Check out my latest guest post on the iThlete HRV Blog. In this month’s post, I will be covering how tapering for an Ironman affects your Heart Rate Variability.
An Ironman is such an unpredictable event. You never know what kind of things are going to come your way on race day. You try to mitigate as many possible issues as you can think of, but you can’t control everything. One thing you certainly cannot control is the weather.
Last year I competed in Ironman Lake Placid with the intention of going sub-12 and was faced with a brutal thunderstorm. The race officials eventually forced many people out of the water on their second loop of the swim and subsequently only counted half the swim and no T1 transition times. Since I felt I had lost some time on my first loop of the bike, I went a little too hard on the second loop of the bike to try to gain lost time and ended up hurting myself on the run. While officially my time was under 12 hours(11:52), I know that the real time was still a 12:40.
Heading into this 2015 season I signed up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene with the goal of a sub-12 time again. I have trained all season with this intention in mind too. I chose Coeur d’Alene because of its northern location and typically cooler climate which I prefer. Sometimes when you become so focused on a goal for so long, it becomes hard to give that up and change. Change is never easy.
Today we are faced with temperatures reaching solidly into the triple-digits in Coeur d’Alene, ID on race day. This is unheard of for this part of the country. But, just like when you have a tire go flat or losing your bottle of nutrition, you must adapt. Therefore, my sub-12 hour goal has now changed to more like a sub-17 hour goal, or just plain survival. We can whine and complain about it all we want, but I think a true “Ironman” accepts the challenge in front of him/her and figures out how best to deal with it. The obstacle in front of us has changed, we must figure out how to deal with it. Speed becomes a relative term at this point. It may end up being our most demanding event ever and the one we will never forget for sure.
Dealing with the Heat
I am started thinking about some some tips and things to help deal with the heat, so here they are in no particular order…
- Hydrate early & Often – start taking in electrolytes the day before the race as well as race morning. Severly limit or avoid alcohol too. 🙁 I will save that for after the race I guess.
- No wetsuit if over 76.1 def F – Although it may be cooler in the morning, if the water temp is over 76.1 you risk dehydration earlier by wearing your wetsuit. Not to mention that you are inelidgable for any AG awards( I don’t really have to worry about this). This was a lesson I learned from my coach who wore his at LP a few years ago and was dehydrated when he got on the run. No sense starting out with a large hydration defic
- Extra salt pills or Base Salt – I usually never do anything new on race day, but I just heard about Base Salt from Base Perfomance from zentri-598-christine-lynch-and-time-trial-tips.html” target=”_blank”>Christine Lynch when she was recently on the ZenTriathlon podcast. I did previously use salt caps, but this is absorded quicker through the mouth which I think is more effective. Jury is out on this one, so we’ll see how it works.
- Cooling Sleeves – I recently picked up a free pair of cooling sleeves from the Todd Wiley Lake Placid Triathlon camp I attended last month. I didn’t realize how essential these might become to reflecting the sun off my arms and also provide some material to keep moisture close to the skin. I will pick up water at each aid station no matter what and pour it over them and the rest of me.
- Nathan Handheld Bottle for Run –
This is another ZenTriathlon tip(I am going to owe Brett some donations after this race). I will keep this bottle filled with ice water at each aid station and slowly drip it over me during the run. The coolness in my hand should also help keep my blood cooled too.
- Jump in the Lake?! – The run course at IM CdA is on a path that follows the shoreline of the lake. Perhaps we will be able to just jump in the water every so often and cool off. Not sure if that would break any rules, but it might be an option.
- Eat Amrita Bars! – Sorry I could not resist this one! But seriously though…it becomes very difficult to want to eat when it is really hot, but not doing so is a sure way to a serious bonk. Plus, Amrita Bars are even more yummy when they are soft and gouey!
Be Safe out there! Any other tips are greatly appreciated too. Use them in the comments.
Ahhh the old love-hate relationship with tapering continues. While greatly anticipated, this break in training and the general feeling of malaise that comes along with it I did not. I guess you can’t have everything.
The Ironman Lawn…
I was finally able to get my lawn looking somewhat manicured with some extra time on my hands now. I had been cutting the front mostly so that it at least looked well kept from the street. The back was another story. I had cut a few sections so the dog could go do his thing, but most of it had grown so high it was going to seed. When my dog ventured into that territory I would see him occasionally jump high into the air as of the long strands brush up against his belly. Kind of entertaining.
Training-wise things were actually going pretty well. The somewhat shortened workouts had high intensity and I felt good while I was doing them. I had one of my best tempo run workouts of the season on Wednesday with a solid 7:50 pace in Zone 3.
FTP Test Gone Bad…
I had a 3 hour bike planned for Saturday, but I decided to break it up into a 1 hour FTP test on the trainer followed by a two hour easy ride on the road. I wanted to get an accurate assessment of FTP before my race. I felt it was also a good time between resting a bit and race to do it. I was hoping for a little improvement over last year(253 watts), but what I got at the end was nothing like I could have expected.
