Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quick catch up

Sorry for not sticking to posting every day.  That would probably get boring for the 2 people who read this.  So, quickly, Friday was my company's holiday party.  Good times, but certainly not a good venue for eating paleo or losing weight.  I had that planned into the 21 days though.  Saturday became a problem.  Not sure why.  I think the stressful holiday shopping got to me.  Anyways, too much snacking.  It was all paleo, but again, not good for weight loss.  I got back to it Sunday, and I've gone to town this week with over 1/2 lb (at least on paper) lost between Monday and Tuesday.  Today was one of the most fun WOD's we've done at crossfit.  It went like this:  12 minutes AMRAP of 9 pullups, 10 deadlifts, 6 turkish getups with a sandbag.  Full body blasting.  I love workouts like that.  Oh yeah, swimming, biking and running have been on the schedule this week.  It is really go time.  Doubles every day again.  Oh how I missed it....  That's all for now.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Short 3 days

Another 3 day catch up.  At least I’m doing a bit better eating than I am posting.  I was even on calories on Monday, down 700 calories yesterday and down 500 today.  Weight is at 155 even as of tonight.  There isn’t much to really write about these past 3 days.  We worked up to our one rep max on power clean and push press yesterday at Crossfit.  I got up to 135 lbs.  Not bad.  I’d love to get to bodyweight in the next month or so.  We roasted butternut squash and beets to go with some leftovers of the chicken.  It was tasty.  I love root vegetables.  Tomorrow night is team night at Adrenalin Cycles so it presents a good opportunity to get a little intermittent fasting in since I won’t be home for dinner.  I also won’t be posting tomorrow night, or Friday. Friday is our company’s holiday party.  One of the scheduled cheat days in this 21 day epic.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

3 days in one!

                Sorry, I missed a couple of days.  Don’t worry, I didn’t drown during my swim test.  Actually it went well.  My times were as good as they were during the season last year.  I’m excited to continue drilling this new form into my muscle memory and actually building some strength and fitness on it.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday were all good days in terms of adherence to my eating plan.  I did skew more towards the 500 calorie deficit end of the spectrum.  It seems it is mostly just being in the house and watching a movie or even while cooking dinner that I have the urge to snack a bit more.  I also enjoy wine while cooking, so today I gave in and Jaime and I broke into a bottle of Bordeaux that had been gathering dust for far too long.  I will still hit a 500 calorie deficit today though.  For the week, despite it really only being since Wednesday, I’m down mathematically 0.8 pounds.  Next week I’m planning the 1.5-1.6 range.

                Saturday I had a good swim practice and even started trying to do flip turns.  This is real comedy here if you could see it.  I would film it if the rec center would let me.  Honestly, I only practice them in the deep end just in case I don’t get fully flipped and drive myself into the bottom of the pool.  Yes, I’ve done it.  It doesn’t feel good.  Sometimes I come off the wall diagonally, and like once in 10 times I get a good clean flip turn with even some dolphin kicks.

                Speaking of filming, today we did a run test at Bear Creek High School.  It was a 200, 400, and 800 for time.  I was happy with my 200 time, but the rest…it was like I hadn’t run fast since August….right, because I haven’t.  Afterwards we did some filming of everyone running.  Time to start analyzing.

                Today has probably been the worst day so far for me to stay away from the snacking.  Cashews are in the cupboard, and they a nut, therefore, I love eating them.  But, they are nothing compared to these chips we picked up at WholeFoods yesterday.  They are Terra Sweets Medley.  They are orange, purple and Cuban white sweet potatoes with a hint of cinnamon.  Holy shnykies.  They are ridiculous.  You’ve got to give them a try.  People like to laugh at the paleo knockoffs of regular foods, but I bet if you try them you will like them better than your Lays or Ruffles. 

                Hopefully dinner will be ready soon.  We are roasting a whole chicken that is lathered in an olive oil, garlic, rosemary and thyme mixture and stuffed with garlic, lemon wheels and more rosemary and thyme.  Then we’ve got some roasted carrots, pearl onions and garlic cloves to go with it.  This was why we chose the Bordeaux to go with.  Can’t complain about that paleo dinner!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rave running

Day 2.  2 for 2.  It is a good start, but there is much work to do.  I had a decent swim this morning.  It was mostly technique work because I am pretty much totally overhauling my stroke.  I expect that I will be much slower for awhile until I get the muscle memory down and then after that, I basically have to build up the musculature that is doing the swimming now because it is totally different than my old stroke.  In the end I will be much faster since I am now pulling with the big back and chest muscles instead of having my arm slip through the water.  Tomorrow morning is a swim time trial at 100 yards, 200 yards and 400 yards.  This is going to suck big time.  I haven’t even swum a continuous 400 yards since August.  I expect some pretty miserable results, but it is all part of the process.

