Gear

FFFFreezing Cold Run

My planned 6 mile run just happened to occur on the coldest day of the year to date.  The temps hovered at 8 degrees, with a windchill of -8.  Yikes, that’s cold.

 

I wore a knit cap, polypropylene thermal underwear, and layer 8 thermal tights.  On top I wore a thin long sleeved wicking shirt, a layer 8 thermal top, and a New Balance thermal zip up running jacket.  I also wore cotton gloves, and 2 pairs of wicking socks. Per my wife’s advice I also slather vasoline on the exposed parts of my face.

The first two miles my face was really cold.  I was really concerned with frostbite, but I thought that I could at least manage on 3.3 mile loop at the West Hartford Reservoir.  After about 1.5 miles I felt warm and toasty.  I was sweating, but not uncomfortably so, and I was neither cold nor hot.  I felt like as long as I kept running I would be in that nice toasty spot.

The first loop went well.  I had no pain or soreness at all.  Once I got warm my heart rate and breathing normalized, and I managed a 10:10 average pace with a 151 HR.

By the end of my run, my hat had accumulated a ring of icy frost from all of my head sweat.  Just goes to show how cold it was, brrrr.

Between a mile and 1/2 a mile or so from the end of the second loop I started feeling a weird twinge on the outside of my left knee.  It reminded me of my IT band issues, and it made me really nervous.  I sure hope that doesn’t flare up again.  That would make me miserable!  This week is a light week, no runs over 3 miles or so, so I’ll hopefully be able to recoup, and if all goes well my next long run will be great!

 

 


Triathlon Training Log

A while back ago I posted about a training log that I have been using to track my workouts.  I have tweaked and modified a google spread sheet that was created by Ray Suarez.  I don’t know Ray, in fact I just emailed him today to tell him about the changes, but I do know that he put a ton of work into the original google docs conversion, and I have just added a few tweaks using the new scripting abilities of google spreadsheets that weren’t available when Ray made his conversion.

I have added a few things, like training outside of bike, run and swim, a way to interactively add entries, and a way to automatically reset the spreadsheet at the end of the new year while maintaining lifetime totals.  There is an instruction tab in the spreadsheet so take a look at that before you get started.

There are some caveats.  The graphs need work.  I haven’t touched them, but I think they need to be redone or at least tested.  Other than that, I’m not aware of any bugs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Use the spreadsheet at your own risk, and keep in mind that you should keep copies of this info elsewhere.  I have never had issues with losing data, but there is always the possibility that a rouge script, or a google oops could wipe out your data.

You can find the spreadsheet here.  You’ll need to have, or create, a free google account to make a copy of the spreadsheet and start using it.

If you find any bugs, have suggestions for new features, or make improvements of your own please let me know.

Enjoy!

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It’s Official – Kinda

Even in the midst of my injury, the wheels of triathlon must roll on.  I took my next step today, I purchased a wetsuit. I found an XCEL wetsuit that was my size on Craigslist.org for $85. I went to the guy’s house this afternoon and tried it on. The guy was quite a character. He was also an anomaly. He was a 55 year old surfer from CT. I don’t think there is another one here. Even if there is he can’t be anything like this guy. He was great! Fully of energy and just all over the place.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy it for $85. It was a good deal but I had a friend who might have one for me at $60 if it fit. This guy was so great that I couldn’t say no. He also threw in a thermal cap and two rash guards.

Never in a million years would I imagine that I would own a wetsuit, but it’s great! I’m excited to have the suit. I’ll have to try it on and get a photo up.!!


Time For a New Bike–or–Specialized Allez Thrill ride.

The time has come.  Spring is in the air and I am itching to get out there and ride.  I know that sounds like a pretty typical reaction, however, it is important to note that I have not ridden a bicycle on the street in 20 years.  Even then I was a pretty uncomfortable cyclist and probably have fewer than 600 miles under my belt.  I have had a mountain bike for maybe 5 or 6 years, and I have never ridden it off of my yard.  Oh and I have a half acre flat lot, so it isn’t like I have been adventure racing.  To be honest, I’m pretty nervous about riding a bike because I just don’t feel stable on one.  I think it is a combination of lack of experience, and the fact that I went ass over teakettle on bikes more than once in my life, and not while doing any type of tricks btw, unless riding in a straight line on a flat road is a trick.  It also seemed to take me an inordinate amount of time to learn to ride a bike, or at least that is what my family seemed to convince me of.  Anyway, long story short–or shorter, trust me this could go on for months–the fact that I am excited to ride a bike is so close to miraculous that somewhere at the Vatican a canonization process is kicking off.

