Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lake Tahoe - Long Weekend and Long Ride

HS and I decided to get away for a few days. He suggested we go to Tahoe and take our bikes and dogs with us. This was going to be a first. We've brought the bikes before on a long weekend, but never the dogs. Since our trip coincided with my recovery week, I imagined lots of long, leisurely walks with the dogs and one very specific ride.

Once HS suggested Tahoe and bikes, I started looking for routes in the area. I came across Tahoe Adventure Sport's website and knew immediately I had found the ride for us...
"The ride around Lake Tahoe is almost an obligatory ride for any serious road bike enthusiast, but even for recreational riders, the tour around the lake is within the range of possibility. At 72 miles with a vertical gain/loss of over 4000 feet, however, the ride around the lake requires some training before riding. With only two long, steep hills, the lake is well within reach of intermediate riders."
Let's Go

The trip got off to a rocky start as Buster's nervous gut kicked in before we even got to Highway 99...maybe we should have taken a different route than the one we normally take to the kennel ;-) Eventually he settled down and the rest of the drive was uneventful.

Nothing like hanging your head out the window to calm down
We found our "cabin" and quickly settled in. HS made some repairs to his bike and then we took the dogs on a much shorter walk than I had planned. Our 12-1/2 year old female got about 1/2 a mile away from the cabin and then basically stopped walking. HS had to carry her back which did not make him very happy.

Once HS finished his repairs, we decided to take a short ride down the road to Camp Richardson so we could get a rum runner at The Beacon. South Lake Tahoe is making a big effort on creating a bike friendly town. We were able to ride on a path or route all the way to our destination.

Beauty and the Beach
I hate to admit it, but we were not very well prepared. When we got to The Beacon and saw the bike racks, we realized we didn't have any bike locks. Ugh! Of course there was no way we were going to leave our bikes out of sight and unlocked, so we walk on to the beach (in our bike shoes) and leaned the bikes against a tree that allowed us to keep an eye on them while we ate.

I only came here for the rum runner
We each had a rum runner and HS ordered us fried calamari and Wagyu beef sliders. It turned out to be WAY too much food and I was thankful we rode our least we would burn off some of the calories. The round trip was roughly 12-1/2 miles...not bad for our first day.

The Big Ride - First Half

When we woke up Friday morning, we had no set plans. We weren't even sure what day we would ride around the lake. I checked the Tahoe Adventure Sport's website again and noticed this warning...
"Advisory: This ride can be dangerous in heavy traffic. During the summer, especially on weekends, there are lots of angry drivers out there who resent your prescence. Add to those freaks the "lets rent an RV and go to Tahoe" set and you need to exercise extreme caution, especially around Emerald Bay, Tahoe City, and South Lake Tahoe."
I read the warning to HS and he said we should do the ride now. Alrighty then! We changed into our bike gear, aired up our tires and filled our water bottles.

The first part of the ride basically mirrored our ride to Camp Richardson the day before. I made one wrong turn as we followed the bike route through a neighborhood, but that would prove to be the only time we got off course the rest of the day.

After passing Camp Richardson, we continued on our journey along a dedicated bike path that followed Highway 89. My only wish was that we could have the bike path for the entire route. Unfortunately, I knew we were approaching the portion of the route marked as "Caution: Little or no shoulder"

Blue and yellow dashed line = Caution 
It was also along this yellow and blue caution section that we encountered our first climb. It wasn't especially steep, it just seemed to climb forever. Throw in some hairpin turns and the fact that there weren't many places to safely stop, and I found myself completely forgetting about how much I hated hills...I just needed to keep going.

Views like this make the ride worth it!
The ride was beautiful and traffic was pretty light. On top of that, the condition of the road was good and there were several freshly paved sections that made our descents quite fun. We made a few stops for pics and to refuel. The day seemed perfect!

Anybody want to go for a swim?

Well, perfect until HS got a flat. It was actually a ghost flat. Once HS got the tube out, we could not find a leak or puncture...nothing sharp in the tire and the valve was closed and holding air. In fact, the tube was still holding air, it was just a little flat. Hmmm... Just to be safe, he put in a new tube.

