– the blog –

Picnic Training - Week 18

May 12, 2019 to May 18, 2019

Sunday - Rest Day! Woo!

Monday - 1 hour bike ride (16 miles, 817 ft)

Tuesday - Rest Day! Woo!

Wednesday - 10 laps on Tabor (2.5 miles, 1385 ft) and 7 miles of bike commuting

Thursday - 30 minute chilly, open water swim in Columbia (0.8 miles)

Friday - 1 hour bike ride (16.5 miles, 955 ft)

Saturday - Full day of bouldering at Horsethief Butte.

The taper continues! These little rest weeks before a large event are hilarious in how things just feel wrong. Little niggling issues with your joints seem to appear (why is my right knee hurting when I did absolutely nothing yesterday?), while you feel both oddly sluggish but also a little too energetic.

Tina has sadly caught a cold and has been battling it for the past week. And, my seasonal allergies appeared in all of their histamine-releasing glory and the resulting medication has left me feeling somewhat drowsy. Naturally, this was the perfect time for me to reduce the amount of caffeine I am consuming in order to increase its effectiveness during the Picnic. Ugh.

Also, I have gained a few pounds. Nothing noticeable in the mirror but the scale has informed me that for these past three days I have been consistently five pounds heavier than I was during my training. Ruh-oh, I had better stop eating all of these chocolate wafer cookies from Trader Joe's! Ha ha ha, that's not going to happen! In fact, I have eaten five while writing this very paragraph...

This coming week only has a bike ride, maybe a swim, and then that's it. Two full days of rest and then The Picnic! It's almost here!

Picnic Training - Week 17

May 5, 2019 to May 11, 2019

Sunday - 1 hour bouldering at NE Circuit

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 1.5 hour bike ride (20 mi, 1667 ft)

Wednesday - 40 minute swim (2000 yds) with 5 miles of bike commuting

Thursday - 10 laps on Tabor (1293 ft) with 7.5 miles of bike commuting + 2 hours of bouldering at NE Circuit

Friday - Easy day with 3 miles of bike commuting

Saturday - 4 laps across Willamette River near Sellwood Bridge (1.3 miles) and 2 hours of bouldering at NE Circuit

After our three-sport day last Saturday, we decided to sleep in on Sunday morning and then went out to a leisurely breakfast. None of our normal group was bouldering so we did a short session in the afternoon instead.

Since we are about 2.5 weeks away from our planned Mt. Hood Picnic date, this is the week where we start tapering to help absorb all of the training that we have done these past four months. We also decided we wanted at least one or two more open water swims under our belt before the Picnic too.

So, there are plenty of articles out there about tapering. To say there is a lack of agreement on the best approach would be an understatement. Too many factors come into play for there to be a definitive strategy: activity/event, training strategy, nutrition, the athlete's physical characteristics, other stressors in the athlete's life, and even the season of year. The whole point though is to recover and rebuild. Get your body as healthy and functional as possible. Regain your energy.

My tapering strategy for this week was to reduce the amount of time exercising (less laps in pool, less time on bike, less stair repeats) while still going out and training at a level that feels like, for lack of a better phrase, a solid effort. Keep the intensity strong but less of it. Also, if my body feels a bit drained, I am taking that extra day off. It is no longer the time to push myself harder.

Picnic Training - Week 16

April 28, 2019 to May 4, 2019

Sunday - 2.5 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 1.5 hour swim (4050 yds)

Wednesday - 15 laps on Mt. Tabor stairs (1,962 ft) and 7.5 miles of bike commuting

Thursday - 2.25 hour bike ride (28.25 mi, 2625 ft)

Friday - 1.25 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Saturday - 2000 yds open water swim in Columbia River + 2 full laps from Mosier over Seven Mile Hill to Chenoweth and back (46.5 mi, 6333 ft) + Backcountry Ski up past Silcox Hut (2.3 mi, 1218 ft)

Felt kind of worn out this week starting on Tuesday night. The swim was longer than normal, but I think I may have been fighting off a minor cold as there seems to have been a bug going around Portland. Naps were required almost every single afternoon.

Saturday was our last really hard day of training prior to starting our taper, so we decided to make it a three sport day. We also finally purchased our triathlon-specific wetsuits and needed to practice our open water swimming. Let the fun begin!

