Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Training Notes

This month my totals look like this

Swim22,000 yards7:20 hours
Bike271 miles15:30 hours
Run61.25 miles9:45 hours

Everything is up this month, I was scrambling to get ready for the Rev3 race. I'm going to take a couple of weeks totally off. And then I'll start building again for next season :)

Swim12,750 yards3:50 hours
Bike145 miles8 hours
Run30 miles4:45 hours

This month's resolution was no pop. I did pretty well at it. I did finally break down and have some pop on the way home from Florida. It was just too much concentrated non-pop too close together. I couldn't take it anymore. So two pops during that 30 hours of driving. Not too shabby.

November is a month of thanks. I'll probably tweet them.

Race Review : Rev3 Florida 70.3

Rev3 Florida, my second nationally branded event, the first one with Rev3. We were planning a trip to Florida in the fall anyway, and my sister's birthday is right around this time, and she signed up, so the stars aligned. This was my third 70.3 of the year.

The Training 
Training was pretty hit or miss, started out strong, got injured, had about two weeks of training before starting on vacation, got some workouts in with my sister while on vacation. Would I say I was fully physically in top shape? Probably not, but I was mentally there, I was pretty sure I could turn in a solid performance, it just wouldn't be optimal, or as close as optimal as I can get while writing my own training plans :)

Race Weekend (Packet Pickup)
Now, I could be wrong, but I think Rev3's idea of how to put on a triathlon is to pick a place where people want to travel to anyway, and then make a weekend of it. So starting some time on Friday they open the expo and you can pick up your packet and stuff, and the race is on Sunday.

We were staying in Miami with my sister, so we drove up (through amazing rain caused by hurricane Sandy) four hours to Venice where the race is. We settled into our hotel, and then headed down to the expo to pick up our packets. We had gotten an email earlier about how there had been a snafu, and race numbers wouldn't be available, and that we'd be able to pick them up later. No matter, we didn't have anything else to do.

We got a little lost, as the race site was actually pretty big, or maybe spaced out is a better description. They had said that Sharkey's was the race hub, but really the expo was the race hub, and you can't even see the expo from Sharkey's. A lady at the restaurant pointed us in the right direction. On the way there, we stopped and looked at the water, it was rough.

Looks pretty calm in the picture, this is what it looked like at the start of the race too. 
We hit the expo, talked to some very friendly Rev3 people. Picked up our packets, got our timing chip, got our goodie bags and then hit dinner.

More details: I'd like to know what the deal is with races putting up people's names with their bib numbers on a piece of paper and then having them get in a line based on that number, recite that number to someone and then having that person make sure you are the right person by reading your name off an envelope. I personally struggle with this. I wish it was just alphabetical order. I'm sure it has something to do with distributions of last names not being equal, but still.

When you get your timing chip they take your picture, that's sort of neat. I suppose its for when you cross the line exclusively, and I did see my picture when I crossed the line, so that was sort of neat. The people manning this booth were the super friendly people we talked to when we first got to the expo.

We got our goodie bags - they were quick to point out we'll get the shirt after we finish, so if you were just panning on picking up your swag and not racing all you'd have gotten was a visor, some goggles, and some food. All in all though, not too bad a haul.

The practice swim was cancelled, I wasn't out of bed yet when they called it so I just slept in. They cancelled it due to safety reasons. At this point I was pretty sure there'd be no swim during the race; though officially they said if conditions held there would be a swim.

After that we rode our bikes from the hotel to the expo for bike check-in. It was quite windy, and not the speediest three 5 miles I've ever done, but it did give a small feel for what the race would be like if the wind held, and according to the weather it would hold.

We got there, found out there wasn't bike check-in. Apparently they didn't want to have to worry about keeping 300 bikes upright all night long in the wind, I racked my bike on our car, and hurried back so my wife and kids could do the Little Rev race. The little rev race is a way to involve the kids in the weekend, they had a good time and so did my wife.

