Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Last Week

A little late in getting the stats from last week up. here they are:

Swim: 8250 yards
Bike: 170 miles
Run: 40.7 miles
Time: 19:37

My last five run weeks have been: 45.6, 29.5, 41.0, 40.0, 40.7. This is a lot of running for yours truly. I took a day off last week and despite that really began to feel a bit of weariness and joint achyness. I'm still mentally motivated to run but my 54 year old body is complaining a bit. It's not bad aches but there is a good chance if I keep at it I could get myself into a bit of trouble...therefore, I'm going to back off a bit this week. I took today off from running (although I did ride 64.8 miles...lol!). I'm going to go easy, run-wise, the next few days as well. I need the rest and I'm racing my first race of the year this Sunday when I do a Half-Marathon down in MD.....

I'll return to the whole question of how to manage my run training in a subsequent post...

Blue-Collar Triathlete: The Local Race Dataset

As I mentioned in a couple of prior posts, I've been working on my triathlon race database and analyzing various things to see what I can learn and then hopefully apply to 2012 and beyond. I finally figured out how to get all of my Tri data off of my old PC/Lotus 123 environment and onto my Mac/Excel modern day worksheet management system. It gives me the luxury of doing analysis during my frequent train trips to and fro NYC and Excel allows me to do a bunch of analyses that were much too cumbersome before. Nice to join the modern era!

One of the more useful data sets/analyses I've been working on is a dataset of all of my "local" triathlon races. When I just include local races, I'm basically excluding the 24 races that I've done with the WTC (IM or IM70.3), ITU World Championships, and the USAT National Championships. The value of excluding these races is that they are so large and the fields so competitive that it really distorts comparisons from one year to the next. For example in 2010 I raced at Kona and did quite "poorly" compared to that august group. In 2011, I didn't race at Kona so if you compare 2010 to 2011 (average-wise) it looks like I improved quite a bit--in fact, I just raced against a less competitive field (on average) in 2011 than in 2010.

So by excluding the big, competitive races I'm "left" with 90 "local" races. Here the competition, while of course different from race-to-race and from year-to-year is much more consistent. For example, 59 of these 90 races are local New Jersey races--Lake Lenape, Stone Harbor, Avalon, Hammonton, Marlton, Tuckahoe, etc. I believe that by focusing on these races only, I can get a reasonable comparison of how I'm doing against the local competition from year-to-year, and by each of the individual disciplines.

The other thing about this dataset is that it really captures the bulk of my everyday triathlon racing experience. Yes, I do get to go and race big races (Kona and Zona this year), but the vast majority of my triathlon experience is much more blue collar--racing the same crowd week in and week out. I also like this dataset as a way to measure how my competitiveness changes over time in the real world--of course I have a lot of training info which tells me how fit I am (what my FTP is or what my 100 yd repeat time is, etc.) but what I really ultimately care about--at least from a racing perspective--is how competitive I am and how that's changing as I become ancient.

So here is a summary of the local race dataset--my 90 local races over the last 11 years. You'll see two groups of summary data--my comparison on an overall race level and my comparison on an Age Group level. The numbers on the left give the total number of people (overall and Age Group) I competed against each year as well as the number of those competitors I BEAT in each year broken out by Swim/Bike/Run and for the race as a whole (Total). The numbers on the right then translate those summary numbers into the % of people I beat each year by SBR and for the race overall. You can click on the chart to see it more clearly or if you want to download it (I know no one ever would!):

So what does this data say--a lot in my view! Here are some of the thoughts I have:


If you look at the % of people I beat in the swim leg, overall, you see that I enjoyed a modest amount of improvement up through 2007. Swimming is the most technique oriented of the three disciplines and I had the least experience in it prior to starting triathlon so this is not surprising. Even though I was getting older, my technique was getting better and I was getting relatively faster. In 2008 I worked a bit more rigorously on technique and had a nice bump in performance. 2009 was my "laid-back/no IM year" but in 2010 I made a huge investment of time focused on practicing technique. Even though I backed off my swim training volume (as compared to 2007), I was much faster and more competitive. Indeed, despite realtively modest training volumes, I'm now in the top 10% of the field both from an overall perspective and from my AG. with respect to the latter, I'm now frequently the first out of the water.

