That felt like running…only slower…

Strava mapJust 2 miles…
Hoka One One Mach

My run last night was pretty hard from an RPE standpoint. My heart rate never went way up, but my legs felt heavy and my form honestly sucked. The whole thing felt very labored and lacking in smoothness. I kept telling myself though that I felt very much the same when I first got back on the bike. The smoothness and ease I was accustomed to wasn’t there, but it came back quickly enough. I think honestly I just went back to back a little too soon, I just felt fatigued. I would pick up a good pace then my legs just didn’t want to lift my feet up, and I would drop my arms and before I even realized it I was shuffling. In hindsight I should have seen that my form was off, and that’s always been a recipe for getting hurt. I seem to have survived unscathed, and I’ll chalk it up to a “return to running” lesson, it has been a while after all.

Body parts.

My knee is troubling me today, I could feel that it was a little stiff during my run last night, but it didn’t seem any worse really than the other two runs, so I kind of disregarded it. This morning it’s hurting along the left front inner side, kind of between my knee cap and shinbones. It’s a little sensitive to the touch there as well. This is in keeping with the bruising I developed a few years ago when I initially injured it, so it’s something to keep an eye on. It hurt a bit more coming down the stairs than when walking on flat ground, and I remember reading something about that being significant with knee injuries. My right calf is more sore than my left, and I think that’s from my leg being stiff when I ran last night, putting more emphasis on that muscle, which is probably contributing overall. I may let it go another couple of days before I run again.

My lower back has been what I would say is best described as “tight” the last few days, maybe ten days overall. It isn’t painful, it just feels like it needs to pop. This is centered right above my left hip, low down on my back, maybe toward where the bottom of my kidney would be. There is a slight twinge that carries from there kind of out to the outside of my hip, and down across my sit bone. Further evidence of the need to ease back into this running thing. I don’t think it’s “injured” I think it’s just letting me know it’s there, and that I should proceed with caution.

I did a little easy yoga both before and after I ran, though afterward was pretty weak, really more of a light stretching session. I focused on my lower back and hips, but I didn’t do any time in the pigeon, which always seems to open up my hips when they are tight. I probably should have.

Tonight is “Mount Field” on TrainerRoad, and I may work in some resistance band time to focus on hip and knee strength before hand to maybe ward off either of these maladies becoming more serious.

So…I ran…

I ran. For the first time in 21 months. I had all but given up the idea of running anymore, and I was really ok with the whole thing, but this last round of surgery ad especially physical therapy was so successful that I started thinking…maybe…

So I waited til I was feeling rather strong, I bought new shoes (Hoka One One, I’m now a believer…) and last night I set out with the idea of running at least two miles but with a stretch goal of three.

Sträva screenshot

I ended up having to do the run-walk-run thing, but I did finish 3 miles. It wasn’t my cardio conditioning that let me down, my right knee was hurting a  bit, as I would have expected it to, and my quads were saying “dude…this is the roughest pedaling you’ve ever done…”. 

The main thing is that I enjoyed it. A lot. I’m cautiously optimistic that I will be able to make it a part of my routine again, and for that I am exceedingly pleased. I’ve always enjoyed running, but hated the process of running. I really enjoy the freedom, and the simplicity compared to the bike, but I hated the way it felt to get to a point where I was well enough conditioned that ever run wasn’t a test of survival. For a large part of my life, running five to ten miles a day was a very normal thing. It’s hard to be a paratrooper and not a runner you know. Once I injured my hip the first time, I started falling behind the curve, and like when you lose the wheel of a faster rider in a race you just start falling further and further behind until you just accept that you’re not going to make it back into the group. Thats very much what it felt like, and then adding to it my subsequent injuries that made it effectively impossible to run until they were surgically repaired, it was just one of things I put on the shelf with the rest of the “can’t do it anymore” things. 

Anyway, it was one run, and it was slow, but I enjoyed it, and I’m actually looking forward to the next one, and I haven’t said that in a very long time. 


Getting older but better

Observations on age and improvement…like wine but less red…

It wasn’t that long ago that I could ride 300 miles a week, drink hard on Friday and Saturday nights and still knock back a century on Sunday. Those days are over. Definitively, and for many reasons. I’ve had a few real and long lasting injuries in the last few years, thankfully not related to cycling. I say thankfully because injuries incurred from the bike usually bring to an end your riding. In my case as they were occupational injuries, once I had the requisite surgery to do the repair, riding the bike was recommended to me as my recovery method.

When i got back on the bike post surgery this May, I had to accept that I was essentially a beginnng cyclist. While I might have the wits and bikesmarts of an experienced rider, I definitely didn’t have the body. The legs were weak, the lungs were tight, and even my back and neck were barely up to the task. It’s been four months now, and something like 70 rides, and I’m feeling a lot more like my old self. I’m still slow, relatively speaking, and my endurance sucks, also relatively speaking, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Progress is obvious to those around me, and it cant be hidden from the scale, the power meter or the training log. My weight is down over 29 pounds, my FTP is already up 30 watts from my January threshold power test, and all my clothes are loose. In my fact my uniform, that I wear every day, barely stays on me right now.

