Thursday, December 31, 2009

Final Run of 2009

Just got back from my final run of the year, and while I'll likely post a detailed yearly review sometime tomorrow I wanted to quickly get my totals up now. I slacked a bit on my cycling over the last few weeks, which would have easily put me over 4500mi if I had remained faithful to my schedule. But either way, I'll leave the analysis to a later post when I have a little more time to look over all of the numbers ;)

2009 Totals:
Running: 2,694.5km (1,674.3mi) - 230h02m (5:07/km avg.)
Walking: 237.0km (147.3mi)
Cycling: 4,058.6km (2,521.9mi) - 134h13m (30.2km/h avg.)
Swimming: 180.7km (112.3mi)
Total: 7,170.8km (4,455.7mi)

Either way, happy new year to all of those reading!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Week 53: Review

With Christmas it's been extremely busy around here, so I'm a bit late in getting this post out - but seeing as it's Wednesday already I figured I'd better get it done ;) Unfortunately, that also meant that my cycling suffered again this week and I wasn't able to get in any mileage unfortunately. With that said, most of that busyness was spending time with family, so it was time well spent either way and I'm not worrying about it too much. I'm still in base training at this point, so missing a bit of mileage isn't a huge deal (especially as cycling will simply be cross training for the next cycle anyway).

Running and Swimming largely went as planned, so there isn't a whole lot to report on that front. The weather has been cold and icy, but that's par for the course this time of year and I'm starting to get used to that. The details are largely covered in my exercise logs, so given time constraints I'll just stick to that at this juncture ;)

In other news, thanks to some Christmas contributions by the family I finally picked up the cyclocomputer and aerobars that I was looking at. I've been playing around with a few options on both fronts for a while now, and working it into Christmas gave me a hard deadline to make a decision on which way to go. I also picked up another saddle and seatpost head, which will allow me to quickly switch between properly fitted positions for both road and TT configurations. Once I get them installed on the bike I'll give some first impressions on both, but it's good to have finally figured it out ;)

Week 53 Totals:
Running: 56.9km (35.4mi)
Walking: 4.0km (2.5mi)
Cycling: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Swimming: 9.2km (5.7mi)
Total: 116.7km (72.5mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,663.4km (1,655.0mi)
Walking: 233.6km (145.2mi)
Cycling: 4,028.5km (2,503.2mi)
Swimming: 175.7km (109.2mi)
Total: 7,101.2km (4,412.5mi)

If I had been a bit more diligent on my cycling this month I may have been able to get that total up to 7,500km but unfortunately that isn't going to happen in the remaining time. Otherwise, the totals for 2009 are looking pretty good - a little lower than last year, but that's largely because I had to cut down on the walking to make room for other things. Either way, I'll make up an explicit year end review sometime on Friday so I shouldn't go on too much about this ;)

The upcoming week will largely be a carbon copy of my normal template. As we're part way through this week already, I've filled out the existing days with what's actually been done. I ended up taking a rest day yesterday, as my plan to go to the pool was thwarted and threw a wrench into the works. As noted in my previous post, I managed to get out this morning with a good strong session, so I'm working on making up for it. Will just have to make sure that I get that cycling session in tomorrow :oP

Tentative Schedule:
Mon Rest
Tue 5K Swim, 6mi Recovery
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 7mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 40K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 30k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD, 10K Ride

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

50m Pools...

As mentioned in my last post, due to a combination of limited holiday hours and pool shutdowns the pools that I typically go to were out of commission this week. As such, I looked for some alternatives and ultimately decided to give the Olympium pool a try this morning. It's one of only three Olympic sized (50m) pools in the entire region, so I figured this was a good opportunity to try out the longer lengths (vs 25m that I usually swim).

Unfortunately, when I got changed and headed in I saw that they had a bulkhead in the middle of the pool that effectively split it into two 25m pools. That was a bit of a disappointment, however the pool itself was much better designed for this type of swimming so it was still quite an improvement over what I am used to. Primarily, the water temperature was much more comfortable than the local facilities (~24C vs. 28C). While it doesn't seem like a whole lot, it makes a huge difference when you've been swimming hard for a significant period of time.

