Taking off the Balaclava!!!!

Sunshine and 65 degrees today means I get to take off my Balaclava!

I needed it on Thursday with the cool temperatures and wind...


Today it is coming off for a nice 3+ hour ride with Tara thanks to being 30 degrees above the average temperature for this time of year.


Pinch me!

Are we really still mired in our final few weeks of Winter? If so, pinch me!

It's difficult to believe that last week and this week - at least weather wise - finds us in the month we all know as February here in the Midwest. I guess El Niño has sent a mild trend through our area this time around. The grass is greening up, skies are blue, birds are singing, and the weekend forecast once again looks favorable for some nice long pavement rides...


Tonight is our final dress rehearsal of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Am I in sleep debt? Yes. Am I fatigued from the late night rehearsals? Yes. Is the level of energy required to make it happen draining me? Yes.

Of course, all of that has been exacerbated with my continued quest to cut weight and get back to ideal racing weight. Toss in getting my minimal hours in on the bike, and lifting the weights makes for a heck of a muddle through state of mind and physicality akin to sleepwalking that I am feeling. This morning is my annual physical with the Doc, then I get to ride outside for 90 minutes before heading to work. I think this will be either my 5th or 6th ride outside (instead of the basement) for the month.

At this point, all I can say is: 4 more days, and I can sleep.

Here are a few shots from dress rehearsal...

Act III Finale

One of our star singers is performing the Countess with a broken leg (she slipped on the ice two weeks ago and is walking/singing through the leg pain). We quickly reworked some of the acting challenges for her to do the role with the broken leg...

Dove Sono

The tallest in the cast roaring out his vengeance aria...

La Vendetta

We finally hit that moment last night in the dress rehearsal where it is clearly apparent to me that the students need an audience to bump it up that final notch. They are prepared and ready to share all of their hard work with the public this weekend.


My weekend - bike riding, opera, hosting prospective students on Sunday for auditions, and giving a preview of the opera for those students and their families. Following our Sunday opera performance is the strike where we take the production apart, haul everything back to where it needs to be hauled, pack up the costumes, and clean up. It's really an exhausting weekend, but the weather will help it be more bearable - especially when hauling all of the sets, furniture, and props back to the warehouse.

Come see the opera! It's a great comedic masterpiece stacked with all the talent we can muster at Simpson College. The orchestra sounds great and you won't be disappointed. I'll be the one with bags under my eyes, but smiling proudly at what the students have accomplished learning this wonderful opera.


Fast Month of February - then and now...

I'm in the 8th week of my base training plan. I have eleven more days to go in February and - at this point - I might actually meet some of my goals of going sub 170 this month, topping where I was in 2014 (hit 180.2 pounds by the end of February back in 2014 as I was reducing myself down into the 160's). Forget about last February as I was in Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Schordorf, Nürenberg, Tübingen, Strasbourg, and Vienna eating Würstel, Schnitzel, Maultaschen, and Flammkuchen to my heart's content. 

This time around, for February, I also have a goal of not getting the flu like I did in February 2014. Knock on wood - I've been healthy as an ox this year without even a sniffle. I hope it stays that way.

On the bike so far this month...

February 1: 27.3 Miles -- Duration 1:25:00
February 2: 19.3 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
February 4: 19.8 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
February 6: 27.11 Miles -- Duration 1:21:00
February 7: 30.7 Miles -- Duration 2:19:53
February 9: 14.9 Miles -- Duration 0:45:00
February 11: 19.3 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
February 12: 9.9 Miles -- Duration 0:30:00
February 13: 28.3 Miles -- Duration 1:30:00
February 14: 21.8 Miles -- Duration 1:10:00
February 16: 15.7 Miles -- Duration 0:57:00
February 18: 22.1 Miles -- Duration 1:15:00

February Total Miles: 256.51
February Total Duration: 14:12:53

The weather forecast is for mid 60's and sunny tomorrow which beckons for a morning bike ride if I could fit it in before work. It is the mid-50's today, but I ground my Zone 4 intervals out in the basement as there was still ice in spots on the pavement.

DON'T FORGET! Today is National Drink Wine Day.....


The Marriage of Figaro...


The month of February has found me working 7 days a week - including long evenings - rehearsing our students as they prepare for Mozart's masterpiece. We began our onstage rehearsals in the theater last night to launch us into the final stretch. The next 10 days will help the growth process for these young singers at honing their opera acting and singing skills on the stage. It is exciting to see their progress!