As I’ve previously pointed out, I’m a recently self admitted data geek. I kinda feel that at 45 years old, I don’t really have the time to chase rabbits down unknown trails during training, I kinda need something of a sure thing. By measuring my performance on a regular basis, I can redirect as needed to keep progressing. I’ve always tracked my rides, and logged my miles, but I never really worked it into any kind of holistic training regimen. I just did what my legs felt like and pushed as hard as I could all the time. Using the old F.I.T. Acronym, I pushed frequency to every day, Intensity to 11, and Time to all day.

In the last four months, I’ve followed a much more carefully planned strategy, more time conservative, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve seen better improvement than I would have using my old methodology. I used the TrainerRoad guys plans as a base, and built my weeks around total Training Stress, working in aerobic stuff for weight loss on my commutes, and harder more structured stuff (anaerobic, and HIT) during my at least two trainer rides a week. One of the best decisions I’ve made in years was investing in the Wahoo KICKR last December. I bought it in anticipation of being broken for a while post surgery, and that was definitely the case. What I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy structured workouts on it. Lately I’ve been que’ing up a TrainerRoad workout, putting some first person cycling video on the big TV in front of my trainer, and jamming some appropriate music while I ride. I’ve got a pretty good sound system in the garage, so I can really blast it.

I’m about to start working in two short, easy runs a week to channel some of my cardio fitness into the things I have to do for the army, but personally, its all about the bike. The oldest boy is loving his mountain bike, and he’s been riding a lot himself, so I’m looking forward to being able to do some real rides with him in the spring time. Maybe Pablo Duro canyon, and something kind of epic. A year ago I didn’t really think that would be possible.

Things are looking up.

284 TSS this week…

I think that’s ok for now. That’s a few rides, one on the trainer, the rest in the heat, and I feel every bit of it right now (but in a good way). Training Peaks this morning says “based on your form, your body may need extra rest today”, no argument from me lady.

I reconfigured my training setup so the old Cervelo is now the trainer mule, and I’m riding the Kona daily. Who would have thought that when I paid several grand for that Cervelo a few years ago…

A new road bike is on the horizon, but probably not this calendar year, that’s for several reasons, but first and foremost I am using it as the carrot to my stick to keep training. My hip seems to be cooperating for now, so it’s all about little victories. I’m planning to do a metric century as a self check in September, so stay tuned.

This blog

I just spent about an hour or so reorganizing the way my blog publishes, and the links to content from the homepage. I had to learn a little more about how WordPress uses categories and tags in order to do it, but i think its a lot cleaner now. I think for the time being i can get by using drafts to capture text, then pushing the text to Ulysses for more complicated editing and revising, then using the built in functions in Ulysses to publish and maintain my site. I’m not sure yet about how images and such will work, but right now its a start.

Ive been using just my iPad for a couple of years, with the occasional more complicated edit on my work laptop, though I haven’t worked on WordPress from work since i got the iPad Pro and keyboard in December. At this point, it works for everything i want it to do except photo management. The keyboard really makes a big difference in text generation, and general usability. As a portable platform, it doesn’t get much better. I would rather work from a real laptop, but this is a 90% solution, and I can live with it.

I need to set up a real photo management solution at some point, and if that is a MacBook Pro using Lightroom, or a PC using Lightroom, or some other thing I haven’t even thought too much about yet, I don’t know. I have 15 years of family and personal photos i need to be able to manage, as well as a budding interest in real photography coming on quickly. It’s not really budding, its fully in bloom, and has been for several years, but I’m only just recently in a position to actually buy some better equipment. So I’m saying ill finally be able to indulge it.

In the eyes of others

Ive been thinking lately about the need to get my riding back on track, if for no other reason than I’m turning into a large mammal. As significant as that is, it’s really secondary to my bigger concern, it’s mostly for my mental health. I’ve definitely felt the impact of not riding in my state of mind. I haven’t had the lows I get in a big training cycle when I miss a ride, but I have been kind of “meh” about everything else. So no highs either, you know.

I did 20 minutes on the trainer the other night and it felt like a stage of Le tour when I was done, but it broke the ice, now is the time to get out there on the roads, and go like a real boy. I think I’ll do an hour or so today, nothing crazy and nothing off road other than the trails to get through places.

I read an essay yesterday where the author was discussing how he felt that real life begins after fifty. He made many cases for his stance, but a few things stuck with me over the others.

  1. You care less what other people think. This is one of the most concrete facts for me that I wish I could get my kids to understand and believe.
  2. There isn’t a point a where the tap turns off. Society would have us believe that we’re just done with life at 40 or whatever, and that after that you’re just waiting to die.

I’m 45 and from the neck up at least I feel better than I ever did. I understand things so much better now than I did when I was younger. The trick is to bring the body into line with the head, and then keep it there as long as possible. Certainly there is an inevitable decline, but as I’m not competing with anyone else (see 1. above), I only have to answer to myself. If I feel I’m working hard enough, and seeing the results I want, then I’m happy. It’s that simple.

