Weekend Wrap

Saturday, February 19: It never fails.  The less motivated I am to train but actually get out and do it, the more I surprise myself.  That happened not once but twice today, during a 1.5 hour trail run off the dirt Mulholland trail (where I was rewarded with this spectacular view of Santa Monica) and, more surprisingly, during my afternoon swim at rainy VNSO Park.

For the latter, I sat in my car while the sky poured down for 15 minutes.  I had no energy, no motivation, to leave that warm heated space.  I was still cold with dried sweat from my Under Armour compression pants.  Tired from eight straight days of training and business travel.  But, I had a contractor at my condo due to a leaky upstairs washer thanks to my lovely neighbor, Trudy.  So, I couldn't go home and enjoy a restful afternoon with all the clanging and banging.  What was left to do?

It took me about 20 minutes to find my happy place in the water. The rain had subsided.  The sky opened up with a few rays of sunshine.  My attitude changed.  I was going to make the best of this.

And ya know what?  In the last of my timed 15:00 time trials, I was on track to PR my 1,000 TT.  By 27 seconds!

I think this is the biggest mystery of training:  Why do I perform better when I least expect it?

I'm not even sure it's a mystery worth solving. The result is what matters.  And it all starts with the initial effort of getting out of the car and into the pool on a rainy Saturday.

Sunday, February 20: A day off.  A much needed day of rest and recovery.

At first, I really didn't like the idea of switching my off days to Sunday.  I felt like I was going to lose out on precious long training hours to help me bounce back into shape.  But I was losing much more -- a sense of closeness with Steph brought about by a lack of perspective on free time.

While I will resume Sunday training in my final three months of Ironman training, I am a new man when I hit the road now on Mondays.  It's a welcome change.  I feel like I have a weekend again, as odd as it may seem.  Training for an Ironman can often feel like a job even though it's what we do for fun on a weekend. Now, with some true Sunday fun day back in the mix, my perspective has been restored.

Today, my parents, Steph and I took a day trip up to Los Olivos to visit the key sites for our upcoming August wedding.  I don't want to spoil any surprises, but we are going to have a memorable weekend.  I can finally picture the flow of events and am officially excited for the big day.  Steph and my mom came up with some ideas that I think will cause our wedding to be truly unforgettable.

Fortunately, my parents loved the wedding venue, Firestone Vineyards.  We took a tour of the winery today, where we learned more about how wine is made, stored and aged.  I also learned that wine should be stored at 55 degrees Farenheiht in a fridge, and that 90% of all red wine should be drank sooner rather than later.  In other words, all that you hear about storing wine for long periods doesn't hold true for most of the wine on today's market.

I wouldn't have learned these things had I not gotten off my bike and stripped myself of my workout clothes on a Sunday.

As important as tri-training is, family time is even more important.  Today was fantastic.

And now I'm looking even more forward to my 4.5 hours on the bike tomorrow, a President's Day treat.

121 days and counting.

Fatigued But Not Deflated

Swimming practice at 6 a.m. came and went today.  Track practice at 6 p.m. came and went as well. I was just too tired.  I'm still planning to attend tonight's swim at 7:30 p.m., but I'm not quite 100%.  It could be allergies -- my eyes are itchy and my prescription medications needed refills.  It could be Trudy and Bam-Bam -- I put a small hole in my bedroom ceiling last week with a shovel handle due to the pounding noise directly over my head that continues regularly at 6:30 a.m.  It could be the workouts themselves -- I pushed myself pretty hard during Monday's and Wednesday's brick workouts.  Maybe it's even the tapering cycle  for Vineman 70.3 taking its natural toll.

It's probably a combination of all the above.

Whatever it is, I'm tired.  So tired I slept 10 hours last night and it felt like it wasn't nearly enough all day at work.

This time, I'm smarter though.  In past races I'd probably get panic-stricken, wondering if I was getting sick or losing my fitness.  I know better.  It's not a big deal. I'm just a little gassed.  I refilled my prescriptions, took the little I have left of my Allegra, and am starting to feel a little better already.  I slept in this morning instead of dragging myself to the pool just because I thought I had to.

