10/27/08

Off Season Training Week #3...

I enter training week #3 this week which is the final adaptation to lifting weights week. It reminds me a lot of training for opera singing where you have to adapt the muscles and tendons in the larynx to be able to take the amount of pressure and vocal fold adduction needed for singing big opera sounds. You cannot rush the process, but you can enjoy the gradual build as the weeks unfold. The only thing I don't like about lifting is the weight gain that it causes as the muscles grow. Last year - in the weight training months - I put on a total of 13 pounds in muscle weight. I've already added 4 pounds this training off-season in the first 2 weeks of lifting. And that is just from the light weights listed in the table of this 3 week preparation phase. Wait until the hypertrophy growth phase of November...

After I recover from yesterday's race simulation (run, ride, run) out at Pickard Park, I will start on week three listed in this chart below of the weights I've prescribed.

Adaptation Grab

I went to Pickard Park to run and ride on the cross country course. It was too muddy to go into the woods, so Pickard Park was a perfect choice. Tough hills to run and the amazing wind (with gusts over 40 mph) made it even tougher for the 1/2 that I was running and riding dead into it. I ran one lap of the cross country course. Swapped out shoes and put the helmet on for a few laps on the bike. On one climb along the very eastern portion of the park which is a ridge that climbs next to a gravel road, the wind nearly blew me off the ridge and into the ditch. I had to lean the bike about 40 degrees to the left just to stay upright. I finished with one more lap in my running shoes which had me drooling big time for the final mile as I strove to really attack the uphill runs going into the wind.

The good news is that I felt better after yesterday's simulation than the previous week. I didn't get as many leg "tweaks" from the uneven surface. So I guess the running I have been doing this month is slowly starting to condition me - or at least trick my brain that the pain is not so bad. ;-) However, I'm still doing more of a "jogging pace" most of the time instead of really striding out. Part of that is the off road running and being afraid to rip an ankle or knee on an uneven surface. I would imagine another part of that is the reality that I weigh about 20 pounds more than I did when I ran marathons. I'm able to really stride out on the treadmill and on pavement, but not on the off road trails yet. This week has me doing two Fartlek training sessions in hopes of raising my running stamina. I've missed running all these years and might incorporate more of it in my workouts during this off season.

10/26/08

The endorsement bell rings: Des Moines Register Endorses Obama as does The Anchorage Daily News

The Sunday Des Moines Register is a must read as the editorial board of the paper endorses Obama.

And in other interesting endorsement news, Alaska's largest newspaper - The Anchorage Daily News - endorses Obama. That's right, not home state gal and Governor Sarah Palin, but Senator Barrack Obama.

While praising Palin's energy and bright future, the paper's editorial adds, "Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time."

10/25/08

The Indians finish the season 5-4!!!

My son's football team won the final game of the season last night at Urbandale to finish with a 5-4 record. That qualifies as a "winning" season as it is over .500. It's the first winning season in 5 years for this coach, so we'll take it.

It also qualifies the Indians for the sub-state playoffs where they will play Waukee on Wednesday night. Waukee finished the season with a 6-3 record. No matter what happens, it should be a good game to see two playoff teams go at each other on Wednesday. Of course, at this point of the season, it comes down to which team has the least amount of injuries. There were quite a few guys getting up slow and hobbling off the field last night (from both teams). I know 8 guys did not even suit up for the Indians last night (my son included due to a hamstring injury from 2 weeks ago). He's been rehabbing it and will practice in pads for the first time tomorrow. A few of the others are out for the playoffs (collar bone, concussions, knee, etc...).

One game at a time, but at least they weren't all having to turn in their equipment this morning at the Saturday morning shake-down practice. Wednesday gives them one more chance.

Upcoming: Joey Goodale Benefit on Sunday, November 8th 5pm, St. Thomas Aquinas Pastoral Center in Indianola

10/21/08

Off Season Training Week #2...

Ouch! That's all I can say. Walking yesterday afternoon and today were a bit of an effort. It's the Preparation Phase of the Dave Morris Off-Season training plan, so here is what I am targeting this year in terms of weights:

Adaptation Grab

I'm in the middle of week 2 at the moment. I do a few other lifts as well that I didn't include on the chart (triceps, lunges, step ups). Week 1 was pretty easy in terms of time and effort, but week 2 with the additional set and increase in weights while doing some running and riding start to require a bit of recovery between efforts. I know that sounds odd considering how much weight I will be lifting a month or so from now, but I can feel the effects of "adaptation" taking place even though I'm hardly lifting much weight. I wasn't strict about doing my maintenance sessions in late August and through September. That's why it is showing now in the form of muscle soreness as I go back to square one and do this prep phase for the 2009 season. I forgot from last year that such low weights for the dead lift, squat and leg press can still tucker one out. It's almost deceiving, but it is all coming back to me now from a year ago.