HS fixing his flat and me just goofing around

Just in case you don't have a signal on your cell phone ;-)
Some where around Carnellian Bay / King's Beach, we stopped and got something to eat. We were both starving and realized that in our haste to get out the door and on our bikes, we really didn't eat enough breakfast. I had 100 calorie Greek yogurt and a peach and HS had a few cinnamon rolls... not exactly the best thing when taking on a 72 mile ride around Lake Tahoe.

Lunch time...still smiling :-)

We scarfed down our lunch and got back on our bikes. We were at roughly the half-way point and I needed to keep moving.

The Big Ride - Second Half

No pics, no goofing around...things got real in the second half of the ride as the wind started to pick up.

My Garmin reported a 14 mph SSW wind. Weather Underground reported a 9 mph SSW wind with a max wind speed of 26 mph and gusts up to 38 mph...more on this later. All I will say right now is the wind SUCKED!!!

Not sure I would have gotten on the bike if I knew this info in advance

At this point in the ride, the climbs seemed to be unending. How can you climb and climb and climb and never get to go down hill? Is it just in my mind? We finally crested a hill and it appeared that we would finally get to pick up some speed and coast for a bit. Unfortunately, this was my first battle with the wind gusts. HS was getting blown around and so you can guess what was happening to me. The wind was so strong that I was temped to get off my bike and walk DOWN HILL!!! Down hill? Seriously, Tracy? YES!!! I was terrified. 

I think my biggest fear was getting tossed into the path of a vehicle coming up behind me (not much shoulder again). I rode my brakes and prayed for the wind to stop.

More of the yellow & blue = caution route :-(

As we progressed along the lake, we got occasional breaks in the wind...usually when the path traveled away from the lake. Unfortunately, the wind was something we had to battle for the rest of our ride, and if I thought it was bad before now, it was about to get much worse!

I'm not much of a map reader. I focused on the written descriptions of the route sections. I focused on stupid stuff like this...
"From Spooner Summit, turn right onto US 50 and enjoy the four mile downhill with gorgeous views of the Lake Tahoe. On the way you will pass Glenbrook, home to the rich and famous."
What didn't register in my pea brain was the fact that we would be riding on a four lane section of Highway 50. On top of that, the wind got worse! Terrified does not adequately describe how I was feeling. Here I was on a four lane section of highway desperately squeezing my brakes in order to try and crawl down the hill and not get blown into the grill of a semi!

We then came to a tunnel that required you to press a crosswalk style button to activate the flashers so the cars screaming by on highway 50 would know there were bikes in the tunnel! WTF??? If I wasn't so tired and wind/sun burned, I would have turned around and gone back the way I came. Thankfully the tunnel was extremely short.

The rest of the ride consisted of small to virtually non-existent shoulders, increasing traffic, wind, and seemingly never ending climbs (it was probably all in my head). I couldn't wait for it to be over. State-line was a welcome sight and a few miles later we were back at our cabin. Yay!!!

We celebrated with a little champagne I picked up after Barb's Race
All in all, it was a great day, and I'm glad it's something HS and I could do together ;-)

Lake Tahoe Ride by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Gory Details

Only two significant climbs LOL

Friday, August 8, 2014

Go Figure

Shortly after signing up for Barb's Race the first time...some time around November 2012... James told me to get the "Triathlete's Training Bible". I guess the thought was that I would read it and it would help me figure out what I needed to do to get ready for my first 70.3 race.

Best taken in small doses!

The book was overwhelming to me as a new triathlete. It was like trying to drink out of a fire hose! So I skimmed chapters and looked at pictures, but that was about it. The only thing the book taught me that first year was that I had no idea what I was doing.

After Barb's Race 2013, I made another attempt at reading the book. I did better than the first time, but still ended up skipping around looking for things that made sense. I did the self evaluation. I even tried to create an annual training plan. Unfortunately, my annual training plan ended up being nothing more than a calendar with my races on it.

