Friday, February 27, 2009

time to race...

Sunday will be my first race of 2009. The last race I did was the Xterra Crystal Cove trail race (15k) on on 12/14/08. That's where I really jacked up my foot. This is by far the longest break of racing I have taken, forced or not, since I started racing in 2006. To say I'm anxious and excited would be an understatement.

I will racing the first race in the US MTB Cup Series at Bonelli park. I am sure the race is going to work me. I have not done anything "hard" on the bike yet in training. I have been riding a lot, climbing in big gears, but XC mountain bike racing is very intense. So it should there should be a good dose of pain waiting for me on Sunday... it's going to be fun for sure though. Time to take my medicine.

I am also stoked that there will be a good crew out there too. Ryan, Luke, Team Mann (Allison & Justin), Eric, and Robert (not racing... he's injured right now... heal up dude!). So there will be good times for sure.

This year USA Cycyling changed up the classification system. It used to be:

I raced/worked my way up and raced Expert last year. This year have switched to a format that follows road cycling categories more closely. The new classes:
Category 1 (old Semi-pro & Expert)
Category 2 (old sport)
Category 3 (Beginner)

Essentially they collapesed the divisions and gave the "semi-pro" riders the option to get a pro card or stay back in Cat 1 and race against other "semi-pros" that don't want to move up and the rest of the "Experts." Needless to say this going to races way more competitive and I think it's a great move more the sport... I mean it definitely means that I will be taking more a beat down but that's what I want. Mountain bike racing is just fun to me and I like to see how hard I can really go. I have a lot of respect for guys that just race bikes. It's hard!

Training this week has not been ideal but with the work trip back east I did my best and got in some solid work. I am kind of training through this race because Counting Coup is next week so I will still be riding long on Saturday before the race. Hopefully getting in one more long ride with keep me from getting too shelled next Saturday... even though I am sure it will anyway!

On another note... I have made some decision regarding my 2009 racing season and it has me very motivated! I will get to that next week. It's another post all by itself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Skinfit Baselayers and driving in the city.

Today's weather. At least the wind has died down.

Yesterday morning I sat in my hotel room in New Jersey waiting to go for a run. It was 18 degrees with 12-15mph winds making the winchill 10 degrees... killer! I was considering hitting the "mill" but decided against it. The hotel gym is pretty much crap. So I just had plenty of coffee and suited up and got in 8 miles. Not fast but I got it done. I am heading back out for some more in a minute before heading into the office and then back to San Diego this afternoon.

This year I am lucky enough to be racing and training in Skinfit gear after of couple of years of using their gear religiously. The first piece of gear of I ever got and used from Skinfit was the Klima Baselayer. Trevor hooked me up with it in the fall of 2007. As most people know I don't have much meat on my bones so staying warm riding and running is always an issue... especially riding. Here's a link to the Skinfit blog that explains all the technology... all I know is that it keeps me warm and keeps the sweat off me.

This winter I have pretty much refused to ride the trainer and have been getting on the roads early and often. I can't really remember being so comfortable riding in the winter. I have noticed on some group rides that I am the one stripping layers off while others are staying bundled up... this is a first and I know it's all about the base layer. If your core stays warm the rest of your body will benefit for sure.

The other base layer that I got this year is the Klima Soft shirt. It's lighter in weight and I love it on warmer days on the mountain bike. Here's a link to the tech info: Skinfit Klima.soft - the soft and cool, light underwear range.

It's rad to support companies, and have them support me, when they really do make great products. It doesn't get better then Skinfit when it comes to athletic apparel for racing and training. If you want to get any of this gear you can order it through the website here: Skinfit USA. If you have any questions about the gear I am sure Trevor can dial you in. Just send him an email.