I figured since the Des Moines Dirty Duathlon is coming up, I should give it a go like I did back in 2006. In an effort to prepare the legs for running and to be able to jump right back into the work week following the race, I figured a little training wouldn't hurt. In 2006, I ran 1 mile - that's right - 1 mile on a Monday, a Wednesday and a Friday the week of the event to "train" for the running portion of the race. Being a former marathon runner, I knew that no training would have done any good that close to the race, but at least I got my shoes dirty on the gravel roads back in 2006 before the race. I read this year that instead of the format used in 2006 (when we rode our bikes first, then ran in the middle of the race and finished with another ride) will be run 2 miles, ride 10 miles and finish with another 2 mile run. Oooooooo that's got a prescription for PAIN!

So far this year, I hit the treadmill 2 or 3 times a week beginning on October 1st and decided to take my "training" out to the trails at Lake Ahquabi on Sunday to run 2 miles, ride 10 miles and then run 2 more miles. So I loaded up my CamelBak with water, grabbed 3 GU's and headed out to Ahquabi on a perfect day in terms of the weather. My dog bite is just about healed, so I was hoping to run into said Rover in hopes that I could bite him back, but no luck. I didn't see him.

Treadmill running, track running, pavement running all have nothing in common with off road trail running which is very close to cross country running on a nasty course that has been ravaged by too much rain and filled with ruts, cleat marks and tire marks, except there are no spikes involved in trail running. One has to constantly monitor the surface as the bumps and debris can quickly tweak your ankle, knee, back and is frustrating because you can't open it up and really stride out like you can on better surfaces. So my first 2 miles were like an old man shuffling to prevent an ankle twist as I went up and down the hills at Ahquabi. I actually logged in 2.5 miles on my opening run as I went a tad too far than planned. The bike portion was easy, but after sitting on the bike for 10 miles, all that warming up in the first run was totally gone and my legs were stiff as could be for the final 2 mile run. Oh man, I could hardly muster anything but a stiff legged jog. Finally I hit a flat and smooth section where I could stride out, but the rest was laughable. Again, I did 2.5 miles involving plenty of hills up and down.

Monday morning, I headed to the gym to begin my 2nd week of off-season weight training. These first three weeks are simply adaptation of the muscles/tendons to prepare them for the more intense phases that are coming. I did my 3 sets of 8 reps on all Dave Morris prescribed lifts and headed home. Showered and headed off to work. In the middle of the afternoon I stood up from the piano after playing for about an hour and I could hardly walk. Ouch!!!

Today was a rest day, and I battled getting up and down and walking with my efforts from Sunday and Monday. Tomorrow I will do another brick (run and ride), but in the basement on the treadmill and trainer and save the off road simulation race of run, ride, run for the weekend. Not that any of this will help my time at the Dirty Duathlon, but at least I will be psychologically prepared for the pain involved of doing a run/ride/run format. Based on my first simulation - it's a tough format. Once I get running, I'd rather do it all at once rather than let those muscles sit dormant on the bike for ten miles and then trying to refire them.

It will be great a challenge and prepare me for the pumpkin pie season. ;-)

10/18/08

Soccer and Football dominates the weekend...

It looks like a weekend of this for us as Alexa has a match on Saturday and Sunday...

Soccer Moms and Dads

Alexa from two weekends ago where she scored a pair of goals...

Getting set

And getting ready for play to resume in the infamous "Go Purple" jersey...

Waiting for a pass

Update:

First game on Saturday at Altoona....Indianola 6 - Altoona 0
Second game on Sunday at Indianola....Indianola 2 - Johnston 2

Yesterday, Alexa announces she is going out for basketball this season. What? Say what? We shall see if she follows through on that. Yes, she can run like the wind - that's for sure, but her ball handling skills? Hmmmm.... Regardless, I ponied up for a pair of basketball shoes at Scheels after the soccer match in Altoona and practice starts for girls basketball on Monday.

