Friday, July 24, 2009


I've been racing bikes for over 22 years. I've been lucky to have done very well on occasion, and above average as a rule. These days, I race more out of enjoyment of the challenge than a need to prove something to myself or win. My victories are internal - finding a balance in life that keeps me growing and excited about new things, and new accomplishments to add to my kit bag.

I also have a young family and a pretty demanding job. Because of this, my approach to training has changed. It's more about enjoying the ride than simply logging the miles. Along the way, that shift in perspective allowed me to develop a new mindset - one that seeks to get the most benefit out of each experience. But don't mistake my mindset for a lack of caring about results - the difference is that I grade my results against my sense of balance in my life, as opposed to an absolute of results against others with very different demands and time investments. There are times when I choose to participate, and times I choose to fight for wins.

It's always nice to see your personal beliefs supported by respected, experienced people. As someone with time management challenges, I'm always looking for ways to get the most out of my training time. Paraphrasing Joe Friel's books, who first made me think about this, I try to get the very most out of the very least. Better is the enemy of good enough.

Chris Carmichael (aka Lance Armstrong's coach for a really long time) has finished a new book that brings together some things that another author, Dr Michael Ross, MD, convinced me of years ago - that you really can do well on a limited training time budget. Carmichael's new book talks about training on six hours a week. Most weeks I manage 6-10 hours both cycling and running, and in fact did pretty well in an Ironman on an average of 12 hours a week a couple years back. I'm a believer that quality matters far more than quantity.

I haven't gotten my hands on Carmichael's new book, but I read an excerpt that sounds suspiciously parallel to the training program I've aimed to follow for three years now - intervals and focused, high intensity training. I pre-ordered the book and look forward to reading it!

I'm also using a new piece of software that I'll try and talk more about in coming months - it pairs with my Suunto T6 to analyze and help manage my training program. The software is from Firstbeat and it's called "Athlete". What it does is help me interpret what the HRM data I collect really means and how it translates into fitness over time; it helps me manage my training load and intensity, and I can say that even with a relatively short time using it I've improved my fitness and my understanding of periodized training. It's not a hard science, but having scientific tools definitely adds value and efficiency.

The other key ingredient for me continues to be my Tacx Fortius trainer. We have two of them now, and in the interest of full disclosure, I'm part of the Tacx test team here in North America, and will be part of their 2010 sales brochure. But I'm not paid and I bought the system because it's easily the best training tool I've ever owned. This time of year, I still log between a third and half my training time indoors. Come winter, it'll be even higher.

Most important, I have the data to show the impact of my training.

I wish I had this stuff 20 years ago.

Next post: Inspiration: Sources, impact, and other random thoughts.

Ride on! -d2g

Thursday, July 16, 2009

12 Hours of Cranky Monkey - June 09 - Quantico, VA

6th of 28 in my race class (35+ Masters)

Top 20 of about 175 solo riders and teams

Started training in March 09 after 9+ months off

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I've always enjoyed running in DC. Have a pretty much unlimited number of great options, from totally urban to some surprisingly un-urban trails right smack in the middle of all the chaos.

Being assigned elsewhere, it's been about 4 years since I did any real running here; in the last couple months I've started getting back out there again. Did one of my staple runs today, with a bit of a twist.

Felt pretty crummy this morning, haven't been sleeping all that well for a few nights. But the two Army guys in my office, a Staff Sergeant and a Major, were heading out to run to Lincoln Memorial and do a few repeats on the stairs just above the Potomac. So I dragged myself along. We did 6-8 stair repeats, then the Major and I decided to continue on toward Georgetown and the Key Bridge; along the way, he asked if I wanted to run the stairs from the Exorcist movie- he'd seen them but never run them. It'd been a while, so I thought, why not?

Things have changed a bit along the river, mostly for the better with new sidewalks/trails and better access- but the road crossings are still like Frogger with consequences...

We ambled over toward Georgetown along the river, which is still running higher than I remember in 11 years. I peeked into the Washington Canoe Club, where I'm a member but haven't been inside for three years after being away, and thumped up the wooden staircase to the C&O canal, right into the canal boat being towed by two horses for tourists and historians. Good thing the railroad won that race...

We crossed over and found the staircase, the long one from the movie, and skipped up to the top. It's probably about a 70-80 foot vertical, maybe a hundred feet, but pretty steep, in three pitches. Mark commented that he thought someone wrote the speed records on the steps somewhere, so of course we had to look around...

At the top are three numbers... #758, #750, #743 if memory serves. 7.50 seconds? We had to do a test and see if it's possible - we figured it took about 20 seconds for us to get up there... so Mark went to the bottom and I timed him half-way - about 6.5 seconds, and he was moving pretty fast... so could someone actually do the climb under 7.5 seconds? I'd like to see that.

The rest of the run was relaxed, back over the Key Bridge and along the south side of the Potomac, past Roosevelt Island and to the Pentagon. A quick set of upper-body calisthenics, a little socializing, and back to work... I think it was about 6.5 miles.

But who really cares when it's that nice outside? Sometimes you just need to enjoy the ride... or run...

I'm Back?

Wow it's been a long time. Last post almost 16 months ago...

Going to try and do a better job of keeping this going now. Will shift gears a bit and document my preparation and training for upcoming events, maybe a little bit of other stuff here and there.

I'm working in the Pentagon again, for Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I'm a Deputy to his Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs, doing liaison work with Congress for many topics and functions. It's interesting.

My next big event is the Shenandoah Mt 100, a back-country mountain bike race on Labor Day weekend. It's 100 miles in the Shenandoah Mountains along the Virginia-West Virginia state borders. Lots of single-track, some fire roads, and plenty of climbing - about 15,000 feet by most estimates.

As prep, I did the 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey a couple weeks ago. Was 6th of 28 in my class (35+ Masters), managed over 82 miles after 3 months of training. So I have a ways to go to make 100 miles under 10 hours but that was a great kick start. My heart rate download showed that I worked too hard the first 3-4 hours, HR at about 160 when it should have been about 140. So that was a good reminder of pacing strategies and their impact on fatigue. More on that down the road.

Navenka and I rode the Mountains of Misery 200K on our tandem over Memorial Weekend - I missed a turn that added between 15-20 miles so we called it a day at 118 miles with about 20 more to go out of what was supposed to be 126. Navenka's longest ride before that day was 60 miles so I give her HUGE credit for her effort.

We're going to ride the Reston Century in late August; I'll ride my mountain bike and Navenka her road bike. This will be a final tune-up day for me before SM100.

I'm doing the Richmond Marathon on 14 November. Am on track for my game plan there, to qualify for Boston, which will require a 3:20 finishing time, or a 7:38 pace. I'm running 9+ miles on hilly courses at about that pace with a heart rate of 145, so things are progressing. The focus will shift after SM100 to more running, although I may enter the EX2 Adventures "Day of Endurance" in October, 3 hours of trail running followed by 6 hours of mountain biking. I should be in respectable condition for that.

In December, I'll run a 50K trail run that's one of my favorites, along the Bull Run trail over much of the Bull Run Run 50-miler course that I hope to do for the second time next spring.

Over the winter, I'm aiming to return to Minnesota for the Arrowhead 135 once again. That's the real focus...

So I have a few things to keep me busy.

Hope you are doing great and enjoying your own adventures!

Best, d2g