At the end of this week, I finish the “build to 20 mile base” that I’ve been working on out of The Runner’s Training Diary”. I’ve been wondering what to do to bridge the gap between now and the end of June when Marathon training begins in earnest, and Annalisa may have the answer in her plan to work up to a Tri.

It meets a bunch of my desires:
1. Good blend of running, swimming, and cycling* (the weather is about to get SO much better, I just know it…)
2. It’s a plan. I cannot emphasize enough how much having someone else do the research and planning for me is when it comes to fitness. I’d love to be a self-made man, but let’s face it – I’ve spent over three decades mucking it up. In an ideal world, I’d go out and grab a personal trainer or coach, but, frankly, I’m cheap. Maybe next year. This year, I think I want to save for a PowerBook.
3. Kind of a bridge to sustain a reasonable amount of effort and hopefully let some weight come off without worrying too much about creating a stress injury and a setback
4. Did I mention I don’t have to think, just execute?

She mentioned she got the program from AllTriathlon. They seemed pretty cheap, and I didn’t want to boost content from someone who looks like he’s got what I need, so I went ahead and signed up for an 8 week fitness and weight loss plan. $20, probably could have gotten it out of a book or something, but hey – it’s all about experimentation. I’ll keep you posted…

Found a great new NPR show this weekend: Weekend America. It is, honest to god, a new program. I caught their bit about Chi Running, which I think Chris has covered. They’ve got runners on their splash screen, support RSS and Podcasting (If only Garrison could be so hip), but don’t have Bob Edwards… wait, nowhere on NPR has Bob Edwards’ dulcet tones any more.

*There’s a bunch of motorcycle riders in the office, and we’ve got a tenuous truce. “Cycling” refers to riding a bicycle, usually wearing some form of tights, but not necessarily. “Biking” involves gasoline and much higher speeds. Though, in the case of a couple of knuckleheads, less protective equipment.

Monday Weigh-In / Tour de Rant

175 on the old scale. Which is good.

What was even better was Saturday up at Military Medical (MilMed) – 171 fully dressed without shoes. Looks like the old scale WAS about 5 lbs heavy. Missy picked up a new one later on Monday, and Tuesday morning weigh-in was 170. I kid you not. The upside is that I’m down like 10 lbs since the beginning of the year, which is all good. I’ll probably continue to use the old scale for consistiency, but will revise target weights upwards.

Monday was a rest day. And I rested. But I think I may be better – I felt like a racehorse in the paddock all day – kind of twichy and really wanting to run. I felt GOOD. We’ll see if I still feel good when I strap on the old shoes later today.

On to the real topic of discussion: Cycling and the new season. Jeff over at Boingo Blog dropped me the following:

So, what’s your take on Lance this year? Think he’ll be able to pull off another win in France? Jan is looking really strong this season, and there’s some other climbers that will really give him a run for his money…

And Tyler will most likely be gone. Dang. Man, I had so much respect for him when he took fourth the year he spilled on the second stage and broke his clavicle. It’s almost like baseball now, you have to assume that everyone is using something, somehow.

Tyler broke my heart last year. Removing all the gay overtones, I really had a man-crush on him since the broken collarbone tour. He just seemed like one of the guys, y’know? One of the ones who you ride with from time to time when they want a really easy day.

As far as 7 goes – I don’t know if Lance has the fire in his belly any more. At least not for le Tour. He’s done the impossible and won 6, any more is gloating; although he did learn a valuable lesson in 2000 with Pantani that unless you completely and truly crush the opposition, Euros don’t give Yanks credit.

What I’d like to see (not necessarily what I think we will see) is Lance taking the classics seriously. One of the most valid criticisms of him has been that, unlike Merckx, Hinault, etc, LA is quite literally a one trick pony. In July, he’s the best cyclist in the world. For the rest of the year, he’s quite literally a non-starter. The one exception has been Amstel Gold for the last few years, but even then he’s been able to blow off not winning by saying his training for le Tour is on track.

Armstrong started off as a strong one-day race rider, and especially over some of the hillier classics could be a factor. At the very least, he could give Hincapie a run for his money (Yes, I know they’re teammates) – I think Georgie’s scant palmares reflect his dedication to making sure Lance wins the Tour; Lance going out and busting heads in northern Europe for April and May could break down the field enough for George to take Roubaix or L-B-L, races that Hincapie has talked about wanting to win.

Ullrich? Armstrong should be waking up in his oxygen tent every night with the cold sweats if Ullrich has been training as much as has been reported, provided he bounces back from his current illness. Ullrich has been a factor ever since he won in 1997, despite his appreciation of booze and recreational pharmacuticals in the off-season. I’d love to see the diesel actually perform – I think that 2004’s tour was a wake-up for him, watching Basso drop him.

My “guys to watch” for this year, though, are Cunego (the guy who won the Giro last year, I know I killed his name) and Thomas Voeckler(10 days in Yellow in July). Cunego just kicked ass in Italy, and Voeckler has the build (dude’s tiny) and the tenacity (I forget which stage it was last year, but he fought tooth and nail on a final climb, got dropped and regained the leaders – less Armstrong and Basso – six times that day, and robbed Armstrong of a day in yellow by less than a minute) to have an impact. Could he burn out? Maybe. But he’s a guy to watch.

(See how I avoided all discussion of doping? If I don’t think about it, it’s not happening… Seriously, though, I wish to high heaven that the culture of cycling, and sport in general) would change to make doping completely unacceptable at the athelete level. How to do that? Dunno….)

In any case, I strongly recommend the following cycling sites:

The Tour de France blog – not affiliated with le Tour in any way that I can tell, just a really dedicated and enthusiastic fan. Don’t know if he rides. He’s got an rss feed.

Cycling News – Absolutely terrible web layout – tiny print, confusing columns, no RSS. But a great source for race info, tech, and training.

VeloNews – The USA’s cycling rag. They’ve picked up more Euro coverage later, but are still pretty US centered. Which is cool. Good classifieds, and a regional racing calendar. A couple of great columnists. They had Hamilton last year, but seem to have had a pretty public falling out with him over doping. And Friday’s Foaming Rants are hilarious. VeloNews has no RSS feed. Bums.

BBC Sport – (link is to their RSS feed) If you’re into world sports, you probably already know about the Beeb. Good stuff.

Le Tour’s homepage is a pretty useful site. Not only is it the place to be in July, but the Tour’s organizers put on a pretty comprehensive calendar of other races.

Graham Watson – The king of cycling photographers. Watson has an eye for composition that cannot be matched.