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Bad news: It has been way too long since my last post. Good news: The reason for the rarity these days is that I have been too busy with work, family, and training more than ever.  So let’s cut to the chase.

First up, since my last post I once again participated in the pinnacle of winter masochistic behavior. No, I’m not talking about the endless battle with the town snowplow at the end of my driveway (that is worthy of its own blog post one day). I’m talking about The Tour of Sufferlandria.

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In short, its nine days of hellish indoor training rides delivered via videos. Here is how it rolled out:

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This year, it was again a lesson in pain and patience. I managed to keep all the rides at 90% effort or greater. Overall, it felt more tolerable than last year….probably because I didn’t increase my FTP right before starting the tour this time. I will say though, the two ride days were pretty hellish.

Even better, the big cycling block seems to have resulted in some good fitness gains. I am consistently cruising in aero at my FTP now. Here was my first ride following the tour.

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Run wise, things are actually coming along. During the tour, I tried to keep running every day; at least three miles.  Early on I was able to even tolerate some threshold miles. However, by day 6 I was more battered than an Under Armor Speed Skating Suit and I gave up on the dreadmill.

Fortunately, after the tour, I was back up and running pretty quickly. To boot, the cycling gains seemed to have crossed over to running. My threshold pace, which was killing me worse than my tax return, is now a comfortable cruising speed for me.

The gains were most obvious this weekend, when I added the pieces together. Yesterday was an hour ride with 3X10 min near FTP. Some standing and single leg sessions were also peppered in.

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I followed this with five miles; three miles were at my threshold pace (7.5mph at 2%). Form was good and in control. This morning, I was back at it at 0500 with a 1.5 hour ride with 5X10 min at FTP, all in aero.

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I followed this with 7.5 miles at GRP ~8:30 (6.8 @ 2%). There was some difficulty but I kept at it. Based on this week, I think it’s going to be time to test again soon.

I have even picked up my swimming more. It has certainly been slow going and I am still striving to find that comfortable endurance rhythm. One stroke at a time.

For some extra motivation, I decided to take advantage of Trisport’s spring clearance sale. Amazingly, I picked up some new Sidi cycling shoes for 80% off. I’ll admit; I have been using the same LG cycling shoes for four years. Yes. Three Ironmans with the same shoes….without socks. As my feet were starting to look, and smell, like something from a Texas Chain Saw Massacre sequel, I figured it was time for an upgrade. Shiny pics to come.

I need new cycling cleats!!!

I need new cycling cleats!!!

Finally, I am looking forward to getting my hands on the newest Sufferfest video, Chrysalis. I’ve never done a combined run and ride video, and it will be interesting to brick things up with some entertainment.  For once, I am happy the Montana winters have forced me to have a well equipped pain cave. Review on it’s way!

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.


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