5+ Hour Trainer Ride

With today’s forecast being less than ideal, I decided to do my 5 1/2 hour bike ride on the trainer.  I know, I know, what the heck was I thinking?!?!

A few weeks ago Nick and I were getting ready for a 4 hour bike ride.  We had the bikes ready, helmets and shoes on, all I had to do was press start on my watch and push off.  That’s when it hit me…I had a panic attack.  I started shaking and my breathing was labored.  Then I was gasping for air, shaking, and tears were rolling down my face.  I had 1,000 thoughts rushing through mind, none were good…I couldn’t do it.  Nick walked over, and comforted me.  He took my bike and told me to go inside and try to relax, we would postpone the ride to the following day.  I went inside, changed clothes, and began to settle down a bit.  The rest of the day was relaxed, the only pace I could handle.

The next day, I was mentally prepared for the bike ride.  We had a route on a bike trail to reduce traffic (thus reducing the chances of me having another meltdown).  I was calm on the bike, and finished the ride (a little shorter than my coach would’ve liked), but finished nonetheless.

Today, though, is self-inflicted misery.  With Nick sidelined from the bike and run for the next couple of weeks, my recent ride in the rain, and the ever so memorable panic attack, I decided to take today’s ride to the trainer.  I don’t think I’m mentally strong enough to do a solo long ride in the rain.

Em and T hour 1So what does one do while on the trainer for over 5 hours?

Hour 1: Drink of choice – 1 cup Coffee
Food – Peanut butter pretzels
Entertainment – Facebook

Hour 2:
Drink – Protein shake
Food – Peanut butter pretzels
Entertainment – Music

Em and Lou Hour 2Hour 3:
Drink – bottle of Advocare Spark and bottle of water
Food – Granola bar
Entertainment – Olympic Men’s Triathlon – an 8-lap bike course must be as mind-numbing as a 5 hour trainer ride.  Also, is this race draft-legal?

Hour 4:
Drink – bottle of Tailwind
Food – Snack mix with goldfish, nuts, raisins and chocolate
Entertainment – Olympic Men’s Triathlon (continued).  Congrats to the Brownlee brothers on Gold and Silver.

IMG_2527Hour 5 plus 30 min:
Drink – bottle of water, bottle of Tailwind
Entertainment – Music. Why, you ask? Because I’m watching the Olympics on the NBC app instead of the TiVo, and it’s still Live. I’m unable to start the Women’s Triathlon from the beginning.  Therefore, 1 hour and 30 minutes in, I know who’s in the lead.  What a spoiler!!!


More Red Than Green

The last month my Training Peaks calendar has really suffered.  There are so many missed workouts, it’s embarrassing.   From work being less than ideal at the moment, to Nick and I being sick on and off, to shear lack of motivation; my calendar is a sore sight.

Training Peaks Calendar

The weather is finally nice enough to exercise outside and all I want to do is stay inside on the couch.  I’m not exactly sure how to get out of this funk.  I have TWO major races coming up – Door County 70.3 is a few weeks away and Chattanooga will be here before I know it.  I NEED to get motivated.  I know I’m on the verge of being completely underprepared for both races if I don’t get moving soon.

How do you find motivation?

Wanna Watch Me Go Crazy

Let’s do another fun post! What do you say we talk a little about the madness that is caused by training indoors.

Living in Wisconsin and training for triathlon has presented some really interesting challenges.  For one, training outdoors is near impossible from late October until, well, about now.  I just started running outside again.  I’m still a little afraid to ride outside because I feel like the windchill will likely kill me.

Anyway, this winter while training inside, I found lots of new fun things to do while I was on the bike. First, it started as dancing on the treadmill while I ran.  I would get to a song that really made me happy and I would start bopping my head, followed by running side to side with the music and ending up dancing on the treadmill.  Odd strike patterns, running on my toes, running sideways . . . It was all fun and all caused by the madness of training inside so much.

Then, as you can see in the video above, I started getting bored on the bike.  During our training sessions, we would be on the bike for hours listening to music.  I started singing along or lip syncing the songs, then it turned into a really fun ideas to start recording myself doing so.

Seriously, how do people deal with this and not go totally insane?

Hope you enjoy my ridiculousness!

Easter Olympic

I had a mock olympic tri on the schedule this weekend; which means that I have a rest day on Easter.  HOORAY!!!!

Easter Olympic SwimNick and I started the morning at the pool.  We initially had to share a lane, the pool was busy for an early Saturday morning.  At some point during the swim, Nick moved into another lane.  He had a swim with drills, while I had a continuous 1500 yd swim.