                Tonight’s run was the highlight of the day.  It was a beautiful night.  The temperature was in the mid-40’s and the moon was full and just a bit eerie with the clouds.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been running back in Portsmouth, NH along the seacoast with the moon rising out over the ocean.  Those were some of the most amazing runs I’ve ever had and I’m thankful to have run those runs.  Full moon runs on a clear night obviously don’t happen that often, so when you get one, take advantage of it! 
Moonrise over the Isle of Shoals off the New Hampshire coast

                Good eats were had today with no cheating, a 900 calorie deficit, and good paleo adherence.  Dinner tonight was a simple favorite.  Roasted cauliflower with southwestern spices and pan seared tilapia with habanero salsa.  YUM! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Off on the right foot

Day 1.  It is 8:20 PM and I made it.  Good little run at lunch and some fun strength training this evening.  To kickstart the fat loss I decided to do some intermittent fasting, so skipped my afternoon chicken breast and dinner.  I’ll go about 18 hours between meals, which is a good place to start with IF.  It isn’t so bad really, and studies have actually shown that it is good for you.  Here is a link to Mark’s daily apple where Mark Sisson writes about intermittent fasting.  The article has a bunch of links to research as well if you are so inclined to continue reading.  http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fasting/#axzz2DZv2d1o6

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

21 Days

                This is the prologue post of what I am going to call the 21 days of Christmas.  During the next 21 days starting tomorrow I am going to attempt to be as strict as humanly possible with what goes into my mouth as well as how closely I stick to my training plan.  I have been pretty relaxed about both since the end of August.  As a case in point, I’m working on some delicious veggie chips and my second tasty Sierra Nevada beer tonight and I didn’t do my scheduled run.  To be fair, I did have to write a presentation tonight which required a couple of bottles of creativity and ate  up most of my evening.  I haven’t really gone off of the deep end since August eating wise (I’m up about 4lbs with a lot of that being muscle), but I’ve got work to do to be in a really good spot for the real beginning of the 2013 Xterra season. 

                So, why now?  Well I haven’t exactly been motivated about getting back into regimented training.  I’ve actually enjoyed just doing different stuff and not being anal about everything I eat.  I’ve also realized that to a certain extent I have sacrificed a lot of the things I love to do outside of Xterra.  Don’t get me wrong, I love training for and racing Xterra.  I have rediscovered my love for strength training, going for just fun mountain bike rides, and I can’t wait to hit the slopes and rekindle that fire.  So again, why now?  Honestly, I think I have let the pendulum swing a bit too far away from structured training and I need to get it into the center again.  You see, I like improving when racing and training for Xterra’s.  The challenge that the sport presents, whether intrinsic or external, and the victory over or die trying approach to those challenges is what makes this sport so rewarding.

                So, what does the 21 days of Christmas entail?  It will actually be 24 days, so from tomorrow, 11/28 to 12/21.  I have built in 3 “cheat” days for scheduled holiday parties.  During those other 21 days the rules are as follows: 

                Complete every scheduled workout

                Ski or go for fun mountain bike rides whenever possible

                Run a 500-750 calorie deficit/day.  This should result in 3-5 lbs of fat loss over this time.

                Eat strictly Paleo/Primal (that means no more bottles of creativity)

Keep carbs between 50-100 grams/day to facilitate higher % of fat loss and promote metabolic efficiency.

                My hope is that this will not be a complete shit show.  I’m going to write every day about how things have gone.  I promise to keep it honest and funny because I think trying to do things like this can be kinda fun, if a bit OCD.  Hopefully 21 days will get the ball rolling again and I won’t need to do silly challenges with myself about getting off my ass and achieving some goals.  Now that I’ve finished my second Sierra Nevada, I’m going to go rock some twinkle twinkle little star on the piano.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bring on the winter

I am a skier.  I haven't skied much in the past 2 years.  I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  I guess I stopped skiing for a couple of reasons.  I got sick of the drive on I-70 for one.  And as I got more serious about Xterra racing, I found myself training earlier in the winter on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Before I started mountain biking, skiing was my favorite thing to do.  I would still say that a perfect day skiing beats a perfect day mountain biking.  There is something about being out in nature on the mountain on a bluebird day that is unbeatable.  The silence when you are way back in the backcountry on a bluebird day combined with the massive mountains surrounding you and the feeling of just being, for lack of a better word, insignificant, in that grand scene is soul quenching.  it just feels "right".  I've missed this feeling.  I could stand at the top of a ridge immersed in that feeling for quite some time without moving and it is perfect.  I honestly can't wait to get back to that.  I'm sure that my triathlon fitness will be delayed until later in the year.  Well, it can wait.  I'll get there when the time is right.  For now, I need the mountains.  So, I've plunked down the schillings for the epic pass and now I'm waiting for some serious snow.  I know it is only mid-November, but I'm ready. 

I'm going to get some fat powder planks this year so I can really rip some big lines, play more in the trees, hit some bigger cliffs and maybe do some touring.  I'm going to push myself on the mountain this year and try to get back to being the skier I used to be.  I'm not going to venture into the park because I'm over that, and I don't think my body can handle a big fall on the hardpack anyways.  I'm older than my 31 years in that regard.  This body has taken a lot of abuse from my days as a park rat.  That isn't going to keep me from finding my limit again on cliffs and steeps.  Hopefully it won't take too long to recapture what I used to know and be able to do comfortably. 

With that in mind, here is the last decent sized cliff I hit before I hung up the skis 2 years ago.  I'm 90% certain this is the cliff that is as far skiers left as you can go before you get out of bounds off of chair 37 or 38 in Blue Sky Basin at Vail.  For the record, I cleanly dropped this cliff, unlike the joker in this video.  Honestly, get your weight back man!  Nice over the bars though!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been really into Gregory Alan Isakov.  The song 3 a.m. kinda sums up my thoughts about clearing my head, answering some questions and getting back into nature.  Love it right now.

Keep the tips up!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tomorrow is October 1

Tomorrow is the beginning of a new month.  I will be happy to see September go.  I hope that October will be better.  I have reason to believe that it will be.  I love fall, and the temperatures are finally starting to get a bit cooler.  Hopefully October will also have fewer days that I'm working until 9 or 10 pm. 

