Mike's Blog

Blah, blah, blah.

Well after a pretty good start in week number one, weeks two and three fizzled out a bit.  In week two I only managed 4 hours 50 minutes and 71 miles.  This was in large part due to a flat incurred on my Saturday ride, turning it from a planned 2-2.5 hour ride to a 30 minute ride.  My Thursday workout got moved to Friday due to a family conflict; Thursdays are turning out to be difficult to get to for me thus far. Sunday I had a really great 3 hour ride with some locals, nothing difficult but the plan calls for endurance miles so that's what I did.

Week number three was slightly better with 5 hours 47 minutes for 88 miles, however I did stray from the plan slightly.  Tuesday I did my first set of power intervals: 2(sets) x 3(intervals) x 3 minutes with 3 minutes rest between intervals and 8 minutes rest between sets.  Blew myself out on the first interval averaging 310 watts for the 3 minutes and quickly realized I wouldn't be able to complete the workout at that level.  The remaining intervals were done at ~260 watts, which was difficult but I completed them all.  Wednesday I was blessed to join the HoCo group for their regular ride to see off one of the regulars who is moving back to England.  My legs were slightly toasty from the previous day's intervals and Wednesday is supposed to be a rest day so I headed out with B group.  It wasn't long (11 miles) before I realized that (probably) a combination of the heat and my legs were not going to allow me to complete their ride at the pace they were going, which sadly wasn't fast at all.  I split off and did the short ride with one other person and while I felt like I'd ridden very hard I only averaged 14. mph for the 24 mile journey.  Normalized power was 225 watts which is a pretty decent effort for my current fitness, but average heart rate was 157bpm which indicates that it was nothing special.  To make the night even weirder, turns out that the C group (which I waited for at the split for 6 minutes before continuing on) had a ride go down on a very fast left-hand bend and he had to be medivaced out; some broken ribs and road rash, but otherwise he is doing okay.  Thursday workout again was moved to Friday to allow some recovery; the was my first go at over-under intervals and they aren't so fun.  No ride on Saturday as the family spent the day at the beach, but I got out Sunday for 2.25 hours for an effort that exceeded the plan's endurance mileage requirement, having a normalized power of 231 watts.  Part of this was due to the ride leaving before the posted time and me doing a 20 minute time trial effort before I was able to chase them down; my normalized power for this effort was 275 watts.  These numbers indicate to me that I probably soft-pedaled my initial field test so I may make an adjustment going forward.  I felt this ride in my legs later that day but was fine the next morning.  I'll also mention that I've been stretching nearly every night trying to relieve my back issue; the Sunday ride was the first ride I've done outdoors in more than a year where I can't remember it bothering me.  My fingers are crossed that this continues.

So currently I am in week four, which is a rest week in the plan.  By rest week I mean that I have Tuesday off or I may chose to do some easy pedaling for 45 minutes; I chose the former and took the time to write this entry.  Below are the stats:

Week #2:

  • Weight: 208 lbs
  • Time ridden: 4 hours 50 minutes
  • Miles ridden: 71
  • Training Stress Score: 406

Week #3:

  • Weight: 208 lbs
  • Time ridden: 5 hours 47 minutes
  • Miles ridden: 87
  • Training Stress Score: 573

So, following up on my last submission, not a whole lot has changed.  Lucas is growing like a weed and cute as can be.  Brady too, is growing: nearly 1.5 inches since his birthday not standing 39 inches tall.  Brady's last day of day care was this past Friday and he will be home with Karrie and Lucas for the summer before starting up again.  He had been acting out and hitting us (never other people) for a month or so, but this seems to finally be coming to an end.  I feel for the kid as it has to be rough on him to suddenly have to share us with Lucas.  Having both boys all day, every day while I'm at work in an enormous effort for Karrie and she is working on finding activities to keep everyone occupied and happy.  I've been trying to get her to take some time for herself on a regular basis, be it the gym or some other outlet but I think she is a bit overwhelmed at the moment and sees that as something else she has to do, so it gets put off.

I decided that I need cycling to keep my sanity and have only autocrossed once so far this year; my current focus is to get in the best shape I can get into for cyclocross season.  To that end, I bought a power meter and last week I started the Time Crunched Cyclist (TCC) training program.  It is low volume (6 hours a week), high intensity training designed to boost your strength and endurance over a 11-12 week period, after which a 4-week "rest" block is needed before starting again.  To find the time to do this I ride the trainer in the basement during the week after the boys are asleep.  These sessions generally last 45-90 minutes and are where most of the interval training takes place.  The plan also prescribes two weekend rides which are mainly for endurance and can last 90-150 minutes.