This is a huge competitive change for me, especially given how my run has fallen off. Even though the swim is a very small part of the overall triathlon picture, this has helped me in a number of races. For example, in races where the bike and run courses are loop courses (no out and back), getting out of the water ahead of my AG competition and then doing my thing on the bike means that stronger runners were never able to see me and had no idea how far up the road I was. A classic example of this was my victory at the Pine Barrens Sprint in 2010 when I put 1:55 (over a half-mile swim) on Adam Singer and got out ot T1 before he hit dry land. I put some time on him during the bike and despite him running a minute per mile faster than me he never saw me during the race and I won comfortably. who knows, if he sees me, he might run me down. Even in loop courses, my swim has improved enough that I can now win AG races on the strength of my swim alone. For example, last year at Annapolis I bested a 38 person AG by posting the 2nd fastest swim and beating my main competitor by 2:33 in the swim. Even though he outbiked and outran me, I still was able to win by 36 seconds.

There are other examples, but I simply would have been far less competitive had I not made the big improvement in my swim in 2010--I for sure would not have won 9 races those two years. Indeed, the swim was such a positive driver of my competitiveness in 2010 and 2011 that I was actually able to improve in my AG (and overall) despite turning 53 and then 54. I'm excited about taking this swimming improvement up into my new 55-59 YO AG.

MY improvement in swimming effectiveness in 2010 and 2011 is probably the single most significant thing I've accomplished from a training perspective as a triathlete. I'm proud of it!


Unlike the swim, for whatever reason I've been blessed with a natural affinity for cycling. I do work hard at it but I was pretty much, from the start, extremely competitive on the bike. To illustrate consider the number of AG competitors I faced on the bike versus how many I beat from 2003 (my 2nd full year) until 2009:

2003--I beat 125 competitors/1 beat me
2004--I beat 204 competitors/3 beat me
2005--I beat 250 competitors/ 2 beat me
2006--I beat 215 competitors/4 beat me
2007--I beat all 105 competitors
2008--I beat 141 competitors/1 beat me
2009--I beat 126 competitors/2 beat me

Now in 2010 and 2011 4 and 8 people beat me respectively (but during the same time I beat 327 competitors) and some of this is due to my aging up in my AG. Also some of it, has been due to a conscious decision on my part to try to hold back just a bit--in the early days I was more interested in my bike split than the race as a whole--because it was the one thing I was good at back then.

Still at the end of the day, I've raced 27,703 people in local races and out rode 26,644 of them. Only 1059 people have gone faster, which is just 3.8% of the people I've raced locally. The bike is the heart and sole of my triathlon success--I just need to be careful to keep it that way!


Now the run is a different story! when I first started triathlon, I thought given my run background that my running would be my natural strength. I was wrong--very wrong. IN the early days and up through 2007, my run was better than my swim--although both were not that great. IN 2009 my underinvestment in running began to hurt me and my running over the last couple of years has been my major competitive liability. There is a good chance that this is because I'm old, have a crappy left knee, big and for whatever other reason, going to become an increasingly ponderous runner.

This is probably the right explanation. But I'm holding out hope that maybe my fall off in 2009 was due to my conscious decision to cut back for a year and my relatively poor performance in 2010/2011 was due to my injury problems each year--2010 was my bike accident that tore my hamstring in April and last year was my knee flare-up that shut me down for a good 4-6 weeks in April and May. I wonder if I can keep running hard AND stay uninjured that maybe I can drive my relative run performance back up into the 80%+ range. If I can then who knows, I might win a few more races....I hoping but prepared for less than positive news on this front....I'll probably know by June, if I stay healthy and uninjured until then....


