Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out with the old, in with the new (year)

So, that's a wrap on 2014. Not a bad year, I have to say:

Run: 2176.3 km
Bike: 2563.0 km
Total: 4739.3 km (!!)

The run number is lower than I'd planned for the year due to injury downtime, but the bike number is about 2,000 km higher than I would have predicted back on January 1st. I fell pretty hard for cycling this year, that's for sure.

I should probably not be allowed to use photo editing apps.
Oh, and there have been a grand total of three (3) visits to lane swim. Including one this morning, just to make sure I went once more December than I did in November. There's a number that will be a lot higher in 2015!

Some good things happened (marathon, cycling, duathlon, some new PBs), some not so good things (hip bursitis I just couldn't seem to fully get resolved), but I'm ending the year feeling good and getting really, really excited about 2015.

(My Strava year in review video seems to mostly only include running stats, and I didn't start tracking with Strava until mid-January, so the numbers aren't quite right. But I'm going to share it anyway)

Why am I so excited for 2015? Because 2015 is going to be all about triathlon. I even joined a local tri club, because if I'm going to do this, might as well do it right. I'm starting an 8 week swim stroke clinic with the club in mid-January, as it's probably better to get advice/help with my swimming now before I learn all sorts of bad habits. Plus, it'll get me in the habit of swimming regularly as I try and figure out how to fit the third discipline into an already crammed full of work, kids, running, and cycling schedule. They say the fourth discipline in triathlon is transition - I say it's really scheduling!

Don't read too much into the 'iron' part of the club name. Iron distance tris are NOT in the immediate future!
Before the triathlon fun starts, there is Around the Bay. While my indoor bike training has been going really well, my run training didn't really get off to the start I'd planned, and I've done a grand total of one of the assigned workouts, so that's a bit of a mess. However things are looking up - my hip finally seems to be cooperating with speedwork, so I'm going to add that in and see what happens. I'll back off again if anything aggravates my hip. I'm still hoping to PB at the race, but won't be too upset if I end up just running it for fun.

And I still have to pick my June triathlon(s), of course. One of these days I'll figure that out.

Happy New Year, and here's to what I hope will be a great year of swimming, cycling, and running!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Paincave

A few weeks ago Paul asked about my paincave set up, and I never got around to replying, so to make up for that here's way more information about the whole thing than anyone really needs.

Ready for a ride. Usually there's a second, larger fan, but it had walked off and since this was going to be an easy one I didn't bother to go find it.
Step one is the bike trainer, which I got at the annual Toronto bike clearance sale back in October. It's a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, which I chose largely because that's what Zindine told me to get for my needs and budget and he hasn't steered me wrong yet (one of these days he's going to start charging for all this free coaching!). It's very solid fluid trainer, reasonably quiet, and it's easy to get the bike on and off of it. I also really like that the difficulty of the ride is changed simply by changing gears on the bike, making it a realistic feeling experience.

Probably should have cropped the laundry out of the picture. It's a paincave/laundry sorting room, though, so it's more honest this way.
Now just sitting on the trainer pedaling is...not very exciting. I'm sure there are people out there who can do that, but I am definitely not one of them. I need a defined workout and someone or something to tell me what to do.

Enter Trainerroad.

The speed/cadence sensors on my bike communicate to my laptop via ANT+ (as does my heartrate monitor), and Trainerroad takes that data, along with my weight and the type of trainer I'm using, and translates it into virtual power numbers. I choose a workout from their huge library, and it tells me what to do and how hard to do it and for how long. It's really very cool. I'm just about finished the Sweet Spot base I plan and I'm looking forward to testing my progress before I repeat the plan again. I've done some really killer workouts using Trainerroad that I would never in a million years be able to do on my own. For $10 a month, it's totally worth it.

Garmin speed and cadence sensors at the top; ant+ stick in my laptop to receive the data at the bottom.
I like to connect my laptop to our big TV via HDMI so the workout is up there larger than life. Easy to see right in front of me that way.

I do also like to watch TV/movies or listen to music while I'm on the trainer. While TR does have a way to show, say, Netflix on the screen at the same time as your workout, I personally prefer to have my entertainment set up on my ipad. Just a personal preference thing, plus that way it's easier for me to listen via headphones, rather than having to crank the TV up really loud to be heard over the fans/bike/trainer noise. And with headphones I can watch stuff that maybe I don't want my kids watching/hearing. Put a show up on the regular TV and they are right there wanting to watch it with me, which limits my options.

TR on the bottom, Dr. Who on the top. It works, but I've decided it's not my preferred setup. Also, #nerd.
Typically I watch TV shows via Netflix for the first 2/3 of the workout, then switch to music. Having the ipad close at hand makes that a bit easier.
My usual setup - workout on the big screen, ipad on the barstool with headphones. The towel over the handlebars is 100% necessary. Trainer rides are disgustingly sweaty.
I use a random spare barstool to hold the ipad (and extra water on longer rides), and a measuring cup from the dollar store hooked over my handlebars for snacks, my phone, and any other random crap I think I might need during a ride.

Measuring cup hooked over my handlebars. Holding headphones, those random candy chew things all the races were giving out this year, and a couple of granola bars.

