Early Season Brick

How nice to hop on the bike in the morning and it isn't freezing cold outside.  I'm not saying that it was excessively warm, but right around 60 degrees was a welcome change.  It seems like most Saturdays lately, I've been out in the wind, snow and rain.  Since tomorrow's duathlon practice has been postponed a couple of weeks due to the impending snow storm, I decided instead to get a brick workout done.  I hadn't done an outdoor brick since training last fall, so I was looking forward to this one.  It was also an opportunity to get out on my tri bike, something I haven't done since "the crash" last October.  And since I'd stopped my exclusive Maffetone training a couple of weeks ago, I was very curious to see what I could do running off of the bike after so many months.
About twenty minutes to seven, I backed out of the driveway and drove over to Colorado State University-Pueblo where I planned to start my ride; twelve miles out and back.  This to be followed by a four mile run around the perimeter of the campus.  Heading east, the sun was partially obscured by some feathery clouds, but you could tell these were starting to break up.  I arrived at the university, got the bike unloaded, slipped into my cycling shoes, and helmet and made sure that the car was locked up- all set to go.   It was only then that I noticed that my front tire was extremely low, something I'd neglected to check prior to getting my bike in the car last night.  Of course, I'd also not had the foresight to pack the bike pump either.  So it was back in the car and to the house to get the pump before turning right around and heading back to campus; twenty minutes wasted, oh well!
bike details
Finally on my way, I made excellent time.  The "out" part of the ride is mostly downhill and I had the wind at my back to boot.  I had no trouble cruising at around 22 mph and in fact it only took me about 32 minutes to ride the first twelve miles.  A slight headwind, coupled with a short detour to see part of the OM turnaround point, and a mostly uphill return made the return trip closer to 40 minutes however.  Still, I managed to average a touch over 20 mph for the entire course which isn't too bad for an early season ride.  I also felt very comfortable throughout the ride and didn't feel like I had maxed out.  It was a bit of a relief to get back out on the bike and not have any issues.  I wasn't really expecting a problem, but after my crash, there's always that lingering trepidation that something is going to go awry.  When I arrived back at the car a little after an hour, I was more than ready to get out on the run.    

The perimeter around CSU-P is basically an alternating series of climbs and descents.  The course is used for a number of events including the upcoming Ordinary Mortals Triathlon.  There are some who don't like the steep climbs that make up part of the course, but I've always had good luck on this run.  For every lung-busting hill, there is a subsequent downhill that gives you a chance to recover while still maintaining a solid pace.
run details
Today, I started the run near the stadium and so most of the first mile was downhill.  I hit the first split just a little over 8 minutes.  The next three miles were each about 10-20 seconds slower, but I managed to stay under an 8:30 pace for each of them.  As with the bike, I felt good the entire time, and didn't feel like I was pushing things too much.  This was a good thing, for as soon as I was finished, it was in the car and racing home to be sure we got to Lily's soccer game on time.  As I started driving home, I noticed a crowd of runners heading up the road towards the campus.  It turns out that a local prediction race was just starting.  I was glad that I was finished and not starting the day.  Still, seeing all those people out racing got me excited about the coming season.
So with this first official "brick" complete, it's about a month until the first triathlon.  I'm feeling good about where I'm at to this point, and looking forward to more progress in the coming weeks.


2014 Maffetone Test #3

It's hard to believe that another month has already gone by.  In that time, I've done a few more long runs, managed to get outside on the bike a couple of days, and even had to take a week off from training after falling sick in early March.  Because of this, as well as some less than ideal weather, I'd delayed my Maffetone test by about a week.  In the end, I think this was helpful as it did give me a chance to get one more long run accomplished.  This meant that I had about the same number of long runs completed before completing the test for the third time.  I started doing these tests again beginning back in January as part of my "come back" strategy after last fall's bike crash.  The second test I completed near the end of February.
On Friday, a little before noon, I headed out the door.  As always, I try to keep things as consistent as possible from one test to the next.  This includes running the same course, wearing about the same clothing, and even listening to the same playlist during the run.  Perhaps the biggest difference this time was the wind.  It was coming out of the west was a bit stronger than usual.  That said, I don't believe it had a significant impact on my time (maybe a few seconds on each of the miles depending on whether or not the wind was in my face or at my back).  One other factor that doesn't seem to have impacted my results in any measurable way is weight.  While I normally weigh somewhere between 170-175 lbs, my last few checks this week have been more around 175-180 lbs.
The first part of the run is a 10 minute/ or 1 mile warm-up.  This works perfectly because it takes me to the part of the course that turns to a dirt path.  At that point, there really isn't any concern about cars for the next 4 miles which allows me to concentrate more on my pace, heart rate, etc.  In previous tests, I'd set the range between 130-139 bpm.  For this test, I decided to limit the range a bit more in hopes of staying a bit closer to my aerobic threshold.  During normal training, I don't worry about such precision, but I wanted to have it in place for the test so I wouldn't be inadvertently slowing down.   As a result the Garmin was set to beep at me if I strayed anywhere outside of 135-139 bpm's.  I had a few instances where this occurred but for the most part, I stayed within this zone the majority of the run.
Once again, this third Maffetone test produced a positive result and indicates that my aerobic efficiency is improving with increased training.  The chart below compares the pace per mile across the three tests (the heart rate staying consistent each time at around 136-138 bpm:
The blue line represents the most recent test.
As the chart indicates the average pace per mile has decreased from 11:02 during the first test to 10:18 on the second test, and now to 9:45, an overall drop of about 1 min, 17 seconds.  The slowest paced mile on each of the tests demonstrates a similar pattern with a change from 11:33 to 10:33 to 9:53, while the fastest mile changed from a 10:49 to 9:56 to 9:25.  The variation of pace between miles on each of the tests has also decreased.  During the first test back in January, there was a 48 second difference between the slowest and fastest miles.  During the second test that range dropped to 37 seconds.  On this third test, the range was now down to 28 seconds.  It was also nice to note that just as each of my miles on test #2 fell into the 10:00-11:00 minute category, all of my miles on the third test were now below 10 minutes.
In addition to analyzing the average pace, I also created a chart to show the average HR across each of the miles.  There is a slight increase from the previous tests, but on the whole, the HR stays within about 2 bpm at any given mile with no greater than a 3 bpm variation across the three averages:
The blue line represents the most recent test
In selecting a course to run on, I decided not to do my testing on a track this year in part because I wanted to see how changes in elevation would impact the results.  This is why you see an overall drop in the pace across the last few miles as there is more descent (a typical Maffetone test would be represented by a rising line as the pace slowed with decreased efficiency; you can see a good example of this from the tests I'd done on the track a little over a year ago).  The pattern basically held true again this time with a gradual increase in pace, before turning back down.  There was a notable change this time between miles three and four, but the overall pattern holds true.  The chart below shows pace, heart rate, and elevation with a snapshot a little over two miles into the test (note the test actually begins after 1 mile of warm-up):