Besides, today's track workout was optional, with Coach Gerardo indicating I could skip it if I felt tired.

Commence skipping.

And in the next 30 minutes, commence swimming.

135 days and counting.

Week Done!

This week of training, while not particularly hard, left me slightly gasping for the finish.  Maybe it's the long weekend. Maybe it was waking up before 6:30 a.m. three out five weekdays.  Or that Trudy and Bam-Bam are back to wreak havoc on Stephanie's and my sleeping patterns. The more I think about it, I'm probably just a bit more tired than usual because of the mere 12 hours separating the track and swim workouts from this morning's 1.5-hour bike ride at Griffith Park.  I didn't really push it, but by the end of this morning's ride my legs were definitely glad it was time to call it quits.

I'm scheduled for some yoga now, which I'm going to our work gym to complete.  That'll probably restore and refresh me.  Tomorrow, I have an off-day as Steph and I are back on the wedding  venue scouting trail.  Ojai and Los Olivos are on the docket.

I'm looking for some highlights or superlatives to describe today's workout.  Not much comes to mind at all.  It was one of those rides where you find yourself looking at your watch more for a countdown to finishing as much to see how fast you're going or where your heart rate stands.  I know my calf compression sleeves came in handy and reduced what felt like sore and stiff legs when I woke up this morning.

What can I say...some workouts are just more enjoyable than others.  Then again, it was gorgeous out, without a cloud in the sky.  And in a few years, it will be a real privilege to be able to fit in a pre-work bike ride.  So I file this one away to, Don't Take It For Granted!

139 days and counting.

Wiped Out

Never take a workout for granted. I packed my bag last night for two workouts: The usual 6 a.m. swim coached by Megan, followed by my first track workout.

And why not?  I haven't missed a workout due to being physically unable to complete it (outside of illness) since I first started training with Fortius last year.

That streak is now over.  Either because of the swim workout's intensity or because this past weekend's training caught up with me. Maybe a little bit of both.  Either way, I struggled mightily all day to find the energy to complete the second workout.  It never showed up.  I came home from work, tried to take a nap knowing full well that Bam-Bam would do everything possible to prevent that (he did so admirably, the little shit), and have basically remained planted on the couch since 5:30 p.m.

Instead of forcing the issue, I texted Coach Gerardo to tell him I'm skipping the track session.  We're adjusting my workout schedule to squeeze it in this Friday, my usual day off.  That's now been moved to this coming Monday.

So what caused my exhaustion today?  I slept well enough (seven hours), wasn't stressed out and even got a little yoga and stretching in before bedtime last night.

Hmm...let's take a look at the swim (55 minutes):

-- 300 warmup (I think, maybe more)

-- 100 kick, 50 any stroke x 2

-- 250 x 2 fast (1:00)

-- 500 race pace

-- 100 sprint x 5 (1:00)

-- 200 any stroke cooldown

It's not a ton of yards, but the intensity definitely took its toll.  I was in a faster lane than usual with Bob and Lisa, two much faster swimmers.  I was also bothered by my goggles today, which kept leaking water into my eyes and caused me to lose focus from concentrating on my stroke.  In the end, I just never quite felt right in the water, not until the final two sprints of the morning.  By then, I was pretty gassed.  Yet it was my turn to lead one of the last sprint 100s since there were four of us in a lane.  I poured everything I had into making sure I didn't slow down the group.  The good news is that nobody passed me.  The better news is that according to Bob, each of our 100s was in the low 1:30s, meaning I can hold that threshold for 500 yards if need-be.

The bad news is that I'm exhausted on a couch instead of logging my second workout.

Tomorrow's a new day though.  And a very exciting one at that.  I'll be taking out Charlie, my TT bike, for her maiden voyage.  This will be part of a morning brick instead of the usual Griffith Park LA Tri Club afternoon workout.  Stephanie and I have plans to attend the Ben Folds concert tomorrow night.

Now it's off to take a recovery bath and get some much needed rest.

198 days and counting.

