Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter Cycling Training: The good, the bad, the ugly, the music...

Last year was year 2 of my adventures in triathlon and my bike training, in general, was the most neglected.  My swim performance dramatically improved after solid work with a coach throughout the winter and my run didn't get any worse.  The bike-to-run transitions improved slightly.  My bike times were definitely better than the previous year.  All good news.  However, I was still lagging significantly behind my peers on the bike split.  Even folks who had slower overall times than I did (in my age group) would still out-perform me on the bike. 

After evaluating my performance last year, I decided that I really need to get serious with my bike training.  However, when one lives in a place with nasty winter weather, winter bike training is not quite as fun.  I bought an indoor trainer in January 2014 and guess how many times I used it?  Oh...maybe twice (I know, I know).  I teach indoor cycling so I thought that would be enough, right? All you triathletes reading this:  feel free to judge me right now.  In any case, I totally recognize that the only way I will improve on the bike is by putting in time (and quality workouts) on my bike.  Not just spin class (sigh)...Some of you may ask, what exactly is an indoor trainer? The indoor bike trainer is a contraption onto which one positions their road (or time trial or mountain) bike.  The contraption then allows one to ride the bike in a stationary position.  You can also adjust resistance to make the ride more or less difficult.  Like everything else in triathlon, you can spend A LOT of money on these things and get uber fancy.  I spent a whopping $60 for mine and it's plenty fine for my purposes.  However, the real challenge is gathering up the enthusiasm to ride one's bike indoors for 1-2 hours (or more!) in a sitting.  SUPER boring.

Hence, this blog post.  Cyclists and triathletes have many different ways to beat the boredom of indoor training.  I've heard a lot of people watch indoor cycling videos like Spinervals or Sufferfest.  Some people will watch their favorite TV shows or movies.  For any ride over 90 minutes, TV or movies make sense to me.  However, shorter rides usually have a more specific focus and honestly, I have a tendency to zone out if I don't have a specific purpose.  As a spin instructor, I plan all of my class workouts around the music.  The music is an integral part of my class and every song has a specific purpose: tempo, mood, genre...all of these things help to make our 45-60 minutes on the bike more enjoyable and motivating.  So my plan for shorter workouts (60 minutes or less), is to build a playlist, just like I would for a spin class, to motivate me and keep me focused on the workout. 

Last weekend, I attended a very informative cycling clinic lead by pro triathlete, Morgan Chaffin.  She did an excellent job and I really learned a lot.  She also reinforced some concepts I had read or heard about from other athletes.  Particularly, Morgan's explanation of heart rate zone training made a big impact on me.  It made me realize that in order to get the best out of all my bike sessions, I really need to incorporate zone training. In order to figure out my different heart rates zones, (WARNING:  TECHNICAL ENDURANCE LANGUAGE APPROACHING) I need to do a zone test to establish my lactic threshold heart rate (google it).  So my inaugural indoor trainer playlist has been built to accompany the LTHR Test that Morgan outlined at the clinic. Thank you, Morgan!

I plan to create a new playlist every 2 weeks so that I have a complete repertoire of workouts for the trainer by the end of the winter.  Morgan gave us a lot of ideas at the clinic, but feel free to send me your favorite trainer workout and I will build a playlist for it. DISCLAIMER: this is Kendra's taste in music so there will be some "out there" stuff on these lists.  Also, there may be a song or two with adult language. Let the indoor cycling begin!


Warm-up – easy spin; 85-90 RPM (15 minutes)
Big Show – Baby Mammoth (7:03)
Hungry Ghost – Mehliana (5:01)
Stutter – Deleted Scenes (3:48)

3x1min @ 100+rpm (w/1 min ez spin recovery)
Put Your Hands Up For Detroit – Fedde le Grande (6:33)

5 min Z1/Z2; 85-95 rpm
Paradise Circus – Massive Attack (4:57)

Main Set:  5 min all out effort!
Runaway Lover – Madonna (4:46)

10 min ez spinI Know – Rakim (4:04)
Body Work – Morgan Page and Tegan and Sara (3:59)
Kids – Sleigh Bells (2:45)

20 min all out!
Touched – VAST (3:58)
Fast Lane [E] - Bad Meets Evil (4:09)
Zak and Sara – Ben Folds (3:11)
Gold Guns Girls – Metric (4:05)
Uh-Huh [E] – Sims (member of Doomtree) (4:45)

Cool Down – easy spin; 85-90 RPM
Doin’ It Right (feat. Panda Bear) – Daft Punk (4:01)
Calls (feat. Jill Scott) – Robert Glasper Experiment (5:42)


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Travel and Training - Race schedule change!