Obviously a bug in the TrainerRoad iPad app. Despite this issue I was able to calculate my FTP to be around 248 watts based on this test. A little depressing that I lost 5 watts, but really 5 watts isn’t that big a deal really. Perhaps it will help me to chill a bit on the bike. The main reason I wanted to do the FTP test was so I could plug in accurate number on Best Bike Split and get an idea of my race plan for the bike leg. It looks like it will be just a smidge slower than my bike leg last year at Lake Placid. You can check it out here if you are interested…
Bon Voyagey Bike…
On Sunday I had to take my bike down to Keswick Cycle in Glenside to drop it off for the TriBike Transport pickup on Tuesday. I finished up some last minute maintenance, did a final cleaning and removed the pedals. I also ordered the additional gear bag option too, so I loaded a duffle bag with my wetsuit, aero helmet, spare tubs and some tools. The TBT website said only pack aero helmet if in a hard case, so I put it in a cardboard box with some extra packaging materials too. Hopefull that should be ok. I filled out a couple forms at the shop and handed my bike over to the guy at the shop. Bon Voyagey! See you in Coeur d’Alene!
I stopped at a nearby Chipotle for lunch before heading to Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting for our monthly stock-up on organic, frozen fruit. WF was rather crowded, so I was happy to get out of there.
I still needed to do a 1-2 hour run when I got home. It was brutally hot & humid and I was really not into it, so I decided to just run on the treadmill. I tried to load up this FitTrip app on my iPad which shows point-of-view(POV) trail running videos coordinated to your heart rate. Well it didn’t work so well. Downloading the videos took forever and then when they finished it would pop up a message saying it failed! WTF! I eventually got one to download successfully and then it would not connect to my HRM using the ANT+ dongle. Ugh!
I finally gave up and just watched some similar videos on YouTube which worked fine. I had unfortunately wasted a bunch of time trying to get that working. I ended with only about a 7 mile easy run, but I figured that was good enough.
Geekin’ Out on Training
Training volume this week was basically chopped in half. Still managed to miss one of my 3 strength training workouts though. No sense is cramming now right?!
A few red marks on the old HRV training guide this week. Body is recovering a bit so this is expected. Hopefully next week things will pick up a bit.
The PMC chart shows the plan for the taper. The pink line dropping is the fatigue withering away with the form(yellow) increasing. Fitness(CTL in blue) declines a little bit, but it will be worth it.
The HRV timeline took a bit of a nose dive during this first week of taper. It make sense since I felt a little crappy. Things ended on a high note on Monday AM so it looks like recovery/taper is working. Hope that continues until race day.
That’s all for this week. Next week things should get easier and hopefull start feeling great again.
I am going to double up here on the last two weeks of build before my 3 week taper into Ironman Coeur d’Alene. It has been a pretty brutal 2 weeks since I really never had a full recovery week since about 5 weeks ago. I did a couple little 3 day recovery before and after the Todd Wiley Lake Placid camp, but still managed a decent training load for the weekend in between. Despite all this I have been feeling pretty good. A few of my longer workouts were in some pretty hot and humid temperatures and were obviously affected. My performances during the workouts when the weather was cooler surely made up for it.
Swims…I am still using the Finis Tempo Trainer and feeling pretty settled at around 68-70 spm. This is up from around 58-60 when I started using this tool early on in the season. My paces have picked up along with it and I am hoping this carries over to a few minutes gained in my 2.4 mile swim. I did both of my LSD swims at around 1:13 for just under 4000 yards. Given that this is without a wetsuit and no flip turns I think I could manage this time in Ironman which would be a 4 minute improvement over the last two years.
Biking…I have been averaging around 145 miles/9 hours a week on the bike for both weeks. My long rides on the weekends were just over 90 miles long running about 5:30-5:50 depending on the terrain. Most of my weeknight rides were steady state rides in zone 2-3, but I did manage to get one good hill repeat ride in on some of my favorites hills: Dogwood & Centennial!
My long ride on May 20th started out a little rough when a large flying insect fly directly into my mouth while cruising along at around 20mph. Ouch! It partially lodged itself into my mouth since it was partially open. I had to actually spit the thing out and it tasted like crap too! My lip
immediately swelled up to what felt like having a gumball in my lip. Judging for the picture I guess it didn’t look quite as bad as it felt though. I didn’t know what kind of bug it was and wasn’t sure if it stung me or that was just the impact of it on my lip that hurt. Eventually, the swelling subsided and my lip resumed to its normal size again. Why do I always get pelted with creatures when I am riding?
I followed the Dream Come True(DCT) route for the start of my long bike ride June 6. This is a nice somewhat challenging route with a little over 4000′ of climbing over 64 miles. This ride was also not without some wildlife incident as well. While cruising a downhill section of backroad that contained some overgrown shoulder a large doe popped out immediately in front of me broadside. I made some kind of grunt or yell as I came within about 10 feet of the animal and it quickly dashed out of my way. Another close call. Not too long after that I came across a lone fawn standing in the road. He scampered in down the road, heading in the same direction, for a bit before he darted up the steep bank. He was pretty young and no mother to be seen.