My new boss is over 50, he made sure we all knew that on his first day. While he’s certainly kind of a knucklehead, he’s also a smart, vibrant guy. He seems very different from those were accustomed to, and I know that some of the younger leaner guys see him as out of touch and less “aggressive” than they think he should be, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s very much aware of what’s going on around him, he is simply unconcerned with their opinions. I’ve seen this several times before with leaders I’ve worked with, and I’ve come to realize that most of the time, they just don’t care what you think of their style. They’ve found what works for them, and as you don’t write their performance reviews, your opinion of their style is pretty low on the list of things they care about that day.

More than Zero

I finally got back on the bike after the hip freak out a few weeks ago. I absolutely felt the weight of not riding for so long, but as the title says, it was more than zero.

I took advantage of the chill training to sort my power meter and sync my new HRM.

I picked up a new TICKR run and passed my old TICKR to my son.

I’m hoping to slowly get him enthused about riding for more than transportation, and keep him riding even after he starts driving next year. (Fingers crossed)

More than Zero

Four Wheels good…Two Wheels Better

I spent the weekend working on my truck. I originally intended to just do the brake rotors and pads out of expediency, but I found at least two frozen pistons in the drivers caliper, so now I’m doing the full monty.

The pad in the picture shows the frozen piston problem. Since those pistons don’t retract, that pad is in constant contact with the rotor.

The new rotors are “so choice” with drilled and slotted surfaces, and that nice shiny silver, which will immediately wear off. They look strange in there with the 250,000 mile hubs and such around them. I also took a few minutes to repack the wheel bearings on both sides. It’s an every 50,000 mile service per the manual, and I last did them less than 20k ago, but it was one of those, “since you’re in there..” things.

I replaced my front sway bar bushings, as the drivers side has been banging under me for a few hundred miles now. You can see from the picture why. The new bushing is on the left. While the fronts were toasted, I have the rears and I may go ahead just to get them done as well, though I’m having no problems with those.

I will order the new calipers today, and another tub of redline grease as i finally used the last of the tube I have, after 20 years, no kidding. I would guess it will be next Monday before I’m able to finish the work due to the lead time on getting the parts, which is going to put us in a bind next weekend. Maybe I’ll get lucky.

1600- I spoke with NAPA, the calipers are in Dallas, and I’ll, have them Wednesday morning. A quick look at the weather says Wednesday will be acceptable for installing them, so maybe if things go my way, I’ll be up and running Thursday morning. That would be nice.

Power and Weight

That title might lead you to believe that this will be some post about how much difference my newly lost weight has made in my riding, but that would be untrue, as to the best of my knowledge, I’ve not lost an ounce off my fat ass post surgery. I’ve been doing physical therapy and strengthening work, and I’m way better, but that’s another story. This one is more of a bike tech geeky tale about how things change over time. So the weeks I’ve spent riding my KICKR have convinced me that I want to ride with a power meter which is something I’ve resisited for years, using various rationales to justify. They are expensive, they are finicky, they are heavy, I just like to ride, I don’t want to be a slave to the computer, and the most common, I’m just not that much of a data geek. So while some of those were true at some point, they were expensive (I paid 200.00 with free shipping for this stages though), these blue tooth and ant meters just work, no finickiness at all, this one weighs 38 grams, though there might be some validity to the freedom argument. Despite all those arguments back and forth the last he was reason was the most decidedly untrue, I’m definitely a data geek through and through. So I had to weigh some stuff out, I ride Campy on my road bike, and an Ultegra/105 mix on the cross bike. I have every intention of switching to Ultegra for my road bike, but probably not until I buy a new bike next year, so I was looking for something “cross platform compatible”. I ended up going with an FSA 386evo crank in 50/34 on the road bike which just happens to be the exact same crank albeit in 46/36 on my cross bike. So if you’ve been keeping up til now, you may have put together that with about 45 seconds and a hex head wrench, I can use my power meter on both bikes. See, yeah, method.

“But Dave” you say, “why would you take that beautiful and light Record crank off to put that boat anchor of an FSA on?” Well, I was somewhat worried about that too, but allow me assuage your concerns the same way I did my own. First, no one makes a crank based power meter for older alloy Campy. Simple fact. Sure there are other options, pedal based, hub based, etc, but then we’re right back into the above problems. So the Campy was out no mater what, so I was stuck with the “heavy” FSA alloy, that also conveniently worked with my cross bike. Out of curiosity and at the prompting of my youngest son, we weighed both cranks complete, including their respective bottom brackets before I installed the new one, and quite surprisingly, the FSA was exactly 2 grams heavier than the Campy, and that is with the power meter strain gauge installed. So if I am to believe the literature from stages, the FSA is actually 38 grams lighter than the Record. Now I will say that there is an elegance to the polished alloy of my old cranks lacking in the new one, but never fear, the Campy will find a new home, on my old Pinarello, where they will be most appropriate. The FSAs are a simple polished black that kind of disappears into the bike, which is just fine aesthetically. They are undoubtedly significantly stiffer, and this should also do away with an annoying square taper creak I’ve had for about 4 years as well.