Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday of the year.  What's not to like about getting the family together, cooking, watching football, and just relaxing?  I've always liked it but, it seems to get better and better as I get older.  Is Thanksgiving an "older people" holiday?  My guess is yes.

A couple years ago we moved Thanksgiving to our house.  We used to have two Thanksgiving dinners, one at my parents and one at my mother-in-laws.  They were both excellent but I'm kind of a home body, so the relaxation level just isn't quite the same at someone else's house.  I also love to cook, so moving it to our house allows me to do another thing that I love. 

This year was the biggest get together yet.  My parents and most inlaws came as usual (I started typing all the inlaws and it got long).  We had a special bonus of my brother-in-law from Arizona and his family coming to visit.  I hadn't seen them in forever and it was great having them over as well.  We had 14 people total but it was supposed to be 16.  My niece and her husband had a baby last week and they were still in the hospital.  We ran a nice meal over to them which I'm sure they enjoyed.  We look forward to having them and Jonah over next year.

On to the good stuff, the food!  With all these people I decided to cook two turkeys and my parents brought down a honey baked ham.  I grilled on turkey on the Weber using my dad's method he taught me.  Oil the bird, coat with Lowry season salt, grill on indirect heat for about 20 minutes per pound until the temp reaches 180.  Works perfect every time.  I smoked the other turkey.  I brined it over night in cranberry-pomegranate juice with one cup of kosher salt per gallon.  In the morning I rinsed the brine and added more salt and pepper.  Smoking is tricky because it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour per pound depending on how hot the smoker is.  It was a cold rainy day and I had a 13 pound turkey so I got up at 5:15 am and lit the charcoal in case it took 12 hours to cook.  My luck, it took about six hours and I should have pulled it off after about 5.  Not a real big deal.  My dad and I wrapped it in aluminum foil, then a towel, and stuck it in a cooler to rest for a couple hours.

My mom, wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law made all the fixings.  Stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, corn casserole, broccoli casserole, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and peanut butter pie.  Needless to say, no one went hungry.  I made a black bean salsa to snack on all day while cooking and it was huge success.  Thanks neighbor Claire for the recipe!  Here it is if you are looking for a nice snack to bring to a party.

2 cans black beans (RINSE WELL and drain)

1 can white shoe peg corn (drain)
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh tomato
Combine all ingredients except tomato. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Add tomato just before serving. May need to add more lime juice and cilantro to taste.

Another good week of training (except swimming).  I moved things around a bit to fit it all in.  Wednesday night I skipped my swim because our company arrived.  Thursday I ran instead of biked because I was able to fit a run in nicely between checking on the turkeys.  Friday I managed to set the trainer up while everyone was either sleeping or Black Friday shopping.  That moved my long run to Saturday and long bike to Sunday instead of vice versa.  I normally take Friday off from running and cycling.  Not taking it off meant 6 days of running or cycling in a row.  My legs are tired.
Speaking of Black Friday.   Happy Black Friday to me!  I didn't do any crazy shopping.  After my parents left at 6 am, I took a long nap.  While catching up on BT posts I saw a thread about black Friday tri stuff.  I picked up two Zoot tri tops at 75% off plus a Sugio tri top and tri shorts for 40% off.  I need to decide what tri top and shorts I'll use during my HIM so I'll start doing my long rides and runs in different types to see what causes the least chaffing.
My training plan starts Monday 11/29.  I leave the country 12/4 for a week, so my 20 week plan will be more like 19.
This weeks totals
swimming 0 hours
biking 4.1 hours
running 2.9 hours

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's been a long time

It's been a long time since I did all three sports in the same week.  I only swam 1000 yards Wednesday and it wasn't entirely pain free, but my shoulders are feeling much better.  I'm concentrating on not crossing the center line with my arms and taking it easy.  I'm cautiously optimistic.  My swim goal for my HIM is going to be not to hurt my shoulders and relax.

My plan officially starts the Monday after Thanksgiving which is also the day I leave the country for 11 days.  Bummer.  I should be able to get a workout or two in Monday morning and the Friday after I return late Thursday night.  The hotel we are staying in does not have a gym and I didn't see anyone outside running last time I was there.  Oh well.

This week was a fairly solid week of training for me.

