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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Second Half Refocus

Since I am not racing Ironman this year, and the second half of my schedule has been up in the air, until now, I decided to take last week after Racine off with no structured training, and to rest mentally and physically. Since I walked a good portion last Sunday, the rest I need was much more mental and it helped greatly. My mid-season break has recharged my batteries, let me reflect, and helped me refocus myself to push through these final 8 weeks until my tri-season is over.

My main race for the year was Racine and to hopefully have a breakthrough race. That did not happen and so I have decided to spend the second half focusing on 2 HIM's (Pigman, Branson 70.3) to put together a solid swim, bike, run effort with no time goals in mind. I simply want to run to my current potential in a HIM and see where it puts me. Pigman will be good for the heat, and Branson will be good as the course simulates IMWI on the bike leg.

With training I am four weeks out until Pigman so a hard 21-24 day block is in store starting tomorrow. The plan is really up in the air and I will be experimenting with some new workouts to hopefully prepare me to run off the bike a little better. These workouts are aimed to focus on my weaknesses, and prepare me for the HIM distance. THe workouts I have choosen are as follows. Bike heavy HIM rides with overdistance work, then a small run off, time of the workout should hit around 5 hours at it's peak, to replicate the time that I will spend on the course for a HIM. This workout in itself will let me recover faster with shorter runs, but work my body for race effort and time by extending my bike distance. Long Runs; I really need to focus on these, and hope to get in a couple of 13-14 milers before Pigman, mostly done at or around HIM (whatever that is...). My endurance is begging for me to finally break out of my shell it push myself through those long runs. Swim-bike bricks; a major issue for me this year is feeling good on the first few miles of my rides out of the water, I need to find out how to ride those first 10-15 miles so some practice is in store. Run speedwork; that phrase scares me, but I fall into the philosophy in the past that you need serious base miles before you put in speedwork. Well F--- it, I am going to incorporate light and short speed sessions into my weekly runs, mostly tempo runs, maybe fartleks, but no time at the track.

This in a nutshell is what I am planning on for the next 21-24 days. All of the workouts I mentioned are indentifying my key areas of weakness that I need to work on. This is something that I have failed to do in the past, as I have always seemed to focus more on my strengths in the past, then my weaknesses. I will adjust accordingly after Pigman if I need to for Branson and hopefully find some success and better knowledge of myself as a long-distance triathlete will ensue. Tomorrow will be my first "experiment".


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Racine 70.3

Well Racine has come and gone and after a few days of soul searching for answers I think I have come away with what I need to take from it. The goal was simple: have a solid and well paced effort of swim, bike, run, and an added bonus if all went according to plan to go sub-5. Well if any of you saw me on the run course you know that simply did not happen. Infact I put in my worst performance-to-date in any triathlon. What happened? No I did not over pace myself on the bike, I did not succumb to the blisteringly hot heat, I wasn't off in my nutrition, I simply failed in the mental process, and it all started in T2.

Going into the race I felt that a sub-5 performance was well within reach, that was until the forecast came out, and I decided that forgetting about a time goal and simply focusing on a solid effort all-around was the goal. My training leading up to Racine had some small hiccups, but nothing major, and come race week my body started to really come around and feel fresh for Sunday. I had an easy run Friday and my legs felt fresh and ready to go for Sunday. I have worked on my run a lot this year and I couldn't wait to show it off.

Swim 2010-35:55, 2011-33:15
I started in the front row of my wave, and as suddenly as the gun went off I found myself falling towards the back already. With the shallow start I tried to fight for position walking through the water, but after some quick dolphin dives I realized it was too shallow and crowded so I started to swim a bit early instead. We rounded the first buoy and set off for the swim parallel to the shoreline. As I sighted I noticed a small group of swimmers take off. The lead pack that I wanted to try to hang with was gone and I was leading the chase pack. We quickly all took our own paces and spread out, while another Ag'er and myself got into some clear water and swam the course mostly side-by-side. My pace was easy, my sighting was great, and I was getting some lessons in drafting as well. Everything was going well, and I felt a lot stronger then I did last year, and more importantly swam and even effort throughout the swim. We started to reach shore and I wanted to swim as close as I could to avoid the long walk through knee deep water, but still walked a decent portion back into shore.