Runs…My Sunday long runs consisted of a 21 and 20 miler respectively. The 21 miler was a hot & humid one that I did 4 loops of the Ironton Rail Trail(IRT). The IRT is pretty shaded which helped defer some of the defer some of the sunlight but it was still a hot one. I ended up averaging around a 10:00/mi for the run. The next week I ran at the Lehigh Parkway and it was about 10 degrees(F) cooler and much less humidity. The Parkway is also pretty shaded but has about twice the elevation gain as the IRT. Due to the more temperate climate I was able to average a 9:30 pace over the 20 miles while maintaining a Zone 2 heart rate. More on track with what I would like to do at Ironman this year and a good note to finish on before my taper.
Heart Rate Variability(HRV)
My HRV has remained fairly steadily in the 70’s during this last two weeks. I have been flirting with the low recovery and low activation ranges most of the time, but still in the “ok to keep going area”. This is pretty much expected from where I am at this point. I should be overreaching a bit at this point, with a good 3 week taper coming up.
Compared to Last Year…
Comparing this years training on the Training Peaks Performance Management Chart to last year looks fairly similar. You can see that the last month or so of this year(top chart) I have incurred a bit more fatigue(pink link) with consecutive build weeks and no full recovery week in between. My Fitness(CTL in Blue) has steadily risen to a value of around 112 during my last build week, whereas last year I was up to 120 or so.
Less than 5 weeks to go until Ironman Coeur d’Alene! Actually, if you are reading this post it is probably less than 3 weeks to go. With all the heavy training volume lately, I cannot find the time to get this post out and I didn’t want to just throw it out there. Anyway…I digress.
This was a bit of an odd week. I was ready for some recovery time after finishing up two solid build weeks, but with Todd Wiley’s Lake Placid Training Camp this weekend I could not afford an entire week of recovery. I did a light swim on Monday, took a total rest day on Tuesday, and then a easy run on Wednesday. It was a good amount of time to recover and be ready for a solid training block over the Memorial day weekend. My HRV Timeline chart below shows my recovery as well with a solid upswing into the mid-80’s by the middle of the week.
On Thursday morning I made the 6 hour drive up to Lake Placid for the start of Todd Wileys‘ Lake Placid Training Camp. Last year I had my own little solo camp, but riding alone up there leaves me a little uneasy. Especially when you get a couple flats and mechanical issues. When you are with a camp you have some extra support plus it is always fun meeting new people with similar interests. We were staying at the Olympic Training Center for the Todd Wiley camp which was really cool. This would be much more fun than staying in some hotel downtown by myself. I had driven past the OTC facility many times but never saw the facility from the inside, so now I could really check it out.
I arrived at the facility, checked in and unloaded my gear into the room. Eventually, my roomate Max came in and introduced himself. He was a really nice, mellow guy which I was very relieved about. It was kind of like the first day of college and meeting your dorm roomate. Everyone eventually met outside in the parking lot around 4PM for a group run after getting settled into their rooms. We then headed out for a nice 5-6 mile run into town, around Mirror Lake and then back again. I ended up running with Dr. named Howie most of the run. He was a super nice guy and quite a character too. The run went really fast since we were chatting the whole time.
The original shedule had a short 15 mile bike ride listed on the first day, but that got nixed since we got out later than planned. We then headed to the cafeteria at the Olympic Training Center(OTC) for some dinner. I was a bit apprehensive about eating in a cafeteria all weekend and whether they would have much for me to eat. I was pleasantly surprised. The OTC cafeteria food was awesome! They usually had several different options for each meal with at least a couple of them being veg-friendly. Another nice benefit of the cafeteria was that we didn’t have to deal with eating in town on a holiday weekend. This can be a bit of a challenge especially with a large group.
On Thursday night the group got together for some discussion with Todd about the plan for the weekend and some general training information. We also got a a bunch of swag including a t-shirt, a towel, and some sun/cooling sleeves. I was pretty psyched about the sun sleeves since I had wanted to try them but didn’t want to fork out the money for a pair. I also just happened to check the weather on my phone during our session and it was apparently snowing outside. That should make for an interesting ride tomorrow!
On Friday, we were up for breakfast by 7AM after a good nights sleep and out for group ride by 8:30am. It was a bit cool and very overcast as we waited to depart. It started raining as soon as we left the OTC making for a cold, damp start. We headed down Route 73 to River Rd and then down 86 to Wilimington and back again. The ride down to Wilmington is mostly downhill so I took it easy crusing the whole way. The skies eventually opened up and the sun came out. My plan was to give a hard push back up the notch to Lake Placid. It was a good hard ride, I turned around at Cobble Mountain right after the three bears climbs and then swung back down to River Rd. and then back to the OTC.
We then headed out for a half hour brick run immediately after we returned from our ride. I joined up briefly with Derek Fitzgerald, the only heart transplant and cancer survivor to complete an Ironman, and we ran across the street up Bear Cub Rd. past the entrance to Henry’s Woods. I went a little further up the road since I had never been up the before and was curious where it ended up. It was a gradual climb most of the way out.