Make plans to come and see them sing next weekend as you won't want to miss this.


17 and counting since my year end blubber peak...

Progress continues!

Today marks the point where I have dropped 17 pounds from my 189 weight peak at the end of last year. I have shed 17 pounds down to 172 with some good progress the past month...

1:14 - 2:12

Wow, that's nearly 9% of my body weight and it was all blubber! You know, the stuff we don't need to be carrying around. Visceral fat that is ever so dangerous for health reasons. And is just an unwanted passenger coming along for the ride.

That leaves me with a bit more to go before I can switch my calories back to maintenance mode.

As expected, my FTP test last weekend did not show any progress due to losing weight during the training. In fact, it showed a degradation of about 3 watts. Once the weight loss has subsided, I expect that to turn around and start to show improvement. I did manage to power through the FTP test even though I wanted to pull the plug during warm-ups, then again at 10 minutes, and even more so at 15 minutes. Luckily, I dropped the feeling sorry for my buttercup self status at 15 minutes and just finished the test to record the data and move on.

Throw in working 10-12 hour days with the late night rehearsals and I'm surprised I am still standing. Knock on wood, I have not caught any bug, cold, flu, virus, infection, etc. this Fall/Winter up to this point. My energy and stamina feels good as well as productivity at work. I could use another waking hour or two each day to finish all I want and need to do, but that never happens.

In terms of the weight loss, it closely mirrors what I went through back in 2014, so I'm not in uncharted waters. I hit my target weight in early June of that year, but this year I am 3 months ahead of where I was at this time in 2014. I am on track to hit it in March just as I begin my 12 week structured program to tune me up for racing where I can be eating at maintenance levels as the intensity ramps up. Who knows what that will mean? In theory, especially after reading cited studies in Matt Fitzgerald's Racing Weight book, it should mean I will see improvement once I enter the intensity interval training period. At least it is worth a try in my quest to seek improvement over last season.



Back to parity...

After just a bit too much of my self-indulged seasonal Fall hibernation - and most likely grief due to Dad's passing - eating, as well as spending a good chunk of time on this machine the past 2 months...


...the train is finally pulling back into the Station Parity.

What goes up, must come down!


The yo-yo went up, and now at the completion of 10 weeks and 12 pounds shed, it is back down to at least what I had maintained in 2015 until October had me jump into hibernation mode. Just a bit more to go for my 2014 ideal racing weight and I can put this detour behind me. Goals that were most important for me to meet by getting back to parity: lower my cholesterol numbers, trim off the dangerous visceral fat, make sure my suits and dress pants would all fit again, and boost my energy levels.

Anyway, it's all just in time as I have my annual heart check up on tap, and the structured training continues to bump up heading into the second half of the 12 week base period.

RAGBRAI linked one of those articles dispelling 10 common stereotypes of Iowa that the article claims need to be put to rest.  Speaking of RAGBRAI, after taking last year off we have decided to ride again this year. However, we won't be riding the entire week this time, but will do the first few days.

My weekend includes a Power and HR test this morning (which will most likely show no improvement due to the weight loss); a 5 hour opera rehearsal this afternoon, a dinner/movie date, a bike ride outside Sunday mid-day, attending a recital tomorrow afternoon, and the 50th Super Bowl. Enjoy the warmer weather this weekend before the next cold spell arrives.


Democracy in process? Iowa Caucus...

Tara and I attended another Iowa Caucus on Monday night. The process has been eye opening and interesting after moving here in 2003. Months of television ads including a negative slant for the majority of them, months - nay years - of candidate visits in our state including stops on the Simpson College campus where I work all led up to Monday night's Caucus.

We met Deb Hade in the parking lot on our way to check-in and the parking lot at the high school was full. The line was long for our precinct, but we all got checked in...



Our precinct chair was a "temporary" and due to that, she unfortunately didn't really know what to say and failed to take the opportunity to give us clear, concrete instructions compared to prior times where the chair would clearly state the instructions and guide us through the evening. So the first 30 minutes from 7 - 7:30 was a lot of "nothing" and was wasting precious time. You seriously would think that if you had agreed to be the temporary chair, you would have prepared some remarks, a clear list of action and telegraphed that to an auditorium full of voters. Nope. No preparation. Which is really too bad, because it watered down the experience which included many youth and observers who were also in the room to watch the process, but not to vote.

