Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: 70.3

Daily Reading List — November 13th

OK, You’re a Runner. Get Over It – Haters gonna hate, but I actually agree with this for the most part. I go on the assumption that the only people who care about my fitness exploits are keeping up with it on my blog or DailyMile. Based on the feedback I receive on each, no one care that much about it. I'm cool with that.

New Half-Ironman race coming to Lake Logan in 2014 – This will be a tough course. Guaranteed.

I just may have to…

Splunk Spawns Hunk Hadoop Tool

One step closer to a two-hour marathon – Hopefully I'll survive in a Google data center long enough to see this.

Dang Guv’ment…Again

I always said that if George Bush ever figured out how good my life is, he’d find some way to come and screw it up. Now, because he shut down the guv’ment for a couple of weeks, the 2014 Rocketman Triathlon has been pushed from the Spring until the Fall. My original plan was to do that 70.3 in May, then train up to a full self-supported 140.6 in October.

Now it’s looking like Rocketman will be in October as well. Push the 140.6 to November? Maybe, but that means I won’t get my best performance out of 70.3 OR the 2014 Space Coast Marathon. Boo!

New plan… Since I’m going to be a few weeks shy of peak shape for this year’s Space Coast Marathon, I’m going to run it with no watch…just run. Then I’ll do the Celebration Marathon in January, kick in a Master’s swim class beginning in February, and start training for 140.6 immediately.

There are some Spring 70.3s I may consider (Haines City?), and I’m also freed up to do the Wickham Park Ultra in May. Interested to see how far I can make it before I miss the cut off. As always, I will be on the Trainerroad for the duration.

Or…I can focus on growing my belly.

Race Strategy Confirmation

This is pretty cool…

Looking at the results from Rocketman, I was in 26th place coming off the bike in my age group. I finished 17th in my age group overall.

I passed nine people in my age group during T2+Run. Four of those people were already ahead of me after the swim, and the other five passed me on the bike.

I’m happy about catching 9 people. But I’m happier about this–nobody in my age group passed me on T2+Run. I’m not a tremendous runner or anything. This is just because of having a thought out race plan and sticking to it.

Here’s something more telling that should prove it.

For all males, I picked up 42 spots overall in T2+Run (from 136 to 94).

One guy passed me. I passed 43.

So by holding back on the swim and bike, I put myself in the position to catch a lot of people on the run.

Not that I’m racing anyone…seriously I’m not. But this confirms that holding back on the bike got me my best possible time overall. It’s interesting to look at the run splits compared to bike splits of other athletes. You can totally tell who blew up.

I feel bad for them. I’ve been there, and it’s no fun.

70.3 is a running race. I’m more convinced now than I ever was.

2013 Rocketman 70.3 Race Review

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Unforced smile. This wasn’t just for the photos.

70.3, Half-iron, whatever…not sure what to call it.

This was the most fun I’ve ever had doing a race. Some of my best friends came into town to do the race and stay for the weekend, and a great time was had by all. There were some spots here and there where some of the guys didn’t feel very good, during the race and after, but it was a great experience.

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If you’d told me 12 months ago that I’d spend the next year preparing to do a 70.3 and come in over 6 hours, I’d have been pretty bummed about that. But in the last 12 months I’ve come to realize that every course and every day is different. Even the same course can be drastically different on different days. You just have to deal with what you have on that day. It’s all about race management. Setting time goals doesn’t make much sense considering all the variables.

And this is the first time I’ve felt good about my race management at this distance. Put it this way…

I did the run under 2 hours, and my last 3 miles were at 8:20 and lower. Instead of slugging out a long walkish-jog while beating myself up over the horrible run split I was going to have, I spent the entire bike and the majority of the run holding back so I could empty the tank in the last 5k of the race.

That strategy paid off for me, and I’m sold on it.

Swim (47:11)

Swim is the warmup, and you take what you get.

Swim is the warmup, and you take what you get.

Swim is the warmup, and you take what you get.

I felt great during the swim. There was some chop out at the furthest points from land, but I’ve been practicing open water and was fine with it. I thought I put in a solid effort, somewhere between holding back and going hard. Actually,  I think I put in a 36:00 effort. I was surprised to get out of the water and see it was 47:00. Looking at the results, I only saw a few people in the 30s. Looking at their bike and run splits, the guys who made the low 30s on this course should be swimming in the 26:00 realm with no problem.

