Monday, March 21, 2011

About Progress

As an endurance athlete, we live in a world of repetition.  The laps, the miles, the saddle time.  It's all about doing it over and over again, in an effort to improve, above all, technique.

If successful in our efforts we get rewarded with improved time and/or increased efficiency.  All this is well and good.

A bigger reward, however, comes in the form of progress.  Visual, measurable, actual progress.  Something we can wrap our hands around.  Something we can take to the bank.

I don't know about anyone else but this is what keeps me coming back again and again.  Each step forward I take is a reward.  Each second taken off, each stroke taken off a lap.  Yes, this IS what keeps me coming back.

There are other, equally important WOW moments that make it all worthwhile.  Yesterday I had one of those.

While on a bike ride with our tri team, we approached a hill.  Not just a hill.  The mama of all hills.  Well, it looked like the mama of all hills.  As I approached it all I could think was "God, please give me the legs, and the heart, to make it to the top... alive."

To the experienced rider, this may not have looked like much.  To me it looked like the end of life.  But it was time to test myself, to test the progress, to test my training.

According to calculations, the vertical change was 208 feet.  The Horizontal Distance was .62 miles which made the grade a 6.35%.

I buckled down, got my mind set in the task ahead.  Shifted to the appropriate gears and asked for divine intervention.  Half way through the climb I remember thinking "WOW, simply WOW.  I was on my way and the top was within reach."

I had not been on this road before so I did not realize that I had to do it all over again.  The second climb was just as intense but not as long.  And I made it through without consequence.

The payoff is huge.  Progress is visible, measurable and real.  All the spin classes and the trainer miles during the winter months, along with the strength and conditioning is paying off.

Progress is a great thing.  This IS why I keep coming back.

Monday, March 7, 2011

About The Music

I don't know about you, but one of the first things I did when I first started running a few years back was to get my mp3 music player filled with songs I thought I wanted to hear when I was out on the road.  I have never been an iPod kind'a person.  Can't tell you why, but I have never owned one.  Instead, I have gone through two Sansa's.  The price was right and they seemed to do the job I needed done.

As I  entered into the world of triathlon, I found that there really was no time to mess with these during events, so I have never used it during such.  Not to mention the fact that on most of these events, they are strictly prohibited.  I do, however, find myself using it during all runs.

Through the years, I added a song to my play list here and there, but overall it has remained pretty much the same.  I have searched for suggestions and asked of others what they have on theirs.  Problem is that a music list is a very personal thing.  I have not found enough variety to keep my list growing.

With the advent of the new smart phones, the Droid to be exact, because that's what I have, I discovered a service that has solved all my issues; it has given me variety and choice.

I'm talking about Pandora Radio.

Disclaimer:  I am not endorsing this service, I am merely sharing what I have found to be of great use for me.

If you're not familiar with Pandora, in a nutshell you create "stations" either by choosing songs or artists.  Once you find one, Pandora creates a "station" which plays songs similar in music genre.  You can create as many "stations" as you wish.  You select a station you want to hear, or you can choose a "Quick Mix" which selects random songs from your different "stations".

Pretty simple.

As I was getting pretty bored of listening to the same songs over and over again, this service has solved this issue for me.

Only problem I've found (but was easily solved) is that depending on where I was running, I would loose the satellite signal on my phone and would loose, temporarily, the music feed.  I was wearing the phone attached to my fuel belt.  I'm now wearing the phone around my left arm.  Problem has been solved.

Oh yeah, as you log in to your account via your phone, you get a warning that this uses a large amount of data and that your battery may be drained quickly.  I have not had an issue with this.
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sometimes You Just Have To Keep On Keeping On

This week started as most every other week before it.  Event-less.  But as mid-week came, one unfortunate event and things got thrown for a loop.

On Wednesday, I went out for a routine 30 mile bike ride.  Had just enough time before the sun went down to get my miles in.  Somewhere around mile 5 it happened.  My first spill of the year.  I approached an intersection and I saw that the car coming towards the intersection had not noticed me and was not about to stop.  I hit the breaks hard and did not have enough time to un-clip my left shoe, so down I went.

The whole thing happened in slow motion.  First, and only thing that came to mind was "my new bike".  I stretched my arm and landed on my hand.  Twisted the wrist, jammed the elbow and shoulder.  Scraped the knee a bit.

Immediately upon being able to un-clip and get up, I proceeded to first check my bike.  Once I saw that it was alright, I took a physical inventory of my left arm.  It was sore and the hand was bleeding a bit.  The man in the house on the corner yelled:  "Are you hurt?", I replied: "Just my pride".  We both laughed and as I saddled my bike again, I waved goodbye and off I went.

I tried for a few miles to shake the soreness off the knee but it was getting tighter.  I opted just to count my blessings and call it a day.

On Thursday, I ventured into the pool.  Wanted to get 2100 yds in.  At 1500 I was kicked off the pool because of swim classes and water aerobics.  Things were just not working out for me this week.  

Took Friday off.  Was not going to press my luck that day.

The weekend was heavily scheduled.  Three hour plus bike ride on Saturday and two hour run on Sunday (today).

The weather turned ugly and on Saturday I ended up doing 50.5 miles on the trainer.  One of the hardest things I have ever done.  Riding that long on a trainer ranks up there with running a mile on the treadmill.  But I got it done.

Today the weather was better in that it was not raining but the temperature had plummeted to the mid-30's.  Normally not that bad running weather but when you have put away (in your mind) your winter/cold weather running gear and then are forced to take it out, yeah... it was hard.  And the wind was howling.  Got 11.1 miles in.

All in all, the week turned out half way decent, considering what it could have been.  99 total, combined miles.

Week ending March 6, 2011