Someone flipped the weather switch!

Leave a comment

Here in Idaho, we have the “weather switch.” There is a magic day in June when the weather flips from windy,wet and cool spring days to windy, dry, and warm mornings.   One day, all of a sudden, the days are sunny and warm, and it usually happens around the second or third week of June (amazingly in-line with what the calendar says!). But this year, it seems to have come early.  And yes, I did have to leave “windy” in there for the summer, too.

There are a few signs that the weather switched:

1. Daily highs above 80.

2. Morning lows above 50.

3. Sunny days instead of cloudy. There can still be rainstorms in the afternoon.

The beauty of this for me is the warm mornings. I am good-weather bicyclist. I don’t like cycling in the cold or the rain. So now that the weather has switched, I get excited about getting out in the early morning and enjoying it. I also absolutely love long rides in hot weather….those are the days that I truly enjoy the bike.

It seems that the weather switch has happened, but the rains are still here. I’ve been living in Pocatello for 10 years now, and normally the rain goes away when the temperatures rise.


The Sawtooth Personal Challenge

Leave a comment


The second race in the 2015 Personal Challenge Series is the Sawtooth 64, in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho. I did a version of this last year, and it was awesome (except the swim); I thought about it all winter, and it was the catalyst for ensuring the YNP 70.3 happened this summer.

Pre-Race: The night before the race will be spent at Camp Perkins, a church camp I absolutely love because it is such as serene place. Campfire songs are the best!  And the cabins are great even though they are as basic as possible. Hint: camp does have some nicer accomodations if you prefer those.

The Swim:  Last year’s attempt in Alturas Lake was too much for me….I was not comfortable at all in that water. Perkins Lake will be a completely different story, as I am familiar with lake from canoeing it alot in the past summers. The trick to using Lake Perkins for the swim is the transition to the bike because transition at Camp Perkins itself means the bike starts on a mile of gravel road. So, the swim starts where it does because it is close to a paved road. The distance between the lake and the road is about 50 yards and completely doable.

The swim itself will be great. The water is clear, and you can see about 100 feet in front of you and certainly down to about 20 feet, including all the fish(!). It’s a swim out to the inlet and back, then down to the outlet, coming in right at 1.2 miles.

The swim venue. The swim start is off to the left and goes in front of the dock in the bottom right of this picture.

The swim venue. The swim start is off to the left and goes in front of the dock in the bottom right of this picture.

Sawtooth 60 Swim (1.2 miles; start south point to inlet point and back, then to outlet and back)


Transition 1: This is pretty simple. Get out of the lake. Go uphill a bit to grab the bike. Leave all T1 gear in a pile near the road. Family or friends come and get it a bit later. There is nobody there early in the morning because everyone else is sleeping in, snoozing and snuggling in a camper or tent while the mountain bluebirds chirp away.

The Bike: Starting near Lake Perkins, the bike course heads out to the main and takes a right to head up and over Galena Summit (8,701 ftt). From there, head down to Galena Lodge and then back up and over Galena Summit. Head down, down, down to Fourth of July Creek to turn around and head back to Camp Perkins. Go past the bike start to head all the way down to the Alturas Creek Campground. Start Transition #2.

The view is as breathtaking as the effort to get up.

The view is as breathtaking as the effort to get up.

Galena Summit at 8,701 ft.

Galena Summit at 8,701 ft.

Transition #2: This is a bit tricky because I wanted the run to be completely on trail. Last year, I ran about two miles on a gravel road, and that section is ok but can be replaced by two miles on a trail and able to top out on a trail pass that will be very intriguing and motivating. So, at the campground, change gear and lock up the bike in the Xterra. Then I will drive two miles down to the trailhead to be able to cut out that gravel road section and start directly on a trail.

Is driving to the trailhead cheating? No! Personal Challenges are courses done as something to challenge yourself in whatever way you want to be challenged. I think the challenge of getting to the trail pass at elevation 8,550 certainly offsets a three minute drive. If anything, the short drive will kill my momentum.

Sawtooth 60 Bike ( 52 miles; start at Perkins Lake, end at Alturas Inlet campground)



The Run ( 13.4 miles start and end at Alturas Creek trailhead)

This is an absolutely AWESOME trail run. The elevation rise is very gentle, and it follows the creek the entire way. Fresh water is never too far away for either drinking or splashing. The temperatures will remain relatively cool. When I ran this last year, I had so much positive energy in me that I never felt any pain during that run; it was a truly joyful run.

This year, I am changing the course to allow the distance to take me to the top of the trail pass at 8,550 feet. I think the last half mile going up a steep portion of the trail will be a definite challenge and certainly require some walking, but I am looking forward to jogging downhill the entire second half. I get excited about racing at higher elevations, so I am pretty excited about this route.