I guess what I’m saying is that swim must have been pretty long or there was some crazy current. My sources who wore Garmins during the race are reporting 1.4 miles. Honestly, the chop made it kind of fun and challenging. Everyone always talks about the challenges of run and bike courses. The swim could have been as smooth as glass, and we could have gone faster in it, but the little wrinkles made it interesting.

Whatever–everyone does the same course, and in the end I’m not racing other people. The swim won’t ever make or break my day unless they have to pull me out.

Transitions

Both T1 and T2 weren’t horrible for me, but they could have been a little better. I think part of that is a result of having to bike check the night before. I much prefer a day-of bike check in so that I can pump up my tires and get the bike inspected and ready at the car with plenty of space and tools. Again, everyone had to do it, so it doesn’t really factor in if you’re competitive. It just isn’t fun dealing with that stuff in cramped quarters.

The funniest thing happened in T2 when I picked up my right shoe and noticed that it was tied. I KNOW I left my shoes untied. I looked at the shoe and realized that I’d accidentally left a junk running shoe from last year at my transition and put my good shoe in my bag. So I had to dig through my bag over by the rail and find the right one. Oh well.

Bike (3:14:22)

Man. Maybe the toughest bike ride I’ve done. Granted, I’m not really much of a cyclist. But that wind was relentless and brutal, even for people who live in these parts and spend time in the wind. It was great to get a chance to ride around the launch pads and around KSC, but when the wind is beating on you for miles and everything looks the same, it can take a mental toll.

Just looking at my time, this effort seems horrid, but I’m actually very happy with my bike ride. I didn’t lose it. People were blowing by me in the beginning. Some of them were 70.3 participants, and some were from the Olympic and Sprint. I’m proud to say that I let them all go and didn’t chase anyone.

If the swim is the warmup, the bike is just your transportation to the real race.

I kept thinking to myself as people were passing me early on, “I’ll see you on the run buddy.” During the last 2o miles I was passing lots of slower sprint riders and began passing some 70.3 people too. My heart rate ran a little higher than I wanted for a big part of the ride, but I had to go hard enough to keep the bike upright.

I ate on schedule, and I ate a lot. I did cut back on the fluids because the heat wasn’t bad at all for most of the ride. The sun started coming out at the end, but the wind was the real enemy.

I’m very happy I didn’t have my speed showing on my computer or I may have talked myself into riding harder. This ride re-enforced for me how silly it is to expect yourself to hit some speed average every single day. I can ride this distance stand alone as fast as 21 mph with no problem, and on this course under the right conditions 20 would have been pretty easy.

But not on this day. I had to trust that 17.3 mph was going to set me up for a good run.

Run (1:59:01)

And this is what I was waiting for. I am a sub 2 hour half marathoner (stand alone) every day of the week, but I’ve never had a decent run during a 70.3. I know 2 hours isn’t exactly fast, but I’m 40 years old and weigh 195. I’m not ashamed to claim a 1:59:01 without swimming and biking beforehand.

This run was really nice. What the bike took away, the run gave back. Flat, scenic (except for the US1 section), and reasonably shady considering this is Florida.

My plan was to get off the bike and get into a quick cadence, which I did, once I got the right shoes on. I also wanted to run at about 143 for heart rate most of the way. I was actually averaging about 146-148 for most of the run, but I kept checking in with myself, and I felt great. So I didn’t sweat it. I was still holding back a little for the end.

I only ate one Gu and only stopped at 4 water stations for this run. I took in a ton of calories on the bike, and I’d planned on running a little dehydrated (thanks for that advice Coach Brett) to avoid having to stop to pee and save time on a bunch of water stops.

Around mile 8 I noticed I was picking up the pace a little, so I dialed it back. In retrospect, I think I would have been ok pushing a little bit at this point, but the plan was to coast to the 10 mile mark and then actually run a 5k.

I stuck to the plan. When I hit the 10 mile mark feeling great, one word went through my head…

“GO!”

I didn’t break into a sprint or anything, but I kicked it into that “fun hard” Zone 3 gear right out of the gate. I didn’t hit Zone 4 until I was at about 1.5 miles to go, and at that point, there was no way I was letting up. As my HRM was beeping at me to slow down, I couldn’t help but remember being in this situation last year with 8 miles to go and feeling completely out of control.