Last thing. The person at my company that books travel decided to fly me into JFK to save a couple of bucks as opposed to Newark, which is where I normally fly into when coming out here. This meant I had to drive 65 miles through downtown NYC... in rush hour. So after 5+ hours in a plane I got in a rental and hit the roads. It took just under 3 horus. Here are some photos of the trip.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Week of 2.16.2009 - Recap

A big week for sure. This will kind of a boring post to most people... it's just all about training. One of the most challenging weeks I have had in a while. It took that last couple of weeks of gradually building up my volume but I am handling it pretty well. Here's what my week looked like... training-wise.

Monday (in AZ):
AM - 57 min/6.5 mile gnarly trail run
- great run on Sunrise Peak. Plan was to just go easy but the trail was just way too nice.

AM - 15 min core right after run
- quick and to the point.
PM - 1:30/14 mile MTB at McDowell Mtn Park
- Beth and I cruised around the park. She killed it. I rode all 3 loops.

Tuesday (back home):
PM - 58 min/7.7 mile trail run with "hard" intervals (3 x 3-2-1)
- I got out on the trails after driving back from AZ. It felt good to shake out the legs after being in the car for too long.

AM: 1:31/13.27 mile MTB, 3 x 10-15 min climbs - Big Gears
- good times and was riding solid.

Lunch: 45 min Strength, core, myrtyl
PM: 43 min/5.7 mile run - lululemon group run
- good trail loop with a fair of amount of climbing.

AM - 1:11/10.6 mile - Run - Track workout
1.5 mile warm-up to track
2 x 100m stride
1 x mile (5:16)
800 easy jog
4 mile tempo (23:03)
800 easy jog
8 x 100m strides/100m recovery (1 mile)
1.5 c/d
- hard workout but stayed within myself. I can't wait to get to the point that I can really nail one of these sessions.

Lunch - 45 min/2000 yard - Swim - Lots of pulling.
- legs were jacked from morning run. tired.
PM: - 15 min core - at home watching TV
- getting it done.

AM - 1:33/25.75 mile Road Ride - Tempo/Paper route ride.
- a good ride. didn't feel great but still hitting power numbers. No improvement over last week.
Lunch - 40 min/2000 yard swim - tempo/threshold (800 WU, 4 x (4x50, 1x100)
- good swim. easily making intervals. Kind of surprised. Nice and warm.

AM - 3:53/34 mile MTB - Long ride with tons of climbing (8,642ft.).
- hard ass ride. Ryan joined for the first 1:15 but then had pull the plug because he wasn't feeling good. I am stoked I got it done.... bonking at the end. Good prep for Counting Coup.

PM - 30 min/4.06 mile Run - San Elijo Lagoon.
- I decided to not run off the bike and just refuel. I hit the lagoon just before dark and felt great. Definitely a run where I could have kept going. Playing it smart. Already a big week of running.

AM - 1:33/11 Mile Run - Hilly Trails - 3,247 ft of climbing
- Ran the local trails and one new climb/descent... super steep!

AM - 45 min strength/core/myrtl - hit the gym right after run.
PM - 1:05/10.8 Mile MTB (single speed)- Mellow. Good crew cruising around Lake Hodges. Good times and beers afterward.

Total Time: 18:48
Swim Distance: 4000 yards (2 swims)
Road Bike Distance: 25.75 miles (1 ride)
Mountain Bike Distance: 72 miles (4 rides)
Run Distance: 45.58 (6 runs)
Strength/core: 4 sessions

All in all a pretty huge week for me but I feel good and will have plenty of time to recover as I travel to New Jersey mon-weds for work this week.

The ride this afternoon was killer. Beth and I set this up and had quite a few people show up and there would have definitely been more if the TOC wasn't ending just up the road. We are going to try to set this once a month if possible. There's not better way to end the week and than riding mountain bikes with friends and then enjoying a couple of cold beers and Mexican food afterward.

First race on the 2009 season next Sunday. Can't wait.

Taking my medicine...

I "took my medicine" for the first time in a while at 6am yesterday morning. By "taking my medicine" I basically mean getting my ass kicked by some fast runners.

