Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Recovery in Tucson

Webb:  Sunday evening we put Ragnar Del Sol squarely in our rearview mirror and headed south to Tucson, one of the top winter training sites in the USA. If you are a triathlete and you are going to Tucson, it is pretty much required that you visit Trisports.com's brick-and-mortar building. They have everything. In fact, they have so much they cannot display it all. If you don't see what you are looking for, you should ask because they likely have it in the back. Case in point, I was there to buy DeSoto Sports Skincooler Wings to protect me from the sun's cosmic death rays. One quick word with one of the sales people and they emerged from the back with the Wings in hand.
Celebrity sighting!

Elle: The TriSports store is fantastic. Its where I bought the 2XU tri suit that I've worn for almost every race I've done, which I got on sale (something like $99 down from $200). So I had to check out the sale rack. I had a question, and went up to the front register. One of the TriSports staff started talking to me, and I immediately recognized his voice, I turned to look, and lo and behold it was the guy from the video! The video that I've watched too many times to admit. If you have not seen "Sh*t Triathletes Say," you must stop reading this immediately, watch it and return to the blog. I know that I've personally said pretty much all of those things. Eric nailed it. And it's so nice when you meet a celebrity, and they turn out to be a really nice person too...

WebbAfter picking up our new gear, we headed out to do an easy 5 mile aerobic recovery run. We did a great job staying in HR zones 1-2. I think my body wasn't too wrecked since my final leg of the relay was a wash. My HR on that leg stayed low since my ITB wouldn't allow me to put forth any meaningful effort. Still, I was glad the ITB problem seems to have abated. I'll keep stretching and hit the foam roller when we get back home just to be sure.

Elle: This run kinda sucked. I treated Ragnar differently, in that I basically didn't hold back, I ran hard for each leg, like I would for a race. So even though we took Sunday off, I'm still super sore. So today, every step hurt. Even though I love being in Arizona, and the mountains and cactus were beautiful, I had trouble ignoring the pain in my muscles. But Webb said that this run would help, so I tried to suck it up and enjoy the run.

Webb: With the recovery run in the books, it was time to hit a small and outrageously delicious Mexican Restaurant in Catalina (north of Tucson, beyond Pusch Ridge of the Santa Catalina mountains) called Carlota's. Check it out if you get a chance. Tomorrow we hit El Charro!

Don't forget, our "30 for 30" begins March 1st!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Team DNR: 30 hours in the Desert

Webb: In spite of Ragnar's lack of best efforts, we survived our 200 mile, 30 hour trek through the Arizona desert. For those of you not aware of the 200 mile running relay, they are all based upon the Hood to Coast model built 30 years ago. I'll leave the description to them. For our purposes, just know that we each ran three legs over a 24-hour period - 30 hours if you count both vans. You snack a lot and don't rest much. Even when you sleep, you don't really sleep.
Team DNR, post-race

Elle: As long as you're in a van with people who have a good sense of humor, and don't take things too seriously, this can be really fun. You run your butt off with hundreds of other slightly crazy people, many of whom have decided it would be a good idea to run in a ridiculous, heat-retaining costume, others who run in very little at all. You eat a lot of pretzels, gatorade, and gels. You spend a lot of time in port-o-potties, more than anyone should. And you'll find that you can run. Fast. Even when you're very, very tired.

Webb: If you are not on a competitive team, then 24-hour relays are more about the in-van experience than the actual running. Our van was made up of family and long-time friends. In addition to the runners, my brother Chris and my sister-in-law, Lisa, joined us as our driver and navigator, respectively. (Technically, you don't need a driver or navigator, but we've learned that having them takes a lot of the stress out of the effort.) We couldn't go wrong with our group.

Unfortunately, you don't spend much time with the other van. You meet up at major exchanges and the finish. Otherwise, there is very little interaction. That's a shame because our Van 2 had really cool people and we would have liked to have spent more time with them.

Elle: I had Jessica's legs this year. Which included the 'Mother Fu&*#$er' leg. It was the final leg, a 9-mile trek that included a hill that started at mile 3 and just kept going. Someone must have said something, because this year they took off the last 2 miles and added them to the leg of the next runner. Thank God, because when I got to the end, I don't know if I had another 2 miles of hill climbing in me. It was challenging, for sure. But since I knew what was ahead of me, I mentally prepared myself. I accepted the hill, and tried my best to embrace it. I ran hard. I passed a lot of other runners. I embraced the pain. The reason we all call it the 'Mother Fu&*#$er' leg is because last year, Jessica ran it. Jessica is a nice, mild-mannered person who you wouldn't imagine would curse loudly in public. When we met up with her near the end of the climb to give her moral support, she ran past us, the only words she could muster was "Mother Fu&*#$er! "
Van #1and our Ragnar tatoos

Webb: Unlike everyone else in the van, I held the same runner position as last year (i.e., #3). Except for a small but meaningful change to the third leg, the course was identical. This year my legs consisted of #3) a mostly downhill 7.1 mile run, #15) a treacherous and hilly 6.5 mile night run, and finally #27) a mostly downhill 9.0 mile run to finish the day. 

