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Archive for the 'Triathlons' Category

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 hard – 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 average 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.


Fit to be Tried.

Posted in P90X, Sports, Triathlons on March 21, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Well, I’m halfway through the first official week of triathlon training. Why official? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m thinking of someone officiating it. Or perhaps because I’m writing from an office. That’s probably it.

Random digressions aside, I have a schedule and everything:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Morning P90X Run P90X Run P90X    
Work           Run/ Bike/ Ski Resties!
Evening Bike Swim Ski or rest Swim Bike    

So, I have many opportunities to rest if I need, notably Wednesday night and Sundays.

But let me back up, like I so often do when I Moonwalk on the treadmill. On Thursday, I went swimming for the first time in a great many years. Like 18 years. The instructor is very serious, and she emails workouts the day of training, which feature an inspirational phrase followed by a soul-crushing workout.

“If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.” Said last night’s workout, followed by over 4000 yards of laps. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s over 2.3 MILES of swimming.

So, I survived Thursday, and in all honesty, it felt good to be back in the water. There were plenty of things I needed to correct, but I was overwhelmed at how much I had changed since high school. I was stronger, probably faster, and my lungs were really good thanks to the ski season. Also: I didn’t die. Silver lining and all that.

This past weekend saw me running hither and yon (have you been to yon lately?) to get my gorgeous borrowed bicyle up to riding shape. First, I stripped off all the unnecessary components (rack, water holders, barbeque) and then found some aero bars, which allow the rider to lean way forward in a most aerodynamic of postures whilst riding, and got a new rear tire tube, because the old one had suffered miserably.

I also acquired a trainer, which allows for indoor riding, because the bike remains in one spot while it spins a magnetically-resisted wheel. It’s pretty fun, and works extremely well. I tried this out Monday night, and spent 35 minutes (I’m building up to more) on the saddle.

Tuesday morning I went to the gym to spend time doing one of Life’s Worst Activities: the treadmill. We should probably rebrand them as Dreadmills. My hiatus time for running is on par with that of swimming – around 18 years. So, I started easy(ish) at 7 mph on some varied inclines. I did this for 10 minutes, then fast walked for one minute. Then I ramped things up to 8 mph on level ground, and put in another 8 minutes, then went to 10 mph for two additional minutes. Then I warmed down for four minutes by brisk walking. I’ll again note that this didn’t kill me, but it did expose some weaknesses. Namely, running. I’m just not that good at it. I think it’s a mechnical thing. My stride rivals that of a drugged giraffe. But, it’s something to work on improving, since it likely can’t get any worse. My legs, lungs and heart are in good shape from skiing and P90X, but my calves and shins were not used to the running motion, so they did protest a bit.

Yesterday’s swimming was great again, even if it was over 2.3 miles of it. My calves did have the tendency to cramp when kicking too much, but I blame this on the morning run. I was able to work with the instructor on improving my technique, such as keeping my face down in the water, as opposed to the old style I learned (during the FIRST Bush Administration – yes, Herbert Walker) of tilting your head slightly up. I also need to glide for a greater distance coming out of turns. And yes, I do flip turns, which is probably a great reason to wear a helmet, but thus far it’s been a moot point.

So tonight, I’m taking a break to let my legs rest up for tomorrow morning’s run, and am happy to report that my training is going swimmingly (snort) and I am eager to continue.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be on the Dreadmill.


Try A Thaw Lawn Thyme.

Posted in Sports, Triathlons on March 12, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Yes! It’s that time of year again, when a young man’s fancy turns to… athletic endeavors?

Such is the case for me, as I embark, bolstered by a successful Tour of Anchorage ski race finish, into the Summer Triathlon Series here in Alaska.

So, Triathlon – that’s a technical term meaning three athlons. The traditional athlons, predictably, are things I’m not very good at. The first athlon is swimming. Now, I did do some swimming in high school, but it was decidedly something I did not excel at. I did manage to escape drowning, but merited accomplishments beyond this are scarce. I think the most valuable thing I learned from my Swim Team tenure was the proper pronunciation of the word “chamois.” Bear in mind that this was long before the Sham-Wow.

Now, it has been nearly twenty (20!) years since I have swum competitively, or even swum for exercise. Of course, I’m not including years of hot-tubbing, but I think its exclusion is rather justified.

To remedy such a staggering hiatus, I have enrolled in Master’s Swim classes. I start Thursday. I hope my waterwings still fit.

With the swimming aspect being handled (in my mind) adequately, I then turn my sights to the next athlon; biking.

The most difficult aspect of biking, naturally, is that one requires a bicycle to do it. This, I do not have, at least by any meaningful definition. I still have the mountain bike I used in high school, and it happens to be old enough to vote. It’s also heavy enough to disrupt the Earth’s rotation if I went up a hill, which is nearly impossible, re: its weight.

As luck would have it, a wonderful individual offered a bike designed specifically for road use to me, and I plan on using that. I am also hoping to borrow a trainer to allow the bike to be used in a stationery (stationary? Whichever one doesn’t involve paper products) manner.

That solved, I must turn my attention to my least favorite activity; running. As I mentioned ages ago in this very blog, I am not remotely adept at running. Not even to save my life. I’m not exactly sure why this is. Perhaps it’s because running is an activity I absolutely despise. All I can think about is how much my entire body hurts the moment I begin to run. That said, I do plan on running, at least for the duration required by the local triathlons. We’ll see if I can finish in sufficient time to prevent my  body from completely rattling to bits.

So there we have it, my plan of a trifecta of athlonic activities. Which should be doable should I manage to keep my waterwings inflated, bike from voting (or running for Congress), and body from rattling asunder.

I’ll be the one with the chamois.


This week, I’ve raced the Tour of Anchorage, started Phase II of P90X, and am starting to train for the summer triathlon series.

This is Exhibit A of having zero social life.

Posted in P90X, Sports, Thought of the Day, Triathlons on March 8, 2012 by Webmaster Mike