Monday, September 26, 2011

I Live in Iowa: Week 23

Yet another week living the life. What to discuss… I worked 41 hours this week. Part of that was spent on the “Proving Grounds” (that’s the formal term, we typically call it “the hill”) learning the safety and regulations required to drive big expensive pieces of equipment around.

I spend most of my time behind the computer making pretty pictures (finite element strain patterns) and I’m getting much better at it. I came up with a good idea for a part with a thermometer shape cut out of it that would focus strain away from a nearby weld. I still have work to do, and I am sure you have no idea what I mean by “thermometer shape” but the point is I’m getting better at coming up with creative ideas how to change designs so that they have a longer fatigue life.
Our jobs as structural analysis engineers is to find the weaknesses in designs, and make them stronger. I think of it as building a better bubble. If you have seen many carbon fiber bicycles you will have an idea of what I mean. Instead of thin steel tubes the shapes involve complex curves and continuously varying tube diameters. It seems ridiculous to compare a carbon fiber bicycle frame to a boom for the forestry industry made out of welded steel plates half an inch thick, but they are nearly the same thing. The only difference is the anisotropic material properties of multilayer ceramic-polymer or ceramic-ceramic composites versus an isotropic metal (and that is really an assumption based on the processing of the metal…).
I ran 100 miles including a very nice long run, a sprint fartlek, and a moderate tempo. I tried something new on the long run. One of the things that is suggested for slow runners with predominately slow twitch muscle fibers is to do workouts that involve running several different paces, because that is something slow runners do not like to do. So I did 12 miles at a slow aerobic pace (6:55s), then I did the last 10 miles at the following effort levels (all percentages refer to as percent of marathon pace): 90%, 95%, 90%, 80%, 90%, 95%, 90%, 80%, 90%, and 95%. In total I did the last 10 miles in 59:50 which is not especially fast but the way I ran it and considering there was 12 miles immediately before it, that counts as a good long run. The moderate tempo was a 27:40 8k on the track.
In the world of coaching I missed a few practices because I had to work. We also had a race Friday evening. It was the first time most of the men raced 8k. The great thing about races is that you get to watch everyone run what you are training them for. It is a test of the work that has been done. Basically, I saw exactly what I needed to see to understand how they are all responding to training. A race is the perfect place to watch the runners “fall apart” and when in the race they do and how much they slow and how fast they started are all great things to view and then base future training off of that. Additionally, every race leading up to the goal race is really only preparation for that race so the outcome at the finish is not terribly important.
I finished my week off in Omaha, Nebraska at a wedding of a good high school friend I have not see in years. I should probably blog a few more times this week about the events of this weekend because they were simply too numerous to append onto my weekly summary of living in Iowa. I’m going to leave you hagging for today…

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