Monthly Archives: January 2014

Amazon Instant Triathlete

Amazon_LogoTime for a training update. Life has sure been hectic this winter in Montana. I have had four kids for about a year now, and I sort of had the notion that life would get easier as the kids got older. You know, less diapers, less screaming and such. Yeah……not my brightest idea. Despite the increasing number of kids classes, birthday parties, house chores, and exploding business, I am still finding times to sneak in training. Actually even more training.

As I mentioned last time, I am doing a very hacked version of the Endurance Nation plan combined with Trainer Road and personal coaching to get ready for Boise. Surprisingly, things have been going great for the past 11 days. Lets start with the running. It’s been pretty icy here in Montana, so most of my running has been on the treadmill. After the injury I got from running around the indoor track, I have pretty much saved the ring of death for cool downs only. Everything else has been on the dreadmill.

I have had several treadmill winters here in Montana (easy to do when I can routinely ski to work if I wanted to), and every time I get back to running outside in the spring, I feel like crap. To help compensate this year, I decided to bump the incline from 1% to 2%. You wouldn’t think that would make much a difference, but it certainly did for me. But I endured for a week, even the threshold mile repeats, and things quickly got much more manageable. Last week I even squeezed out a 13.1 miles at the Peak in Great Falls, with 3 x 1 threshold mile repeats starting after mile seven.

My goal for running this go around is to get my body very used to running my goal race pace of 8:45 when my body is hurting. For years before this, I have tried the “run fast and short and you can run slower and longer on race day” plan with limited success. Not saying it isn’t a good idea, but it hasn’t produced good results personally.  I pretty much know my half ironman is going to be decided in the last six miles of the run. So I will train for the pain. I end every run with at least one mile at goal race pace. Yes, my vdot is still low and my GRP pace is really slow, but I am aiming conservatively this year. This week, things are continuing to improve. Two days ago, I put in another three miles at a threshold pace that is getting easier and easier despite it being only two weeks since my 5k test. 

For swimming, things are essentially on the back burner. After one group swim at the end of December, I pretty much stopped swimming. Too many charts and not enough lanes. This week I am back at, and I haven’t loss too much. I am not focusing on swimming this season as I know it’s going to take a long time to get better at that. No, this isn’t some sort of EN mantra thing; I love swimming in the winter. I just know more gains can be made with cycling and running. Today, I am at 4:57 for 300yd repeats.

And for cycling? It’s sweet. Literally. Not only did I not lose too much off my all time high FTP over the fall, but the Trainer Road Sweet Spot base training is feeling great. Many of my rides are around 88-94%: they are a mix of good effort and comfortable leg speed. Here is an example:

TR sweet spot training.

TR sweet spot training.

In fact, the rides almost feel too good. But I am proceeding cautiously because I know that in a few weeks, all hell is going to break loose. Speaking of hell, I am also adding in Sufferfest rides when I can. First it was Revolver in between ski lessons last week; fortunately it wasn’t a downhill experience:

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Last Saturday, it was time for my favorite training ride with the ladies at 0530:

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Yeah, apparently my clock is wrong on my powermeter. I did this first foray at 95%, and that may have been too low, because thanks to some miracle, I got a brisk (16 degrees),outdoor,  pre-sunrise run in afterwards. That 2% on the treadmill may be working as I barely felt like I was running at 8:30 ish.

A fun pyramid run.

A fun pyramid run.

Equipment wise, the Quarq is riding great. No problems whatsoever. I’m in love with it. I might list it as a beneficiary on my life insurance. Finally, diet wise, things are heading in the right direction, despite becoming a connoisseur of Skinny Cow Ice Cream . I am coming back down to my race weight; about 2 more pounds to go. No crazy supplements or Mexican worms; I am eating lots of veggies and lean meats.

