Thursday, August 2, 2012

Applying Perspective

So recently I said I was disappointed by my performance at Chisago. I had made two goals, a primary and a fallback and I missed them both. So I was disappointed. I had a similar feeling after Liberty, but it wasn't as pronounced because my goals were a little less solid in my head because it was a new race distance for me.

A couple of people over the last month or so have commented that these were both pretty decent showings. I wouldn't say I really ignored them, but I did sort of let it roll off my shoulders. In my head if I set expectations for myself and fail to meet them then it's on me. If the reasons for failure aren't immediately present (e.g., flat tire), or can't be easily seen as external (e.g., people passing out left and right due to heat) the result must just be that I just didn't execute well enough.

Let it not be said that I am too dense to hear what is being said. So now I will look a little closer at both of these races in terms of results and overall performance.

Liberty 6/10/2012

Goal Actual
Swim 29:55 29:40
Bike 3:00:00 2:50:18
Run 2:01:00 2:14:20
Total 5:36:00 5:39:17

My View
To sum up my feelings for this race - The swim went well, on the bike I let myself get caught up emotionally with nutrition (dropped 200 calories, "missing" bottle exchange for another 200) even though I probably actually made those up with spare nutrition. The run was miserable, I was DONE after 3 miles. Emotionally that's how I felt.

When I look at this race from a learning perspective the obstacles I chose to work on were:

Not messing up the nutrition - dropping the bar was just a mistake. I just bobbled it. So next time be more careful. The bottle exchange thing is sort of out of my control. I don't think it's possible to carry enough fluids to take you 56 miles and not be pretty dehydrated going into the run. But I could have handled my reaction a little better.

Staying more mentally tough on the run - I was not convinced that I could not have just kept running. Someone told me to walk the hills, and I tried to ignore it on the first hill but couldn't. I thought I should be able to at least jog the entire time. This feeling is carry-over from the start of last year when I was still walking during shorter races.

By the numbers
The swim
29:40 for 1.2 miles is 1:24 hundreds. At full on sprint speed in March I whipped out a 100 in 55 seconds. In training, on a good day I can hold 1:18 for a 400. So 1:24 with a wetsuit is probably pretty good. Compared to the rest of the field that puts me way toward the top. My personal thought is that this is about what I expect. I am by no means the fastest swimmer out there, but I do anticipate that I am near the top given my swimming background.

Perspective: That time was 2 minutes faster than anyone else in my age group. It was good enough for 9th out of 268 people. That pace is faster than any other swimming leg last year for me at any distance.

Overall - I have high expectations for my swims, the reality is, that compared to the crowd I am doing very well.

The bike
2:50:18 for 56 miles is 19.7 miles per hour. Now I'm pretty sure the bike course is about a mile short, but so for 55 miles that's 19.4 miles per hour. When I train I normally train slower than that and for shorter distances. Compared to the rest of the group I'm about in the middle. My personal thought is that I want to be out of the middle of the pack, so while I am performing at a level that for me is decent, I want to improve that performance, I am focusing on getting faster here.

Perspective: That speed is faster than almost any training bike average I have, including group rides. That speed is only just slightly slower than my fastest bike pace at a sprint distance last year. That speed is nearly four miles per hour faster than I could push two years ago.

Overall - I have come a long way, and while I still want to go further, it's important to recognize that landing in the middle isn't bad, and that over the course of two years I have made some serious progress.

The run
2:14:20 is 10:15 per mile. When I train I normally train faster than this, this year I usually train in low nines high eights for pretty much any non-interval distance. Puts me just over the halfway point in the group. My personal thought is that I lost a mental battle with myself. It was hot, it was hilly, but I should be able to tough through and at least jog.

Perspective: 2:14 half marathon is nothing to scoff at. I know runners who would be happy to run a 2:14 without 57.2 miles of workout before it. While 2:14 is almost 30 minutes slower than my 13.1 personal best, it's only 15 minutes slower than my previous PR, and only eight minutes slower than the first one I ever ran two years ago. All three of those races were on mercifully flat courses and, of course, I started them with fresh legs.

Overall - I felt like I should have done better, I feel like I can do better. But that's actually a pretty good time.

Chisago - 7/22/2012

Goal Actual
Swim 33:30 30:51
Bike 2:52 2:53:43
Run 1:58 2:09:43
Total 5:27 5:38:42

My View
To sum up my feelings for this race - The swim didn't feel good, on the bike I got bored and sort of annoyed with drafting. The run started well, and then I just got worn down, down, down. Not hitting either the time based goal or being able to "survive" the run really took a toll on me.

When I look at this race from a learning perspective the things I need to address are:

Committing to the race - I think it's safe to say my heart wasn't in this race. I forgot things in my bag, I showed up late, I sort of just checked out. I think that had a big impact on the bike, and I think that if I had started out in a better frame of mind the little things would have added up slower.