The first week of the program called for rides on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; Wednesday and Friday were rest days.  Monday was an endurance ride for 45 minutes while Tuesday and Thursday were to be endurance rides with some steady state intervals thrown in.  Monday and Tuesday went well but Thursday was a non-starter due to the tension bolt on my trainer stripping; I've ordered a replacement that should be here in time for this weeks training, although another cyclist in my area was kind enough to lend me his spare just in case.  Friday I rode into work with my co-worker Scott and we pushed pretty hard which kinda made up for my missed workout on Thursday.  I say "we pushed pretty hard" but in reality I think it was kinda of an easy ride for Scott.  This wasn't always the case on our commutes and on the way home, in the spot where I normally dropped him, he stuck to my wheel without much effort.  Karrie was agreeable to letting me ride early (7am) for a couple of hours on the weekend so Saturday I planned a ride from my neighborhood and put it out there to a local club looking for company; four people showed up and we had a great ride.  One of them returned on Sunday and we rode the route backwards for another really good ride; hopefully I can continue to get these weekend rides in as they are integral to the training plan.  Today I am feeling it in my legs, but it is a rest day so I should be good tomorrow.

Some data points from the first week:

  • Starting weight: 208 lbs
  • Starting Functional Threshold Power (FTP): 215 watts (estimated)
  • Starting TCC field test 8-minute power: 226 watts
  • Starting Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR): 180 bpm (estimated)
  • Time ridden: 7 hours 52 minutes
  • Miles ridden: 119
  • Training Stress Score: 677
  • Peak power: 1344 watts (5s 1298 watts)
  • Best 1-minute: 427 watts
  • Best 5-minute: 273 watts

Since the tension bolt on the trainer was bad and I did feel some slipping (even though I didn't realize that's what it was until after the fact) and I did the field test and all my intervals on the trainer, it will be interesting to see if those numbers hold up.  I did feel initially that my FTP should be higher and thought perhaps the meter was reading low and I suppose the slippage could account for that but tomorrow I should know for sure.  If the numbers were off I'm not sure what to do.  Perhaps make an educated guess at adjusting them and continue on.  I'd hate to have to do the field test again because it would mean having to start the program again since it doesn't really fit into the schedule.

Anyhow, I plan to chronicle my efforts with this training program here, hopefully inspiring some other "time crunched" individuals to make time for themselves.

Back to work today after 2.5 weeks of paternity leave.  Being somewhat sleep deprived made it challenging at times, but it was good to be back.  Brady was disappointed when I wasn't here when he woke up and he told Karrie he didn't want me to work anymore.  I work for an awesome company though, that has been really, really good to me since I joined them seven years ago; I have no complaints so I think I'll keep this gig for a while longer.  Karrie is doing a super job with Lucas and Brady although its trying at times handling both of them together.  She's such a trooper though; I couldn't have married a better woman and mother to our boys.

Next on our agenda is preparing for Brady's birthday.  This year it falls on Easter weekend and a lot of Karrie's family will be unavailable.  Taking advantage of that, my mom is coming up that weekend and we'll celebrate Brady's birthday with her as well as his third Easter.  There is a park near us that does an Easter "Eggstraveganza" with 20,000 eggs, live music and more so that is our plan for Saturday.  The following weekend Brady's cousins and a few friends will help him celebrate his third birthday.  I took Brady duckpin bowling last week and he had a really great time so we are going to have his "kids" party at the bowling alley.

Not much else going on here; preparing to get some estimates on a plethora of things that need to be done to the house like a new roof, vinyl wrapping of the trim, gutters and a new sliding door.  Hooray for home ownership.

It has been almost six weeks since Lucas was born.  In that time I've ridden my bike exactly four times for ~98 miles.  Whatever fitness I had managed to carry over from cyclocross is surely gone now.  There are several factors that conspired to bring me to this cycling void.

For starters having an infant in the house has resulted in significantly less sleep for myself and Karrie.  This is the most likely cause of the illnesses we've encountered over the past few weeks; Karrie has gotten hit worse than I and has had a fever and nasty cough for the past three days which has been diagnosed as bronchitis and a sinus infection.  As a result of that I stayed home from work yesterday and today to take care of the boys while she rested, although I'm not sure how much rest she actually got.

Another factor is stress: Karrie has a lot of it, and after staying home for two days playing Mr. Mom I can totally see why.  Not that I didn't believe that her job was difficult, but this really has opened my eyes quite a bit more than they were.  I've got a fair amount of stress too, most of which I usually blow away on the bike.  With that outlet gone, I've been trying to refocus that energy to spending more time with Brady, to which I think I've been relatively successful.