So, first step was driving to Hood River and doing at least a mile of swimming. The water temperature was somewhere in the 53-55°F range with a solid wind blowing in from the west. The air temperature was only a few degrees warmer, so suffice to say it was neither a warm nor pleasant swim. We survived though and I gotta say my wetsuit helps me float amazingly well. The water is damn cold on my head, but as a whole I feel pretty confident in my ability to swim the Columbia, if the weather cooperates.

Next, we dried off, grabbed food and a hot drink, and drove the 10 minutes to Mosier, where we changed into our bike gear. Our plan was to bike from Mosier, over the top of Seven Mile Hill, down to Chenoweth, and then back. And then repeat it once more for good measure. Thankfully, the sun was out and the wind was blowing, so we had a tail wind for the climb out of Mosier and then joyfully biked into the wind on the climb back up from Chenoweth. The first lap was ok, but the end of the second lap was brutal as the wind speeds had slowly increased throughout the day. I got to the summit on that last lap and was hurting pretty bad. The downhill to Mosier did not alleviate the pain much as the wind was blowing hard enough that even the steeper grades required pedaling and a firm grip on the handlebars.

Our third sport was to be a backcountry ski up the Palmer snowfield from Timberline Lodge. However, we were hurting so much at the end of the bike ride that we almost went home. I am so glad we took the time to refuel and drive up there as the backcountry ski was leaps and bounds better than the swim or bike ride. In fact, I would say it was probably one of my favorite outdoor activities of the year.

The sun was setting and the snow was firming up, but the temperature was perfect (I started in a t-shirt) and the views were spectacular. We only went an hour but everything just clicked. My legs felt better, the mountain glowed, and the ski down felt almost easy. A pleasant end to a very challenging day.

Picnic Training - Week 15

April 21, 2019 to April 27, 2019

Sunday - 1.5 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 50 minute swim (2,150 yds) with 5 miles of bike commuting + 1.5 hour bike ride (20 miles, 1654 ft)

Wednesday - 20 laps on Mt. Tabor stairs (2800 ft) and 7.5 miles of bike commuting

Thursday - 1 hour bike ride (16.5 mi, 958 ft)

Friday - 47 minute swim (2,125 yds) with 5 miles of bike commuting

Saturday - 3 cool, windy laps biking to McKenzie Pass from east side with lunch break in Sisters (75 miles, 6,246 ft)

After the previous Saturday's potent combo of Lost Lake biking and skinning up Mt. Hood, our normal Sunday bouldering session lacked oomph. After about 90 minutes of relatively easy climbing, I found my energy levels quite low and decided it was not worth pushing myself much harder. Thankfully my normal rest day is Monday and I recovered well.

The rest of the week was fairly moderate with an additional couple laps on Tabor but mostly keeping the training going in preparation for another hard Saturday.

So, on Friday night we drove down to Sisters, Oregon and camped out at Cold Springs Campground with the intention of checking out McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway on Saturday. Plan A was to go across the pass towards Belknap Hot Springs, if it was passable, and do two out and back laps. Saturday morning was quite chilly (33°F) and we started out layered up. By the time we reached the pass, the sun was out and it was reasonably comfortable with a light wind. Unfortunately, the plows had stopped only a few hundred meters beyond the Dee Observatory, so we were blocked by about five or six feet of snow from continuing over and beyond.

Plan B was simply to head back down to Cold Springs, turn around, and do a total of four laps up to the Dee Observatory with a lunch break in Sisters. The second lap was sightly warmer but also slightly windier. Saw a number of additional bikers this time too. We then zoomed all the way into Sisters and enjoyed a nice lunch at Melvin's Market. The wind had definitely picked up and while in Sisters it gusted so hard that it picked up Tina's entire backpack off a table and tossed it many feet away.

After lunch, we started back towards McKenzie Pass. The first 10 or so miles the wind was either nonexistent or a constant, wearying presence. Once we passed the first snow gate though, it started becoming an energy vacuum. Windy Point lived up to its name and wind gusts made steering challenging as our front wheels would try to turn as the wind caught them. The last half mile felt like going straight into a wind tunnel.

We reached the pass and I simply laid down on the pavement to recover. A fourth lap uphill into that wind was out of the question. On the upside, the ride down had a powerful tailwind and it was fascinating how often I was using my brakes to prevent myself from going too fast. So, even with a shorter distance and elevation than planned, this was probably one of our most exhausting days ever. Thanks, wind!!

Picnic Training - Week 14

April 14, 2019 to April 20, 2019

Sunday - 2.25 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 1.5 hour bike ride (20 miles, 1600 ft)

Wednesday - 1 hour swim (3000 yds) and 5 miles of bike commuting.

