Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Chatauqua Park Run

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting.
                                                                                                 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This past weekend the family headed up to Boulder to watch one of the local high school teams play for the state championship (they won!).  The weekend before I had managed both a 13 mile run as well as a 40 mile bike ride.  Unfortunately when last Monday rolled around I found that I'd come down with a fairly debilitating cold which resulted in having to take the rest of the week off.
So I was quite excited on Sunday morning when I had not only the opportunity to run again, but I found myself back in the Boulder area.  For the day's run, I decided to head up to Chatauqua Park for a bit of trail running.  It's a place that I used to run fairly regularly in college, but I would guess it's been at least 15 years since I last had the chance to run there.

I left the hotel a bit before 7:00 and made the trip into Boulder, turning left onto Baseline Road and heading straight up and west towards the park.  When I pulled into the lot I was surprised to find that there was only one other car there.  I always figure since it's Boulder I'm going to see tons of runners out and about.  During the entire run, I saw very few people and only two other runners.   It was a cool morning, but not terrible, and within a few minutes, I was plenty warm.
A few long shadows remain as the sun rises on Chatauqua Park
The rising sun cast the flatirons that sit just below the park in a beautiful, golden light as I worked my way up towards the Mesa Trail.  Chatauqua Park has dozens of trails and I chose the Mesa trail in hopes that I might be able to connect with one of the other trails and find myself near the NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) which perches just above South Boulder.  Unfortunately, I must have made a wrong turn somewhere as I found myself doing more hiking than running along a narrow trail.  It was still fairly icy and snow-packed and after a few minutes of hoping to reach a better route, the trail had almost completely disappeared.  I surrendered and turned back down the way I came.  The trails throughout the park are very diverse.  Some are wide open trails, while others are made completely out of rock.  There were also some patches that were frozen solid, and I was glad because I imagine that a few hours later, they would be a muddy mess.   It does make for a nice mixture of technical and non-technical trails.

Clear Trails, Rocks, and Mud all make up the trail system at Chatauqua.
After winding my way back down along the Mesa (and stopping to take a picture of some deer crossing the trail), I turned west and headed back up towards the flatirons again.  The next trail had a bit of climbing, and I soon found myself at the very bottom of the second flatiron.  It's quite a sight to look up and see the rocks rising a few hundred feet directly above you.  I was so close to the rocks that at times, my Garmin would lose its satellite signal and it would be a minute before it picked it back up again.   I turned north and began a descent back towards the park entrance.

When I got back down to the bottom of the trail, I turned west one more time and ran along the bottom edge of the park.  I reached the end of the trail, and crossed onto the road that snakes its way up Flagstaff Mountain, but turned off it almost immediately towards the Gregory Canyon Road.  Here I was able to see some of the damage from the floods that took place a little less than a year ago.  The road up to the trail head was really broken up and a huge gash tore its way across the entire road at one point, causing me to run down into the crevice and back out again.  I ran a bit further until I'd marked about 5.5 miles and by the time I made it back to the car, I'd covered a bit over 6 miles.   Not the long run I'd originally planned for, but I just had to take the opportunity to get a trail run in on a clear Boulder morning.
Signs of the catastrophic flooding that took place in Boulder less than a year ago.
One thing I didn't do very well was pay attention to my Heart Rate.  During the run I averaged about 144 bpm which is a bit higher than my Maffetone levels.  I also managed to get it as high as 169 bpm at one point.  Chalk this up to the elevation changes and notice that this run had about 1400 feet of elevation gain, compared to my typical 200 feet.

When we got back into town later on Sunday afternoon, it was still such a beautiful day, I decided to go ahead and do a "recovery ride."  I did a nice, easy 20 miles or so which was great.  Next weekend, it will be back to a long, slow run again here in the flat lands.   I'm probably scheduled for a third Maffetone test, but I think I'll put that off for a few days since I've only had a chance to do one long run since the last one.
A "selfie" while running and hoping I don't trip on a rock in the process!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Spring" Runoff Race Report (100th post edition)

The only thing missing this morning's Spring Runoff was the "Spring."  Instead, morning dawned and it was a balmy 9 degrees or so.  As I sat drinking my coffee, I checked the weather.  This is what the hourly forecast looked like:

That's kind of cold.  As the family began to wake up, it was anybody's guess as to how many of us would make the starting line.  I was resolved (I hate to register and not run a race) but I wasn't sure if anyone else in the family was too excited to go out and brave the weather.  When all was said and done, 50% of us decided to race.  Here we are pre-race in a "classic" Amazing Race pose:

Then we were out the door.  It was a bit cold, so we waited as long as we could in the car . . .

Once we got outside and to the starting area, we found plenty of people waiting for the race to start.  While we were waiting, Maya snapped this picture (please note the giant fingers ready to crush my head):

 Eventually we saw Uncle Kenny who was there to run the 10 mile race.  After a few minutes of waiting the race started and we were off.  The first part of the 10k and 10 mile course are run together.
Waiting w/ Uncle Kenny
You've never seen so many people so excited to start running 6-10 miles!
Here we go!
The first mile or so was chilly.  Maya and I agreed that it was quite difficult to feel our toes, and every time I took my mittens off to take a picture, my hands got really cold.  The camera even stopped working at one point and I had to pop the battery in and out to get it working again.  Still we made it to the first mile . . .

And then before long, we were at the second mile where Maya celebrated!

The winter wonderland along the course was really quite picturesque . . .

Before long we reached the turnaround point, and headed back toward the finish line.  It was across the bridge . . .

and up the last big hill . . .

and then around the track to the finish line . . .

We finished the race in about 1 hour and 16 minutes which is a PR for Maya.  Congratulations!  Here's hoping that the weather will be a bit nicer next year too!
That was fun, but let's go get some Coffee!