Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Snow Days

In theory, I really like snow. Its pretty. I love how snow muffles noise so the air has this magical quietness to it. I like winter sports, like skiing and snowshoeing.

In reality, I’m not really liking snow all that much. Sure, I grew up in the stuff and know how to “live” in it. Sure you have to drive a bit more cautiously, leave for work a bit earlier, watch the weather every night to make sure you dress appropriately for the following day. But I never had to train for an IronMan in the snow. And that part sucks.

Last weekend, we got ~5 inches of snow between Friday and Saturday. My training plan originally had me doing a 3.5 ride/1 hr run on Saturday and a 4.5 hr ride on Sunday. Mercifully, my coach adjusted my plan for the snow: 2 hrs ride / 1 hr run on Saturday and a 3 hr ride on Sunday. I cannot even comprehend 4.5 hrs on the trainer right now, although, I’m certain this is in my near future.

In preparation for my trainer rides, I saved the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to my Netflix on demand account. The few times I’ve tried to watch a movie while on the trainer, I’ve found that the time it takes for a movie to build the plot and do something is a bit long and doesn’t help much in providing a distraction. My hope is that a tv series will have a quicker pace and provide more distractions. My coach has also been giving me sets of things to do while I’m on the trainer. This really helps make the time go by, since I have something to focus on every 5-10 minutes and then move onto the next portion of the workout. These trainer workouts are also kicking my ass.

Saturday’s brick involved muscle endurance (ME) sets on the bike. The idea is to do say, 4 x 20 minute repeats, where you pedal at a maximum of 55 rpm but every 5 minutes you increase the resistance so your heart rate increases 5-10 beats per minute. Heavy leg stuff, that’s good for building leg strength. Then I had an hour run. I’ve decided that my neighborhood does not have a half mile of level ground anywhere. These hills are killing me. I headed out towards the rec center, thinking that it was in a gully and that maybe the street behind it followed that gulley. No such luck. That dang street provided me with 1.4 miles and 200 feet of steady uphill climbing. It sucked. Then back down the hill only to have another similar climb up back to the house. Fooey. The other thing with this run is that I had NO idea it was going to snow on Saturday afternoon (see my above statement about needing to watch the weather forecast daily). It was snowing a tiny bit when I started but the air temp was in the mid-30’s, so there was no accumulation. By the time my run ended, the flakes were bigger, temps were colder, and snow was sticking. If I had started my workout an hour later, my run would have been hazardous.

Sunday was just a simple 3 hour trainer ride, the main set was 3 x 30 min zone 2-3 HR intervals, with 3-5 110-115 rpm 1 minute spin-ups mixed in. I gradually built in the high RPM work, 3 the first set, 4, the second, and 5 in the third. By the time I got to the third set, I was dying. I will say that the nice thing with the cold and being stuck on the trainer, is that all I have to do is shut off the heat, turn on the ceiling fan, and open all the windows. I got the house down to a balmy 58 degrees. Will and the kitties were freezing, but I was perfect.

Monday was a swim day, so no big deal, as the pool is inside. Managed to swim 4,000 yards. I was still the slowest in the pool, but I wasn’t dying either.

Tuesday had me doing a short-ish brick in the morning. And as luck would have it, we had another snow storm scheduled for Monday night through Tuesday afternoon. Options were to a) indoor trainer then try to run outside, and scrap it if it was hazardous; b) indoor trainer and then hop in the car and drive to the gym to run on the treadmill (which kind-of kills the intent of a brick); or c) go to the gym and ride/run there. My coach decided it was best to do a modified Option A, where I’d do my 1:05 on the trainer, then strap on my snow boots, bundle up, and head outside for a 30 minute vigorous “hike” outside in the snow. The air temperature was -2 degrees and we had about 4 inches of snow. It was actually fun, for the most part. It was a bit scary when the snow plow came through a few times – they’re large and move FAST. And I think I surprised a few drivers, because really, who in their right mind is out walking in this stuff at 6:30 AM? And I got to become acquiated with sensations I’d not experienced since I lived in Montana…. Frozen nose-hairs. Moisture from your breath freezing on your eyelashes, making them stick together. Generally being covered with snow.

Got home safe and sound. Then when it was time to take a shower, Will had a brilliant idea to also take a shower, which used up all the hot water, so I ended up running out of hot water at the end of my shower. Fail. And really, why was he taking a shower at 7 AM – he works from home!

Roads tonight from my run will likely be icky since we’re still below freezing, so I get to do a hill run on a treadmill for 70 minutes. But then – hopefully – things will warm up to the 50’s for several days in a row! I may even get to ride my bike in Boulder on Saturday, if the weather’s nice enough and the roads are clear.

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