Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blackout Intervals

I did another set of what I am now calling blackout intervals. No, not because I blacked out while doing them. That's the workout I was doing last week when the power went out. It 30 minutes zone 2, 2X20 minutes zone 3 tempo with 5 minutes recovery in between, and 4x6 minutes cruise intervals (zone 4-5a) with 2 minutes recovery between each one. It's close to a two hour workout, and putting the cruise intervals at the end of that workout is a good way to improve your lactate threshold.

Like last week I ramped up the HR in the last two minutes of the last interval, just to see what I could get. What I got was 185 BPM. That's a new high for me. I shouldn't be so concerned about max HR, but it's a good exercise for me to take it up there for a few minutes to show that it can be done, to see how it feels, and to see who long I can keep that level of exertion. It hurts, but not to the point of failure. It's manageable.

I remember last year during the race in Council Bluffs where I got off and walked on "Heart Attack Hill". I got off because I didn't want to blow up riding it and I was already at or above my LT at the bottom of the hill. These short, high HR efforts are to train for those kind of real world over-the-top efforts. The training is as much mental as physical.

At 185 BPM my maximum HR is about 12 beats higher than the formula for my age (220-47= 173), and is about 4 beats higher than it was this time last year. I don't know if it's training, or better tolerance for pain. Probably both.

In other news, I've spent some time updating the Team 14 Blog. Check it out!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Off the Grid

Christy and I had a little "Off the Grid" exercise this weekend. It started when I was talking to Thad yesterday afternoon. He said that they had no electricity in Webster City. I told him that, even though I had lived in the middle of nowhere for 23 years, I've been lucky in that I've never lost power for more that a few hours.

After that I went downstairs and had a great 2 hour workout on the rollers. I started with 30 minutes of zone two, then went to 2 x 20 minutes of zone 3 tempo, and finished up with 4 x 6 minutes of cruise intervals. Cruise intervals are zone 4-5a with a very short (2 minutes) recovery between each interval. I mostly stayed right at my zone 4-5a boundary (167 bpm) during the intervals. On the cruise intervals (my first of the season) I was surprised at how well I recovered on the first couple of intervals. On the last two my recovery was not as quick. In the last interval I put it all out there, and went for my max heart rate. I got as high at 183. I felt strong at the end, and felt like I was putting out enough wattage to power the house. That must have been the case, because as soon as I quit pedaling, the house went dark.

That's what happens when you tempt fate. But Christy and I had fun with it. We lit a fire in the fireplace, lit a few candles, and with nothing else to do we . . . .

. . . listened to a battery powered radio.

In the morning we made eggs and potatoes on a gas stove, made toast over an open fire, ground coffee with a rolling pin, and made coffee with a French Press. We are really roughing it! Then we planned out how we were going to get through the day without electricity. We were actually a little disappointed with the power came back on at 11:00 am. It was fun while it lasted.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Levi Leipheimer

In addition to riding bikes whenever I can, Christy and I watch cycling on TV whenever it is available, and whenever we notice that it is on. Read that to mean not very often. We like to watch cycling, but other than the Tour de France, the Tour of Georigia, and the Tour of California we don't see it too much.

One of the things that Christy came up with a few years ago while watching the Tour de France was playing the "Levi Leipheimer" drinking game. He was a little know rider, and his name was fun to say. The game was simple. Everytime Phil Liggit, Paul Sherwin, or Bob Roll would say the words "Levi Leipheimer", you would take a drink. It was a fun game to play a few years ago, but you could get pretty thirsty at times.

That isn't the case anymore. We are sitting here tonight trying to get through the week's recordings of the Tour of California. I'm glad it's Friday night. Because of Levi's sucess this week, I'm so drunk I can barely type. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy for Levi, but his success this week has taken a personal toll.

It's been fun. Try it at home. Go Levi!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Animal Conspiracy

I've noticed that we've had a few problems with animals lately. There was my trouble with dogs yesterday, my trouble with horses last fall, Jihadist deer throwing themselves in front of Cory, and it even seems as if the squirrels are spying on us. I have begun to realize that Tim Bedore's Animal Conspiracy is becoming a reality.

Think about it. The horses and deer are trying to slow us down, making the dog's job easier as they tag-team on us, and they are all getting reports of our movements from the squirrels. It all makes sense now. They don't like us, and don't like the way we live our lives, so they are trying to do us in.

