Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Swam the Dam

It was my intent today to go all out and see how much punishment I could take, no taper, hard off the gun and hang on for dear life and if I bonk that's ok.

Goal accomplished!

I managed to have yet another lame start to my swim by running in and diving too soon and having my goggles flip up and let a pile of water in. Then I complicate matters by trying to stand up and adjust them only to get plowed over by everyone behind me. Some panicked angle swimming to get out to open water and adjust my goggles and then back into a rhythm. It took a while but i managed to move around the pack and get back out in the lead pack. By 300m I was back into fifth place on my own swimming open water. I felt great in the swim and put some effort into it and was rewarded with a 23:06 5th overall swim (2 teams and 2 solo swimmers ahead of me).

I cranked out another solid transition and caught one guy that came out of the water a minute ahead of me before I mounted the bike. Up to 4th overall, and then by 7K into the bike caught one of the lead swimmers (female who ended up 2nd women overall). At the 7K mark we had the turn around to head towards Magrath and I saw a group of about 5 chasing me down and about 90 seconds behind me including the likely winner john Winterdyck.

I made it interesting by holding John off until the 15.5K mark and then I was passed again at 17K and again at about 20K by two more riders and was sitting in 6th overall. I pushed the bike harder than ever before and knew I was going to pay but by 30K figured I was on pace for a 62 minute ride (a PR by 4 minutes due to net downhill and tailwind course).

Another strong transition and next thing I know I am less than 10 seconds behind 5th and I started the run hard to see who I could catch. Running an average of 4:05 per km up to 3km I close big ground and pass another guy and am less than 1 min back from 3rd, 3:00 back from John with the lead position occupied by a team runner well ahead of John.

Then the pace of the bike, the regular training week, the 30 degree heat and my aggressive start to the run set in on the mile long and 50m elevation gain hill. I am doing damage control, heart rate is 168, legs are gone and I am now running at 4:35/km pace. I hit the turn (5.5K) and down some Gatorade and douse some water as I walk through the aid station and get back to running until about the 8K mark. However I am done for the day and start thinking about holding the 3rd solo place.

Then I see 2nd start to walk run as well and decide it was going to be worth it to catch him. Sadly at 1K to go I get caught from behind by the guy that I started the bike with - ugh, he must have been flying - and more are charging from behind. At 500m to go I am even with the guy I had been chasing and now its a down to a sprint between the two of us and the front runner of the group behind. With a anaerobic push I win the sprint (in a big way) and hold on for 4th overall and 3rd individual.

Final results on the day 2:14 total (23;06 swim 3rd individual, 1:05:44 bike with transitions - 6ths individual, 45:29 run - 5th individual). Full listing here. I finally found the limit (Bike HR was 146-152 for the hour) and now I can start to work with my advisor on some specifics to optimize my racing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Intensity and Power

Intensity and Power is what this week has all been about. I am looking forward to tomorrow's long slow ride and long slow run (separated by a nap probably). After having run two interval workouts (mile repeats and 400s) along with a tempo 5K and then two intense power workouts on the bike my legs are just a bit jello as evidenced by my wimpy time trial today (13.6K avg 235 watts and 143HR) and finally two hard swim interval workouts.

I think this week could fall under overtraining for speed so will rebalance for next week.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

2 Triathlons in 3 days

Armed with a series of improvement plans I entered the Foothills Charity Triathlon in Okotoks. After Wednesday's race I was determined to have better transitions and to really push the bike again and see what would happen.

I was one of about 5 people that I saw that decided to do both races and during a warm-up in the swim I could feel it in my arms, they were tired, sore and just a little reluctant to get going. Not that I really worked them in Turner Valley. However, I had my own goggles again and celebrated their custom fit around my wrinkled eye sockets. No leaks today I was convinced. Bernie and his daughter were at the race today and due to a flight down east Bernie convinced the race director to let him swim in the women's heat. So much for my hope to push Bernie along in the race - not that he needs me to push him.

Bernie took off like a rocket in the women's wave and despite his eclectic zig zag directional abilities he managed to come first out of the water in that wave with Tamara Solomon (sp) on his heels. after watching the rest of the women's wave finish I took my favored outskirts starting location for the lake mass swim start only 30 seconds before the start to find myself in the middle of a mass of bodies who decided my line was the one they wanted as well. Next thing I know after the guns goes off I am getting pummelled by over zealous swimmers going over top of me but quickly I got into some open water and chased a pair of feet in the surprisingly warm and clear water. (Kudo's Crystal Shores Lake).

As the eager swimmers started to fade from their aggressive start I continued to work my way up the field and exited the water fairly along except for one other guy. Then the race really started to come together for me. First, I nailed the transition and was out and away of the bike post haste. Hammering fast off the mount line I red lined at my max bike HR of 163 and stayed between 157 and 163 again. The legs wanted to keep my arms company and also decided to reluctantly push and I knew that I had not yet completely recovered from Wednesday's race. However, no worries as my intent was to ride to exhaustion (again) and see what I could do on the run after pushing that hard.