For me, the beginning of a new calendar year is always full of ambitious goals and optimism about the year ahead.  As evidenced by this blog, I love to plan, so this time of year is typically when I lay out my schedule for the next 5-6 months.  Between my concert duty schedule, training, travel, volunteer commitments and MBA class schedule, my schedule is packed so the uber-planning relaxes me.  The one thing that becomes the biggest challenge is travel and one of my longest work travel trips of the year happens at the beginning of January:  APAP. 

APAP stands for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and the conference that this organization presents is the largest in our industry.  It's always held in early January and always in New York City.  In a nutshell, APAP is non-stop shows, artist agent meetings and industry sessions.  This year, I tried to keep the schedule to a manageable 10-12 hours a day.  I saw a lot of shows (Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man is amazing and definitely Tony Award-worthy) but I decided to skip out on the late-night shows (11:30p sets at Village Vanguard!!) this year so I could actually get myself out of bed the next morning to work out.  I also had to present at one of the sessions on the last day so I did not want to be too run-down by day 5. 

New York Workouts
My goal was 4 workouts over five days.  I ended up doing three workouts: a 4 mile run, 7 mile run on the treadmill (I should get mad props for that) and one 45-minute Flywheel class, which is one of my favorite indoor cycling programs.  I am not a Flywheel instructor and I receive no payment for my endorsement of this format, but let me tell you, it's awesome.  Flywheel is an indoor cycling class that an outdoor cyclist can embrace.  Each bike has an individual dashboard which monitors RPMs, power and torque.  All of the individual dashboard flow to a leaderboard which is projected on screens in the front of the class.  Periodically throughout the class, the instructor will turn on the leaderboard and you can see how you measure against others in the class.  Again, awesome.  Also, your class fee includes a pair of cycling shoes (so you can clip in), unlimited bottled water and towel.  Have a mentioned I love this place? 

There are a number of Flywheel locations in Manhattan, all within two miles of midtown.  They also now have locations in Chicago and other major cities.  I like to turn this workout into a brick workout.  Typically, I attend class at the Flatiron location, which is about 1.5 miles from my Times Square hotel.  I'll run 1+ miles to the studio, ride and run back to my hotel.  However, for my APAP trip, I stay at the Sheraton at 7th Ave and 53rd and I discovered that Flywheel recently opened a new studio near Lincoln Center (1.1 miles from my hotel). I had a little 2-inch snow surprise when class let out, but in a display of true grit, I sucked it up and ran back to my hotel in the snow.  I like the Flatiron studio better primarily because of my run course.  I take the 6am class which means leaving my hotel around 5:30a.  There is nothing more awesome that running down Broadway in the early morning.  It is an amazing run and a completely different way to see NYC.  If you are traveling without a bike and have to get a ride in, this is really one of the best options that simulates the outdoor ride.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Flywheel.
NYC run in the snow - somewhere near Columbus Circle

My swim got scrapped on this trip.  I typically swim at Manhattan Plaza Sport Club, which is on 41st between 8th and 9th. It's a nice club with a very nice pool and usually the pool is not very busy.  I had great intentions.  I packed my paddles, cap, goggles and nose clips.....and forgot my swim suit.  So I was able to protect my straight hair for one extra day and sleep until 8a one morning.

In other news...
I got a surprise in my inbox last week.  Lifetime Fitness emailed me and said I had won a free entry to the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis.  I was totally surprised and had to contemplate whether or not I should stick to my original race plan or swap out Omaha Triathlon for LTF Minneapolis.  After surveying the TNT community, I decided to do it.  So now I'm traveling for pretty much every triathlon this summer.  New race schedule below:

Sunday, March 22 - Hot Chocolate Run 15K - San Diego, CA

Sunday, April 26 - Omaha Duathlon - Memphis, NE

Sunday, May 3 - Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon - Lincoln, NE

Sunday, June 7 - Legend Triathlon (Olympic) - Lawrence, KS

Saturday, July 11 - Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Minneapolis (Olympic) - Minneapolis, MN

Sunday, August 9 - Ironman 70.3 Steelhead - Benton Harbor, MI

Sunday, September 6 - Hy-Vee Triathlon 5150 Championship - Des Moines, IA

Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Indoor Tri Race Report/Reflection and details on my 2015 race schedule


Alarm went off this morning at 6:45am and I have to say, I almost didn't get out of bed.  From the comfort of my bed, I checked the weather:  temperature in Omaha was -1 degree...literally.  Probably the only thing that got me out of bed was my realization that quitting on day 4 of the new training season was probably not a good indicator for a successful season.  After  a quick bagel and coffee, I drove to Lifetime Fitness for their annual Indoor Triathlon.  LTF Indoor Tri was my very first "triathlon" 2 years ago.  Two years and eight triathlons later, I'm no longer a "newbie."