As I’ve said, I only have a mountain bike, and although I have heard that  a lot of people start off in triathlons with only a mountain bike, I am thinking that I want something more official.  My search for road bikes has brought me from high to low.  Both in price and expectations.  I have given myself a ceiling of $700 for a bike and I really want that $700 to do the impossible.  I want a bike that isn’t too old, with a Shimano 105 or better group.   I have been to almost all of the bike shops in my area over the last few weeks with little hope.  I have found that what I’m looking for, unfortunately, doesn’t exist.  But I continue my search unrelented.

Today was a beautiful day, and the pull of the sun forced me to go out and continue my search for bike nirvana.  I decided to stop at two local bike shops to discuss my options.  A manager at the first bike shop was the only one to not discourage me from getting a used bike.  He spent nearly an hour with me talking about a bunch of different things and ended up telling me that my best bet was to let him do a fit so that he could provide me with some measurements to ensure that the bike I buy will be able to fit me.  He explained how bike sizes aren’t standard at all and how different sizes from different manufacturers may actually work out to be a good fit.  I think he has a good point, so next week I plan on scheduling a bike fitting.

After I left that bike shop I went to another local shop.  The personnel was also very friendly, a common theme at these shops which I find refreshing, but not nearly as engaged.  They showed me a Specialized Allez.  It was in my price range, however it was the bottom of the line bike and it barely made it into the range.  The weather was really nice, and they asked if I wanted to give it a test drive.  GULP!  At first I said no, then I said, well, sure why not.  I strapped on the helmet, tucked my jean leg into my sock (sexy I know) and off I went.

The first couple of seconds must have been interesting to watch.  I’m not used to a road bike (or any other bike but lets forget that part) so it was a bit of a shock to see that a slight turn of the handlebars translated into a massive movement of the bike.  I looked like a baby giraffe taking it’s first steps minus any of the cute factor.  I could see the accountant at the bike shop writing off the “inventory spoilage” as I pulled away.  It was bad.  Of course the bike shop was on a busy highway, so my first foray into  biking in 20 years was going to be interesting.  I approached the road and stood watching the cars zip by at 50MPH waiting for my opening.  To add insult to injury a car was pulling out of the driveway.  I waved the car through, and found my opening.  And then, like a gazelle on an acid trip I was off.   I zigzagged along the shoulder trying to find my bearings.  The cars were nice enough to give me plenty of room.  I searched for the first intersection I could find so that I could get off the insane traffic.  Nope, that’s a driveway, nope, not there, ah here’s one.

As I turned right I found what can only be described as a mountain.  It was like 1000 feet of elevation over 6 inches, practically a wall.  Just my luck.  Of course I couldn’t back down, so I just went for it.I struggled with the gears, trying to figure out if plus or minus was better, do I shift the big ring?  What am I doing?  I did manage to get it into a good gear and crawled up the hill.  I got 2/3 of the way up and decided that what goes up must come down and that I should turn around before my return trip is forced on me by gravity.

As I turned around I thought two things at once, “wow this must be what it feels like to be in the chute at the downhill ski race in the Olympics.”  The second was the realization that instead of flags and a finish line I was facing the highway from the top of a steep ramp reminiscent of Evil Knievel.  I started down the hill and realized an additional two nuggets of information.  The first was that the rear brakes on this bike were not road ready causing me to have small heart attacks as I chose between front braking down the hill or slamming into a car going 50MPH.  I got a hold of myself and stopped short of death, however I then came to the second realization which was that I should have adjusted the gears on the bike before heading down the hill.  I realized this as my legs went spinning out of control as I made my second visit to the highway that day.  I wanted to head back to the bike shop at this point, life being precious and all, but I had no shot at turning left at the intersection of Mt. Everest and the Indianapolis 500, so I turned right and made my way to the next driveway.  I struggled again with the gears until I got it right.