Secondly, the pool had a consistent 2m depth on my side of the bulkhead (judging by the height of the diving boards, the other end was likely substantially deeper) which makes it easier to swim. Further, it also has the side effect of making it less tempting to rest at the ends for longer than necessary as you don't have the option to stand ;)

The other nice thing about the facility is that, despite the fact that it was extremely busy (8 active lanes, 4-5 people/lane) everyone appeared to know the rules well so it wasn't a problem at all. The lifeguards were also very proactive and moved people around as necessary to keep traffic moving at appropriate paces in each of the lanes. Further, the lanes were much wider than they are at the local pools so when passing was required it was reasonably easy to do.

Once I got out and changed I asked at the front desk to see if they have any sessions where the entire pool is available. Unfortunately, they said that the bulkhead only really gets moved ahead of a major swim meet so there's no way to know ahead of time when that will be possible. It sounds like the Douglas Snow pool is operated in a similar manner unfortunately, so the UofT pool is likely the only option if I ever want to give 50m lengths a try.

Unfortunately, the Athletic Centre pool is quite expensive as they don't sell passes simply for the pool itself. To get in you need to buy a day pass for the entire fitness centre, which is several times more than anywhere else (not too bad for a one-off trip, but those fees can add up when you go regularly). Asside from the admission fees, parking down there can also be pretty expensive as well. Just wish that I could convince my brother to get into swimming, as he has unlimited access to that facility as part of his tuition.

Either way, while the pool was nice I don't know that the trip down there is justifyable without the 50m aspect of things. Looking at the schedules it does look like the Thornhill pool is open on Thursday, so I'll likely give that a try instead and see how it is setup. It's only a 25m pool, but it appears to be more of a competitive facility so hopefully their water temperatures will be similar to the Olympium.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Hours...

Between this week and last week, I've had to move my swims around a bit to deal with the modified holiday hours. Fortunately, aside from being closed on a few days the pool that I usually go to is keeping the same basic schedule so it was just a matter of moving days around. When I got to the pool for my planned session this morning, however, there was a sign that it was closed due to a pool malfunction. Making this worse was the fact that the other two pools I typically use are down for scheduled maintenance, so I had to take a look at my other options.

Unfortunately, the holiday hours are pretty pitful at most of the pools and none of them had anything longer than an hour. As I need about two full hours to do my scheduled workout, I figured I'd do the session tomorrow after sitting down with the schedules to figure out what works. Looking at things now, the closest pool that will have sufficient hours is in Thornhill (about a 30min drive) so I'm likely to be going way out of my way. The upside is that that pool (Garnet Williams) is open for 4.5 hours, so I should have enough time to do a few more drills than I'm usually able to get in. The downside, however, is that it is also a much busier pool which is likely to be compounded by the fact that the other pools are closed.

My other option is to head down to the city and take the opportunity to try out one of the 50 meter pools (Douglas Snow or the Olympium). It means a bit more of a drive, but the longer lengths will be a better simulation of open water swimming. I've wanted to try out the bigger pools for a while now, but having to go that far out of my way has always put a damper on that front. They don't have quite as long hours as Garnet, however they're open for more than 2 hours so I shouldn't have any trouble. The other benefit is that the Toronto pools appear to be open on New Years Eve whereas the Vaughan ones are on severely restricted schedules so I'd still be able to get two sessions in this week.

Either way, I'll have to do a bit more digging to figure out what I want to do. At this point what I'm leaning towards is trying out the Garnett pool tomorrow and then heading down to Toronto on Thursday. I havn't visited any of these three pools before, so it would be good to get a feel for what my other options are.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Week 52: Review

With the bike now inside, I'm a lot less sensitive to the weather conditions outside. Adverse conditions are annoying on the run, but they can largely be worked around one way or the other. It may require a different route or a slightly lower pace, but it takes some pretty brutal weather for me to consider missing a session ;)

The downside to this configuration, however, is that it's a lot harder to get in a long ride on the bike when sitting in one place. While the trainer is great for getting nice consistent workouts, and it has the side benefit of being able to give me power numbers, it's psychologically very draining. I managed to work my way up to some longer rides last year, and I'm sure I'll do the same this time around - it's just a matter of getting used to it once again.