We had a afternoon session with Fernando Paredes from Fusion Fitness & Performance on his strength training principles after lunch. I had attended Fernando’s workshop back in January so this was more of a refresher for me. The session was mostly just a overview of his methods and we didn’t get into any actual strength training. Fernando did a couple demonstrations with some of the campers which were pretty amazing. The one guy had really tight hamstrings and Fernando was able to have him touch his toes after just rubbing his jaw on both sides. That was pretty wild.
On Friday night we had a classroom discussion on triathlon rules and safety with Ken Modica. Ken is a USAT official who officiates many of the races in my area. It was a good review of the rules and some of the changes that have been made. I kind of lost attention though after everyone started their “airing of grievances” and bringing up their individual occurences of being unjustly penalized for things. I would have liked to have seen a little more discussion on overall race strategy and nutrition in the camp, especially for the folks who are doing Ironman for the first time. Troy Jacobson did this in his camp, which I attended in 2012, and I found it really helpful. The coaches here were very accessible though and I know my roomate had sat down with Todd individually to discuss some of these topics.
Saturday was our long bike ride for the weekend, so I was off early for a good nights sleep Friday night. We topped off our tanks with a good breakfast and then we headed out for our long ride. Some of the campers were only doing one loop of the IMLP Course, and then the rest were doing two loops. Both groups were skipping out on the out-and-backs to Ausable Forks and Haselton Road. I was considering doing one or two of them just to tack on a few miles.
I started out with a group led by Nancy Smith, an elite age grouper and multiple Kona qualifier. Nancy has an unbelieveably smooth cadence which never seems to change despite the terrain. She also had a very similar pace to me so I always seemed to be following her. She did tend to drop me a little on climbs, but then I would catch up on the downhills. My extra weight comes in handy sometimes! Thanks gravity! Also in our pack was my roomate Max and Jeff. We would stop every once in a while and catch up a bit.
It was a pretty brisk morning on Saturday, but I dressed appropriately with jacket, leg warmers and full finger gloves and it wasn’t too bad. It had gotten a little warmer towards the end of the first loop, so I swung back to the OTC for quick wardrobe change. The first loop went well and I was still feeling pretty fresh. The wind had picked up a bit on the second loop but it was mostly a tailwind from Lake Placid all the way to Upper Jay. There never seems to be a tailwind from Upper Jay back to Lake Placid which is basically all uphill.
I started to feel it a little in my quads as I made my way up to Wilmingtion. I had heard someone yelling my name as I rolled into Wilmington and eventually saw Todd parked across the street and my roomate Max taking on some hydration. I swung across an refilled my bottles and food. It was good timing because I was out of hydration and starting to feel it. After sucking down a bottle of Skratch Labs and eating an Amrita Bar I was ready to tackle the climb back to Lake Placid. I even hit the little out-and-back on Haselton Road just to get a couple more miles in. I like this little stretch too since it is pretty mellow with minimal traffic. It is kind of a break in itself.
I made the push back up 86 to Lake Placid, this time being a little more challenging than the first loop. The stronger headwind made things just a little tougher too. There is a short but steep stretch around the gorge area where the road gets very narrow with no shoulder and a stone wall guarding you from a rocky cliff into the Ausable River. I got behind another cyclist who was going relatively slow, but I was not able to pass him do to the car traffic and lack of a shoulder. As we reached the top of the climb, but not quite passed the stone wall he decided to stop! WTF!! I yelled “NO! Keep going!” He obviously didn’t even realize I was behind him. He managed to gather some more strength and pedal up to the turnout a few feet away. I patted him on the back and laughed as I went by. He smiled but was too exhausted to say any words.
I finished up the ride back into town after completing the Three Bears climbs for the second time that day. My legs were pretty tired by the time I got back and I only had food on my mind at this point. Fortunately the OTC cafeteria is open all day long for snacks and things and I headed right there.
Fernando had a strength training session in the afternoon, but I could muster up the motivation to attend. I was ready to just chill a bit. The plan for the afternoon was to go into town for a short swim in Mirror Lake. I ended bagging the swim since it was still pretty cool air temperature and very windy. I knew the water was cool which I can deal with, but the thought of getting out of the water not being able to get warm changed my mind. I knew Sunday was supposed to be a warmer day, so I will save my swim for then.
I ended up going to Lake Placid Pub & Brewery to get some dinner and have a couple beers. I ended up meeting up with some tri-friends from home, John, Ashley and Johns’ daughter Laura at the Pub. They were staying with some other friends, Brian and Mandy, from back home who have a house in LP and invited me to come over for dinner. I felt a little funny going over to have dinner at someones house that I never met, but they said it was cool. Brian and Mandy were really nice people and so accomodating. They are both REALLY GOOD athletes and Brian was into photography too so there was no shortage of conversation. I had such a great time with all of them and we had a ton of laughs too. It was like I had known them forever. Oh also they had rice and beans with side of kale for dinner so it was the perfect meal for me. I did cheat a little and had a organic chicken sausage too. 🙂
Sunday all the LP campers met up after breakfast at the front gate to the OTC. Todd debriefed us on the plan for the run since some folks were running different distances than others. I was planning to get at least 18 miles in but was hoping for 20. I would assess it as I went depending on how I felt. We then got together for group photo before set off on our run.