Zack has a hamstring injury from last week's game against Ankeny (sustained it on the first pass he made and played the rest of the game with an injured leg) and did not suit up for last night's game as Dowling drubbed us 50 - 28 for our 4th conference loss in a row which leaves the Indians at 4-4. There is one game left against Urbandale which is the only other losing team in our conference. It might actually be a well balanced game and if we do pull out a win, we will end the regular season at 5-4 which I guess qualifies as a "winning" season. ;-) Either way, I believe our 4 wins qualifies us for a playoff game where we will be a low seed and play a high seed from another conference. A lot of players are looking beat up and tired at the end of the season.

Time will tell if Zack's hamstring heals this week, but knowing that injury well he is going to need plenty of time for a full recovery. Sometimes you can play with the injury, but you cannot run as fast and set your feet like you want to when passing the ball which throws off your timing as a QB. The top 4 teams in our central conference (Ankeny, Johnston, Dowling and Southeast Polk) were all too much for us this year as the conference is the absolute toughest it has been in many, many years. Even the Des Moines Register featured an article yesterday about how tough the central conference is this year. If we played in the conference Indianola used to be in, chances are we would have 6 or 7 wins - if not 8 wins at this point. But, that's the way it is. We remain the smallest school in the toughest conference making it tough to compete due to sheer numbers we are up against. At least we held Johnston and Southeast Polk so that the games were very close this year. Ankeny and Dowling were both able to break the games open and drub us by outscoring us about 2 to 1.

10/17/08

Barrack Obama is endorsed by the Washington Post...

Here is an excellent and well balanced article (at least I thought so) written by the Washington Post endorsing Senator Barrack Obama for President. I think the article is well worth the read:

Barrack Obama for President

I have read a lot of articles over the months, but this one stands out as one of the best balanced editorials raising all the issues about the pros and cons of each candidate and why the Washington Post has decided on the endorsement of Obama.

10/12/08

When the DOG bites!!!

It has actually been since 1968 that I was bitten by a dog while riding a bicycle. I was bitten by Blackie, my neighbor's dog, back in 1968 as I rode by their house. I fell off the back of the bike, hit my head and got a nasty concussion at the time. But that was then and I did recover after a trip to the E.R. to get the head checked out. Today, I was bitten while riding my mountain bike around on the trails at Lake Ahquabi. In spite of years of riding between today and 1968 with many encounters with dogs - I was totally bite free. One nipped me in Vienna out in the woods, but only got a piece of my shoe. Today, my leg was on the menu.

It was busy at Lake Ahquabi today with lots of hikers, dog walkers, joggers and mountain bikers out on the multi-use trail. I had already passed several people out for hikes and some with dogs on leashes with no problems whatsover. On the south side of the lake, I rounded a corner and saw a lady walking 2 dogs on one of those really long retractable leashes. I gave her plenty of warning and said I was coming up on her left. I then saw her trying to reel in the retractable leash, so I stopped, unclipped and put my left leg down to wait before I passed. I even said hello to the dogs as I waited. One of the dogs, the big one - an Australian something or other - bolted right for me and got a nice bite on my left leg.

Being that he went right for the shin where things can be tender when struck that hard, I let out a couple of choice words. One started with an S and the other with an F. I uttered them with excellent, clear diction like any good operatically trained singer would with their finely tuned baritone. I gave her a mean stare with crossed eyes as I absorbed the pain. She looked afraid like I was going to attack her or something. Odd. It must have been my MOB racing kit and my Oakley dark shades that had her shaking. I'm sure it wasn't my chicken legs (one of them dripping with blood). I was in a nice riding groove listening to Tom Jones, the Doobies, Kiss, Sinatra, AC/DC and Whitesnake on my iPod, so I hopped back on the bike and muttered something to her like "get a muzzle for your biter, this is a busy trail with lots of people using it" and rode off. About 1/2 mile later, I noticed the blood was really coming out of my shin pretty good - so I planned on stopping to chat with her on my second lap, but by the time I got around she was gone.

Went home and cleaned up the wound which had now swollen a bit, so I iced it and elevated the leg to keep the swelling down. I still can't believe I got bit as I did nothing to provoke the dog outside of being there on a bike. I contemplated reporting it to the ranger, but since I'm out there all the time with my dogs riding around and generally love dogs - I figured it wasn't worth it. I've seen this dog out there before (when it was very aggressive towards my dogs), so I imagine I will "run into" it again at some point in the future.