It is funny how something as small as the flip of a calendar page can be the catalyst for change.  It can motivate you to make changes in your life, or to buckle down and accomplish something you have been putting off.  I hope that I will be able to do both in October.

Jaime and I started doing crossfit a couple of weeks ago at Crossfit Vantage, which is about 1 mile from our house.  I really enjoy it and I know it will make me a better triathlete next year.  They are having a paleo challenge which starts tomorrow.  Jaime and I didn't formally enter it, but we are going to participate ourselves.  In fact, we are going to take it one step further.  We are going to try to achieve ketosis this week (google it for now; I will post about it next week).  The goal is to eat very low carbohydrates so that your body completely changes from glycogen (carb) burning to fat burning.  This means your body will burn more fat essentially.  I need this much more than Jaime at this point, but she is nice enough to join me in this challenge.  To achieve ketosis we need to be around 50 grams of carbs or under per day for a few days.  This is going to be very difficult.  We'll make sure to call our family members before and after so that they know we survived.  Seriously, it is just mentally difficult more than anything.  Yes, we will feel a bit tired, but we don't currently eat a high carbohydrate diet, so I think we'll make it.  How will we know when we've achieved ketosis?   We will pee on ketone sticks first thing in the morning.  When we see dark purple from the sticks, we will have done it.  Then we can go back to a bit higher carb diet (about 80 - 100 grams/day).  I will try to stay in that range as long as I can since I'm not doing extended cardio right now and should be able to complete any workouts I have on the low carb regimine.

 The other big change is that I finally started my training company.  I became a USAT licensed coach way back in July, and haven't set up my business until now.  I'm still getting some things set up, but I have named my company Through The Wall Training, LLC and I'm registered with the appropriate taxing authorities, etc.
(lots of creative work to do and not by me!)
It is a lot of fun getting this stuff set up and being a creator of what my company is.  It is refreshing to do "work" and enjoy it.  Maybe a sign?  One that was pretty clear to me for the longest time.  For the time being I will keep being the best financial analyst I can be, but perhaps someday this will be front and center.

Like I said, October could be a good month.  I'll go to bed tonight with that optimism. 

Happy birthday on Tuesday Mom.  I miss you!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Philosophy of Life

When was the last time you truly found a breaking point in your life?  A chink in your armor so to speak; a weakness you didn’t think you had, or that you had hoped deep down didn’t exist?  It isn’t a happy place to be, but this was where I found myself last week.  We have had some significant changes at work in the past month (just google Dean Foods earnings release to learn more), which have manifested themselves into a much more stressful work environment than we had before.   This time of year always gets tough with next year budgets and end of year targets that need to be achieved, but this announcement has had a significantly larger impact than even I expected.  In short, it has created an amount of additional stress than I just didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with as I was trying to build and peak for Xterra Nationals.  The stress and workload from work by itself is manageable, but in conjunction with the expectations that I put on myself to perform well at nationals, in addition to some big bets that Jaime and I are making with our clinic and the stress that comes along with that, I found that I had overloaded the systems drastically.  This was not a gradual increase.  Honestly, it hit like a sledgehammer.  I had to adjust.  I sacrificed the one thing that could be sacrificed, which was my goals and experience at Xterra Nationals this year.  It is a decision that is sad, but one that I can’t really regret, as I didn’t and still don’t see another option.   

I am a person who can deal with a lot; A LOT.  I nearly double majored in college in finance and math.  I like it when people say things like “this is really hard” or “it can’t be done”.  I take it as a personal challenge that must be overcome.  I saw this situation as a challenge to overcome.  Sometimes though even the most experienced and respected mountaineers abandon their summit approach when it becomes clear that to continue to pursue the goal blindly will lead to unfortunate outcomes.   I came to that conclusion a little over a week ago.  I found out that I had a chink in my armor.  It is apparently not as strong as I thought it was.  It was a week ago Thursday that I finally decided to pull the plug on this season.  I had missed every workout after the previous Saturday.  I was working long hours, and finally on Thursday when I actually had time to get a workout in, I had no motivation to do anything.  I was mentally beaten down.  You see, these days at work are not only long, they are intense.  To create an analogy to training, these are LT workouts all day long at work.  They will leave you spent if done too many days in a row without a break.  This is where I find myself now. 