T1 2010-3:18, 2011-2:27
I took T1 as easy as I could and even walked parts of the beach to avoid my HR spiking to high so early on. Mission accomplished and I have a transition that was not only a minute faster then last year but twice as efficient.

Bike 2010-2:40:14, 2011-2:38:34
Once on the bike the plan was simple. Get out of town, start the nutrition and cruise through the first half of the ride. But just as the case in every other race this year, my legs felt heavy and I couldn't even seem to push easy gears. I tried to stay patient knowing that my legs would come around eventualy at some point. It took awhile but my legs came around as did my stomach so I could start taking in my nutrition. Just as all this was happening I could really start to feel the heat under my aero-helmet, my body instantly felt like a furnace and knew I needed to keep cool before the run. Note to self, do not wear an aero-helmet in temps over 95. Unfortunately just before this, my water fell off my frame and I was still about 10 miles away from the next aid station. As I got to the second aid station I took a water bottle for my frame and then used the second to pour over my body. I even poured some over my dome like helmet and realized that was just a waste of water! On the second half of the ride I was able to push some bigger gears, get my nutrition in, and keep my HR at the 145 spot that I had planned for, my patience lead me to have my body come around just in time. I was heading back towards T2 a little off pace, but feeling good, finished off my bottle of nutrition and ready to leave it all on the run. I had a perfect dismount amd passed a couple of other AG'ers while running into T2.

T2 2010-2:02 ,2011-1:44
This is where everything started to unravel for me and if anyone has heard about Rasmus Henning's blunders in T1 at Kona last year I was similiar to that. Being #61 my spot was near our reentry into transition, but I still managed to get lost in transition and ran past my spot by a significant amount. With my wonderful girlfriend Kate screaming at me and pointing to my spot I was able to find where I needed to be. There was no reason to rush through transition, and I wanted to take my time just as I did in T1 a couple hours earlier. Bike racked, shoes on, run out. I quickly realized just how much I forgot, gels, glasses, watch, and salt. I was only a few steps away before I realized this and made the turn around, but it was enough to get my excited, spike my HR, and leave me frustrated and anything but calm. I collected what I needed and heading back towards the run exit. Only this time my hands were literally full of stuff I was taking with me on the run. I knew right from the beginning I had it all wrong. I fumbled with my watch trying to put it on, while carry my salt in an empty fuelbelt flask. I decided to forgo mixing my gels with water and carrying those along in the back of my GG jersey and knew that was the wrong decision.

Run 2010-2:06:14, 2011-2:40:07
My plan called to break the run down into 4x5k run segments, and each segment consisting of one leg of each loop. Warmup the first 5K out, hold the 8:15-8:30 pace for the next 0K, and then finish with what I had left in me on my final 5K return home. With my mind still left in T2 all I could think about was running the full 13.1 ahead of me. I tried to focus my mind and get myself settled in, and by this point I reached the first "hill" of the course and I planned to take it easy, but knew I just had to walk. This happened again on the following "hill" and I was already losing my focus. Mentally I was doommed but I tried to regain my composure and forget about the first mile. After that the rest of the run became a demoralizing, embarassing, and defeating walk with run attempt after run attempt that never seemed to progress. My heart rate was never high, my breathing was completely in control and my legs felt great, but when it came to the idea of running my mind just simply wanted no part in it. In all of this confusion I had lost my focus, was concerned about how my pace was off. Far too early into the run I gave up on myself and rationalized the thought of just getting myself to the finish was now my goal. I finally came in after a 2:40 run split, yup I out-split my bike from my run and even my bike was a bit off.

With all that happened on Sunday I was given a harsh dose of realiaty with just how strong you need to be mentally, and focused as well to have a good performance. In my short time in this sport of triathlon I have seemingly learned how hard it can be to focus on this distance for 5-6 hours continously. A big thank you needs to go out to all GG'ers on and off the course that offered words of encouragement to me, to hang through the run, some offered for me to try to run with them, others telling me to keep positive, all the support made Sunday much more bareable and enjoyable for me. Ultimately this was the hardest race I have gone through mentally, and the thought of pulling myself out came into question more then just a handful of times. I do have a strong "Do Not DNF" rule that I have to keep and was able to cross the line...eventually and kept my record intact. But hey my lime green sunglass frames seemed to be a big hit on the run, so they will be making their way out of my bag again soon!