Be careful out there, and watch out for the squirrels.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It was bound to happen

I skipped out of work early so that I could get two hours of riding in. I warmed up on the gravel to the Roland road, and then hit it hard on the road to Radcliffe. I got about an hour of zone 3 tempo work in going out, and some zone 2 recovery time coming back.

But that’s not the point of this story. It’s been well documented that I’ve been off the bike for a few days. On the way out I sprinted past the usual dogs. On the way back I apologized to a dog about being too tired to sprint. He responded by biting me. It was just a “nip”. But it was a bite just the same. It hurt, it left a mark, and it tore a hole in my Pearl Izumi Fleece Tights.

I stopped to tell the owner about my displeasure with the situation. He wasn’t too happy, but it was hard to argue with the mark on my leg. Later he and his wife came by my place with a check to replace the damaged tights. I thanked them for doing the right thing, and then tore up the check. I had made my point (control your dogs), and didn't see the need for further punishment. I hope that I have helped make 170th street safer for cyclists.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Noisy Knees

This is the face of a happy guy!

Notice the big smile on my face? I'm happy because I got to go ride my bike this afternoon! It was just a short ride (1 1/2 hours), but I felt great!

The afternoon started with a visit to x-ray and orthopedist. The x-rays looked good, and the doctor told me that my bones, clearance between bones, cartilage, and ligaments all looked great. What I have are noisy knees. What I have is pain, not injury. The combination of volleyball, weightlifting, and force weightlifting aggravated them to the point stopping me in my tracks. The doctor gave me clearance to ride.

Nine days off the bike seems to have gone a long way to fix that what ails me, both physically and mentally. Being forcibly separated from my passion has gone a long way towards re-ignited that passion within me. It may have been just the spark that I needed. Not to mention that I am extremely well rested and ready to do some raging intervals. That is, after I've spent a few days to re-acclimate to the bike.

This season is gonna rock!

My Apologies

If you enter “Bicycle Knee Pain Older” into Google (OK, I'll do it for you, my blog is now third on the list (this post will probably get me the top spot). That is a pretty good measure of the lameness (both literally and figuratively) that my blog has acquired lately.

And, as another measure of lameness, I can’t help but notice that my readership has dropped off in the last week or so. Do you suppose that me whining about my bum knee has something to do with the sudden lack of interest in my musings?

Its not that I live my life in such a way as to increase my click count, but it can be a useful tool. I like to think of myself as interesting, and that I have something to say. But I know what it is like to be around someone that is always complaining about their ailments. I know a few people like that, and I’m sure you do to. I don’t want to be that person in your life.

So, I apologize for the whining. From this point forward, you’ll hear no more. I’ll still give updates on my knee, but the whining is done.

Feel free to call me out on it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Long Weekend

It's gonna make for a a long weekend without me being able to ride my bike. My doctor took a look at my knee said we could either let if go a little longer, or he could refer me to an orthopedist. I elected to go the orthopedic route, as I've waited long enough. I've got an appointment on Monday.

I read something on a message board a few weeks ago. A few guys were talking about being sick, and not riding while sick, for fear of making the illness last longer by doing so. The wisdom offered was this -- A week of training lost this time of year sets you back a week. Two weeks of training losts sets you back a month.

I've already lost a week. I don't really want to lose any more.

Going to the Doctor

Not much blogging going on because I haven't got much to say, because I haven't been on a bike for a week now. My knee is still bothering me, and I don't want to make things worse by pushing things before I'm ready. I'm just glad this happened in February instead of July.

I'm going to see a doctor this morning to get it checked out. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We're a Fragile Species

As I sit here feeling sorry for myself about my bum knee, I ponder the fragility of the human muscular/skeletal system. We have so many points of failure, it's a wonder that anything ever works. And when one of those points of failure does does it's thing, my mind will try to play tricks on me ("What If I'm like this all season", "My knee will always be like this", and "I'm never going to be able to ride a bike again"). In a previous life (60 pounds ago), I had periodic bouts of back trouble. Some of those episodes would go on for weeks. The little voices could get pretty convincing after several week of pain.

