Rolling with Power

Training starts this weekend and been taking it easy, in preparation for the work I am about to do.  I've been spending the time since the Giants Race resting up, working on the house, being a parent, etc.  Things that I won't be able to do as much after 4-a-week workouts start next week.  (OK, really 6 a week workouts if you count the "homework" we're supposed to do on our own.) I've also been studying a lot about endurance racing physiology, diet philosophy, and training strategies, as well as making a few investments in equipment.  The main book I have embraced is "Going Long" by Joe Friel, which talks about every aspect of training for an Ironman, with much of it specific to the first-timer like myself.  One of the main thrusts is to train smarter, AND harder.  (but foremost, smarter)

Part of that is pacing and balance of training load, and one large component of that is learning to use a power meter during training and racing.  The power meter lets you measure your cycling performance much closer to the muscular chemistry than Heart Rate does, and is a MUCH better guide than "Relative Perceived Exertion", otherwise known as "How You Feel".

Craigslist came through with a PowerTap last week, just in time for my training effort.   Thanks to the all the fitness lost to 3 months of downtime away from cycling I'm almost back at square one.  That means that I'll be able to track my training and improvements right from the beginning all the way through race day.  (After which I'll probably be so sick of all this I'll be ready to hang up the bike forever...)

I picked up a bike trainer as well since there's a weekly spin workout every Tuesday night for the next forever.  Using a trainer with the power meter is a great combination because otherwise, how do you really know how much of a workout you're getting in?   Since the resistance of the trainer is so arbitrary and you're not actually going anywhere, the only thing you have to gauge your performance is heart rate.  Using power zones is a much better way to get exactly the workout you're looking for, and track the results much more precisely.

So that's the summary from the last month.  Not too much going on on the triathlon front, just preparing for the impending storm.  Fundraising has completely stalled at 25% but you can expect me to pick that up once things get going again as well.

Trials riding on a carbon roadbike

If you like road biking, you need to watch this video: which shows just what a full-carbon road frame will put up with in the hands of Martyn Ashton. There's a short video of outtakes here: where he mentions that the whole thing was done one one frame and one set of wheels.  Only two small nicks to the carbon, and one flat suffered the whole time!

I did some freeze-frame CSI-style analysis and the wheels are Hope RS wheels.  I can see the aluminum braking surface but I'm not sure if they're all-aluminum wheels or carbon/aluminum hybrids.  (carbon wheels with aluminum braking surfaces)

Either way, this answers questions like "Can I ride my road bike all the way around Perfumo Canyon Road to See Canyon Road even though it's not all paved?"  Yes, I think you can.

Building a very wide base

The official training program for Team In Training doesn't start until December but I'm not just sitting around until then.  I'm already prepping for the real training by starting slow and building gradually.  It's important to stay injury free over the next 14 months so I have to be smart about this and not over-extend myself too quickly and get myself hurt. The first few months of the official training are called the "base" period.  These months get the body ready for regular intense exercise and get it used to working hard and recovering.  Normally the base period lasts a couple months but in my case it'll last much longer, and that's fine.  The longer the base period, the stronger the foundation on which to build.

I've picked up a few books on training but the one I like the most is Joe Friel's Going Long book.  I've read each chapter at least one time, and some of them I've practically memorized.  He's a big advocate of building a wide base and concentrating on endurance instead of speed, especially for people new to the Ironman distances.  For sports I'm weak in he advocates repetition instead of length.  In other words, better to run 2 miles three times a week than try to run 6 miles once a week.

To that end, I've been trying to get in at least two runs and swims per week, building a solid muscle base that won't get injured.   I'm using Garmin Connect to track my workouts for now, since it's free.   It's super-basic and has virtually no scientific analysis capability, but it does the (basic) job.   Here's what my August training schedule looked like:

August 2012 Training Calendar

August Training Calendar

Click for a larger view...

As you can see, I'm doing a great job with the swimming (which are yellow), fitting in two or three swims per week.  Swimming is really easy to fit in because I can do it on the way to work or on the way home, and there are always free lanes in the pool.  I'm fitting in some running (in blue) and keeping my pace low. I'm biking most weekends and that's it.   That's probably enough for now since I have a deep base on the bike already and I'm doing a good job of long long without going too hard, although I keep putting in more hills than I should.