Adding to the complexity is that this time of year is very busy, which often causes things to have to be moved around. Rescheduling sessions isn't a huge thing, but when I'm also not looking forward to them it's easy to keep putting them off ;) That happened this week, as I was only able to squeeze in two rides - a 30K on Wednesday and a 20K on Saturday. My running and swimming largely went as planned, but between other commitments the cycling has suffered a bit this week.

Naturally, not all of the paths have been cleared by the city as of yet and I've had to re-route a few of my runs this week. That meant that some of them ended up coming a bit short, as I got near home sooner than expected and didn't really feel like running laps around the block to make up the difference. As such, both my Tuesday and Thursday sessions ended up being only six miles rather than the scheduled seven.

Other than that, things largely went as planned. The weather, while cold, was reasonably predictable and there wasn't any significant precipitation. We did have a few warmer days, and that has done a good job of clearing up a lot of the ice that was an issue last week.

Fortunately, I got a bit of extra inspiration this week as the Olympic torch passed through town. While I'm close to the city, this is a tiny village so it's pretty significant when something like that comes through. As such, the family got together and headed down to the main crossing so that we could grab some pictures. A lot of people came from out of town, and everybody pretty much clustered around one intersection so it was pretty crowded while we waited. Once the torch came through, however, the crowd broke up a bit as people began to follow. Thankfully, when they switched over to a run most of the remaining crowd gave up and things thinned out a lot ;) Didn't get too many great shots as it was difficult to get a good position in town, but was quite a nice experience nonetheless.

Week 52 Totals:
Running: 55.7km (34.6mi)
Walking: 2.6km (1.6mi)
Cycling: 50.0km (31.1mi)
Swimming: 8.4km (5.2mi)
Total: 116.7km (72.5mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,606.5km (1,619.6mi)
Walking: 229.6km (142.7mi)
Cycling: 4,028.5km (2,503.2mi)
Swimming: 166.5km (103.5mi)
Total: 7,031.1km (4,368.9mi)

As the pool will be closed on Thursday, I've had to modify my schedule to work around that. As such, I did the first swim today and will do the second on Wednesday. That should leave enough time for recovery between sessions, and allow me to get both in without having to move things around too much. Naturally, this week is going to be pretty busy so it may need further modifications, but if all goes well this is what I hope to pull off ;)

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 2.5mi Swim
Tue 30K Ride, 7mi Recovery
Wed 2.5mi Swim, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 7mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 30K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 30k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD, 10K Ride

Monday, December 14, 2009

Week 51: Review

As mentioned in the last post, we got our first real shot of winter this week so that's largely governed my activities this week. On Wednesday we got a dumping of snow and rain, which combined with cold winds pretty much covered everything in ice and slush. As such, things were pretty messy for our group run and we only managed to get about 5 miles in (8.2km to be exact). As a lot of the sidewalks hadn't been cleared yet, we stuck to the local subdivision around the Running Room store where we could safely run on the road surface. It took a somewhat convoluted route and a lot of repetition to get that distance in, but we somehow managed ;)

On Thursday things were still pretty messy, so I pushed that run back to Friday to give the crews more time to clear things up and spread salt. I headed out in the morning and did my planned session, including the speedwork. Unfortunately, it was bitterly cold (-7C ambient, with windchills at -20C) so I had to wear a neck warmer over my face. For normal running that isn't a huge problem, but for intervals the restriction in air intake was a bit of a challenge and limited how quickly I could go. Either way, I fought through and had to improvise my route a bit to work around uncleared segments - calling it a day a 6 miles, about 1 short of my plan.

I also got my first session in on the indoor trainer that afternoon. I was supposed to have a session on Wednesday, but as I was cleaning everything up I noticed that the front of one of my cleats was broken. It still clipped in okay, so I have no idea how long it was that way. Regardless, I was a bit concerned it would potentially cause some problems so I held off and brought them in for replacement the next day (cleats are a wear item and have to be replaced periodically). Either way, it's going to take some work in getting used to sitting in the same place for a while so I ended up calling it at 30K.