That's my super girl at the front, she took off and left my wife and her brother in the dust

About half way through, a slightly slower pace

Apparently he dragged that thing around for about 20 minutes.

Happy family!
We attended the athlete meeting - they said again that there was a good chance for a swim. I started to believe them. There were jokes about bad drivers, and super old people. Pretty laid back and easy to consume. They had live music afterwards, we didn't stick around for that. It was time to eat and my niece's birthday cake needed eating.

Race Morning
We elected to get up and meet in the lobby for breakfast at 5:30, that was pretty much everyone's idea. We ate, and then found out from someone down there that the swim had been cancelled. We checked Facebook, saw the announcement and decided to hang out a little while longer before heading down there since we now had till after 8 before the race started.

Side Note: I totally understand cancelling a swim on a triathlon due to bad conditions. I often think about weaker swimmers while swimming in good conditions in a large group. Swimming isn't like biking or running, if you decide you can handle a mile swim but can't really, you've taken a fairly large risk. There were plenty of people who wanted to swim even after seeing the water, me included, but honestly who wants to find out someone almost drowned because of a rip current?

We got bored in the hotel, so took off. We got there with enough time to get a small warm-up ride and mill around for a bit.

The Swim

With the swim canceled for the age groupers, the pros did a quick 1.5 mile run, and we got to watch them run into T1. Then we lined up in numeric order and did a time-trial start starting from the swim in. Rules were, no helmet and no shoes. The MC kept saying it was fair, I don't fully understand that, but it doesn't really matter. It worked and the transition area was pretty free from congestion.

Side Note: When the pros went by I remember thinking, they look like they're going pretty fast, but not blazing. I looked at the results later, the top men averaged under 5 minute per mile pace, that's fast.

The Bike
The bike was a single loop of 56 miles. With the wind coming from the northwest at 20-30mph and the bike course they had laid out, that meant we'd basically have a tail wind for the first 15-20 miles. And then the rest would be sort of on-again-off-again into the wind.

I knew my sister was about 7 minutes up on me (based on the time trial start) the plan was to try to catch her at some point on the bike. I also knew a friend Nick who was there, but I was pretty sure I would not catch or even gain on him during the bike. (Actually after they cancelled the swim I just put it out of my mind that I'd even be able to come close to catching him at all since our run speeds are roughly the same.)

So I took it out not super easy, but also not Sprint speed. We were regularly seeing speeds over 20mph, and I was getting passed like CRAZY! I think all the women were ahead of me, and just men were behind me. Guys came FLYING past me, and I was hardly passing anyone. Thankfully though I was also not just being dropped by the group, so I reasoned that these must just be the people who normally I'd have a 2-8 minute advantage over with a swim except now I have a 3 - 30 second advantage over due to the time trial start so instead of taking an hour to catch me they catch me in a few minutes.

Somewhere between 10 and 20 miles I thought my water bottle or something fell off. It sounded like I ran over a small piece of metal, or something metal fell off my bike. I couldn't figure out what it was, I was pretty sure it wasn't someone around me, because just then there wasn't anyone around me. Oh well, maybe wild metal throwing Flamingos or something.

I caught my sister somewhere around 21 or 22 miles. I gave her a little call-out and mustered on. At this point this ride is still very fast. Then we rounded the turn, 23 miles in it was time to start facing the music. Speed dropped considerably, but it didn't get really bad till about 30 miles, then I was under 20 consistently.

...And then... bump ... bump ... bump... it felt like I was riding over sort of rough road, but I wasn't. Then I looked down, flat tire. I stopped quickly to check, yep, mostly flat, but not totally, so I rode to the next intersection. Almost exactly 90 minutes in, I was changing my back tire. My sister was pretty close behind me, she rode by before I had my wheel off. Remember that noise I heard earlier? Broken spoke. So I wrapped the loose spoke around another, and changed the tire. I don't know how long it took, but it took a while. Based on the splits from the timing system it took me 30 minutes longer to do the second split than the first, and it was only three miles longer. So I'm going to say it took me roughly 20-25 minutes to change my tire.

