Sunday, September 30, 2012

IMAZ training Week 10

Bike week is done! It was always going to be a big mileage week but it wasn’t until I got halfway through it that I realized I really would break the 200 miles in a week threshold, it’s a first for me but somehow I have a nasty feeling it won’t be the last!

Five bike sessions were on the plan for a total of 11.5 hours in the saddle, along with some low level running and swimming just to keep those fires warm. There was only one pure brick; a two hour ride on the trainer followed by a thirty minute run on the treadmill, say what you like about these two training tools especially the treadmill but they both keep you honest and on pace. Sunday’s long ride was a 4 hour session and I finally managed to get my race wheels locked and loaded, only after a quick unscheduled trip to the LBS for a lesson on reversible valve extenders!


I headed to PCH for this ride as it best simulates the Beeline Highway in Tempe; long and straight, although PCH is in my mind hillier, especially at the southern end where I usually start my rides around Pepperdine University. The first hour was spent just getting used to the wheels, it was pretty windy and I could feel myself being pushed around on them. The first 25 miles I had a headwind and it wasn’t until I turned inland and out of the wind that I started to really feel my speed pick up and I was comfortable cruising along at 21-22 mph and with a little tail wind and effort I could sit at the 24-25mph speed…wow is all I can say! I rode outbound for 2:10 knowing I would pick some up on the way back and I did finishing the ride in 4:03 negative splitting it by 9 minutes, mostly due to a tailwind but also to increased confidence. You can see the Garmin Connect data here.

I managed only one core session which essentially put’s me three sessions down in my challenge to do 30 of them in 10 weeks, right now I have done 9 in 4 weeks. This week is recovery so I can refocus my efforts there. Week 10 seems like a good time to look back on the training so far of which the tallies are:

  • Swim; 41.97 miles, 73,867 yards
  • Bike 910.85 miles
  • Run 234.45 miles
  • Total Time 127:57 (hours:minutes)

So here is the week’s totals and the weekly increase in training:



As I say this week is recovery week and then four more build weeks and then two weeks of taper…in other words 47 days to go!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday…

Check this out from my buddy, musician (he did the music for the TdF on NBC), Ironman and all round cool-cat Cody!

Fireflies West 550 Mile Timelapse from Cody Westheimer on Vimeo.

Monday, September 24, 2012

IMAZ training Week 9

Phew “Run” week done, as you can see quite a step up in the run mileage, so much for that 10% rule! Also this is the first week of the last 10 that’s taken a dent on the training volume. My time was cut short on 3 workouts and so I am prolly short of around 90 minutes worth of training of which about all is running and the rest in in the pool, with that missing running mileage I would have hit the 50 mile mark for sure.


I did manage to hit the two main workouts head-on; a three hour brick on Thursday night (2 hours bike/1 hour run) done on the trainer and treadmill. Sunday’s long run the plan called for a 2.5 hour run on Sunday, I had hoped for 18 miles but I didn’t have the zip to hot the 8:35 pace so I steadied myself and stuck to a slower pace (8:52) and covered 17 miles, this would put me on track for a 3:52 marathon which be awesome on race day!


This week has a bike focus with 11.5 hours in the saddle, if I do well I should break the 200 mile mark this week for the first time and north of 600 miles for the month, my biggest month this year. I am more or less on track with the core work, 8x the P90X abs workout in the last 3 weeks and it’s getting easier! The vegan experiment continues although it’s less of an experiment and more of a way of life now!

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Veggie protein with non dairy cheese bolognaise on spaghetti squash

This weekend I have a 2.5 hour brick on Saturday and a 4 hour ride on Sunday…I’ll get to try these out on the road,


Mavic Cosmic Carbone 80 tubulars…almost as yummy as the bolognaise!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review; Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

imageI decided to listen to this book after listening to Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra thinking that, per the title, there would be an emphasis on the food side of things.

Coming from an trail running background and not having lived under a rock for a few years I had some knowledge of Scott Jurek, multiple Badwater, Western States 100 and Spartathalon winner, he is also a central character from Chris McDougal’s Born to Run.