I liked the 3 lap bike course with gradual hills, although slightly windy today, and looked around to see if anyone else was even close to me and didn't notice anyone really. The busy bike course due to the women's earlier wave made it difficult to identify who was where especially with some teams also in the mix. However, I was pushing the highest possible gear while spinning 90 rpm and was moving through the crowd. Near the end of lap one a team cyclist went by me and mid lap two I caught another team's cyclist and we played a bit of cat n mouse through the 3rd lap. I knew I had a good one going but didn't find out until I looked at my Garmin GPS later to see that I rode low to mid 34 minutes and the three laps were about 11:05, 11:15 and 11:40 each. So while I faded it was not catastrophic AND I was definitely going to find out how the run would go.

The run started off feeling "really" ugly as on flat terrain I struggled to average 4:09 per km. I focused on catching the runner from the team that I had played cat and mouse with and after passing her started to feel better. the only part of me NOT feeling better was my feet which went numb during the swim and stayed that way for the rest of the race. Even the 5K run didn't help and it wasn't until 20 minutes after the race that feeling came back. I also loved the run course for its ability to see where you stand, the T shaped out and back course allowed up to three chances to see your competition and one one end of the T I could see I was gaining on one guy, the other end of the T gave me a look at first Tony Smith, then Leif Baradoy, Alec Gill, Gord Brost and a couple of the team competitors. I was not going to catch any of them so I focused on the one realistic target and ran him down with about a mile to go.

From the first wave Bernie ended up 1:40 ahead of me and Tamara 2 minutes. I would have loved the chance to have at least given Bernie a scare that I would run him down but that will have to wait for another day another race. I finished 7th overall and 3rd in my age bracket (Tony Smith and Bernie the two beat me).

The stats - 7th overall (10th swim - 10th bike - 5th run) - 3rd age group (3rd swim - 3rd bike - 2nd run) see link here . The best part is my killer transition speed - based on what Bernie's bike time and my bike time was it looks like I out transitioned Bernie by almost a minute. Now I just need to get more speed / power on the bike.

All in all - a great day.

PS Bernie's daughter had a GREAT race finishing first in her age group, 8th women overall. I think she will be a force at the IM 70.3 in Calgary.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm Baaaaack, well sort of

So I finally got off my duff and entered a triathlon. It was my first tri since Ironman Florida in 2007, I had only raced 5 running races (my true background) since then. Pace Kids 10K, Diamond Valley 10K and Midsun 10K in 2008 plus Foothills Academy 10K and Diamond Valley 5K this year. For me 5 races in 2 years is pretty sedate.

But given Melanie and I are racing Ironman Florida in November of 2009 it was time to try and blow some cobwebs off. I realized that my work schedule is just not going to change a whole lot with the new job so I needed to get to basics and show some discipline. Time to stop wasting time and get training. Given that I really only started productive training late April I didn't feel ready to race Chinook 1/2 Ironman. $215 bucks to race this early was bound to leave me disappointed so I saved the cash and decided to race a couple of sprints first.

Also new to me is that I picked up an "advisor". He doesn't consider himself a coach and doesn't come from huge triathlon background but as a former high school swimmer, 2:31 marathoner, working family man I thought he would be a good person to help me plan my way to Florida. Fortunately for me he accepted the request and is helping me get ready. Not only that he understands the need for me to balance work, church, family and racing.

So armed with my "adviser's" advice we decided to find out how hard I have to go on the bike before I bonk a run. That's right, me Mr. Negative Split, cautious and conservative runner was entering a race with the whole idea to go "Pablo" (For the record an old running acquaintance whose idea of strategy is start hard, hold the middle and the kick like "heck").

The swim was easily the worst swim of my tri career (well maybe not the worst if I consider the 1989 LA Tri series race that i tried to swim in a scuba wetsuit from the 70's but that was another life). I spent about 8 lengths of the 500m swim with goggles full of water since I left mine at the gym, stopped and emptied goggles at least 4 times, swam 2 extra lengths - verified by 4 people that I decided to give the field an extra minute or so lead.

After one of the longest transition runs outside of Ironman courses and an additionally brutally slow change on my part from swim to bike I finally was out on the bike course. Going Pablo meant no cushy 135 to 150 HR on the bike, immediately I was up at 160 HR and rode the bike 157+ HR for the whole 20K. The legs were screaming and felt jello-ish but I was working my way up through the field and was passed by only one cyclist. I guess that is a hidden advantage of a sucky swim.

I had a better bike run transition and started the run feeling weak (an understatement) and was happy that I accomplished one goal - to go red zone on the bike - and was curious to how bad the run would be. It didn't take long as 20 seconds into the run a guy goes blistering past me. I surprise myself by running in pain and at 168+ HR passing everyone else and averaging around 4:10 / km. On the way to the run turnaround I see a quick moving Tony Smith, an even quicker moving Ciara Kary, the guy who passed me earlier (Anton Nel) but nobody else really running my pace per se.

I manage to complete the run in 21:28 and score a 5th fastest run split on a hilly run course that less than a month ago I raced only 50 seconds faster as a 5K not in a triathlon proving I can run relatively fast after going ballistic (for me) on the bike. At the end of the day I finished 7th , 2nd in 40-49 in 1:10 and change and would have been 6th if i swam 500m not 550m. Swim 17th, Bike 13th, Run 5th

Results here

The upside is that I get to do it all again in 3 days at the Okotoks sprint, hopefully with a less ugly swim.

Tip Hat to Pablo and my Advisor