The swim was good.  My coach entered a completion time estimating 2:30/100 yds.  When I saw the time, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to maintain the speed, but tried to keep a consistent pace.  I can hit the pace in drills, but hadn’t done it on my longer swims.  I missed the time by 1 minute, which gave me a huge feeling of accomplishment.

Nick and I finished the swim around the same time and drove home.

Swim Time 38:34

Once home, we changed into bike gear for a ride the bike on the trainers.  I had a 90 minute bike session, focusing on power.  Nick had a 3 1/2 hour trainer ride.  The ride was fun and boring.  We listened to music, and had a few jam sessions.  At this point in the “winter” I’m ready to be able to ride outside.  With snow on the ground, an outside ride is out of the question right now.  Soon, very soon – or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Bike Time 1:30:02

I hurried off the bike and headed upstairs for another wardrobe change.  I had a 10k run.  I chose a difficult route, both physically and mentally.  It’s an out and back, that is mostly downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back.  Once out of my neighborhood, I can see the turnaround point the entire way out.  (Look closely in the picture on the left, in the middle in the distance, you can see the clock tower above the trees).  Easter Olympic Run

I decided to run this route because I needed a victory.  Last time I ran it, I cut my run short at 4 1/2 miles.  I knew it would be a challenge.  I trusted my training, and the mental toughness I’ve been working towards, and completed the run.  I even made it up a pretty rough climb that began just after I hit mile 5.  The last mile was my biggest elevation gain, by over double the rest of the miles, and also my fastest!

Run Time:  1:09:43

Pioneer Single Sided Power Meter

When I got the Wahoo Kickr Snap, I thought it would be great to get power readings while I trained indoors.  I didn’t really think about not having this for race day, or even for just training outdoors.  But this number became more important to me over time and therefore I decided to invest in a power meter.  The hard part of this decision was figuring out which one to get.  Garmin Vector seemed like a logical choice, but it meant I would have to change my pedals (I use Speedplay).  While they were the number one choice for a while, I continued to read reviews and look around.  I looked at Stages, but alas, then I would be bound to a single sided meter forever.  4iiii seemed like a good choice, but then my bike would be out of commission for a few weeks while it was installed.

Then I came across Limits.  Single sided, but allowed me to keep my pedals and for relatively cheap.  The problem is that it is an Indigogo campaign and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for them.  You can read their updates on Indigogo, but I also recommend that you read DC Rainmaker (Post 1, Post 2) if you plan to go that route.  I have even seen another of these pop up on Kickstarter with a short time frame for delivery.

Ultimately, I ended up on Pioneer.  I am starting with a single side, but it is upgradable if I choose to do so later.  And, with an added Pioneer head unit, a lot of useful data is given to the user.

I have done one ride with it so far, so I want to get a few more rides in before I give a final review, but:

  1. Install was easy (really easy)
  2. First ride shows slightly higher numbers than the Kickr (is it possible I was losing something between crank and wheel?)

I’ll put up a more in depth review in a few weeks once I have had some more time with it.

Something Fun?!

I feel like a lot of what I have posted lately has been a downer or a review of something silly.  (By the way, I have another review coming soon about the Di2 group set that I put on my bike in December and a review of the Pioneer single sided power meter)

As I write this, I am on my way to San Jose, CA to meet with a customer.  That’s fun, right? (I’m back from San Jose now)


I am about 6 weeks away from Galveston and really excited to get a race in this season.  Living in Wisconsin, sometimes it can be hard to remember that these activities are intended to occur outdoors!  But a lot of great things are possible when you train indoors.

  1. We get to watch a lot of Netflix.  In the first few weeks of January, we watched How to Make a Murderer.  This was a fun series to watch, since it all happened about 30 miles from where we live.  Then we watched a tv show about a serial killer, The Following.  We cut this off as season 3 started because it started to get boring.  Recently, Netflix released 13 episodes of Fuller House.  I blew through those pretty quick between the treadmill and the bike trainer.
  2. We played some Forza.  Pretty self explanatory, but racing games while riding the bike is a lot of fun.
  3. We get to complain about our coach and question why he forces us to do all this (obviously it’s because he doesn’t like us and it has nothing to do with getting us prepared for these long distance races).
  4. The air condition vent at the gym is right above the treadmills.  I love running underneath it.  When it kicks on it feels amazing.

OK, well that was 3 fun things that we did on the trainer and one mildly interesting tidbit about the gym.

What else do I do while I train?  I think a lot.  I think about why I do this.  I think about what I’ll do next year.  I think about what each race will be like.  Most of all, I think about crossing the finish line.  I think about how great it will be to complete my second 70.3 in under a year.  What it will be like to PR the first triathlon I participated in.  I think about how amazing it will be to welcome my brother to the club when he finishes his first race and what I’ll do to support Emily when she competes in Door County.

When you train and race long distances you are left alone with yourself for quite a substantial amount of time and positive thinking is really the best thing you can do with your time. In my Austin race report, I wrote about the negative thoughts that went through my head. A goal that I have for myself right now is to be more positive.

During my swim this morning, I swam about 10 seconds faster per hundred than I have been recently and that brings on a lot of positivity as well.  Thinking about swimming the whole thing 210 seconds faster than I did last time, or cutting minutes from my time on the run or 30 minutes from my bike.

I guess my point is that the more training I do and the more I improve, the more positive I get and the better this all becomes.  Being able to watch Netflix, or play video games, or complain about our coach, or run under the air conditioner is just fun stuff I get to do while I get ready.

Thinking About Getting a Coach?

First a moment of honesty.

I didn’t think I needed a coach.  I was an athlete on and off for years.  After college, I played some club lacrosse and when I moved to Texas I started running.  When I trained for the Alamo Half Marathon, I didn’t need a coach.  While getting ready for Elkhart Lake, I didn’t need a coach.  When we decided to do Steelhead 70.3, I didn’t need a coach . . . or so I thought.

Creating the workouts necessary to compete in any race is difficult.  Running races leave some room for judgement, especially if you aren’t planning on a podium.  Run during the week and on the weekend complete some long distances.  When we trained for the half marathon, the mornings would be great for running and by the time we were done with long runs, I would be so wrecked that I would spend the rest of the day napping or just lounging around.

For Steelhead, I took a similar approach and tried to create my own workouts and hold myself accountable.  This DID NOT work.  My training was disjointed and favored things that I liked to do.  If I had scheduled a swim and I didn’t feel like it, I would go on a run and forget about the swim.  Leading up to Steelhead, I think I had only accumulated a bit more than a mile or so in the pool.  MISTAKE.

When Emily proposed getting a coach to help out, I wasn’t immediately hip on the idea.  In fact, even after I had the coach helping me for a few weeks, I still wasn’t sure.  What follows is what I see as the benefits of having a coach.

Do You Need A Coach

I don’t think that everyone needs a coach.  Some people are able to hold themselves accountable and are able to put together training plans to follow.  I am not one of those people.

If you are athletic and committed, a coach may help you to focus on the right workouts.  A coach may help you get faster.  A coach may add that little bit of extra motivation you need to finish in the top quarter of your age group vs. the middle.

What I found helpful was that my coach helped me find the holes in my plan.  He put me in the pool more often than I would have on my own.  He pointed out my weaknesses and helped me to overcome those weaknesses.  The month prior to Steelhead, I logged 1.4 miles in the pool.  The month prior to Austin, I logged 4.5 and the month before that, 8. I was ill prepared to jump in the water at Steelhead and it showed enough that the volunteers saw fit to take me out of the water (there was a matter of being kicked in the face).

But my coach helped me with that.  He helped me plan a race around my ability.

Which brings me to my next point.  Do you have a discipline that you don’t excel at?  A coach is likely to help spot that deficiency and work with you to overcome it.

I am a poor swimmer, even with the finish at Austin I still probably look like a drowning cat.  That said, I was confident during the swim.  The voices in my head told me that I couldn’t do it, but my coaches voice overruled my thoughts and I was strong enough to finish.  When I wrote up my post-race email to my coach, I speculated that if I had the proper training going into Steelhead that the kick may not have stopped me.  It might have been an annoyance and I may have needed to stop for a minute or two, but I don’t think that the kick would have rendered me useless in the water.

During the Austin swim, I took a few kicks, I was put in a head lock, and I had a muscle cramp that had me stopped for a few minutes.  But these didn’t effect the outcome of my race like they did 3 months earlier.  I was able to roll with it and keep going.

My coach had me swimming on the outside, not on the buoys.  This was important for me to stay out of traffic because I am slow.  I swam around a 2 minute hundred at Austin, but there were folks whizzing by me.  Staying out of the way helped a great deal, even though a few other people had the same plan and I still was put in a little discomfort.

Should you be doing more?  I should have been.

I thought that I was getting a lot done.  But that wasn’t the case.  I posted a chart from Garmin on Twitter a while back. And I will share the updated chart here.  Can you tell where I started working with a coach?  I can.  My bike distancse were a far cry from what they should have been and it is obvious.  Distance by Month

Even with all of this training, the Austin bike course kicked my butt.  This information and knowing that Austin hurt me, I am better prepared (as is my coach) to get me ready for my next hilly race (I’ll share what it is soonish).