I met up with Dave Kloz and a couple of other fast dudes for a track workout. They all run for Team BSK and I will be lucky enough to be running with them this year too... so stoked! I have been wanting to run with these guys for a long time. Last year I was just too busy with all my Xterra focused training and then with my foot injury I just had to wait. So now that I am healthy it's time to run... with runners... not triathletes. I need to run with guys that are going make me hurt just trying to stay on their heels (which wasn't for very long on yesterday) and can drop me with ease. I think this is what I need to take my running to the next level. Plus these guys all have a lot of experience from running in the collegiate ranks so I know there is a lot I can learn.

The crew I was running with is preparing for the Carlsbad 5000 (I'm racing too) while also putting in plenty of miles for other local races. The workout was solid and left me in a coma in my office for the rest of the day. I definitely ran hard but not all out. I don't want to jump in too fast. Here's what went down:

1.5 mile warm-up to track
2 x 100m stride
1 x mile (5:16)
800m easy jog
4 mile tempo (23:03)
800m easy jog
8 x 100m strides/100m recovery (1 mile)
1.5 mile c/d

10.6 miles 1:11

We got all this in and I was still at my desk by 8am. I love morning workouts. I can never really go "hard" after a full day of work but can always dial it up first thing in the morning.

The rest of the day was spent trying to recover from the session. I did an easy swim at lunch that included a lot of pulling as my legs really didn't want to move. Once I got home from work I hit a quick core session in the garage and then me and the little monster headed El Caribe for some grub.

I can't wait to get back there next week for another dose!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Living the dream: AZ Style

I am back from an awesome weekend in the desert with future-wife and future-fam. on Friday afternoon I got home loaded all the bikes, gear, and clothes in the truck and after Beth got out of class we hit the road... in the rain.

The rain did not let up and neither did the traffic. I think it took us about 1.5 hours to go the first 40 miles. Not fun. Eventually we made it to the Copper Wynd in Scottsdale just before 2am.

After some good sleep we woke up Saturday morning and hung with the family a bit before they set out to go hike the Superstitious Mountains and Beth and I headed out for some training. The weather was perfect. About 55 and not a cloud in the sky. There was a trail leaving straight from where we were staying so we decided to head out there for our long run.

The run was tough... 3200 ft of climbing tough. We ran on some steep fire road trails, through some hilly neighborhoods, and then some killer single track. It worked us both.... but it was rad to get this in right from the front door.

After the run we headed back, crammed some food in our mouths and headed for McDowell Moutain Park for some mountain bike action. When we got to the park Beth was crashing and not on her bike. She needed a power nap. So I hit a couple of laps off the "Technical Loop" and 30 minutes later Beth was ready to roll. We rode 2 laps of the "Sport Loop" and Beth was killing it! Seriously she was riding awesome... I was so stoked. I was having a blast riding too... the riding out there is so fun. Not a lot of climbing just fun, flowing, single track.

We were both pretty crushed after the ride. When we got back home we grabbed some lunch from the pool and hit the hot tub. For Dinner we all headed to the True Food Kitchen (thanks for recomendation JP). The was awesome. If you are in the area check it.

Family hot tub time.

So yeah... Saturday was perfect.... My kind of Valentine's Day. Hitting the trails with Beth all day and then hanging out with the Family and eating awesome food.

Day two. We got up a little earlier on Sunday and set out on our road bikes for a long. My homeboy Brian that lives in Fountain Hills sent me route that looked solid. It was definitely pretty cold when we first got on the roads (mid 40's and windy). The ride was interesting and tough. We rode some quiet roads, saw packs of wolves, crazy bulls that I thought were going to charge us, and even had to ride 5 miles "offroad". Thanks for the heads up Brian! When was all said in done we got in 65+ miles in 4 hours... and it wasn't easy. We dealt with a lot of headwind. I am really impressed with the way Beth is riding so far this year she is getting strong on the bike... and it's only February. I think she is going to step her game this year.

sweet dirt road. thanks Brian!

