Category Archives: Cycling

How Do You Follow Up a 110 Mile Bike Ride?

Sometimes you get a sense that everything is fine, and that’s how I felt after Saturday’s 110 mile ride on Natchez Trace.  It was my longest cycling experience by nearly 40 miles, but for some reason I wasn’t nearly as wiped as any of these much shorter rides.  I have a feeling it had a lot to do with nutrition, but also increased mileage an fitness.

As we ate the post-ride meal at Corner Pub, I could tell I was tired, but it wasn’t one of those beat down exhausted moments.  Robbie, Jim, Allison, Wasky, and Marc chatted around me and I had a renewed energy for Ironman Wisconsin.  It started with a break-thru swim on Friday, now 110 miles (half in pouring rain) on the Trace, what would be next?

On to Sunday.

Those first few steps out of bed can be telling.  I shuffled to the bathroom and was amazed I could stand.  I fully expected to put off my two hour “easy ride” to the afternoon, but I felt surprisingly good at 8 am.  Let’s do this.

I started sipping Perform and did so for about an hour until I clipped into the bike.  Then it was off to Zone 1 (I’m still not quite sure what that is) for a trip to the Dam and back.  Rebekah joined me and it was nice to take in some scenery after yesterday’s blazing ride that glued my eyes to a rubber tire.

I didn’t “push it,” but did do a little slow climbing to work things out.  I felt pretty good and as we coasted down the street toward home I realized I had been sitting on my Adamo race seat for 8 hours in the last calendar day.

But it wasn’t over.

I was gonna do a straight up brick, but was advised to take an hour, so I ate a peanut butter/jelly sandwich with some chips and salsa.  (Triathlon cravings are ridiculous).

Then, I had a big decision.  Which shoes should I wear?

Most of my runs have been in Pearl Izumi Streaks (which are now out of print) but after a problem at Muncie, I bought Mizunos that I thought I liked, but am not so sure after a few runs.  The Pearl’s were my main squeeze until Muncie but my feet started burning like nobody’s business and I dropped them like they were hot, literally.  THEN, I got the same burning sensation from my bike trainer ride a couple weeks later and realized I was wearing the same socks that I wore in Muncie.  Hmm… could it be the socks??

The Mizunos felt great at first, but after a few runs they seemed a little too stiff and my left foot would start slapping the pavement after 5 miles or so.  Something just wasn’t right, so yesterday, I pulled out the trusty Pearls and set out on my two hour run.

This was supposed to be a build/feel run.  30 minute easy, 30 faster, 30 faster, then cool down for 30.  My Garmin didn’t charge so I was relegated to a chrono watch and this process was not easy.  I tried to use the mile markers on the Greenway, but kept forgetting times and whatnot, so I just worked on a steady pace with small gains in effort.

I have no idea how far I ran, but it felt far and my legs were dead.  This was the indicator day for me.  This is how it will feel on September 8th . . . probably worse.  Legs shot and all you have left is your mind to carry your marathon.  I’m guessing I hit 13 miles and the thought of another 13 was daunting . . . but didn’t seem out of the question.

So, now, I put my faith in the conditioning that is left and the taper that will follow.  How will 112 miles and a marathon feel with strong and fresh legs?  The same, better, worse?  I guess time will tell.


Zen and the Bike

Okay, maybe yesterday’s post about cycling was a little harsh, but I have really been struggling with, what is ultimately, my best event.

The bike has always been my baby.  My hippie love child and warm blanket when everything else goes wrong.  But not lately.

Our estranged relationship may have started on the trainer.  Those 2-3 hour rides in the dead of winter were a new experience and frankly reminded me of walking barefoot on hot asphalt.  I poured on the chamois cream, but nothing seemed to ease the pain of stationary exercise.

After a month or so I finally got “used” to sitting in place on a bicycle while my dog sadly laid on the floor wondering why her daddy would do something so strange.  Eventually, I damn near even started liking the trainer.  My coach said, “Tough trainer rides build character,” and I was sold.  The pool of sweat below me was undeniable proof of a good workout and other than perpetually numb under parts, I felt great.

