Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Triathlon training begins

The last few days have been good for training, but I have a challenge coming up as we shall see...

After recovering from the back issues I was battling last week, I got back outside on Friday morning. I got up early to put in a chilly 5k - cold enough that the stocking cap came in handy. Saturday I went for the early wake-up again and got in another 4 miles, and the back (and legs) felt fine. After helping my brother-in-law assemble some furniture at his new condo, I had some time in the evening. Now what was it that I had on my to do list? Oh yeah, get the road bike ready for a ride.

A little background: I came into this road bike via inheritance. My uncle, a very avid cyclist, passed away unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm four years ago at the age of 56. At the time, he owned a small fleet of bicycles - a top-of-the-line road bike, a TT bike, a Specialized Epic Comp road bike (yes, I realize the only Epics out there now are MTBs, but apparently they use to have an Epic road) and his old Peugeot road bike. My aunt sold his top-end bike, as it was still relatively new, and my cousin got the TT bike. But when my aunt passed last September, the Specialized and Peugeot were not spoken for.

It was a couple of months before that I started riding my roaded-out mountain bike (mainly because I had my wonderful runner's knee and wanted some exercise) and somehow got the crazy triathlon bug. And I'm thinking - what am I going to do for a bike, because there's no way I'm riding 56 miles on a cheap mountain bike with road tires. Well, when going through the estate, my cousins let me pick up the Specialized, which is a great bike. And I got the Peugeot as well, of which I have some fond memories. Back in middle school, when I first started running and cycling (before I quit, restarted, quit again and restarted again), my aunt & uncle would come visit nearly every summer. Bill and I would go for a ride - sometimes the 10.5 mile loop in the countryside near home, once a 50+ miler down the local highway. And what was he riding? It was always that Peugeot - so that bike will always serve as a reminder of what was and what can be.

So Saturday night, there I am in my home office, wrestling the Specialized off the trainer it had been attached to all winter. I got out my spiffy bicycle maintenance book to figure out how to adjust the shifters (having problems shifting to the large chainring), adjusting the saddle (angle was a bit off), adjusting the cleats (this will be my first time using clipless pedals outside) and making sure I have the tires pumped full enough (one guy at the bike shop I always go to recommended that "a guy like me" try to pump up to 115 psi rather than just 110 psi....). I even took it for a brief spin outside after, just to make sure it'd be ready for the morning.

Come Sunday morning, I'm up at 5:30am. Yeah, that doesn't happen often. I want to get in a solid ride before heading off to church. I eat breakfast and get out the door by 6:30am, and decide I'm going to ride a route I rode a couple of times last fall - one with a gnarly hill about 14 miles into the ride. How gnarly? According to Veloroutes.org, it's got 485 feet of climbing in just 1.5 miles or so. That includes a couple of false flats. Last summer, I barely made it up the first 80 feet of the climb before realizing heavy rider + heavy bike = not getting up the hill.

The first 10 miles of my ride on the Specialized, and I'm cruising right along. The ride is smooth, it's so much more responsive than my mountain bike (a little too much, sometimes - need to work on the bike handling skills!) and I'm enjoying what's turning out to be a beautiful day. But on the couple of small hills I encounter in the first part of the ride, I realize that this bike is geared for certifiable studs only (I later confirm that the rear cassette is a 12/23 and the front a 53/39). So I decide to skip the big hill in favor of a route I hadn't rode before. Well, it turned out I still got to enjoy a good 200 foot climb followed by a descent that had significant pucker factor - mainly because I haven't been riding 37 mph on a city street with traffic before! After that was another 200 foot climb at a pretty steady grade... there I was in my granny gear in the bike lane, struggling to make it up (note to self - get up out of the saddle next time!). But I did make it up, and had a nice and enjoyable ~2 mile descent at a 25+ mph speeds. And despite later missing a shift and popping the chain off the chainring, I managed to make it home, get showered and still make it to church.

While it was a great ride, hopefully next time I'll be smart enough to not only get up out of the saddle and "dance on the pedals" for a little more uphill momentum, but I'll take a nice warmdown too. Sitting down for the entire climb made the outside of my calves incredibly tight, and coupled with the lack of warmdown, made me almost immobile by 8pm. Thus, Monday was a rest day... even though it was already scheduled to be a rest day, there was no way I could have run had I wanted to.

This morning I did get up for the early run again, and managed a nice 3.5 miles in between the overnight rains and the morning rains (and as I type this on my lunch break, I see the noon rains getting pretty heavy). Even though I was sleepy, it felt great to be out there - but the sleepiness will mount this week.

Remember the challenge I mentioned? Well, there's actually two of them. The first one is how do I work in the swimming that I'll need to get into tri shape? I'm sure I'll figure that one out assuming I can find some Friday or weekend time. But the bigger challenge this week (and likely for several weeks in June) is how to keep up the schedule while traveling? I suspect it means lack of sleep. Tomorrow is the usual 6am flight to Arizona, which for me means waking up at 4:30am. Then a full day of meetings when I get there... my last meeting is a 8pm-9pm teleconference. That means that tomorrow is an automatic rest day, and if I want to run Thursday it's either waking up early (have to be on site for an 8am meeting) or running when I get home (assuming the flight lands on time at 7pm). And if I do run while I'm in Arizona, how pleasant is it going to be to run at 5:30am when it's already 78 degrees out, or something ridiculous like that? This schedule is definitely going to be a tough nut to crack, but I've got all the motivation I need... I've got that half-Ironman on the calendar, now only 89 days away. :)

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