Leg #3: A typical desert morning. Hot. Dry. Dusty. Cattleguards and a long, straight-shot road that seemed to go on forever. Even though I was freshly armed with accurate HR threshold data, I did a lousy job staying under threshold. I took off way too fast and then spent the next 6 miles trying to settled down. 

Leg #15: For all the safety rules Ragnar puts in place, you'd think their number one concern is our safety. If that were the case, they would change Leg 15's route. First, there is a section of trail about a mile long. The first quarter or third is littered with smooth river stones set firmly in the ground. The type of stones if you don't trip over, you'll slip on. You then approach "The Drop." Ragnar places a volunteer there to remind you to be careful. The Drop is a descent that I figure to be about 25 to 30 feet at about a 30% grade in soft dirt. You then drop into a dry river bed and trudge through sand. Remember this is at night. My headlamp was bright; bright enough to smooth over topographical changes. Every few steps the ground would suddenly drop or rise causing me to stumble. (Switching to the red light to see ground variations made it too dark to see much of anything else.)

I passed one runner who was walking. Afraid she was hurt, I checked on her. She wisely said, "This is too dangerous, I'll save myself for the 9-miler tomorrow."  After emerging from the trail, we then headed back onto sidewalks, until the course sent us running down a major street against traffic. No sidewalk. No shoulder. Just you against traffic. This would be a fun route during the day. Thanks Ragnar.

Leg #27: Nine miles as two miles up hill (i.e., the summit of Elle's 'Mother Fu&*#$er' hill), two miles of rolling terrain, then five miles of downhill. Last year I killed this leg. I ran hard and fast. This year it nearly killed me. My ITB tract went en fuego as I emerged from the third mile. I hobbled through the next six.  At one point I called for pickle juice to see if it would help the muscles around the ITB. Nope. It was surprisingly refreshing though.
Elle - Leg #1

Elle: My other legs were fun. I ran as hard as I could without killing myself, or causing injury. I was just happy to be in Arizona, running amid the cacti and mountains. The landscape was so gorgeous, I had trouble wiping the smile off my face. Even during the Mother Fu&*#$er' leg.
I'd add my run stats here, but my Garmin 110 cleverly decided to crash after the race, so I lost all of my data. Great.

Webb: Final thoughts: Big thanks to Chris & Lisa for driving us around, taking photos and providing general support and organization. Taking care of the little things helped us focus on the running. Thanks to Shawn for opening her home for us to crash after the first major exchange. Thanks to Dan & Jessica for captaining the ship; their leadership was invaluable. Thanks to Jaimee for filling in for Paul (fractured heel - yikes!) at the last minute. And for the burpees and cartwheels. Thanks to Van 2 tearing the course apart and having the Team DNR vibe. We hope to be able to spend more time in the future with you guys. Thanks to Katie & Adam for once again being amazing post-race hosts: showers, pizza, beer, and homemade cookies.

Last but not least: Dear Ragnar, we're breaking up. After three races with you, I've decided that you don't put as much into this relationship as I do. In the beginning you didn't not offer much, but what you offered was kinda interesting. In our second race, you offered less and in this last race you found a way to lower your effort level even further. I have since learned there are others who are also interesting but who appear to give back to the relationship. I deserve to be treated better. I wish you well and hope we both learn from this experience. 

V02 Results

Webb: Both of our scores fall into the "Excellent" category (mid-50s). Keep in mind professional cyclists are in the high 70s and 80s, so "excellent" is not the top of the scale. Doesn't matter, our egos are always happy to hear that word.

Darrin wants us to get our scores up to the high 50s in time for Timberman (August). To that end, he gave us a plan for March to start working on base phase high intensity and recovery workouts. I'm looking forward to following a plan that a professional put together. It'll be better than my blind efforts.

What I found to be the most interesting result were our Ventilatory Efficiency (VE) scores. Part of capturing the 02/C02 exchange was to determine our VE. Two components of VE are how much 02 you take in and how well you use it. Mine and Elle's overall V02 scores were very close and our VT/LT HR were also close. We varied significantly on our VE scores, with mine being much higher (not necessarily better). It seems I am much better at getting 02 into my system and she is much better at using the 02 she gets. Soooooo, I need to work on becoming more efficient (e.g., V02 workouts) and she needs to work on getting more 02 (e.g., proper breathing techniques). I dare say she has the easier road, but maybe not.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

VO2 to the Max

Elle: First race of the year, folks! Ragnar Del Sol - a 24 hour, 200 mile relay race from Wickenburg, AZ to Tempe, AZ. Even though it's not all that competitive (we're not winning anything here), it's still a race with thousands of other people, and a chance to get out on the road and see what you've got at the beginning of the season. And the race is in the Arizona desert, one of my favorite places.

