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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November Swim Challenge via Slowtwitch

Well now that we are in the "off"-season, procrastination, slacking, bad eating habits, late nights, etc becoming very hard to resist, and really it is managing those living habits within reason. Without a goal race in sight in the coming months, along with the short days of light, colder weather, and of course the holidays, getting in minimal training to maintain fitness can be easily distracted. Since I have done the least amount of swim, bike, and run in the past 2 months I feel that my body is well rested to get back into the training routine, minus the 15 hour workout weeks.

With that said I have decided that I want to focus on my swimming and running over the next 4 months. The reason for this is simple, I didn't swim much this year, and you can run in virtually any weather, Wisconsin has great running weather minus 2 weeks in February every year. Running won't be much more then 3-5 mile runs with a long run thrown into the mix every once in awhile, and just upping the frequency of my runs to get a good base of miles in me to work off come the spring. I plan on swimming with a bit of a different perspective.

About 11 months ago I took a pathetic fall on my snowboard and broke my arm and dislocated my shoulder. It really was pathetic especially since it was our second run down the mountain on a week long trip in Steamboat, THE SECOND RUN!!!!. Anywho, that prevented me from swimming for about 4 months total, and once I started to swim again I swam no more then twice a week and 1k yard swims were "long". It took me all the way until June to get my first 2k swim in, which during the season I would consider a short easy swim. This left me with barely even a base to work off in preparation for Ironman, and only swam about 75k before the day of IMWI. That being said I did a little more then 1/20th of my yardage total at IMWI!. Think about that for one second, and maybe that would rationalize my horrible time of 1:15:44. So now with a healthy arm and shoulder and no snowboarding trips to mountains this winter I can focus on my swimming much more; enter the Slowtwitch November Swim Challenge.

The slowtwitch forums are great with the diversity of athletes that you are in constant contact with. You have your racers that are seen in the middle of the pack, to the front of the pack, you have the top age-groupers, mixed in with even some of the pros as well. Add to that many of vendors from the top production names in triathlon, to some great race directors, to even some great coaches. Knowledge floods the slowtwitch forums on a daily basis and one of the posters set up a swim challenge for the month of November.

THis swim challenge is nothing more then motivation from others for me to get into the pool, and hammer out some good solid sessions this winter. The month long challenge that I am assuming will continue on each month has you complete a 500 TT or a 30 min TT to set a baseline, and then log in your daily swim distances. At the end of the month you repeat either the 500 TT or the 30 min TT so see whether or not you improved on your swim pace. A great google spread has been formatted for this that we can all log into to tally our daily swims. I have set goals of wanting to swim 30K yards this November which in contrast is around the monthly average I would like to have during the season, I just play on adding in one extra swim a week to bring the average distance down a bit. Remember I only swam about 70K ALL YEAR before IMWI this year. So I am hoping to get in that solid base I need before I start next seasons training. THe great thing about this challenge is that on the spreadsheet I have access to view everyone's progress. While I believe whole-heartedly that in training you should stick to your plan only and to not pay attention to anyone else, in this scenario it serves as motivation on the days I don't feel like doing anything because it is the "off"season.

Yesterday's session in the pool
2x200 WU (50 SW, 100K, 50 SW :20RI)
300, 200, 100 MOD (:20RI)
200, 100, 50 N/S (:25RI)
200 FAST (:30RI)
100 FAST (:30RI)
6x100 PULL (:25RI)
100 CD

When I first got back into swimming last year I swam a 1:40/100 pace on my TT's routinely and could dip just below 1:35 if I wanted. This year with a minimal base I was swimming about a 1:35/100 pace and could dip down to 1:27,1:28/100 pace on my hard sets. I am not looking to build speed this winter, but distance does attribute to gains in speed and sets you up to work off that foundation you have laid. I am setting no time goals for this right now, but I would impressed with myself to get down to a 1:25/100-1:30/100 pace by my first triathlon next season which should be around the June timeframe.