Staying Positive - This is the second race at this distance where I just let things get me in the wrong state of mind. It's hard to describe how I was feeling when I started walking. Supreme disappointment, I could find no bright spots at all, and that stuck with me until well after the race, days, maybe even a week. Actually maybe till right now.

By the numbers
The swim
30:51 - That's 1:28 per hundred. That's four seconds per hundred slower than Liberty, or about 1 minute total time. Overall I was 3nd in my AG and 23rd for overall men. Those results are skewed a little because they lump pro and elite into the mix, and I can't figure out how to determine who they are except that I know of a few of the names. My personal thoughts are that I felt like it was going poorly and my mindset was already starting to deteriorate.

Perspective: A minute could be just another 75 yards on the course, it's not like they have 1.2 mile pools we're swimming in. It could be that I was just tired, who knows. That's still quite fast, and out of the entire time a minute on the swim is less than 1%.

Overall - It's not always going to be perfect, sometimes I will feel a little junky. But this was actually a pretty comparable result to Liberty which is fine for me. My swim is already a strong point for me.

The bike
2:53:43 is 19.4 again. It's puts me just over the half way mark again. My view - I had just finished a bike focused segment of training and I was really hoping it would pay off in a big noticeable way on the bike split. I actually moved down in overall and age group standings a little here, but this was a state championship race, so it's possible that the field is just faster.

Perspective: Three minutes slower for perhaps a mile longer is actually an improvement, not huge, but it's there. Also, I think this course is probably a little hillier than Liberty. At liberty there was basically just one big hill (that you do twice) and one less steep but long incline. This course had one hill that basically went on for four miles. Not terribly steep, but it definitely got to me. And a bunch of rollers. Again this pace is quite fast compared to where I was last year. Perhaps that extra bike focus paid off.

Overall - I still want to be faster than mid-pack, it's possible that at a championship event that I should be happy with mid-pack considering where I was last year. I will continue to work on the bike.

The run
2:09:42 -9:54 miles.That's about 20 seconds per mile faster than liberty for an overall change of about 5 minutes. The reality is that's actually a pretty big drop to make in a month. I went into the run knowing that I'd need to hold nine minute miles to make my overall time goal. After about 7 miles I knew that was a lost cause, but I still had the fallback goal of to just keep running. But I was losing speed like crazy, and it seemed like the stream of people running past me was never ending. Another 4 or so miles later I broke down, there was hardly anyone around anymore, and I was feeling destroyed. In my head I had failed.

Perspective - On this run I didn't walk till about 11.5 miles into the run. That is significantly further than the under three miles it took at Liberty. For this race, a 2:09 is actually better than my bike split in terms of rank.

Overall - I still want to be able to finish this distance without walking. Don't get me wrong, I am walking through every water stop, I just don't want to be walking any other time. I'd also prefer to be able to hold a faster pace, and honestly if I had just held on the same trajectory (slowing) I would have finished three minutes sooner. Running is WAY faster than walking, every time.

If you made it this far, good for you. Hopefully you haven't been thinking I was being super hard on myself, or not noticing that I'm still doing better than half the people out there. I do push myself, I race to win, I train to get better. I thought for a while, a week or so ago, that maybe I could just scale way back on training and go to the races just to have fun and not worry about where I place. That just doesn't match my style, right now I don't see a point in my future where I will not be pushing hard to get better setting goals to get faster. Over time I may slow down, but I will still be trying to at least win my age group.


Steve Stenzel said...

That run speed IS a big drop in a month - I'm glad you saw that and noted that. Nice work!!

I always say "I'm glad I'm a runner" when it comes to multisport because I don't know how tough it would be to be passed a lot in the run. I think you need to try to not let that get to you and, as they say, "run your own race." I'm a slow swimmer, so I have the luxury of starting behind and then I get to catch people.

And walking isn't a big deal at ANY speed. I just talked to a guy at a triathlon (he was doing a relay) who walked 10 times in a marathon and finished under 3 hours. I'm no speed-demon, but I walked twice in my last Oly Tri and posted a 40:xx 10K. Don't be so hard on yourself about the walk breaks. I say consider working them into your race-day plan (more so than just aid stations).

Oh, and with that swim speed, you can be on a triathlon relay ANY DAY with me! We just need to find a biker....

amjeso said...

Awesome! We just need to get Jeremy a "bowlful of sunshine" speedo :)

Amy said...

Good perspective. For me I am impressed that you have trained and stayed focused and pushed until you hit this point. Although it doesn't sound like it was much fun on race day.

I think your goals are realistic. And I suspect that you have - or are working on - a master plan to make them happen. I look forward to hearing all about it.

Jeremy said...

@Steve - You're not the first person to mention that walking isn't the end of the world, so thanks for that. Also, in my book you are a speed demon on the run, quite fast. I think you may be being a little modest :)

@Amy - I am formulating a plan, and all the input I get is very helpful.