This place I’m in now, and where I will be in for the foreseeable future…  The real question is, does this type of life make sense for me?  Is this what I want in life?  Can I accept these types of interruptions in the life I want to live, whether they be 2 weeks or ½ a year long?  Can I weather these in the name of a “comfortable” living?  I think it may be more of a philosophical question than one of practicality.  Can I do it?  Yes, of course I can.  Will I be happy with myself if I keep sacrificing the things in my life that make me “me”?  What is the benefit of this type of living?  I can become a better “consumer” and buy more shit that I don’t need or want.  Sure, and the GDP will be thankful.  But will I become poorer because I have sold my soul for pennies on the dollar?  I will be asking myself these questions until I find balance in life again with myself and my job.  Honestly, I like what I do.  I couldn’t ask for a better company to work for, and even more so, I couldn’t ask for better people to work with.  Unfortunately, the nature of a job in Finance, at least in my experience, is that it will many times challenge your work life balance.  To be clear, my balance is really quite difference from most of the people I know.  I consider balance being able to train for an hour in the morning and the evening, working 8 hours a day, and spending the rest of my day taking care of the small things around the house, maybe doing some reading and having good conversation, preferable with my wife, family, friends, neighbors, Tucker, or maybe as a last resort the tree if that is the only thing that wants to converse with me at the time. Honestly, I know the answer, I just don’t really know the solution. 
I haven often described this situation as a trap (my mind immediately goes to that crappy kids game mouse trap where you set up the most elaborate trap that hardly makes any sense, but it actually does work).  When you have no financial commitments in life other than just making rent and buying groceries and paying a few bills, you have “one wall” of the trap built.  When you have debts of any kind, you have 2 walls built.  When you get married you have 3 walls built by the simple fact that you have someone else that matters in your life enough to consider them in the financial equation.  When you buy a house that is a dramatic change in your debt profile, so I count that as wall number 4.  When you have kids, you get the top put on your trap.  That means you really are trapped.  You’ve got to keep slaving away at whatever you are doing in order to provide for your family.  The only way out is the trap door at the bottom.  That is a philosophical discussion for another day.  It may be an overly simplistic way to think of things, but you tell me if you see it differently.
I hope I can find the answer to this dilemma.  Until then, I apologize, but this blog won’t have any posts about epic training sessions, ridiculous gains in fitness or even good paleo eating.  It will most likely be deeper in philosophy about life, and whatever I need to get off my mind and onto “paper”.  Ironically, I often write these posts down with good ‘ol pen and paper because I like to actually write.  I do hope to not become completely detrained and out of shape, but it most likely won’t be worth talking about.  Until the next post, good luck at nationals to everyone going.  Keep the rubber down and go until you blow!






Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Where exactly does this rabbit hole go??

Today's post is a total stray from the usual.  No training talk, no paleo recipes, no race reports, but...culture and introspection; specifically around music.

Music...it is a big part of my life, and always has been.  I'm the type of person who likes to have a soundtrack playing for just about anything I do.  I grew up playing the piano, and I really want to learn to play the guitar if I can find some time; hopefully this winter.  I can't think of a time when I'd rather have the TV on than have music playing in the background while I'm doing stuff like cleaning or cooking, or doing work.  When I'm at work I can't make it through the day without pandora, even if it is against company policy to stream internet radio.  When I am training alone I always bring music with me unless I'm on trails.  In the car, the music is cranked up.  My musical tastes span just about the entire spectrum with the exception of overplayed top 20 garbage and club/autotuned rap.

Lately I have been listening only to singer/songwriter, somewhat folk-type music (generally seems to fall in that category, but not a prerequisite).  This is a drastic change from what I would call my usual soundtracks, such as the Foo Fighters, Audioslave, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, any other hard rock, etc.  I don't know what my sudden draw to this type of music is stemming from, but the beat, the simplicity, and the lyrics just seem to strike a note with me (pun intended).  It started with Gregory Alan Isakov, who I've mentioned in this blog before.  As I have devoured all of his albums and started to find other artists, I have found myself continuing down this path of discovering music that is so un-mainstream, but ridiculously good. 

I discovered Gregory Alan Isakov by watching the Ride The Divide documentary about the Continental Divide mountain bike race from Banff, CA to the Mexico border.  His song called The Stable Song is in the movie.  Maybe it is the visual and emotional context that the song is presented in, or vice versa, but I find that the connection between the song and the wide open spaces along with the personal reflection and inner challenges that are such common themes in the movie have created a really powerful connection in my mind.  They have awakened a previously dormant need for this peaceful place in my mind that I seem to now always be longing to get to.  I find that this type of music and the feeling of being in the outdoors, living simply and for the day, go hand in hand in my mind.  They aren't necessarily what happens in my day to day life, but it is what I work so hard for at least 5 days a week with the hopes that I can achieve it for the other 2.

So who are these artists that I've been following down the rabbit hole?  Well, other than Isakov, I've been listening to Iron and Wine, Ray LaMontagne, Alexi Murdoch, the Lumineers, Ryan Adams (thanks to a good reco), Joe Purdy, Brandi Carlisle, Ingrid Michaelson and too many others that Pandora or Spotify play.  Do you know any others?  I'd love to hear about them!

Here's to discovery in whatever form it takes for you


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Getting ready for Xterra USA Championship

Sorry for the long time between posts.  Things are still busy at work and honestly updating this just took a lower rung on the priority ladder.

So, quick recap, the asian slaw was delicious (check the twitter feed for the recipe), I took a bit of a beating at Beaver Creek (vs. what I had hoped), had an easy week off to recover, and have now buckled down big time for the Xterra USA Championships (more on that in a bit) which is on Sept 22. 

I love the Xterra Nationals race.  The whole week leading up to it is a great time for me and the course is super fun.  We will leave on Wednesday, drive the 8ish hours to Ogden, UT and set up camp right on Pineview reservoir.  I think there is just something about camping and racing that is more fun.  I guess it is the total unplug from regular society, the computers and tv and blackberry and responsibilities and all of those other things that get in the way of just beign outside and enjoying life. 

We'll run the course Wed night, ride the course on Thurs, do a prep workout on Friday and go balls to the wall on Saturday.  Then those of us who didn't make it to Worlds can celebrate another fun year with the Xterra crew after the race.  Nothing like beers, a campfire, stories from the battle, and some of the most fun, laid back people I know.