I realized that I forgot to put sunscreen on as we started down the road, so I headed back to the dorms to put some on. The zipper in my running shorts got jammed and I could not get my ID card out. I could not get the zipper unjammed for the life of me and I didn’t want to break the it on my favorite running shorts. So I had to go without. Fortunately it was fairly cloudy as the day went on so not really an issue.
I fell pretty far behind everyone with the zipper drama, so I was basically on my own for most of the day. I did catch up to a few people in the camp and saw the rest coming back on River Road. Todd was waiting at the turnaround on River Rd. with water and gatorade for us. He also said he would wait for me at the Ski Jumps, on the other end of River Rd. to restock me with water before I head into town. On the way back I stopped at the house we typically stay at on River Road to say Hi to our friends Dan & Wendy for a few minutes. I chatted with Dan for a bit and then continued on. I stepped up the pace a bit since I knew Todd was waiting for me.
The cooler air temps this day really made a huge difference in my run. I felt so good the whole time as opposed to the prior weeks run back home in hot & humid temps(see image above). My previous long runs were much slower and the courses were also much less difficult in terms of terrain. I can only hope for temps in the 60’s in Coeur d’Alene!
I made my way up into town, headed around the back of Mirror Lake and turned around at the Lake Placid Marina right before coming back into town near Saranac Ave. I was at around 16 miles when I got back to the OTC, so I decided to head up Bear Cub Rd, where I had done the brick run on Friday to get 20 in. I ended up finishing with only 19.3 but I didn’t feel like to doing filler runs just to get 20 in. Close enough! I was quite happy with the run at that point, so no point in continuing.
After some lunch, we headed into town to get a swim in at Mirror Lake. My friend John had told me to let him know when we would be swimming and he was going to meet me with his kayak. It was pretty nice having my own support crew. I stashed a water bottle on Johns’ boat and he took some pictures and video of me while I swam too.
The water was really cold! I was a little fearful of cramping up after just running 20 miles a couple hours before. My hands, feet and face were numb. I started out with a pretty good pace just to get some heat pumping. My plan was to swim 20 minutes out and then back again. By around 15 minutes I was starting to have enough. My toes were involuntarily curling up from the cold. I stopped at around 17 minutes, took a drink of water and chatted with John a bit and then headed back. Unfortunately, I forgot to stop my watch to get an accurate pace.
The wind really started to kick up on the way back and the waves were smashing into my right side. I took a mouthful of water and started choking a bit just like I did at Devilman a few weeks before. I eventually calmed down and restored my breathing again. I then started breathing only to the left for the rest of the swim back. I finished up with a mile swim, which was plenty considering how cold it was. It had to be at or below 50 degrees. When I reached the beach the rest of the people in the camp were already done swimming and they had started after me. Todd even said it was crazy cold and he bailed early too.
Sunday night I was pretty tired and just settled in early. I had a good dinner and then got a good nights sleep. We had planned to do a short bike ride early in the morning and then checkout by 9:30am. The forecast was for rain and I planned on skipping that if that was the case and get on the road early to avoid all the Memorial Day traffic.
I was the first one from our camp in the cafeteria in the morning, but Derek Fitzgerald had come in later and joined me. It worked out nice to get to chat with him one-on-one for a bit. He was telling me about his upcoming Tour de Cure ride across America which is starting on June 9th. He has a pretty amazing story which I would highly recommend you check out.
I then packed up after breakfast, said goodbye to my roomate Max and everyone I saw from the camp. I got to meet a lot of new triathletes from the are area while getting in some solid training. It was a really great experience and I would highly recommend it. Staying at the Olympic Training Center was very cool.
The ride home started out ok, but traffic got very heavy as I got past Lake George. Fortunately no major delays though. I stopped in New Paltz at the Taco Shack for a quick bean burrito along the way. It was crazy busy everywhere else.
Ok, back home with only two more build weeks to go! Thanks for reading!
Another 16+ hour build week concludes. Only 5 more weeks until Ironman Coeur d’Alene!
How am I feeling? A bit fatigued actually . Not terrible but I can feel the stress of heavy load. The weather has also been unseasonably warm for Spring which is kind of taking its toll on me. I do not do well in warmer temperatures. Usually I am even worse in the beginning until I acclimatize a bit.
Despite feeling a bit fatigued, I am still having some good workouts. I even skipped a few workouts last week and still ended up with more volume than I had planned. On Monday, I took the day off of training and just mowed my lawn instead. I wore my HR monitor and Garmin so I counted it as a workout. We’ll just call that active recovery. 🙂 I needed that day after not having a long run the Sunday before.
There was a couple cooler days during the week that I ended up going longer just because it felt good. I am trying to listen to my body and go with the flow a bit. My HRV continued to decline a bit earlier in the week, but gradually improved as the weekend approached. I then saw a slight drop again after my long run on Saturday, but held steady after a long bike on Sunday.