At this point I actually found my groove.  I still had no left turn but I did have an opening to go right and shift to the middle of the road,  I did that and took a u-turn at my first chance.  After a moment I had a shot to get back to the middle of the road for my left back into the bike shop.  I was cruising down the street feeling amazing at this point.  The bike felt really responsive, light and fast.  It was great to feel the wind blowing over me.  I was hooked–I know it surprised me too.

I pulled into the bike shop and the salesman was still there waiting.  He was talking to another customer who was about to leave.  I swear I saw money exchange hands as I pulled in, but I’m sure that wasn’t related to betting on me.

I left the bike shop to ponder my options.  I think I will get fitted, and then look under the pillow cushions for another $500 so that I can get a better bike.  Maybe I’ll use my tax return!  In terms of the bike itself, I thought it was pretty good, however that may have just been as a result of bonding with it because of our mutual near death experiences.  My hands were sore from riding on the heads, death grip anyone?  The shifting was a little rough, but that may be my stunning lack of experience.  The ride, however, was enjoyable.  I can’t wait to get a new bike.


Yeah buoy!

Flava Flav

No need for assorted Flavas

I really need to work on keeping my legs still if I have any hope of getting any distance at all in the pool.  The leg muscles are the biggest muscles in the body so using them tends to suck up a ton of oxygen and energy.  If I can hold them still I should be able to get pretty far before needing a break, at least in theory.

So last night I decided to do some drills with a pull buoy.  Sorry Mr. Flav, I didn’t need any help from you, though maybe some motivational chants wouldn’t hurt.  I’m not sure how helpful it was because I couldn’t get enough rotation with the buoy.  I was, however able to get through a lap without being beat.  That kind of proved my theory on the reason I was getting so tired.  Once I took

An actual Pull Buoy

The real deal. From goswim.tv

the pull buy off I noticed that my legs wanted to go a mile a minute.  Not a good sign.  With a lot of concentration and effort I steadied my legs.  It helped to try to push my chest into the water in order to help keep my legs up.  I think a lot of my kicking stems from trying to keep my lower body floating.  I really need to get that “downhill” swimming feeling that they talk about in Total Immersion.  So far it has felt more like uphill swimming.

Having said that, keeping my legs still made a huge difference last night.  I got out of the pool after quite a bit of swimming and my arms were tired but my legs were still fresh.  I was so happy I wished I had a 40 so that I could pour out some for my hommies, luv ya Flava!


Cycling Computer Search

Here is what I want in a cycling computer:

  • Not too expensive (that should go without saying at this point)
  • Basics like mph miles etc.
  • Wired, I don’t want to have to deal with two batteries
  • Durable
  • Gives me cadence readings (do they even do that?)
  • Works for two bikes ( I want to switch it between my mountain and road bikes (when I get a road bike)

Heart Rate Monitor Research

I need to buy a new heart rate monitor.  My current one works well but it is dead basic.  It doesn’t track average heart rate or really do anything other than just tell you your current heart rate.  Here is the criteria I’m looking for (I’ll build the list as I go on):

  • Stop watch with laps
  • Track heart rate and average heart rate at each lap and overall
  • a programmable timer that I can set to beep and remind me when I should do something, like eat during a long run/ride
  • I’d like to be able to extract the data easily to a computer
  • I don’t want to spend a ton of money on it
  • Needs to work for swimming

Optional:

  • Warning beep if my heart rate moves above a set threshold

I’ll update this as my research progresses.

UPDATE (1/13/2010): I chose the Timex T5J031 it seems to have all the features I was looking for at the right price point.  It does need an additional component to record data, but I’ll wait to get that at a later date.  I’ll post a review once I get a chance to use it a little.


Photography on the road

I really love photography.  Unfortunately it is usually hard to find time to just go out and snap some pics.  I’m thinking that if I am going to be bike riding, why not bring my camera and snap some pics?!

I have a digital SLR, the Canon Digital Rebel.  I really love the camera, and even though it isn’t hugely expensive, I really don’t want to break it.  In addition, the lenses can get pretty expensive to replace.  So a safe and secure means for carrying the camera will be critical.  I did some searching today and found this article on carrying your camera for a ride.   I like how it seems to fit, I’ll have to give it a try.


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