Obviously a TON of people passed me. I went from top 50% to bottom 10% during that split. The rest of the ride was pretty lonely, passed a few people here and there. But I did what I said I would do and just made the best of it. I smiled at every volunteer I saw, said thank you to as many as I could. I chatted briefly with people I was passing and just made the best of it.

Toward the end of the bike my legs were T.I.R.E.D. I was ready to get off :) I saw my wife and kids at transition, I chatted briefly with a lady who finished the bike just in front of me and then headed out on the run feeling surprisingly good.

All smiles!
The Run

Heading out!
I was feeling pretty happy, I knew I was way behind where I'd have been without the flat, so I just put a smile on and made the best of it. I high-fived my wife and kids (I missed my oldest, but went back so she wouldn't be left hanging.)

It was basically the same story as the bike, just keep smiling and thanking all the volunteers. In the beginning I wasn't really passing many people, there were lots of people on the course, just not near me.

Side note: This is true for both the bike and run, the volunteers at this race were fantastic. These people were full of energy and smiles. Don't get me wrong, I've never really been to a race where I didn't appreciate the volunteers, but these people were beaming.

The course was a six mile out and back done twice, some time before the first turn around I saw my sister. I figured she was about two miles ahead. She looked great, and I felt great. I made it my little goal to try to catch her. I KNEW it was a long shot, but I thought it would be fun to try.

At this point I was passing lots of people, and not being passed at all. I was feeling great! I was getting lots of compliments on my smiles. I was walking through well stocked aid stations. I hit the half way point, and was feeling good. I saw my sister about three miles later, I was convinced I was only about a half mile down (which it would turn out was not even close to right - my brain doesn't always work right in races :) so I plowed on thinking I could catch her. I got some mild cramps near the end of the run in my quads, but just kept going.

Coming in to the finish!
The Finish
I got to the end of the finish chute and ran down with my son on oldest daughter. It was fun, my daughter usually runs through finish lines with me, but this was the first race where they encourage you to do it. It makes a big difference. A great way to finish the race!

Me and my sister and our kids
The Results

Goal Actual
Swim 33:30 0
Bike 2:52 3:23
Run 1:57 2:03
Total 5:27 5:29

The swim – Cancelled due to poor swimming conditions.

The bike - 40 minutes over, close to 30 of those sitting on the side of the road changing a tire. The rest I'll chalk up to wind. It's possible that I could have pushed harder at the start or end, but given the flat it was more fun to just have a good time.

The run – A little slower than I wanted. It actually felt really good, it's another big drop in the run segment of a race this distance. It seems like I'm starting to dial in on this distance.

Overall I'd say the race went really well. It would have been easy to get discouraged and feel super down about the flat, but that's not what happened.

Closing Comments
This was a great way to end the season. Based on this race I'd say if you have a chance to do a Rev3 race you should. If you have family it's setup for a family visit. If you don't, it's a very well put together event. The people working it really like it, the competition is good and there's a great chance to see some pros in action.

We're already thinking about the Dells event for next year.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Race Preview - Rev3 Florida 70.3

I signed up for this race because my sister did, and her birthday is this weekend and so is my niece's. So the family and I made a vacation of it. We've been here for a bunch of days already, we've had a relaxing and fun time. Immediately following this race, like I'll probably jump in the shower and then the car, we are heading back to MN. We'll see how smart that logic is :)

Race Info
The swim course looks kinda like a foot in the water. It looks like we swim straight out, turn left, head out further, turn right for the long leg parallel to shore, then do the reverse on the way back in. We enter on one side of a pier, and exit on the other. The swim is in the gulf of mexico on the west coast of Florida, it may be very windy on Sunday, but the gulf is usually pretty calm, so even with some stiff winds the water will probably be alright. The current water temperature is 78, which is borderline wetsuit weather. The other key is that the longest leg of the swim I'll be looking into the sun. I'm happy I have some tinted goggles.