Webb: Before we left for the airport we hopped on the trainers to do thesufferfest.com's "A Very Dark Place." We tried to keep the intensity as prescribed but we focused on keeping our cadence higher. We don't want to go into this adventure with heavy, non-responsive legs. With that in mind, we also donned our compression wear.  Recovery with a reduced chance of fatal blood-clotting. Bonus!

Elle: When I first got my Zoot compression tights (a b'day present from Webb, thanks!), it would take me so long to get them on, I rarely wore them. But like anything, practice makes perfect. Or at least acceptable. So I've gotten better at it. It was nice to have them on during the plane ride, since it tends to be cold up in the air, but it was equally nice to get them off when we landed.

Webb: We needed to do all we could to have fresh legs because we scheduled a V02max/fitness test for the day after our arrival. Unfortunately the only time slot available was 6:30AM. Ugh. Whatever, it was going to be worth it to have a professional administer a fitness test. Elle was smart; she went to bed early. I, on the other hand, stayed up a bit late visiting with mi familia.
The biggest pancakes EVER.

The test was fantastic. First, we met with Darrin Permenter of Synaptic Training and Testing who administered the test and educated us on the why's and how's. Then I climbed on the Woodway Treadmill and put on the mask that would capture the amount of oxygen I took in and how much C02 I exhaled. By doing this, you can determine your ventilatory threshold (VT or alternatively, LT - lactate threshold), the point when you cease burning fats for fuel and rely on carbohydrates alone. Carbs burn hot and fast leaving you with nothing. It is best not to cross that threshold too soon.

The actual test involved a warm-up followed by graduated increase in speed. Once I reached 10 mph (my predicted top pace), Darrin started to increase the grade until I conceded defeat. You don't need to give a maximum effort for the test be effective as the main purpose is to mark your VT/LT. I wanted to know what I could handle, so I took it as far as I could. My legs felt surprisingly good even at the end. I had to stop when I became light-headed and my mind disconnected from my body. It was an extraordinarily humbling and motivating experience. Our results showed that we have a ways to go, which also means we have potential. Darrin also gave us a plan to set us on the path to meet that potential. Good times await.

Elle: I really wanted to give it my all for the test. And I guess I did? When I was done I couldn't help but think I could have gone for another minute. But either way, I got some good information about my VO2 max and heart rate that I can use to maximize my training for the upcoming season.

Webb: It turns out Darrin is not just great at explaining the VT/LT business. He is also great at recommending breakfast joints. I love pancakes, french toast and waffles, especially the morning of the day before a race. Darrin sent us to Crazy Otto's. He said the pancakes would be big. He was not wrong. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Roads to Glory"

THE WORKOUT: Road to Glory- Acte 2 Pyrenean Edition
A description of the workout from the website:
Bring a little piece of mountain harmony to your home, and build your winter fitness at the same time with this 65 minute indoor training and route recon guide.
Join rider, writer and marketeer, Mike Cotty, in this inspiring journey as you tackle some of the most challenging and rewarding climbs and descents in the world. Designed to keep you motivated through the colder months, each climb is broken up into a series of 5-15 minute intervals with gentle recovery periods that provide a chance to catch your breath and enjoy the scenery.

Webb: I loved this workout. As someone who is both a poor climber and who ultimately needs to be a time-trialist, I need to develop muscular endurance. This was an excellent workout for that. This base phase workout develops the specific strength to improve force to the pedal while keeping the HR mostly down in zone 2. You'll jump up to zone 4 here and there, but for the most part you want to maintain a steady, medium effort.

Elle: I found this workout challenging, very different than The Sufferfest workouts, which are more about shorter, intense intervals, which I like. Going for more steady-state, incline intervals is something I probably need to do more of, but I missed the snarky comments and get-up-and-move music that I'm used to with the 'Fest. But it's probably good to mix things up every now and then.

Webb: The Sufferfest is fantastic for all the reasons we have documented. I was a little worried this would be boring. Quite to the contrary, I was surprised how quickly the time passed. The scenery is gorgeous. If you're a fan of the Tour de France, then you know how stunning the Pyrenees can be. The perspective from the bike and support car are markedly different though from helicopter shots. Also, Mike Cotty's commentary added just enough distraction to help me stay on task. (I love irony.) Overall, Cyclefilm has done a good job and I look forward to future volumes.