It can get depressing. So I try not to let it get to me. I still hear the little voices. But I know that they are not speaking the truth, and ignore them.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Eat Like a Cave Man

Over the weekend I've been reading a new book "The Paleo Diet for Athletes". I can hear it now, "Not another diet book!"

No, this one is different. It is written by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel. The basic premise of the book is that we should be eating like a cave man, because that is what our digestive systems have become accustomed to, evolutionarily speaking. Our diets have gone through a tremendous change over the last 500 years. Even bread and pasta are only about 10,000 years old. In the terms of human evolution (a few million years), that is a fairly rapid change.

The authors suggest that we should be eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and lean meat. You know, the kind of food a cave man might have been able to find. I'm guessing the cave man didn't spend much time in the drive thru at Booger King or Taco Hell. And, have you ever noticed that the guys in the Geico commercials look really slim and fit?

The authors also say that our diets should also include carbohydrates only during or immediately after hard exercise, to replace the carbs that were expended. Carb loading before a race or hard ride actually hurts your performance.

The diet isn't really about weight loss. Its more geared towards improved athletic performance and recovery. I'm gonna give it a try. If you see me carrying a club and dragging Christy around by the hair, you'll know it's working. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I'm Back, and Then I'm Gone Again

Regular readers know that I've been struggling with motivation for the last couple of days. I suppose it's a common theme this time of year, especially with the long string of cold days we've had. I want to thank all of you who have offered encouragement and/or commiseration. It really does help.

I think my lack of motivation could have been caused the weather. It could have been caused by a tetanus shot I got at my annual physical (which left me feeling achy all over for a few days). It could have been caused by switching from rollers (which I like) to a trainer (which I hate).

I had a volleyball match last night. So, last night before the match I got on the rollers for a 2X20 tempo session, which felt great! I'm back! Then I went to volleyball, spent about 25 minutes stretching before the match, and proceeded to mess up my knee in the first game of the match.

It's not too bad. It's just a little pain behind the patella. I can walk on it just fine, but stairs and jumping hurt a little. Fortunately there are no stairs or jumping in cycling until 'cross season, which is a long ways off.

The knee pain could be any one of several things. The first line of defense for any of them is rest, and avoiding any activity that causes pain. I don't know if cycling causes pain yet. I'm kind of afraid to find out.

I don't think its any big deal. I'm going to skip VB on Sunday, and stay off the bike for a few days, and we'll see it goes. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

For What its Worth

I had my annual physical this afternoon. There was he usual probing, prodding, and anal violation, but that was expected. What was unexpected were the results from my blood work. Two years ago my total Cholesterol was 225, HDL (good Cholesterol) was 76, and LDL (bad Cholesterol) was 128. One year ago total Cholesterol was 174, HDL was 66, and LDL was 93 (good to see results from hard work). Today's total Cholesterol was 174, HDL was 83, and LDL was 76. My doctor says he doesn't often see a man have an HDL number greater than an LDL number. I don't spend hours riding my bike to get these numbers, but they are a bonus.

In other news, I've had a hard time getting motivated lately. I rode for a 1/2 hour this evening, but that was it. That's not enough. I've got to get past that. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Defining Your Tolerance

As I said last night, I went out today for three hours with couple of nut jobs (Cory and Paul J.), and a nut job-ette (Emily). It was about 4 below zero when we started, and the wind freshened as the day went on (freshened - that's a nice way to put it). It was freakin' cold, folks.

We decided to ride gravel into the teeth of the wind for a long as we could stand it, then sit up and enjoy the ride home. After about 10 brutal miles, that's what we did. If you ever have a chance to ride in these kind of conditions, do it with the wind. It was actually pleasant!

Emily is a pretty strong rider. She is also tough! How you deal with this kind of cold helps to define your tolerance for pain and suffering. Apparently her tolerance is pretty high.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Nutjob Express

A few of my nutjob friends and I are heading out for a ride from Ada Hayden tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 10:00 AM. These guys are training for TransIowa, so they are no strangers to pain and suffering. I plan on doing about three hours. The forecast I'm looking at says 4 below zero with NW winds at 18, gusting to 26. Can you dig it?

All are welcome (as if anyone else will show). If you start putting on layers on now, you might be ready by tomorrow morning. I get to try out my new goose down mittens. If they don't keep my hands warm, I don't know what will.