Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Months Out

First things first, I readily acknowledge that I have been absent from these pages for quite a while. Right or wrong, I just have not felt like I’ve had much of interest to share. However, I also recalled that my purpose was to share most of my experiences since they might be of benefit to someone else. Even if the post is read years later, it still might contain a nugget or two of information that helps out. In that spirit, I’m back and ready to share some more.

By mere coincidence, today happens to mark 5 months until Ironman Boulder. As I have noted in previous posts, it’s my only race this year (aside from a few just-for-fun events). This has allowed me to be very focused on this one race with no worry about how I will perform in other events or how those events will affect the Ironman.

What I’ve been doing…


Eight weeks of my training are now in the book and they’ve been productive and—if I’m being completely honest here—a little hard. Much of that difficulty can be attributed to the new baselines I established for myself in all three disciplines.

In late January, I did my swim test which establishes my effective pace per 100. I won’t detail the specifics other than to say it’s a thoroughly exhausting workout. The result was a standard pace per 100 yards of 1:43 which is six seconds ahead of last year. That also means that all of my other paces have upped and hitting some of my targets on various sets has proven elusive, especially later in the workout.

At the end of that same week, I found myself on the local track doing 4 X 1 mile repeats to get a sense of my aerobic fitness level. The idea was to pace myself at such a level that my fourth mile was no more than 3% slower than my first.

A few more days off and then it was time for the FTP test. If you’ve not done one, this is one of the more difficult times you’ll spend in the saddle. While the whole time on the bike was only 1:15, a full 30 minutes was dedicated to pushing myself to high HR levels at more watts than I normally sustain during a workout. Using a formula or 92% of my average power during the last 20 minutes of the 30 minute time trial, I hit an FTP of 198. It’s not a terribly impressive number compared to a lot of folks out there, but I know it’s also me pushing as hard as my muscular and cardiovascular system will carry me.

But wait! There’s more! A week after the 4 X 1 mile test, I was back at the track, this time to do a regression test which measured how much speed I lose when the distance is doubled. It consists of a half mile and a mile at the start, a whole bunch of 400, 800 and 1000 meter repeats and then the half mile and mile at the end. When it was over, I had run almost thirteen miles and had clocked over two hours (that included some walk breaks between the test sets). This provided me with some baseline numbers for running and predicted a marathon time of 4:11:31 which I highly doubt is accurate but interesting all the same.

The more important outcome of the testing was my regression rate which was 6.8% which suggests that I have better aerobic conditioning than I did a year ago. Considering the hours I’ll be spending on the IM course, this is good news.

Much to my relief, these two weeks were followed by a recovery week. Better still I spent most of that week in Kauai! My coach went easy on me that week assigning only three easy runs and an open water swim that I did here:

While that water looks calm, there was a bit of a current that actually made swimming more difficult than my usual foray into a lake somewhere!

Like all good vacations, that one ended quickly and I found myself back in cold snowy Colorado. That’s probably just as well. I was growing a little too fond Pupus and Hula Pie!

What I’m going to do…


Now in my second week back from vacation my training schedule has ramped up and I suspect it to stay that way for quite a while (with the exception of recovery weeks). Swimming will continue to be a focus because at these new paces I often find myself gasping for breath when I’m not feeling the burn in my arms. I thought I swam hard last year, but the fast sets and short recovery times have seen me leaving the pool thoroughly exhausted.

While intensity has and will continue to be the way I work with my coach, volume increases are inevitable. I expect to see mileage in the mid to upper twenties for the duration. Some of my run workouts have included short walk breaks and that’s good in terms of my anticipated run strategy. I have no illusions about being able to run non-stop during the race. My ideal situation would be to have a nice balance of running and walking that I can keep consistent through at least 20 miles. If I get that far, I’ll crawl the last six miles if I have to!

Likewise, I’ll be doing a lot of cycling and if the weather ever improves here, hopefully I’ll be seeing some outside! A five hour ride is promised as part of my training and while I’m sure that is still several weeks out, I’ll be anxious to see how it goes and how I feel afterward. A new bike course is pending for IM Boulder and hopefully will be available soon. While I doubt I can do all 112 miles on a long training ride, I could easily cover that over two rides.

Equipment plans are in the works as well. I’ve signed up for Order 19 on Flo Cycling and that begins in April so hopefully soon after my TT bike will be sporting a new set of carbon wheels. Flo makes wheels that comparable to better-known brands and they do it at a much lower price.

Additionally, my venerable Zoot Flash wetsuit is looking pretty tattered so it’s time to replace it. I’m leaning toward a sleeveless version since I’m not seeing much benefit in sleeves and I do not plan on getting into the open water until it has warmed up.

That’s all for now. More updates will follow as training progresses!

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