Elle: I was back on Darth Vader, since the new Cervélo is in the shop for a 30-day tune-up and to fix the wonky wheel situation (which might just be be a wonky tire situation). It was nice to get back in aero position, and I like the way the Trek shifts better too. Maybe after the Cervélo is back, it will be shifting more smoothly...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Join us for "30 for 30" in March

Webb: We want to invite you, all of you, especially those of you who do little to no exercise, to join us in something we are calling “30 for 30”: 30 minutes of exercise for 30 days in March. You decide what your exercise(s) will be. It can be walking, Jazzercise, badminton. Whatever you want or whatever combination of exercises you want. The point is to be active for at least 30 minutes each day. Yeah, yeah we know March has 31 days. You get one day you can skip. Choose wisely.
If you don’t exercise much and have an active job, (e.g., construction, daycare or chasing your own kids around the house) we want you to do an additional 30 minutes. It will be 30 minutes of activity for you. Find the time and own it.
This idea is the confluence of two non-related, coincidental events. The first was listening to an interview on the “Zen and the Art of Triathlon” podcast between Brett and Coach Mike Ricci. The other was watching the following “visual lecture” on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aUaInS6HIGo#
It is well-worth your time to watch the lecture. You’ll not labor through it. In fact, we think you’ll find it rather eye-opening in its simplistic approach to a better quality of life no matter your age or current mental or physical health. As s species, our own cleverness and ingenuity has tricked us into forgetting that being active is in our DNA and to deny that leads to and/or complicates things like depression and diabetes. But here is the thing, you don’t need to run marathons - 30 minutes of walking will probably do just fine.
For our fellow triathletes, you probably know that you are supposed to devote some significant time in the off-season or base phase to focus on your weakness. Our weakness is swimming. In the podcast, Coach Ricci talks about the improvement his athletes see when he tells them to swim for 30 consecutive days. It is about frequency, consistency, adaptation, muscle memory and some other things we don’t understand. The big picture is: Get in the water! That is what Elle and I are going to do. For you swimmers-turned-triathletes, get on the bike or in your running shoes. And of course, be smart. Thirty consecutive days can lead to overuse injuries. We plan to spend 30 minutes in the pool about five days a week with only two days that will be longer or intense. Part of getting faster is not injuring yourself.
The team at the finish line of Ragnar del Sol 2011

As usual, we'll try to post our workout experiences often. We want you to join us. So please feel free to comment and tell us what you did and how you are doing. 

Elle: What he said.

Also, we're heading out to Phoenix this week for Ragnar del Sol, which starts on Friday morning and goes until we've covered the 200 miles from Wickenburg to Tempe, Arizona, which will be sometime on Saturday. 

• 12 team members
200 miles
2 vans
countless peanut butter pretzels. 

Hilarity is sure to ensue. Stay tuned...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dan vs. Dave

ELLE'S WORKOUT - Treadmill run inspired by Dave Scott
W/U:  5 min. at 1.5% grade (6mph)
          5 min. gradually increase to 7mph
Set 1: repeat 6 times
45 sec @ 5% grade (7mph)
45 sec @ 6% grade (7mph)
30 sec @ 7% grade (7mph)
1 min. rest @ 2% grade (7mph)
Set 2: repeat 10 times
20 sec. @ 0.5% grade (9mph)
jump off for 20 sec.
jump back on for 20 sec.
Set 3:
10 min. @ 1.5% grade (7mph)

Elle: This was my first time trying this 'Dave Scott' treadmill workout. The first set was TOUGH. The second set needed to be more challenging, but I'm too scared to jump on the treadmill when it's going faster than 9mph, so I'll just add more reps next time. And for the third set I need to jack up the speed next time, 7.5mph at least, maybe higher.

WEBB'S WORKOUT - SEAC Running Club, workout by Dan
w/u - run to Beacon Hill 
Main - 6 repeats as 1 short (ca 200m), 4 long (ca 400m), 1 short
Drills - usual fare of lunges, lower leg drives, etc.
c/d - run back to SEAC
total  - 5.3 miles
Webb describing something moving to Shawn

Webb: It was a strange night to be running up and down Beacon Hill. The meteorologists called for 80% chance of rain. Does it count if it only mists? I would guess the temp was high 30s or low 40s, which is not bad but it got downright cold on our last two repeats. I opted forgot to bring my gloves. My hands were red from the rawness of the cold, damp air.

I was dreading the drills because I was sure I was going to freeze. Here is the strange part: It was actually warmer, pleasant even, at the bottom of the hill, even when we weren't running. Maybe there was a wind farther up? I don't know.

As for the workout, it was a good and tough one. I've learned that the overall quality of my hill repeats suffer if I go out too hard on the first couple of intervals. So I made an effort to pace myself while ensuring I still gave it a hard effort. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew ripped the hill apart. It is impressive to see how they knock it down. If you don't belong to a running club, go find one. (And if you are in Boston, join us at SEAC on Thursdays and Saturdays.) Your club mates will get the best out of you.

