Thursday, January 2, 2014


Enjoyed watching my Spartans bring in the new year with a win in the Rose Bowl!  I have been reflecting on the past year and this new one that we've just begun.  Here are a few of those thoughts:

First off, take a look at my aggregate training volume over the last seven years:

You can see that 2013 was a somewhat unique training year for me.  With my trip to Argentina at the beginning of 2013 and with the training I've been pursuing in the last part of the year, you can see the dramatic investment I made in climbing training in 2013.  In fact, I spent more time climbing than I did either swimming or running.  These are not independent phenomena.  I can tell you that when you're at 20,000 feet in the Andes that there is not a whole lot of SBRing going on!

Also, it does seem like 1000 training hours is the practical upper limit that my mind/body can handle of endurance training so when I throw in 178 hours of climbing, I'm also taking away 178 hours of swim, bike and running.  My swim was down 19% from 2013 and 44% from my 2007 peak.  My bike volume was down 14% versus 2013 and 17% from my peak in 2011. My run was sharply lower, 25% less than 2013 and 32% from my peak.  These are pretty big numbers and with the exception of the climbing, 2013 looked more like my "rest year" of 2009 then a "normal" training year for me.

Despite this, 2013 turned out to be a very good year triathlon wise.  My principal objective was of-course to qualify for Kona, which through the good graces of XC I was fortunate enough to do so at IM Lake Tahoe in September.  Also, completing my 12th IM is something I don't take for granted and is quite important to me.  Competively, I was able to win my AG 7 times and finish 2nd in the 11 triathlons I entered this year.  Back in 2009, I won 8 times but raced 14 times that year--all of them local with no WTC races.  Comparing my local race records I was 7 of 9 this year vs. 8 of 14 in 2009.  No matter which way you cut it, 2013 was my most succesful year from an AG results perspective.

I attribute this for the most part to being fortunate to not run up against a lof of stiff competition in my AG this year.  As I look back at the 7 races I won, I was the strongest triathlete in my AG and should have won each of them.  I had a couple of off-races--most notably my race at Bassman where I first raced on a poorly fitted new race bike--but got away with it each time.  While I was not as strong from an absolute perspective this year (less training and getting older) the fact that I avoided any significant injuries this year during the tri season undoubtedly helped me.  I've suffered mid-season issues the last three years and this impacted my fitness and results at various points in 2010, 11 and 12.  This lack of injury may be related to less SBR training but it may also be a function of my willingness to back off from time to time when I felt the early warning signals--maybe at long last I'm getting a bit of "maturity" as a triathlete.  In any event, my USAT rating was basically the same as in 2012 despite having quite a big fall-off in SBR training.

The major disappointment of 2013, of-course was my failure to summit Aconcagua back in early January.  I voluntarily turned around at 20,300 feet--about 2,500 feet short of the summit for health concerns so I'm comfortable with that decision, but it still was and is a bitter pill to swallow.

Looking ahead to 2014 I'm setting the following goals:

1. To race Kona well.  If the conditions allow it this means that I'd like to set a personal record there.  this goal implies that my training strategy this year will be geared to a single "A" race peak in October.

2. In 8 days, God willing, I head back to Aconcagua for my "Redemption Climb".  My objective here is to summit unless the guides turn us or me back.  I trained hard for this over the last three months but have had to deal with my first major set-back in 2013 over the last few weeks.  My back has been very messed up and only now seems to be slowly improving.  I'm getting some aggressive PT and using DMSO on my back to try to loosen it and take the pain away but it's still at this late juncture a long ways from normal.  I've also lost lot of what I worked hard for fitness wise over the last three weeks but that's the way it is.  If my back holds up then I believe I have enough in the bank to have a good shot at summiting that beast.  I'll probably do one more daylong effort down in SNP in the next few days to see how back holds up to carrying a heavy load over a long day.

Training wise the broad outline is as follows:

-January focused on climbing

-Feb and March transitioning back to being a triathlete

-Apr-May building up the capability to support a rigorous IM training block

-July-Sep: IM focus

-I've decided I need to stop slacking on my swim investment and I'd like to bang out 40,000+ yd months pretty much for the whole year, once I come back up to speed in Feb/Mar.

-I see my climbing numbers going down to perhaps about half of this year.

-I also need to get my running volume back up by about 20-25% this year.

-I'll ride my bike as much as I can given the above...

-I'll look to race 10-13 times in 2014 with at least 3 long-course races (I'm already committed to Kona and IMNOLA70.3)....

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