Training With (virtual) Power – TrainerRoad

I recently finished the Tour of Sufferlandria which worked in conjunction with a pretty cool application called TrainerRoad. Now that I am starting down the road to Ironman Boulder, I wanted to talk about how useful TrainerRoad can be to your indoor cycling training.

The way TrainerRoad works is it uses the Ant stick that can talk to your Ant enabled bike devices. I use it with my Garmin speed/cadence sensor and heart rate strap. It will work with a variety of other Ant enable devices like a power meter if you have one. I don’t have a power meter so that is where TrainerRoad really does its magic. TrainerRoad will use the data it gets from your devices coupled with the type of bike trainer you are using and give you virtual power. Then, you can use one of the workouts in TrainerRoad to find your FTP (functional threshold power) and use that as the basis for all your workouts. It may sound complicated but it is really quite easy.

Now one of the reasons TrainerRoad works so great for training is because power is so much easier to train to instead of HR. Specifically, you can train immediately to power whereas heart rate is a lagging indicator. If you are doing short efforts at prescribed intensity levels, you can see the power output long before you can see the effort reflected in the heart rate data.

PowerHRGraphYou can see above that my HR doesn’t peak until well after I have done my 30 second interval. This was all achieved using TrainerRoad without a power meter. While you are riding TrainerRoad will display what percentage of your FTP you are riding. This way, if you coach tells you what zone to be in, you can easily use TrainerRoad to ride to the correct effort level. You can find information  about training zones just about anywhere. Below is the information I found on Joe Friel’s blog regarding zones.

Zone 1 <55% (active recovery)
Zone 2 56-75% of FTP (endurance)
Zone 3 76-90% of FTP (tempo)
Zone 4 91-105% of FTP (lactate threshold)
Zone 5 106-120% of FTP (VO2max)
Zone 6 121-150% of FTP (anaerobic capacity)
Zone 7 >150% of FTP (neuromuscular power)

TrianerRoad is a very cost effective way to use power if you don’t have a power meter. It costs $10/month or $99/year. They have a variety of workouts as well as amazing integration with Sufferfest workouts. TrainerRoad will make your time spent on a bike trainer more effective then training to rate of perceived exertion alone. If you have to use a trainer, you might as well do it right!

Coeur Sports T-Shirt Review

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As you may know by now I have been chosen to be a Coeur Sports ambassador this year. There really aren’t words to express how happy this makes me. I LOVE their products. Their Tri kit is second to none (and I have worn quite a few). I love their running shorts as well (review to come). But what I wanted to write about today are their t-shirts. The have the cutest line of extremely flattering and comfortable t-shirts. I am beginning to amass quite a collection!

I love a few things about them. First, the fit. They have a great neck line, perfect sleeve length , and they are long enough and cut properly that they hit your middle just right (I am wearing a medium). They are NOT the American Apparel standard t-shirt that shrinks so much that after two washes you need to give it to a 12 year old girl. They are feminine and perfect! Second, the prints and colors. They are bright, funny, and cheerful t-shirts. I am always getting compliments on them. And lastly the price. Not one of the shirts is more than $25. Pretty fair in this market.

If you have a special woman in your life you should totally surprise her with a cute Coeur Sports t-shirt! There are a couple that would make  great Valentine’s Day Gifts! #justsayin

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2015 Tour of Sufferlandria Race Report

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What a way to get back on my bike! I had only ridden a bike twice since Ironman Arizona in November but I wouldn’t dare think of missing the Tour of Sufferlandria. How could you possibly miss a virtual staged bike tour though a mythical country that takes pride in making you suffer? I know huh? Sounds amazing!

Honestly, this is a pretty amazing experience. Through the use of the Sufferfest videos and the amazing application TrainerRoad we rode with over 2700 others all over the world and raised over $100K for the Davis Phinney Foundation without ever leaving our homes!

The tour lasted over 9 days and you essentially had 50 hours to complete each stage. If you didn’t complete the stage during the window it was open you were dropped. Everyday we would log on to see how many people didn’t make it on. For us, the best part was there was no question we would finish the Tour which actually made it easier to get on the bike day after day; quitting wasn’t an option! The crazy part for Stuart and I was we had to fit a 50k trail run in the middle of the  Tour! Luckily, due to the 50 hour window to complete each stage, we started the tour as soon as we could which allowed us to fit in the race. You can get an idea of the effort from the picture below.Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.33.18 AMAs you can see the last two days were a doozy!