Edit: So I wrote the bit about the water before we went to the race site to check it out. Here's a quick video of what the water looked like this afternoon.

The bike course is 56 miles in one loop. It starts out 15 miles south, then 10 miles east and then meanders back in 2-5 mile stretches back to the start. It finishes with what looks to be about 2 miles south again to transition. The weather forecast is for windy conditions, likely from the north, so the first 25 miles or so probably won't be bad, then it will be nice to have a less direct route back.

The run is two loops along some body of water. For the a bit it's on the gulf, and then what I'd guess is a canal. I'm thinking the two loops will be nice, because that means that I'll get some support from family half way through the run which is usually where I start to wonder if I'm going to make it :)

I'm honestly not sure what to make of my current fitness. I had a very strong short tempo run yesterday, a great swim the day before. I am hoping to get out and do a quick tempo ride today or tomorrow. I'm feeling good. So, assuming the wind isn't horrible (currently we're seeing 20-25 mph with gusts over 35) I'm going to try for a PR.

Swim33:301:35 per 100 yards
Bike2:5219.5 miles/hour
Run1:579 mins/mile

Closing Comments
I'm ready, besides my time-based goal, I'm determined to have a good time. I may have to play around a little to figure out how to lift my spirits if they go down, but the goal will be to stay positive.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rev3 Sarasota - T-2 weeks

In just over two weeks I will do my third 70.3 of the year, and final race of the year.

A quick recap

  • Liberty - Swim went well, bike went well, run felt like death. Finish time 5:39. 
  • Chisago - Swim went less well, bike went about the same, run went better, but not as good as I wanted. Emotional low point for the season. Finish time 5:38
  • The last short race before this was a high note, won my age group at a Maple Grove. Started training for this race right after that, then bike crash, three weeks off.
  • Since then I've gotten some decent trainer biking in, one long run that didn't go so hot, I'll do a long cold bike tomorrow, and the swimming is fine.

The next two weeks.
On Tuesday we will spend 20ish hours driving to FL, we'll get there about the middle of the day Wednesday. I'll miss the Wednesday workout. Then we'll be on vacation, the plus side of this timing is that there are zero workouts longer than an hour, and I can hopefully squeeze those in very early in the morning and not get in the way of having fun with family. So I will probably finish off the training plan as I laid out. It's a different story if it was a good plan, time will tell :)

Where I'm at Mentally
At this point I really want to rely on the several months of base I put in this year, so a month off, while not ideal, probably just means that I won't be 100% on race day, but I'll probably be in the mid to upper 90s, and really that's good. So, now I'm trying to figure out if I'll have a PR in me. First, the course.

  • Swim - Likely no wetsuit, that will put me 3-5 minutes slower than Chisago. But probably not any more tired (here's to hoping :). It's in the gulf, which I think means no so choppy, though since I'm a stronger swimmer, chop helps me a little compared to the group.
  • Bike - F-L-A-T. I don't know about wind, but F-L-A-T for sure. Both Liberty and Chisago had comparable bike splits. the elevation profile, while different, seemed roughly equivalent. About 1,000 feet of climb in each. Sarasota - 282. I've heard that hills don't factor much into races, and I may actually place less favorably since I worked a lot on hills this year and I pick up places on hills. But it might also mean that without the hills I might have a little more in the tank on the run.
  • Run - F-L-A-T. Wind probably won't be a factor, shade won't be a factor, I baked in both of the previous races. The Liberty run had (according to Garmin) 935 feet of climb in it (that's right, about the same as the bike,) and the Chisago run had 450ish. Sarasota - 59. Hills demoralized me on the previous races, maybe no hills and I'll make it the whole way with a smile on my face.
The course seems favorable, so it turns to climate as I live in what is generally considered to be a colder place than FL. BUT - both Liberty and Chisago seemed ridiculously hot. So I looked it up.

