Saturday, March 31, 2012

Slowly coming together

My last two weeks of workouts have been good. I finally feel like there is rhythm to my workouts and I'm finding it easier to nail them. By no means are they easy workouts, but I carefully read the fine print and make sure I nail the goal of the workout. There's no point in training in a grey area and getting nothing out of it.

I had an running interval workout on Wednesday before work. I didn't get a chance to program it into my Garmin, but I managed to memorize the details of the workout. I got through the warmup unscathed and now it was time for the 'meat and potatoes' of the workout. There were 3 various timed intervals with rest intervals in-between. At the end of the 3rd, you repeat the whole thing again over the course of 4 miles. Then an easy cool down run. The first two minutes blew by, then it felt like it got a little harder. I just kept plugging away and before I knew it, it was time to cool down. Thank goodness. I felt great and was pleased with the effort, but at the same time I was glad the workout was done.

The weather this weekend put a small monkey wrench in my itinerary. I had to flip-flop my workout days as the Wingman and I were heading up to Harriman again to ride. So today I got up and went to work at my folks office. I got home to an empty house this evening (Wingman is out playing poker) and hit the treadmill in the basement. Our satellite TV company came by yesterday to install a new receiver unit on our TV's. Now the unit downstairs will let me watch what is recorded on the main TV. So I popped on the Kona 2010 ironman coverage, covered up the time display on the treadmill, and started running. It really was a great way to get a run in and stay motivated to keep going. My only downer with the Kona coverage is the sappy stories they play. Honestly, I would just prefer to watch the pro's race and skip the average joe's story. Ah, the beauty of a DVR, I would just skip the stories and get back to the pro race. Before I knew it the coverage was done (and then some) and I had 90 minutes completed on the treadmill. I'm glad I got the run in.

Tomorrow morning we leave early for Harriman State Park. We have a big agenda planned. We're going to ride a little in the park and then make our way up to Bear Mountain. It's ~4 miles of uphill climbing in one segment and hopefully it won't be too bad to climb so we can try it twice. Perhaps I'm a little too optimistic, but we won't know until we get there tomorrow. I'll have the camera packed to capture some of the scenery again.

Monday, March 26, 2012

There's gold in them thar hills........

Well, not exactly. On Saturday the Wingman and I made the trek up to Harriman State Park to get some hill riding in. I shot off an email to Wynn to see if he was interested and, sure enough, he was. We picked Wynn up early in the morning and made the ~2 hr drive to Harriman. The last time I rode up there was when I was preparing for Ironman Lake Placid a few years ago. I wanted to go back so we can get some good hill work in prior to Mallorca.

The happy trio made it up to Harriman and we parked in the lot on Seven Lakes Drive (7LD). We stumbled out of the Element and were in the process of getting ready to ride when a large white van pulled up. It captured our attention because it was almost like the clown car in the circus, except this time it was full of Asian hikers. No joke, 12 of them filed out and made their way onto the trails. That image got me through most of the days ("how many asians can you fit into a van?").

We started out on Seven Lakes Drive heading towards Tiorati Circle, but were told we couldn't go up Tiorati Road because it was closed for the winter. Since the park attendant was right there, we decided not to be too arrogant and ride past her. So we doubled back and went down towards Sebago Beach which lead us to Lake Welch Drive (LWD). LWD was also closed, but we went around the barriers and continued with our ride. There is a huge downhill on LWD that you can easily hit >40mph without trying. Since I am such a nervous nelly, I took it easy on the downhills. At the bottom we decided that we would just make the long climb back up LWD instead of turning off this week. Holy cow, what a long climb it was!! The climb was a tough one in that it was 2 solid miles of uphill at ~8% grade. I slowly made my way back up and was overheating like crazy on the way up. My sunglasses were fogging up.

When I finally made it to the top I stopped to grab a quick bite to eat and to pull my knee warmers off. Then we were off again. We made our way back towards 7LD and at the other circle I told the crew to ride up the 106 section as I remembered it had a hill in there. I couldn't remember how long the hill was, but it turns out it was pretty nice. It wasn't quite as steep as the one on LWD, but it did give you a nice break here and there since it wasn't a steady drive. The road condition was much nicer here. We did the nice out and back and met up with Wynn in a parking lot. He had a big grin on his face which meant "Can we do that again?" Since it was anise roadway with beautiful scenery, we road it again. I brought my camera along, but with all the climbing I didn't take too many shots.

By the time we returned to the car to rack the bikes, we logged ~3 hrs of riding and over 3,350' of climbing. We're not too sure about the climbing totals as my garmin and Wynn's device did not jive. But I can say it was quite a bit. I'm not sure the roadway was ever flat.

Overall the ride was great. Wingman, Wynn and I had a good time riding in the park. The scenery was amazing up there. Whenever you felt like the suffering was too much, you just picked your head up and observed nature. There was so much to take in.