Elle: While the SEAC crew was shredding up the hill in Boston Common, I was taking a delightful, toasty warm shower at the gym. Then I put on some clean, warm clothes and headed over to the store to meet up with everyone for some post-run beer.

Webb: We had a good time hanging out with everyone afterwards, talking about the pros and cons of 80s music (then & now), the difference between good artists and great artists. Hey, we're capable of talking about something other than swimming, biking or running.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Couple That Suffers Together...

...races together.

THE WORKOUT: The Sufferfest: Fight Club
- 5 minutes warm-up
- Race:
     1st lap:
     6:00 of tempo riding, with a few attacks to break up the field
     1:00 recovery
     2nd – 5th lap:
     4:00 time trial effort (with more attacks!)
     2:30 climbing (with even more surprise attacks!)
     3:00 recovery (no attacks – we’re cruel, but not that cruel), featuring footage from Cyclefilm’s descent of the Col du Glandon
- 5 minute warm-down 
(see the original review of this workout here

Elle: So... Valentine's Day 2012. And how do we celebrate? über suffering, of course! Yes, we decided to take a Valentine's Day trip to Sufferlandria. There were some hurdles, mind you. First of all, Maxwell (the orange cat, pictured here with the white one) tried to snag me in one of his famous 'nap traps'. You know, he lures you into the bedroom, gets all cuddly on the bed, and before you know it, you wake up an hour later, groggy and confused. I dodged that hurdle. But then, once on the bike trainer (or "turbo trainer" for all you folks from across the pond), I heard a strange noise coming from the trainer. Or was it my bike?

Webb: I do not know what was going on with Elle's rear wheel. From the sound of it and kinda the look of it, the rim (not tire!) has flat-spotted. When in motion it appears to dip in one place.  The strange noise was the turbo's flywheel moving back and forth as the wheel spun. I checked the spokes - meaning I touched them with ignorant fingers - and none seem to be out of sorts, which is not surprising since there was no lateral movement. Hey all you wheelsmiths out there, is this a dish problem? Whatever it is, we'll bring it up with our LBS where the bikes are due for their 30 day adjustment. Perhaps this is the sometimes result of machine-built wheels.

Elle: But we did finally get into it, and the workout was ON. It was like I had never been to Sufferlandria before, and totally forgot all about the pain that IS 'Fight Club'. Not only was the sweat pouring down my face, nearly blinding me, my stomach was burning with exertion, and after the 3rd lap, I was deep in it - not only could I not speak, I couldn't even form thoughts. My mind was completely quiet, like I was in a state of pain nirvana. A black hole of suffering. It was both agonizing and peaceful.

Webb: Yeah, well, the only thing I transcended was my breaking point, which occurred during the 4th of 5 laps. By the way, I find it incredibly difficult to return to pre-attack effort on the hills. During the 4th lap, I basically cracked. I mean I didn't give up and just spin through the rest of the time. I still fought. It is just that all indicators except my HR showed a marked decline. Speed dropped. Cadence was impossible to maintain. And my responses to the attacks became laughable. I'd hear the gun go off and go through these steps in my head:
   Really, again? 
   Ok, gotta get up plus 15 rpm's. 
   I can do that. 
   C'mon! HTFU!
   Man, this is hard. I'm not sure grimacing is going to make my legs spin faster. 
   O! How do I get more oxygen? 
   It's over? Finally!

In those moments improvement awaits. You gotta throw the counter-punch, no matter how weakly, because next time it will be stronger.

Elle: After we both cleaned ourselves up, it was almost 10pm, so we rushed out to get what was probably the last Valentine's Day dinner of the evening. Which we did, at a nearby Indian restaurant, Mela.

Webb: Mmmmm, I love korma.  Mela's is particularly choice. I also tried Taj Mahal lager for the first time. It was pretty good, although I'm not sure I would match it with the korma again. It might be better with something less creamy and more salty.

Elle: It was a great Valentine's day.
Oh, and one more thing. I had a little surprise waiting for Webb the next morning. Webb is known for sleeping in late. And I had just found out about this great, free service where you can send a wake-up call to someone. And it's from Stephen Fry.
     Webb (stumbling out of the bedroom this morning): "OH, that was cute, honey."
     Elle: "What did Stephen Fry say?"
     Webb: "I don't know, something about 'the bowl of morning,' or was it 'night?' And the prime minister."

Webb: It was pretty cool. I just wish I had my wits about me to follow what he was saying.
Elle: I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Swim: Moderate, Hard, Moderate

THE WORKOUT*: 2100m Swim
w/u -     500m of swim and kick sets
Main -  1500m of 3 sets of descending distances. Each interval of each set was based on a model of: moderate effort, followed by hard effort, finished with a moderate effort. There was a :15 rest between each interval.
c/d -      100 m
Total -   2100m

*We did not detail the workout here. It is mildly adapted from a workout in Gale Bernhardt's "Swim Workouts for Triathletes, Volume 2."