There is still a bunch of data points lying on the left of the iThlete Training Guide below. Big indicator of lower energy levels.
I had planned on riding a local 64 mile charity ride, called the Dream Come True(DCT) ride on Sunday so I moved my long run to Saturday this week. I was a bit nervous about my run on Saturday since I self-destructed on the run the week before. During the week I ordered a new Camelbak Octane LR Hydration Pack to help alleviate running out of water on my long runs again. My FuelBelt was not cutting it. I was glad I did, because it was really hot again and I drank every bit of it. I actually emptied the bladder as I was on my cooldown walking up my street.
I also played it a bit conservatively too and kept my pace around 10:00/mi just to make sure i got the volume in that I wanted. I also had several extra pounds of water strapped to my back which must have slowed me down a bit. I was happy to have a good long and successful run and I was able to put the previous week behind me.
On Sunday I woke up early, for me on weekend anyway, to do the DCT ride. The ride was only 64 miles and I wanted to get about 5 hours in. Usually 5 hours for an LSD ride would be about 80 miles for me, so I tacked on a few extra miles getting to and from the ride start at the Trexlertown Velodrome.
The ride was pretty flat for the first half and was along many of the roads I typically ride. I rode along with a girl from work and a couple of her friends for the first half. I eventually latched on to a couple guys with orange helmets around the Kempton area that were going my typical pace. A few other guys joined them and a pace line was formed. I stayed behind them about 10m or so and avoided most of their draft. I don’t want to get used to that. Also the stretch of road from Kempton to Werley’s Corners is awesome for getting down into the aerobars and just cruising.
I ended up bagging the final rest stop and just heading for the finish. It was getting kind of hot and humid out too, so I was eager get home. My legs were a bit stiff early in the day too since I had run long the day before. I don’t typically do that, so it was a bit different riding on tired legs. I did seem to get a second wind though on the last half of the DCT ride which worked out well since that half had all the climbs in it.
I ended up with around 80 miles in just under 5 hours. Not a too bad for a pretty mellow ride. It was a good end to another build week.
My fatigue level(pink) in the Training Peaks PMC chart below is peaking out a bit at the end of the week. My plan is to do a few easier days early in the week before I head up to Lake Placid for a training camp over the holiday weekend. I want to go into that fresh in order to take advantage a that big training block.
Now with the NJ Devilman race behind me it is time to focus on the final 8 week build for Ironman Coeur d’Alene. Unfortunately, the affects of the Devilman Half Lite continued to linger well into the week.
I was very exhausted on Monday and decided it would be best to take a rest day. On Tuesday, I did my normal endurance/form swim, but did a zone 2 bike ride that evening instead of my usual run. My legs were still really sore and they were not ready for a run just yet. My Heart Rate Variability was stilling showing signs of stress until about Thursday when it rebounded and shot back up int the 80’s again.
As you can see in the HRV timeline above, there was a bit of a death spiral for the next 5 days after the race. Saturday then rebounded quite a bit and then some long LSD workouts pulled things back down again. I had hoped that taking the entire day off on Monday would help to expedite my recovery, but things continued to decline after that.
The iThlete Training Guide below reinforces this as well. A majority of my morning readings are showing up on the left side of the graph indicating a lot of low recovery days. Granted that this week also a build week so overreaching a bit was part of the plan, but I still have another two weeks of build to go. Given this I am starting to consider adjusting my plan to only do two weeks of build and then follow with an easy week before I head to Lake Placid for a training camp. I want to be fresh for the camp since it is a big block training on its own. This is the kind of thing where HRV helps you manage your training as you go. You can follow a schedule but if your body is not responding to it you need to adjust. Using HRV and the tools that iThlete provides allows you to do that.
On Friday I headed over to Dutch Springs for a hour open water swim. It was a good swim but definitely not without some drama. You can check out the full scoop here…
On Saturday I decided to ride the Quad County Metric route which is a well-marked ride that runs by my home. Turned out that this years actual ride was this same day, so I ended up riding along with everyone doing the ride. I hooked into the ride just up the road which is on one of the tougher hill climbs on the ride. As I came upon the hill there were riders all over the hill zig-zagging up the road. Since I was pretty fresh I zipped up the road and passed most of the people. It is kind of mean since they probably have about 25 miles into their legs at this point.
It was a rather moist day. While it was not really raining, there was this mist in the air all day and I just felt “moist” all day long. After losing my iPhone to moisture the day before, I was not about to bring out my new phone for pictures today. It did dry up a little bit and I was able to capture one image.
I felt kind of bad riding with people doing the ride, but I was not utilizing their rest stops and I did veer off of the course for a bit. It was a pretty challengin ride though. it had about 4500 feet of climbing in around 56 miles. I tacked on some extra mileage so that I got about 72 miles in 4:40. I tacked on another 30 minute brick run right after too. All-in-all there were 4 category 4 climbs. Play that number!