On the way home we stopped at a diner for a quick bite to eat. When we got home I grabbed a 30 minute nap, took a shower and then was off to work for a few hours. 

Next week Teresa will be joining us so it should be a blast again. Looking forward to what round two will bring....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Free time is dwindling......

Today was one of my last days off on my part time schedule. I was lucky enough to extend my flex schedule into March, not sure if April is realistic. I am covering in East Hampton for 4 days early in April and then I will be away at the end of the month. Our trip to Mallorca/Madrid, Spain is one month from today. I have been cycling and trying to find hills on Long Island, but the reality is we don't have anything significant in terms of long climbs. At some point soon Wingman and I will take a day trip up to Harriman State Park/Bear Mountain and get some better riding in.

The weather has been fantastic this winter. We had some colder days, but overall it was mild.  I think we had snow twice and it was gone the next day. Doesn't get much better than that. Today was the first day of spring and I celebrated it by being off and on a two hour ride. It was in the 70s and light wind which means an excellent ride was to be had. I knew a 2 hour loop and set out on it after the morning fog burned off. As I made my way down CR24 towards CR51, the Tom Petty lyrics were going through my head as I was churning the crank arms on my bike:

It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was driving
Trees went by, me and Del were singing
Little Runaway, I was flyin'

I was in such a great mood during the entire ride. I had a clear head and was able to really hear my breathing patterns. I think I might have even been smiling most of the ride. I need more days like this where I can get out and just relax and not let the stress of my daily grind get to me anymore.

Before I knew it I was home. 5 minutes faster than the last time I did that loop. Good ride!! But I made quick work of changing and went for a short 20 minute run. It was then that I noticed how warm it was. Warm weather on the bike doesn't bother me too much but I'm not built for warm weather running. I just put one foot in front of the other and get the run in the books. It wasn't pretty, but I was done.

I was supposed to swim tonight, but when I woke up this morning I had a neck problem. I couldn't turn my head to the right. It's still a little stiff and since I breathe on the right I opted to not beat my neck up and give it another day to loosen up. I did some work on myself to get some more movement, but not enough. I'll hit the pool tomorrow night after work.

Wynn and I exchanged a few emails today that had me laughing. We are both pretty much geeks (sorry Wynn, but we are) and will combine our efforts on a 'major motion picture event' in a few weeks. It will be fun to see how it all works out, but for now the project is 'under wraps'.............

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Will Run for Soup

Saturday morning found me on the starting line for the Little Cow Harbor 4 Miler. February was not much of a running month. I've been doing more cycling in preparation for our trip to Mallorca. I've only been running 2x a week recently so I had no expectations for this race. I've run it the last 2 years and it's a challenging race. It's not really flat where you can get 'comfortable' while you red line. It is mostly rollers where you can't establish a steady pace. I knew a PR was not even a fantasy, so I decided to use this as a workout to build my hill running strength.

The weather was weird. It wasn't really cold (yes Jen, I wore shorts), but it was overcast and ready to rain. We made our way to the starting line and waited for the horn. Once it sounded, I started easy. The first section is a slight uphill. My goal was to 'take the hill', but this first one was not it. I wanted to build up smartly. Once I got past the first little incline, the rollers began. The 1st mile is all up and down. Each uphill I hammered up and then used the downhill for a recovery. Even the last 1/4 of mile 1 is a false flat so that meant no easing up. I could feel my heart in my throat and suddenly remembered "Crap, I left my heart rate monitor home." I wanted to capture my heart rate data to see what I was doing on the hills.

The first half of mile 2 is a nice little recovery area and somewhat flat. I picked some people to run in a pack with so I would be protected from the wind. As we made our way back towards the middle school, I prepared for the next series of rollers. As I ran up the hills, I put my head down and motored up, even passing people along the way. Again, using the downhills to rest up a little in preparation for the next hill.

When I passed the school, all I could think about was the post race soup. Honestly, this is what has us coming back each year. The soup. It's homemade turkey/potato/vegetable soup. Right after a race, it's still cool out, that soup hits the spot. Mmmm, soup...... But not yet. I still have one more mile to finish up before I can get a bowl. Back to the race......

It's a downhill into the last mile. It's pretty much a mile loop around the neighborhood in front of the school. It starts as a gradual downhill, but you are tested at the end where the last ~1/2 mile is uphill and the last little bit into the school parking lot just punches you in the gut and then in the teeth. I picked it up and finished strong. I looked down at my Garmin and saw that I was about a minute or so slower than last year. I was not surprised nor worried. I thought I was right on target for where I am in the season. Actually, I have to say I was pleased with how I raced. My goal was to take the hills.

Once I crossed the finish line I went to the car to get my jacket, and then immediately went to the soup line. That first hot spoonful was everything I was hoping for. Big pieces of turkey, potato chunks, mmmmm. Wingman had two bowls!! I was satisfied with one big bowl. Can't wait until next year, but for now, back to the grind of my training.............