Again.. the rest of the day was filled with lounging by the pool, jacuzzi, and then eating more great food. A tough day!

Monday was another full day of training with future-wife. We headed out early for an easy run just to "shake out the legs". We wanted to find out a trail that we could see from where we were staying. So after some google mapping, running, bushwhacking, and hiking we found our way to the Sunrise Peak Trail head. The trail was rad... and pretty much straight up for 2+ miles. So the run turned into an uphill grind but the trail was just too awesome to not run all the way to the top.

beth on the way up.

more up.

feeling it.

the peak.

After run we headed straight to the resort gym for core and then grabbed a good breakkie with the family. After Beth's family headed off to the airport we set out for McDowell Mountain park for more riding. Beth again rode awesome. I did a lap of each course and Beth joined me on the long loop and sport loop. She handled everything on the course and blew me away. Some the descents are kind of sketchy and rocky, but she plowed and climbed through everything. I was so stoked.


After we were done we packed up and headed to my good friend Tom's for more good times. Brian also joined us and we hit some beers and mexican food.... yep another perfect day.

This morning we packed up and hit the road. I got in a solid run on my local trails in the afternoon. As good as it is to go on vacation... it's great to be home!

Weekend Recap:
Saturday: 1:35 - 12 mile run/1:15 - 11.5 mile mountain bike
Sunday: 4:00 - 65+ mile road ride
Monday: 1:00 - 6.5 mile run/:15 core session/1:30 - 13.5 mile moutain bike

totals: 2:35/18.5 miles running, 6:15/90 miles riding, 15 min core = solid!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Go Vote &Training Gadgets

OK... before I get into this post I want to rally some support for my homeboy Luke. He is trying to win an entry into the Breck Epic stage race. It's going to be a killer race. I have been lucky enough to train and race (and trade sports nutrition product for wine... his family owns a winery!) with Luke the last couple of years. I have seen how hard he has worked to transform himself from a triathlete (xterra/ironman) into one hell of an endurance mountain bike racer. He's worked his ass off! Big things are in his future. I have no doubt.

Just check out the race page, Luke's profile and blog, and vote for him!

MJ commented on my blog last week asking me to post about the tools (gadgets) I use to collect training data and analyze it. So here it is.

The two things I use are a Garmin Forerunner 205 (it was a 305 until I "lost" it) and PowerTap. I use the Garmin for all my running and mountain bike workouts and the PowerTap is on my road bike. I find both of the pretty useful but I am definitely not a slave to the numbers while training and use the date more after the fact to track progress... or lack of.

I also use a couple of different programs to track my training and analyze the data.

1. (online training log): I have been using Training Peaks for 3 years now so it has all my data from pretty much when I started training. I use it to schedule my training and it's really easy to use. I also like the fact that I can upload the data straight from the Garmin and PowerTap so I don't have to manually enter any bike or run data.

2. Garmin Training Center: This is the software that comes with the Garmin. It's ok. I just use it check the mile splits of a run or the total elevation gain from rides and runs. It's also where I get a lot of the graphs that I post on my blog.

A typical run. This is from the lululemon run on Wednesday night. The girls go for it!

A mtb ride. Also from Wednesday.

3. Training Peaks wko+ (formerly cycling peaks): This is the software I use with Power Tap. I used to also upload my run data too, but that became too much and I don't really think rTSS is useful as it's pretty generic. There a lot of customizable graphs so it's really easy to track your cycling progress based on power numbers over of the course of time.

4. I also upload some my workouts from my Garmin to Motion Based. I don't use it to track my training or analyze any workouts, but it does provide some good graphs and lets you share you workout data online.

