THE YEAR OF TRIATHLON
My training routine is beginning to build. Knowing that this year would require me to dig even deeper, I started my base training back in October of 2012. The intent is to keep a solid level of fitness from the previous year so that there is no back sliding, and hopefully I can really launch myself forward from this point. The big shift is scheduling, I have decided that to be fair to my family, I need to do as much training as possible while they are still sleeping. This means going to bed early and getting up early to have my training done before they wake up in the morning.
My first focus was to get comfortable in the water. As a child I was the scrawny kid that everyone liked to pick on. In the pool that meant grabbing me by my ankles and pulling me under because I would make a big scene. This left me with a pretty bad childhood fear of drowning that halted my swim lesson progress. I have never been a strong swimmer so this is going to be a really big challenge to overcome. My First goal was to become comfortable with swimming by the end of December 2012. The only way that was going to happen was to face the fear head on. So I bought a swimming pool membership and started going for an early morning swim three times a week.
My progress was surprising, as you can read in my blog I was feeling pretty lame to start. My first day in the pool I could hardly do a single lap of 50 meters. However; within a month I was feeling quite good and making some solid progress. I was quite happy when I did 500 meters non-stop during week 6 of my training. I was actually ahead of schedule, because I had set 500 meters as my end of year goal. Obviously my form is far from perfect, and I am watching all sorts of training videos on the net to try and get some beginner pointers.
One of my favorite series is called total immersion swimming and part 1 can be viewed here.
Another great video that helped me is common freestyle mistakes.
Good info for starting swimers on this page called Not drowning.
I haven’t done much biking in the fall. My last major distance was the metric century ride with my bike club in late September. That was a total of 114km and it really had me wasted by the end. I know that if I want to go longer distances, or do current distances with more comfort, something needs to change. My Christmas wish this year was for a better seat combination.
In an effort to get more aero, I ordered up a Profile Design Fast Forward seat post. This will shift my body forward for a better aero position on my aero bars. At the same time I also ordered up a new seat. I am taking a bit of a gamble with a radical racing bike seat, but I decided to try out the Adamo Podium seat.
I have been fooling around the last few days trying to get it set in the right position, but have yet to do any major training on the new combination. One things for sure, there is no easy swapping between the old and new seat setup. I have also had to alter the handle bar and aerobar position to match the new full forward body position. This is not a bad thing, I can already tell that aero position is going to be much more comfortable in the long run.
I plan to run more half-marathons this year, but the bulk of my training will be in the 10 km distance since its a nice easy 1 hour run for me right now. Even with the nasty cold of -20C, I can still head out without much worry. Colder than that takes some real planning and correct dress to ensure I don’t sweat and turn hypodermic. At the moment I am doing hill training. There’s a really nice 800 meter long hill near by and I can do 5 repeats on that in just under an hour. Total distance is slightly more than 10k by the time I make it home. I hope to keep running the hill and improve my time and as I get better I want to do more repeats.
To help training across the board, I asked my family to throw all monies together and help buy me the ultimate electronic training partner; the Garmin 910XT. I can’t wait to start working with real distances and real stop watch times for all events. There will be no lies anymore, with the help of a billion dollar satellite system I will have exact numbers for my training log.
I have only used the 910 a few times and I am already in love with it. The big screen makes it easy to see the information, even while swimming. I was able to adjust my stroke just with a slight wrist twist and could easily grab the info I wanted without breaking my pace. The great thing is the online support. Garmin has a great web-page setup that tracks all your progress so you can watch the statistics build. The watch will automatically upload whenever its in range of the supplied ANT+ communication device. Stat tracking has never been so easy!
Equipment reviews will come when I have more time logged with all the new hardware in my kit.
First Race of 2013, April 14.
Sprint Triathlon = 0.5k swim, 17.5k bike, 5k run. Actual distance due to snow = 0.5k swim, 2k run
My first triathlon event was not even a good workout. I learned a few things which was good, but those were some expensive lessons. $100 for a 20 minute workout and a tech shirt hardly seems worth it. This is the first and last time I will enter this specific event. Its just not worth the risk of bad weather in the spring. Shelling out $100 for a short and simple race when many other races come in cheaper than this with longer distances.
