Trying to ride with the Bike Team

Well, I have purchased a new road bike! I have never owned a nice road bike, so I was excited to ride. I picked up the Cervélo R3 Team. Bottom line, it is awesome!

To test out any new road bike, you should plan to go ride with the local bike team. They are what we call “Roadies.” In the Woodlands, we have some pretty good roadies. On Sunday’s the Woodland’s Cycling club has an all comers ride for about 1:45 (27 – 30 miles). It has a lot of slow, and a lot of fast stuff on key parts of the course. You quickly get to see what kind of watts you can generate on some of the faster sections as the bike team starts to push the pace. I managed to get with he lead pack of the bike team on Dobbin Huffsmith and hang until the end. I hope to pick up some more fitness and get back to pulling the packs soon.

Stay Klean,

The Off Season (Klean Athlete Blog)

The Off-Season November 9, 2012

I was reminded today from my coach about the importance of a good off-season. It is not the physical rest that matters but more the mental rest that provides the most return. So what exactly is mental rest?

To me, the ability to use sports as a diversion from the mental strains of the day, plays a big factor in a healthy lifestyle routine. However, for the Type A athlete looking to log in workout after workout, this is not always the case. Yes, there is plenty of time during your training where you need to find the zone and be focused. You recognize that moment when you clock off your interval and relish in the sound of your breathing, your pace and the tingle in your legs.

But there is also a time during the off-season, when you simply run, bike, swim, lift or whatever it is you want to do and let your mind rest. This is often known as “mindless time,” even though you happen to be in motion. For me, mindless time happens most often while I swim. I love the sound of the water, as well as, the soundlessness of it – no iPod, no E-Mail, no Voicemail, no Text and no Garmins! I swim and think about whatever I want!

As much as I enjoy the mindless time, when the season is in full swing, I have learned to turn my mind back on and make sure I know every little thing about my pace, breathing and stroke count to propel me forward.

Off-season rest, requires focus of a different kind. It calls for focus on the right nutrition. One of the reasons we started Klean Athlete, was to provide the basics of good nutrition that you can use to maintain your health every day. Klean Athlete provides beneficial nutritional support regardless of your current training cycle. Take for example our Klean Multi, Klean Probiotic and Klean Cognitive products. All three of these were formulated to support proper nutrition any time of year and at any point in your training. Good supplementation can help power your mental rest strategy and fuel your recovery and rest period.

For me, good supplementation starts with giving up on those extreme sport supplement products designed to “enhance” my performance. Most of the products I’m talking about are not meant to be taken daily and your off-season should be void of them.

If you are not refueling yourself with the right nutrition during this off-season, we invite you to try Klean products and let us know how much better you feel. Most importantly, what you do now, can help you perform better in 2013.

WMST / Swimming @ the NAT

I will start my blog with stating that we have the absolute best masters swimming program in the country. Woodlands Masters Swim Team, started by Carolyn and Tom Boak is over 200 swimmers and growing. The workout schedule is awesome with multiple coached workouts on each day to fit just about anyone’s schedule.

One of the things I enjoy is the camaraderie found at each workout. The coaching and my fellow swimmers make it a pleasure to drop down 3000 + yards every time I go. We have swimmers of all abilities and levels from people with Olympic Trial cuts to those just starting out.

I am constantly telling my friends in the triathlon community to come join us. If you want to get better at swimming, come swim with people that can kick your ass!

On an ongoing basis, I run into one individual whether she is coaching me or kicking my butt in a work out. That is Laura Davis. She is an incredible swimmer and even better coach. Typically she will give us set like 150’s with some kicking and drills as part of each 150. My favorite part is she will say, “do them on the the 2:15, but I did them on 2:00.” That is all it takes, for me to push it harder. I don’t like losing to girls (this is left over from a grade school dilemma). As you can see in the picture, if Laura is not happy with your effort in the pool, she shows her displeasure in subtle ways.

My swim has always been there for me in races and that happens becuase of all the swim training with WMST. I will be thinking of them as I head out for the 2.4 mile start of my day in Kona.

The Woodlane Loop

If you want to ride your bike before work, you have to be creative. With traffic, limited time and plenty of other obsticles, you need a safe place to get your ride done. Here in the Woodlands, we have a loop known as the Woodlane Loop. I have ridden this loop countless times getting ready for this race and have done everything from recovery rides to interval sessions. The loop is 5 miles and is about 4 miles from my house.

I can leave my house and do a 20 mile ride and be back by 8:00 to start work. Here is a copy of the map:

The ride has a few distractions as well including, deer, dogs, horses and the “duelly” pick up. However, to be able to ride out my door is such a plus, that these things are minor. I know a many of athlete that have to commute via car to get a ride done. To simply roll from the garage is such a privlige. This is probably why The Woodlands was one of the best places to live and train for Triathlon as ranked by Triathlete Magazine.

I rode there this morning and realized I don’t have many more of these rides until I head off to Kona. The weather was great, the legs felt good, so I snapped a few pictures:

The entrance to Woodlane

Nice Roads

Some of the wildlife I was talking about above.