Last year I put in some big weeks in the month between the Beaver Creek race and Nationals.  It seemed to work well, so I figured lets do it again.  So, I've put a couple of 17-18 hour weeks in with one more big one to go.  My body is absorbing the training well, and I'm having a good time really testing myself.  I guess that is why I love this sport so much.  It isn't where I place in a race, or how fast I go that really matters to me, but it is how much and how hard I can push myself and resetting where my limits are.  If I go faster or place better, well, that's cool too.  I'll try to put some stuff up about these big workouts when I can, and if I can remember to stop and take a picture of some of the great places these long rides and runs take me then even better.

Keep breaking down your barriers....and keep on living the good life.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

2 great weekend getaways! (This isn't a travel ad)

Well, we have been away for a couple of weekends for weddings, so I've fallen behind again updating this little hobby.  A week and a day ago, we were at our friends Jason and Alexis's wedding in Crested Butte.  The wedding was beautiful and everyone had a good time.  Jaime cut a rug and I had fun watching.  Every time we go to Crested Butte it reaffirms just how much it is my favorite place that I have been.  I somehow need to figure out how to move us there permanantly.  It wasn't all wedding activities that weekend though.  A few of the guests, including the groom, raced in the Fat Tire 40.  Talk about a fun race!  Probably my favorite race that I have done.  Also the toughest.  40 miles of sweet Crested Butte trails, and tons of climbing and technical descending (5,000 ft by my garmin, or 7500 according to the website).  I've never done a mtn bike race that long so I paid for it.  I had some really bad cramping at mile 32 and suffered up the last long climb before finishing on the downhill course, which was just rad.  I ended up 19th in the Wildcat class with a time of 4:27:39  I can't wait to get back there for a training camp to ride some more trails.

deer creek
Deer Creek Trail - part of the Fat Tire 40 course:  Courtesy of www.singltracks.com, user bonkedagain

This weekend we were at our friends Maija and Adam's wedding.  Another beautiful wedding outside with the splendor of the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop.  We had a great time meeting their family and other friends.  On Sunday we drove over to Beaver Creek to get a pre ride and run in on the Xterra course.  More climbing climbing climbing.  The legs didn't feel great today, which always makes you question if there will be there on race day.  Things will lighten up with some race specific workouts to keep sharp in the next couple of weeks, so I'm not too worried about being ready.  This week should be a quiet week at the office with lots of people taking advantage of the mid-week holiday and taking the rest of the week off.  Hopefully I can get caught up a little be there and maybe get ahead of a few things so the week leading up to Beaver Creek is less stressful.  As it looks now, that week could be a rough one. 

Last year my times at Beaver Creek were:
Swim:  22:51
T1:  1:21
Bike:  1:34:43
T2:  :40
Run:  46:48
Total:  2:46:31

This year my goals are
Swim:  22:30
T1:  1:20
Bike:  1:30:00
T2:  40
Run:  45:30
Total:  2:40:00

On a non-training note, I found a good recipe for an asian coleslaw that looks to be paleo friendly that I can't wait to try with some salmon tomorrow night.  I'll be sure to put the recipes for both up if it turns out good.  That's all for now.

Train smart

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Should I be concerned?

So far so good this week.  Nailed the speed swim Monday morning, had a good functional strength session Monday night, had a decent swim Tuesday morning and a nice aerobic run in some serious heat Tuesday night.  Getting lots of stuff done at the office and have been super paleo on my eating the past 4 days.  That's another side effect of the higher work stress....hitting the snack bowls full of junk at the office.  You can really feel a difference when you are very strict and then slip up.

So I got an interesting email today from training peaks.  The subject read:  Threshold notification for Nick Swanson.  The body read:

"After analyzing the data you uploaded into your TrainingPeaks account, we believe your threshold(s) have changed. Below are the threshold(s) we believe to be correct according to our analysis of your data:

Suggested Pace Threshold: 8:25 min/mile
Current Pace Threshold: 6:26 min/mile"

Now, I admit, my threshold pace is not a 6:26 mile, or at least I haven't done anything to prove that it is this year.  However, it surely isn't 8:25/mile either.  Just thought that this was funny.  It would be one thing if a training partner shot me a jab telling me that I was getting slower, but for my training log to tell me that, well, I can't even fire back. 

I guess I've got some work to do!

Happy training


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Catching up

It has been awhile since my last post.  Things have been really busy with training and working both in my day job and the side gig, working in the yard, chores, etc.  Race season has quickly come and is actually almost 1/3 over!  To quickly summarize:

Las Vegas:  Great race up until the run.  Unlucky timing on #2 #2 of the day.

Voodoo Fire Mtn Bike race:  flatted out.  Fun trails - just not to race on.

Summer open sprint tri:  Raced hard.  Ridiculously crappy day to be outside.  Seriously 3 ft swells on Union reservoir.  Bike wasn't so much fun either with the wind.  I wore a jacket because it was cold, so it was like having a parachute attached.  Not a great result.

Xterra 4 corners:  Had a really good race.  2nd in age group, somewhere around top 10 overall.  The race course got vandalized so the run course was kinda hosed up, but most of us ran roughly the same 4.2ish miles.

Winter Park Hill Climb:  Ouch.  First race in expert class.  Finished exactly in the middle of my age group, or 4th out of 7.  Had 2 and 3 held to 20 seconds for first 3 miles, but couldn't hang on.  Ended up needing about 2 mins better, but was happy with 42:49 as my time.

Next up:  Clif Bar Fat Tire 40.  40 miles, 7500 ft of climbing.  Followed by friends Jason and Alexis's wedding all in the mtn bike capital of Crested Butte.  CAN'T WAIT!