If you haven’t looked into The Sufferfest or TrainerRoad and you use an indoor bike trainer YOU ARE TOTALLY MISSING OUT! This is truly the best way to make good use of your time on a trainer for very little money.

Calico 50k Race Report 2015

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This was only my second time running a 50k and the first time was over 3 years ago!  Stuart and I got up a hour and a half before early at 3:00AM. We had done a good job prepping the night before so we were in the car just a few minutes after 3:30. We had chose to not get a hotel to save some money and make it easier on the dogs. If we ever do this race again I think getting a room in Barstow would make a lot of sense! But we got there on time so it was fine…just really early!

My only complaint about the race was check in. It took much too long to check people in. An alphabetized list would have made things go MUCH faster. Once we got checked in, made a potty break, and finished getting ready we had about 2 minutes before the gun went off!

I had told Stuart if he felt well he should run his own race and not hang back with me. We ran the first 2 (downhill) miles together and then he started pulling away. After the first two miles you start to climb. It is very gradual but you can tell by your pace that you are climbing. The running surface was really hard for me. It was very sandy and it made the running hard. I wasn’t expecting that. Once you start climbing you are essentially climbing until almost mile 18. You get a little bit of a break here and there but it is essentially up!

The aid stations were amazing! Very well stocked and the volunteers were super nice. I managed to eat real food all day; potatoes, PB&J, and oranges. They aid stations were about 6ish miles a part for the first part of the race and then once it got tough they were more frequent. I am not sure that was intentional but it really worked well!

We hit the high point of the run around mile 18. We then ran down the craziest bit of running I have ever done. I heard some people ran down that section. I have NO idea how that is even possible. I scrambled my way down on hands and butt very carefully. The rocks were sharp and hard and I didn’t want to take a tumble there. I made it to the bottom and took a moment to empty the rocks out of my shoes. This had been a problem all day. Gaiters would have made a lot of sense for this run. I had rocks in my shoes all day long.

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Total gain 3,957 ft

Once out of the steep bit we had a really nice 3+ mile down hill on reasonable surface. Of course this is where I fell! I was cruising along really enjoying the run when I just tripped over some rock and went flying. I scratched up my knees, hands, and arms pretty well. There was nothing majorly wrong with me so I got up right away and just kept moving. A few tears were shed but I just wanted to get moving so I could finish.

The next 10 miles got tougher and tougher. The terrain was hard and we had to climb a bunch again. I was pretty good until mile 24/25. I was passing a lot of people at that point but I was starting to get discouraged. It was a good thing I wasn’t running with Stuart because it kept my complaining to a minimum. The last 5 miles were brutal but I just kept moving forward. That was all I could do. I spent the last couple miles rehearsing in my head what I was going to tell Stuart when I finished. I had realized  that ultra running is not for me. I am good for the first 20 miles but after that I am not enjoying it anymore.

I got to the finish and fell into Stuart’s arms in tears.

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I am pretty happy with where I place in my AG. I got 4th and the first three women in my AG were the first three women to finish!

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I don’t think I am cut out for this kind of running. It is so hard that I stop enjoying it. Maybe it will get easier the more I do it but I am not sure I want to keep doing it to find out.

Even with that said, I would HIGHLY recommend this race. The views were amazing, the support was incredible, and  the people on the trail were so nice! The footing is difficult and the last five miles are extremely hard in my opinion. But it is a very cool race!

I am incredibly proud of my finish and I feel like I can finally call myself an Ultra Runner. But, I am not sure if I will continue to run like this. I have two more Ultras planned for this year, Sean O’Brien 50k and Leona Divide 50 mile. I am not sure I will be doing either of them at this point. Ultra running is WAY harder than Ironman training!

You can click here for the Garmin details.

Kit for this race included:

Plans Are Set! Ironman #3

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 9.27.37 AMWell, I know I said during my training for Ironman Arizona that I wouldn’t be doing another full in 2015. Well, I accidentally lied. Arizona went so AMAZINGLY well that I just couldn’t stay away until 2016. Also, the other race we had planned for, The Trans Rockies 6 day run just turned out to be too costly in money and time this year (we still want to do it and we have a few friends who want to do it with us). So once we ruled out the Trans Rockies that opened up the second half of the year…enter Ironman Boulder!