Nice sunrise

Then you eat a healthy breakfast before you start work (Eggs, Rice, Green Foods Drink, and plenty of Douglas Labs vitamins)

Taper in Sight

I am traveling again for work, and had a chance to review the rest of my training plan up until the big day. The big difference is the presence of rest days, where I normally have workouts scheduled. Each week has an extra day or two of rest and my last long ride of the year is in sight!

At this point, I always do the same thing and that is second guess myself and my training by asking, have I done enough? I did this last year and everything worked out ok, so experience tells me, it is time to start the peak and rest phases of my training.

I am thankful that my coach Dana Lyons, has managed my training this entire year and looking at my results and progress, I could not be happier. When you have so many other commitments, like family and work, it is very beneficial to have someone assist with your schedule. Having your workouts planned out, gives you the ability to maximize the time you have by doing the right workouts on the right days of your training cycle.

For those that don’t follow endurance sports, let me explain the taper. The taper is simply a point where you stop doing such long volumes of work and start doing less frequent but intense workouts to get you ready to race. Through a combination of rest and intensity, you hope to sharpen up to a point of peak fitness.

It can be hard to force yourself to take days off, but at this point in the cycle, you have to be confident and know you have done the work.

I still have some a few more long workouts on the schedule, including another century ride this weekend followed by a 1 hour run.

Outside of training, I have a few things to report. First, in Triathlete magazine, The Woodlands was given Honorable Mention status for being one of the best places to live if you are a triathlete. I could not agree more. The artilce also ranked Austin as second on that list, which is why that city is so much fun to visit.

We also picked up a new camera over the weekend that will let us take some underwater pictures and underwater movies while we are in HI. It was raining almost all day on Saturday, so we all jumped in the pool and took some great pictures. We also made a short movie. We picked up the Canon Powershot D10. Great camera!

Lastly, the above picture was sent to me by Kevin Barr. Kevin is also going to Kona and happened to be there last year and snapped this photo close to the run finish. I look forward to following that yellow line on October 10, 2009.

Good Weekend on the Bike

My training really kicked up a notch with some fast and long tempo running on Friday morning, fast swimming on Friday night and a hard bike on Sunday.

Sunday’s effort consisted of a 1 hour warm up and then 3 x (40 minutes at IM pace and 20 minutes at Half Ironman pace). I knew the workout would be challenging, but did not know just how hard until I was done yesterday.

For the 3 hours the interval lasted, I averaged 22+mph on the bike and 234 watts. My average HR was only 147 bpm. I was real happy with this effort and it shows that my bike is really starting to come together. My total ride time was about 4.5 hours and 94 miles. Here is a screen shot of the interval for my cylcing geek friends:

I also feel I have nailed my nutrition for the longer bikes and my energy was high at the conclusion of this ride and my short run felt pretty good. My nutrition on the bike is pretty simple, 1 Power Bar an hour and 1.5 bottles of Gatorade an hour. I squeze in a gel or two if I feel it is needed.

The tough part about the ride came not during but about 3 hours afterwards. I was wiped out yesterday afternoon! I knew I would be tired, but I have not been that tired in a long time. Thankfully Shani did not mind me passing out at 9:00. I also took plenty of my Douglas Labs supplements, including Wobenzym and when I woke up this morning, I did not have too much soreness.

I was able to head out for an easy 2.5 hours this morning with Clint Bryant and Ed York and able to let the legs spin out.

The weeks are starting to get tougher as I am getting closer to race day. So far, I have been blessed with good health and plenty of support! I look forward to these last few weeks of hard training.

Website and Training Update

I updated the website this morning to bring more emphasis to the blog and twitter post. Just this past week, I had several people comment to me about things posted on the blog. Thus, someone other than my mom must be reading this thing!

When I get to Kona, I will do my best to get some daily post up. The post will contain comments, pictures and video’s of the days leading up to the race. I will do my best to get as many pro athletes and other triathlon “celebrities” on the site via photo and video.

With only five Saturdays remaining to race day, I could not feel better. I had a busy past two weeks of work with travel, but still got in my runs.

As an added bonus during my business trip, I spent time with my Sister and went on a bike ride with my nephew Ryan. Ryan is a preschooler and rides the bike like no other kid I know. He tore up hills like a future Tour star. It also happened that my Aunt and Uncle were passing through Pittsburgh at the same time, so I got to enjoy a nice dinner with them as well.

My riding is feeling good and I have a hard ride this weekend to test my legs. Tomorrow will be a 100 mile ride consisting of 4 x (40 minutes at Ironman Pace and 20 minutes at Half IM pace). I hope this equates to about 220 watts for the 40 minutes and 250 watts for the 20 minutes. No big run after the ride, so I will be focused on pushing the workout.

Yesterday morning before work was a great run workout. Again I did the 4 x 2 mile repeats after a 4 mile warm up accompained by a 3 mile cool down. I started off the first 2 mile interval at 6:36 pace, then dropped it to 6:30 with the last two at 6:20. Not as fast as last time, but I did them on the road with some rolling hills versus the track. My legs felt good and I could have done another one, but needed to be back early for work.