On June 9th 2012, near Rockford MN

  • Averages
    • 69 (min temperature)
    • 90 (max temperature)
    • 80 (average temperature for the day)
    • Humidty 45%
  • Estimated During the Race
    • 8:15 (bike start) - 70 degrees
    • 11:00 (run start) - 80 degrees
    • 1:00 (finish) - 90 degrees
On July 22 2012, near Chisago City, MN

  • Averages
    • 66 (min temperature)
    • 86 (max temperature)
    • 76 (average temperature for the day)
    • Humidity 80%
  • Estimated During the Race
    • 8:00 (bike start) - 76 degrees
    • 11:00 (run start) - 80 degrees
    • 1:00 (finish) - 80 degrees
On October 28 2012, near Sarasota, FL (forecasted averages)

  • 64 (min temperature)
  • 83 (max temperature)
  • 73 (average temperature for the day)
  • Humidity - 80%

Assuming I'm physically going to be there, I could see breaking 5:30. That's probably best case, the run I had the other night wasn't pretty. The conditions look favorable though, it may come down to just letting go, because I think my brain might be in the way.

When I started swimming in high school I had taken a few years off swimming, and I swam in these pink and purple striped board shorts for practices. EVERYONE thought it was dumb, and I don't recall exactly why I sported these things, but I did. Anyway, every four or five Saturday's we'd put all the timing equipment in and do seven 100 freestyles off the blocks at race pace. For a swimmer a 100 race is an all out sprint, there is no need to conserve energy, it will be over soon, just push. So all out effort, and you'd get about seven minutes of rest between them. This is a true sprinter's workout, just go FAST and don't worry about rest. It was sort of a rite of passage, if you could manage to keep your average time below one minute for all seven, the coach would give you a kick-board with your name on it for use for the rest of the year. Motivation to go hard.

So, I'm a freshman, I'm not getting below a minute on any of them, I'm not even that close. The last one comes up, one of the team captains walks up to me.

Cap: Take those dumb shorts off!
Me: There's nothing under them.
Cap: What!?! ... These are sprints, don't you want to go fast?
Me: Yeah
Cap: On this one, go under a minute.
Me: Ok.

I get up on the block - and off I go. Less than a minute later I'm done. First hundred under a minute. The lesson I pull from this - sometimes it's in your head. Sometimes you just need to let go and let it happen.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Year over Year Comparison

Last year I had my first committed triathlon training year. I kept very detailed records of my training and races. This year I did the same, and made a goal of doing my first two 70.3 distances (Liberty, Chisago.) My desire to do well at those races, as well as just improve overall lead me to break from my self-prescribed three month break about a month early.

With a full month left of training this year leading up to the last race I figured I could do an early assessment of where I stand, purely by the numbers, compared to last year.

Last year my season started in April and ended in August. So five full months - honestly I probably trained through the entire winter too to do my first two half marathons, but I don't have detailed records of those workouts, so for the sake of ease we'll just say those are accurate dates.

Last year's season totals looked like this

Swim yards26:40 hours
Bike1,207 miles56:42 hours
Run233 miles22:52 hours

I started ramping up into a fully structured program on November 21. The date-to-day numbers for that look like this

Swim yards79:30 hours
Bike2,100 miles124:50 hours
Run533 miles82 hours

Just for apples to apples, if I compare only the same dates
Swim yards41 hours
Bike1,600 miles89 hours
Run306 miles46:25 hours

 There appears to be somewhat of an anomaly here - the running. It looks like I'm saying that in just over double the amount of time I only ran 1/3 further. I'm thinking that may be because at the start (November - mid-January) I was doing some pretty easy running. Taking plenty of walk breaks, stuff like that.

At times this year it really seemed like I was working out a ton. I clearly put in more time, I'll dig into the fruit of all of the labor some time later. But when Ironman WI came along this year I saw a tweet go by "Since signing up for #IMWI last year, I have trained 733 hours (ave 2h per day). I've biked 7,309 miles, run 1,265 miles and swam 320 miles." He went on to finish in 10hrs got 16th in his AG and 62nd overall. But still, that's a TON of training. That is some major commitment.