Even though it seemed like a waste, it was a fun day none the less. Nothing like being in a room full of athletes…and wannabe athletes to get your heart rate up. One of the things that is really nice about racing is the eye candy at these kind of events. Hopefully I count towards that notion as well.
I could really feel my heart racing as I was getting ready to start. This lead to a very fast start, which was actually a bad thing. I was way to focused on the end of the race and speed. Thus my form really dropped to sloppy in a hurry. By lap 10 I could feel that I was getting slow and taking way too many strokes to finish. I took a double breath at one end and tried to start fresh by focusing on my form. This payed off and my speed returned. I ended the swim portion with a pace of 1:55/100m which is right in line with my training, too bad I didn’t figure out the bad form sooner.
Hauling myself out of the pool took a little more effort than I was expecting. I also noticed that I was one of the last people out of the pool. This was expected since I was also at the back of the line-up, but it plays a pretty big mental role in de-moralizing you when you see that you are close to last. I was actually 15th overall for swim time.
My strategy for transition was short and sweet. Now that the race was indoors, I knew there was no need to dry off. Goggles in the bag, then HR, socks, and shoes on….RUN. My transition was about 1:17 which included climbing 2 flights of stairs to make it to the track level. Unfortunately I forgot to put on my number bib. Good thing this was a non event where disqualification didn’t matter.
Next I accelerated into the run and started to overtake other racers. BUT, I hit a big problem right away. I was cramping up big time in a way that was new to me. The cramp was in my right side ribcage up high and was really making it hard to breathe. With such a short run, I knew I couldn’t stop and wait. I would have to run through.
The pain made me loose focus and I possibly mis-counted my laps. I think I may have run 11 which would add another minute to my time. The cramp was…cramping my style. I knew I was faster. A couple of guys passed me and all I could think was “you should be just as fast as them!”
I did manage to pick up the pace for the final 2 laps and finished at a painfully mediocre run. I wanted to sprint but just couldn’t do it.
My overall finish of 21:16 and 20th place is not nearly as good as I was hoping. I wanted top ten and honestly thought I stood a chance at the top five when the race began. Poor form in the pool and bad cramps during the run really crashed my party. I am not happy with the result, but at least I had a good lesson and have some footage of the event so that I can fix some things.
UPDATE : MAY
Second race and major milestone, 26 May 2013 Half Marathon = 21.1km run.
This was the second Half Marathon distance race I have competed in and I am really happy with my results. It was an amazing day all around and you just couldn’t have asked for better weather. We hit this race on a dry and warm day in the middle of heavy rain. 3-4 days of pour before, and the forecast says there are another 3-4 days of down pour coming this week. Thus this turned into a race for the history books.
I was a little weary about how much to wear for this race. The forecast said 7 rising to 12 C was the expected temperature during the race which is pretty cool. I decided to take a chance and stripped off my top layer so that I could run cold. This seemed to be a good idea. The first 3km were quite cold, but I warmed up after that and didn’t really break a sweat until about 19km into the race. This led to a great hydration level and zero cramping.
I set a new personal best of 1:43:26, which just happens to mean that I am now the fastest long distance runner in my family as I bested Kevin’s time by a full 3 minutes. I am really happy to say that I did this race non-stop. I was worried about falling apart again once I hit the 17km mark. The last race was brutal and had me scared of that point. I knew this time that I really needed to focus on my pace and keep it slow and steady to begin. I really had to dial it back for the first 10km, I could have run a good 30 seconds faster per KM, but I wanted to save my legs as best as possible.
Shock absorption is a good thing, and I have been trying to run light on my feet my hitting the ball and toes first on all foot falls. This is the springy way to run and is supposed to be much better for your legs in the long term. But my calves are not ready to take on 21.1km of that kind of punishment. My transition is only partially complete so I was flip flopping back and forth during the whole race. It seems to have helped.
