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Always Be Attacking

I am not a professional cyclist.

Parigi - Roubaix 2008  Allenamento sul pavè

Thou I do pretend to be one from time to time….

The Paris-Roubaix this past weekend was a great race. Between the cobbles, attacks, and unpredictable winner I couldn’t turn away. That is what is so great about the single-stage, or classic races; anyone has a chance to win. That is why I ask this question:

If Cancellara really wanted to win, which I am pretty sure he did, why didn’t he attack or at least attempt to catch Terpstra inside 5km?

Appreciating the fact bike racing is like poker at 55km/hr, did Omega-Pharma Quick Step call Fabian’s bluff and attack at the right time? I can understand why he didn’t go with Tom Bonnen. When Bonnen attacked with 78.5km to go, I thought “wow, cool move but way to early”. With the help of the Peloton, he stood a better chance than if he had gone with.

Even after Boonen was gone, Trek Factory Racing left the charge up to BMC in the Peloton. I figured they would have pushed the pace, reeled in the chase group, and cranked up the pressure to deliver him to the line. Instead it seemed like most of the teams were happy to enjoy the view the in the country side finishing with a nice ride in town. Not bad for a Sunday morning hey?

Now I know that Fabian was held up by a teammate after a crash, scary how fast that happens by the way, and it took a lot of energy to make contact with the Peloton. I reckon that it took a lot of energy for Terpstra to make contact with the lead group, then open a 20 second advantage when he crossed the finish line.

Maybe it just wasn’t his day. It is no secret that a little luck, who am I kidding, a lot of luck is needed to win a bike race. If it wasn’t, there would be no need to start the race in the first place. Was it luck? Or did he know holding on for 2nd or 3rd was the only option?

If I was in his shoes, I would have been right on Terpstra’s wheel when he broke, sprinted to the line, or died trying.

Again, maybe why I am not a professional cyclist.

Question: What would you have done in Cancellara’s shoes?

Intervals and Commuting in Lycra

Week one of the CTS Half Ironman plan is in the books.

Commuter Coverage (Medium)

Swim – 1:30:00 (p) – 3:00:00 (a) – 8400m
Bike – 2:45:00 (p) – 2:29:03 (a) – 71.67km
Run – 2:00:00 (p) – 1:58:29 (a) – 25.26km

Total – 6:15:00 (p) – 7:27:32 (a)

This week was all about getting back into the interval training, high intensity if you will. One thing is for sure, intervals suck. I mean who wants to be hunched over, gasping for breath with sweat pouring off your forehead. Oh, right, I do.

Good example; Saturday afternoon’s run called for a 45min ER with 4x5min Tempo Run (4:13-4:03/km) 5min RBI. If you do math real quick, skip this next part. With the intervals, I have a total of 5 minutes to warm up, get my heart rate in check, and decide my route before I am switching between 5 minutes of high pace and 5 minutes of rest. That is all.

No rest for the wicked, eh? (Ha, slipped a Canadian phrase in there).

I had an absolute blast, even though everyone in Baker Park thought I was a touch crazy. My route was a 1.2km stretch from one end to the other, I would run hard out and easy back, sometimes past the same couple two or three times. The look on their faces were priceless.

I had to cut my bike 15 minutes short on Friday morning, conference call at 0900 was looming. I was able to get all of my intervals in mind you, so I reckon that is a decent trade off. Not a big fan of riding on the stationary at the YMCA, but I am a huge fan of swimming with the tri club, so something has to give. I have no issues packing my bike and heading for a ride afterwards, but being downtown is not conducive to a lycra wearing roadie with wet hair. So the stationary is where I will stay.

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The Calgary Police Half Marathon is just less than 2 weeks away, and for the first time this year, I am feeling pretty optimistic about it. Now, I am a pretty optimistic guy, but after slacking on the longer runs over the past 4 months, I was worried about lasting the distance.

Well after a couple of great runs last week and the prospect of one more long run this weekend, I am confident that it will be a great race. I am going to remember to bring some sort of energy with me this time, don’t want a repeat of last year now do we?

Question: What are your thoughts on intervals?

Wind Is Your Enemy

There are many options for storing hydration on your bike. But which is the best when it comes to the aerodynamic impact? Cue the debate.

I am not an engineer (thankfully) so I am going to leave the sciencey stuff to the experts. Cervelo has a couple of great articles that explore this very topic in way more detail than I could ever attempt. Hydration and Aerodynamics and Aerodynamics are a great resource to understanding how wind resistance effects a rider.

Long story short, I need to figure a way to mount a water bottle between my arms on my aero bars.