This Saturday, one of the toughest training blocks I have ever done starts: The Tour of Sufferlandria. Day after day of cycling suffering. Fortunately, one thing that has made suffering on the bike much easier this year is my Amazon Prime membership. No, I do not have a sponsorship deal with Bezos. However, I did get a Kindle for my birthday, and ever since, I have been abusing the crap out of my Prime membership. This month, I have already caught up on all of Agents of Shield, re-watched the  Matrix Trilogy, endured Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China, and even found interest in Cruise’s Oblivion. Tonight’s 1 hour ride and subsequent 5k was motivated by Captain Philips. I don’t think Downtown Abbey is going to make it into the rotation, but who knows….there are a lot of hours ahead on the trainer. If only top fitness was available with 2 day free shipping.

Epic suffering…..and movies ahead.


Test Week: The 2014 Baseline

As I wrote previously, I finally got my Quarq Elsa installed this week. Now that I am back in power measuring land, and it’s the beginning of the January OS in Endurance Nation, there was only one thing on the training agenda this week: TESTING.



For the newbies, testing means basically running a 5k TT and riding a 40 minute TT. Doing so gives you an idea of your current fitness and a basis on which to set your training paces on. Let’s recap.

5K Test:

Okay, my goal this year is to be right on with the training zones. So I chose a reliable method of testing that I could repeat during the Montana winter. As our roads and tracks are covered with ice and snow, that meant one thing: dreadmill. On Tuesday, I grabbed a bunch of yellow sticky notes and covered up the speed and pace displays on our gym’s Woodway. I won’t lie; my treadmill looked like the ultimate walking desk after I set it up. After a ten minute warm up, off I went at 2% grade. Overall, it was a good and smooth effort. I was hurting, but not terribly. Final time came in a low slow 23:28. This gives me a vdot of 41. Here are my new paces. DON’T LAUGH.



At first take, one may wonder why in the world I ran a marathon this December if I was going to end up with a vdot of 41. But this score makes perfect sense to me. My marathon training added durability to my legs, not speed. I barely ever trained below 7:45 pace while getting ready for Seattle. And while my test was slow, it was a stable and smooth slow. I felt in control of my form. I think I am in a good position for finally making some changes upward in my vdot plateau.

2X20 Test

Okay, time for the bike. I picked up my new gleaming, installed crank from the LBS on Tuesday after my 5k test, and I spent Wed calibrating everything and testing the connections with my Garmin 910xt and Trainer Road. I am happy to say that there were no hiccups at all. The meter paired with both devices on the first try. After a night of rest, it was time to test out the new shiny during lunch today.

"Why do you test?"

“Why do you test?”

I booted up the scripted 2X20 test on Trainer Road as I like its warm up. And yes, I know there are shorter testing protocols, but I like my good old 2X20. It has proved reliable to me. Maybe it is all in my head, but the first thing I noticed was how smooth my new Quarq is compared to my old crank. Pedaling a Quarq made my old crank feel like I was sanding wood with my legs. After getting my legs opened up and starting up the Matrix on Amazon Prime, it was time to roll. Here’s how it played it.

The big picture.

The big picture.

Nitty gritty. I like the new power balance data.

Nitty gritty. I like the new power balance data.


Overall, this was one of the best feeling tests I have ever done. It was painful, but similar to my 5K test: a controlled and smooth pain. I played it conservative for the first 20 minutes and then opened it up for the middle ten in the second 20. Garmin has my NP at 228w and TR recommended 230w. Both are close enough, but I took the Garmin number to be sure. 228w is where I start.

I am actually greatly pleased by this. While training for Seattle, I hardly ever rode my bike. For weeks at a time. So I was expecting to be way lower than my all-time high FTP of 235w. Yes, I have been riding for about two weeks, but I still was expecting to be somewhere like 220w or 215w. I am very pleased to be starting my torture at this level.  Of course, maybe there is a difference between my old and new power meters, but I will never be able to tell. To boot, I may have been able to give some more as I still got in a easy 3.5 mile run today. I like this new durability.

Alright, time to get this party started!

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