The strategy for this race was to keep the 1:45 race bunny in sight and pass before the finish line. I kept him close for the first half of the race and then passed during a downhill section. What I didn’t know is that there were 2 pace bunnies. The other was in front of my doing 10 minute run with 1 minute walks. This was really annoying because I caught him at the turn around, then he passed me. I was really disappointed to see him getting away, then I passed him again. His run/walk setup was quite nerve racking during the last third of the race because it was so back and forth. I wasn’t sure if I was going to beat him to the line. However, I still felt quite strong as we passed the 19km mark and I started to increase my pace slowly. By the time I was in the last km of the race I was doing about a 4:30 pace. Once I hit the last 200 meters I increased that again to about a 4:00 pace. Rounding the last corner I hit the afterburners and used up all remaining fuel in a full out sprint to the line.
|Event Placement||370 of 3057|
|Sex Placement||277 of 1280|
|Division Placement||51 of 218|
I completed in the Duathlon today, another race is in the bag…and I feel pretty bagged! The weather was great today and we even had pure sunshine for the last half of the race. Couldn’t really ask for better weather considering how awful it was last year. There was not nearly as much pain and suffering this time around which I am grateful for. The mental game was way easier this time and I managed to enjoy almost the entire race.
My finish time was 2:30:59 based on my Garmin timing which is 4 whole minutes faster than last year. I was actually hoping for a 10 minute decrease, because my target was to beat 2h30m, but my legs didn’t have the juice near the end. I would have to say this is because my work life has really stunted my training in the last 6 weeks. I have not put in the miles I wanted to.
Sad to say that somehow my timing chip was not entered into the system, I mean I didn’t even get a DNF on the online rankings page. I simply do not exist, there is no record of me or my bib number.
Do I really care? No not really. Even though I did better this year, the competition was fierce and I dropped into 21st place overall out of 128 competitors. There were more people in my age group this year, 3 of which made the top 5. So I don’t really feel that bad because my race was better.
Lets compare the numbers from last year to this year:
- Run #1 5.8km = 26:36 VS 25:36 = -1:00
- Bike 37.7km = 1:17:18 VS 1:17:26 = +0:08
- Run #2 9.7km = 51:06 VS 47:57 = -3:09
Looking at the numbers now I can say that they are about what I expected. I knew that my run times would be improved this year due to the hill training I have been doing. The bike portion felt about equal to last year and now I can see that its nearly a perfect match. I knew this because I have been trading bike training time for swim training. Considering how cold and destroyed I felt last year I was expecting even better times this year with the nice weather.
The first run was a nice steady pace, I could see that I was well back from a 10th place finish and abandon that idea right away. I knew I wanted a nice steady run to the bike. The butterflies in my stomach had yet to leave and I was actually feeling weak in the knees during this whole run. It felt like I had skipped breakfast all together. I was feeling a little cool at this point because I had opted for minimal clothing…shorts and tank top. The 8C and wind from the north kept my core temperature down, but just about right so that hydration was not an issue.
Hitting transition, I realized that my big container was going to hamper my times. I could see most people grabbing helmets and shoes and going, while I fiddled around with my water proofing bin. Truly I only lost maybe 15 seconds here. Not enough to matter this time around.
Onto the bike I gulped down some fluids and felt the huge headwind. The trip out is all up hill and a headwind really makes you feel slow. I could sense my heart rate dropping and my legs felt much better by the second km. This was going to be a good and ENJOYABLE bike ride. I was playing pass with a couple guys right up to the turn around. As usual I could pass them on the hill because I have more training there, but the slight down hills would allow them to use higher gear ratios and I would loose the ground. I knew this was a bad thing because the second half of the bike is almost all down hill with a tail wind and I don’t stand a chance of keeping up with the high gear ratios. I max out around 50kph while they can probably manage 55kph on the flats. This is exactly what happened, I watched them pull away from me with every hill. I ended up being passed by about 5 people by the end of the bike portion, this threw me into an estimated 25 place.
