Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quassy

This past Monday we took the kids to an amusement park, a small amusement park, but an amusement park nonetheless. The park was Lake Quassapaug (Quassy) in Middlebury, CT. Some of you tri peeps might know the location from Rev3. While Alexandra has been to Disney, that hardly counts. She was really little and didn't really experience the park.

The biggest adult decision of the day was to go on a weekday and not weekend. It could have been hell had it been crowded. After that the day was as much about me being a kid again as a parent...and it was awesome. We started the day on the "Mad Mouse", a little coaster from 1920 or so. I was terrified that the damn thing would hurl us off the track and we'd free fall to the ground! And I don't think my kids will ever let me forget screaming like a little girl as we vanished into the darkness of "the Big Flush", a water curvy slide which is entirely in the dark! Then there was the water park, the "Saturation Station." A good amount of time was also spent in the lake swimming with lots of little fishies. Then it was back to the Big Flush with Alexandra while Dylan and Mommy checked out some rides that Dylan had his eye on.

I managed to keep the "investment" in crappy midway stuffed animals to $8.00. Of course to pull this off I had to throw the squirt gun game, not once, but twice. And yes the kids made sure to let me know that "You're not very good at this game Daddy." I didn't make it too obvious. A miss here and there, no more than a couple seconds, and they would win.

Today I was back at work, at a job that I actually like, and was struck by how contrived our "real lives" are. Raw emotion, laughter, and fun with loved ones; that is real. Worrying about whether or not we have an indicator for "Criticized Loans" in our new database, kind of silly. Sure the second decision has lots of implications surrounding it which could effect millions of dollars, but maybe the takeaway there is that real life isn't really about money, now is it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pace = Patience

I'm enjoying the final night of my first "vacation" from my new job, a 4 day weekend in Connecticut. In two weeks we go on a real vacation to the Cape. This past weekend had been spent in Lake Placid, NY the past couple of years, and while it would be nice to think of those trips as "vacations", truthfully they were anything but. Sure they were fun and there are lots of life long memories, but they were work. So this year we deviated from the norm and did nothing. well, okay not nothing. We went to a family party and then played with the kids the whole time. In the midst of this I did some run training in the heat in humidity to log how my body was currently handling such things as well as to conduct an experiment. So yeah, we didn't deviate from the norm that much. We did go as a family to an amusement park, and it wasn't a stressful nightmare, so that was new!

The Running

I went out for a run in the late morning on Saturday and it was hot and humid. The air temperature was 96 degrees in the shade making it 100 or greater on the road for much of the run. The run is about 8.5 miles and to give context, here's my data on the exact course in late May. For that May run I went out in the morning so it was still cool, upwards of 25-30 degrees cooler than Saturday. If all other things are equal the temperature increase should have slowed me to about 1:00 to 1:01. As it was I ran 1:04. Why the drop? Bad pacing. Purposely bad pacing, but bad pacing.

I ran a normal pace for the first 3-4 miles. I held up well over this distance, but found my hr creeping up pretty high. On the big climb that took me to the halfway point of the run, my heart hit my functional max (170bpm) and things started to come apart a little. The extra effort required to run at a pace derived in cooler temperatures was overheating my core. What you'll see in my Garmin file is that I can't get my hr to really come back down very quickly after I red line it. It'll drift down some, but no drop offs like I typically see after finishing a climb. Miles 4-6 in the "Player" view of the May file, plotting Elevation and Heart Rate, demonstrate this. So once the core is overheated and you're in the heat of the day, the only way to keep things together is to really back off the pace. Had I gone out more conservatively, odds are I come in faster than a 1:04, maybe closer to the 1:01, because I wouldn't have had to slow down as much to just keep from falling apart completely. So there are a couple of take aways here: 1) if you are training by pace, the pace shouldn't be what you've logged in the lovely spring training sessions, its that pace adjusted for the conditions. 2) Discretion is the better part of valor. You lose way more time if you blow up and have to slow, than if you just manage the pacing right from the beginning.

My biggest indicator of current "durability" is the ability to run the day after a hard workout. Indeed the hardest workout for me in Ironman training is ALWAYS the long run day following the long bike day. Running, even running somewhat long, on the same day as the bike never proves as difficult. While not incredibly long, the stress of the Saturday run qualified as a hard day. So I set out to try and recover, and attend a family function, and then run again Sunday. Sunday it was hot again, but I did a couple of things in my favor this time. 1st I pre-cooled my core by hanging in the pool for 20min or so before the run. 2nd I kept the run short (~4.4 miles). This file reads more like a normal run for me. As soon as I back off the effort, I see my heart rate come down fast. And I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to come back after being pretty gassed the day before.

So is there another take away here? For me the key to analyzing heart rate data is in the slope of the graph, not in the absolute numbers. Environment clearly plays a big part in these absolute numbers, but with a proper pacing approach even extreme circumstances can track in a normal fashion from the standpoint of the rate of heart rate change given a change in effort.

(My best example of this, which unfortunately comes before the Garmin days so there is no file, is the Mooseman Triathlon run in 2008. That day was hot, really hot. They measured 98-100 degrees on the road. On that day I ran with my head and despite really hating every minute of it, ran myself to an age group 3rd place. My running form was great that year and I was experiencing what I call "instantaneous heart rate response". I was able to move my heart rate up or down at any time with just minor variances in effort and really notice things like how much more quickly fluids cleared my gut at 154bpm as opposed to 158bpm (threshold rate).)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Relaxing is hard work

I'm nursing more aches and pains now than when I'm seriously training. Sore shoulders, knees, you name it. Leanna's getting ready to trade me in for a newer model! Take yesterday for example, I injured myself picking up dinner. Okay there's a little more to the story than that, but sadly not much. I was walking in the door carrying our mexican take-out, and the next thing I was hitting the ground with all my weight on my left elbow. Hurt like a mother. Thought I would hurl. Turns out little "D" had turtled on the threshhold rather than walking right in. Because my hands were full I couldn't see him so down I went. He and Alexandra were upset to see Daddy writhing in pain on the floor. Alexandra brought me the blanket she uses for her dolls and Dylan brought me his Snoopy. All of this while I was still on the floor! Yes, the thought was very sweet.

I already had a minor, nagging issue related to an impingement in my right shoulder. And the ankle...can't forget about the ankle (too much fun in the sand!). Yeah, time for that mega-bottle of Advil from BJs and some focus on rehab. And no Leanna, you cannot hire the pool boy that looks like he's from "Twilight". We don't even have a pool!

So I think I want to race some sprint tris again. I used to be pretty good at these. I haven't actually raced anything shorter than an Olympic distance tri since 2003, and only a few of those. Since 2006 it's been almost exclusively 1/2 and full Ironman. Maybe it's from being bumped and bruised again and realizing that bumps and bruises aren't the end of the world, but I think it might do me some good to get right into the middle of some scrum in the water at a sprint tri and then bustin' ass on my bike and run.

You might have noticed a dearth of training data from me lately. Well I've been mostly training naked (minds out of the gutter please), which is to say w/o my Garmin or any other watch. I've just been focusing on pacing and feeling smooth without the mental stress of watchign crappy performance numbers come up because we're into week 3 or 4 of 90+ degree weather. No I'm not complaining about the weather, just making the point that one needs to provide some accommodation for performance when the weather is like this, and the best way for me to do that is to leave the watch.

I'm really going to miss LP this weekend. I raced there the last two years, the two best Ironman years of my life. Good luck friends.

(If you were looking for deep thought/philosophical musings, well sorry. I've got nothing right now.)