Elle: I really think I'm starting to get this 'swimming' thing down. I feel that I'm no longer resembling a donkey in the pool, but look more like an actual athlete. I've struggled with this portion of triathlon since I started, but after this workout, I felt good. It only took me about 50 minutes, which really gives me hope for the 1.25 mile swim that begins the Timberman Half Ironman I'll be doing in August. There's still a part of me that can't believe I'm racing a 1/2 Ironman this year. Exciting.

Webb: I have been downright pathetic in my run discipline so far. With that in mind, I was determined to squeeze in a run on Monday.  The only way I could do it was to do a pre-swim run. I decided a solid 30:00 on the treadmill would be sufficient so long as I put in three more run workouts this week. I set the TM for 30:00 on random hills at a pace (6.8mph) I thought I could handle no matter what the program threw at me. The idea was not to have a hard run. It was tough both because the grades hit 7.5% at times and because I have not been treadmilling in awhile. A good third of the workout was a mental exercise in distraction. After a quick stretch, I headed down to the pool.

Why did this swim feel so good? Was it the run? Am I in some weird delirious state where I think I can take a break from swimming and just come back and think it will be like old times? Whatever the answer, I don't care. I had a great swim even when my arms and lats were dying in the four short intervals of the final set. They were burning and hardly moving me through the water. I loved it! It is good to be back in the water.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

1900m of Something Called "Swimming"

THE WORKOUT: 1900m swim
w/u -   200 easy freestyle, 100 kick w/fins, 100 free w/buoy
Drill1-  200 as 4x50 fingertip drag/swim (:15)
Drill2 - 200 as 4x50 catch-up/swim (:15)
Main -  200 T-pace + :05
           200 as 4x50 butterfly/easy free (:30)
           100 easy free
           200 as 8 x 25 sprint (:30)
           100 easy free
           200 T-pace
c/d -   100 easy

Webb: I put together the workout trying to put in a little of everything: technique (drills), strength (fly), speed (sprints) and endurance (sprints followed by strength coupled with T-pace sets). I enjoy creating workouts. They can be fun, grueling and at times both. The problem is that I am not qualified to put together workouts with the overall system or big picture in mind. Swim instructors and coaches may shake their heads at my workouts.
Angela Naeth winning with her wonky body marking

Elle: I thought this was a good workout. It was fun to be in the pool with Webb. And for the second half, we had to share a lane, which is good for preparing for open water swimming.

Webb: It was great being back in the pool. We've been ignoring it like the WTC ignored the women's pro field at Ironman Panama 70.3 today. Seriously, I've neglected my swimming and need to see if I had any feel for the water. Surprisingly, I felt pretty good. My fitness seems to be there. Not surprisingly, my stroke needs work (it always will) and my strength was lacking. Still, I'll call it a good day in the water.

Elle: Before we headed to the pool, I was watching the live Ironman Panama 70.3 feed. It was interesting to see how Ironman seemed to gloss over all of the pros to feature Lance Armstrong almost exclusively. But they did finally start posting pics of the winners (Lance came in 2nd). Angela Naeth had a great race, and came in first. I noticed in the photo that her body marking looked backwards, so I posted something about it on Twitter. And then the best part of the day -  we got back from the pool, I saw that she had responded to my post!  Apparently they let the pros do their own body marking? Either way, I think it's pretty cool that a pro triathlete took the time to respond to my tweet:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Morning with SEAC


Elle: So after a nearly a week of sloth, I headed to the pool on Friday for the same workout I did last Friday. It was only 1500M, and took me about 45 minutes. I felt really good, actually. Too good. When I was done, I decided that my new swim minimum would need to be bumped up to 1800M (not counting the swim focus month, but more on that later).

Webb: I didn't work out. There is something about working late on Friday night that can really test a person's discipline. I considered doing an easy bike session. And then I considered just eating dinner and having a beer. Personally, I believe that it is completely legitimate to replace a bike workout with a pint or two of Belgian ale. It is a recovery week, so I only had the one pint.

w/u 2 miles, 2 miles at 10k pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles at 10k pace, c/d easy for a total of 8.6 miles.

Elle: We joined the Saturday morning SEAC crew for a cool 8+ mile run out to Jamaica Pond. There was supposed to be a big snow storm, but luckily nothing dropped on us that was shovel worthy.

