Wednesday, September 24, 2014

At Last--taper time

So 17 days to Kona--time to refocus this blog on all things Kona.

I'm happy to be at this point, despite a general sense of needing to be in better shape.  That said, a review of this Kona prep vs my last two Konas says maybe I'm not that far off.  I don't have the final 3 month totals yet but with 6 days left in the month I can at least report on my long workouts.  By long, I mean at least 50 minutes continuous swimming, 4 hours continuous biking and 90 minutes continuous running.  I know these seem like modest numbers but in fact most of my long swims are over 4200 yards, and bikes over 90 miles and runs at 2+ hours but early on in my IM build it's important that I hit the smaller numbers first....

So here are the July-Sept long workout totals by discipline for each of my 3 KONA builds:

2010: 11
2012: 9
2014: 13

2010: 8
2012: 10
2014: 10

2010: 3
2012: 8
2014: 6

Besides the obvious recognition of my lack of long runs it would seem that I enter 2014 better prepared for the swim and OK on the bike....which I'm hopeful is true....

more in the days ahead....

Monday, September 8, 2014

Aquabike Nationals

I did the USAT National Aquabike Championship yesterday at the Rev3 event at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH.  It was a challenging but ultimately a rewarding effort.

There was a bad storm on Friday night and it was quite windy most of Saturday--this made for a challenging practice swim.  Race day forecast called for 4-5 mph winds but we awoke on Sunday, race morning to 20+ mph winds from the NE.  This generated large, short-period wind chop on Lake Erie.  I had a ton of trouble with that.

The AB wave started at 8:26 and the first 700 yards or so were directly into the wind.  I really, really struggled in the big waves.  I was kicked in the face and swallowed quite a bit of water and felt very uncomfortable--at one point I contemplated abandoning but soon banished those negative thoughts from my brain.  When we turned to the East, things got noticeably easier, although I still struggled to find any rhythm.  The last segment was downwind and we received a bit of a push from the waves.  Here is a map (note it was an in-water start):

One might conclude that I did not swim a very straight course and indeed I ended up swimming 1.33 miles--it was very challenging to site well and swim straight.  I ended up taking 42:13, despite being in genuine 31-32 minute swim shape.  Others fared poorly as well, but I seemed to do differentially poorly.  I had hoped to exit the water in 1st-3rd in my Age Group (out of 12) but ended up exiting 7th!:

1.  Grady      32:21
2.  Hoyne    + 1:17
3.  Skinner  + 6:03
4.  Gauthier  + 7:24
5.  Gigliotti  + 9:06
6.  Benson   + 9:09
7.  Christofferson + 10:04
8.  Shastany  + 10:13

I took 1428 strokes for an average stroke length of 1.64 yards (vs. the 1.9-2.0 yds/stroke I have been averaging lately.  My Avg stroke length by quarter--note the improvement after the first leg:

1. 1.40
2. 1.52
3. 1.69
4. 1.90
5. 1.73

My average cadence was just 33.8 wpm vs. the 36+ I've routinely hit as of late.

Very disappointing--for sure caused mostly by the conditions but I probably let it affect me too much.  In any event, I knew I had a bad swim and I estimated that I was somewhere around 4th or 5th in my Age Group as I entered transition.

I had a very good transition (I was one second slower than Gigliotti, who had the fastest and was 45+ seconds faster than most of the rest of the field.  I left transition trailing the leader by 9:17 and had moved up into 6th place.

I tried to put the swim out of my mind as I headed out on the bike.  I knew I had work to do and early on it looked like I could hold power above 200 watts without too much trouble.  By mile 10 I passed Skinner and figured I was in 3rd or 4th (I was in 5th).  However, shortly after mile 10, Shastany blew past me on the bike and I figured I was 4th or 5th and i began to wonder if I might be 6th (I was 6th).

At mile 23.8 I was still 7:52 off the lead and in 6th place--had i really understood what a hole I was in I would have been very concerned for sure.

My power for the first 5 5-mile segments was decent: 203, 214, 215, 210, 211 watts.  However, I lost concentration between miles 25 and 30 as we were going up a false flat (that I belatedly recognized) and into a bit of a wind and my power dropped to 195 watts and my speed below 20 for the first time.

At mile 30 I snapped out of it and began to get back on it.  I was rewarded around 32 by passing someone in my Age Group and now was in in 5th.  Shortly after 45 I picked off another and thought I was either on the podium or one off.  My power for 5-mile splits 6-9: 195, 204, 219, 210.

Between 45-50 there were a lot of tight turns and my power dropped to 204 watts but after that I began to "pour" it own and was rewarded just past 54 by passing the swim leader Grady!  I was pumped and pretty confident I had done enough to get on the podium.  My power in the final two segments was 221 and 229 watts.  I ended up averaging 212 watts (215 NP) and 21.6 MPH.  My average cadence was 84 and my avg HR was 151bpm.  I recorded 721 feet of climbing on the course:

My time was a disappointing 2:35:16, which was 16 seconds slower than Grand Rapids.  Grand Rapids had more climbing at 1043 feet and my average power there was 195 watts (8.0% less) so you can infer the impact of the wind and poor road conditions in this race.

I ended up in 3rd, which I'll take given my swim.  The two guys better than me, both had considerably better (7-9 minutes) bikes so even if I had a normal swim, I probably was destined to finish 3rd today given my bike fitness.