There are several options to a triathlete with a couple of bucks burning a hole in their wallet. But hey, we have enough stuff to buy just to get us to the start line. So I went about it a different way, DIY. After reading a couple of great articles on how fellow triathletes, even a professional, mount their bottles I gave it a rip.

Here is how I did it, a minor error, and the end result.

I first measured the distance between each aero bar and found it to be too close together. I broke out the allen keys and made a slight adjustment.

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With my aero bars an adequate distance apart, I placed the cage in position with the four zip ties. Be careful not to tighten them too far yet as your final position depends on it. Once your position is perfect, tighten the ties as far as they will go.

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Case in point, I place the heel of the cage too low at the stem and was unable to remove the bottle.

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No problems though, I snipped the two ties and replaced them, making sure the heel was lower down angling the cage upwards. At this point I checked the position and all seemed well.

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I tried to get at least one more click out of each side and with success, I tested the removal of the bottle. Voila, it moves pretty good each way.

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A couple of notes for the future. I used my existing cage mostly because that is what I had on hand. The zip ties in the top mounting ‘slot’, yeah let’s call it that, interfere with the bottle when inserting it. It isn’t bad mind you, but I can see it being an issue in the future.

With my aero bars having the profile of mine, I may want to mount the cage backwards to make it easier to remove the bottle.

So there you go, total cost $0.80 and about 10 minutes. Even if it doesn’t work well, it was worth the effort.

Question: Have you tired something similar? Has it worked for you?

Weaselhead Hill, Trends, and Hippos

Back at it, in more ways than one.

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Swim – 3:00:00 – 9100m
Bike – 2:02:51 – 61.0km
Run – 2:25:25 – 26.48km

I said in my last post “Wow, Wednesday already. I wish every week would go this fast.” Yeah, well it is now almost 2 weeks since then. Jeez time flies.

This was my last week of semi structure in my training. I always have a plan, but for the next 8 weeks I am going to live and die by my training schedule. There is something comforting about having a plan written and all you have to do is hammer it.

Easy enough right?

The Half Ironman plan from “The Time Crunched Triathlete” will be my main stay for the next 8 weeks, peaking for Escape From Alcatraz June 1. I then have a couple of weeks to recover before cycling through the plan again for Ironman 70.3 Calgary.

I am tired and hungry just thinking about it.

Saturday afternoon was perfect for a rip on my bike; the earliest I have been able to get on the road and it was awesome. It was so great to have the fresh air, wind, and dust in my face rather than the stale air of my 70′s inspired basement. You read right, even dust is better than the trainer.

Sunday afternoon I took my brother to run part of the Calgary Police Half Marathon course as he has never run the race before. No one should ever run the Weaselhead hill for the first time at 14k into a half marathon; that is just cruel. It was a great run with great company. I don’t usually get the opportunity to chat much while training, so it was a welcome change.

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Some really odd trends in my top posts. I wonder what it is about Recap – Week 50 that has people interested. I can see Ironman Tattoo, that is a good post…..

Friday afternoon we made an impromptu trip to the zoo here in Calgary. Not sure if you knew, but the zoo was almost washed away by the floods last year and this was our first time there since.

What a blast. I forgot how much fun it can be to just let the afternoon run by without much of a plan. Fortunately for us we received an invite for supper around 1730, so no need to rush home and utter our favorite phrase, “what should we make for supper?”.

Question: Now spring is here, has your training ramped up for race season?

Headstands and Spring in Calgary

Wow, Wednesday already. I wish every week would go this fast.

comfort-zone

Swim – 3:00:00 – 9400m
Bike – 2:15:05 – 68.3km
Run – 2:24:09 – 28.9km
Strength – 0:45:00

Total – 8:25:14

That was a good week, training went really well and I had a great time with the girls. Our swim volume ramped up Monday and Wednesday with 3400m on each day. Friday was no slouch either, it was only 2600m but with 600m of sprints it was every bit as tough. Wednesday looked something like this:

Warmup
400m swim / 200m kick / 400m drill
Main Set
4x600m on 10:00
Swim / Pull / Pull with Paddles / Pull
Cool Down
Showers

We were able to hit the wall under 9:00 for each set taking a decent amount of rest. One thing I have learnt in my time with lane 3, I need to improve my pull. I can leave most of the guys in my wake (I was gonna say dust) on a swim set, but when the pull buoy hits the water, I am literally lost off the back. Reminds me of this post from SwimSwam. Which one are you?

Ah, the warm weather last weekend lulled us all into a sense of false security. I was planning on taking my bike onto the road, the sunshine and crisp spring air was calling my name saying “hey, it is never to early to start working on those cyclist tan lines.” I had to give it up as family engagements called and reserved to ride the following weekend. Yeah, not gonna happen with -10 degrees, snow, and wind-chill to boot.