The book covers pretty much his life from growing up in the Midwest on a meat and two veg diet with a strict father figure through the World 24 hour championships in 2010. From his discovery of long distance running in his formative years it covers his early races, all his major races and wins as you expect. The descriptions of the races, the terrain and the tenacity are well written and compelling.

The book also covers his move to veganism and provides a couple of solid recipes in the back although these can be hard to follow in audio format. The story covers his personal life outside of running and as you could expect from any semi obsessive compulsive he is pretty dysfunctional, his running provides him a great escape from the harshness of the day to day reality of day to day life.

Having gotten through this book fairly quickly, within a week, there is one thing that really doesn’t sit well with me though. My previous opinion of Jurek was really one formed from reading encounters of him, race reports and interviews, I have never met him in person. Due to these I had conjured up an image of someone who was relaxed and easy going, focused on the running but laid back at the same time. Having listened there is a real disconnect between this and what comes through from the page. There is a sense of real arrogance is there in abundance bordering at times of being a real asshat, now that being said it could the reader that conveys that impression, it’s not read by him and in fact it’s not written by him either it’s co-authored the co-author Steve Friedman has written several sports books covering golf, basketball and running.


Overall I was left somewhat confused and disappointed buy this book, Jurek is clearly a complicated talented individual and I feel that his story has not really been captured merely the highs and lows and as we all know there’s usually a lot of filler between those points!

This product was purchased by me. See previous gear reviews in the Reviews tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Monday, September 17, 2012

IMAZ training Week 8

Swim week…6 swims for the week and not a lot of much else, basically I was in the pool every day this week except Thursday! Total yardage 16,200, that’s 9.2 miles! Needless to say that’s my biggest swim week ever, the main highlight was a 4300 yard swim Saturday. That’s actually 76 yards longer than an Ironman swim. Assuming you swim it in perfect straight lines it’s 4224 yards, likelihood of the that on race day…slim to none. I had no real expectation of how to execute this so I swam at a steady pace that I thought would let me finish it, albeit with rest intervals every 1000 yards. I had some cramping issues at the end but other than that it was completed within the race cut off time of 2:20 and without the intervals and a wetsuit I should be able to bring that under 2 hours…I am never really going to be a fast swimmer but I’ll be a finished swimmer! This week’s total really reflect the time in the pool and little time doing anything else.


Sunday was scheduled to be a self supported reverse Tri and as my training is all time based it was going to be pretty close to an Olympic distance:

  • 60 min run
  • 90 min ride
  • 30 min swim

I left it a bit late in the day to get out so I was out in the midday sun and a bit more but it was not that much of a problem, distance wise it translated into

  • 7.4 mile run
  • 26 mile ride
  • 1300yd swim

So the weekly progress has a step back in overall duration as you can see in the graph below.


Essentially I am half way through the plan, 8 weeks completed and 9 weeks to go. Just for shits and giggles here are the totals for the last 8 weeks. Something tells me even with the taper this is not half way in time or distance we’ll just have to wait and see!


FWIW 36.12 miles is 63,575 yards and 5924 minutes is 36 minutes shy of 100 hours.

Monday, September 10, 2012

IMAZ training Week 7

Well and I thought last week was big! This week I blew threw the time thanks to the addition of 75 minutes worth or core work and deliberate foam rolling for a total of just over sixteen and a half hours and 174 miles of training. This included several bricks this week:

  • Mon 39m bike/3.50m run
  • Wed 2000 yards/15.65 run
  • Sat 21m bike/7.17m run
  • Sun 51m bike/6.30m run

So in case you hadn’t figured it out it was a pretty run heavy week, the total breakdown looked like this;


A bit light on the swimming front, I cut one swim short (Wednesday) to accommodate the run. I am actually following a different swim plan so I was 500 yards short (but if you were to look at was prescribed in the bike/run plan I was on target)and on Friday I was pushed for time and had to cut 750 yards from my swim only managing 2000 yards in total. Specifically I was worried about a couple of workouts, Wednesday’s brick run and Sunday’s overall brick. Wednesday’s run turned out really well and I finished strong with a negative split, running early really helped avoid the weather but the 4:15am alarm call was pretty brutal. Sunday’s brick was also a bit worrying, riding 3 hours and running an hour individually; not a problem, string it altogether well that also turned out not to be a problem. Although leaving it late in the day after watching the first men finish in the 70.3 World Championships meant that I picked up some wicked tan lines! I need to focus some more on my hydration on the hot rides as I am getting dehydrated and there is no real excuse for this other than self-discipline. So here is the training to date:


This is the second week that I have cut my swim’s short which is a little concerning but this week is a sport specific and focuses on swimming with nearly 8 hours in the pool, in some ways it will be nice to get off my feet in others it’s in the pool! I expect a drop in mileage for sure and a little in duration.