Training in general has been very hit or miss with consistency being hard to accomplish.  My boss left our company, so I've had to step up my workload considerably.  Some weeks things go smoothly, other weeks I miss key workouts, such as last week when I missed a key LT bike/run combo then a key swim session on back to back days.  Even when I can make the workouts from a time standpoint it is increasingly difficult to get in the right state of mind mentally.  By the end of the day my brain is fried.  Hopefully some help is coming but in the near term I am trying not to dwell too much on missed workouts and just make the workouts that I get in really count.

The Xterra Mountain Championships are the next key race.  Lots of climbing training sessions on the bike and run are the formula right now.  That race would have the swim go uphill if it could!  I am very much looking forward to it though.  After the race Jaime and I are going to see Brandi Carlisle at Red Rocks with Gregory Alan Isakov opening for her.  I have become a huge fan of Isakov's and I enjoy Brandi's music as well, so it should be an all around fun weekend.

Time for some rest.  Another big week starts tomorrow morning with a speed swim.  Gotta get the arms moving faster!


Friday, April 6, 2012

Why did I wait so long to go here?

Fruita....Wow, what a mountain bikers paradise!  I've lived in Colorado for almost 5 years now and I had never made it out to Fruita until last weekend.  I can't believe how good the mountain biking is, and it is only 4 hours from Denver.

Team Adrenalin/EPC went out for a mountain bike training camp last weekend to hone our skills before the race season starts in Las Vegas next week.  The riding in Fruita is quite a bit different than the Front range.  I would say that there is less climbing to be done in Fruita, although I'm sure you can find it.  There are areas that are like Moab, with rocky, technical ledges, and then there is lots of fun flowing singletrack all over the place that is super fun to session. 

Friday we went out to the western rim trail.  Much of the trail looks out over the Colorado river and runs along the rim, above it, hence the name.  The scenery out here is beautiful.  I have always enjoyed the southwestern landscape, with the red rock and buttes and dramatic cliffs, all dotted by low bush and scrub.  When you add in the greenish Colorado river below, I'm not sure you can ask for much more.

Jaime riding up the ridge

On Saturday we met up with Lee McCormack who is the guru when it comes to teaching people how to really ride a bike.  We dialed in our new skills at the Fruita bike park, had some lunch, then headed out to the trails at 18 road for some seriously fun single track.  We rode up Prime Cut, then rode down Joe's Ridge, then back up the dirt road and did two laps on Kessel Run.  Here's a video of Joe's Ridge to give you an idea of just how much fun it is.

I could have sessioned these trails for many more hours, but we had to get back to town for a cookout, which was a great time.  It was fun to sit around a fire and talk about what we learned and our upcoming race season. 

The next morning we got up, got a quick ride in and headed back home to Denver.  All in all it was a great trip.  Jaime and I both learned a lot of skills.  Jaime had her first real mountain bike crashes, which is good because you've got to learn that falls don't really hurt that bad.  Although she did taco her front wheel pretty good!

I can't wait to get back here to ride some more.  In the meantime it is one more week of race prep training, then a taper week and then the Xterra West Championships!

Happy trails!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Corrective Actions Taken

Last week was a tough one…  Last week was the second week in a tough 3 week block that is a key block in getting ready for Las Vegas.  The first week of the block was executed perfectly – or so I thought.  Little did I know that during this whole week the train was going off the track little by little.  I nailed all of my key workouts, culminating with the biggest day of the year so far on Saturday March 3.  Cody, Chris and I started the day with masters swim at 6:30, joined by Jaime and Kathy.  Then the three of us rode down to do the hour of power rides at 9 and 10 with some other EPC’ers.  These are fast group rides with quite a lot of race efforts in them.   After about 3.5 hours in the saddle fighting the wind, we ran for an hour through Bear Creek Park with some hard 6 minute efforts.  I made it through the day, but it took its toll.

I felt fine on Sunday, getting a 4km swim in and then on Monday I nailed my hard hill run.  Tuesday is when the wheels sort of came off.  I just had no energy, so I skipped my AM swim and barely made it through the trainer class Tuesday night.   I didn’t sleep will Sunday or Monday night, so that didn’t help.  The bigger problem, I think, was a macronutrient deficiency.  The great thing about the Paleo diet is that you are eating food that your body has evolved to eat.  That naturally means it is higher in protein and healthy fats due to a caveman’s tendency to hunt and kill animals as opposed to grow crops.  It also means that it is naturally lower in carbohydrates than the typical American diet.  This generally is a healthier approach.  However for an endurance athlete it means you have to make a concerted effort to get, natural, minimally processed carbohydrates into your diet.

When I went back and analyzed my diet, I had been getting about 0.6 gram/kg of protein, 1 gram/kg of fat and about 3-3.5 grams/kg of carbohydrate.  At a minimum I should be getting 5-7 grams/kg of carbohydrates every day and 10-12 grams/kg on big days like Saturday. 

The net result of all of this is that I had to take Wednesday completely off, only do an easy spin on Thursday, and an easy strength session and stretch cords on Friday.  I was back to my normal energy levels on Saturday and was able to hit the masters swim and hour of power ride again.  On Sunday I had a really good race simulating run of 4.3 miles averaging 6:40/mile. 