I chose this race for a few reasons. First, the timing is perfect. The bulk of my training will be done in June and July when the kids are out of school. That helps me get my training in without as much to juggle. Second, Boulder has a special place in my heart. I have been visiting there since the early 80’s when my Grandparents moved there. I went to college there. And Stuart and I hope to move there once the kids are all off to college. Third, the course looks like it will be a good fit for my abilities. The swim is in a reservoir (that I used to row in), I know the run course fairly well, and the bike looks reasonable. The only real unknowns are the weather (could be hot) and how will I manage in the altitude. We will be able to drive to the race so that helps with the choice as well. Forth, I have the support of an amazing team with my Coeur Sports Ambassadorship! I am thrilled to be in the company of such great women and amazing sponsor and products! I just couldn’t stay away from Triathlon. And last, many of my Cactus Buddies from Arizona will be there!!!

I am thrilled that I will be able to work with my coach again! Jen did an amazing job coaching me to a performance I never expected to have in me! I can’t imagine doing this without her on my team again! I am careful to not expect it to go quite as well as Arizona did. Mostly because it was so perfect in Arizona I don’t know how I could get that lucky twice!

I plan to stick to the same training principles I used while training for Arizona. Biggest thing will be to keep things simple again. I will find a bike loop this time to mimic the Boulder course as best as possible and I may look into one of the altitude training masks. I would like to do one recon trip to Boulder to scout the bike course. Only issue is time and money (isn’t that always the case?). But one of the things that worked so well for me in Arizona was I knew the course. I need to feel that comfortable with Boulder as well.

Of course none of this would have been possible without the love and support of Stuart. I really changed my mind about our plans this year (Grand Canyon is out as well). That really through his year up in the air as well. I am beyond grateful for his love and support to do another Ironman this year. I can’t wait to see what big race he picks so I can cheer him on as well.

Change of Plans

I have been struggling lately with the trail running. It has been much harder than I expected but I am still committed to completing some of the events I had planned for 2015. I am still on doing two 50Ks, the 50 miler, and the Rim-to-Rim-to Rim crossing. The big race that is falling off my schedule is the TransRockies Run. This event looks absolutely amazing and my roommate from college even helps run the event. But once we really looked at the cost of it, we had to make the adult decision and not signup. We have too many other things at home that need looking after right now to do this race at this time. We have every intention of trying to get out for this race one day. It just won’t be this summer.

So where does that leave my 2015 year? I am not really sure right now. I need something to work for after May. I am still so incredibly motivated by my success a Ironman Arizona that I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to do another 140.6 distance event. But committing to that event impacts everybody in my family. There are a lot of scenarios going through my head right now. Once I figure it out, this will be the first place it is made public!

Trail Running Adventures

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Stuart and I headed for the trails on Sunday (as usual) and had another adventure (as usual). We are NOT very good about getting up and out early but we are getting better about prepping the night before and at least having a plan! We parked our car at both ends of a local trail that runs about 6-7 miles long. We stocked both cars with food so we could refuel on either side of the run. We had 22 miles total to run so we knew we would need to tack on a little extra somewhere.

We tried to eat more “real” food and less processed endurance items (gels/Gus/chews). We had PB&J on brioche bread (OMG so yummy), boiled salted potatoes with salt for dipping, and oranges for me. This approach worked great! We got all the food down easily and felt pretty good with it! The only thing I noticed was a little lack of energy that I think was due to the fact that I didn’t have any caffeine while running. I may stash some Mexican Coke (made with sugar, not corn syrup) in the car next time to fill this need.

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We tried some unknown trails but thanks to maps on phones we were able to easily see where we were going and that we should get where we wanted. We never saw a Private Property signs nor No Trespassing signs so I am pretty sure we weren’t any place we shouldn’t have been. But, we decided that we would pretend to know where we were going unless we were questioned. And in that case we would pretend we were total lost! Luckily we got out right where we thought we would! (Click here for the Garmin details)

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The part of the adventure that wasn’t so much fun was all the self-doubt I started having. I am a very positive person. But my last couple runs have been really hard. Of my 5 runs a week, usually only 2 of them go well. I am wondering if maybe I bit off a little more than I can chew this year. After spending 6 weeks running like this I can say that Ironman training was easier than ultra running training!

Me an Utrarunner?

My training focus has changed drastically now that I am stepping back from triathlon this year. The major goal is my first 50 mile run followed by a few other epic adventures. I have pretty much just been running. And most of the running has been on the trails.