0.35 hours swimming
4 hours biking
2 hours running

To put this is perspective, this is pretty close to what I'll do in one day during New Orleans 70.3.  Double the swimming, cut a half hour or so off the bike, and add a about 15 minutes to the run and that should be about right barring any injury or equipment failure.  I think about  my first 70.3 during every workout.  I have a love/hate relationship with races.  I need a race to motivate me to train and I love training.  My run today was just great.  I turned off the tunes for a while and listened to the birds chirp and the leaves rustle.  I thought about my friends that are battling cancer and prayed for them.  After that, I just enjoyed being outside and the feeling of being so alive.  Racing is another story.  I really don't like the days leading up to the race.  I get tense, apprehensive, and grumpy.  The race itself is a blast and finishing is a great feeling, specially when people are cheering for you.  That reminds me of one of my triathlon pictures with no one cheering for me.   Check out the girl on the right.  Totally excited about my finish :-). Maybe she's not happy because I beat her twenty or thirty something boyfriend :-).

My daughter was there cheering me on at different points.  She just missed the finish.

One more pic I took on the way home from work this week.  Our local university has a ton of deer.  These two barely stopped eating long enough to look at me as I stopped my car right next to them. The one starring at me resumed eating right after the pic.

Um, I'm eating, move along.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving this week!  I have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bike Speed

I spent a little time thinking about bike speed this week.  My last two triathlons had 20 and 24 mile bike legs and I averaged 20.2 and 19.8 mph respectively (very flat courses).  I'm not unhappy with that, but would like to get a little faster in short races, like 22-23 mph.  So what can be done about it?  It comes down to four five things.  Power, weight, aero dynamics, and rolling resistance, oops money is number 5.

Power - I don't have a power meter so I don't know how many watts I'm cranking out, but more is always better.  I won't be buying one anytime soon since they start at over $500.  I will increase my power over the winter following my plan.

Weight - I have an entry level road bike with clip on aero bars. 

My bike
 I'm comfortable on it and until I save $3k for a tri bike, I'm gonna live with it. Maybe if I sign up for a full triathlon, I'll get one of these.  It just looks fast.

I've already dropped almost three grand on gear, nutrition, and race fees.  New Orleans is already up to $750 just with the race fee and hotel.  Add travel and food and that one race will be over a grand.  Man this sport is expensive!  Anyway, back to weight.  I could lose about another 10 pounds and that would help but I love steak, bacon, and beer too much.  We'll see.

Aerodynamics - I already have aero bars which help.  Next up is an aero helmet.  They can increase your speed between 0.5 and 1.5 mph for about $100-150 bucks.  That is cheap speed.  Aero wheels provide about the same increase in speed but they are over 10x the cost.  I'm not sure if I consider myself fast enough to wear one yet.

Rolling Resistance -  I've always thought my tires looked wide.  I checked them a little closer this week and my Kenda Kriterium's are 25 mm wide!  Looking at racing tires, they vary between 19 and 24 mm.  Here is a really cool chart where some guy tested a whole bunch of tires.   Based on some reviews and forum searches I decided I'm going to buy some Continental GP4000s' for training next year and maybe some Specialized Mondo Open Tubular's for racing.

I just looked up my tire. Here is the quote "This tire can do it all, from training to racing. Also available in a 700Cx25 size for touring and commuting."  So I've been racing on a touring tire!  Why didn't the bike store tell me?  These tires are now my trainer tires until they pop.

Kriterium's - 255g - ~$30 each - 20 Watts per wheel? 
GP4000s' -  198g ~$50 each - 14 Watts per wheel
Mondo's   - 225g - ~$70 each - 11.5 Watts per wheel

So I could gain ~12 Watts for ~$100.  Assuming I'm pushing 200-250 Watts, that's a 5% gain.  That could equal in the neighborhood of 1 mph.

So adding up the gains from my increased training, aero helmet and tire upgrade, I could be pushing close to 23 mph in a flat Olympic distance race next year.  That would be sweet.

Bike training this week has been good.  I did three workout's almost per plan.  The first was supposed to be a lactate threshold test.  After a warm up you go all out for 30 minutes and see what heart rate you can sustain.  It is as painful as it sounds.  So I was all primed to do the workout when I got home and we got a last minute invite from one of the neighbors for a chili dinner.  I love chili.  I figured if I skipped the beer, I could probably still do my work out.  Nope.  I got on the bike and was burping chili and got heart burn whenever I got in aero position.  It turned in to an easy zone 2 ride just to keep dinner down.  For my two hour ride yesterday I combined the 3rd and 4th workout in the plan.  So after about an hour and 20 minutes I did 14 30 second sprints pretty much all out.  Yep, it was painful. 

