Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Goals Update

Late last year I posted about my goals for each event. Some were modest, others overly aggressive. As I get ready for the first of my brick workouts, now seemed like a good time to post my progress.

The Swim

Swimming started out as something of a source of frustration for me. Even though I had read a great deal about not being able to just power through as you would on a run or ride, I still approached it that way. What can I say? I come from a running background.

Eventually, I learned to make a few improvements to my form that in turn made my power more efficient. Specifically, I rotated my body more smoothly through each stroke and I made the pull stage of my stroke more complete. The result was an improvement that put me ahead of my goals: 

The Bike

It’s hard to make anything truly meaningful out of the bike. There are multiple reasons for this. First, I changed bikes back in February from my reliable but old and heavy Trek hybrid to the sleeker, lighter and much faster Cannondale. Second, there’s a great deal of disparity between my speed on the trails and my speed on the trainer…especially with the new bike.  Third, in order to keep things interesting, I’ve been doing a lot of different courses. I live in area that offers everything from steep hills to flat straight-aways.  As a result, you get a pretty odd looking chart:

I’ve found the most reliable indicator to be my most recent outdoor MPH average which is presently 15.9 which is below my goal of 16.7 but can also be chalked up to some pretty long hills on my last ride. My first event, the Summer Open Sprint Triathlon boasts a fairly flat bike circuit (three times around a four mile loop) so I hope to take advantage of that. If I can ride the 20K course in 40 minutes or less, I’ll be happy.

The Run

I may not be giving myself enough credit here. Given how slow I was running when I established these goals, a 9 minute per mile average seemed fairly ambitious. I’ve also considered that my pace may be slower after swimming and riding and I still think that’s valid. This Saturday’s brick ought to be my first indication of how fast I can run after the stress of a ride. In any case, I’m doing better than I thought I would:

While the trajectory looks pretty good (especially after doing 5 miles at just over 9 minute pace yesterday) I still think it’s going to level off. I’m not a fast-twitch guy and I think a sub 30 finish in the run leg of the first tri would be just fine with me.

April is always a pretty dicey month from a weather stand-point. Even though we’ve had a pretty dry spring, you never know when ambitious plans to get outside will be doused by a spring snow storm. Hopefully I’ll get to do most if not all of the bricks outdoors. While the trainer and treadmill are
adequate substitutes, I also look at the brick as transition practice. If the weather keeps me indoors, I may need to practice transitions in addition to the actual workout.

This Saturday is looking pretty good. I plan to be out in the morning well before we reach the mid 70’s high that’s in the forecast. I’m pretty excited about the workout. I’ve done a lot of prep work, but this feels like my first real foray into multisport. If I find the time and am not too tired, I’ll do a post talking about it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Aero Position

Back in January, I commented about the early in-the-week forecast being rosier than what I actually experienced. Fortunately that cuts both ways. Early this week, I expected to be on the trainer today since the forecast said it would be damp today. While my lawn could use the moisture, it really was a nice day to ride.

One of the challenges I've faced on my rides is using the aero bars for any meaningful length of time. Part of that is my fault. It's obviously much easier to ride in the traditional position. Part of it is not wanting to try and steer and control using the bars when I'm riding through a crowded space at 20 mph. And part of it is the difficulty of obstacles on the bike path. I generally stay off the street because too many drivers would sooner run you over and kill you than move a few feet over to give you some space.

One of the nice things about the route I've been riding is that it is relatively free of pedestrians, dogs, sharp curves and other factors that require more steering. That allowed several (mostly) uninterrupted miles in the aero position. No doubt I have more to do but it was the most I've used them outside.

Most of my training is going otherwise well. That said, I've definitely felt more challenged in the last week. While I'm getting stronger and faster, I'm also feeling more tired. Hopefully I'll be rested up this week.  This coming Saturday marks the first of my bricks. Between now and then I'll post an update to my goals.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Southwestern Heat

Hello from warm Phoenix. It feels more like mid July than mid March but it's not totally unpleasant either. Given my long day of travel (capped off by a few beers this evening) I've decided to postpone tomorrow's run until Friday. I've been tired on my last few workoutys so two days in a row off actually makes sense.