Another piece of the puzzle arrived today; race wheels! Here’s a picture straight out of the box…hopefully I can try them this weekend!


This is the last week of counting weeks in double figures to race day, 10 left!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday photo…


Nice new shiny cassette waiting for my new wheels to arrive Monday!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review; Cyclefilm Roads to Glory Vol1 & Vol2

It may not have escaped your notice that I spend a fair amount of time on my trainer, a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, in fact just today I hit the 2000 mile mark, not bad in 14 months! Now when spending that amount of time on a trainer you need something to take your mind off of going nowhere. I have tried several series of training videos my “Go-Tos” have been the Sufferfest videos, for an occasional change I will mix in a 3LC one, I did once try a Spinervals one (never ever again) as well as sometimes just watching a movie. The latter of these, in my mind, equates to junk miles and you’re just spinning with no structure and I try to do this a last resort! So I am always on the look out for something new.

Enter Cyclefilm and the Roads to Glory series. If you are familiar with Cyclefilm they produce the excellent Etape du Tour series that guide you over the Tour De France mountain stages from each year’s race. They also made the highly entertaining and educational Eye Wide Open which I reviewed in 2011 (c’mon Bikes and Girls, what’s not to like!?!) and a few others…I have to confess that I own most of their DVDs (although with the exception of Road to Glory and EWO) I purchased them…so it’s safe to say I am a fan!


Volume 1; Alpine Edition, this is a 140km route featuring climbs over Col de Madeleine, Col de Glandon, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col de Mollard and La Toussuire so yeah there is some climbing! The ride is broken down into 5-15 minute intervals with recoveries and last 65 minutes.



Volume 2; Pyrenean Edition, this is a 197km over Col d’ Aubisque, Col de Soulor, Col de Tourmalet, Col d’Aspin and Col de Peyresourde again lots of climbing!


So on with the review. Your guide for both editions is Michael Cotty a fellow Brit (you did know I was a Brit, right?), Michael is a well-established CX and road racer in the UK and is the guide on many of the Etape DVDs. He adds relevant commentary when needed which includes generic tips, such things as gear checks warming up and cornering and course specific items addressing specific climbs and corners. He manages to do all this without puffing or panting has an easy on the ear voice…I kid you not this is important! In between there is some good old fashioned electronic/house/dance music to keep you bobbing along on the climbs and some more serene laid back tunes for the descents. The camera work is clean and crisp, there are three main angles, from behind looking up, from the front looking back and a first person view using a GoPro. The on screen prompts, which are based on RPE, take a little getting used to, especially if you are familiar with something else and there are no real audio cues., that being said once you know what to expect they are easy to follow.

Filmed in late October, you can tell it’s cold as some of the higher peaks in the background have snow and he is pretty bundled up, what you lose on the clear blue skies you gain in the lack of traffic, the roads are insanely quiet. Of course given the locations the scenery is spectacular, grand European peaks at theIR finest, this is not to be ignored as some training video offer nothing but a view of bunch of sweaty riders on Trainer, motivating? I don’t think so! Finally stick it to the end and watch the out-takes!


So in summary, if you’re stuck on a trainer, which you may well be soon as we rapidly approach autumn and Winter!, my advice would be to always use a structured workout rather than just spin aimlessly for an hour, you wouldn’t do that on the road would you? Both of these provide a well-structured sessions. There is some really good advice/commentary provided along the way, of course you can always turn the volume down and jack up your iPod. There is always something nice to look at, granted not as nice as the Carbon Chicas of Hell Hath No Fury, but way better than a car dealership!