This time, I was in control. I was refusing to let my heart rate down instead of trying to find a way to get it down. And I was passing people like crazy. Probably not as many people as I was passed by on the bike, but a lot. And there’s something empowering that pushes you even harder when you know what those people who are walking feel like and know that you feel great.

I held a pretty even pace for the last 1.5, and I think I averaged no more than 8:15 pace for the last 5k. Again, not blazing fast by any means, but at the end of a 6 hour day, I’m pretty proud of it.

Seriously, I’ve been in sprints where I couldn’t muster a 26:00 5k.

Finish Line

For the first time in a long time, I crossed the finish line with an un-forced smile on my face and ecstatic with what I’d done on the day. My slowest 70.3, but definitely my best performance. It was great to feel good enough to stand in the sun and cheer my friends in to the finish. We lost one guy to exhaustion on the bike course, and he was proudly walking around with a bandage over his I.V. wound.

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“Um….I can’t swim. Do you think that will factor in?”

Hey, at least he left it all out there. Maybe if he’d actually trained… 😛

I’ve heard some complaints about water availability and food selection at the finish line, but I didn’t see a problem there.  But I’ll ask it again–can’t a man have just one cold-cold beer after these events?!?! I think it’s a great way to get some calories back into you quickly, and may have kept us from having to call for medical assistance later that night.

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It’s all about the engine AND the bike!

Now, Onto The Logistics and Details

First of all, let me say that I am very appreciative to the Smooth Running team for putting on an event like this here in Brevard County. It’s so nice to be able to do a big race and sleep in your own bed. And the opportunity to race at Kennedy Space Center is one that isn’t going to come around very often.

And I love local race directors. All of them. If for no other reason than the fact that they are willing to stick it to the man (WTC) for their homies. We need more local race directors who are willing to put in the work it takes to put on an event like this.

But (you knew that was coming), I’m going to be honest and put some things out there that you should consider if you want to do this race, especially if you’re traveling for it. I live within driving distance, and I’d happily pay the same entry fee to do the event again just as it was this year.

Here’s where I’m going to be a little critical–and these are the arguments others have, not me. For the fee charged to do this race, there shouldn’t be many (any?) hiccups. That’s just a reality of the market. There can’t be long lines for packet and chip pickup. That’s just not acceptable to some people at this price point when there are other choices nearby a couple of weeks later for the same cost where these things NEVER happen.

Communications with course information and schedule have to be clear and arranged well in advance. You have to realize you’re dealing with a lot of Type A people here. This isn’t a sprint that folks can just show up and do one morning and then wonder later what they’ll do for the rest of the day. A half-iron distance race takes months of planning and preparation from a participant. It’s fair for them to expect all the details to be handled and communicated early on.

Not really my complaints, but complaints some others have expressed. Just being honest and putting it all on the table here.

I’m not competitive, even in my age group, but if I were I’d have been pretty anxious about the fact that there were no timing mats out on the extremities of the course. I’m fairly certain that 99% of the athletes who enter these events want to do the whole course for themselves and would not dream of purposefully shorting the course to get an unfair advantage.

But if you wanted to cheat a course, this one was easily cheated. I get it that there was probably no way to get timing mats out onto KSC. Fair enough. This was a very unique opportunity to ride that course, and if that couldn’t be done logistically, that’s just part of it.

One of my friends visiting somehow rode only 40 miles. He’s not sure where he turned wrong, and he’s not at all upset about it (he was actually appreciative for the chance to get out of the sun earlier), but how many other people made similar mistakes? Yes, it’s the athlete’s responsibility to know the course (which he didn’t), but the final published course and the race day course were not exactly the same. For those of us who did take the time to know the course, this was a little confusing. If I’d ridden shorter or longer because of a last minute change and unclear course markings, I’d have been pretty steamed. As it turned out, the change got us the distance we needed, so I’m cool with it.

Congratulations on your 54.3 Finish!

Congratulations on your 54.3 Finish!

But on the run, it would have been pretty easy for someone who was so inclined to run about .75 miles, sit in the shade and drink a few beers and take a nap for an hour and a half, then get up and trot to the finish line with a very nice run split. Again, I don’t think anyone did that or would do that on purpose, but the opportunity was definitely there. There really should be timing mats at the turns, if for no other reason than people want to go back later and analyze their splits.