One thing is certain--the run will be in the morning. Afternoon highs are going to be in the upper 80's and that's just too hot for me right now!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Back at It

Another week and more training.

Yesterday was kind of crappy out so I went back to the trainer. No question it's an easier ride, but I tried to make it harder by spending about half the time in aero position. Still managed to do 20 miles in just over 45 minutes.'s still a lot easier than riding outside.

This morning I hit the pool. It's been going a lot better as of late. I felt pretty good today (or as good as I could feel at 6:30) and it showed in the results. I swam at an average rate of over 43 yards per minute which is my fastest yet. It's good to see some progress in the water.

Wednesdays are my two a days so after work it was a four mile run. After having run so well on Sunday, I felt obliged to pick up the pace. It was a little hard but I manged to finish in just over 36 minutes so again, it's the fastest pace I've turned in since I started this whole thing.

There's no question that there is still a lot to do and just over two months to do it. Nevertheless, I'm feeling pretty good about where I am. Another run, swim and bike still lay ahead for the week.

After a getting in a couple more early next week, I'm off to Phoenix for work. Just a run planned for there, but I am looking forward to running at low altitude again.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Race Report - Pueblo Spring Runoff

It's been quite a long time since I've done a 10K. Specifically it was the 2009 BolderBoulder and it was a fairly weak effort. I think my finish was something like one hour, five minutes. I was just happy to finish it.

So although I've done a  couple of six mile training runs in the last couple of months, I was a little nervous about doing a race this morning. It didn't help that I had been struggling on my last couple of runs.

It was--for me anyway--a good morning for a run. The temperature at the start was in the upper 30's/lower 40's with now wind and a thin overcast. It was also a pretty flat course. When it was all over, I ran one of my best 10K times in the post-35 (years old) era. I finished the day at 57:40 which works out to a 9:15 pace. My brother ran a much faster and considerably more impressive 42 minutes. It was obvious when he passed me on the return trip that he was in the lead pack.

As for the race itself, well, there was good and bad:

The bad:

Starting Line - This is a multi-race event with a 2 mile walk, a 5k, 10k and 10 mile plus to shorter races for kids. Which race was which depended on both the color of your bib and a colored sticker (like a mailing label stuck to the front of it). This was confusing. What's more, there was no marshal in the starting area to make sure no one started in the wrong group. I actually ran with the 5k wave for about a minute before realizing that it was not my start time yet.

Traffic Flow - The two mile walkers went with the rest of the group and the turned around one mile out. That's right, they turned around and walked against the rest of the traffic. It would have made much more sense to have them start after the runners. Then everyone faster would have already run past their turn around point.

Finish Area: The race finishes into Dutch Clark Stadium with a 3/4 lap clockwise turn on the track. That's actually a nice way to finish a race...similar to the BolderBoulder. No problem there. However, once you finish, all of the post-race provisions were back up at the top of the stadium (it sits in kind of a pit so you walk back up to street level) to get water, food, etc. It's a steep walk and there is only one narrow gate to access the steps. Additionally, there were no regular announcements about the location and time of the kids races.

Results: As of 8:45, the results still have not been posted. I have no doubt that it takes a while to get them done, but the 5k was posted on paper at the event. If you're going to have a race, you need to get the results posted on the same day. Even a rudimentary text file on a webpage would work.

The Good

Course: This was a nice flat, fast course with no bothers from traffic. While a good portion took place on a bike path that runs along the Arkansas River, that did not occur until a couple of miles in--after the field had spread out a bit. Runners coming back on the path were lead by a bicycle and its rider did a good job of clearing the path.

Shirt: When I ran it five years ago, the Spring Runoff sported one of the ugliest running shirts I've seen. Not this year. It's a good looking long sleeve black technical shirt. A distinct improvement.

Finish: The shoot was clearly marked and as I ran toward it, an announcer called my name and town. It's a small thing, but a nice touch all the same.

Overall, I did enjoy the race. I particularly liked that I did so well. I'd say that there's a pretty good chance I'll be back next year. That said, I do hope the race directors will get their logisticall issues sorted out.