Monday, January 29, 2007

Ok, so this is just a short update on the training we've done here in San Diego. It's been so nice out, we just haven't wanted to stop riding and running and swimming. Consequently, we've been too tired to write much on the blogs, as we might have thought we would do. Ok, I should speak for myself, as I'm not sure if Amanda has been better about updating.

Some quick thoughts:

The riding here is really much better than I had imagined it would be. I now know why all those folks come here to train for Hawaii. In addition to having incredible weather, the riding is tough, with a lot of climbing: everywhere you go!

There is a lot more trail running than I knew about. I've done some nice road runs, but the trails are readily available as well.

Although I've definitely gotten stronger, and my cycling has taken a huge boost, I am worried I am becoming soft. How so? Well, when I get back to Boulder on Thursday, I'm going to have to get used to the cold weather all over again. Once you get accustomed to sixties, it's tough to face thirties and forties again. Ouch.

And finally, counting the one-hour yoga session last night, my seven-day training total was a healthy 39 hours. I'll summarize more of the specifics later, including a total for the two weeks we will have been in California.

Until then.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ok, so I have slacked a bit. My slacking has not been training related, but rather photography related. I keep forgetting to bring the old camera along to document all this great training we've been doing. And all the fun we've been having. Now I hesitate to talk about how great the wether's been, as I know we might bring some instant weather karma. I don't want it to start raining, and I don't want to get more cold weather when we get back to Boulder. I don't want to jinx it.

Suffice it to say that it's been really nice, and we've had lots of sunshine.

The training has been great. Amanda and I have done a lot of riding together, we've done a couple swims, and we did a great run yesterday with Heather Fuhr. It's nice to have the locals show us around, so we can stray away from the PCH, and find all the new and interesting routes.

Today I started out with Amanda, Roch, and a couple of athletes he coaches, including our friend Rae. After about half an hour, I turned East and made my way toward the hills. My legs were beginning to feel the effects of the past few days of riding. Nothing quite like jumping right back into the cycling after two months of rest! I decided the best way to deal with the sore quads was to stop early for a nice coffee and a muffin.

After fueling up I made my way toward the famous Palomar Mountain. I had heard stories about this climb, and was anxious to see what it had in store for me. I went there expecting one heck of a climb, and I was not disappointed. I took the long way there, so by the time I arrived at the base of the climb, I had ridden about 57 miles. This was definitely going to be the longest ride of the year for me so far.

I really enjoyed the climb, and it was great getting a longer climb so early in the year. We can't make it too high up the canyons in Boulder, as you pretty much freeze your bones coming back down. This was different, as after climbing twelve miles, I was only at about 5300 feet. Not too shabby. The climb was tough though, as it was steep for the entire way. Instead of breaks with the gradual grade, like Left Hand Canyon, this had no breaks. My tired legs made it to the top eventually, and I was sure happy to be at the lower elevations, as I was able to summit without huffing and puffing!

After a brief chat with a cyclist at the top (with no photos, unfortunately!),I headed back down, and back toward the coast. In the end of the day I had ridden all up, down and around the place, and I had a great ride, and I'm officially back in the groove.

I hope to bring the camera next time... for proof!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The weather here in Southern California is spectacular. We are here and we are happy. And it is warm. And there is no snow on the ground. More on that later!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

YakTrax are the greatest invention for those of you who live in Chilly Cold Climates. When the snow and ice are piled up, but you just can't take another run on the treadmill, this product is for you! Amanda, in her infinite brilliance, came home the other day with a couple sets: one pair for each of us.

We tried them out last Tuesday, as we were itching to do one of our favorite hill runs: up and over Linden--a snow-covered route--so we knew they were great. But today, we put them to the test on our long runs. Fortunately, our long runs aren't over the two-hour mark yet, so we were only facing about an hour forty-five. We had been warned by our friend Henry from Boulder Running Company that a long run in this type of cold would really wipe us out. It just takes so much energy to keep the body warm, the tendency is to tire out much sooner than would normally be the case. With this piece of advice in hand, and few more PowerGels than normal (Clif Bloks for the wife), we headed out to see what we could handle.

The YakTraks immediately proved to be a great addition to our winter running wardrobe. Leaving FAC, we ran into our friend Brad Seng. He was starting out on a run as well, but it was pretty obvious his traction was not quite up to par. We had only run a block, but were already pulling away. Brad is a quick runner, so this could only be attributed to our superior equipment!

I've heard it said that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment. Well, today we proved that yes, there is bad equipment; yes, there is good equipment; and yes, there really is such a thing as bad weather. Ten degrees with a slight snow shower qualifies as bad weather. I had bundled up very well, so well, in fact, that I was actually quite sweaty at the end of the run. And we had those incredible YakTrax on our side. However, by the end of the run, I was pretty worn out. I'd say the furnace was cranked up on high-burn out there, and although we didn't quite make 1:45, I am pretty sure we got the equivalent of 2+hours!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I messed up and didn't bring my camera along for proof. I'll have to do so next time, as I think the post with photo is more interesting than the post without. The photo would have been of me doing something I haven't done in exactly ten years.

A few days ago, I finally decided that I had talked enough about making an addition to my winter training regimen; it was time to do something. The snow shoeing is fun, and running with Yaktrax seems pretty efficient (more on that later), but there was one thing missing from the routine: skate skiing.

The other night I managed to get ahold of a set of used ski equipment. I had been searching for just boots, as I have a few friends who've been inviting me to borrow their back-up equipment. I stumbled upon this great deal for everything, and could not pass it up. I'm officially equipped.

