Thursday, July 31, 2014

July: NJ and December: Antarctica

Lots of good news to report.

Finished July on a bit of a run.  I was able to put in a pretty high quality 41 hours over the last 11 days of the month.  Despite a bunch of work and personal spikes I was able to pretty much nail my aggregate goals for the month:

My swim is very good right now.  I'm hitting all my volume targets and my intensity, especially in my longer swims, is reaching new levels--I feel like I'm reaching a new level as far as long course swimming goes.  In this month I swam longer than 2.4 miles 6 times and most of those were pretty hard--capped by my 93 minute 3.3-mile swim in Minnesota (67 minutes for the IM distance).

I targeted 40,000 yards this month and hit 46,500 yards.

On the bike, I'm beginning to finally feel my normal legs.  I've been behind in my training all year but over the last two months I've been able to finally get enough high quality riding in that I'm improving in my rides and my bod seems to be comfortably absorbing the progress.  I did my 4th big ride in July yesterday and ended up doing 101 miles in 5:24.  I was at 185 watts avg/195 watts NP when we decided to cool down at 85 miles.  This is about 69% of my FTP of 270 watts and I certainly could have kept going for all 112.  Despite my late start, I'm increasingly getting optimistic about being able to lay down a PB at Kona this year.

I targeted a minimum of 1000 miles in July and despite missing about 10 hours of biking do to personal reasons I was still able to ride 1012 miles in July.

I missed a bit on the run but my back half of the month I did 75 miles.  I did two long runs (1:55 and 2:02) that were encouraging in the last 10 days so I feel like I'm beginning to build some real endurance now.

I targeted 125 miles for June and I reached 113 miles.  I still have a ways to go on the run but its definitely going in the right direction.

Most importantly, my body seems to be getting stronger and everything seems to indicate that I can continue to add training stress in the days ahead.  So all good.

Also, Anders and I received confirmation that we have been accepted to a team that will attempt to climb the Vinson Massif, which is the highest mountain in Antarctica.   We leave on Dec 26th.....can't wait.

All good here!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

solid week this week

Got back to NJ and into a pretty solid week this week--volume wise:

Swim: 11,600 yards
Bike: 325 miles
Run: 32.2 miles
Time: 27:12

As noted before my swim continues true and steady on the flight plan to Kona.

My bike featured a ride of 100.3 miles at 165 watts and 106.0 miles at 169 watts.  I know from experience the latter effort would yield around a 6:20 bike split at Kona (at least with the tough conditions I faced in 2010 and 2012).  I do want to try to break 6 hours at Kona this year so I probably need to be up closer to 185-190 watts.  Lots of time to get there...

Run--I did a 11.5 miler this week.  will do a 13 miler on Tuesday.  slowly building fitness but my run continues to be a real frustration....

Long ways to go still...76 days until the big dance....

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Training Update

I'm back in NJ after the Minnesota trip and a couple days helping our doggie, Roxy get through her surgeries.  The poor little thing has a couple of 3-4 inch incisions on either end of her where her tumors were removed.  She is quite uncomfortable and requires a fair amount of love and attention--her preferred place to do so is our bed so I've been optimizing recovery time as of late.

Anyways, I missed about 10 hours of biking last week as you can see:

Swim: 9900 yards
Bike: 144 miles
Run: 33.3 miles
Time: 16:23

Not much to be done about that expect to keep pressing forward.  This week should be back on plan as I have already executed a 1:50 run yesterdat and a 100.3 mile ride (in 5:49 @ 165 watts).  I have a 4600 yd swim planned for Thursday, another 100-miler for Friday, and another 8-9 mile run later in the week along with all the other workouts.  should be a real solid week.

I'm hopeful that despite everything I'll get in shouting distance of my original monthly plan....

BTW, the run was a bit of a struggle but the ride was very encouraging.  I significantly negative-split it despite a pretty strong headwind on most of the way back.

I'd say at this point my swim is 100% ready for Kona, my bike maybe 90%, and my run not ready....

I know what I need to work on....