Again, a bunch of A-type people.

Personally, I LOVED this event. I actually feel like the organization was pretty impressive for a race this size put on by a small local crew. If you are the kind of person who lets a few little things like the ones mentioned above absolutely ruin your race, maybe you should pass on this one.

But honestly, you probably have a few things you need to work out with yourself on a long run as well. That’s between you and you.

I mean, we’re not playing for money here, and there are a million mistakes I made that negatively affected my performance *cough pizza cough*, so I can overlook a couple of small ones by the race director.

Regardless, I want to end by saying that the volunteers were extremely helpful and friendly, and the turnout on the run course (no spectators allowed on the bike course) by the neighborhood locals was great. The Brevard County Sherrif’s Department did a tremendous job of keeping everyone safe on the US1 stretch, and the roads were closed for us everywhere they could be. I’m especially thankful for the medical team that assisted my buddy off the bike course and got an I.V. in him. This is not the kind of guy who is willing to DNF over something trivial, and they had him feeling right by the time I finished.

I can’t wait to do this race again. It’s officially my favorite triathlon.

Ooooooold Boys!

Ooooooold Boys!

More Reports:
Half Triing

Meals and Miles

The Heavyweight Runner

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Brick Workouts

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Yesterday’s post started a little bit of an interesting discussion about bricks over on Google+. At the same time, this thread over on Beginner Triathlete was going on talking about the same thing. There seems to be a wide spectrum of opinion out there about the value of bricks for 70.3 distances and beyond. I see the points on all sides, but I think I fall some place in the middle.

What I have to say on the subject is a little long for posting in either of those places. Luckily, I have this venue. Now, I’m by no means telling anyone else what they should do. I’m not a coach, and I’ve probably given out more bad advice than good over the years.

Like everyone else, I used to swear by bricks and ran a 10% run after every bike ride. Why did I swear by them and do them so religiously? Well…because everyone else did. Now I’m not so sure that was a good idea, but it fit into my general training M.O. back then–empty the tank every single time you train. If you aren’t willing to empty the tank, don’t bother training.

Needless to say, I skipped a lot of workouts back then.

Remember, these are just my observations and opinions about what seems to work for me. I’m using “I” and “me” everywhere I can. Feel free to collect your own test data.

The Good

  • For beginners. I think bricks are vital for two reasons when you are first starting out. First of all, you need to know what you’re legs are going to feel like coming off the bike. Secondly, you need to know how long it’s going to last. If you don’t know these two things before your race, you’re in for a really big shock. But really–if you’ve been doing this for a few years, does that feeling freak you out any longer? It’s like a horror movie–really scary the first time, but when you already know what’s coming and have watched it over and over…meh.
  • For sprint training. I get the upside of “learning to run on tired legs” if you are going to need to go hard for the whole race. It kind of goes back to the first point of knowing how long the feeling is going to last and being able to mentally push on through that and keep going hard until it’s gone.
  • For testing a nutrition plan. A run of a few miles after a long bike ride will let you know pretty early on if you ate enough and hydrated right while riding. This can be pretty hard to figure out, and it may take a few sessions to dial it in. I actually think this is a HUGE upside to doing VERY EASY bricks for long distance training. But I don’t do any more of these than I have to.
  • For squeezing in a couple of workouts on limited time. Sometimes I have only one chance to workout on a day, but I need to get two in. This is an effective way to squeeze it in without having to prepare twice. Might as well make it a transition practice while you’re at it.
  • A race rehearsal. Not the entire race, just what you plan on doing out of T2. For me, that means thinking about cadence, form, and keeping the pace down. Yeah…I said keeping the pace down. A one mile run is more than enough distance for me to do this.