Thursday - 18 laps on Mt. Tabor stairs (2400 ft) and 7.5 miles of bike commuting

Friday - 1 hour swim (2,725 yds) and 5 miles of bike commuting

Saturday - 2 laps biking Lost Lake Rd. (54 miles, 6400 ft) and 2 laps backcountry skiing Palmer Snowfield (7.7 miles, 4500 ft)

So. This was a pretty decent week. My swim on Tuesday had me enjoying an entire lane to myself, which made it easy to accumulate fast laps. Thursday involved unseasonably warm temperatures, and since I had not done Tabor laps in a while I decided to put in some time on the stairs to give my leg muscles a non-bike workout.

And then, there was Saturday. Hee hee. Oh boy, I was still feeling those Tabor stairs in my calves and hamstrings when we started our first lap up to Lost Lake at 7am. The early morning weather was cool and the sky was solidly overcast. The sun had not even peeked over the eastern hills when we started, and there was a light, cool wind blowing from Mt. Hood. I think I spent the entire first lap just stretching out my muscles and getting them motivated to climb 3200 ft. Towards the top there was a couple of feet of snow on the sides of the road and it was at least 10 degrees cooler than at the car. The normally speedy descent had to be checked because the upper road was wet from snow melt and quite slick.

The second lap was still tiring but the sun was out and my body was suitably warmed up. According to Strava, my elapsed time was faster the second lap but it did not include my quick bathroom break at the Lola Pass junction. The descent was exhilarating and I may have pushed it a bit on the rolling hills and flats.

Back at the car, we quickly snacked, cleaned up a bit, and packed up for the hour drive up to Timberline Lodge. When we reached Timberline, it was both warm in the sun but chilly if you sat around thanks to a cool wind coming off the mountain. The skin up was steamy though. The sun beat me down a bit and the last thousand feet up to the top of the Palmer ski lift was rough. I actually had to count steps to keep myself moving. The ski down in the corn snow was lovely, if a bit tiring.

After a break for food and water, we started our second lap up Palmer. Tina really wanted to make it a 10K day for elevation, which we estimated required going most of the way back up. More wind had come in with some darker, heavier clouds to the west, which meant this was a chillier lap. By the time we stopped to turn around, visibility had lessened and I had to quickly put on more layers and my warm ski gloves. The corn snow had frozen and it was challenging to distinguish sky from ground, so it was not the greatest fun skiing down.

Being done felt quite amazing and we had a nice dinner at Mt. Hood Brewing Co. before heading to Portland. Solid day of training.

Picnic Training - Week 13

April 7, 2019 to April 13, 2019

Sunday - 2.5 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Monday - Rest day.

Tuesday - 2 hour bike ride (28.4 mi, 2680 ft)

Wednesday - 45 minute swim (2000 yds) and 5 miles bike commuting

Thursday - 2 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Friday - 1.7 hour bike ride (20.3 mi, 1614 ft)

Saturday - Mt Defiance hike (14.6 mi, 5774 ft) + Dog Mountain hike (6 mi, 2798 ft)

Our original plan was to do two laps on Mt. Defiance on Saturday. However, the Starvation Ridge trail had a small landslide, requiring a 30 minute detour to get around it, and then we hit snow about 2/3rds of the way up. Immediately past Warren Lake–and still an hour from the summit–we got enveloped in a rather nice snowstorm with wind. On the way down we made the call that perhaps another lap of Defiance was not worth it, so we headed over to Dog Mountain and did a lap there. Dog Mountain had no snow but the wind up top was whipping pretty hard. By time it was all said and done, it was 6:30pm, which made for a fairly long day. We considered a second lap on Dog Mountain but decided we wanted dinner more than we wanted to be out hiking past 9pm. Weird, right?

It does seem a bit odd that we keep on bouldering twice a week, despite it not really contributing to our Picnic training. On the flip side, I sent a v6 and two v5s this week, and it does provide some manner of cross training as well as socializing with friends. By the end of the month, I suspect I will only boulder once a week and use that "free time" to do another swim or bike ride.

Picnic Training - Week 12

March 31, 2019 to April 6, 2019

Sunday - 2.5 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Monday - Rest day.

Tuesday - Sick day!