On Sunday I managed to get another 30K in on the bike, after deciding to put off my long run due to freezing rain in the morning. Fortunately, the temperatures rose that afternoon and between that and the rain a lot of the ice got cleaned up. When I headed out this morning there were still a lot of icy patches thanks to sub-freezing temperatures overnight, but it was a lot better than it looked the day before. I did have to slow down in a few places, and even walk across a few bridges thanks to ice, however overall it didn't have too much of an effect on my performance.

Week 51 Totals:
Running: 59.8km (37.1mi)
Walking: 1.5km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 60.0km (37.3mi)
Swimming: 8.7km (5.4mi)
Total: 130.0km (80.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,550.8km (1,585.0mi)
Walking: 227.0km (141.1mi)
Cycling: 3,978.5km (2,472.1mi)
Swimming: 158.1km (98.2mi)
Total: 6,914.4km (4,296.4mi)

Looking forward, I'm going to have to work my way back up to the long rides on the indoor trainer. I got used to doing them last season, so it's just a matter of conditioning my mind to take it again ;) For the time being, I'll scale back my plans and probably try to get more short sessions in per week. As I get more comfortable about it, I'll try to expand one or two of them slowly and get myself into a rhythm.

Aside from that, the running and swimming will generally stay the same here. Naturally, the running is a bit at the mercy of the elements, but I'll do whatever I can to get in the planned mileage. I hate the treadmill even more than the trainer, so it's generally not an option except for extremely bad conditions (preferably for the shorter runs). I've never managed to get more than 4 miles in on that thing, and I'm hoping to never have to try going past that if I have any say on the matter ;)

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 16mi LSD*
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 7mi Recovery
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 7mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 30K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 30k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD, 10K Ride
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Week 50: Winter Cometh...

It looks like the string of awesome weather we've been having over the last couple of months has come to an end :( I missed my Friday and Saturday rides this week as it was simply too cold out there. I can take it down to about 3C, but it was flirting with -1C on both of those days, and combined with the 30km/h wind generated on the bike that's a bit beyond my threshold. As such, I finally broke down on Friday and brought the bike into the shop to have it switched over to trainer duty for the winter. Was trying to hold off as long as I could, but with 15cm of snow forecast for Wednesday I figured this was pretty much as long as I could hold out.

Part of the issue is that I don't really have much in the way of proper winter clothing for the bike, as it only buys a week or two of extra time per year so it isn't really worth the outlay. The arms and legs are generally okay down to about zero even with my shorts/short sleeve jerseys, but the face and fingers are both pretty exposed any my running stuff doesn't really work on the bike. My gloves are too loose to fit underneath my fingerless cycling gloves, and despite my best efforts I've yet to find a pair of full fingered gloves with the padding necessary for long rides. As for the face, the neck warmer just gets in the way with my head tilted forward so there isn't much I can do on that front either.

Either way, I still havn't gotten around to cleaning off the bike and mounting it on the trainer but I will be doing that for a short ride on Wednesday. I'm not looking forward to spending hours on that machine in the coming months, but it's about the only way to avoid loosing cycling fitness over the winter. The one upside, however, is that it will allow me to get back to the consistency that I was training with in the summer - can't use the weather in the basement as an excuse ;)

Running-wise things went quite well this week as the colder temperatures can actually be helpful on that front. On Tuesday, I headed out with the intention of doing a 7 mile recovery run but I was feeling good and the conditions were near perfect so I stepped it up to a 4:45/km pace and did a 6 mile general aerobic run instead. On Wednesday, the half marathon group was doing a 4K tempo again so I went out with the 10K group to do some hills. The pace was pretty slow (only averaged 5:37/km), but otherwise it was nice to do some hill repeats again. On Friday, I followed that with my scheduled 6 mile run with ten 100m intervals.

Due to scheduling issues, I again moved my long run up to this morning and put in a good 16 miles. It started off with a bit of overcast, but within about 30 minutes it started snowing pretty heavily. Fortunately, it wasn't sticking to the ground and I didn't run into any ice, but in retrospect I should have brought along my sunglasses to keep the flakes out of my eyes ;)

As for swimming, we had our final clinic night last Monday and headed out for drinks afterwards. While we spend many weeks together during the clinic sessions, we didn't really get much in the way of time to just chat so it was good to get to know people better. Still havn't figured out what I'm doing on this front going forward, so for the time being I'll continue my own sessions and just try to work in some more drills to replace the clinic night.