Third Time's a Charm

I just started reading the book again. I re-did my self evaluation and I started mapping out an annual training plan (it's already more than just a race calendar). Since I was a little disappointed with my swim at Barb's Race this year, I started reading the chapter on skills, specifically swimming skills. On page 208 it mentions Total Immersion and how the founder is "perhaps the leading authority in the United States on swimming drag reduction for triathletes".

With this in mind, I ordered a Total Immersion DVD on open water swimming. I started watching it the other day and was making mental notes about stuff I wanted to work on. I quickly realized that the open water DVD assumes you are already familiar with the Total Immersion drills, so I think I need to order a different DVD.

Anyway, I wanted to keep things simple and chose the following three things to work:

1) Mail slot entry
2) Marionette arms
3) 2-beat kick

Part of my training plan is to swim on my "off" Fridays. The morning swims always seems a little more low key. At 5am everyone just sort of does their own thing...perfect for working on technique. So, this morning I got up at my usual time and instead of playing Candy Crush, put on my swim suit and headed to Lodi with HS and Stephanie.

Just Swim

When we got to the pool, James was a little surprised to see us. He tried giving me a work out, but I said I just wanted to swim. There was just no way I was going to be able to concentrate on what I needed to work on and worry about making sets. So I just swam. I got 2,400 yards in during that hour (2,200 swimming / 200 kicking).

The mail slot entry for my hands worked well, I would give myself a B on that. The marionette arms were OK too...another B effort. The 2-beat kick...IMPOSSIBLE!, actually F-minus!!!

How to do a 2-beat kick

I could not get that kick down to save my life. I am definitely going to have to work on that. I was so stumped that I was sure I must have been doing it wrong. I came home and immediately looked it up on the internet...just to see if I even had the right idea of what it was. Yup, I was right about how to do it...I am just hopelessly uncoordinated! UGH!

After watching the video a couple of times, I downloaded my Garmin data to see how bad my swim was. To my surprise, my stroke count had dropped. Looking back over the last several months, my stroke count average has been about 11. Today my stroke count average was 10 and my average lap pace was about the same as it normally is! GO FIGURE!

Now the test is going to be if I can consistently keep that count (actually I would like to see it come down a little more) and improve my speed...maybe if I figure out the 2-beat kick :-)

Friday AM Swim by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Joe Friel - How to Have a Personal Best Ironman

Still kicking the tires on this idea...although I really like Joe Friel's plan. Seems simple to follow too :-)

Click here to read his full blog post

How to Have a Personal Best Ironman
I.  Hire a smart coach, or if self-coached follow these guidelines…
II. Select a race that matches your strengths
            A.  Hilly = strong cyclist course; flat = strong runner course VINEMAN!
            B.  Wetsuit = swim is weak; no wetsuit = good swimmer VINEMAN!
            C.  Consider conditions: typical temperature, humidity, wind
            D.  Avoid higher altitude (~1% loss of VO2max for every 1000’ gain)
III. Training overview
             A.  Philosophy: Ironman is a bike race with a swim warm-up and a jog to the finish (wrapped around an eating contest) I LOVE this philosophy!!!
            B.  Training stabilizes at ~15+ hpw by 15 weeks prior
            C.  Plan weekly training time by sport starting from base of: S-20%, B-50%, R-30% (adjust for limiter)
            D.  From 15-3 weeks prior, long weekly workouts are key sessions
            E.  Do 2 “Big Days” ~11 and ~5 weeks prior to race day Already on my calendar!
            F.  Recover for 3-5 days when the body says it’s time
IV.  Swim training (last 15 weeks)
            A.  Swim 2-4 times per week depending on if swim is a limiter
            B.  If not a limiter…
                    1.  2-3 swims per week I like this number! LOL
                    2. One long (~1 hour) hour is considered long! Yay!!!
                    3.  1-2 short & fast preparing for start
            C.  If a limiter…
                    1.  Focus only on speed skill limiters: PDLC (posture, direction, length, catch)
                    2.  3-4 swims per week
                    3.  One long (~1.25 hours)
                    4.  2-3 x 30 min workouts doing only “speed skill 25s” (focus on P, D, L, or C)
V.   Bike training (last 15 weeks) Lots of riding...I like it!
            A.  Determines outcome of race
            B.  Get a professional bike fitting prior to 15 weeks
            C.  Get as fit as possible—then hold back in race (must rehearse)
            D.  Ride 4-6 times per week Wow, that is a LOT of riding! LOL ...still like it ;-)
            E.  Use a power meter  Hmmm...Garmin pedals for my b-day???
                        1.  Determine appropriate race intensity factor (IF 65-75%)
                        2.  Do weekly long ride (5-6 hrs + 15min run) focused on race IF
                        3.  Other rides are race conditions & terrain focused
            F.  Steady pacing—NO SURGING (the most common cause of poor run)
VI.  Run training (last 15 weeks)
            A.  Run 2-3 times per week depending on strength vs. limiter
            B.  Weekly long, easy run of 2-2.5 hours
            C.  Other runs are short: speed skills, conditions & terrain focused
            D.  No intervals, no “speedwork” – always comfortable (lots of z2) Always comfy!
VII. Eat the least amount necessary
            A.  Too much leads to bloating, nausea, DNF
            B.  All you need is water and sugar—everything else is optional and likely to cause bloating
            C.  The slower you go, the more you can take in
            D.  Rehearse & refine eating on ALL long rides
VIII. For more details search my blog