The downhill portion of the run reveals a pace of about 9:00 per mile at that moment in time.
So, what's next?  I will continue to perform a Maffetone test on a monthly basis for the foreseeable future.  I think it makes for a nice measuring stick to see how my training is impacting my performance.  I'm eager to see how additional tests look and I'm curious about where I will "max out" in terms of performance at the aerobic threshold.  At some point that is bound to happen, and maybe after a couple of static results, I will "retire" the Maffetone tests for the season. While I'll continue to test, one thing that will be changing over the next two months is my approach to at least some of my training.  As I mentioned in my last post, I will begin introducing  workouts that exceed my aerobic threshold of 138 bpm.  While the majority of my training will still be at this level, I will also be including speed work into my training.  My next two events are sprint and olympic distance triathlons respectively, and I'd like to be sure that I have some experience with moving at a faster pace prior to these races.


Spring Break

Ahh Spring Break!  A good opportunity to do a little "mini camp" and get some extra swim workouts done.  I'm also hoping to kick start my outdoor cycling a bit, as I've only managed to make it outdoors on two occasions so far this year.  I'm hoping that a couple of nicer days weather wise will help with this.
I'm also anticipating that this will be the last week of exclusive Maffetone training.  I have a test lined up for the end of the week, and after that, it will be time to mix in a few hills, as well as some speed work over the next few weeks, in preparation for the Ordinary Mortals Triathlon in early May.  This isn't an "A" race for me, but with only 3-4 triathlons planned for the year, I'd like to have a good race.  My upcoming week looks like this:

  • Monday- Run 9-10 miles as close to Aerobic Threshold as possible (138 bpm).
  • Tuesday- Swim 2000 w/ emphasis on kicking (about 1000 kick drills); afternoon ride of about 20-25 miles
  • Wednesday- Swim 1500 (endurance swim); follow up with ride of 35-40 miles to end of test track and back.
  • Thursday- Swim 2000 (4x500 at increasing pace; start slow and build up pace w/ last 500 being the fastest.)
  • Friday- Maffetone Test #3 (1 mile warm-up followed by 5 miles at A.T.); afternoon (possibly) a short ride of 15-20 miles).

While there isn't anything too intense this week,the volume represents a bit more than I usually complete during a typical work week.  Over the last 9 weeks I've averaged about 5 hours/ week of training whereas this week will be closer to about 9 hours of training.
Starting on Sunday, I'll begin an "official" training plan for an Olympic Distance Triathlon.  I created it using the custom tool on the BT website and I've done some further customization since the web site is limited to providing mileage totals only.  The plan will last about 8 weeks leading up to the Boulder Sunrise Triathlon in early June.  Over Labor Day Weekend last year, I competed in the Sunset version of this race, and while it went well, it was exceptionally hot during the run, and I didn't have as good of a race as I'd hoped.
In addition to being in early June, the Sunrise race starts a bit earlier in the morning, which I hope will translate into somewhat cooler temperatures by the run time. Moderate temperatures should result in me being able to hold a faster pace.  At any rate, it will be interesting to see how having a more focused plan will impact the race.  I'm excited to try and open things up a bit and work more on speed and hills. It will still comprise only a portion of my training, but the mixture will be a good change of pace.
As I write this, I'm hearing that there are some strong winds in the forecast for tomorrow.  I'll have to consider that as I prepare for my ride.  Perhaps another Stone Levitation Ale with dinner tonight to steel myself for the breeze!