Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Podium Cafe and Podium Insight

My two favorite cycling news sites are Podium Cafe and Podium Insight. The first focuses on the European scene with a wonderfully flippant style and the latter seems to bring a more intimate view of the domestic scene. Both strive to give equal coverage to women. In fact, Podium Cafe even has fantasy cycling teams entirely managed online for both the men and women's peletons. Can you think of a better way to get to know the racers? Or, become more emotionally invested in race outcomes? I think not. Next year I'm going to do it. This year I've other things to obsess over. http://www.podiumcafe.com/2012/2/28/2830434/gp-le-samyn-preview-why-should-we-watch-it

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Time to get B@d @$$

Mondays & Wednesdays, 6pm
Hour Lounge - 14th & O
Lincoln, NE

(View all the pix of this glorious tri suit on TriRig.com)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Baby strokes: small dividends of persistence

Pic lifted from Fun Stuff Cafe
So, I consider myself a "newbie" in this discipline. Lots of the tri folks seem to be former HS or college swimmers. Me, I had good instruction at home, time to play in the water and have applied myself a wee bit in recent years during the winter months. Therefore, it was with trepidation that I viewed the 1.2 mile swim for the half-Ironman.

That sounded really long to me; probably akin to what an 80 mile road ride sounds like to a city trail cyclist. I mean, seriously, just two and a half months ago I was having to rest about every 25-50 meters because my arms and shoulders felt dead.

Sometime in early December I made it 800 meters. Mind you, that's not 800 meters of solid swimming, that's 50 here, a 100 there, rest on the wall, another 100, maybe a lap of backstroke - you know, that sort of thing. 800 meters of swimming total. It felt like the first time I rode 50 miles on my bike. No time was kept, just distance and I was proud.

Week by week, I've worked to swim more laps before I took break. Mid-January I began to do 5 minute intervals and worked my way up to 3x10s. Then, my friend, Molly, showed me how to do flip-turns, and though most of the time they could have been described as an attempt to drown myself, increasingly there were instances of smooth and quick. Thus, I figured it was time to test myself. I set a goal of 45 minutes of non-stop freestyle using flip-turns Saturday. Not really knowing if I could even swim 45 solid minutes, I chose to use a lower level endurance pace so I could put my mental focus on form. Back and forth, back and forth, crap, that turn didn't go so good. But, it turns out there's no reason to stop even if you do accidentally suck a bunch of water up your nose. You can swim and cough or snort or whatever and then get back into your rhythm. The minutes flew by. Pretty soon there was only 10 minutes left. I started checking my lap times. Then 8. And, then, "I got this! I could probably do an hour!" But, I didn't. Instead, I decided to embrace the personal win and then just play a little -- see if the last couple of weeks of form focus and drills made going fast feel any different.

Boy-oh-boy did they. I didn't start with a sprint, I increased over the first 25 m, flipped, and then just went as hard as I could. Egads! It felt AWESOME. The muscular development, which recently relegated a cute pink dress shirt to the giveaway pile, pulled me so smoothly through the water. It felt fast. Strong. Exciting - like those moments on the bike when it feels like flying. You know what I mean. In any case, it was a wonderful pay-off for the time invested. If I hadn't been out of air at the wall, I might have giggled.

Much appreciation to Viktor, Jen, Molly, Eric and the collegiate swimmers who have generously answered my questions and patiently critiqued my form.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Open water swimming tips from John Walker and Dave Scott

Image lifted from Dashalife
This is a wonderfully detailed article on open water swimming. As I make progress in the pool, I continue to wonder what the open water swim will be like. Walker has some great tips for practicing and until the snow melts and the water warms a bit, I'll have to make do with visualization.

hulaman.com: "In my many years in this sport, I have never seen any reasonably complete article in the magazines dealing with open water swimming (they seem to rehash the same basic stuff every few years). A lot of them talk about how to draft, or tell you to look up every few strokes to stay on course, but very few seem to deal with the subject in much detail.

So last summer, I started to gather my thoughts and experiences on the subject. I finally got back to it just now. Rather than deal just with racing in open water, I have tried to deal with both swimming for fun and racing."

'via Blog this'

A few more tips from Dave Scott:

Thursday, February 09, 2012

And now for something completely different...

Maybe not completely different, after all there will be a bike portion.

I've been toying with doing a triathlon for a while, but had always ruled it out because of the way running made my knees hurt, the hours of training I perceived it would consume and the thought I would end up mediocre at three events instead of exceptional at one. However, as a former runner and a cyclist who enjoys swimming in the off-season, the thought of doing one kept bouncing around in the back of my mind. Last year, it bounced around so much that I began what I called "exploratory secret training" in November. I figured if I could bring the running online and work up to the 1.2 mile swim distance, I MIGHT give serious consideration to doing one.

As it turned out, it seems the problem were the shoes as well as the lack of discipline in SLOWLY introducing running to my body.  In November I began a "Couch to 5K" training program. Yeah, I know  but,  I always overdid it in previous attempts, so I figured following a beginner running plan might be the ticket -- that and a new pair of shoes from The Running Company. Sure enough, three months later and I'm able to run a hour with no soreness in knees or legs. Speed is picking up as well. I'm quite happy about this as running was always my first love. 
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12

November also found me heading to the pool. I knew the first few weeks would be difficult because I had so little muscular endurance in my upper body and I found myself needing to rest about every 25-50 meters. But, I discovered I had some friends with a lot of competitive swim knowledge and they generously helped me improve my form. In fact, form is all I worked on at the start. I know from other sporting endeavors that speed can always be added, but lay in bad muscular habits and it's difficult to eradicate them. At this point, I'm still working on form, but beginning to integrate drills for improving speed. My practice is to do the speed work, but if my form begins to falter, I slow down. When fatigue rattles my focus, I slow or take a break, because I'm still very much having to think about several things while I swim. Where are my hips in the water? Am I kicking from the hips or letting my knees bend too much? How close are my feet together? What is my stroke like? Etc. It takes time to gain automaticity and I want to train my body and mind correctly.

The bike portion? I'm not concerned about that with the exception of getting crashed at the transition. I've seen (and giggled) at several YouTube tri transition videos, but I know my legs feel wobbly just getting out of the pool, so I may soon be laughing with and not at. ;)

Finally, last month a friend said, "You should just do one. You might surprise yourself." It tipped the balance and a little voice in my own head replied, "I think I will," and I committed to a tri training plan on TrainingPeaks.com. 18 weeks to showtime. So much to learn.  

It's exciting though. It's nice to do something new. I like the mix of workouts and my body is feeling more well-balanced already. I'm planning to do a sprint tri in April, to see what it's like, and I've not handed over my money for the entry yet, but March 1 will fix that.