1. Garmin Forerunner 205


First of all, I never display on the pace on the Garmin while running. The only thing I display is total, time lap time, and sometimes distance. Most of the running I do is off road on undulating trails so pace to me is irrelevant. I'll check out the mile splits after the fact but don't put too much thought into it. When I do an interval running workout I don't base it on pace, but on RPE. I know what hard is, what race pace is, and what easy is. I don't don't need satellite connectivity to tell me how hard I am working. When I do test workouts I turn off the auto lap (set for 1 mile) and just use the lap timer to get the splits whether it be a hill climb or some kind of interval.

moutnain bike.
I pretty much use it as a glorified bike computer. I just display time, lap time (if I am doing intervals) and distance.

2. Power Tap

This has been a very useful "gadget for me" in terms of tracking my progress. I have been using it for a couple of years now, have collected a lot of data, and the numbers don't lie. I really like this for hill repeat workouts too. Having the power displayed and a goal in mind gives me a carrot to shoot for. All is display is current power, cadence, and time. When I am doing a hill intervals (such as the one I posted last week) it makes it really easy to know if I am going hard enough, riding with the right cadence, and doing the right amount to work. I just lock in at my desired cadence/power and go.

Here's a custom PMC (Performance Management Chart) with some additional peak power numbers . This is stuff is cool to look at and does offer on insight into my training, but I don't have the time to sit down crunch data... nor do I want to. Training is more fun!

Other than hill workouts and tesing a good example of how the power tap helps is on a tempo ride I have added to my weekly schedule. I am pretty good at climbing whether it be long grinding climbs or short power climbs. My weakness in cycling is sustained power on the flats and rollers. On a lot of my road rides I just cruise. So with this workout I have been trying to push the pace a bit. So every week I am going to shoot to finish this loop a little faster and with higher average and normal power. I know it's nothing groundbreaking of sceintific, but I think it will do the trick. I am calling this the "Cru Jones paper route workout". Those who have seen the movie will know what I mean.... "and when I make 7:15, I'll shoot for 7:10".

Here's the data from the last two weeks. it shows some improvement.

Distance: 26 miles
Work: 914 kj
Duration: 1:34:33
Norm Power: 191

Distance: 26 miles
Work: 940 kJ
Duration: 1:32:59
Norm Power: 196
Power (avg): 172

That's it for Gadgets. They definitely help with tracking progress over time and test workouts, but I think stressing about the "numbers" too much during a session is a bad thing. Enough of this... time to go run.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Getting through it...

Local Trail head. I am so stoked to have these near my house. They handle the rain so well and let me get out and train when a lot of people are stuck on the couch.

The weather since last Thursday has made training interesting. By Socal standards it's been raining a lot. I have had to change the schedule up a bit but was still able to get in some really good workouts... and maybe even better than if were sunny and 75 again because I tried out some different routes on the run and bike.

It all started on Thursday night on my drive home from work in a full-on downpour. I decided that night that if it was raining in the morning I was getting on the trainer but if the ground was wet and not actually raining I would head out on the single speed.

Well I woke up and the ground was wet but it was not raining so I suited up and hit the roads on the SS and headed for the trails in San Elijo Hills. It started raining lightly 20 minutes into my ride and then it started coming down pretty hard just as I was starting a 10 min climb. I almost turned around but decided to stick out. I ended up getting in 16 miles in 90 minutes with a lot of climbing. It was definitely a hard workout both physically and mentally. By the time I got back home I was soaked to the bone and freezing.

Single speeding:

Saturday morning I woke up to more pouring rain but while sitting on the computer and having too many cups of coffee the clouds broke and sun was out. I rushed around and headed back to San Elijo again to get in my long run. The weather was perfect and the hard pack trails were handling all the rain very well. This was hardest and best run since I have been back on my feet. I did some more exploring up there and found more ways to link stuff together. It never stops. I am mentally putting together some really long runs with a ton of climbing for my Pikes prep later this year.

the run.