All in all, I've done almost 20 hours on the trainer since November, and I'm looking forward to many more. I can't wait to see how this all translates to the road in the spring!

Thumbs up to the #paincave

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My year of running (2014)

After two weeks of no exercise, yesterday I got back on the bike and today I cautiously ran 5k. Both went well and my hip feels fine, so my fingers are crossed I've managed to get this thing sorted out. I'll keep things careful for the rest of the week, though, just in case.

Today I'm hooking up with Miss Zippy's year in review, because I want to write a bit about my year and I think the prompts will help me organize my thoughts.

1. Best race experience

Amy and I heading for the finish at Mississauga
For running races, definitely finishing my first marathon. Although the aftermath of that race (months of ongoing hip problems, yay) have soured me a bit on the distance and I'm not planning to repeat it any time soon. But the feeling of crossing that finish line, of successfully running for four damn hours, was pretty awesome.

But there's also the little matter of that duathlon I did. I mean c'mon. I discovered that biking is awesome, I'm surprisingly kind of good at it, and I got a giant shiny medal for an age group place, so that race is pretty damn high on my list for the year. Let's call the marathon 1a and the duathlon 1b, OK?

2. Best run

Any run with this guy. Because our kids are still too little to be left alone, it's rare that we get to run together, so when it does happen it's pretty special.

A close second was finishing my first ever 20 miler. It was a perfect day for running and was a huge confidence boost before the marathon.

3. Best new piece of gear

Is it cheating if my best new piece of gear has nothing to do with running?

Was there any question what my answer would be here? Man I love my bike.

I miss this. I'm enjoying the trainer, but there's nothing like a ride on the roads.
4. Best piece of running advice you received

Cross training can be awesome. Try new things, you might like (or love) them.

5. Most inspirational runner

Honestly, the people who inspire me most are my running friends - the folks who post their workouts on Daily Mile & Strava. I love that when I'm feeling unmotivated all I have to do is check out my online friend's feeds and get totally inspired to see people rocking their workouts. I have fast friends, slow friends, and everything in between, and every single one of them is inspiring.

And there's my #burlingtonskirtbrigade girls, who are always up for a run or a ride, give good advice, commiseration about injuries, and lots and lots of non-running related chat. Love you guys.

And finally my triathlon friends who were pretty instrumental in getting me set up with that whole bike thing, and I owe them many many many thanks for giving good advice and encouragement. I think Irina and Zindine won't rest until everyone has at least tried a tri...

6. If you could sum up your year in just a few words, what would they be?

The year I discovered cycling. And loved it.

So it's been an interesting year - I definitely did a lot of things I was not expecting back at the beginning of the year! Can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

November in review

Hi internets! I'm still alive! Here's a quick post lunch hour post on how training is going.

Let's start with the good.

The bike

Things are just peachy keen on the bike. I've settled into a nice three day a week routine with the Trainer Road Sweet Spot base I plan. Three more weeks to go on that. I'm enjoying it immensely, and it's so nice to have a workout option at home now. The workouts are reasonably challenging without being too crazy, as you'd expect from a base building plan, and have focused a lot on cadence. Which is great, because one of my goals on the trainer is to bring my cadence up. It's been really interesting to play with how the same power on the bike can feel very different based on how fast your legs are moving, and I'm starting to get a much better feel for how pedaling faster is not necessarily harder.
It's a painful (and sweaty) sort of fun.

The run

I have been, not lazy exactly, but not particularly motivated to run this month. I ran a grand total of 87 km in November, which includes the 21.1 at Road to Hope, so clearly me and my running shoes are on a bit of a break. Which is fine. This has partially been a mental break, but partially because my bursitis-y right hip keeps getting cranky on me, and ideally I'd like to go into my ATB training plan with that settled down. My physiotherapist worked some magic yesterday that had me instantly feeling about 90% better (trigger point therapy is the shit), and I'm hopeful I'll be good to go when my plan is supposed to start next week - but if I'm not 100% I'll keep taking it easy and revise my plan.

Lift bridge selfie from some random run.
I am surprisingly relaxed about the whole thing, really. No pressure low stress running is nice, and it wouldn't be so bad to continue that for a while longer! At any rate, I'm taking a few days off of everything right now to see if that gets my hip back to 100% (and that includes no biking; complete rest, what a concept), and I'll reevaluate later this week.

The swim

Yeah, that hasn't happened. At all. It's partly because my one trip to lane swim so far really aggravated my hip, so I've been a bit reluctant to go back. And the other factor is I just can't figure out how to get it into my schedule in a way that won't make me lose my mind with exhaustion (8:30 pm swimming? By 8:30 I'm halfway to bed and asleep!). I dunno, I'm kind of letting it go right now because the whole thing was stressing me out, and this stuff is supposed to be my stress relief! My current thought is to tag along to some swims with Sam over the Christmas break (hey Sam, hope you are down with that plan!) and then find some sort of weekly coached swim to join in on in the new year.

Some ducks, because that's the closest I've gotten to getting in the water over the last few weeks!
So that's where I'm at. Crossing my fingers a few days of rest gets my body back on track and the training plan starts next week as planned...but I'm fully prepared to change those plans if necessary. Stay tuned...