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Long(est) Swim

I drove out to Minnesota on Saturday and Sunday to visit my brothdr and mother.  Also, to give my brother my trusty Expedition.  That trip plus my biz trip to Cincinnati last week has put a crimp in my training.

However, yesterday I was able to realize a long-held ambition and swim across the lake (Ten Mile) where our cabin is.  This swim turned out to be 3.27-miles and as such is the longest of my life.  The water temp was 68 degrees and at one point I was swimming above 130 feet of water.  There was a 15-mph wind out of the northwest and and I swam north to south.  As I got out into the middle of the lake there was a fair bit of chop coming from my 4 o'clock.  My brother and mother accompanied me on a boat.  Here are a couple of pictures:

I ended up swimming the 5,758 yards in 93:24, which works out to a 1:37/100 or 28:34/mile pace.  I took 3,080 strokes which yields an average stroke distance 1.87 yards and an average stroke rate of 33.0 spm.  These are surprisingly strong numbers for such a long swim.

Indeed, I did my first quarter in 6:25 which is faster than any SPRINT quarter I've done in a race this year.  I hit 1.2 miles in exactly 33:00, which is the 3rd fastest H-IM distance swim I've ever recorded. Only twice out of 21 H-IMs have I swam 1.2 miles faster.  I hit the 2.4 full IM swim distance at 67:41, which is faster than 11 of my 12 IM swims--only IMFL07 was faster at 66:16.  I had a bit of a slow down in my second mile (this always seems to happen to me in the middle of my swims--I need to concentrate harder in the middle.)  My three miles were: 27:24, 29:03 and 28:32.  Here is the data from each quarter mile:

0.00-0.25:  6:25/222 strokes/1.98 yps/34.6 spm
0.25-0.50:  6:56/238/1.85/34.3
0.50-0.75:  7:12/243/1.81/33.8
0.75/1.00:  6:51/228/1.93/33.3
1.00-1.25:  7:00/233/1.89/33.3
1.25-1.50:  7:10/234/1.88/32.7
1.50-1.75:  7:46/251/1.75/32.3
1.75-2.00:  7:07/225/1.96/31.6
2.00-2.25:  6:58/226/1.95/32.4
2.25-2.50:  7:06/233/1.89/32.8
2.50-2.75:  7:11/234/1.88/32.6
2.75-3.00:  7:17/240/1.83/33.0
3.00-3.25:  7:20/250/1.76/34.1

It's very encouraging to see my stroke distance holding up (generally above 1.8 yps) throughout the swim.  My cadence slower down a bit but stroke length didn't seem to drop dispite the fatigue in my arms.

On balance, this has to be my best long distance swim ever.  I was not swimming with race intensity and to go this fast for this long is surprising but very satisfying.  While my bike is a work in progress and my run is a long way from fully baked, my swim is pretty bullet proof and ready for the big dance in October.

Here is a map of the swim:

After the swim, my brother and I went fishing and we caught 5 pike in 2 hours.  As the picture below illustrates they weren't the biggest ever caught but I heard that in some things, size doesn't matter:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Weekly training numbers

I hit it pretty hard Mon-Wed this week (which basically means I worked pretty hard over a 17-day stretch) and woke up on Thursday feeling pretty thrashed.  So, I pretty much took it easy the last 4 days.  I had entertained the thought of jumping into a sprint race on Saturday but my legs still were pretty wiped out on Friday.  Friday evening brought a perfect evening of Arthur driven swell with 25 mph+ off-shore winds.  So we were treated to beautiful 4-7 foot waves and Alex and I went out for a great bodyboard session--much more fun than sitting around for a Saturday race.

In any event my numbers were "down" just a bit this week:

Swim: 8,600 yards
Bike: 260 miles
Run: 19 miles
Time: 20:20

The upcoming week presents a couple of challenges--On Wednesday and Thursday I'm in Cincinnatti for some work stuff and then on Saturday and part of the day Sunday I'm driving to northern Minnesota (about 1400 miles) do visit my Mom and brother--I'll fit as much training in as I can but a bit of recovery is probably good for my legs....

All part of the program....