Since outdoor riding was out of the question, due to the day's high temperature of NINE DEGREES!, I opted to start off with a ski. I didn't want to overdo it, as I suspected that my technique might need some fine tuning. I went over to local Valmont Park, rather than up to the hills.

Turns out that skiing is like riding a bike: you don't really forget how to do it. It all came back to me fairly quickly. I skated about for around forty minutes before I packed it in. I figured I didn't need to press my luck, because yes, skating did come back to me quickly, but no, I'm far from expert status. It's going to take a while to get the muscles back in the groove.

Next time I'll bring a camera, as to appease the rule of "pictures or it didn't happen."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wednesday morning I woke up at 6:00am to head over for a 7:00am swim workout. I was up and ready to roll by 6:30.... there was only one problem: Amanda was still in bed, and wasn't budging. Normally the opposite scenario plays out: I am in bed, while Amanda is attempting to get me rolling. I realized I was not winning the battle, so rather than venture out on my own, I jumped back into bed, and cut a few more z's with the wife.

Why is this noteworthy? Well, on the one hand, it's proof that sometimes I am the first one up in our household; but more importantly, our sleepiness managed to keep me to the previously determined schedule I had sent to USADA. This is the US Anit-Doping Agency. I had sent them a schedule of my whereabouts for the entire quarter, because I'm now in their Out of Competition Testing pool. This means that I have to tell them where I'll be, on a quarterly basis, for the entire year. When I filled out the form, I planned on doing the 9:00am swim workout, not the 7:00am session, so it turns out... I needed to sleep in!

I arrived at the pool, and minutes after beginning the workout, I met with Travis, my USADA testing agent. I politely asked them to wait until I had finished, which the kindliy obliged me. As they waited up on deck, a bit chilly out there, I churned out my first decent swim workout in about three months.

After finishing Travis and I headed to the lockers where I changed, and he "accompanied" me. He has to go everywhere I go, after "serving notice", just to be certain that I do not do anything fishy. Not sure what that could be, but fishy is fishy. I showered, dried off, and headed to a more private bathroom upstairs. Being post-workout as I was, I did not know if I'd be able to provide a full sample. Dehydration can be tough on sample giving.

I was able to fill the sippy cup, and later filled my two test viles. The procedure is actually pretty air-tight, not unlike the test viles. As we sat on the bathroom floor of Flatiron Athletic Club, performing what looked like a boring chemistry experiment, I imagined how many of my competitors are going through these same procedures. My hope is that many are doing do, but the reality is that it's an expensive process, and I'm not sure how frequently this happens worldwide.

After Travis acknowldeged that I had sufficient quantity, and after checked my pH and specific gravity (that of my urine actually), we packed it up. I was done for now... besides the waiting six weeks for the results.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The sun came out yesterday. Turns out that the wind came out as well. Nobody told me that it was supposed to be howling out there, so I bundled up (see above photo), and headed out. I got a late start, as my 'cross bike didn't have wheels or tires. I found the necessary parts, installed, and brushed off last year's rust and dirt. By the time I hit the roads, it was nearly 4:00pm. That only left me time for an hour spin, but at least I was heading out.

My neighborhood proved to be the most challenging section of the whole ride. There was a ton of snow and slush and ice. I made it out to the main roads just fine. It appears that all this time on the rollers really does wonders for your snow-handling skills.

It really wasn't too cold, but that wind sure did throw a mean bite into the mix. I cruised around until it started to get dark, then headed home to continue the ride on the rollers. The workout soon ended, as dinner was calling... so was Amanda, for that matter.

I am happy to say that I'm making it through the first week of training! It's good to be back, and at the risk of jixing myself, I belive the blog is making a comeback as well...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Here we go, here we go, here we GO! I'm really doing it this time. I know these are my famously unbelievable words, but this time I'm really trying. I'm going to blog a couple times a week. Nothing too over-the-top, nothing to fancy; just a few updates.

Here we go.

It's the fifth day of the year, and our New Year's plan to train, train, train hit a solid roadblock today: 16 more inches of snow! What is going on here? I thought El Nino was warming us all up; why all this cold snow! Oh well, we did manage to get five strong days of training under our belts before the snow hit. Again.

The Drop-Dead Date was January 1, and with that date we got back to work. We're easing into things, with a plan to build into the latter part of the month. It's time to shed the winter build-up, to get back to a routine, and to start enjoying the outdoors again.

Today we did just that. After canceling plans to hit a swim workout early in the morning, Amanda and I opted to strap on the snow shoes for the first time this season. The last two blizzards hit during a time of slacking and laziness, so we just watched it pile up, with no intentions of working out in it. This time it is different.

We went out for about two hours total, with the total run time on my watch hitting 90 minutes. Not a bad workout considering we were both tired after about 27 minutes. Imagine running in beach sand, but really deep beach sand. Push too hard and you go nowhere; don't push hard enough and you go nowhere. It's quite the leg burning workout.

Our friend Graham joined us for the first thirty+ minutes, but had to bail out due to a hockey game commitment. Canadians.

However, just prior to his departure, we spotted a running icon of Boulder. Let me rephrase that: we saw an icon of the running world; one who lives in Boulder. He wasn't running at the time; he was shoveling snow and chipping ice. We stopped for a photo, and to say hello. It's always fun to meet the legends. It's always fun to see such phenomenal talent right there in your own neighborhood. It's especially fun when he's not got snow shoes on, and you know you could actually outrun the guy. Always a competition.

Our encounter was with, none other than, Frank Shorter. If you aren't familiar with Frank, you should be. He's mostly responsible for starting the running boom (jogging boom!?) in America back in the seventies. Check him out with Amanda, Graham, and me; and then check him out at

That's it for now. I'm off to ride the rollers for a spell, while I watch a movie.... or something.