Second transition was…odd. Hopping off the bike I could immediately feel the Jello effect on my legs. I was very wobbly and slow to get to my stuff. Swapping shoes and hats I again lost a few seconds with my container. Note to self, don’t use it on a nice day.
Second run portion felt weak and slow, yet as I looked at my watch I was maintaining a great pace for the first half. Now this is most likely due to the fact that you have a nice down hill run to the riverside. That’s when pain kicked in. My inner quads were starting to cramp up. But this was better than the cold and numb peg legs of last year. I had to walk it off 2 times which again lost me a good minute of time. But I like to finish strong in the last 1 km so it was worth it. I did manage to pass a few people during this part of the race which put me back into a 21st overall finish, even though the website doesn’t say so. Out of 128 competitors I think I did well and I should be posted as 9th in my age group.
This is my “A” race…IRONMAN 70.3
Wow, talk about ending my season with a bang. This was by far one of the most enjoyable races I have ever been a part of. Triathlon is most definitely a great sport and I would have to say that I am looking forward to doing another race. With all that said there were some pretty hefty lessons learned on the course this time.
My official finish time was 5:27:13. I had set a goal of 5:30:00 but was unsure how I’d fair with the new long distance race. That is 3 times longer than any training session I have ever done. I was really just happy to finish in under 6 hours. But blowing away my goal time by nearly 3 minutes was a big ol cherry on top. The one huge disappointment of the day was my Garmin tracking. I must have bumped the button during the wet suit stripping because about 1km into the bike I noticed that I was now into my transition 2. I hit the button again which popped me into run mode early and tracked the rest of the race in this mode. So I didn’t have the cadence and bike speed information like I wanted. Live and learn.
Going back to the start of the race, I dominated the swim. My brothers told me later that I led the “newbie pack” from the horn on to at least the first 500 meters. By the time I hit about 300 meters into the lake, the video shows that I have a good 25 meter lead on the pack. Somewhere beyond 500 meters I noticed I was doing a pace that I could not sustain for the whole distance, so I slowed down into a good chugging pace. I knew I was doing good when I saw white pink green and blue swim caps before the first turn.
I was following the edge of the lake to try and stay away from the big main group. That combined with my zig zagging meant that I actually swam 2100 meters by the end. Total newbie mistake. But I was faster than expected in the water and was constantly passing people. The black wet suits make people nearly invisible. All you really see is hands, feet, and the colored swim caps. Thus when you overtake someone, there is only a short moment of bubbles before you are right ontop of them. I smacked many people square in the back. This stunned them and within two more arm lengths I was past. At one point I swam right over someone. I was doing a large course correction to the right, this gave me a 30 degree intercept angle to the main line. Someone else was off course by about the same 30 degrees and hadn’t noticed yet. The result was about a 60 degree passing angle and I went right over their back.
The point of interest in the swim was a large culvert that we had to swim through. This was disorientating as everything suddenly goes very dark. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but everything around you suddenly disappears. It didn’t take long to swim through, and I’m glad because the back and forth rocking motion was making me feel a little woozy with no real visual referance. Once the tunnel was past, I could again see the rocks at the bottom of the lake. This gave a real sense of speed. I could tell that I was moving much faster than I usually did in the pool. Wetsuits are awesome for speed and bouancy. Although the take some real work to install, you feel like a million bucks once its on. The extra flotation makes you feel safe and your speed along like a torpedo. I was passing people right to the very end of the swim.
Exiting the water, you definitely feel drunk. Moments later the volunteers rip off your wetsuit and send you on your way. Transition 1 is an assault on the senses. I definitely need to figure this one out. I wasted a fair amount of time drying off and trying to put on my tank top. I could probably shave a good 2 minutes off here with better planning, but this was my first true triathlon so I am not to worried about it. What annoyed me was the slow people at the bike mount line. Waddling like a bunch of slow penguins, I had to thread the needle to try and squeeze through before rocketing off on my bike.
