Saturday, January 24, 2009

Status Report

So here we sit in the midst of yet another brutal winter - I realize it's cliche and a bit absurd at this point to be among the masses complaining about winter - we choose to live here, after all - except that for the second straight year we have record snowfall amounts and extraordinary cold - like, they called off school a couple weeks ago just because it was too cold. It is what is is, but it sucks for training and anything outdoors in the winter.

I am trying to get outside for at least 2 runs a week, nothing remarkable, just 3 or 4 miles at an easy, enjoyable pace. I'm in that "training to train" phase of life, where the point is to arrive by April fit enough to begin working out, instead of sucking air for 6 weeks before I'm ready to roll. I'm on my bike twice a week as well - on the trainer, of course, and have found that while that's boring as hell, if you find something good to watch on TV (I've been watching TV shows downloaded from iTunes), it helps pass the time and coordinate a workout at the same time. For instance, I'll ride in a huge, hard gear for the duration of a scene - which maybe runs 30 seconds to a minute. Then I'll go easy for a scene. Then I'll go to one-leg pedaling for a scene. You get the idea. Time breaks up into useful chunks, and it helps me avoid becoming an automaton staring at a screen while I churn away uselessly.

My wife was super excited to buy a Pilates machine last year. She used it 3 times. So I've been incorporating that into my workouts as well, hopping aboard twice a week. It's a good workout for somebody like me - nothing very cardio involved, but it helps with strength training and especially flexibility. I've been in a consistent state of workout for 3 weeks now, and still my legs and limbs feel that productive soreness after a workout. Good. My hope is the Pilates, combined with some basic stretching, will help me be more injury free.

Speaking of injuries - the two nags from last season were Plantar Faciaitis in my left foot (arch area) and Achilles tendonitis in my right foot. I took 4 months off of running - the achilles has been healing. It's still tender after a run, but it's not been limiting me at all, and I don't feel a need to nurse it at all when I'm working out. The P.F. in my left foot has been a pain in the ass. Or foot, as it is. I've resorted to wearing some off-the-shelf orthotics to provide arch support - something I've never used before. I only wear them in my shoes during the day, not while I run, and they do provide some relief, no question. The pain in my foot comes typically after a run (and in the morning, and throughout the day...), and not actually during a run, so - I guess I can live with it. I'll keep doing what I can, but P.F. is famously persistent. In any case, I'm not feeling held back at all by anything at this point.

YouTube and I are this close to breaking up. First it was Sheryl Stupid Crow's record company that didn't like that I was using her song, Chances Are, in the Run Part One segment of the video, so they yanked it. A few weeks ago Phil Collins' record company did the same with the second segment of the video, The Road to Ironman. Yesterday I got a note that because Part 1: Prologue "may use parts of 'Crazy' by Alanis Morrissette", they've muted that part. Thank you Warner Music Group, and also, screw you. So whatever - it's a losing battle. Before long I'm going to take the whole thing - in its entirety, if I can (as opposed to the several 10-minute chunks that are at YouTube) and just post it here on the blog, and then I'll update my videos at YouTube to tell people to come here if they want to watch. Sigh. What a hassle.

I got a ridiculous new bicycle helmet. To fight the winter miseries I went to the bike shop a few weeks ago and bought a Giros Ionos (I could go find pictures and stuff, but I'm feeling lazy, so google it if you're curious). Thing about it is - Giros medium helmets go up to 59cm. A medium stretched to its max fits me, albeit snugly. If I go up to a large, I have to shrink it down to its minimum size, and then I've got this huge mushroom on my head. I bought the Medium, but the more I wore it around the house (to my daughter's delight - "hat?", she said, pointing, "Hat? Hat? Hat?") the more it felt a little too snug. I was starting to worry a little bit about how it would feel an hour or five into it. Meanwhile, Specialized medium goes up to 60cm. I've worn a Specialized Decibel for years now (it's the helmet I'm replacing), so I took the Giros back and instead picked up a Specialized S-Works (again, google it, it's dope). Obviously I haven't ridden with it yet, but I'm really pleased with the fit - instead of the tightening system being just on the back, like most other helmets, the S-Works has a band that goes around the whole head. This means instead of just pulling the front of the helmet back against your forehead to achieve a fit, the S-Works actually fits around your whole head with equal tension. Absurdly comfortable. Plus, they point out in marketing materials, the buckles on the helmet are hollow. To shave some grams and make the helmet lighter. Because, like you, those solid buckles have been holding me back for far too long. No more!

I also picked up a sweet jacket called the Transition Zero from a company called True Motion. If you google it, know that the real thing is much more attractive and less pastel-ish than the vector art on the website indicates). It's got everything you'd want in a running/cycling jacket - wind protection outside, fleece inside, lightweight, fully adjustable, iPod pocket, back stash pockets, etc. - but the gimmick are the zippers running length-wise down the sleeves on the biceps. So you can just unzip to have your biceps available for body marking, instead of taking off your shirt/jacket. Brilliant! I love me some gimmicks. In truth, it's a really great workout jacket, and they did some fun design stuff that sets it apart from the rest of my tech gear - easy to grab it before heading out the house in the spring or fall as just a regular jacket. Fast becoming a favorite among my workout gear. Check it out.

I'm about settled on my race schedule for the season, likely kicking off with a small early-bird triathlon in late April. I'm thinking of the Madison half-marathon at the end of May (though that may be earlier than I want to be ready for that kind of mileage - remembering that my goal is to peak in September this year), so I might bump that to a 10k. I'm looking at Door County half Iron in July, and I'm also for sure doing Lifetime Olympic distance in Minneapolis, and I'm really looking forward to it. Otherwise, I promised Amy I'd stay as local as I could, so I'm looking at Capitol View again (though it thoroughly kicked my ass last year) in June, as well as the Triterium Olympic distance. I'll look for a century ride sometime in late July, and we'll see what else comes up. The plan is to race often, and let those be my high-intensity "brick" workouts while I train for Ironman - looking to work smarter, not harder, this time around.

Oh, and we're going on a cruise in early April, and I'm looking to do some fun workouts on the boat, as well as maybe some easy mountain biking in Grand Cayman. That would be a pretty fantastic training day, no?

All for now. Stay warm, everybody.


Team Brazo said...

Couple things:

-- I agree, I'm not complaining about winter this year. I live here so deal with it -- until the kid's are grown and I can move away!!

-- Door County Half-IronMan -- you and the family are more than welcome to stay at our Cottage that weekend. We have a small "hot tub" house that will sleep 2 plus a little one without problems (or a tent on the shores of Green Bay). We are about 20-30 minutes from the race. Keep us in mind if you have interest.

-- We are "cruising" end of March early April (kids spring break). Looking forward to some warm workouts.

Have a nice day.

Maria said...

I've thought about getting the T-Zero jacket, do you recommend it? That might be my pre-season splurge.
Stay warm!

Pharmie said...

Gah, I agree with you on the weather, and I even missed the last spell! Glad the workouts are going better. The cruise sounds great!

Steve Stenzel said...

Good luck with that pilates machine. Those things look like torture devices to me...

Enjoy that cruise!!