Friday, July 4, 2014

US Long Course Nationals Race Report

Long overdue, but here it is:

2014 US National Long Course Race Report
June 8th, 2014


Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Distance: 1.2-mile swim/56-mile bike/13.1-mile run
2013 Triathlon Race Number: 6
Career Triathlon Race Number: 142
Conditions: 59 degrees at race start with steady rain and modest wind.  Rain stopped by end of the bike and sun came out and it was mid 70s and humid on the run.  Water temp was 76 degrees.

I drove the 700 miles from Delaware to Grand Rapids, leaving at 4 am and arriving around 5pm.  Along the way I stopped at my Alma Mater, Michigan State, and left a note for my old academic advisor in the Engineering building.  I stayed down town at the Marriott and enjoyed my brief and quiet stay in Grand Rapids.

I checked out the course and did a short swim, bike and run on Saturday.  I picked up my race packet and was good to go by mid-day.  I hung around the hotel staying off my feet and then went out and listened to a couple of the bands playing at the Grand Rapids Festival that was being held throughout the downtown area.

On Sunday, I was up at 4 for my pre-race activities and to the race site by 5:15.  I parked my car about a mile from the start and rode over and set up my transition area trying to take care to not let everything get completely soaked in the rain and standing water.

There were 737 starting the race with 33 from my AG.  The top 20 in each AG would earn a chance to go to LC worlds in Sweden next year.  I wanted to make the top 20, even though I was somewhat unlikely to go to the WC race in 2015.  A quick analysis of my competitors put me at somewhere between 16th and 25th so I knew it was going to be tight.  I estimated that I would need to go 5:30 or better to finish in the top 20.  I set the following race plan:

-Swim: 35 minutes
-T1: 3:30
-Bike: 2:35:00
-T2: 2:30
-Run: 2:14:00

A little after 7 my wave (the 4th) was on the edge of the water and ready to rock.

The Swim

The course was a counterclockwise polygon in the Thornapple River.  The river was damned and I didn’t detect any current.  The first turn buoy was obscured by a point that we had to make a right bend around before we made the first left turn.

I started on the far right away from the buoys, which yielded several advantages.  First, I was away from the fray.  Second I could keep an eye on everyone between the buoys and I, and third, by my eye it actually looked like the shortest line to the first buoy.

At the gun I was cleanly and smartly away.  I felt very good and was pretty confident I could swim 35 minutes or better—I had done just over 36 minutes—6 weeks before at IMNOLA70.3.  The swim was uneventful and I had no problems neither navigating nor swimming around the buoys.  I felt strong throughout and soon enough found myself exiting the water.

I glanced down at my watch and saw 36:55 and my immediate reaction was the swim course had to be long and this proved to be true as I measured the swim course at 1.29 miles.  This works out to a 28:34/mile pace and would have yielded a 34:17 1.2-mile swim.  I took 1298 strokes, which translates into 1.75 yards/stroke and a 35.2 spm stroke rate.  Here is how the various quarter mile splits turned out:

1st Quarter: 6:51…243 strokes…35 spm
2nd Quarter:  7:12…250 strokes…33 spm
3rd Quarter: 6:37…234 strokes…32 spm
4th Quarter: 7:41…270 strokes…37 spm
5th Quarter: 6:44…239 strokes…37 spm

This would seem to indicate between 0.75 and 1.00 mile I let me stroke shorten up.  This, if accurate, is not surprising and represents perhaps a lack of concentration on my part that may have cost me 45-60 seconds.  None-the-less, this was a pretty descent swim and I had the 13th fastest in my AG (63.6 %-tile), which given the caliber of this field is pretty solid from my perspective.  I was 294th OA (60.2 %-tile).  I had opened up a 4:27 cushion over 21st place.

Transition One

I ran up the ramp and up to the strippers and they took a bit of a longish time to help me out of my wetsuit.  The transition zone was on a very narrow road and with 1500 triathletes competing in a Sprint, an Olympic, the Half and various Relays and Aqua-Bikes, it extended quite a ways.  I did a very good job in T1 (after the wetsuit was off) but I knew it would take a bit longer than the 3:30 I had targeted.