Everyone in Calgary is complaining about the weather, and I can see why. Spring arrived last week and the forecast calls for more snow this coming week than we got in all of January. But hey, in Calgary you can’t discount snow until after the May long weekend, so I am not throwing my hands in the air just yet.

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I enjoy doing things that are out of my comfort zone; I always joke with my wife that I will “try anything once”. This is how I have come upon some of the best things in my life, including triathlon.

On Saturday afternoon was my little ones last gymnastics class. Why so important you ask? Well the last day is when all of the parents are invited down with 20 minutes left to compete in a competition. Nothing crazy like trampoline, but how cool would that be? This time around was a headstand competition between the Moms and Dads.

With my girls on the sideline, I waited for the countdown, and lifted into a headstand, elbows on my knees. It was actually pretty easy to hold and after a 12.5k run, it felt great on the legs. After a couple of minutes or so, they told us to raise our legs straight into the air. Cool.

Next thing I know, I am on my side, laughing. Apparently I need to work on my core strength.

Question: Have you gotten out of your comfort zone lately?

Finally, The Weekend is Upon Us

Nothing like being able to release the shackles at the end of the day, who am I kidding, lunch time, and head home to hang with the family. Or if you don’t have kids, then you are probably off for dinner with friends and sleeping in. Not that I envy you or anything like that…..

Again, taking inspiration from Dave, if you need a little laugh or inspiration to start the weekend off right then I am at your service.

A buddy of mine has this on the wall in his office; I can’t walk by without having a little chuckle. Probably because it is so true.

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I use visualization in my everyday life, I first learnt about it playing baseball as a kid. My coach would have us see the ball hit the bat, rounding third heading for home, or if the ball came to us what we would do. I do the same on the beach before a race and on the way into the office each morning. If I can visualize it, then I can make it happen.

unicorn

I dig music, and by dig, I mean obsess about it. A good song can give you the energy to finish the end of an interval, make Saturday morning chores fun, and inspire. A bad song can do the opposite. Right now I am junto Sufjan Stevens; specifically his ‘Illinois’ album. It is pretty mellow, but most of the time, that is what I need.

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I promised my lane 3 swimming buddies I would make this one. When ever we have an extra 5 minutes after a workout, our coach always has us do sprints. Sometimes it is 4x25m, but it can turn out to be worse. We try our best never to end early.

Eau Claire YMCA Tri Club

I just really thought this was hilarious and fitting for an athlete. Not many days go by that I don’t think about eating an entire pie. We can and we will…..

eyes and stomach

Have a good weekend guys. Train safe and sleep in.

It Is Lonely at the Back

I throw my hands in the air in surrender.

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Swim – 0:00:00 – 0km
Bike – 1:01:20 – 36.8km
Run – 1:02:35 – 12.5km

Total – 2:03:55

Travelling for business is starting to really suck. I spent 5 days on a drilling rig in the middle of nowhere this week. Pretty sure you could tell something was up by the training volume, hey? I don’t like spending time away from my family; partly because when I get home my daughter has taken my spot in the bed, the furniture is never in the same spot as when I left, and the dog has gone pretty much bonkers. More than all of that, I miss the girls.

Being woken up in the morning with a body slam on Saturday or eating breakfast on the couch watching cartoons is all I want to do these days. Being a grown up isn’t all it’s advertised.

I was able to get back to training Friday evening on my bike, opting to take it somewhat easy as I was planning to head outside for the first time on Sunday afternoon. Yeah, the weekend in Calgary was that warm. Alas it was not in destiny and I opted to hang with the girls instead.

I have always joked around with my fellow swim club members that a swim lane is like a peloton; everyone needs to take their turn at the front. This morning I took my turn at the front, and like a rider who made a failed attempt at a break away, I was slowly caught and spit out the back with nothing but regret to keep me company.

When Michael Gustafson tweeted “taking a day off from the pool, you might as well retire” I didn’t really believe it. Well, now I do.

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I missed the St Patrick’s Day 10k road race this past Sunday, and judging by the number of race recaps on WordPress, I am the only one in North America who did. Everyone has that race, the one you always want to run, but something short of a miracle will keep you from lining up at the start line. This seems to be mine.

Not that I really want to run a 10k race these days. It seems silly to me to pay a race entry fee, typically $30-$50, drive half away across town, line up with a bunch of runners (sorry runners, I prefer triathletes), and drive home all sweaty when I could hammer a quick 10k from the house and be done is less than an hour.

Question: Have you taken a significant time away from training? Did you see a drop in fitness?

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