Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: TrainerRoad training plan - Olympic triathlon base

Posted by Rachel 

I've had TrainerRoad for a couple of years, but usually only select the workouts that I like. It doesn't mean they aren't hard, but I always pick them because I know they're doable. They're in my comfort zone even if they're painful (if that makes any sense). This year I really need to get better at cycling, so I decided to let TrainerRoad tell me what to do.

I cycled for several weeks before beginning the Olympic triathlon - mid distance base phase. It is a 6 week plan that has a mixture of workouts. There are a couple of notable workouts that I was forced to do that I never would've chosen before.

Shasta - a workout that has short 20-sec intervals at 200% FTP. I never would have thought 200% FTP is even possible, but I was happy to find that it wasn't too bad!

Galena- This is one I NEVER would have selected, 3 x 20 min intervals between 90-94% FTP. It appears twice during the training plan - the first time I almost died doing it, but the second time went pretty well!

Phoenix - 75 min at 80-85% FTP. Pretty boring, but forced me to practice aero, and much easier the second time than the first.

Overall, my FTP went from 189 W to 201 W, an increase of 6.3% in 6 weeks! I'm pretty happy with this, except for one small thing...

...it makes the build phase SO HARD. I don't like 120% of FTP, it's not a fun place to be, but it looks like I'll be spending a lot of time there. I did the 2nd workout of this phase on Wednesday and thought my legs were going to fall off. It will be interesting to see if my FTP will increase again - I'll report back!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Biking and running in Burgundy-Beaune, France

Posted by Rachel

Happy 2017, everyone! I have a couple of posts I've been meaning to compose for a while, and this biking/running in Burgundy is one of them. I started posting about exercising in each of the spots we visited in France for many reasons: for people planning to visit who wanted to see some of the options, for any family/friends who were interested in more details about our vacation, and for my own documentation and reference. I'll probably skip posting about running in Paris because I don't think we found anything non-obvious (ie. we ran along the river). Beaune, however, was a different story. It was awesome exercising in Nice because I LOVE the ocean, but admittedly it wasn't that radically different than California. Beaune probably topped Nice in biking and running uniqueness.

Looks like wine country!

To understand why biking and running in Beaune is so much different than California even though we too have plenty of vineyards, there is a key point to understand about Burgundy. Instead of having discrete large plots of properties owned by single families or groups as we do in Napa or Sonoma, Burgundy is more "communal" where a family or group owns a few rows of vines in several of the micro-regions spread throughout Burgundy. This is important because it means that there is a lot more public access between/throughout vineyards. In fact, they basically invite you to travel through the vineyards.

Running
Around the town, it was fairly easy to find maps highlighting the options for different run distances.

Snapshot of a map we brought with on us our phones. The map was prominently displayed in a town park.

For one of our runs we decided to follow the green route through the vineyards and it actually reasonably well-marked (though we still did take a couple of wrong turns). The run was a combination of paved and trail, and it was moderately hilly.


If you ran through someone's vineyard like this in the US I'm pretty sure you'd be asked to leave. Or shot. 

I should note that there is also a paved bike path and it's easy to run a simple out and back on that as well (more details below). But even though I'm not much of a trail runner I did enjoy the wine trail adventure.

Photo from the solo morning run I did a different day on the paved bike trail. Someone had drank too much wine the previous day to accompany me on the run, and I didn't trust myself to not get lost on the trails. 

Biking
Biking in Beaune was SO AWESOME! The paved dedicated bike path through the vineyards in shown in the picture and easy to find from the town.

Veloroute la voie des vignes

The trail goes for miles and there are small towns every 2-3 km to stop for water, food, cafe, wine, etc. I don't think there's much need for a guided tour if you want to do this ride, the signage is very good. I'm not good enough with words to describe how cool this ride is, so I'll just inundate with you captioned photos.

Vineyards for miles

Sometimes the vineyards were surrounded by brick walls built thousands of years ago - the age of everything built here is SO much older than California

Headed into one of the towns

Wine cellar that we happened upon during our ride. It was a little creepy at first because nobody there spoke english and they were just leading us into a dark basement. Luckily when we got there it was filled with wine and not torture devices or anything else creepy. And nobody stole our bikes from outside while we were down there... another bonus.

In summary, if you're in France and you like wine, running, and biking, you can't go wrong with a stop in Beaune. I'm sure there are equally awesome wine/bike/run places in France, but we can highly recommend Burgundy based on our experience.