I immediately started passing people on the bike…while eating my first cliff bar…this was a real confidence boost. I would have to say that I was doing awesome for the first half of the bike. I was passing people up the hills like they were standing still. I don’t think many of the people I passed had ridden on steep hills like the course has. Hill training really paid off here. However; once I hit the turn around point it was mostly down hill. I was still passing, but my low gear ratio was again holding me back. I could not max out my top speed like the others and was starting to get passed. 53/11 is needed for flat sections and down hills like we had. My 48/12 will only give me about 55kph at the most, and it was showing.
The second half of the bike was not as fast as I wanted, but I was still on my scheduled time and feeling good. I could also have been faster if I planned my nutrition better. I took 3 bottles of fluid and way too many bars along for the ride. I needed less than half of what I took, and could have shed all that weight if I just used what the volunteers were handing out at the aid stations. There was probably an extra 10 pounds that was slowing me down.
Into the city for the second transition and I was feeling the need to pee. Actually I had been carrying a bladder of water since the swim, and was hoping my body would re-absorb it, but that only happens on really hot days. My transition was short and sweet and I was off looking for a potty. A great thing happened when I ran into my run partner from the Duathlon earlier this year. He recognized me, so we started running together.
This was a great distraction from the pain of the race. I could feel shin splints starting to form and anything to take my mind off the 21km of pain that was ahead was greatly appreciated. I stopped to pee at the first aid station of the run. This added about 2 minutes to my run. I caught up to my run buddy at the second aid station where he had used the potty as well. We then ran and talked for the next 12 km or so. Before I knew it we were at the turn around and I was feeling good. A third guy joined our conversation as we focused on keeping a 5:00/km pace. Not to fast as to leave something for a strong finish. We all three decided that we were going to walk up the big hill near the 15km mark as to save our legs. But when we arrived, there was my brother with a camera looking for a good shot. I decided to run up the first few meters of the hill to look good for the camera. This left my running partners behind, and they would never catch up to me again. Looking good for the camera was a bad idea as it set me alone for the last 5km of the race.
This is where the real race began. I was totally exhausted and still had 25 minutes to go. It would be a struggle like none I had felt before. My quads were burning and the shin splints were quite painful now. My distraction was behind me, all I had to do was walk for a prolonged time and let them catch up, but this is a race. I must say that it is a total mind game. The last minutes of the race have nothing to do with exercise, or food, or friendships. It is all about you and your brain. Your body is telling you to quit, give up, pack er in. But you know that the glory lies just a few km ahead. Its take a huge amount of will power to press on. Finding a way to ignore the pain is critical. This is when you find out what you are really made of.
I have to admit that I took a walking break at every aid station in the last 10km. This added a fair chunk of time to my overall race. Finishing this race without stopping will prove very difficult indeed. My last walk break was taken at about 800 meters to go. I knew the road curved a couple times and I wanted to cross the line strong and running. I forced my body into a sprint, or so it felt, and crossed the line. Truth be know it was not really a sprint, but I was pushing as hard as I could for the last 800 meters.
The finish line is not about cheering. Its not about glory. Its not about triumph. The finish line is about completing a goal that was set 2 years ago. The finish line is about perseverance.
Ironman Lessons learned
- Too much water on the bike, 2 unused bottles
- Too much water on the run, 1 unused bottle
- Too much food total race, only needed 3 bars and liquid gels
- Use the provided food and water to save weight
- Only bring supplements food and water
- Sight more often in the water, you turn without noticing
- Try to drop into swim pace sooner, too fast out of the gate
- Stay closer to center line, less extra distnace 2.1
- Plan out transition 1 better, too much time lost here
- Drafting is allowed as long as you are always passing people, use the draft MORE
- More training time in aero position to avoid a sore neck
- Find partners to race with in the bike and run
- Conversation makes the miles fly by, and the race more enjoyable
- throw out the motivation to all those around you
- Be ready for the end game, the real race started in the last 5km of running
- Find ways to boost mental attitude when feeling defeated
It all came to an end on one epic day, here is my finished training video at last, which covers my journey towards the Ironman 70.3 race: