Monthly Archives: February 2008

Hardest Classics?

The Classics season is upon us, and not a moment too soon. I’ve been jonesing for watching something else on my trainer besides 6-day races. While entertaining, it lacks the panache of the Spring season.

That said, I just LOVE my CycleSport America magazine. The new issue is dedicated to the Spring Classics and team information. Interesting summary of which Classics are the hardest. Here are the conclusions of Ed Pickering:

Race # of Finishers w/n 5:00 of Winner Abandon Rate
Paris-Roubaix 25 53.4%
Tour of Lombardy 38.6 51.6%
Tour of Flanders 41.8 45.9%
Ghent-Wevelgem 46.8 54.1%
Liege-Bastogne-Liege 51.6 41.8%
San Sebastian Classic 52 17.9%
Amstel Gold Race 70 35.3%
Fleche Wallonne 79 34.1%
Vattenfall Cyclassics 83.4 27.4%
GP Plouay 86 35.8%
Milan-San Remo 99.6 14.2%
Paris-Tours 107.2 29.1%

In other news, I made USAT All American again, based on some screwy points system. Hurray for me.

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Putting things together

Good weekend of training.  The plan was to do 90 minute spin on Saturday with a 10 mile run after. But, the previous day’s snowstorm meant cross-country skiing would be possible.  Ditch the spin, shorten the run to 8 miles, and you’re in business.  My friend/training partner Steve and I put 1/4″ hex screws in the bottoms of an old pair of running shoes to give me some traction in the snow.  This is a trick I picked up from a running friend years ago.  Works pretty well.  Just make sure the screws do not go through the sole! Ended up skiing for a little over an hour, which was hard work given the soft snow and lack of wax on my skis.

Sunday morning was a long run from Hopkinton along the marathon course.  This means that I am up at 4:00am, in my car at 5:00, at BC by 6:00, and back out at Hopkinton by 7:00am.  A long start to a long day.

These runs always have the potential to get too fast.  After a few 7:40s miles, we started to pick it up a bit and settled into 7:00/mile pace.  Ended up holding that for the entire run, finishing up at Boston College in 2:31.  A pretty good run considering it was FREEZING at the start, about 16F.  Once it warmed up a touch, it was perfect. Happy with the effort, especially considering the 2+ hours of training the day before.  And this morning I can walk, which is a bonus.

Plan for this week is more of the same.  Time to wratchet up the running some more, keeping the long run at 21-22 miles for Sunday, with a 12 mile mid-week run with some tempo thrown in.  Hoping to be between 57-60 miles running this week, and trying to fit in the biking and the swimming.  We’ll see how this plan works out.

The Grind

Finally (mentally) recovery from my “race” on Sunday. I figured out the problem was I really put zero heart and soul into it. Just rolled through the miles, not really caring much. Not a good place to be in a race, but it probably happens to all of us who do enough of it. Just like punching the clock and doing a job.

On the plus side, I came out of it feeling healthy. Last year I had a great race, and then hurt my Achilles two days later. Not this year. Finally feeling fit. If all goes as planned tomorrow and Sunday, I’ll be around 60 miles of running for this week. Planning on 10 tomorrow, and then 21-ish from Hopkinton to BC with the crew. That’s always an adventure.

Did hill repeats on the marathon course last night, hitting every hill from the fire station (you know the one) to Boston College three times. Plus a little extra beforehand made for just under a 12 mile night. Mid-week longish run hugely important, and I need to start putting those together.

Onto other things, this guy at Pezcyclingnews.com absolutely NAILS IT!. Gotta love the title: ‘Absolute Bullshit‘. Seems that the ‘powers that be’ want to deny Astana a chance to ride the TdF and other races because of their past problems. Never mind the team has completely turned over. And never mind that other teams that are invited have had similar problems. It is also BS that Tyler Hamilton can’t ride the Tour of California because of the UCI. Even if you think he is guilty as sin, he served his time and there has been no firm evidence linking him to Operation Puerto. So the UCI wants to deprive him of a livelihood. Screw ’em. I’m done. The TdF winner will be the best of those they decided to invite, and not the best of the best.

Finally, there was some previous chatter about cyclocross being like NASCAR. Here’s an interesting one from Chris Brewer about how cycling should emulate NASCAR more. What he said.

Speaking of which, great finish to Daytona. Happy to see that the teamwork aspect of things paid off for Ryan Neumann. Good for him, and Kurt Busch for pushing him to victory. Again, why NASCAR and cycling are very similar.

Scrap Pack Fill

That might be a bit of an extreme description of today’s Foxboro Old Fashioned 10 Miler.  But, not too far off.  Ended up running 1:02:20, which is 20 seconds off where I wanted to be and about 2 minutes off where I was last year.  Lots more wind this year, so that was a factor.  Loss 1 minute on the second half of the race. Plus, the fitness is not there yet.  Haven’t been able to do much in terms of speed work or tempos. Garbage in – Garbage out.

The biggest thing was mentally I was just going through the motions.  No aggression whatsoever. Just running along, content to be clicking off 6:15/mile average. No passion.  Zip. Solobreak goes by me at mile 8.5.  Didn’t know it was him at the time.  If I did I might have gone with him.  Shouldn’t have matter who he was.   Should have put the hammer down. But didn’t.  Gotta catch some fire and get motivated.

It was great to see a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while.  Great to meet Solo at the race.  Now have to set my sites on New Bedford three weeks away, and then get a “run” at Boston.  But now I have to watch the Daytona 500.  Go Carl!!

High and Lows, Gutters and Strikes

Things are starting to get a little muddled at the moment, momentum ceasing and progression getting bogged down. Off of a very good week last week, hitting 52 miles of running capped by a 20.5 mile run on Sunday. Hit two swims of 3200m each, starting to feel more comfortable in the water. Had a decent treadmill workout on Tuesday, with a 1m – 2m – 1m repeat set.