Post-Race: Recovery drink (beer, of course!) on the Camp lodge porch that looks like this.

The view for post-race relaxation.

The view for post-race relaxation.

Undoing three months of work in three weeks

Leave a comment

Consistency is the key to training. I proved that to myself in March when I had a great three-week block. Then that fell off a bit in April until it fell off a cliff in May because of various travel and work requirements. I came back into a good block a little fast and paid for it.

Here’s the proof of the training load and fitness drops from SportTracks:

You can see the drop in training load throughout May.

You can see the drop in training load throughout May.

You can see the drop in fitneess in May.

You can see the drop in fitneess in May.

So what? Well, when I got back home and wanted to start back into a solid block of training, I went out on a good run and it felt great. Then my Garmin 920xt Recovery Advisor said I had a 3-Day Recovery. I thought it was funny until two days later when I was still very sore and my bike ride on a beautiful day was painful on sore legs.

My Garmin told me I had a 3-Day Recovery!

My Garmin told me I had a 3-Day Recovery!

My point is that you really have to ease back in after three weeks of inconsistent training. I

Mountain Cruises Personal Challenge – The YNP 70.3!

1 Comment

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
– Jim Rohn

Going to the big triathlon races just isn’t for me. First, it costs too much, and I can’t stop thinking that thise race fees are better spent on experiences and necesary gear for my young boys. Second, there are too many people and the morning setup takes far too long. The event itself, meaning just the race, is exciting and everything, but the crowd and costs put it over the edge for me.

I am more about doing my own thing in an uncrowded place with probably a few friends and on a timeline that doesn’t include much waiting around for the masses.

Thus, I am implementing the Personal Challenge concept.

The Personal Challenge is any race you decide to plan and execute on your own, basically a Do-It-Yourself Race. No expensive race fees. Limited or at least combined travel fees when you do the race in conjunction with a different trip. And, a venue that might not be otherwise possible. These then become a “self-supported” event that you have to plan your own logistics like transition areas, resupply stations, and bathrooms.

Let me introduce you the Personal Challenge Series, brought to you by Darin Letzring at AmphibOps.com and Mountain Cruises.

YNP Tri Personal Challenge Series widescreen copy

Situation: This year’s Personal Challenge Series highlight is the YNP 70.3, a half-distance triathlon race in the Yellowstone National Park (70.3). That’s right! A triathlon in Yellowstone National Park!

Mission: Complete a triathlon in Yellowstone National Park.

Intent: Complete a half-distance course that is entirely within the Park (incidentally, also completely above 7,700 feet elevation), highlighting some of the park’s features while maintaining the safest race day possible in the park.


ynp bridge bay

1. Pre-Race: Camp at the Marina Campground to make an early morning start. Some marshmallows and fresh air should provide my body a great pre-race evening.

2. Swim: With a 0530 start at picnic area at the east end of the Marina, an out-n-back swim out of the marina and into the lake, following the causeway to a turn-around point just past the end of the causeway where the treeline starts. This swim area is mostly 3-4 feet deep and should be fairly protected from the wind. A wetsuit is definitely REQUIRED. Distance is 1.2 miles and expected time of 30 minutes. See the swim course on Garmin Connect.

ynp him swim

3. T1: Transition is based out of my Xterra in the marina parking lot near the swim start. I should contract with Nissan to make it a commercial.

4. Bike: Taking my bike off the Xterra in the marina parking lot, head east to Fishing Bridge and continue to Canyon, cruising next to the Yellowstone River through the beautiful Hayden Valley after seeing the Mud Volcano and Sulphur Canyon. Nearing Canyon area, slow down and meander through the Yellowstone Falls parking area to glimpse the falls and get some refreshments from my mobile aid station (family in the car). From the falls, continue north to the intersection and turn around to go back south through Hayden Valley again; hopefully beating the the bison to their daily road crossing between 9:00am and 10:00am.

Fishing bridge 1

At Fishing Bridge, go across the bridge and out toward’s Mary’s Point, cruising along the lake the entire way. Winds should still be fairly low until 9:00am or so. Turn around at the point where the road turns directly east and starts heading uphill, coming back into the wind a bit and with the option of hitting the mobile aid station at the Mary’s Point pull-out.

The turn-around point for the YNP Half-Distance Triathlon 56 mile bike ride.

The turn-around point for the YNP Half-Distance Triathlon 56 mile bike ride.