I arrived at the gym and it was nice to see some familiar faces. My fellow Black Triathlete Association members Shayla and Travis Withers were in the race wave before me and pro triathlete and coach Morgan Chaffin was counting laps for the swimmers.  TNT member Deb Bahr was also on hand to count swim laps.

Today's indoor tri was really a time trial for me.  Test fitness, see where I am at this point.  Swim was fine - 19 lengths (475 yards) in 10 minutes.  It was a major improvement from my first time (12 lengths - 300 yards) but not nearly my fastest.  I've been fairly consistent with  my swimming in the off-season, but I've been slacking in distance and drills.  The bike was also fine.  It's hard to compare to my event 2 years ago because LTF is using different bike computers now.  However, I think my ride was definitely stronger:  10 miles in 30 minutes (20.1 mph average), decent power for me (averaged about 160 watts).  The run was not good:  2.08 miles in 20 minutes (9:36 per mile pace).  I have not been doing any speed work and I was really struggling with 5 minutes to go. 

Overall takeaways:  add speedwork into running, get the drills back into swim workouts, get comfortable with that uncomfortable feeling in all 3 disciplines.  And most importantly, consistency, consistency, consistency.

2015 PLANS

My plans for 2015 are ambitious.  Ben is developing a running and half ironman training plan for me and it's a little daunting.  The number of training hours per week are really going to push me.  Last year, I averaged 6 hours a week with a  few 8-9 hour weeks.  This year, 8-9 hour weeks become the norm and we'll have some 10-12 hour weeks as well.  Here's the basic rundown:

March - Hot Chocolate 15K - This race is in San Diego and I'll use it as a midpoint race-pace test, working towards Lincoln Half.  It's also spring break for Ben and me!

April - Omaha Duathlon - Fast and flat, this will be a 2.5 mile run-15 mi bike-2.5 mile run.  In some ways, I think the duathlon format is almost tougher than triathlon but it will be a good excuse to get on my bike outdoors.

May - Lincoln Half Marathon - I haven't had a good half since 2010 when I was training for the Chicago Marathon.  Hopefully, Ben's training plan will get me to a good place with this distance.  The main purpose of this race will be to force me into decent running shape for my "A" race - Ironman Steelhead 70.3.

June - Legend Olympic Triathlon - I'll be in full training mode at this point for my A race, so we'll see how this goes.  I've done a different race on this exact course (5150 Kansas) last year so I know what to expect. 

July - Omaha Triathlon - I've not done this race before but since I will have to miss Omaha Women's Tri this year (conflicts with Legend), I thought I'd give it a shot.

August - My "A" race - Ironman Steelhead 70.3 - my first half iron distance.  I was hesitant at first about taking on this distance in 2015, but I had a good race year in 2014, and I know I can do it with consistent training.  This is a race distance that will be completely unforgiving if you don't put in the training, so I really have to focus.

September - Hy-Vee Triathlon 5150 Championships - This might just be the best value race in the sport of triathlon.  Tons of free gear, awesome race support and management, decent course and opportunity to watch the best pros IN THE WORLD compete.   I earned a spot in the championships last season in the Athena division and my performance at the 2014 Championships qualified me for this season.  This will be my last tri of the season and it's all about having fun...and maybe winning another awesome gift card!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Race Schedule

Sunday, March 22 - Hot Chocolate Run 15K - San Diego, CA

Sunday, April 26 - Omaha Duathlon - Memphis, NE

Sunday, May 3 - Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon - Lincoln, NE

Sunday, June 7 - Legend Triathlon (Olympic) - Lawrence, KS

Sunday, July 26 - Omaha Triathlon (Olympic) - Omaha, NE

Sunday, August 9 - Ironman 70.3 Steelhead - Benton Harbor, MI

Sunday, September 6 - Hy-Vee Triathlon 5150 Championship - Des Moines, IA

The very first post...

As we begin the year 2015, I have embarked on a new venture:  writing a blog.  I never thought I would be one to write a blog but after reading my husband's well-crafted blog over the years (you should follow it:  Ben's Running Blog) and numerous rather crappy blogs by other folks, I figured I should jump on the bandwagon.  My posts will primarily focus on my training and adventures in triathlon, but occasionally I will venture into other areas.  More to come!