On the other hand…..the speed in the pool still isn’t coming around as much as I would like. My right Achilles is having that “tweaky” feeling, causing me to cut short another treadmill run last run (6 miles instead of 8 miles). One thing about a treadmill is you have to match your pace and stride to it. Hard to explain, but if you’re not smooth, it get compounded on the treadmill. Got up for a run yesterday morning, but after a mile of almost killing myself on black ice thanks to the previous day’s deluge, I packed it in. At least was a double for Thursday, but only for a total of 8 miles.

Wanted to run 8 this morning, but woke up at 2:00 with chills and that wonderful achy feeling. No fever, yet. A couple of Vitamin I(bruprofen) later, and I am feeling relatively human. But, ditched the run. Being smart or being a wuss? You decide.

Now I have this 10 mile race on Sunday. Goal?? 61 minute range. Come away uninjured. Have a solid training day. We’ll see.

Onto other news, I am very happy for Junior and his win in the Gatorade Duel yesterday. Love Junior, but dislike Junior fans. So, I can’t put a number 8, or 88, or whatever anywhere because it attracts the “Red Army”, which I guess now is the “Green Army”, which is ironically the color of Islam, which I am sure would bother many Junior fans. I love a good irony!!

Going into Daytona, he looks good, the Toyotas look good, but who knows. I can’t wait to watch this thing. Still haven’t found a good TV to watch it on. I was hoping for some “Bubba bonding” experience. Might have to settle battling over the TV with my daughters, whether we watch “Wow Wow Wubbzy” or the race. I don’t like my odds.

One Brick at a Time

Today was a pretty monumental day, as it was my first brick workout of the year.  For those not in the know, a brick is a combination of two or more disciplines of a triathlon. Typically, it refers to a bike/run workout, which is what I did for the first time in 2008.  I spun 1 hour on the trainer, finally watching the Men’s Cyclocross World Championships, and then did a 8.4 mile run.  Seeing as it is February, it is time to start putting a little urgency into things (just a little) in order to build the training base to hit the volumes and intensity of April-June.  I put a few 3:30 light tempo sets into the trainer, and then hit the run at a moderately brisk pace by hitting the second half of the run at a sub-7:00/mile clip.  Tomorrow is a key 20 mile run, which is where my focus is right now.  I want to have a solid run and emerge relatively unscathed.  I might have to go back to the ice bath regime, which is just short of insane.  Nothing like dumping 5 lbs. of ice into a cold water bathtub and then sitting in it for 20 minutes in the middle of winter.  Nice.

The cross race was pretty incredible to watch.  Very exciting stuff even when I knew the outcome.  Jonathan Page had a pretty respectable race, as did Tim Johnson.  He was hanging in until the last couple of laps and then got blown off the back.  I’m already thinking of cross season next year.

Other big news is the start of NASCAR season.  People have asked what made the difference in my cross racing this year compared to last, and I would say watchingFans of Dale Sr. NASCAR helped out a lot. Watching people being aggressive at times, holding back at other times, and bumping when necessary all applies to cross.  So, as weird as it may sound, watching NASCAR helps cross. It is also a bit of an anthropological experience for me as well getting to know this culture. Listening to NASCAR Radio on Sirius, watching coverage on tv, following different drivers on-line, the whole is rather illuminating.

I decided last year that I am a Carl Edwards fan.  A lot of people choose their drivers for different reasons. Often it is in relation to a product they drive for.  Carl is sponsored by Office Depot.  I am an afficianado  of office supplies given my desk-jockey job. Ergo, I support Carl.  He also dated Amanda Beard, so he has to have something going for him.

Tonight at 8:00pm  is the Budweiser Shoot-out, the start of Speedweek at Daytona.  Grab your case of Budweiser and enjoy the show.  (PS Drinking Chimay at a NASCAR event may result in death.  Do so at your own risk).

“Flirting with Disaster”

Thank you Molly Hatchet for those very appropriate words for today’s run. After tweaking my hamstring (probably the long arm of the Bicep Femoris), I did a lot of treatment on it and hoped it would be okay for an 18 mile run on the marathon course. Hills are probably not the best thing for a sore hamstring, but what can you do? I really didn’t want to run along the Charles River alone.

Beautiful weather day for running. Was wearing tights, but should have went with the shorts. Plus, I put some embrocation on my legs, and with the wrap around my right leg, things started to heat up. I was ready to run in my drawers at one point.

The tentative plan was to hit the fire house at the 4 mile point and access. If it was bothering me, I would turn back and either call it 8 miles, or proceed to do a series of 3 mile loops around BC. But, thanks for a slow pace (around 7:45/mile), things felt pretty good. I decided to push on. As we ticked off the miles, the leg wasn’t bothering me, so I went all the way to Mile 13 (or Wellesley Center).

Now, Murphy’s Law states that you will get hurt at the furthest point of an out-and-back. Fully expecting to pull up lame, I stretched it out a little bit and felt no tightness. We started to pick up the pace a bit as well, ticking off 7:00/miles. Sometimes running faster feels better than running slower if you can get a good flow and rhythm. Leg was holding together, so on we went. Once I hit the fire station, I knew I could make it through the hills. Luckily, we kept basically the same pace all the way to Mile 22, and then back to BC for a total of 18 miles in 2:11:45. Yay me.

I’ll continue on the treatment regime, which tonight will involves lots of beer. Total of about 47 miles this week. Looking to bump that up into the 50s for next week. Oh, and a couple of swim sessions and some trainer sessions. Although, if the weather continues to hold, I’ll be out on the bike!!