Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Blight

Falling on ice is nothing compared
to falling on pavement.
It's been almost two weeks since my last blog entry but I've really not had much to say. Spring 2011 has brought several weeks of continuing cold rain and snow to the Cleveland area and I have had to remain on my bike trainer for most of my rides. I've also been spending extra time at work in the evenings which translates into very late workouts and no time to write about them. The most significant things to report about the last two weeks are an increase in anxiety about Ironman St. George and a couple near-disasters during my runs in the dark.

I've been focusing on the bike-run transition -- which basically means I've decided that anytime I have bike and run workouts on the same day, I'll do it as a brick. The first one of these short bricks (and by short, I mean 2-4 hours) came a couple weeks ago in the evening. After a longer-than-average work day, I got on my CompuTrainer for two hours and followed it up with a one-hour run.

Everything was going especially well during that run. Temperatures - at night even - had reached near heat-wave status at 38 degrees, and I took off out the door in shorts for the first time in months. My legs were surprisingly "springy" after the ride, so I continued to run hard for several miles around the back roads in my neighborhood. In the dark at night, I usually stay on sidewalks because, not surprisingly, I've found that drivers don't expect to see runners out on the roads at 10 pm. (Seriously, why else would they be driving 50+ mph in a residential area and blowing through stop signs?)

So, yeah, I was running on the sidewalk.. when a forgotten dimension of winter's damage tripped me up, literally. The sidewalk pavements had shifted badly, and I ended up almost doing a face-plant on concrete. I felt more stupid than hurt, and I got up quickly, surveyed the damage to my knee, and started running again. By the time I got home, my leg looked like the photo above.

Six days later, the same thing happened. AGAIN. I went down the same way, on the same side. The only thing that wasn't the same was the sidewalk I was running on. So now I have scrapes and bruises on top of scrapes and bruises, and my arms feel like I've been doing heavy lifting. My right elbow is so badly bruised I can't lean on anything. (The bright side is that it keeps me alert and in good posture while at my desk at work).

The other equally-ridiculous thing I've done in the past two weeks was a 100-mile ride on the CompuTrainer - most of it on the IM St. George Real Time course. It gave me yet another data point in the IMSG analysis. This one was the best yet, although it wasn't as good as I had hoped after all the hard training I've done. The most important accomplishment of this ride wasn't the power output anyway, it was the mental fortitude I had to stay on the trainer for almost six hours - a personal record.

Here's a plot of my best three finishes on the IMSG course (and yes, it does bother me that one of my best rides is from waaaay back in February):

My best three rides on the CompuTrainer IM St. George Real Time Video Course
The darkest line is the latest ride and best average power.
This week, I'm planning a time trial on the CompuTrainer to determine if my FTP (Functional Threshold Power) value has changed at all from January after completing the 12-week CompuTrainer challenge workouts my team was taking part in. After all the training, I'm expecting it to be higher, but lately, I've gotten the distinct impression I'm never going to get any stronger on the bike, no matter what I do. But I'll let the proof be in the TT.

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