Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thursday update...

A solid week of training so far - Monday saw more drill work in the pool and another sufferable slow run - 3 miles in some 40 minutes or something. But necessary, and an important piece, so I need to just deal with the boredom. Pool work is going well - I'm concentrating a great deal on form, and especially on my body roll - rolling my body from one side to the the other which each stroke, giving the water less surface area to push against, and more power as the roll allows me to really "dig in" with my stroke. This is a fundamental change from last year, when my shoulders were much more square throughout my entire stroke. I'm seeing consistent differences - it's taking me from 18 (when strong) to 22 strokes (when tired) to swim a length, compared to last year's 22 to 26. I can also, if I'm fresh and pushing hard, swim 100 yards in about 1:35, which is significantly better than last year's best of around 1:42 or so. How will this translate to a 2.4 mile swim? The better my efficiency in the water, the easier and probably faster my swim. I won't be pushing hard, though, so the object won't be to pick up speed so much as to just get out without having expended too much energy, which is where efficiency comes in. But I'm realistic about my swim training and ultimate swim goals - is my saving 2 minutes, or even 5 minutes in the water going to make or break me? Everything is important, of course, but it doesn't make sense for me to improve my swim time by 3 minutes only to have my run suffer to the point where I'm walking, losing half an hour somewhere. So I'm working on efficiency in the pool, and taking progress as it comes, but am staying focused on strength and progress on the bike and run.

Have had a great couple of rides lately - when is riding not great??? - not for any particular reason, just that I love riding and am having a great time. The weather is finally improving some out here - though it's supposed to cool down again tomorrow - so while I'm yet to ride without tights, at least I've been able to shed the triple layers. My focus has been to keep my heart rate low and my cadence between 88 and about 94 rpms - until this year I've typically been a masher - pushing the the big gears hard at 75 rpms or so. This generates more speed, but at the expense of my legs, so that when I'm on the run - particularly the tail end - I'm shot. If I stay at a higher RPM, I sacrifice a bit of speed (for now, hopefully as my legs get stronger I'll be able to go faster and push harder gears at the same RPM), but I'm forcing my muscles to do less work, and so saving up for the run. That also keeps my heart rate lower, burning more fat calories and saving my sugar stores for the last part of the run if/as I need them. So as with the swim, the whole point is to get me to the last half of the run in good shape. I've seen some progress on my speed/rpm relationship already, and am working on gearing down appropriately when I'm climbing so that my heart rate doesn't soar, I'm not using much more power, and I'm not suddenly pushing hard up the hills with my leg muscles. So far, so good.

A weird thing on Tuesday: I finished up my ride and was driving home, and I felt like something was in my eye. It was an easy hour ride, nothing strenuous or out of the ordinary at all. So I spent 10 minutes trying to get my eye to water, and I still couldn't get whatever it was out. So I finally looked at my eye in the mirror when I was at a stoplight, and the whole left half of my right eye was bloodshot, and an actual part of my eyeball - the white part - was, like, protruding out. Like it was raised from the rest of my eyeball. Sounds gross, I know. That's what was irritating my eye - I could feel this protrusion everytime I blinked. I couldn't think of when I would have gotten anything into my eye on my ride (I always wear glasses when I ride), so I didn't know what this was about. No better Wednesday morning, so I went into the eye doctor just to make sure things were okay - apparently it's some kind of allergic reaction to something. No idea what, or why only that eye. She said the "protrusion" is swelling, and that it will go down. By yesterday's run it was mostly better. So who knows. It didn't hurt or affect my vision, just irritated some. Weird.

Finally, my last long run yesterday in preparation of the Half Marathon, coming up quickly on April 15th. 12 miles, which is just shy of the distance that nearly freaking killed me not even 4 weeks ago. I skipped the swim workout yesterday morning to be strong for the afternoon workout. All things considered, it really couldn't have gone better - I sat way back at a 9:30 pace for the first half hour, and sped up incrementally every half hour. My legs were in good shape, my heart rate was relatively low (averaging 155 for the duration), and my nutrition was sound. I had none of the drama like last time with my legs or core temperature or anything like that. My end pace was 8:55 - 5 seconds better than the same distance on March 15th, and had I wanted to I could've pushed that faster, I'm sure. The biggest difference was just how it felt - today I have a bit of normal soreness in my right calf and hip flexor, but nothing at all like last time - recovery should be pretty quick and easy from the run. Today I'll lift weights and ride an hour, as normal, no need to take an entire day or two off. Encouraging progress. Oh, and PS, I'm at last year's race-weight now. About 18 pounds since the blog started on January 9th. If I can shed another 10 (or even 15!) before September, life would be good!

Headed to New Mexico this weekend for a mini-vacation. Looking forward to running in the sun and more spring-like temps there than here, though I will be off my bike for 5 days and not in the pool. S'okay - I'll be in a mini-taper for next weekend's race anyway. Tomorrow I cram the weekend's normal bike in - 2 hours, followed by a 30 minute run, and probably swimming in the morning. I should be sufficiently tired on the plane.

I'll probably not blog again until mid-week next week (barring anything monumental on my ride today), so want to say congratulations to Iris for her 1:38:39 finish at the Cherry Blossom 10 mile last weekend - whoohoo! How'd it go??? - and good vibes and good luck to Kathi at Ironman Arizona this weekend. Can't wait to hear all about it - this is the ride of your life, enjoy every second of it!!!!!


RunIrisRun said...

Have a great trip to New Mexico. Can't wait to hear about it.

Cherry Blossom was way to freakin' crowded, but part of the whole DC experience. Good course, perfect weather, could have pushed myself, but chose to enjoy the day instead. Someone please send me a competitive vibe!!!!

Libor said...

You're doing great on things Chris. Keep it up. I particularly like the comment about "when is it NOT a good time to ride" hehe. I shre that thought. Have a great trip and have safe good runs, I'mean the fast foot in front of the other kind hehe :-)