In all my races this year my rankings discipline wise were almost always highest in the swim. I have a small swim background, I feel that swimming just comes naturally to me while so many others struggle to get to the point of feeling comfortable. Because of this I also think that I may have taken my swim training lightly thinking that my natural talent alone would push me through. I am sure that has some truth to it, but there is no question that I have left a lot of potential in the pool this year, and 2011 is all about harnessing that potential and getting closer to be one of the leaders out of the water soon!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Haunted Hustle Race Report

I went into this race with zero expectations and just wanted to finish the season with a good solid effort. My only expectation really was to run better then I did when I melted in May in the Madison Half-Marathon. I really was very laid back about this race, how laid back? Well I spent my Friday night until about 1am playing scrabble and drinking some of the wonderful Great Dane beer (not exactly the best way to hydrate). I woke up and arrived late and so as soon as I parked my car, I walked down to the race start and within an minute we were off.

Upon my late arrival I was seeded in the back half of the pack, so once again the first mile was about :30 off my mile pace that I was hoping to maintain, but this time I tried not to worry about a slow first mile and let it ruin the rest of my race. I just simply ran with the crowd and waited for things to open up and by the second mile the crowd was thin enough so I set into a solid rhythm and I found my pace.

The first 4 miles were through residential streets in Middleton and the only time that we would be exposed to any real significant elevation changes. I knew this going in and so I planned on running those miles just above 8:00/mile, but after the first mile I checked my watch and saw splits of 7:48, 7:51, and 7:52. This was a sign of good things to come, especially since my HR was in check and I was feeling great. I was curious to see how my body would hold up after the first 5 miles since I have only ran more then 5 miles once in the 6 weeks since Ironman, and I have been having small issues with my calves in those runs of 4 or 5 miles.

Mile 5 took us off the streets and onto a bike path for the majority of the rest of the race. At about 5 1/2 miles we hit a turnaround and this gave everyone a chance to check out everyone's halloween costumes that were strongly encouraged by the event staff. Forrest Gump took the cake on costumes, especially since he was in about 3rd or 4th place so even his speed matched up well with the character! I continued on with my race reaching the midpoint just over 52 minutes, exactly where I wanted to be, and now I realized my season goal of running 13.1 in under 1:45 was within reach My only concern was that this was now my longest run since IM and I wasn't sure how well I will hold up with another 6 miles left.

I made the last turnaround at about 8ish miles and soon after had a small pain start in my ankles. It was nothing major, but just had me a bit worried. My plan was to negative split the second half of the run, and to really push hard the last 5K. Once I got to that 10 mile mark I lowered my head and upped my pace slightly. I hit the 11 mile split at 7:44 and as soon as I passed that point I hit a small downhill and my ankles started to really hurt significantly. With two miles left, no races left for the season I figured now was the chance to just grin and bear it and finish the season as best I could. Mile 13 was slow and I couldn't put in that last surge that I was looking for, but I was happy to see a time more then 2 minutes under 1:45 (1:42:46) for the day. A 16 minute PR of my last standalone half-marathon and 2 minutes under my season goal.

Reviewing the numbers I realized this may have been my best executed race of any sort too date. My mile splits and HR each mile were all within about 10 seconds per mile and about 2-3 bpm per mile, talk about consistency! A great race to end the season, and to work off for next year. 2010 is officially in the books and now the preparation starts for 2011!

Mile 1 - 8:17/164
Mile 2 - 7:48/169
Mile 3 - 7:51/167
Mile 4 - 7:52/165
Mile 5 - 8:03/165
Mile 6 - 7:49/167
Mile 7 - 7:55/165
Mile 8 - 7:54/165
Mile 9 - 7:57/166
Mile 10 - 7:46/164
Mile 11 - 7:44/165
Mile 12 - 8:03/165
Mile 13 - 7:45/166