Less is More

Six-thirty this morning came and went uneventfully. Just what I wanted.  Cool sheets, warm blankets and fluffy pillows rarely felt better.

Thanks, Trudy.  Thanks, Bam-Bam.

Frankly, I needed a break.  A rest.  A pitstop.  Time to cool the jets, if only for an extra hour's sleep.

It really paid off.  When I finally removed myself from the comfort of my bed (for a change not shoved out by Trudy and Bam-Bam's pounding) around 8, I felt refreshed.  Re-energized.  Re-engaged.

Ready for the day, and the rest of this week's training.  I didn't really miss much, 45 minutes of one-legged spinning drills on the trainer.  Coach Gerardo has told me in the past I can essentially skip one workout a week and still hit my goals, so I cashed in that check today.

So worth it!  The extra time relaxing in the morning, enjoying a rush-free breakfast, starting to program my Garmin, was worth more than the physical workout.  The mental rest that came with it far outweighed any incremental physical benefit I may have attained.

To top it off, I took a yoga class at lunch in our work gym.  The workout wasn't great -- the room was cold, the lights were bright and the music was a bit too loud -- but the experience of collecting my thoughts and breath for an hour cancelled all that out.  And my stressed muscles desperately needed a mellow stretching session.  Though this yoga class required more stopping for Child's Pose than I'm used to. No biggie though.

What a relaxing day.  Now, I'm ready for the rest of the week's training, which tomorrow consists of a tempo brick and culminates this weekend with a 20-mile street run.

Sometimes, less is truly more.  A light day of training will pay big dividends in the coming days.  I'm fired up.

273 days and counting.

Trudy Wins

Can you hear that knocking?

That constant banging noise... you can't hear it?
If you can, that's the sound of my head banging against the desk in my office at home. Because I just lost my housing association appeal against Trudy and Bam-Bam's successful brand of noise-driven psychological warfare.
And General Noriega thought he had it bad.
So it turns out there's this thing called the Fair Housing Act that covers "discrimination" against parents of children in condominiums such as mine, for noise-related cases such as this.
Considering Trudy can make a plausible case that she's not playing loud music, breaking association rules about doing laundry too late or early, or having wild parties into the night, I've got no real recourse. In other words, I'm in an unfortunate, yet unwinnable situation.
I suppose in some twisted way I'm grateful for Trudy. Without this noise issue starting at 5:30 a.m. most days, I'd have less motivation to train. But, since I'm up, why not?
If that's not learning how to see the fucking sunny side of life, I don't know what is.
Speaking of training, I had a solid day. My Monday Malaise was long gone, replaced with a Tenacious Tuesday. I enjoyed an interval "cruise speed" run at Balboa Park for more than an hour early this morning. Of all the times to have a camera with me the past two months, this would have been it. The fog from the man-made lakes and creek beds in the nature preserve contributed to a menacing mist that might have given Stephen King chills. I was literally running through clouds of fog, just waiting for Freddy, Jason or Michael to pounce from the brush.
My workout continued at lunch with an incredible strength session at my work gym. I highly recommend this 45-minute program for anyone trying to get an intense full body workout.
2 sets, 15 reps, all done as supersets:
-- 10 minute warmup w/ treadmill or stationary bike
-- Lat pulldowns, dumbell lunges
-- Pushups, step-ups w/ dumbells
-- Close-grip pull-ups, squats
-- Alternating cable bicep curls, cable rope overhead extensions
-- Dumbell kickbacks, calf raises
-- 4x45 second planks
-- 3x20 medicine ball leg raises
-- 5 minutes of abs work
I lumped the planks and abs work together as another superset due to time issues (gotta do some work at the office, right?). This was by far one of the best workouts I've had in a gym since training with the Shan Clan.
Tomorrow, I've got a rare early morning yoga class and an optional bike spin in the evening. Since I missed a workout on Monday, I'll likely do both.
I'm already excited for the day to begin. What a difference a day makes.
Even if that day starts at 5:30 in the morning thanks to a noisy neighbor.
302 days and counting.