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A.S.S. Part Deux

Yes, I'll admit it...I'm being childish with all of my A.S.S. talk (read my previous post and you'll understand). Anyway, next season is going to be the season of A.S.S...ha ha ha...ok, I'll stop...

July 25, 2015
So, I now know the date...I just don't know the race...lots to think about. In the meantime, I can plan for either race.

I made a calendar starting August 1, 2014. Actually, I started the calendar from the date of the race, July 25, 2015 and then worked backwards until the start of August. Right now, this is in the very early stages. I know that there are two "Big Days" planned, one 4 weeks before the race and the other 8 weeks before the race. This is set up to work with the 3 weeks on, 1 week off plan.

Last year, trying to come up with a training plan was just too overwhelming. I never really got into the details of what I needed to be doing. By breaking things into these 4 week chunks, planning seems much more manageable.

After I put in the "Big Days", I scheduled a few of the other races I want to do. This will be fleshed out a little more once the 2015 schedules come out. Now I am faced with developing a plan for my "3 week on/1 week off" periods.

The "week off" is going to be easier to plan. I'm going to take a cue from the P90X recovery weeks. I'll probably throw in some P90X Yoga as well as "Core Synergistics". There will be some technique based swim workouts and easy running.

Now, the hard part...figuring out what to do during the "3 weeks on". I think my next step is figuring out my periodization...what/when is a base phase, a build phase, and a peak phase. I've done my self evaluation again and I know I need to work on strength and speed, so I am definitely going to be scheduling workouts that focus on these areas.

Well, I have to stop thinking about this for a while or my head is going to explode. Luckily I have lots of time to plan for July 2015 ;-)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Analyze. Strategize. Succeed.

“As I was taught at Six Sigma. Analyze. Strategize. Succeed. A.S.S. I’m going to crush this problem…with my ASS.” ~Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock

Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

It’s hard to believe that a week has already gone by since we loaded up the truck and drove to Windsor for the pre-race meeting. I've been thinking a lot about the race, what I did, what I would do differently. Honestly, in terms of the race itself, I don’t have any nagging regrets. What I look back on and think I would change is my training.

2013 vs. 2014
The chart above shows the number of instances (workouts) followed by the miles. This is for the period of mid-May through the day before Barb's Race. I used mid-May as the start because I didn't get my Garmin until mid-May 2013. 

  • I did seven less swim workouts, but my workouts were longer.
  • If I take out the "miles" calculated for the trainer rides, my cycling was basically the same. 
  • Running was around 42 miles less because of my Achilles problems


Although, there are a few months left in the triathlon season, it’s time for me to change things up and start to think about next season. I re-took the self-evaluation in the “Triathlete’s Training Bible”. My weak areas remain strength, speed, and focus...just like last year.

No problem with endurance ;-)

Obviously, if I want to increase my strength, a certain amount of strength training is going to have to be added to my routine. I am probably going to incorporate things like P90X – Legs & Back and maybe some other lower body workouts from P90X2 and 3. P90X3 is probably the best choice because the workouts are only 30 minutes which would allow me to do them in the morning before work. Speed is going to take some research. I need to figure out what I need to do differently in order to improve in this area.

NOTE: Mr. T pointed that I went injury free for a long time while I was still doing P90X on a regular basis. 

Now that my big race is over and my legs are feeling better, I am definitely going to start working on these things. 

The Plan

The plan is to M-I-X things up! I need to do this for a number of reasons:
  • Tired of the same thing week in and week out 
  • I need to take my fitness to the next level...need to get stronger and faster
  • Still working towards my goal weight

I need to work on my open water swimming…specifically sighting.

Last year, my official swim time was 33:34. This year my official swim time was 35:45. A full two minutes slower. This number is a little disheartening because I spent a lot more time in the pool putting in yards and trying to improve. Meh!

Been busy on eBay

I know the slower time is also due in part to my race strategy…of conserving my energy early in the day so I would have something left for the run. However, I hate seeing times increase.

Before Barb’s Race, I was swimming on Monday and Wednesday evenings as well as Friday afternoons. Heck, we even had a few open water swims on Saturdays. If I didn’t have a running injury at the time, I would have cut back on this number.  Obviously, all the extra time in the pool really didn’t pay off for me and I think my time would be better used cycling or running.

CHANGE: Swim on Monday and every other Friday AM.


I spent a lot of time on the trainer prior to Barb’s Race. It was basically my only option as our last “team” ride was June 21…over a month before the race.  I need to get longer rides in on Saturdays. Thankfully, HS is wanting to ride more as well, so this will work out well for us.

In terms of speed on the bike, I still get the feeling like I’m not pedaling efficiently or with enough power so I ordered Spinervals 38.0 DVD…“Develop Technique and Power”.

Another eBay purchase
Spinervals 38.0 Develop Technique and Power
"Getting faster on the bike requires a combination of greater mechanical and metabolic efficiency. In this workout, you'll do a series of highly effective pedaling drills to improve your smoothness and pedaling action, followed by a set of high intensity sprint sets to maximize neuromuscular coordination. Perform this workout periodically throughout your training plan and you'll be amazed by your improved performance on the roads.”
CHANGE: Instead of swimming on Wednesday, I am going to do the W.A.R. until it ends in October. After that point, I will start doing Spinervals workouts. This is a pretty brisk ride, so I’m hoping it will help me with my speed. An added bonus is the calorie burn. This week I burned 1350+ calories on the ride compared to 350 in the pool.


Now that Barb’s Race is over, I ‘m going to return to my Tuesday night Fleet Feet runs. I miss seeing all the familiar faces and having a group to run with.

I have been doing some research on pool running and like what I see. As long as the weather holds out, I’m going to add a little pool running on Thursdays (my “rest” day).

Sundays are once again going to be my “long run” days with a run on Friday afternoons. When the W.A.R. ride ends, Wednesdays will also become a “run” day or a bike trainer day depending on how my legs feel.

CHANGE: Increase miles.


Earlier this year I did an "experiment" which failed miserably! It cost me a good two months of my time and set me back several pounds. I am not going to make that same mistake again.

I am going to continue with my current "diet", for lack of a better word. This particular plan helped me get to the point where I was at least 5 lbs. lighter than last year at Barb's Race. This includes weighing myself (no avoiding the ugly truth after a long weekend) and writing it down!

Potential Races


  • The Triathlon at Pacific Grove
  • Tarantula Run
  • Golden State
  • Salmon Duathlon
  • CIM


  • Kick Start Duathlon
  • 70.3 Monterrey (just seeing if HS actually reads my entire post)
  • Ice Breaker
  • Ave of the Vines
  • Tri for Real #1
  • Tri for Real #2
  • Vineman/Barb's Race