My bike remains the bedrock of my triathlon competitiveness. I turned back the clock a bit with the improvement in my swim--2011 was actually one of my most competitively effective years--on the local level. MY run is a problem and it could become even more so, but I have a hope that maybe, if I can stay the course and not get injured, that 2012 could really be a breakthrough year for me--on the local, blue-collar triathlon circuit anyways.....this is the most interesting question facing me during the early part of the 2012 racing season....

I can't wait to see what I learn from the races ahead of me!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Podium Analysis

Finished my triathlon race history database. Here is an analysis of my Age Group "podium" history:

As you can see, I have 33 AG wins, 26 2nd place finished and 11 3rd place finishes for 70 podium trips. This works out to a 61% podium rate and a 29% win rate. 2009 was the best in this analysis but this is in-part due to my decision to justr race local sprints that year so there are no WTC/ITU events in the mix. 2011 was my second best year in terms of wins and podium places...

More to come...

Database Work

I've been busy this past week bringing my triathlon race database up to date. I'm just about finished. Once I am, I'll have a fairly comprehensive data set of all of my 114 triathlons. That combined with the race reports that I've written (all of my races for the last 6 years plus the Ironman races before then) gives me a pretty rich set of data to evaluate my performances, strengths and weaknesses, etc.

Pretty boring stuff I'm sure, but it does give me a very valuable tool to be able to accurately analyze where I'm at relative to my competition and relative to my historical performances.

Here is an example. The numbers below reflect my USAT ratings from 2002-2011 as they were calculated the old-way. In the old way, you measured your time as compared to the top finisher and adjusted that ratio based on the race distance, the size of the filed, and to some extent, the quality of the field. So, Kona or the National Championships would have an adjustment factor of 1.00, while a local sprint with 250 competitors would get a 0.90, etc. You then take your top three scores and average them for your annual rating. Like all systems, this one has several flaws. The adjustment factors are some what arbritary and if the winner is unusually fast, your score is depressed. The new USAT system uses a comparison to the whole field in a race and how people in that race did in other races so its better in that regard. However, the USAT has changed their approach 3 times during my career and will change it again next year so using the old approach does have the advantage of being consistent. It also, agrees pretty well with the new system (comparing year-to-year).

IN any event here are my ratings:

2002: 75.3
2003: 79.2
2004: 81.3
2005: 82.5
2006: 82.1
2007: 84.9
2008: 82.4
2009: 82.5
2010: 82.3
2011: 82.3

What this data says is, with the exception of my break-out year in 2007 (when I worked with Peter Reid), I've been on a consistent plateau for the past seven years--basically in the 82s. I'm very pleased with this and would love to stay at this level for as long as possible....it will be interesting to see when I began to fall off of this performance plateau.

Here are my 10 highest rated races of my career:

1. White Lake Half-Ironman (2007): 87.7
2. Tuckahoe Sprint (2009): 86.1
3. SkipJack "Half-Ironman" (2011): 85.6
4. Pine Barrens Olympic (2010): 84.3
5. Pine Barrens Sprint (2005): 84.0
6. St. Andrew's Sprint (2007): 84.0
7. Parvin Sprint (2008): 83.6
8. St. Andrew's Sprint (2006): 83.5
9. Timberman Half-Ironman (2007): 83.1
10. St. Andrew's Sprint (2005): 82.4

A number of observations:

1. I've had at least one of my top 10 career races in each of the last seven years (2005-2011)
2. 2007, again was the strongest.
3. Of the top ten, 6 are sprints, 1 Oly, and 3 H-IM. Two of the top three are H-IMs and given the lessor number of H-IMs I do, this reenforces my belief that the H-IM is my best distance.

Finally, here are the number of 80+ races (versus the total number of races in each year) that I've had:

2001: 0/1 (00%)
2002: 0/7 (00%)
2003: 0/7 (00%)
2004: 4/11 (36%)
2005: 4/14 (29%)
2006: 4/13 (31%)
2007: 5/10 (50%)
2008: 5/9 (56%)
2009: 2/14 (14%)
2010: 3/14 (21%)
2011: 2/14 (14%)

Overall: 32/114 (28%)

The above numbers suggest that while I can still deliver strong races on occassion (Tuckahoe-2009, SkipJack-2011, Pine Barrens-2010), I'm becoming less consistent in my ability to deliver 80+ rated races. This jibes with my subjective perception of my performances over the last three years...