Wednesday - 1 hour bike ride (16.2 miles, 774 feet)

Thursday - 1.5 hour bike ride (19.3 miles, 1732 feet)

Friday - 2.5 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Saturday - 5 hour bike ride (63 miles, 5328 feet)

Woke up at 4am Tuesday morning with a congested nose and unhappy throat, so this week ended up being a little easier than originally planned. Bailed on all of the swimming, took an extra day off, and my mid-week bike rides were shortened. Busting my butt last Saturday, doing a solid morning of climbing on Sunday, and then hanging out with a 2-year old Sunday night may have contributed to my illness. Maybe.

The Saturday long bike ride was originally supposed to be a double hike of Mt. Defiance, but it was more or less a downpour in the Columbia Gorge that morning and I still had nasal passages full of ickiness. No reason to risk getting more sick. By 11am the rain had stopped in Portland though, so I put on my bike gear and headed out to do four climbs in the West Hills. Solid Type II fun, especially with the headwind on the way back into town. Whee?

Picnic Training - Week 11

March 24, 2019 to March 30, 2019

Sunday - 3.5 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Monday - Rest day.

Tuesday - ~1 hour swim (2,475 yards), 1.5 hour bike ride (21 miles, 1627 ft)

Wednesday - 17 easy laps on Tabor stairs (2400 ft) and 7 miles biking to/from.

Thursday - 1 hour swim (2,750 yards) and 7 miles commuting

Friday - 2 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Saturday - Double Dog Mountain hike (11.5 miles, 5827 ft) and Triple Seven Mile Hill Summit Bike Ride (37.5 miles, 4931 ft)

Look at that fun Saturday! We are less than two months out from our Mt. Hood Picnic Day, so it was time for a hard workout combining two of the activities. It delivered! I started the Dog Mountain hike still feeling my calves from the Tabor Stairs on Wednesday and thinking that it was going to be a long day. Yet, we finished an hour earlier than expected. During our activities we only took short 5 minute breaks at the top and bottom of each climb. And then there was an hour between the hiking and biking, since we needed to drive to Mosier from Dog Mountain, take a bathroom break, and change into biking gear.

The only trouble I had was that during the last climb up to the top of Seven Mile Hill, my legs felt devoid of energy. My breathing was easy but my legs felt heavy; simply not enough calories got absorbed into the system. This is a problem I have noticed during longer intense exercise days like trail runs around Mt. Hood. Somewhere around 5-6 hours, I lose the nutrition battle. A part of this is that I lose my appetite for bars and sweets rather quickly and I am not sure my other foods are digested quick enough to help. An area to work on.

Picnic Training - Week 10

March 17, 2019 to March 23, 2019

Sunday - 1.75 hours on bike trainer. 30 minute ankle rehab + core workout

Monday - 1 hour windy bike ride (1000 ft, 16.5 miles)

Tuesday - 2 hour windy bike ride (2,270 ft, 27.5 miles)

Wednesday - 10 easy laps on Tabor stairs and 7 mile biking to/from.

Thursday - Rest Day with bit of ankle rehab

Friday - Snowy Dog Mountain hike (2800 ft, 6 miles), damp Council Crest bike ride (1500 ft, 19.5 miles)

Saturday - 2 mile pool swim

Our local community pool was closed this week, which made training a bit challenging with an ankle still recovering from injury. Ended up doing a fair number of shorter bike rides: 78 miles total, according to Strava, and that does not include the nearly two hours on the trainer. On Friday, we took work off with the intention of hiking Dog Mountain twice. A little over a mile in, we found snow on the trail and it continued most of the way to the summit. One lap was enough for my ankle, so we headed back to Portland and did a quick Council Crest ride. Not quite all I hoped for, but the ankle should only get stronger.

Picnic Training - Week 9

March 10, 2019 to March 16, 2019

Sunday - 2.5 hours bouldering at NE Circuit

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - Rest Day

Wednesday - Rest Day

Thursday - 5 miles of bike commuting. 1.1 mile pool swim

Friday - 1.75 hours on bike trainer, a short ankle + core workout

Saturday - 5 miles of bike commuting. 2 mile pool swim

At the tail end of Sunday's bouldering session, I went to fetch a long-handled brush for a friend and tripped over my own foot thanks to carpet drag. Minor ankle roll. So, three days of rest with minor walks and movement to help the ankle get back its range of motion, and then a couple swims and a bike trainer session. Not what I hoped to do this week with the mild weather, but whatcha going to do? Next week is unlikely to be too hard either as there is still some pain + soreness down there.