Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Twelve Years Ago....

...our twins were born. They were tiny, each weighing in at about 3 1/2 pounds. They spent the first month or so of their life in the NICU. The nurses "bunked" them together, they seemed to function better that way.

We brought them home and spent a lot of time with them snuggled up on our chests.

Rob had a bit more hair then!

Today they are twelve years old. They still enjoy being together, and would rather play with each other than anyone else on the earth.

Playing house "Oklahoma Style".

She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. She is your twin, your sister. ~Barbara Alpert

Happy Birthday Payton and Paige!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Tale of Two Seasons

In the summer of 2006, Mark Van Akkeren (MarkyV) excitedly carried his laptop into my house and fired it up on my kitchen counter. “The new performance manager is here, look at this!” he said. He demonstrated how he was projecting his training and taper by altering his stress scores (TSS) in advance on the new cycling peaks software. I was new to training with power and I was still learning the nuances of this new device. I said, “that’s cool.” I didn’t have the depth of understanding and enthusiasm Mark was hoping for. At that time, I just had time to train and the time I spent analyzing data was minimal, but I recorded my rides daily and they were stored away in my cycling peaks file for later analysis. Mark continued to send me his charts throughout the next year and I began to get a better feel for his methods as time went on, but I continued to train by "feel" and taper by "feel".

This past year, I went into my old files and analyzed the anatomy of my good season last year and compared it to my poor season this year. I loaded up the charts on the computer and looked at them. Granted, this is only cycling data, it still gave me a feel for my fitness during both seasons, because the other sports training paralleled my cycling. Below is an image of my 2008 season. Click to enlarge. Following that is an image from 2007 season.
The first thing that I found, which was obvious, was the lack of consistency and progression this year in comparison to last year. I missed a lot of days this year. I just couldn’t get myself out the door. The rides that I did do, lacked direction, focus, and intensity. My motivation was lacking and I just didn’t get out and hit it like I should have. There were a lot of gaps in training and my (chronic training load)CTL, the blue line, and (acute training load)ATL, the red line, numbers were low. My CTL didn’t get much over 25/d for this entire season. In 2007, I was hovering in the 60’s all year and before Hawaii, I was in the upper 80’s. This year, I went into races unprepared but I still had fun despite my lack of performance. I needed the break physically and mentally.

I read this post on Joe Friel's blog and now understand that I what I did by “feel” in 2007, was right on despite not having a graph to look at. The CTL dropped around 10% before each race, and the (training stress balance) TSB rose above the zero line to just below +20, before each race.

I took a little break after Buffalo Springs, then started my massive build for Hawaii around July 4th. In 2007, I had one day on the bike with a TSS of 450, a 160 mile ride, and a peak of 133TSS/d week during that same week in July. My TSB dropped to -60 that week. I cooked myself that day, but I remember the next day I was able to go out and still run 13 miles at a 7 min pace. You can see this huge peak (red spike)in ATL in late July. This might have been a bit too much, but I was preparing myself for the potentially horrible weather conditions that the Big Island can throw at you. It was the “Epic Camp” approach.

If you look at the graph, at around the beginning of September, I took a 100+-mile ride. It rained for the entire day and when I went out on the bike a few days later, and the SRM didn’t work. I had to send it back to Colorado for repair. The big drop in CTL/ATL and huge rise in TSB isn’t a massive taper. It was just a month or so riding without power while the folks at SRM in Colorado fixed the water damage to the unit. It picks up again September 23rd. However, I do like long tapers before Ironaman races.

I’ve started to monitor my running and swimming with the same methods and it gives me a good idea where I am graphically. The graphs usually match my subjective feelings. I suppose I could continue to use the “feel” approach. Some would think it is a little silly to do all this data gathering and analyzing, my wife for one, but it works for me. I’m a scientist and I enjoy doing training experiments on myself. I have kept detailed training logs for years and I often go back and see what worked and what didn’t. I have also found that, by coaching others, what works for me doesn’t work for everyone. These graphs just give me information that is more objective so that maybe I can reproduce positive results more frequently. If things go wrong, I can look at the data and then develop theories why. I think combining them with the, subjective, “feel” method is the way to do it.

Ironically, Marky V is now is coached by Paulo Sousa, who is the author of The Triathlon Book Blog ,who trashes the TSS method and coaches by “feel” without all the bells and whistles. It looks like Mark believes the same thing.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Zen Mom

The last triathlon race of the season was Sunday. This is the time of year when we put triathlon on a back shelf for a little while and put more energy in other areas, mostly our kids. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty for not being a "Supermom". I’m not the kind of mom that is always at the school, volunteering for every party, field trip, class project, school fund raiser, etc. etc. I’m not a total slacker, but I pick and choose. I took a quiz on the internet – "What kind of mom are you?" And you know, internet quizzes are SO scientific. Anyway, I was labeled a "Zen Mom". That sounds good to me. Healthy attachment is slightly detached.

At school, I help in the library only because I love to read, and I love the Dewey Decimal System. My favorite job is putting the books back in order. Everything has it’s place. So therapeutic.

I also don’t like to drive on most field trips. I have a problem with field trips to the mall, or Starbucks, or the Imax theater. Yeah, my kids have been on all those. Really. Maybe I am getting old, but I hear myself saying "When I was a kid, we only had one field trip a year. And it was to a ‘field’". And we walked.

A field trip to Starbucks? When I was a kid we didn’t HAVE Starbucks.

All my kids play sports, but I’m not really into their sports that much. Braden is playing flag football, which I love to watch because they are just SO CUTE. But I don’t really know what is going on most of the time. Looks like to me they do a fair share of just standing around.

Payton has been working on a certain skill in gymnastics that has alluded her for TWO YEARS. I never ask about it, I’m sure she will tell me when she gets it. I look at it this way, what a great life lesson – she has been attempting something and failing for two years. But she won’t give up. In this day of instant gratification, there aren’t many opportunities to learn a lesson like that. Awesome. There I go again, sounding old.

Paige swims, but I couldn’t tell you her best times in any event, or if the were a "B" time or an "A" time, or whatever. I don’t understand why she occasionally gets DQ’d, I think that is just mean!I do know that she has fun, she looks beautiful, smooth, and elegant when she swims, and she loves the breaststroke the best. What else does a mom need to know?

I don’t like to micromanage my kids school work, either. We can look up their grades on the computer but I don’t unless they ask me to. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t ask about my grades. I guess they were OK or I would have heard about it. I don’t help with homework unless they really need it. If they ask me a question, I often tell them to "Google it".

When I was a kid we didn’t have Google.

Well, this week, I became "Supermom". And I have the pictures to prove it!

I volunteered in the lunch room at school. It didn’t quite look this bad. But I was so busy opening milk cartons, passing out trays and squirting ketchup that I couldn’t take a picture.
I watched Braden’s first flag football game. Serious standing around.
I took the girls to see the US Olympic Gymnastic Team put on a show at the convention center. Maybe that will encourage Payton to work hard on that devil of a skill.
I drove on a "field trip" to the zoo. At least it wasn't Starbucks. Here is Braden drawing a picture of a rhino.

I watched Paige’s swim meet. Here is a picture of her just after getting DQ’d for turning over too much as she touched the wall at the end of her 50 M backstroke race. I told you that is mean!

I went on a "mom and me" camp out with my son. 24 hours in the woods with a bunch of 8 year olds. Actually pretty fun, but my superpowers were starting to weaken.
We finished off the week with a birthday party for Paige and Payton. I am exhausted. One week of being a Supermom is enough. Zen mom is coming back. Just breathe.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Few Updates

Marky V is kicking up his run, he went 3:59 at Longhorn 70.3. Look out for him next season!
It’s been a while since I updated this blog. I just haven’t had much idle time since the training has picked back up again. I am back running again and it feels good.

I have added another contributor to “Robsworld”, Dana, my wife. She, of course, is a large part of my world and adds a touchy feely component to the writing. Our coach, Dave LaTourette, describes us as “ying and yang“. I am all numbers, heart rates, paces, power numbers and I don’t have a bit of trouble taking my training indoors if I have to. In other words, I’m a geek. I also have a dry sarcastic scene of humor. Dana, on the other hand, could care less about paces and power numbers and just loves getting out with her friends to socialize on a ride. She is positive, bubbly and fun.

Dana has posted under my name before on previous posts. Now folks won’t think I am a cross dresser racing as a 39-year-old blonde woman. Now that’s a sick thought.

Last week we raced the first annual Tall Chief open water challenge. It was a small race put on by the Tulsa Masters Swim organization and Denise Smart at the Zink Ranch. 36 swimmers attended it and it should grow with each year. I placed second overall in the 2 mile and Dana was 4th in the female division. The guy that won was Christian Ballard from Oklahoma City. I was able to hang with him for around 500 yards then he juked left and dropped me from his draft. I thought,” who is this guy?” After the race, he told me he grew up in California and swam for UC Berkeley as a distance specialist in the mid 90’s. I just wish he had let this old man drag behind him a little longer. When all was said and done, he blew me away by 2 minutes. He was so strong. I have work to do!

Doug Leib raced the Duathlon world championships in Rimini, Italy last weekend. The weather there was horrible and he crashed on the bike. Check out his blog here for details.

This past weekend Dana and I traveled to Austin, TX with the Chance crew (our kids) for the Longhorn 70.3. Dana raced and I was the sherpa, gear runner, master kid herder, and long road driver. I did some running down at the Town Lake trail Saturday morning. What a spectacle, it seemed like everyone who was a runner in Austin was down there. It was congested just like Austin's highways

The Longhorn 70.3 race had 2000 people in it. Big race! We spent a lot of time in lines. There was a line to pick up the race packet. It took two hours to wait in a line of traffic and drop the bike off at the transition and on race morning there was a line at 5 am to get into the park. While we were waiting in traffic jam the morning of the race, the song “Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider popped into my head. When you are racing, you are so into it you don’t realize how silly it really is. All these were people lining up at 5 am on a Sunday morning to pummel themselves. They paid to do it, too!

While I was dropping Dana off at the race, the kids were back at the hotel asleep. I was back in the room before they even knew I was gone. Our three kids don’t have the patience to hang out at a sprint race, let alone a half ironman so I chose to give them a few more hours in the room before we headed out to the 50 mile marker of the bike to watch the final section of the bike and the run. It was still a long day for them.

Dana at 50 miles and looking strong
Dana on the run with the kids in the background cheering her on.
Dana did great and she finished under 5 hours, which was her goal. She finished 3rd in the 35-39AG. After her finish, I sent her to grab food, then her bike out of transition, and we got out of there. We were back in Tulsa by 9:15 that night. It probably took less time to drive than it would have if we had flown. If you have read my past blogs, you know my past experiences with air travel.

Jessica Myers-Jones, a pro triathlete Dana and I train with sometimes here in Tulsa, did great in her debut at the 70.3 distance. She was 8th overall amongst the pros.

Jessica looking strong on the run.

I did some analysis of my 2007 and 2008 seasons using the Performance Manager on Cycling peaks. I will highlight that a bit during my next post. Some interesting (if you are a geek) but obvious findings.