More to come....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Last Week & Bike Symphony 1st Movement, Part III

Solid February week again last week:

swim: 7000 yd
bike: 179 miles
run: 40 miles
Time: 19:41

Missed one swim to preserve motivation--I ran 11 miles on a chilly morning and when I arrived at the pool discovered the pool heater had broken and the temp was 74 degrees--I was already very chilled from the run so I went home, took a hot shower and had some chicken noodle soup pulled a quilt on to warm-up. I don't think I'll miss the 2000-yard swim come Kona!

Moved to the next part of my "Bike Symphny 2012". I was moving up to the cusp of High Zone 3 and low Zone 4 wattage and decided to make a strong push into the upper reaches of Zone 4 over the next few weeks leading to my first race on 3/31. This necessitates moving away from the 2X20 format and going to shorter reps, more reps and smaller work/easy ratios. Yesterday I did the first workout of this type as I did 3X10@ 251, 252, 254 watts with 5 easy in between. I want to work towards something more like (3-4)X(10-15)@280 watts over the next 3-4 weeks but we'll see how my body reacts to the training stimulus. I do know that yesterday's workout was relatively easy so I'll jump it up latter this week as I'll still try to hit this twice a week if I can.

Running is strong right now--3 of last 4 weeks at 40+ miles....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Trending upward

My fitness is that is. I did an 11 miler yesterday and felt fine--although I only averaged 9:06/mile--it was what I wanted from an early season longer run.

Did a 2x20 on the bike today and felt noticeably stronger so bumped the power to 238 and 240 watts. I'm now creeping into zone 4 so I think I'll so go to higher power, more repeats, less duration and more rest per repeat and just start doing some soliD LT/zone 4 intervals on the bike.

Another session of 200s in the pool and they were comfortably in the 2:55-2:57 zone (going on 3:45) with the exception of one where I did a 2:59--i loss a bit of focus on tht one.

All good for mid-February!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Solid week!

Felt progressively better as the week progressed. I think a lot of my muscle soreness was probably caused by chronic dehydration when I was down in the Bahamas. A bit of travel this week so I missed one of my swim sessions. Two solid 2X20s on the bike (232/234 watts)--I'll probably stay at this level next week as well and look to see that the rides require less effort. good run week but need to start layering in more intensity....I'm definitely doing a good job on run frequency as I have run 54 of the last 60 days...

Week totals:

Swim: 7000 yards
Bike: 182 miles
Run: 41 miles
Stretch: 35 minutes
Total: 20 hours

Very pumped about Lance and his 70.3 today--looking forward to going toe to toe with him at Kona!

Friday, February 10, 2012

couple of radical ideas out there...

RAAM 2012 in June and Cera Aconcaugua with Anders in Jan 2013...I'm hoping both can happen!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Back to work

Returned to my normal life as a blue-collar triathlete today. My body seems to have snapped back from the week before last big week and last week's big party week.

I moved up my main set to 200s today in the pool and I averaged 2:58 on 3:45 so continuing to progress....long-way to go but I'm heading in the right direction--I'd say I'm about 34/35 minute H-IM ready right now.

On the bike I did another 2X20s and did them at 232/233 watts so continuing to progress upwards the intensity. Felt only modest physical discomfort and none on the mental front (actually the opposite as I considered and then rejected doing a third--easy now tiger!)

solid cruise run of 6 miles in 48:20. onward and upward!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Vacation/Recovery Week

I have spent most of the last five days down here in the Bahamas with my bride. My party stats have been more impressive than my training stats! I needed a bit of a recovery week after last weeks heavier volume. I still don't feel fully recovered so probably will train at a moderate level again this week and maybe ramp it up a bit next week....Here are the stats from last week:

Swim: 9300 yds
Bike: 142 miles
Run: 29.5 miles
Time: 16:14