Friday, March 25, 2011

Race Preview - Spring Training Tri

My first Triathlon of the year is coming up next week, to say I feel ready wouldn't be totally true, but I'm hoping to pick up where I left off last year. In other words, ready this year for me means ready to do better than last year. There are a couple of things I'm feeling good about. First I have some serious running under my belt this year. I've run two half marathons and can easily run a 5k now without feeling like death. Last year, even at the end of the year I couldn't run three miles without being in a group without stopping. Second, while my training has been mainly running over the winter, I do feel like I'm starting in a much better place than last year. Last year I didn't even start training until April.

Race Info
The race at Tradewinds park. I've never been there, but my family has and they said they had fun, if that means anything :)

The swim is a point to point swim on a lake. I actually do better in wavy conditions, not because I'm a super fast swimmer in hurricane, but I think because everyone else slows down more than me in choppy water. So no waves means I can pretty much be assured there will be people around me the whole time. But it is point to point, which I have really learned to love. No turns, no people straying into oncoming traffic. All in all the swim looks pretty good. The only downside to the swim, I just got my first swim of the year in... I just can't get super excited about 1/4 mile swim. I've got to get past it though, the swim always bites me.

The bike is a two loop 10 mile course in a park, so it seems guaranteed that it will be flat, which is good, because on the little 12 mile loop I do near my house, there is only one hill, and it's only about 400 yards long. I'm torn on the loop, I now know that having people in front of me who are moving slower than me really helps keep my tempo up, but if there's tons of traffic that won't be awesome.

The run in also a two loop course. I'm excited for the run, they're advertising it as a straight 3 miles (as opposed to 3.1) but I'm going to compare my time to the 5k I just did. Again I'm torn about the loop, on the one hand it will give a really great 1/2 way point which I always feel is missing from courses I don't know, on the other hand traffic from the staggered start.

My goal is to pick up where I left off. Actually my goal is to do better than where I left off, because I feel like physically I'm in a better place.
Last YearGoal
I've sped up all the times.

The swim being the most noticeable, last year's swim was in the ocean, and that time was by far the slowest time of the season, we were probably swimming against the tide. 6:30 is sort of middle of the road, that puts me at about 1:35 per hundred pace, which is doable even with hardly any training (I hope :)

The bike, last year's bike course had a mile of steep climbing in the middle, 1/2 mile up, 1/2 mile down, and then turn around and do it again. So I just shaved a little time off, part of me really wants to shave a bunch off because that hill was killer, but the other part of me knows that the bike is probably my weakest part now. And since each uphill was followed by the same downhill, the hill didn't do much except make me tired. The goal time puts me at a 17mph pace which seems fast.

The run, I just did a 26 minute 5k last month, and I'm feeling good on my runs, so I'm thinking 27 after 40 minutes of going hard is doable.

Transition - I haven't been focusing on transition times. I know they are pitifully slow, and that 6 minutes in transition is an eternity. If I thought I'd be within striking distance of the podium, I'd worry about it, but for now I'll be happy to keep it under 6 minutes total.

Closing Comments
I'm probably going to end up going into this race with more swims than any other of the triathlons I've done, so I'm hoping the swim doesn't destroy me like it normally does. Then I'm going to just keep chugging, these goals are all within reach, and I'll be very happy to start this year off better than I finished last year.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Race Review - March 4 Hunger

This was the scheduled event for March - part of the effort to participate in a race every month this year. After chatting about it with everyone else involved, I figured I'd try to see how fast I could finish instead of hang back with my wife, sister and our four kids.