Dirty D&L Run
On Sunday I headed up to the D&L rail trail for my long run. The plan was a 3 hour run which should end up being about 18-20 miles. It was a unseasonably warm day for sure. The D&L trail is nice for long runs due to its length, but it can leave you high-and-dry since you have to carry all your hydration and nutrition. I like to park midway at the Cove Road Trailhead so I can do a 4 mile out-and-back to the south and then re-tool and do a 5 mile out-and-back to the north.
I took a two bottle Fuelbelt, but I ran a little dry on the second half of the run. Somewhere around mile 12 things started to fall apart. I don’t know if it was the heat or the pretty hilly bike ride the day before, or both but the wheels fell off. I ended up doing a walk/run the last 4 miles of the workout. It was a bit of a confidence buster.
I managed to get back to the car and everything was ok. Given how spent I was, I decided Monday would be a rest day. Next week is another build week, so I needed some recovery to get the most out of the next week. We are coming down to the wire here and I don’t want to sabaotage all the hard work I have put in this season.
Week 17 was not the typical recovery week. Usually my recovery weeks start out with some very low HRV readings and a general feeling of “blah”. At least in the early part of the week. This week I felt pretty darn good. I took Monday totally off of training and had an easy swim on Tuesday. My HRV, on average, went higher. I skipped my bike workout on Thursday with the intention of doing it Friday since I had off. Friday I had a pretty good swim and I never did get that bike ride in. Now I have two days off. I did have the St. Luke’s Half Marathon on Sunday, so I thought I could justify that.
Friday night we had dinner with some friends at The Dime in downtown Allentown. I find myself in Center City Allentown a lot these days? Food was pretty good, but they are still working out some growing pains on the service side. After our dinner, we went to the Wise Crackers Comedy Club at the Ramada Inn on McArthur Road in Whitehall to see Jimmy Carroll. Side-splitting funny guy!! Nothing like have a good laugh.
My wife enjoyed The Dime so much that we headed back there in the morning for breakfast. We had to go downtown anyway since I had packet pickup for the half marathon which was just down the street. Food was good, but service still a little lacking. She didn’t bring my coffee until after the food…WTH??!
I quickly breezed through the expo and then bumped into a few people I knew and ended up chatting a while. My wife found some sneaker deals so that tied us up some more. Then there was the health food store across the street…more time. DIdn’t get out of there until 11am.
Saturday was a really nice day and I got an easy 3 hour/50 mile ride in. Just enough to maintain my bike endurance and not too much to tire me out for the half marathon the next day.
I wasn’t planning to taper for NJ Devilman, but it looks like I will be a little tapered.
Had a great nights sleep Saturday night into Sunday. After I got up and started making my breakfast smoothie, my stomach started grumbling a bit and I started feeling kind of strange. I drank some coffee and about half of my smoothie before I was making a mad dash for the bathroom. Not good when you have a 13 mile run ahead of you.
My wife made up her concoction of baking soda and lemon juice, to calm my stomach, and I chugged that down. It helped a bit. Enough for me to get my stuff together and drive down to the race. I parked about a mile away and figured I would jog a mile to the start line to warm-up a bit. I only made it a about a half mile before things started brewing. I started making a b-line for a bathroom I spotted on the other side of the park I was walking next to. I will spare you details, but I decided that I would not be racing today. I then walked back to the car and headed home.
The next two days were not fun. I haven’t felt that bad in a while.
Not a real good start to the race season, but hopefully I have gotten that out of my system. Literally and figuratively!
Fortunately, next Sunday is New Jersey Devilman Half Lite(50 mi) so I should be healthier for that. I would rather miss a half-marathon than a half ironman.
Only 10 more weeks until Ironman Coeur d’Alene!
Week 16 was a pretty solid week of training. I ended up with around 15 hours total volume, which also included one day off due to me being stressed out from a screw-up at work. It also inlcluded no strength training whatsoever since I totally blew that off. But, the training was good. The weather also cooperated with some very nice days. The weekend was incredible too.
My Heart Rate Variability(HRV) was all over the map. There were some good days and some pretty low days. I managed to eke out a low, but green 68 on Monday morning which was surprising since I did a 4.5 hour bike Saturday and 18 mile run on Sunday. I felt good all weekend though despite a HRV of 55 on Saturday. Fortunately, this is the last build week of 3 and next week is a recovery week. It will be a feel-like-crap week, but hopefully I will be back online for my half-marathon race next Sunday.
My shoulder is back to normal again. I was able to get all my swims in this week. I also got a little “Polar Bear” training in since the heater in the pool was not working. It was quite refreshing actually. I forgot all about it after 200 meters.
Since the weather has been nicer, I was able to get in some longer bike rides during the week. On Thursday I managed to get in 32 miles and was fortunate to get the shot above on my way home that night. I just happened to turn around saw this amazing opportunity. Despite some blue artifacts from the extra lens from my LIfeProof phone case, the shot came out pretty well. I had to stabilize the phone on a fencepost to get a sharp image.
Saturday was a really nice day! Temps peaked at around 80 degrees and the winds were light in the morning. It got a little breezy in the afternoon, but it was mostly tailwind at that point. I was well stocked with Amrita bars for the ride and felt pretty amazing all day. A definite confidence booster for Ironman Coeur d’ALene. I also bagged a solid 30 minute brick immediately after too.