Lots of fruits, both fresh and dried (apricots, dates and raisins are best since they usually don’t have sugar added, which would make them definitely not Paleo) are being added back to my diet.  I also started taking First Endurance Optygen which helps with energy among other things.  I have already noticed a difference and I’m going to make sure to monitor things much more closely in terms of my macronutrient balance in addition to the overall caloric intake. 
Paleo diet carbo loading!  Yum!

I’m really looking forward to hard work this week before a recovery week next week.  I always hate missing workouts, but had I pushed through last week there is a good chance I would have ended up in a hole that would have been really difficult to dig out of and may have missed more than 2 key days.  Sometimes you have to listen to your body rather than fight it.
Jaime was also feeling run down, so we are adjusting her program down a bit since she really needs to build her aerobic base more than add intensity.  Broad bases make for higher peaks!  She also needed to be getting more carbs, hence the massive amounts of bananas and other fruits.

Best song this week...well it happened to be on the radio on my way to the first 6:30 masters class.  Jack Johnson's Banana Pancakes came on, which reminded me of Hawaii, which is why I"m working so hard - to make it to the Xterra World Championships in Maui.

The first crack at qualifying is just over 1 month away at the West Championships in Las Vegas.  Jaime is going to race the sprint race for her first tri in 2+ years!  Can't wait to make the trip!  Also on tap is a weekend in Fruita at the end of the month.  I'm very ready to get in some riding on dirt!

Train smart


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Phew, we made it through this block

What a solid week!!  Jaime and I just wrapped up our 2nd three week block of training today.  I think we are both very ready for a recovery week to recharge our bodies.  We both had a really solid week, capped off by a nice, relatively speaking, weekend.  In addition to good training sessions, we went to a comedy club in Westminster on Friday night which was a really good time.  Good to get some laughs!

This weekend had a nice long run on Saturday around Bear Creek Lake park, then a long swim at Wheat Ridge Rec Center.  Today we had a nice long ride from Morrison to Golden, 3 trips up lookout mountain, and back to Morrison.  The ride was very well attended by the Adrenalin powered by EPC team with a good combination of various paces.  It was so nice to finally get back outside.  I think I actually got a bit of a sunburn on my face today!  Not positive, but I think I set a PR up lookout on the first trip up.  I'll have to go back through my training logs to find out.

Next week will be a much needed recovery week for Jaime and I.  I'm really looking forward to doing the next round of swim and run fitness tests after some days of light activity and recovery to see where my fitness is at.

It is looking like the plan to qualify for the World Champs at the race in Alabama has had a wrench thrown in.  The Alabama race is now the ITU world championships, so I will now attempt to qualify at the West Championship race in Las Vegas in less than 2 months (yikes!).  Press release here:  http://www.xterraplanet.com/news/press_article.cfm?id=3200 
This is relatively suboptimal, since I'm really just building back the fitness from last year and most of the athletes in the southwestern part of the country are in the middle part of their season.  I will go and do my best and if things work out, great, otherwise, I'm not going to get too worked up over it.

There were 2 great paleo meals that we made this week.  On Saturday night Jaime went out to dinner for a girls night, so I made a grilled flank steak with my favorite rub and sauteed onions, peppers and garlic, with roasted Yam chips.  The key to this steak is the rub.  It is a mixture of cocoa powder, ancho chili powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  You can play around with the proportions, but generally speaking I like to go in declining % of the total as ancho, then cocoa, then garlic, cinnamon, salt, pepper.  Rub the steak down, brush with extra virgin olive oil and grill to medium rare.  I prefer to cook the food while listening to my Wilco station on pandora on the TV, but that is your call.  Top the steak with the onions and peppers, serve with the chips on the side.  Delicious!

 The other good paleo meal was sauteed salmon with roasted butternut squash, crispy kale chips, all dressed with a maple sherry vinaigrette.  Kale chips may be my new favorite food.

My favorite workout this week was probably today's ride.  We had a solid group out there today and pushed each other.  Best workout song was Moth by Audioslave, which came on during Wednesday's AeT run (which happened to be one of my best runs of the year).

Keep training hard and don't forget to rest when you body says to.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New stuff is fun!

Last week was a big week for me.  I took the plunge and bought my first new bike since Jaime and I got married 3+ years ago.  It certainly doesn't seem like I've been riding my Specialized S-Works Epic for that long, but it's true.  I went with the Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er 1.  That was definitely the highlight of the week for me, even though the time spent at the shop cost me a run.

The week started off pretty bad training wise, with some stomach problems from some evil non-paleo superbowl food, then we had some visitors, then the night at the shop.  Things got on track Thursday and I pushed it pretty hard through the weekend.  I netted 2 swims, 3 runs and 2 rides, plus one day of weights/core.  Not bad considering I missed 3 days.  Extra recovery isn't necessarily a bad thing though.  Better to be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained, or so some very smart people have said.

It was another pretty rough weather weekend.  A small, hardy group of 5 joined in on the Saturday run.  We cut it to about 1:15:00 since it was about 7 degrees out when we started.  Snow and cold temps kept the riding inside again, so I had another 3 hour cruise in the living room.  Here's how that went:
Description, Time, Watts

Warm up, 10
Spin up 90-120 rpm, 3
easy, 1
Spin up 90-150, rpm 3
easy, 1
Big gear ILT, 7
easy, 1
Easy gear ILT, 6
easy, 2
Standing Climb 50-60 RPM, 15, 210-220
easy, 2
Seated Climb 50-60 RPM, 15, 210-220
easy, 2
Standing Climb 50-60 RPM, 15, 210-220
easy, 2
Seated Climb 50-60 RPM, 15, 210-220
easy, 5
Endurance, 5, 170
Tempo, 10, 200
Sweet Spot, 5, 215
easy, 5
Endurance, 5, 170
Tempo, 10, 200
Sweet Spot, 5, 215
easy, 5
Endurance, 5, 170
Tempo, 10, 200
Sweet Spot, 5, 215
Spin out at 110-120 rpm, 3
Easy, 2

Hopefully I won't have to do that again, but the odds are not in my favor.