Webb: The first couple of miles were rough. I was just not feeling it. The lead group had already dropped us, but were still in sight. Elle was in the first chase group, while I was a lone straggler linking the second chase group. At Mile 2 I forced myself to pick up the pace and at least try the workout. I had to will my legs to catch up with Elle and then keep up the pace. We then formed the new first chase group. The route took us to Jamaica Pond at Mile 4 (and conveniently the beginning of the recovery interval). We took a left at the shore and started to make our way. It wasn't long until we encountered the lead group (turns out we went off-course). Rather than turn around we push on around the pond. Elle stopped on the back side to take a quick video of some ducks before her iPod cam died - by quick I mean six seconds. She was trying to capture a species of duck we haven't seen before. After we finished the loop, we began our return trip back to SEAC. At Mile 6 we hit the next interval and went after it. Most of the two miles were down hill. I love downhill running because, well, it is fun. It does not seem to have the same effect on my quads as it does for others. All in all it was a solid, invigorating run.

Elle: Thanks for that cycling-style run report, Webb. We finally got back to the store and hung around and socialized for a bit. It was good to see Justin (co-founder of SEAC with Dan). Plus, SEAC was having a big sale, and, as if we don't already spend a percentage of our salaries there, of course we had to look around. Webb had already bought a Patagonia jacket there Thursday, and I ended up getting a sweet new running tank (I'll be testing it out at Ragnar del Sol in 3 weeks) and a pair of my own running wind pants (so that I don't have to keep wearing Webb's).

Friday, February 10, 2012

The 'Ultra' Recovery Week

Emily Sweeney's new book, 'Boston Organized Crime'
Elle: So the past several days I've experimented with the "Ultra Recovery Week" theory, otherwise known as my impersonation of a lump. I had decided to take Sunday off after last Saturday's running adventure. Then I decided to take Monday off. I did an hour spin class on Tuesday before heading out to Emily Sweeney's book signing at Stoddard's. It was good to see some friends I hadn't seen for awhile. And then I took off Wednesday to go out for a restaurant anniversary and Chinese New Year celebration, complete with a dragon dance. And whaddya know, I went ahead and took Thursday off. I don't necessarily recommend this kind of 'extreme' recovery week. For myself or anyone else. I had a fun time, but now it's time to get focused and start logging some serious training time. After all, the first 'race' of the season (Ragnar Relay del Sol) is 3 weeks away!

Dancing dragon @ Chinese New Year party
Webb: Elsewhere, I have tried to maintain my training during a typical recovery week. I've backed off the volume and backed off the intensity a bit. Unfortunately, I've had a couple of late nights at the office that threw my schedule off. If this was a normal week I might have done a late night workout. However, since this is technically a recovery week, I allowed myself to skip a workout and do a couple of more intense workouts (SEAC Thursday hill repeats and thesufferfest.com's Angels). We have an 8 mile run planned tomorrow with the SEAC Saturday morning crew and possibly an easy turbo session on Sunday. Next week we pick up the volume and intensity incrementally to begin the next training block.

I also attended Emily's book signing. The book looks great; I'm looking forward to reading it as soon as I finish my current read.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Who's the tomato now?

Webb: Yesterday, I returned to A Very Dark Place. During SufferFestukah, I visited most of the place. Last night, I saw all of it. Philippe Gilbert claims to have doubted I had what it takes. I think I showed him otherwise. Cancellara, on the other hand, owned me in the 4th interval. Damn you Spartacus.
The suffering
Since Elle had been off to the pool and still seemed to beat me home, I had to do the workout with headphones and the laptop (instead of AppleTV). It was kinda cool using the headphones, even if I felt like I couldn't move too much.

Elle: Elsewhere, having taken a trip to a Very Dark Place the night before and not wanting to return quite yet, I did a very needed swim workout.

200M: warm up
200M: swim buoy drill
200M: catch-up drill
200M: fist drill
400M: 4 x 100M (on 2:15)

200M: strong effort
100M: cool down

Elle: I hadn't been to the pool in a long time, and need to start getting back to swimming at least twice a week. I was indeed rusty, but with this low yardage workout, I was able to get my toes wet, and spend some time concentrating on my swim form.

Webb: I hopped off the bike at about 10:50PM, or put another way, with 14.4 seconds left in the Celtics-Knicks game, with the C's up by 1 point. Several anxious minutes later - C's won after some poor free throw shooting - I realized I was to be doing a long run with hills in less than 12 hours. Nutrition time!

SATURDAY MORNING WORKOUT: Hill Run w/ Shawn & Nathan
Tour of the Brookline Hills: 12.3 miles including Summit Hill Ave. and the Jamaica Way
Brunch @ Metropolis w/ Nathan, post-run

Webb: We met our SEAC friends Shawn and Nathan at SEAC around 10am. I thought we would run to Summit Hill Ave (about 3 miles), do some brutal repeats and return to the store, tallying 8 or 9 miles. Shawn, however had other ideas and was quite persuasive. He had us beginning with Summit Hill and visiting a few other good run spots around town.

Summit Hill is about 200 feet of gain over 0.4 miles. I'll leave it to the mathletes to figure out the average grade. All I know is it was Jens Voigt time.  As it was, Shawn and Nathan dropped us in a hurry. We descended the other side and realized we had lost sight of them. I had a rough idea about Shawn's route. Elle and I made a quick adjustment to go back up Summit Hill from the other side (steeper, if possible) and set off on a new course to cut them off further up the route.

