Thursday, February 16, 2012

These Things Go In Cycles

Morning weigh-in: 184.5#
Played around with the computer last night, more frustrations but I think I'm at least eliminating possible problems from my checklist... I was fooling around until about 8:00, didn't get riding until a half hour later, but still managed to get in a halfway decent towpath ride, another "singlespeed E2 on the towpath" ride as I label it: "singlespeed" for the bike, "E2" because it sort of follows "endurance workout #2," and "towpath" because... 14.08 miles in 1:18, more than an hour in my "aerobic endurance" zone. I need more, like a lot more ride volume, but I was glad I could get myself out. Tonight is more towpath, same ride only longer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Next Steps

Morning weigh-in: 185#
Skipped the ride last night, did some computer stuff -- I tried some new things to get TopoFusion to work right, which didn't work -- then worked on the bikes, Turner & Surly, mostly just cleaning and lubing. We ate at home, went out for drinks a bit on the late side, and ran into a few friends at Brew Works, but still managed to make an early night of it. Tonight I'll be hitting the towpath; I've already missed one day on my highest-volume week in my first base month so I might make this a longish ride.
Meantime,what else? Uhhhh...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Word Salad Surgery

Morning weigh-in: 185#
Happy day, all you lovers!
I looked at my "Garmin to spreadsheet" perl script last night, and I think I spotted the problem: if I'm not riding according to a specific workout, the Garmin will temporarily stop recording whenever it thinks my motion has stopped for more than a few moments, and when that happens, each lap in the TCX output file contains multiple sets of tracks within each lap, one for each separate period when it thought I was moving. My program assumes that each lap has only one set of tracks, which is true for most of my training rides, since "stop recording when not in motion" is almost always disabled -- everything worked fine until I did those "Stop And Smell The Roses, Or At Least Catch My Breath" rides this weekend.
So I now know what the issue is, I just have to think of a good way to fix it. Maybe this weekend.
Last night was also pick-up-my-pants night -- I'd gone to the local Men's Warehouse last week, and the new dress slacks I'd bought were ready to be picked up last night. I spent so much time playing with the computer that I almost missed closing time, but managed to get in under the wire, and now I have increased my work pants inventory by 50%, not counting the bottom halves of my suits, or the corderoys I also wear to work but plan on phasing out. I'm not really upgrading my image, but I did need to upgrade the quality of my work pants, and those cords were no longer cutting it.
Dinner last night, brisket sandwich, on rye bread from Anne's Sunday baking. Tonight is usually knitting for Anne followed by Tuesday Taco Night at Brew Works, but since it's valentine's Day, and knitting is cancelled, we might just stay in tonight.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oh, The Woes

Morning weigh-in: 186.5#
I've been looking for better cycling training software for a while now, but I've been finding that most of what's out there is either a bit "meh," or unavailable on Linux, or both (usually both), and the web-based stuff seems just as lame -- I've tried a few of the free-on-a-trial-basis ones, and none have impressed me enough to want to upgrade to the paid version.
All I really want is one more feature than what's already present in Garmin Connect, PyTrainer or SportsTracker: I want to be able to see a breakdown of my heart rate data by heart rate zone, basically how many minutes in each zone, on a lap by lap basis. I was fooling with a Perl script I found online that converts Garmin data to Excel file format, trying to get it to work -- of course it didn't at first, it was poorly written -- and while I was on my new voyage of discovery I realized that a rewrite of this script would be the best way to extract the data I wanted.
It took me about two days, mostly because I didn't really have a big enough block of time to just sit down and do it, but I finally had something that seemed to work well with my sample data, and gave me the results I expected. Then yesterday I tried it on my actual training data, and got incomprehensibly wrong results. Oh well, back to the drawing board tonight, good thing today's a rest day.
Meantime, my new computer upgrade did wonders for TopoFusion, which as a Windows program needs to run in an emulator (and I guess the new emulator works a lot better), but then I did something and -- TopoFusion is all out of whack, and now maps and GPS tracks don't line up. I tried removing and re-installing wine (the emulator), and upgraded to the latest version of TopoFusion, but got very little relief. This is all happening now that I've committed to help Bob and Doug with mapping duties for an upcoming race, and I'd planned to use TopoFusion to do that work.
There's still always GRASS, or maybe QGIS.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Comeback Kid Goes Lactic

So it's been about two weeks of training, two weeks of about twenty eight. I am already seeing results -- and of course I am already deviating from what I should be doing...

I'm mostly following Joe Friel's The Cyclist's Training Bible, and that means that right now I am doing a whole lot of "base riding:" lots and lots of easy rides (difficulty measured in terms of heart rate), and one day a week of spinning drills. I'm finding that, here in hilly Bethlehem, I can't go easy enough on the road to stay in the lower heart rate zones, so I've been doing a lot of cruising up and down the towpath; I kill two birds with one stone by riding my singlespeed, getting in a good, moderately-high-RPM spin workout while I'm out. Back and forth, night after night, by myself after work, up and down the towpath with the  hamster legs going and the heart rate monitor beeping at me to take it easier -- I'm already sick of it, and there's three months total of base work...

So this week I mixed it up a bit. I had Friday off, and took the Turner down the towpath to Easton, where I met Larry and we did a bike path loop. Social pace, maybe a bit faster than the training would have allowed, given the occasional hill and Larry's running slick tires on his bike, but really a nice break in the routine. I took the towpath home again, and followed the rules.

I skipped riding yesterday, and today I was going to meet Arnie and some others for another towpath ride -- and probably another violation, since those guys are usually on 'cross bikes and like to push the pace -- but instead I slept in, and later took advantage of the cold temperature and frozen ground to go ride Sals.

Technically, this ride was another violation, though I took things easy, and stopped whenever my heart rate went above my lactic threshold -- which means I stopped a lot, but it was a beautiful day, stopping to enjoy the view wasn't the worst thing that could have happened. The ride felt awesome, conditions couldn't have been better and I had a blast, and when I completed my usual loop I decided I wasn't done, so I hopped on the towpath and got in an hour or so of the training ride I originally should have done. Bonus! -- Though I suppose that was really more like eating diet food along with your nachos.

But: A month ago, a towpath ride like Fridays (but shorter) beat the tar out of me, and I actually had to bail on a Sals group ride about the same time. Some observations:

1. There really was a pulmonary issue going on, and a few weeks of that new maintenance inhaler has made a big difference. Today I was out in all my trigger conditions: cold, windy, and I was breathing hard, but I had no "incidents."

2. It wasn't all lungs: I'd been getting further out of shape the longer the asthma issue continued, and we're talking almost a full year here, so this new inhaler hasn't enabled me to pick up where I left off; I still have to start over at the bottom, only now I'm healthy.

3. Concentrating on "aerobic endurance" early in the season, lots of easy rides designed to encourage the cardiovascular system to prepare now for the harder workouts later, is already paying off. Maybe I'll mix a little fun in now and then but, despite the boredom involved with this phase, I am on the right track.