Head through Fishing Bridge and turn towards the Marina. The main safety point here is to be off the roads preferably by 9:00am and absolutely no later than 10:00am because that’s when the roads get dangerous with higher traffic volume from all drivers and large campers in particular.

ynp him bike

View the bike course on Garmin Connect.

**  Take a look at what it’s like to bicycle in Yellowstone National Park at www.mountaincruises.com.  **

5. T2: Again at the Xterra at the Marina Campground. Lock the bike on my bike rack on the car. Put shoes on. Start running.


6. Run: The run will be a two-lap cruise from the marina, across the causeway, around Gull Point, over Bridge Creek, and back to the marina. There are many other options for the run, but this one is the option that provides the most safety in relation to bears. Yes, bear safety is the primary concern here. I personally will not be able to run very fast at this point if a bear chases me, so I need to be sure I don’t get in that situation. Also, Gull Point provides a rest area and some beautiful views of the lake. The barely-improved roadway on most of this path is a near-perfect trail run condition.

See the run course on Garmin Connect.

ynp him run

7. Post-Race: hang out at the marina picnic area for a bit, then head to Lamar Valley for a few nights in the backcountry for the world’s most awesome Cutthroat Trout fishing, staying at campsite 3L2 on Cache Creek and only a short walk to the confluence with Lamar River.  The most awesome triathlon will be followed up with my very favorite fishing trip in the world.

Fishing at the confluence of the Lamar River and Cache Creek in Yellowstone National Park.

Fishing at the confluence of the Lamar River and Cache Creek in Yellowstone National Park.

Confirmation of my theory: Training Troubleshoots With Sebastian Kienle

Leave a comment

This is exactly what I am trying to do for my bike workouts. Sufferfest Nine Hammers and my local “Nine Hills” match the recommendations here at Triathlete.com.  I am also keeping up with a weight-lifting routine that I like and is showing improvements


I like the associated swim workout for something new to replace my “drills and kicks” workout.

For the run, I really do need to some bricks. I havent done any all year.

Checking Progress on my new training plan

Leave a comment

Back in early March, I wrote about a change in training philosophy that I wanted to implement. Basically, I was adding significantly more intensity and not worrying about volume, and I wanted to continue lifting weights.  I wanted to hit one high-intensity workout, one moderate intensity at half the race distance, and then a long/slow/easy workout at about 80-100% of race distance and also do two or three weight lifting sessions each week. This has been one of the best things I have done! My training is going great, and I am the strongest and fastest I have ever been.

If you have ever wondered why you need to maintain a sense of intensity in your training, I will show you the difference in the past two months.

Normally, I would be trying to maximize the volume at a moderate intensity level as I go into summer. That generally leads to not hitting my training goals because I can’t schedule all the time necessary, which then leads to some unnecessary frustration. Part of this change in training was minimize my frustrations in this manner.

Let’s go over the original goals and results specific to those goals, and then I will show you some other successes created by the addition of intensity. Hopefully, you will see the reasons why everyone over 40 years old should be keeping intensity in their training schedule.

  1. Higher overall power output on the same Sufferfest videos, showing an increase in lactate threshhold.

This is absolutely happening!  Specifically, my output on “Nine Hammers” has gone from 230 watts naturalized power and 741kj to 254 naturalized power and 831kj.  That is exactly a 10% gain in naturalized power!

Here is the screen shot from the TrainerRoad history for Nine Hammers.


  1. Faster times on the hills interval run segments that I have already established on Strava, improving strength and reminding me what pain really feels like so I can remember that during a race I really do have an extra level to attain.

I improved my time on the big hill I was focusing on from 3:00 down to 2:50. Not much gain, but I also ended up extending the overall workout run for what I dubbed “Nine Hills” as a tribute to the bike workout “Nine Hammers.” I was so impressed with my increases by doing Nine Hammers once a week that I was going to do Nine Hills every week.  Unfortunately, the spring rains and snow came back and the trail has been too muddy for me to run it again outside of the first three weeks. Below are the results of those first three weeks.

Rank Name Date Pace HR VAM Time
1 Darin Letzring Mar 13, 2015 15:41/mi 165bpm 2:50
2 Darin Letzring Mar 19, 2015 16:04/mi 162bpm 2:54
3 Darin Letzring Mar 5, 2015 16:37/mi 164bpm 3:00
  1. Slightly faster times on the standard lunch 10k route that I have run many many times and usually get faster as spring turns into summer.

Definitely improved this 10k lunch route. I am hitting this the fastest ever in life! The below chart from Strava proves it. I think this is what I am most excited about.

I started this year in the winter running my lunch route in 53:23 and have it down to 48:22 as of last week. Very excited about this progress! If I can lose another five pounds of fat, I think I can break 48:00 on this run.