Song of the week:  Running up that hill by Placebo.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Goals are Powerful Motivators

Another week is in the books.  Last week was a solid week despite the huge snowstorm last Friday.  I managed to get in 3 swims, 3 runs and 3 rides, along with 2 strength sessions.  The weekend training was where the goals as powerful motivators came into play.  Jaime and I did our long run on the track and treadmill on Saturday for 1.5-1.75 hours, then swam for about an hour.  The next day, we followed it up by riding our trainers for 2-3 hours.  Talk about boring.  If it wasn't for the goal of getting faster and qualifying for worlds, those workouts would have been pretty much impossible for me to mentally get through. 

We finished up the week by going to a friends house for the Superbowl.  Great game, tasty food, but when you don't eat outside of the paleo diet, it really hurts the stomach when you do. 

Best workout song of the week was definitely Renegade by The Styx.  Heard it during Tuesday's trainer class, and it came back on during the long run on Saturday.  Oldie but a goodie!

That's all for now.  Remember, spring will be here soon. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Times, Bad Times...Queue the Zeppelin

Fitness testing....Always an interesting time.  It is a race against yourself.  The results can be motivating whether good or bad, or they can be disappointing.  I ran through both on Saturday.  Jaime and I joined some of our teammates for our first AeT run test of the year. The test basically measures how aerobically fit you are.  Your times/mile should come down as you gain fitness. 

So, the test goes like this:  Warm up for a couple of miles, then run 2-4 miles (25-30 mins depending on your speed) right at your AeT heart rate.  Take your average for the test miles and that is your AeT pace that you can use to establish how fast you should be running depending on the goals of a particular workout.  Last year I tested at around 7:40/mile at roughly this time last year.  This year...8:15.  There is the "bad time" of the weekend.  Clearly it was quite a disappointment, as I feel like I have been running much better in regular training sessions.  I do think my HR monitor was off, but no excuses, there is work to be done.

Next test, later that afternoon was a swim test.  After some warming up and some sets to build up to faster paces, you do a 100M time trial, a 200M time trial, and a 400M time trial, with some easy recovery swimming between the tests.  Thankfully this one went much better with PR's at all distances (1:20, 2:52, 6:03).  Good Times.

While one result was disappointing, and another was the highlight of the week, they both serve as great motivators.  On the one hand it is clear that I have work to do to get my run back to where it should be.  On the other hand, what I am doing swimming is showing some big improvements, which makes me want to keep going to the pool and working hard.

Good time # 2.  Jaime and I went to a paleo dinner party hosted by our teammate Chris and his wife Amy, and also joined by our friends Cody and Kathy.  The food was amazing; butternut squash latkes, curried shrimp and scallops, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and paleo ice cream!  Not a thing made from cows or grains anywhere, and it was delicious.  Definitely the best paleo meal of the week for both of us.

He was there, I saw him...
We finished off the week with what was looking like a great group ride over at Lookout Mountain.  We had about 12-15 people show up, which always makes things more fun.  The weather was warm, but there were some pretty strong winds.  By the time we got to the top of lookout the clouds had rolled in dropping the temperature by what felt like 20 degrees and the wind was just honkin'.  After a really sketchy descent, we all decided to hightail it back to the cars and call it a good day with just one climb.  More good times; Jaime set new power records for every duration between 1 minute and 90 minutes today.  The power agent software tracks all of the data you upload from your powertap and keeps track of your best power for given time periods.  During today's ride she beat every one of those records.  Someone is getting faster...fast!  Good times indeed.

I will start closing my posts with my favorite training song of the week, and if I can find anything motivating, funny, or otherwise interesting I be sure to share it.

Favorite song this week was:  Good Times Bad Times - Led Zeppelin (didn't see that coming?)

Motivating....I don't know, but I want to go ride here in August.  Author Credit: Tom Mozer

CDT behind Alberta Peak near Wolf Creek Pass, Co; http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where the hell did January go?

Lactate threshold test with coach Cody Waite from EPC Multisport
It is pretty hard to believe that January is already over. Maybe because this January really felt like March or April. Trust me, I'm not complaining. It has been a fun first month of the year. Training kicked back up just after the new year. There were some initial tests to establish how much fitness was lost during the off season, then it was time to build it back up.

Jaime and I have both been having a great time with our team's Tuesday/Thursday trainer workouts. The weekends have been really nice, so we have been outside getting our trail runs in at Bear Creek Park on Saturdays and our long road rides in on Sundays. Even swimming is more fun this year now that we have switched gyms to Wheat Ridge Rec Center. So far we have both had a decent start to the year, so I hope we can keep the momentum going.

Right now we are in a recovery week, which worked out well because I had a 2.5 day offsite for work in Vail. Good times were had by all. I got in a half day of skiing with some friends from work, and we all charged pretty hard for about 4 hours. I had some nice spills as I was embarrassingly rusty. I have the slight whiplash to take home as a souvenir. All in all, it was a good time.