And I've even managed to get one brick in, with a 20 minute run after a long, slow ride!   By the way, the grey "HR study" is an occasional thing I do to measure my resting heart rate from time to time.   I just like to check up on the resting pulse from time to time, although I'm not very consistent about doing it under the same conditions every time.

If I can keep this up until December then I'll probably be in excellent shape to start the harder training when the group workouts start up.   That's the goal at least - go often, go slow, don't blow up, don't break down.   Meanwhile I'm collecting some great data on run pacing (vs. heart rate), bike pacing, gearing, etc. and really getting to know how my body responds to this new approach to training.

Remember:  I'm doing all of this not just for myself but to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma research.   If you'd like to contribute to my cause and encourage me to keep pressing on, please visit my donations page.

Lightroom 4 is here!

As you probably know, I'm a big fan of Lightroom.  Well, Lightroom 4 was released minutes ago, so you might be able to say you saw it here first. Get more info from Adobe.

I really liked the preview version that was released earlier this year and I'm sure they've integrated a lot of feedback into the final version.   Not sure if they integrated any of my feedback...

Lightroom 4 public beta is here!

Adobe just turned the public beta of Lightroom 4 loose!  You can can all the info here: I'm going to make this entry short because I want to go watch the 8 YouTube videos they havejust posted, which you can see here: But I'll take a minute to comment on the marque features they're touting:

  • New develop process for 2012.  Haven't seen it yet but the new process for 2010 was so phenomenal that it was like getting a whole new camera.
  • Blurb integration.  I make Blurb books!  This could be great!
  • Geotagging.  Thank god, finally.  Haven't seen the details yet but hopefully it's cool.
  • Video features.  Meh.  I have very little interest in this.

I just wanted to post this quick note so perhaps you could say you saw it here first.  I know what I'm going to be doing for the rest of tonight!  (watching videos, downloading, and processing)

Adobe ACE exam: why do it?

I was reading John Nack's blog the other day and discovered the Adobe ACE program (Adobe Certified Expert) which is where you go to a testing center and take a multiple choice exam about a specific Adobe product.  If you pass you get to call yourself an "Adobe ACE" in that product, including using the Adobe name (and logo?) to promote yourself.  This theoretically shows people you know what you're talking about and gives you a little more credibility in dinner party arguments over software.  :-)   I immediately thought about taking the Lightroom exam, figuring I could probably pass it without too much trouble. I can see a certification like this being important for a lot of people trying to get entry level jobs in the content creation world.   Let's say you're graduating from school and you use Photoshop all the time and you want to get a job in the graphic arts industry.   For $150 you could take this test, put the Adobe name on your resume, and hope that makes you stand out above the crowd a little bit.   I don't know much about the graphic arts industry but that sounds plausible.   I assume that anyone with more experience would already have a portfolio or a reputation and this wouldn't be very useful though.

But I'm not looking for a job as a graphic designer.  The main reason I would want to do it would be to lend myself credibility for consulting/contract jobs as well as teaching/lecturing/training opportunities.   So I started looking into it, with the eye towards taking the test in the next week or two.

First off, the exam costs $150 and there's no refund if you don't pass, so there's some incentive to not just go into it cold.   You get to say you're an official "Adobe Certified Expert".  But then it's up to you.

What's really missing is some form of registry for Adobe ACEs.   I got really excited when I saw a link to the "Adobe Certified Expert Community".  I thought this would be the place to see the community of ACEs, find one in your area, look at profiles, figure out who to hire.  But no, that's not what it is.  It seems like Adobe would want to push this huge collection of people who are passionate about their products.  Having something like that would be good for both Adobe and the people who are free evangelists for their products.

So if Adobe is leaving the marketing to the ACEs themselves, let's see how that's working out.   If you google "Adobe Lightroom ACE" the first four hits are Adobe's own links to the test.   The next link is a blog entry from 2008 from a guy saying he passed.  The next links are for test prep materials.   What's missing is people advertising their services and mentioning their ACE certification.  A search for "Adobe Lightroom ACE near San Jose" turns up nobody advertising their services as an Adobe ACE.

So, where's the evidence that anyone has actually ever taken this exam?   Why isn't Adobe pushing this?  Has anyone ever tried to use this certification to get a job?

And most importantly,  should I pay $150 for this?