My bike fitness isn't horrible--the best power I've ever recorded on a half is just in the 225-230 range, so I'm not that far off (and this may be at least partially a function of age).

Oh well--good enough.  I have about 17 more days to get quality work in before I begin my taper for Kona....

Saturday, September 6, 2014

On the ground in Cedar Point--US National AquaBike Championship

I drove the 475 miles out to this big Ohio amusement park on Friday.  I drove the course and had a nice pasta meal.  Today, I rode my bike for an hour and did a short swim in Lake Erie.  Dropped my bike off in transition and am having a light dinner while I wait for the Michigan State/Oregon foot ball game.

The USAT National AquaBike Championship is a relatively new event--I think the first time it happened was in 2011 when Uber-cyclist Dave Luscan took down Canadian National Team legend Brett Saunders.  It's been a LC race the last couple of years: 1.2-mile swim/56-mile bike.  Last year there was far less than 100 entrants and a 2:54 won the race outright.  When I first thought about this race I thought who knows, maybe I can take the whole thing....As I planned out my year, with the focus on racing Kona on 10/11, I latched onto the idea of racing an AB in early September rather than a H-IM.  My thought was that my legs would be able to absorb more training in the weeks following the race.  So I entered this event.

Now that I'm here, I've found out that there are 165  people entered of-which 112 are men and 13 are in my M55-59 Age Group.  It would seem that the AquaBike is beginning to become a mainstream event!  While this is typically thought of as a older person event (no run), there are 54 guys entered who are younger than I.  One fellow, Guy Berkebile, I know for sure is quite a bit better triathlete than I am--although, when you throw out the run, the gap between us narrows considerably.  So, my original thought about winning this thing or perhaps reaching the podium is probably not a solid one.

There are several strong guys in my Age Group as well so it is certainly not a given I can win or podium in my Age Group.  But not-to-worry, I'm going to swim as hard as I can and then go like there's no tomorrow on the bike and we'll see where the chips fall--after-all you can't play defense!

Here are some thoughts on how I might do:

The Swim

I've done 22 H-IM swims to date.  My PR is 32:45, which I did at Eagleman in 2007.  My top five swims are:

1.  Eagleman 2007---32:45
2.  IM70.3 WC 2006---32:59
3.  Devilman 2006---33:01
4.  Oceanside 2010---33:07
5.  SkipJack 2011---33:16

I've been under 35 minutes 9 of my 22 races.

My two H-IMs this year were NOLA (36:03) and USAT LC WC (36:54).

So what about this race?  Well, assuming the course is accurate (probably won't be) I do truly think I can set a new H-IM PR tomorrow.  I think I could potentially go as low as 31:30.  Some of this will depend on conditions--which today were very challenging (the forecast is for relatively favorable conditions at race start).  I don't think I'll go any slower than 36 minutes.

The Bike

My bike PR is 2:24:04 also at Eagleman in 2007.  Here are my top 5:

1.  Eagleman 2007---2:24:04
2.  IM70.3 WC 2006---2:24:10
3.  White Lake 2007---2:24:47
4.  Devilman 2006---2:26:17
5.  Eagleman 2005---2:26:28

I've had 10 races under 2:30, but none since 2011.

My two this year were 2:44:56 and 2:35:00

Realistically, given the course and all the chip seal road surface, I'll be hard-pressed to go under 2:30 tomorrow.  Still, I don't have to run so I can throw everything on the fire and go for it--which I plan to do.  I'm in better shape than I was when I did the 2:35 in Grand Rapids--I did 195 watts at that race.  I think I can above 200 watts tomorrow, perhaps as high as 220 watts--which would indicate a 2:31 or so.  It's hard for me to have a real sense about the relative difficulty between the two courses--although Grand Rapids was not easy.  At the end of the day I see myself going somewhere between 2:28-2:35.

Putting it all together, best case I see myself (with transition) doing:

31:30+2:30+2:28= 3:02

Worst case would be something like:

36+4+2:35= 3:15

Pretty big range for sure but I guess I would be most likely to be right around 3:10.

I think a sub 3 will be necessary to get on the podium outright, so I'm not going to worry about it.  At 3:02, I'd like my chances of capturing my Age Group but at 3:15, maybe I can still snag a podium spot.  3:10 would be shaky for the win for sure.

We'll find out tomorrow--should be fun!!!

Go spartans!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August Totals

My August training volume (last full training month before Kona--will start taper in September) was decent--not as much as I wanted, especially on the bike and run:

Swim: 43,000 yards
Bike: 956 miles
Run: 112 miles
Time: 84:17

I continue to have some trouble recovering from my "normal" IM training volume.  I'm especially finding it tough to follow up a hard 100+ mile ride with a long-run later in the week.  I've missed several long runs as a result.

My swim continues to be rock solid and my bike is certainly serviceable.  This week is an easy week as I'm letting my body absorb the heavy 3-week training block.  Further, I plan to light it up at the National Aquabike Championship (1.2/56) on Sunday in Sandusky, OH.

After that race, my main training priority will be to get in 3 long runs before I begin my taper around the 24th or so of September.  I'll do long rides and swims as well but I'm going to need to prioritize my run to see if I can salvage it for Kona....