Both DVDs are available online as DVDs currently for GBP15.99 each and available in PAL and NTSC formats (shipping to the US is GBP4) and come complete in a proper case with a really nice collectors handbook.

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This DVD was provided free of charge by the good folks at CycleFilm. See previous gear reviews in the tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tempe Training Camp

With the last weekend being a long one thanks to Labor Day it was another great opportunity to head out to Tempe and get some more time “on course”. Yes it’s a drive; 420 miles or 6-8 hours depending on traffic, yes it’s hot; it topped out around 105f and yes it’s totally worth it! Thanks to some work flexibility we were able to get on the road and stop off for a quick haircut on the way and still be in Tempe before midnight! Just!

The next morning’s plan was to meet at Tempe Town Lake around 5:00am with Thomas and Carl and anyone else who Thomas could rustle up. Two loops of the three loop course or around 75 miles was the plan and to try and get it done before it got too hot. There was six of us in total and we all set off at different paces. I ended up in between two groups and so rode most of the course alone and without an iPod; good mental training. I missed a turning and so added a few extra miles on and had to make a couple of stops for fluids and ice at gas stations but other than that the ride was uneventful. I was pleased that I successfully managed to navigate the nutrition and hydration maze and used Bonk Bars which will be available on Race Day. The last time I was in Tempe was May and I was a little faster overall on the bike course as an average speed this time which is reassuring as this time the ride was an additional 35 miles longer.

After the ride we hit Jamba Juice and refueled. Later in the day we met up with Thomas and his family for pizza (vegan) and beer (?good!)

The next day was a run day and again we all met around 5:30am to hit the run course. This is a 3 loop course around Tempe Town Lake, there is one small hill (150’ climb) which we made sure to run up. There was quite a lot of cloud cover and this was locking in the humidity…I am not sure I have been anywhere so hot and humid and run! A very sweaty 10 miles later I finished, again some ran shorter and some ran longer…it’s just the unsaid rule that we will all wait for each other at the end which we did. It’s good to know that even though I feel like I am melting I can maintain my forefoot form.


I had obviously underestimated the lack of fluids needed despite drinking two handhelds during the run and got a nasty reminder later in the day when visited the bathroom…and let’s just leave that there.

The last day we had no plans to meet and the drive back to LA was the main order of the day. I knew that there was little chance that I would want to workout after the drive so I made a point of laying out my kit the night before and the plan was one loop on the bike course and a run off of the bike.


This time I wanted to really focus on my ride and be “in-myself”. This plan went really well and I rode the entire course a wee bit faster than before and maintained an average HR of only 120 bpm.


Off of the bike I only ran for thirty minutes but wanted to string the two together, I was a bit stiff for the first mile and eased up on the last mile but it was a successful short run. After this and a quick stop at Starbucks we hit the road and headed home!

The weekend totals were a tad over 120 miles on the bike course and nearly 14 miles on the run course…all of it is in valuable as I got a nasty reminder when I went to the Ironman website!



Sunday, September 2, 2012

IMAZ training Week 6

Phew, what a great, big week! As mentioned in my last post I headed to Tempe to get some time “on course” and had a blast, but first here’s the weeks digits (sorry it’s two digit posts in a row)! I’ll save you the math; that’s 173 miles and 14 hours and 46 minutes!


Another build week, I veered a little of the plan mostly at the weekend to make best use of my time in Tempe. The bike mileage is up after a long ride on the course and swim mileage is down mostly due to having to cut trips to the gym short to accommodate the kids going back to school. Run mileage has incremented a little but is steady in the mid 20’s.


Next week is the third build week, it’s going to take a bit of shuffling to get it all in but I am sure it can be done, the mid week challenge will be the 2 hour run after an hour’s swim done as a brick. Also there is no rest day so it will be 14 days total by the time I get to my next rest day. With that in mind getting as much sleep in between is going to be critical, no glazing over in front of the TV at 10:00pm and then realizing it’s 11:30pm especially when the alarm goes off at 5:00am!  The 30 day vegan challenge is going well and my energy levels are high…which is a good thing for sure, I am saving my conclusions to the end so you’ll have to wait!

12 weeks to go!