As it turned out, my T1 took 3:49.  I now was 2:14 behind my plan.  I had the 14th fastest T1 in my AG (60.6 %-tile) and the 358th OA (51.6 %-tile).  So, my transition was OK but I probably left a little on the table for sure.  I ended up dropping one place to 14th in my AG.  On the positive side, I was now 4:43 up on 21st.

The Bike

I headed out on the bike without a true picture of my tactical situation.  As I left T1, I knew I was 3:30 behind my target but I was convinced that the swim was long and T1 was long for everyone.  Before the race I had envisioned being about 10th-12th after the swim.  Had I known I was 14th I would have been a bit concerned but on the other hand I would have taken quite a bit of comfort in knowing I was 4:43 up on 21st.  That big of a cushion is about the best I could really hope for in a race like this.

The bike course at GRT leaves town pretty quickly and heads out into the surrounding farm fields.  The road surface is generally OK with a couple of chip seal/pot-hole sections.  The course is exposed to wind but on this morning it was pretty modest.  It continued to rain steadily and I left my helmet shield behind in transition.  The course had a hump in the middle, which resulted in two climbing sections on this out and back course.  The total climb for the 56 miles was 1043 feet.

I felt very strong right from the start.  I had averaged 183 watts at NOLA and had decided to target 190-200 watts today—I thought given the course that this power would put me in the vicinity of a 2:35 and that this was a reasonable ask of my body given my current fitness.  We had a slight tailwind and early on I was up near 200 watts and close to 23 mph.  I was psyched as this felt like a very easy effort.  Here is the data from the first three 5-mile sections:

0-5:  22.8mph/150bpm/85rpm/198watts AP/198watts NP
6-10: 23.3mph/148bpm/85rpm/198watts AP/199watts NP
11-15: 22.4mph/144bpm/88rpm/194watts AP/194 watts NP

During this first section, despite this strong effort I only passed 2 guys in my AG and I was passed back by two other guys in my AG—this was a bit disconcerting as I had expected to pass 4-5 guys during the ride (I wanted to be in 5th-8th after the ride).

I hit the climb and increased my effort a bit to keep my speed up:

16-20: 18.6mph/142bpm/79rpm/206watts AP/214watts NP

I had a decision to make.  I ran the math and figured I was going to come in around my 2:35 target.  I wasn’t passing as many guys as I expected but there was always the chance that I had a better competitive swim then I was assuming.  I was also running on the high side of my power target and given the weakness of my run I wanted to be conservative.  As the course flattened out I decided to try to drive my average power to the mid-point of my range: 195 watts.  My next two 5-mile sections:

21-25: 23.0mph/140bpm/87rpm/190watts AP/191watts NP
26-30: 21.3mph/142bpm/83rpm/194watts AP/195 watts NP

I passed two more guys in my AG and figured I was probably in 8th-10th (I was in 12th).  I felt very good throughout the ride and was able to finish the ride pretty much spot on my race plan and still feeling like I had plenty in the tank for the run.  The rest of the ride:

31-35: 20.1mph/140bpm/85rpm/189watts AP/189watts NP
36-40: 22.4mph/137bpm/81rpm/195watts AP/199watts NP
41-45: 23.0mph/141bpm/83rpm/192watts AP/193watts NP
46-50: 21.4mph/140bpm/83rpm/189watts AP/189watts NP
51-55: 21.1mph/140bpm/82rpm/195watts AP/197watts NP
56:  20.3mph/144bpm/82rpm/210watts AP/212watts NP

You can see in the above that I pushed the last mile, as I knew I would come in very close to my bike target.  In fact, my bike split would be exactly 2:35:00! (21.6 mph)  I averaged 195 watts with a Normalized Power of 197 watts.  My average HR was 142bpm and my average cadence was 84rpm.  At NOLA, I averaged 183 watts with an average HR of 142bpm, so my power was up 6.6% and the effort felt easier today than at NOLA.  For comparison purposes at SkipJack in 2011 (my last half bike split where I was really fit) I averaged 221 watts at 149bpm.  This indicates that I still have about 11-12% improvement potential in front of me this summer, which seems a very reasonable expectation for my IM build beginning in July.