It isn’t going as well as I would like. I am covering the distance but I feel like every other run goes well. I have had MANY long runs where I just feel totally spent. Running is hard!

To jump start things a little bit more I have added a 50K to my schedule in just under 3 weeks! It won’t be fast or pretty, but I will get it done!

In the Footsteps of Greatness by Josh Mathe – Book Review

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I spend a lot of time in my car driving. I have a 40 mile commute that involves Los Angeles driving so that means it can be anywhere from 1-2 hours each way. I have found the best use of my time is to listen to Podcasts and Audible books. I was excited to listen to In the Footsteps of Greatness by Josh Mathe because he is the husband of my coach, and not just some unknown-to-me person. I was so pleased because I truly enjoyed every moment of this book! I couldn’t wait to get back in the car so I could hear the next chapter!

Without giving much away I will say it is a heart warming tale of someone overcoming their personal and physical struggles to achieve a very challenging goal, fast packing/running the John Muir Trail. It is a quick listen (around 4 hours) which would be perfect for a week of commuting or a road trip.

I immensely liked this book for a few reasons. First, I understood his way of thinking. I really agreed with his philosophy on endurance training and it was great to hear someone articulate how I feel about my sport. I don’t hike but his views apply well to endurance sports in general. Mathe includes the quote “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’tyoure right.” ― Henry Ford. This gets to the heart of his story and how I feel about life in general. Second, it felt like a very honest exploration into his life and experience. I felt honored to get to hear about it! It wasn’t preachy at all and I felt extremely inspired that I could do this one day if I wanted to. And lastly, it was a great listen. Mathe did an excellent job narrating his own book. It isn’t always the case with talking books. He did a wonderful job bring his story to life. I will need to go get a real copy of the book because I am interested in a lot of the material that was mentioned in the appendix!

If you are looking for a quick listen (or read) I would highly recommend this book. You won’t be disappointed!

Paramount Ranch 2014 30K Race Report

Saturday was my first race as I enter a year of trail running. The race we chose was a local race put on by a very reputable race director, Keira Henniger. We signed up for the 30K because it  fit perfect into my training plan.

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I was very nervous the night before. This is a new arena for me and I wasn’t 100% what to expect. Night before I laid out my kit. I had picked up a pair of arm warmers from Coeur Sports which were way better than I had expected! Not only did they have thumb holes they also had little mittens to cover my fingers if it was colder. Alarm was set for 5:30 AM and off to sleep I went!

The race started promptly at 7:30 AM. The course was three 10K loops all over Paramount Ranch. I really wasn’t sure what the course would be like but I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 1.47.05 PMScreen Shot 2014-12-22 at 1.57.33 PMIt was a  lot of up and down and very little flat. Plus, we had had a fair amount of rain over the week so it was pretty muddy. But what made it hard was the whole course was pretty much runnable. None of the climbs were so hard that you had to walk the whole thing so you just pushed through the whole course. My goal was to run each lap as even as I could. I wasn’t going to worry about my place in the race until the last lap. I knew that if I could run each lap as close to even as possible I would have a good race.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 1.43.29 PMMission accomplished! As you an see above I ran all three loops with only a 2 minutes spread! (see the Garmin Data here) Plus, I ran the last loop the fastest! I was so pleased with my run. I worked really hard the last loop to catch a couple people I had been watching during the race. Once I caught the first one I just kept looking ahead to the next. This really helped me focus on consistent running and kept me from easing off on the hills. I found that most of the other runners were walking the hills so I made it my goal to run as much of the hills as possible.

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When I finished and finally caught my breath Stuart and I went to look at how I did…4th :-( I really wanted 3rd. But I knew I had run a really smart race and had done all I could. I was happy!

IMG_4910We got home after a smoothie and picking up the kids. I had developed quite rat’s nest in my hair while I ran! I will be running with braids from here on out! Yikes!

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Today I finally found the complete results on line and got a nice surprise! I actually got 3rd after all and was the 6th overall woman! WOOT!

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 2.40.31 PMI am so glad that I have two more races on my calendar that will be run by Keira. The race was wonderfully run and it is pretty cool to have the race director cheering for you when you come through! Also, it is great to be running races with Stuart! This race was great because we crossed paths a few times. It is always great to see a familiar face and get a few words of encouragement from someone you love!