  1. Weight drops to 180 on March 21, from 185 on March 2. That’s a lot for three weeks, but I think it will happen.

The weight hasn’t come off like I want it to, but this is actually a secondary goal. I am inconsistent with my minimizing binges on various cravings, but when I have 3-4 good days in a row the weight does indeed come off. If I can figure out what to do about the craving binges, I will be successful in this goal.  As of my last weigh-in, I was at 183.


  1. Body fast drops from 19.8ish to 18.2 on the Aria scale. Who knows how accurate this scale is, but it is consistent and I can use that to measure objectives. I don’t know if this is really doable or how it relates to the weight loss, but it is something to think about and will drive me to complete the training plan as I chase this goal.

I am not completely successful in this endeavor either, but it is going pretty well. I thought this goal was exceptionally aggressive when I made it. Like the overall weight goal, this sees days of success ruined by binges on cravings. But there is success in the 0.8% overall loss.


Finallly, let’s look at my SportTracks data, starting with the training load.

You’ll see that the training load has been going down steadily since the end of the Tour of Sufferlandria. The past two weeks has been the beginning of a chunk of travelling, so I am not getting in all the workouts. Anyway, if my bike power and run times stay on the current improvement track, this chart doesn’t really mean much to me. For reference, the spike in late January was the Tour of Sufferlandria. And just to note, I don’t agree with the training efforts that are assigned to my swims; for example, the 3,000 yard straight swim woops me like a 13 mile run but gets half the credit in effort.


I am more concerned about the fitness levels. You can see a steady decrease in performance status while I have been doing this training plan. But, I am seeing big gains on runs and bikes, so I don’t know how correct this chart is. At this point, it doesn’t mean much to me because it just doesn’t match with gains I am seeing in the real world.


So, I am currently at a performance point of 233 and had a peak of approximately 288 in mid-March This is versus the status I had when I initially posted my plan in early March;

And below you can see how my performance stat goes from 283 on March 1 to 307 on March 25. That is objective improvement that I can feel good about.


Another thing I am measuring to see if this philosophy is working is my times and SWOLF on a 1600 ladder workout in the pool. I can’t match very well because I haven’t done the workout exactly the same each time because I lose track of where I’m at and end up missing a 100 or 150 yard set. This is frustrating. In any case, my SWOLF is very steady and not improving. As another measure, I do a “3k straight” workout every now and then to measure endurance on the swim. This isn’t a good consistent measure because the water temp changes from 82 – 86 degrees.  But I am not worried about improving my swim time so much as I want to be able to swim the same time and come out of the water as fresh as possible.

I am continuing to lift weights throughout all of this, and I really like the results. I might not be much fitter and it doesn’t really help my endurance, but I think it is essential in the gains on my bike power and run times. It also keeps things interesting.

As I re-read “Racing Weight,” I remembered his theory that 80% of the volume should be less than lactate threshhold, and 20% above lactate threshhold. I think this workout philosophy hits those numbers but I have to do some detailed checks. It might be closer to 70/30 split.

Finally, I have to say that I really like using SportTracks’ scheduling feature. I have finally found a training calendar that is useful and doesn’t take too much time.

These guys have been watching me

Leave a comment

From the Ironman site today, they have “4 Bad Habits To Kick Now.” 


They are onto me! I often cut a copy 100 yards off a swim because I think I won’t be back to work on time.

This spring I have successfully broken the habit of giving into self -talk that “I’m just sooo tired. I really need to take a day to make sure I am recovered.” Now I just get dressed and do the first five minutes of every workout and ultimately I am doing nearly every scheduled workout as prescribed…and it is making a HUGE difference.

Editing for convenience
Who hasn’t cut a run short or bailed on the last 400 of a swim workout in order to save some time? It’s perfectly normal to modify workouts when we’re balancing seemingly impossible schedules and doing a workout in its entirety simply isn’t always possible. The difference between editing out of necessity and editing out of convenience is subtle, but important to acknowledge. By its nature, training for a triathlon (or simply maintaining a regular exercise schedule) will inconvenience you. But that doesn’t mean you should consistently shorten workouts or skip key sessions when they don’t fit perfectly into your schedule. Over time, these “convenient” decisions will inconvenience your race goals.
→ Kick it: Focus on completing all your workouts as prescribed, whether by your coach or your training plan, and saving the modifications for times when you know your schedule will make training more difficult (i.e. on vacation, during busy times at work, or during poor weather conditions).

Originally from: http://m.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2015/03/4-bad-habits-to-kick-now.aspx#ixzz3W77EbIKi

Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.