I had just the 9th fastest bike in my AG (75.8 %-tile) and 194th OA (73.8 %-tile).  I had a little over a 12-minute cushion over 20th place.

Transition Two

I ran quickly into transition, as I knew I was still behind my overall race plan.  I executed what I thought was a pretty solid T2 and took a total time of 2:51.  This was slower than my 2:30 target but the transition zone is unusually long here in Grand Rapids.  I had the 13th fastest T2 (63.6 %-tile) in my AG and the 320th fastest OA (56.7 %-tile).

The Run

As I exited T2 I glanced at the race clock and could see that I was a bit more than 3 minutes behind my race plan.  I knew I needed to essentially run a 2:11 (10 min/mile).  It had stopped raining and the sun was out and it definitely felt a little steamy, but not too bad.  I decided to just run at what I felt was a comfortable pace and see what my body felt like doing this morning.

I hit the first mile in 9:29 with an average HR of 147bpm.  This was very good news indeed as it was a very easy effort and I had put 31 seconds into the bank.  I decided in the midst of the second mile to hit the porta-potty for a quick pit stop.  Despite that stop my 2nd mile elapsed in 9:20 at an average HR of 151bpm.  I continued the easy cruise through the 3rd mile with a 9:21 at 150bpm.

The course was a two-lap out-and-back and there was a nasty hill leading up to the turn-around point between miles 3 and 4.  Consequently, my 4th split was 10:06 at 149bpm.  The return back along the river also featured a pretty tough hill and my 5th mile split was 10:07 at 150bpm.  I still felt pretty comfortable and my HR was comfortably in zone two where I wanted it.  At this point, I had been passed by two guys in my AG and now was in 14th.

I passed mile six in 9:47(146bpm) and made the turn for the second lap.  Split 7 was a 9:55(149bpm).  At the turn I figured I was on a 2:08 pace and I was feeling pretty optimistic.

However, mile 8 (which felt the same as the prior 7) came in at 10:29 (147bpm).  I was also passed by two more guys in my AG.  The split surprised me because it felt like the same level of effort but was dramatically slower.  I consciously tried to pick it up in the 9th but posted a 10:23 (150bpm).

I knew I was slowing down and it was going to be tight and I was constantly running the math.  Miles 10 and 11 featured the two hills and I knew I would have to work pretty hard just to keep the splits under 11 minutes.  Mile 10 was 10:42(151bpm) and 11 was 10:47(151bpm).

Three more guys passed me but I was encouraged when I passed one fellow (which put me in 18th).  I figured I was in the top 20 but I knew it was close and I was very nervous when anyone would pass (but no one did in my AG) in the last two miles.  I decided to push it up to an uncomfortable level in mile 12 and was rewarded with a 10:03 (154bpm) and then I really dug deep in the 13th and recorded a 9:48 (159bpm).  I could see the finish line and saw the clock was winding closer to 5:30 elapsed time.  I went into a full-out “sprint” and the last tenth of a mile was at a 7:31/mile pace (169bpm).

I was relieved to hit the finish line with a run of 2:10:51 (151bpm average).   This gave me an overall finish time of 5:29:53.  I felt a great deal of satisfaction as I had executed my race plan to near perfection.  My average run pace was 9:59/mile and my average HR was 151bpm.  My run was just the 24th fastest in my AG and 502nd OA.  More importantly, I finished 18th in my AG and 356th OA.

So, this race was a real positive.  With my late start to this season and my peroneal injury it wasn’t clear that I should even do the race.  It turned out well for me—although I’m still a long way from being fit, as I should be at this time of the year.  But clearly, I am fit enough to begin my Kona build and that at the end of the day is the prime objective…

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pushing it on the bike

I did a 91.6-mile ride yesterday with some friends.  Aggressive ride on a 93-degree day with plenty of wind.  4:57 elapsed time and an average power of 175 watts (was 180 until 6-mile spin down at end of ride).

358 miles over the last 7 days and legs are a bit beat up today--my bike fitness has improved a great deal since my last race....looking forward to my next one--reasonable to expect substantially better numbers on the bike going forward this year....