Running wasn't so good.  I was lazy and slept in so no running in the morning.  I planned an hour run on Sunday but tweaked my back Saturday.  My plan starts in two weeks, so not much more slack time.

This week

Swim 0 hours
Bike 4 hours
Run 0 hours

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I was in Moldova last week on business.  I was a little uneasy at first since this is a former Soviet area that declared itself an independent state in 1991.  The trip itself was long, but uneventful.  We flew from St. Louis to Chicago to Frankfurt to Moldova.  Total travel time was about 21 hours.  I arrived at the St. Louis airport about 3 pm Sunday and we arrived at our hotel at about 7 pm Monday.  Moldova was 7 hours ahead of us while I was there, it is normally 8 ahead of us.

Our hotel

The hotel was built in 2001 and was very nice.  The rooms were huge and very clean.  The wireless internet worked perfectly.  The staff spoke good English and were very pleasant.  No complaints at all.

The company we are working with picked us up at the airport and had a driver for us at all times.  I'm glad because I wouldn't want to drive there.  The driving isn't as crazy as Brazil, but it is fast paced. 

The people were overly kind to us.  They made sure we had everything we needed at all times.  They fed us like kings and were just generally pleasant.  I've noticed this "overly kind" trend repeatedly with people from other countries.  The people in Brazil treat us in a similar manner.  People I've worked with from Germany are the same way.  They go out of their way to make sure we're taken care of.  Americans on the other hand, are what I call "selfish kind".  We take our guests out and make sure they have what they need, but we are in more of a hurry to get home.

The food was delicious.  We had Zama, the national soup, along with solyanka, a delicious Russian soup.  We had Russian black bread, some local pickled vegetables, and crepes with cheese or meat in them.  We had a Turkish lamb dish which was very good.  Somehow they made the lamb taste like a beef roast instead of gamey.  One night, we went to a hunting restaurant and had wild boar and wild rabbit sausage.  I had venison for dinner and it was cooked to perfection.  They kept bringing more and more food out until we couldn't eat anymore.  Moldova is big into wine, so we had plenty of wine.  They are also proud of their vodka (of course) and Cognac. 

The weather was very similar to St. Louis though they are 10 degrees north of us latitude wise, so their winters are about 15 degrees colder than ours on average.  It's fall (leaves changing and falling) and the temps were mid 50'sF for a high and mid 30's F for a low.  Very pleasant.  People there dressed like they were very cold.  They kept the office and cars very warm.  I was sweating almost all the time unless I was outside or in my hotel room.  I turned on the A/C in my hotel room to counteract the radiator heat that I couldn't turn off.

I brought my running gear but decided not to run.  I didn't feel unsafe, but I didn't want to call any attention to myself either.  It seems like more people smoke than not in Moldova and I didn't see one runner while I was there.  I heard from a friend, I shouldn't leave the hotel without an escort.  Our business associate told me I could run as long as it was in the morning and I stuck to the main street.  The main street was very busy with people and traffic, so it wouldn't have been a relaxing run anyway.

I didn't see much architecture.  Most buildings were damaged in World War II and during Soviet rule, many large public housing units were built.  The roads were horrible. 

Everywhere we went it was constant bumps. We did get a tour of a really cool winery.  60+ miles of underground tunnels with 34 of them used to store wine.  We drove through it and saw huge barrels where the wine sits before it is bottled, then rows and rows of shelves containing 2 million bottles of wine.  Very impressive. 

Moldova is a growing country with a mix of old and new.  This photograph is a good example.  A very old car next to a new Mercedes.

It was very interesting to hear about the Soviet times and how everyone was the same.  Same pay, no reason to excel or work hard to get ahead.  Now there is a lot of opportunity for people that thrive on change.  Things are worse for people that liked Communism.  It was described as things used to be grey, with everyone being equal.  Now there is hope, but there is also a wide gap between the haves and the have nots.
Training this week

0 hours swimming
2 hours biking
1.1 hour running