Week 50 Totals:
Running: 61.1km (38.0mi)
Walking: 3.3km (2.1mi)
Cycling: 35.7km (22.2mi)
Swimming: 9.4km (5.8mi)
Total: 109.5km (68.0mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 2,491.0km (1,547.8mi)
Walking: 225.5km (140.1mi)
Cycling: 3,918.5km (2,434.8mi)
Swimming: 149.4km (92.8mi)
Total: 6,784.4km (4,215.6mi)

This week is likely to see the first significant snowfall of the season, with about 15cm of wet snow expected to fall. That's likely to make runs in the later half of the week a bit interesting, but fortunately as the bike is now inside it shouldn't effect my cycling mileage. The cold is likely to persist as well, but that's easy enough to deal with by selecting appropriate clothing for the conditions. I'm more concerned about runoff from the melting snow freezing and making the pathways icy, but that's just a part of the equation of running around these parts.

Tentative Schedule:
Mon 16mi LSD*
Tue 2.5mi Swim, 7mi Recovery
Wed 30K Ride, 6mi Recovery
Thurs 2.5mi Swim, 7mi GA w/10x100m
Fri 50K Ride
Sat 4mi Recovery, 80k Ride
Sun 16mi (25.7K) LSD
* Counted towards this week's mileage, as it was simply postponed from yesterday.

While I was down at the bike shop getting it switched over, I took the opportunity to check out the aerobars that they offer and ask a few questions. As they're likely the ones that will be doing the fitting to get everything set up correctly, it's my preference to buy the equipment from them so it's easy to return if there is a fitting issue with my eventual choice. They had a number of the units that I was looking at (Profile Design T2+, T2+Cobra, T-Mag and Sonic CSX), and gave me a rough idea of the cost of the other parts I'd need (Tri-specific saddle at ~$150, reversable seatpost head $30) and the modification to my fitting is included in my three year service plan. With that said, I'm still a bit partial to the design of the HED Clip Lite that has been recomended on a few fora so I'll have to head back there at some point to see if they carry it.

Thanks to the design of the bike I should be able to configure it in such a way that the fit should be comparable to what one could get with a dedicated Tri bike. Naturally, I won't be able to get the extreme drop that more aggressive Tri bikes like the Cervelo P3 offer, however I'm not entirely sure whether my back is flexible enough for that possition anyway ;) Ultimately I will eventually need to buy a proper TT bike for these races, but I figure that this will be a decent stepping stone to that point and should show dramatic improvements over my current road configuration.

The only concern that I do have with these plans is that between the bars and aerodrink assembly, I'm looking at between 1-1.5 pounds of extra weight on the bike. I'm normally of the it's cheaper to knock weight off myself than off my bike gear school of thought, but that's about a 6-9% increase in overall weight so it's not as insignificant as most upgrades. With that said, the decrease in drag when in the aero possition will likely more than offset that, but when I'm in group rides and have to use the road bars it may be a bit of a liability. Either way, I'm doing what I can to keep that penalty down as much as possible and there isn't a whole lot more I can do about it.

On the cycling computer side of things, I've gotten some additional information about the Edge 500 that has tipped me back to focusing on the older (but higher-end) Edge 705 model. I popped into a retailer that sells the unit on the way back from the bike shop and played around with the similar 605 model (they didn't have a display unit of the 705) and it's a pretty impressive little device one way or the other. Further, a recent firmware update (3.1) has partially dealt with the elevation issue that I was primarily concerned with (buggy GPS-based correction of the barometric altimeter data). It's a bit of a roundabout solution unfortunately (it still doesn't allow you to manually seed it directly, but it will pick up the elevation of the first waypoint in a planned trip), but it allows me to work around the problem well enough that it's not a huge sticking point.

I'm still flirting with the idea of the iBike Aero, however from a rational perspective I think the Garmin model is a better fit. I still love the idea of having both air and ground speed data for a ride, as that would provide an incredible ammount of information. Unfortunately, some of the critical design elements of the device still concern me significantly, such that the Garmin still looks to be a better overall computer.