of the Day, Triathlons on April 11, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Confessions of a Dangerously-Confused Mind

Posted in P90X, Sports, Triathlons on April 3, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

With Triathlon training well underway, I have been dabbling in the various disciplines involved. The most serious, thanks to the Masters class, is swimming, which I have been doing twice a week, and enjoying it very much. I haven’t been training as hard as I would like at cycling, thanks to late meetings or CPR evening classes. My running has been nearly nonexistent – mostly stumbling about on the Dreadmill for a while on mornings when I’m not doing P90X.

As luck would have it, I got an invitation to join a friend’s free cycling class over the weekend. The class was whimsically titled “The Sufferfest” and featured two (!) hours of intense cycling training. Her facility has a great many stationary bikes, a sound system, and giant televisions. The first Hour of Suffering was her own program – interval training mixed with long, long climbs for endurance. THEN, we got to the Extra Special Bonus Suffering. The next hour was a video program that we followed along with – from the perspective of a biker in various races. It was great. And difficult. I’m happy to report that I pushed it hardĀ – as hard as I could. My posterior was not thrilled with the saddle time, but I managed to walk away from the class. Angie, our instructor, was not only pushing harder than anyone else, but encouraging and very helpful.

After the Sufferfest concluded, I decided that it was in my best interest to join her Triathlon-specific training program, which was to begin Monday.

After work yesterday, I rolled up to the SoHi parking lot and met my fellow triathlon enthusiasts. There were a bunch of us. I was apprehensive, as I had that day learned that the day’s lesson was a time trial. For RUNNING.

Yes, my most dreaded form of transportation, aside from moon walking.

“What’s your mile time?” Coach Angie asked. I had no idea. I thought about running in high school (nearly two decades previous).

“Um, seven, eight minutes?” I guessed.

“Okay, you’ll run four miles today, then. I have to see your averageĀ heart rate for at least a 30 minute run.”

“Oh…kay?” I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I was reasonably sure I could do three miles, especially if I could walk for a minute or so between miles, but four? I was dubious.

After some warmups, we set out to run.

I began with what I thought was a good seven or eight minute per mile pace, and monitored my heart rate. After a few minutes, I was steadily into the 160s, which is perfect for me, as I felt that I could maintain that pace for a good while. My legs weren’t really used to running, but they were in good shape from P90X and skiing. One mile rolled into two, and I felt surprisingly good. Coming in on the home stretch to mile three, Coach yelled me my three mile time and asked if I wanted to keep going so I could complete my four. Astonishingly, I did, and kept rolling.

This is where things went haywire.

I managed to get lost (in SOLDOTNA!). But I kept running, eventually found my way, and ran all the way back to the SoHi parking lot. I even put on a little extra speed at the end, pushing my heart rate up into the high 170s.

And I felt great! I ran for over 37 minutes straight, and could still do things like speak in complete sentences and not die.

I was blown away. My three mile (5k or thereabouts) time was 22:40 – so there is room for improvement, but that amounts to about a 7:33 minute per mile pace. That I held onto that (and even sped up) for 37 minutes means that I ran for nearly five miles, WITHOUT STOPPING. I’m pretty sure I’ve never done that in my life. My average heart rate during the run was 164, max 177.

So, I was able to run. I am a runner. Gads, I might even be enjoying it.

It seems my most-feared event might be not-so-terrible, so who knows? They might make a runner out of me yet.

Now I just need to stop getting lost.