The last two weekends we've had near-perfect weather here in Maryland, weather I was unable to ride in.  The weekend of April 3 was Brady's birthday followed by Easter.  My mom came into town to celebrate and visit and we all had a great time.  Saturday there was an Easter Egg Hunt at a local park with some 20,000 eggs, moon bounces and other activities.  Sunday my mom, Brady and I went to Sandy Point State Park and walked along the beach collecting sea glass and avoiding discarded needles; that place has really gotten bad.  This past weekend was Brady's birthday party.  We invited his five cousins and two friends to go duck pin bowling.  The amount of preparation for both weekends was more than we anticipated and they kind of wiped us out.

With all that in mind when I do get the opportunity to get out on the bike I've had mixed emotions.  On one hand I really miss riding and want to get out there and put some time in the saddle.  On the other hand, I'm in horrible shape and getting out there on the bike means suffering even when I'm trying to take it easy; at times this makes me not want to ride.  Riding in a group definitely makes doing it easier but that most likely means driving to a ride start and being away from the house longer than if I just rode from my front door, all for the same amount of saddle time.

So, after cyclocross season I had fully intended to do some road/criterium racing this year.  Because of the very quick rate that the races in MABRA fill up, you pretty much have to be online, at the registration page when registration opens or you risk not getting in.  My autocrossing friends in the Washington DC Region are very familiar with this phenomenon.  One of my teammates gave me a list of races that suited my "strengths"; the quotes are because I don't actually have any strengths but flat courses are better for me than hilly courses.  I failed to register in time for one, but did manage to get into the next two which fall on the first two weekends in May.  Needless to say, after a group ride last week I am fully aware that I am in no shape to race.  I will likely start these races and see what happens but it won't be pretty.

On the autocrossing front, Danny sold the Evo and bought a 2005 Caterham Super 7.  I've driven it at one event, four runs, two of which were on 3-cylinders and all of which were on old, hard tires.  Regardless, its going to be a very fun drive once I figure it out.  My participation in autocrosses this year was to be limited in favor of racing the bike; how that will play out now is still unknown.

Reality has set in; time to pay the piper.

Let me preface this article by stating unequivocally that I hate running.  In fact, the last time I ran more than a couple of hundred feet at a time was probably sometime around 1999 or 2000 when I was in the Air Force and had to run for fitness testing.  There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is my tendency to acquire shin splints from partaking in the activity.  So with that bit of trivia out of the way, you may be asking how I've come to the conclusion that I could, if I so desired, do a sub-four-hour marathon.  Or you could just not care, but I'm going to tell you anyhow.

As most of you know, cycling is my sport of choice but with the weather we've had in the region this winter and the sudden onset of newinfantluenza in our house this past week, my available time for riding has been severely limited.  In fact, I've all but scrapped my plans to do some road racing this year and will try to focus on training over the summer for cyclocross season which starts in September.  At any rate, its been nearly 3 weeks since I've been on a bike and going on 2 weeks since I've been in the gym resulting in the loss of what little fitness I brought into 2010.  When I do manage to go out and ride, I like to be out for 2 hours or more if I can, which generally results in being unavailable for 2.5 to 3 hours or more after you include preparing the bike, getting dressed and then cleaning up when its all done.  Of late, this amount of free time has been difficult to come by as well as rather unpractical and guilt laden.  Today I just needed to do something to get in a workout of some sort, to relieve some stress and to stress my cardiovascular system some.  So I decided I'd go for a short run.

I decided on an out-and-back route which would total two miles and planned on being gone for 20 minutes or so.  I also thought it would be good to take Tyson (our 70lb boxer dog) since he hasn't had much activity this winter either and was starting to look rather plump.  Long story short, my two mile run took me 24 minutes, or 12 minute miles, or 5 miles per hour, a speed that was heavily canine restricted as Tyson decided several times that he was walking regardless of what I thought I was doing.  When I returned home my legs hurt, but I still think I could have gone a little harder had the dog not been in tow.  So if you weren't wondering about the title before, surely you are now, assuming you've actually read this far.

I have a simple five-step plan which almost anyone can follow to accomplish this goal:

  1. Never run for exercise again from this day forward.  Its not fun and you don't enjoy it.
  2. Sign up for a marathon.  It doesn't matter which one and it can be as early as next week since you won't be training for it.
  3. Leave the dog at home.
  4. The pace from your two mile run is too fast, so let's slow that down to 15 minute miles, or 4 miles per hour.
  5. After running approximately 15 miles (OR LESS!!!), call it a day (aka "finish").  Screw the "I told you so"s.

There you have it.  Follow this plan and you are well on your way to entering and doing (not necessarily completing) a marathon.  As for me, I'll be riding my bike.  Or sitting on the couch collecting dust.  Either way, you won't find me running as a form of exercise again.  Ever.  Unless its at a cyclocross.

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