My swims are also picking up with my pace coming down to a comfortable 1:10 per 100 yards. My goal is to have this around 1:07 per 100 by race week.

No big kid events this weekend, so I will take advantage of the time to stack on one more big weekend of training.

A Family that Races Together, Stays Together!

Wow what a weekend! As always the Monk Family was busy, training and racing and it was not just me this time. We had the Kiwanis Kids Triathlon in Bear Creek where Hannah and Parker both had outstanding performances.
Parker raced so well that he finished with 3rd place in his age group. Parker took off on the bike in 6th place and reeled in 2 people to find himself in 3rd at the start of the run. He ran fast and kept everyone behind him from catching up. I was really proud of him, because this was only his 2nd race and when we left the house, he told me that he was going to get a trophy. That is exactly what he did, and he got to stand on the podium and show it to everyone around!
Hannah raced as well, and did her best. She was a bit sick going into the race, but insisted on doing it anyway. Hannah is into swimming now and demonstrated a perfect freestyle at the event. She now wants to start swimming again, so Dad will sign her up soon for the Gators program once Girls Run is done.

We have more photos of the race published on-line:

Proud Dad also made a short movie of Parker’s race:

As far as my training, I had a hard week consisting of several breakthrough workouts that got me pretty excited:

  • Tuesday was a track work out doing 5x 1200’s. I averaged 4:27 pace in some serious heat.
  • Thursday night was a key swim work out, where I saw 1:04 in several 100 freestyle swims.
  • Friday morning was a big run day where I did my long run, but with 5 x 2 mile repeats in the middle of the workout. Al Richardson met me for the repeats and I averaged, 6:46, 6:36, 6:26, 6:31 and 6:11 pace. I felt terrible during the first part of this run, but thanks to Al, we picked it up. Total run distance was 15 miles and about 2 hours.
  • Sunday was my long ride day, but again with some work in the middle of it. I had to do 2 hours at faster than Half IM pace and I did that and managed 252 watts, 44 miles total and a HR of only 152 bpm. The weather was hot and it was a challenge. The total ride was over 100 miles and about 5 hours.

Lastly, I am planning to race the Clear Lake International Triathlon this weekend. I hope to get a boost in my bike and run speed. Should also be a good test of my ability to run in the heat!

Early Birthday / Tired Legs

This past week was a good one, with some great work appointments in Austin, some great training and it was topped off with a nice early birthday celebration with family.

I turn the big 38 on Thursday, but my parents came over for some grilled buffalo and tri-tip and we enjoyed a nice afternoon by the pool. I got some awesome gifts, including a coffee mug with tons of Ironman stuff on it and a bamboo sushi platter for my ever increasing sushi habit. It was a low key affair with family and it could not have been a better time.

My mom also hinted at volunteering at the Ironman. I hope she does it!

As far as training, I had a really good week. I had an opportunity for a ride during my trip to Austin. I loaded up the bike into the Element and took it with me on the road while working this week. I also talked Mike Young into driving over so we could get in a before work 60 miler while in Austin. We did a ride called the Mansfield Dam loop. It had 3300 feet of climbing and compared to Houston, it was a nice test of the legs. I felt really good going uphill and feel my cycling is really improving.

I also have to go on record that Mike is no longer droppable. I had big plans to ditch him on the first climb and despite his broken spoke, he never went away. It is official, I can’t drop him on flats and cannot drop him on hills either. He now has to have a 2:30 bike split at the Longhorn 70.3. He no longer has any excuses. Here is a view of our route:

Austin is such an awesome place to train. You have Barton Springs for open water swims, Town Lake trail to run on, countless hills to bike on and all from a downtown destination. I plan on many more trips over there in the future.

When I returned home, I got in a long run of 2.5 hours or 19 miles Friday morning. I did most of it in the dark before work and it was still 78 degrees with 100% humidity. However, at about 7:00AM a big storm blew in and it cooled off. I had only 30 minutes to go on the run and decided to pick up the pace. I clocked off some 7:00 miles and finished the run strong despite being at 15 miles at the time.

Saturday was an easy ride with the Woodlands Cycling Club then time with Shani and Hannah at the Doll hospital in Old Town Spring!

Sunday morning came with me waking before my alarm and I did not feel rested at all. The 2 cups of coffee did not bring me to life and to my surprise, I was not hungary at all either. I started my ride at 6:15 and found my legs to be heavy, sore and nothing like they did when I had the great idea to push the pace for the last 4 miles of my 19 mile run. I was scheduled to do 5:30 or 110 miles. I did not have it and had to rely on Mike to pull me home in 4:30 or 85 miles.

I hit this point several times last year training for Wisconsin. When you have a bad day, you have to cut it short, eat a lot of food, rest and try again later.

I have 10 weeks to go and I am already pushing big volume weekly, despite my work schedule. The past few weeks I have averaged, 200+ miles on the bike, 9000 meters swimming and 45 miles running. If I stay smart and recognize the signals my body sends, I will be ready for the big day.

Lastly, we are off to see the Schloegel’s this weekend in Kansas City. I always look forward to seeing them and spending time with Matt. I don’t know if we will get a ride in, but I will make sure we run!