Thursday, March 9, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 68--Desert Camp

March 5th

This week was all about riding in Arizona and seeing friends along the way.

First major ride was Sunday and it was tough. On a scale of 1-10 where 10 would be the Triple Bypass day 2, this was a 7. The wind was forecast to be 20-25 mph mostly right in our faces. It took me over 7 hours to go 80 miles.
I told myself two things--really I did--when I was climbing into that wind. First, "I am training for an Ironman so what is a little wind." Second, I chanted, "Just keep swimming."

Who knew watching movies with grandchildren would help my cycling.

March 8th

After the first two hard days I have taken three easier days.  Each day I rode about 30 miles and was on the bike about 2:30 hours.  It is important that I get enough rest and not get hurt.  On the 6th my legs were in bad shape.  The 7th was an improvement and on the 8th they felt good.  

March 9th

Flat tires are a common problem with cycling so you prepare for them. You have to prepare extra well when you are cycling through open country by yourself as I was today. I am riding Gatorskin tires and carry two spare tubes, three CO2 cartridges, and a patch kit.

Just as I was leaving Huachuca City I got a flat on my back tire. I was next to what was once a gas station and across the road from a Circle K. I pull the tire off, checked for something in tire (nothing), put in a new tube, put the tire back on and then things went very wrong. I am riding a deep wheel which needs a tube with an extra long value stem. The tube I just put in has a short stem and is too short to be inflated. I check the second spare tube--it is short too.

I partially inflate the flatted tube looking for the hole. It is hot and dry and I can't find it. I put the flatted tube on and inflate it. It is leaking. Before it goes flat again I bike across the street to the Circle K. I am going to have to patch the tube and I need a way to find the leak.

I take off the tire and pull the tube. I partially inflate it and go into the store planning on using the bathroom sink but the sink won't hold water. I use the water in toilet (thank goodness it was clean) and find the hole.
My roadside patches are notorious for not holding so I use extra care patching the tube, put the tube and tire on the wheel, and inflate. Off I go.

Half a mile later the tire is flat. I am 9 miles from the nearest bicycle shop in open country. I decide to save my last CO2 cartridge and patch and instead see if I can catch a ride into town. Ten minutes later a retired Air Force sergeant stops in his pickup and takes me to the bike shop.

It was a great day for cycling and trusting to the kindness of strangers.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 68--Interesting and Important Weeks

This week I trained 13 of a planned 13.5 hours. 

Last week and the next two weeks are interesting and important training weeks.


Whenever swim coaches dissect my swim stroke (they giggle) and give me way too many things to work on.   My tri coach is much better at focusing on one or two things to improve.  This week, based on a tip from my Pilates instructor, he took a close look at the “pull” phase of my swim stroke.  He has a Vasa Trainer (a $2000 piece of equipment in his basement!) that enables swim stroke practice and observation out of the water. 

The tip from my Pilates instructor was that when I was doing certain exercises that should engage the lats, I was rolling my shoulders forward transferring the work to the shoulder.  Bad.  Shoulders are not as strong as lats and fatigue much faster.

Sure enough my swim stroke uses far too much shoulder and not enough lat.  I spent most of the three hours swimming focusing on pulling with my lats and not my shoulder.  Much more repetitive training required.

A second focal point this week was my cycling stroke.  The tri coach wants the beginning of the power phase of the stroke to begin at the 11 o’clock position and I was closer to the 12 o’clock   It makes a difference in power but it is difficult for me—my ankles aren’t flexible enough to get my heels down easily at that point in the stroke.  And I have to do it about 90 times a minute—on each foot.  I have to spend a lot of time riding and concentrating on heel position.


The 2017 Ironman New Zealand is March 4th.  I am still very interested in doing a destination Ironman in New Zealand next year.  To me this marks the start of the year-long training to get as ready as possible.  For clarity, I have no illusions about winning my age group.  In my first Ironman I just planned to finish.  This one I want to move up to be mid-pack.

I took my coach, who you remember is legally blind, to the airport Saturday.  He is racing the half Ironman New Zealand (referred to as the 70.3 because the Ironman is 140.6 miles).  United makes it really hard and I am really glad I came into the terminal with him.  Everything is a kiosk.  Check in yourself.  Print your own baggage label.  Michael can’t even see a kiosk let alone read it.  I had to corner one of kiosk helpers and tell her my friend is blind and a kiosk just isn’t going to work.  It took a few minutes to get an agent but after that it went smoothly.  But I wonder how long he would have had to stand there trying to figure out what to do before someone helped him.   And this was at the premier/first class check in.

Finally, the next two weeks are focused on cycling and the good fortune of being able to see three old friends along the way.  The cycling will punch up my cycling endurance—won’t do much for power.  Seeing old friends will add greatly to the fun.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 68--Pushing Volume

This was a planned large volume week.  Total planned training was about 15.5 hours and I actually managed about 14.5 hours.  My long run was just short of 8.5 miles.  I swam over 5,000 yards, which sounds impressive, but the Ironman swim of 2.4 miles is more than 4,200 yards. 

A lot of training time is going into improving efficiency; especially swimming and running.  For example, a lot of swimming this week was slow short swims focused on head position and right arm stroke.  My right arm makes a flat arc (parallel to the water) instead of an overhead arc.  That wastes energy and is an inefficient “catch” (the first part of the underwater “pull”).  Some of the strength training is also focused on getting the stroke efficient.

Strength training is also important for the run but probably not how you would expect.  Most of the strength work is on lateral movement (as a cyclist I am pretty strong straight ahead but have weak adductors and outer glutes).  Another area of focus is the small stabilizing muscles in the legs and glutes.  The stronger these muscles the more efficient stride as they hold the leg stable letting the back chain of muscles to pull straight through.

Strength training on the bike is primarily done on the bike (hence all the lateral and small muscle weaknesses). 

Bike training is disrupting my careful plans.  The Tucson ride first of March will cover 470-550 miles in a week.  I have to make sure I am ready which means running, for sure, and swimming get less training.  It also means that anytime the weather is good I need to be riding.

And that is the box.  I am pretty fatigued from the three-week buildup to this large volume week.  Six of the next nine days are forecast to be above 50 degrees.   I will be riding a lot and trying to manage fatigue. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Training for Triathlons at 68--New Year, Big Plans

I got more training in this last week than I expected.  It is useful to get this much work in as it tells me a lot about where I am so my coaches can help develop training plans and hopefully not break me.  I keep injuring myself and those injuries stay around for a long time.

I start a masters swimming program Jan 3.  I need more coaching on my swim.  I am somewhere between a non-swimmer and just a bad swimmer.  Also start a more structured strength program tomorrow (Jan 2).  I'll detail my strength program next posting.

I am now committed to four races this year: a sprint in June, an Olympic in July, a half Ironman in August and another half Ironman in September.  The full Ironman in New Zealand, March of 2018, is still under consideration but no commitment will be made until next fall.

I will also add some running races--maybe even a marathon in the fall-- and swim events to supplement my triathlon training.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Training for Triathlons at 68--Setting Training Zones

Another week where the plan didn’t work out.  This week was intended to update training zones.  In cycling the training zones are based on the average power held for 20 minutes.  In running I use a 5K to set a training pace.  And in swimming I use average 100 yard pace in a 1000-yard swim.  These are all very hard efforts.

I did set new cycling zones early in the week but got busy with family errands and couldn’t get to the swim.

Saturday I did run the 5K but afterwards my Achilles hurt badly and it took all weekend to feel better.  This remains a concern.