That's one dog bite and one bee sting for the year. Anything else and I can be in "The Sound of Music"...

10/5/08

2008 Race Season thoughts...

I thought I should jot down a few thoughts to compare this year's XC race season to last year so I have an account for the future. I reminded myself daily this year that I do this for fun and as a way to focus on some sort of an organized fitness routine to keep me from turning into a middle aged man being out of shape and walking around with too many pounds on his midsection. All those years of playing golf just wasn't cutting it as a fitness routine and was an even more time consuming "hobby". And who doesn't enjoy the "freedom" of being out on a bike. I've felt that since I was a kid in the 60's and it is still there today.

And part of the fun is to challenge myself. Bike handling, speed, conditioning and then lining up with other similar minded riders on race day to challenge ourselves individually as well as each other all remained in the realm of fun for me this year.

In preparation for this past season, I followed the Dave Morris off-season training regimen (November - March) of doing the phases from weights to base building to intervals (SMSP and MSP). The macro view of that program is a 5 month off season plan which I followed for my second year with more diligence to the weight training phases this year (last year I was not so diligent with the weights). My bike handling has improved as well this year over last, so what about the results?

Well, I ended up in about the same spot for the Nebraska and the IMBCS in terms of placing for the season.

IMBCS 2007: Sport Open 2nd Place
IMBCS 2008: Sport Open 3rd Place

Psycowpath 2007: Sport Open 8th Place
Psycowpath 2008: Sport Open 6th Place

I upped the number of events I participated in from 11 XC events in 2007 to 14 XC events this year. I don't have the luxury of comparing very many race times from last year to this year to guage my improvement. Why? Simply because there were no exact duplications of race courses I participated on outside of the Maskenthine XC Classic in Nebraska and Sylvan Island (where I tore a sidewall and had to DNF).

So, I'll take a look at the Maskenthine XC Classic.

Maskenthine XC Classic 2007: 1:45:24
Maskenthine XC Classic 2008: 1:37:10

That's an improvement of 12:14 which isn't bad.

The only other close comparison would be Sugar Bottom in terms of the same race course, but not the exact same route was run this year, so the times are hard to compare. The way I figure it when comparing times of multiple people in various classes at Sugar Bottom year over year is that the course was running 5-8 minutes faster this year over last for everyone.

Sugar Bottom Scramble 2007: 2:21:36
Sugar Bottom Scramble 2008: 2:04:10

That's an improvement of 17:26 minus the 5-8 minutes faster the course was running this year (if that is the correct guesstimate???).

I think all the other courses that were repeats this year were too different to be able to compare (Camp Ingawanis, Seven Oaks, Des Moines TT, Tranquility). Most of those were different tracks, or run in opposite directions and or had new trail to be able to draw any conclusions.

I did make the podium 3 times this year. Once at the Black Hills Tire Festival. Once at a Psycowpath race. And once at an IMBCS race. I did make some progress moving out of the bottom of the pack and go midpack or higher in many events during my 2nd year of racing the Sport Open category. Trimming off 10-12 minutes in a race pretty much mirrors my climb up in how I placed in some races. In others, it still left me too far away from the leaders.

There is still plenty of room to cut off another 10 - 12 minutes per race next year to move up and out of midpackitis. So I know I have my work cut out for me and will need to devise a structured plan to get there. Key thoughts for myself include - better weight management, better nutrition, more intensity training and striving to climb the ladder of pain, or at least push the envelope to see how close I can get to my genetic limitations in terms of the threshold I can maintain and not crack.... ;-)

I was happy with my equipment this year and only suffered the one torn sidewall at Sylvan Island that took me out of the race for my only DNF of the season. I took a bad tumble at the WORS race which just about trashed my front wheel and gave me a mild concussion, sore wrist and banged up leg - but I was able to finish that race on the wobbly wheel and have since had the wheel fixed. I had no other flats or mechanical difficulties which pleased me. I'm pretty sure I will run the same equipment next year, but will get the hubs and forks serviced and get tire and tubeless supplies stocked for next season in the next 6 months. Buying a new bike is not going to help me, but training my engine to improve is the key to improving.

That should be enough thoughts for now. I'm heading out for a casual ride in the woods to enjoy the fall colors and leaves on the trail. It's a beautiful time of year with the colors, the smells and the temperatures.

Over and out...