On Sunday, I headed over to the Ironton Rail Trail(IRT) for my long run. My goal was a Zone 2 run for 2:50 and ~18 miles. It was another amazing day and a little cooler than Saturday which was perfect for my run. There was a slight wind, but wasn’t a major factor. I ended up completing the 18 miles in just under 2:50 at around 9:20 pace while maintaining median zone 2 heart rate. This was another big confidence booster, since in prior years my HR would have been a bit higher at that same pace(Exhibit A). One of my goals this year is to maintain a 9:30 pace for the Ironman run and to do that I wanted to execute all my LSD runs at no more than that pace. I have mostly acheived that so far and this run is my best example of that. Happy!
Well, next week is a recovery week so I am fully prepared for a HRV nosedive and feeling like crap in the beginning of the week. Hopefully things will rebound a bit by the weekend since I am racing the St. Luke’s Lehigh Valley Half Marathon on Sunday. I would like to shoot for a PR, it is not my main focus right now. I may go out with that initial intention, but my let off the gas if I don’t “feel it.” I have my first triathlon, New Jersey Devilman Half Lite 50, the week after so I don’t want to screw that up. That’s all for now…thanks for reading!
Only 11 more weeks until Ironman Couer d’Alene! Week 15 was another build week. I had planned about a 16 hour week in volume, but ended up with only 13 hours. This was mostly due to a shoulder bursitis flare-up issue that kept me out of the pool and some dog emergency issues on Friday. I was able to get in some more strength training time with the time freed up from swimming. The weather has also perked up a bit so I was also able to get some more time on the roads.
HRV was good most of the week until Monday morning which is highlighted in orange in the Training Guide chart . I would guess this was mostly from my 17 mile run on Sunday. The rest of the week was in the green sweet spot of the chart. I actually felt pretty good Sunday night, but was slightly fatigued on Monday morning. Then again I always feel that way on a Monday morning.
Things rebounded early in the week after a big dip the week prior, but continued to decline a bit towards Monday AM. I missed my Sunday AM reading due to my dog waking me early and I forgot to take it before getting out of bed.
Monday was a beautiful day and I was able to get a good 28 mile ride in that evening. Tuesday was rainy and I resorted to the treadmill. During that treadmill run I started getting some pain in my left shoulder which continued to get worse. I tend to get some Bursitis issues in that shoulder from time-to-time due to an old high school football injury. It usually goes away fairly quickly though. I tried testing it out in the pool on Wednesday and only got about 200m in before I pulled the plug. No sense in aggravating it. So, swim training was nixed for the week.
I supplemented the extra time with some strength training, and longer bikes and runs. I had planned to have a good long swim and possibly a decent bike ride in the afternoon on Friday since I had off of work that day. That plan quickly changed when I noticed that my dog, Yuki, was bleeding from his mouth.
Two days before Yuki had broken into the bag which contained two doses of Prednisone I had given to my parents while they dog-sat him. This was after having his dose that morning, so three doses. I had called the vet and they said he would be ok, just may drink and pee a bit more. He seemed fine while my parents had him and Thursday night. But then I noticed him licking his paw and it was all blooding Friday morning. I thought his paw was bleeding, but finally realized it was coming from his gums. I tried to stop it, but it kept bleeding so off to the vet we went.
They took him in the back tried to stop the bleeding. The vet said she thought his liver was not clotting his blood correctly due to the Lymphoma/cancer. I told the vet about the extra doses of Prednisone, but she never said anything about that. She also brought up about trying some chemo since it the Prednisone was not working along with some VItamin K to help the liver and get the blood clotting again. She said the chemo would put the cancer into remission and help his liver. The original vet expressed that the chemo would be rough on his liver which steared us away form that, but this vet deals with more of the oncological side and she disagreed. So we decided to proceed with that.
The bleeding continued off-and-on until about 7PM Friday night, which had me on high alert all day. I was putting ice on his gums to help stop it. That is fun trying to hold an ice cube on your dogs gums for any length of time. Eventually it stopped and I am happy to report he has been doing pretty well so far. He had one night where he was kind of moping around, but the past couple days he had been his normal self.
Saturday was a beautiful day but very windy out. The wind and the fact I was still on high alert with Yuki kept me on the trainer Saturday morning. I think it was a record long 4 hour ride on the trainer for me. Fortunately, I did get outside for my brick run that followed.
Sunday was a gorgeous day so I headed down to the Lehigh Parkway for my long run. I logged a decent 2:40 17 miler and managed to keep my average around 9:30 all in Zone 2. This was one of my goals to keep all my LSD runs at 9:30 pace or below. I will let the photos do the talking here…
Next week is going to be another build week since my schedule gets confusing after that. I am doing the St. Lukes Half Marathon on April 26th and then New Jersey Devilman the Sunday after that. I may end up doing two lighter weeks in a row or maybe a semi-light week for St. Luke’s and just train through it.