After the run I hit the gym and dry sauna (recovery) before heading up to LA to hangout with my sister. When I hit the road the sun was still out with some scattered clouds and showers, but still a good day. I definitely could have gotten in my long ride but I moved that to Sunday instead. Saturday night my sister and I hit the 8oz Burger bar for some killer burgers and beer (review on Vo2 Maxxed) and then headed of to check out the Groundlings.

I was up pretty early on Sunday morning and headed down to Huntington Beach to meet Ryan for some road miles. It was drizzling a bit and pretty cool but we headed out any way. It was hard ride. We got in 65 miles in the cold, rain, and wind. Our route took us past Santiago and Trabuco Canyon. The weather and clouds up in the hills looked even worse than what we were dealing. All could think was that Luke and Allision were supposed to be up there riding. I was hoping they were staying dry and warm, but I guess that wasn't the case. I totally blew up the in last 30 minutes of our ride while riding back up the coast. 2 continuous hours of headwind just ended up crushing me... I was done. I am stoked that we stuck it out and got in the miles despite the crappy weather. We'll both be better for it.

Training grounds.

That's about it. I am pretty stoked with how I am feeling right now. I have definitely noticed a shift in my fitness. It's coming around. I am already starting to feel the running coming back into form. I just gotta be patient and not get a head of myself. My races still aren't for quite a while and I am just having a great time training right now. Finding new workouts, routes, training partners, new motivation, have been very refreshing.

good beer & grub.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Power, Progress, and Testing

It's been a solid week of training so far... and that's good thing because there's a good chance of rain this weekend so I am not sure what I will be able to get in.

I am trying really hard to simplify my training this year and not have to give it too much thought. I need workouts that I can do in the morning before work and right from my front door if possible. There are two weekly workouts that are my favorites and that I know work for me. Both of them include hills...

The first is big gear hill repeats on the bike. I do this workout on the road and it consists 4 x 10-12 minute climbs @ 50-60 rpms. I alternate standing and seated climbs. It's all about building strength. Ideally you would probably want to increase the length of the climbs or the number of reps but I can get this workout done in 90 minutes before work so I can make it work. It takes me 20 minutes to get to the base of the climb and then I knock them out and crawl back home. I just continue to use bigger gears as the weeks progress. I started doing this work out last year and it made a huge difference.

I also do hill repeats off road but for this workout I like the road so I can use my power tap to collect the data. This is the kind of workout this is repeatable and it's easy to track the progress week to week, month to month, and year to year.

So here's a comparison. I did this workout on Wednesday and compared it to the same workout I did almost exactly a year a go.

Last year.

1.30.2008 - seated
Duration: 11:32
Norm Power: 229 watts
Avg Power: 227 watts
Cadence: 58 rpm (avg)

1.30.2008 - standing
Duration: 11:08
Norm Power: 243 watts
Avg Power: 243 watts
Cadence: 51 rpm (avg)

Now for this year.

2.4.2009 - seated
Duration: 10:38
Norm Power: 249 watts
Avg Power: 248 watts
Cadence: 62 rpm (avg)

2.4.2009 - standing
Duration: 10:36
Norm Power: 272
Avg Power: 270 watts
Cadence: 55 rpm (avg)

This workout serves as a good test of where I am at. My power is up across the board from where I was last year at this time so that's good sign after just a month of solid work on the bike. This is perfect test workout for me because it's easy to repeat and the numbers don't lie.

The other workout is what Beth and I call the K.O.M (King of the Mountain) run. This is done on my local trails and there are two significant climbs.

I haven't kept a good record of of my times for the climbs over the last year but I am starting that now. I did this workout yesterday morning to get a baseline and plan on repeating this workout weekly and I am interested to see the progress. I am also planning on building this workout up to 4+ climbs in my build toward Pikes in August.

Climb #1
Distance: 1,92 miles
Time: 16:35

Climb #2
Distance: 1.6.1 miles
Time: 14:15

Well that's it for now... Just some geeked out training stuff. It rained all last night and I actually contemplating getting on the trainer... sweet!