WTF? There were no speeches made to encourage support of any candidate, we were simply told to sit in the section of the candidate we were supporting. Our group, which was large, never even actually appointed a spokesperson. Previous caucuses that I have attended have been very well organized, energetic, and much discussion was had in the room. In contrast, the disorganization in our room was unfortunate compared to what it could have been.

Several had Apps on their smart phones and were counting. No numbers were ever shared to the entire group. Except the chair did say that based on our total number in the room, a candidate needed 34 to be viable. One candidate had less than the required 34 - and without much explanation or guidance from the chair, eventually the small group were spoken to by certain people and moved over into other sections when the chair announced the end of a time limit. Again, even though many of us had been before, there was very little instruction, guidance or announcements being made. So we all just sat. About 90 minutes later, the number of delegates were announced for each candidate and a call for volunteers to be one of those delegates was made. My wife signed up as one, and I signed up as her alternate.

As we were all putting on our coats and leaving, the chair finally started speaking into the microphone saying they needed volunteers for this and that here in our town and county, but by then after sitting for 2 hours it was too little, too late. We all left.

I got home and watched the news of other caucuses that were still going on which were quite exciting with the process. Dang! Why couldn't I have been at one of those!!!! In fact, in our building which had several precincts, news was that many of the other rooms were rather exciting as they were well organized, and the respective chairs guided them through the process. Oh well, so much for our precinct this time around! At least we got the job done.

So the Iowa Caucus process was what it was this year for our precinct. Some precincts had great experiences. Some did not. Our group sent 7 delegates on for Clinton, and 4 for Sanders. O'Malley was not viable, and he suspended his campaign not long after the caucus was over on Monday night.


Structured training vs. The Marriage of Figaro...

January is in the books!

February kicks off big tonight with the Iowa Caucus which Tara and I will attend. Sounds like some snow and wind will come in after that and create some blizzard like conditions on Tuesday/Wednesday. Just when all the snow has about melted, in comes a fresh round. The dogs will love it and I'm glad I didn't wash my car this weekend...

My structured training went pretty well in January. In addition to all the weight lifting, core work, foam roller, and walks, I figured out my on the bike time. Due to the trip to NYC in early January, I missed out on a few scheduled things. I also was unable to do my scheduled 3 hour ride yesterday due to opera rehearsal. In spite of that, I got most everything else that what was supposed to take place in January completed. I think I was about 8-10 hours short in terms of total planned hours on the bike, so I substituted the intensity level along the way to hopefully make up for it. I was also in pretty good form going into it with December time on the bike being a bit more than usual for me.

January 1: 6.24 Miles -- Duration 00:40:23
January 2: 23.3 Miles -- Duration 1:24:58
January 3: 28.19 Miles -- Duration 2:16:15
January 10: 32.1 MIles -- Duration 2:00:00
January 12: 19.1 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
January 14: 18.6 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
January 17: 38.0 Miles -- Duration 2:00:00
January 19: 28.8 Miles -- Duration 1:30:00
January 21: 20.9 Miles -- Duration of 1:10:00
January 24: 45.8 Miles -- Duration of 2:30:00
January 26: 19.2 Miles -- Duration of 1:00:00
January 27: 8.3 Miles -- Duration of 0:30:00
January 28: 27.8 Miles -- Duration of 1:30:58
January 29: 10.1 Miles -- Duration of 0:30:00
January 30: 22.8 Miles -- Duration of 1:10:00

January Total Miles: 349.23
January Total Duration: 20:12:34

Today begins Week #6 of my 12 week base plan...

February 1: 27.3 Miles -- Duration 01:25:00

February Total Miles: 27.3
February Total Duration: 01:25:00

Things could end up being a bit hit or miss during February as I have rehearsals for The Marriage of Figaro every day for the entire month. So I will have to force myself to get up early in the morning and get my time in during M-F. A couple of weekends will be lacking for time due to the rehearsal schedule, but I should be able to log a few long weekend rides. I feel pretty good in terms of form for this time of year, and am happy where my weight is. I've whittled down to the 175 mark which resets my daily caloric intake needs a bit lower. I will keep chipping away at the next 5 pounds with the goal of hitting 170 at the end of the first week in March. Certainly need to be there before I start the next 12 week training block at the end of March.

Bring it on February!!!