Then we started riding outside.

The first real outside ride was on Natchez Trace and it felt pretty good.  It was still early enough in the year, so allergies weren’t a problem.  Then, the Southern Bloom decided it would wreck me.536265_4814333965358_1613623106_n

A subsequent 3-hour ride left me with heat rash, blood shot eyes, and beat up bones.  I have done several mountain bike races on wicked terrain and never felt this awful after a ride.  The vibration, the extended aero position, and dust in the wind made me feel like I’d sparred with Mike Tyson in his prime and this pain uncovered a strange new fascination with getting back on the trainer.

So, as you can see, I am looking for my cycling happy place again.  I know my bike needs a re-fit, but is it that simple?  How can I translate my new found love of running through the pain onto the bike?

I’m gonna be honest, the 112 mile bike has me a bit concerned.  I know it’s one day and one shot, but 6 or more hours on my trusty Trek sounds like the last thing I would want to do right now.  It’s been suggested I get back on the mountain bike for a while, and I probably will, but if you have any other suggestions for finding my “bike Zen,” I’m all ears.

Good and Bad Day of Biking

It was a beautiful day at Natchez Trace.  Sunny, 60 degrees, and not too windy.

The ride started off beautifully.  A leisurely stroll through some of the most gorgeous scenery around.  Then, Racer K popped a tire and took a pretty bad spill.  Thankfully he seems to be fine, but as you’ll see his knee took a pretty bad beating.  This is a short video of the aftermath, including our ineptness when it comes to changing a flat.

lonely road racerknee flat tire trace guys

Natchez Trace on the Bike

Guide-Mississippis-Natchez-Trace-Parkway-E01PSVS9-x-largeNatchez Trace on a motorcycle is a beautiful ride, but today Jim, Racer K, and I got all “triathlon” with this mysterious road.  Beauty turns to pain when you clip your shoes and pedal into the wilderness of Natchez Trace, but I can’t think of a stronger way to start with outdoor training.

It’s usually pretty windy and crossing the bridge near Leiper’s Fork is a white knuckler.  The Parkway bridge is fifteen hundred feet long, 145 feet high and loaded with close calls.

We parked at the legendary Loveless Cafe and from there it was a straight climb for the first 3 miles or so.  Then, you descend over this damn bridge that scares the crap out of me on a normal day, not to mention when there are 30-40 m.p.h. winds and even your tough-guy-coach sends you a warning text about conditions.  LovelessCafe

The climbing on this section is relentless, and I’m not sure the map I just linked does it justice.  I found myself begging to be back on the trainer where I could imagine how tough these hills were rather than feeling my thighs burn and eyes water as we powered one ascent after another.  The plan was to ride for two hours, and about 15 miles in we hit a rest stop where I promptly fell on my hip because I forgot to unlock my shoes from the pedals.  I knew it was going to happen eventually, and now I’m hoping it’s out of the way.

The trip back was a little easier with the wind seemingly on our backs.  None-the-less, I was ready for this ride to be over.  Racer K tore off into the distance while Jim and I plowed ahead and watched our leader disappear into the horizon.  Two hours into the ride, we curled down the exit ramp and coasted through the Loveless parking lot.  Racer K was leaning suggestively against his car, already in jeans and sport coat.

It was a good ride and that gives me two 30-ish mile rides in two days.  I’m definitely feeling it in my hamstrings and think I am going to bag on today’s swim.  That is, unless this nap brings me back.

Tom King Half Marathon

Today, part of the Fab 5 +1 went out to help at the Nashville Running Company water stop for the Tom King 1/2 MarathonjimkevinJim, Kevin, and Alli alli 2rode their trainer bikes for inspiration, I handed out water, and Daniel decided he was gonna bust a groove on the course.  Mark was taking care of his daughter.