The Training
After the last half marathon I took two weeks off. My knees and legs hurt, and one of my toes looked like I dropped a hammer on it. Also, it's time for triathlon season training to start, so after two weeks I started splitting my time between biking and running, pretty much evenly. The goal was less than 25 minutes, and after my interval run on Tuesday I was pretty sure I could do it. After the Thursday run I wasn't sure at all. Hopefully the other runners at the race would help pull me through :)

Packet Pickup / Race Morning
Packet pickup was the morning of the race and this race was only 2 miles from where we live, so we rolled out of bed around 6, met my sister at the race around 7 and had plenty of time to pick up the race numbers and mull around. It was only about 60 degrees, with wind off the ocean - a year in FL has turned me, that felt down right cold.

The Start
The start was fairly disorganized, I think this was the first race for these people. They didn't really say where the start was until about 3 minutes till the start. It wasn't a big deal though, there were only about 300 people there, so we all just made our way over there, and the race started right on time. There was no real start "line" so I'm pretty sure the time they recorded was just a gun time, instead of a chip time.

The Run
The course was an out and back, on the same stretch of open boardwalk along the beach. There weren't any dividers, and no keeping people off the course, but overall that didn't really pose a problem, it was just a little annoying to pass strolling couples and having bikers speeding down the lane through us.

I tried to find a good pace and stick to it, the group seemed to thin out pretty quickly so I was having trouble figuring out if I was going a good pace or not. The first mile came by and the clock said right around 8 minutes, I was on pace, but I was not feeling strong. I thought, if I can hold on for another half a mile till the turn around the it would give me the home-stretch boost that could keep me in the hunt of my goal. Mostly by this time the group had settled, and the people I was near now would be around for the rest of the race. It was a little surprising though how many people seemed to just hit the wall at a mile - or maybe I picked up the pace, but after looking at my splits, I'm pretty sure they just hit the wall - even more than me.

The Finish
The last half of the race really took it out of me, I seriously thought about walking around the two mile marker, but didn't. I got to the end, felt like death, grabbed some water and a few bananas and waited for the rest of the gang to finish. Overall the finish was a pleasant place, there was loud, but not obnoxious, music playing, and you didn't have to walk a half mile to find a place to sit. The largest problem at the finish was apparently people milling around right at the finish, but I didn't experience that, I only heard someone asking people to move.

The Results
Overall Place40 /359
Division Place4 /15

I was running with my phone on my arm with Runkeeper, so I have my splits

The splits tell the story of the race - I went out probably faster than I was expecting, the for whatever reason the second mile just seemed to drag on forever, and the last mile I just kept pushing for the end.

Closing Comments
I am disappointed that I didn't make my goal, when I passed the first mile I was pretty sure I was on pace, but I was not feeling strong. Afterwards my family kept reminding me that I do have a pretty nasty cough that was probably sapping my energy, so that may be part of it. I'm a little reluctant to use it as an excuse, so I'll just have to keep on the training :)

If this was this groups first event I think this was a pretty good event, if they start pulling more people together they'll probably have to figure some stuff out like how to close the course, and put up some dividers. The start could be more organized. But there were several things I liked. The location is awesome, it is a lot of fun to run next to the ocean, and that path is a nice course to run. They had chip timing which is a nice perk, and they had started posting results when I crossed the finish. I would definitely do this race again.

Next up, the first triathlon of the season in early April.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Race Preview - March 4 Hunger

My wife's near years resolution was to have me do one race every month. This month's race is a 5k, it will be me, my wife, my two kids, my sister and brother and their two kids.

Race Info
The race is along the Hollywood Broadwalk. They don't have any course information, so I'll assume it's a simple out and back.

My goal is 25 minutes or less. I have done 22 on a treadmill, but it's been two weeks since half marathon, and I have only gotten one day of exercise in. One of my toes looks like death, and my knees were really sore, and I didn't want to push it. Also I'm starting to gear up for triathlon season, so I'll be splitting my time this week with the bike. I think 25 is doable - we'll see.

Closing Comments
This is where I live, so the run should be very familiar. The only trepidation I have is that I've not done a 5k with a goal time; they've all been fun runs. So I don't really know how to tackle it, I'm going to take it out right around 8 minutes per mile and just hold on.