After we left Summit Hill we headed for Olmsted Park and Jamaica Pond, part of The Emerald Necklace. (The Emerald Necklace was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, architect of New York City's Central Park and many others in a brilliant career.) As we looped around the western side of Jamaica Pond, who did we see but Shawn and Nathan cruising towards us. We did an about-face and joined them heading towards Arnold Arboretum, another jewel (as they say) in the Emerald Necklace. From there we separated from the guys to return to the store while they tacked on some tough, beautiful miles in the Arboretum. Writing this has put me in mind for an entire tour of the Emerald Necklace, beginning with Boston Common and ending in Franklin Park. It would be a big day for us. Stay tuned. If we do it, we should take plenty of photos.

Elle: Since Shawn had assured us that we were just doing 9-10 miles, I wasn't worried, and did my best to keep up with the guys and get a good, hill run in. However, even after we said our goodbyes, and headed back early, we ended up logging over 12 miles. Note to self: don't trust Shawn. I love Shawn, don't get me wrong, he just gets a little too excited about running, just ask Nathan, who stuck with him and ended up running somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 miles. Even though I originally thought we were just going to Summit Hill, I'm glad we went on an adventure run instead.

However, by the last mile, I was ready to be done. Webb was having some trouble, but when we stopped, it just got too cold (38°F, 29°F with wind chill). So for the last mile, with Webb's blessing, I took off towards the store and the warmth. This past summer, when I was trying to keep up with Webb and our friend Lenny on a bike ride, Webb would yell back at me, "Hey little tomato, catch up!", you know, from that joke that Uma Thurman tells at the end of 'Pulp Fiction'. As I took off for that last mile, I yelled back at Webb, "Who's the tomato now?!?".

Eventually everyone made it back to SEAC. Shawn had to take off, but Webb, Nathan and I decided to go to brunch at Metropolis, in the South End, just down the street from SEAC. Yum.

Webb: mmmmmmm .... pancakes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Very Dark Beacon Hill

Webb: The team broke ranks yesterday. It was too cold for Elle to join me and the SEAC crew for hill repeats. I considered staying in to do a bike workout since I was not sure how recovered I was from my stomach flu/bug thing. I opted for the run workout because my run fitness has been suffering. As an act of discipline, I decided to go to SEAC and do what I could.

WEBB'S WORKOUT:  Run Hill Repeats
w/u - jog to Beacon Hill
Main1 - 2 sets of 3 repeats as easy effort, medium effort, hard effort
Main2 - 3/4 mile tempo run around Boston Common
Drills - bounding, lower-leg drive, lunges, frankensteins, back-pedals
c/d - jog to SEAC

Webb: First, it was painfully cold with a 25F wind chill. The wind was not constant, yet somehow the air had an edge to it just the same. I went into the repeats thinking I'd only do what I was capable of doing without destroying myself. I was less worried about my missed workouts and more worried about the lack of food I was able to eat over the last three days. During the first set of three, I was convinced I was depleted and it was a stupid idea to go for a hill workout. However, on the second set, I seemed to find my rhythm and give a good effort. I dare say I handled the second set as well as if I had not been sick earlier this week. The payback came during the 3/4 mile tempo run. Wow that hurt.

I am glad I made it out. It is always good to hang with the SEAC crew. My legs are little worse for wear and it feels great. 
Greipel with his suffer face on.
I predict this guy will rock the Tour this year...

Elle: Elsewhere, I stayed home and headed to Sufferlandria alone. I went to a very dark place. I was sporting a full suffer face, and, along with the grunts and moans, had there been anyone in the room, they might have actually thought I was dying. When I removed my headband after the workout, it was 100% soaked. Even though I had turned off all the heat in the apartment and opened a window before I started. Needless to say, it was a productive workout.

ELLE'S WORKOUT: A Very Dark Place
You can see the original review of this workout here.
Basically it's:
- A warm up
- 2 short sprints
- 5 main efforts of 4 minutes each (some flats, false flats, mountains, basically lots of pain)
- A warm down

If you want your butt kicked, this is a good way to do it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spinning & Strength

Elle: It's my favorite Tuesday 2-hour workout at the gym, the spin-strength combo. I'd love to re-count the tabata-style strength workout that the instructor has us do, but due to my poor short-term memory, I'm afraid you'll just have to take my word for it. It's great, because it kicks your a**, and he gives 3 options for all the moves, from easier to difficult, so you can choose how badly you want to, or are able, to push yourself.

Spin Class
Strength & Conditioning Class
Total time: 2 hours

Sadly, Webb is still under the weather, but is taking care of the important things, like making sure all the workout clothes in the laundry are getting cleaned...