It was a beautiful morning for running, mid-50s, a little overcast, and it served Daniel well as he nailed down the fastest Fab 5 half marathon time of 1:33:30.  A great time that beat his best time by over 2 minutes.  We are all getting stronger and faster by the day and, as good as it is, I anticipate that number will be beat by someone in the group soon.  He’s set the new goal for a 1/2 and it’s 1:30.  Who’s gonna get it?

danielmikeJim, Kevin, and Alli put in two hours on the trainer then the guys rode the road for another hour.  I left, joined them for breakfast, then put in a couple hour ride on the Greenway.  It was a really nice day and the ride was great except for the throngs of people walking on the BIKE PATH!

Actually, I’m kidding.  They deserve to be out there and quite frankly I get a tad annoyed at bikers when I’m running, so, oh well.  Everyone, including me has to chill.

I have to say, the first outside ride kicked my ass a little.  Yesterday’s swim was lurking and I just haven’t been feeling it.  Tomorrow we’re going for a two hour jaunt on Natchez Trace and while my legs are saying no, I love that I’m able to get off the trainer.

Here are a few pics from the race today.  Hope you’re having a great weekend.

It’s Heating Up – Swim, Bike, Run, Ironman

Juxtaposing Ironman training with other races is tricky.  As I prepared for the New Orleans Half Marathon I was leery of doing too much because I wanted to run well, and it paid off.  But now that it’s over, most of what’s on my plate is triathlons, and preparation should fit seamlessly into the program.  And that program, is getting intense.

Yesterday, I swam for an hour, mixing in sprints and paddle work (which I now love).  Last night was a tempo run of about an hour and ten minutes.  I still have to pinch myself at times when I’m routinely knocking out an 8 mile run after work like it’s no big deal.  A year ago, I was sweating my first 5k.

The body’s ability to adjust is remarkable.  I wasn’t easy to digest a long-ish run last night, but Mark and I hammered the first of two 25 minute tempo runs pretty good. Daniel joined for the second loop and my legs got heavy, but my breathing rarely did. That’s the amazing part to me.  Just like the New Orleans Half.  I didn’t feel like I was breathing hard at all until I hit mile eleven.  Our aerobic capacities are far more than most of us can imagine.

I remember a lesson I learned from East Nasty Godfather, Mark Miller when I started running last year.  He said the minute your exercise becomes anaerobic, your risk of bonking elevates.  That’s why little things like slowing your pace before you reach a hill are important.

Out of all the things I’ve learned, that one stays close to my brain.  I’m always flirting with the edge of my breathing while I run.  If I’m breathing more than every 4th stride on running, I take note and back it down a little, especially if they are hard breaths.  That’s the edge for me and usually I’ll only push that hard if I’m toward the end of a run.  I consciously focus on taking a deep and relaxed breath to see if I can extend my stride count.  Many times I can.  Even if it’s to 4 1/2.  To me that signals I’m in my comfort zone.  Then it all comes down to what’s left in my legs.

Cycling (albeit inside on a trainer) has really boosted my leg strength.  We’ve done up to three hour sessions, followed by 30 minute runs.  I’m not sure of the mechanics between biking and running, but I feel like time on the bike also makes me a faster runner.  The more I think about it, the more I find the bike an incredibly powerful workout.

If you haven’t spent a couple hours on a trainer, without the wind in your face or a fan and you can’t believe how much you sweat.  The illusion of wallowing through the meadow on a bicycle will quickly be shattered if you lock down a spin wheel on your back tire.  I am really anxious to see how the indoor training translates to the road.

Tonight, it’s back on the trainer for a big gear/threshold session and I’m looking forward to inching closer toward being a “finisher” at Ironman Wisconsin.  It’s the little steps, the small gains, and the barely recognizable shots of confidence that make a difference in the end.  That, and training with a group of guys and a coach that continually give me a jolt when I need it most.

For me, Ironman is 90% about confidence, yet that 10% doubt lurks at all times.  The nagging pain, the bad workout, the exhaustion.  I am banking on momentum to dilute the doubt, the negativity, and I’m seeing the power in that principle more every day.  And that theory is making me more aware that I need to surround myself with positive and inspiring people in general.  Life is too short to be around people that bring you down.

My First Official Spin Class

So, I showed up a little late, but did I deserve this from my teammates???