The Bad

  • For building aerobic endurance. Maybe there’s no detriment here either, but I don’t see any real value. If that’s the goal of the workout, why not get in the pool and swim instead? I’ll get all the benefits of the aerobic work without any of the pounding I get while running. Not that I recommend that either–swimming after cycling is probably begging for your technique to be destroyed. On second thought, that’s probably a benefit in my case. Aerobic and Anaerobic aren’t the same thing, and that’s important to remember for the second point.
  • “Learning to run on tired legs” for anything longer than an Olympic distance race makes no sense to me. For 70.3 races and up, why not  “learn to ride a bike for a few hours without tearing my legs up” instead? That means staying aerobic on the bike instead of deliberately trashing myself so I can go out and run a bunch of *ahem* shitty miles with bad form and throwing myself into anaerobic zones just to maintain some pre-determined pace I think I ought to do. Not casting stones if you do this. I’ve done it. A lot. I just don’t think it paid off for me.
  • Trashed isn’t just for today. I pay the price for a few days. I have to think of what a long hard brick does to me going forward. If I go out and do a 60m/10m brick on a Sunday and intentionally trash my legs during this workout, I’m sacrificing Monday completely, and probably at least part of my Tuesday, and maybe Wednesday as well. And what do I get out of it really? Maybe I prove to myself that I could do it? I’ve already done that. Again, I do try to get in a couple of long bricks in the middle of my training plan to test my nutrition plan, but I make sure the run is super easy–like “holy crap, I’m embarrassed by this pace and don’t really want to post it to DailyMile”  easy.

The Ugly

  • They take a really long time. I’m lucky to have the best and most supportive girlfriend* in the whole world. She gives me Saturday and Sunday mornings to do what I need to do to train. A 2-3 hour workout means that I’m usually home by 9:30 or 10:00 at the latest on both Saturday and Sunday. She’s never complained once. She’s even ok with me turning that into a 5 hour workout occasionally if it’s a nutrition test day. But I’d feel guilty about leaving her to deal with our three heathens for a whole day every single weekend. She does it all week already…weekends are when she has a chance for some help, and I don’t want to deny her that.
  • “What do you mean ‘all day’? Five hours is not all day!” Well, it would turn into all day if I went out and bricked it hard. Sure, I may be gone for only 5 hours, but I’m definitely going to need a nap that afternoon. And I’d be pretty worthless (bonked) even when I’m awake–basically one more heathen to care for. I know how I end up on the afternoons after a race–not fun for her.

So there you have it. I’ve learned this stuff (for me) mostly by experience and reading what coaches (love Coach Brett) have to say about it. Go ahead and rip it to shreds.

But before you do, consider this one little tidbit…

After tapering, you have ~2,000 calories worth of glycogen in your liver and muscles. You cannot process food fast enough to replace these calories at the rate you’re burning them while racing, no matter how much or what you eat. If you go out and “trash your legs” by going anaerobic, you’re going to be using those calories instead of using your fat stores for energy. Every notice how it seems like so many people hit the wall at mile 20 in a marathon? That’s why. Once those calories are used up, you are bonked.

For me, it’s mile 18, probably because I’m a little bit heavier and much more inefficient, so I burn the same amount of calories to go 18 miles most people do for 20. Another hard lesson (hopefully) learned.

So it makes complete sense to me to stay aerobic in most of my training (with some intense intervals thrown in here and there) and teach my body to burn the fat better. It’s just a simple math problem. In the perfect race, I’d start burning that stored up glycogen about 2,000 calories from the finish. The perfectly executed race plan would see me start my run on legs that aren’t tired and make sure they stay that way so I can finish on strong legs. So even in a brick, there’s no way I want to go hard on a bike and “learn to run on tired legs”.

The only benefit I see there is that you get to bonk. And from that, you learn that you never EVER want to bonk again if you can help it.

*Yes, we’re married, but we still like each other a lot, so I still call her my girlfriend.

[Image Credit]

Realistic 70.3 Expectations

 

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If I learned anything from my last 70.3, it’s…well, actually I learned a lot of things.

  1. Don’t set time goals for these distances. They aren’t anything like running races. The number of variables beyond your control is almost infinite, and you can’t just power through the obstacles you are presented the way you can in a sprint tri.
  2. Managing yourself should be the real goal. It’s one of the few things in the race you do have control over, and (for me anyway) the hardest part to master. If you can control yourself by keeping HR, power, perceived effort, or whatever measurement you use in check, you have a much better chance at getting the best possible time on race day given the conditions you are presented with. We’ll see soon if I’ve actually learned this.
  3. What you can do with these sports individually is almost meaningless. I tested myself at 400 yards all-out yesterday and got a personal non-race best of 6:30. I was very happy with that, but it’s pretty meaningless considering it was in a pool, with a wall, with only one other person in the lane, and with nothing to do afterwards. If you think the time it takes you to bike 56 miles translates to what you can do on race day, you’re probably pretty close to being right. Of course, you’re going to give back all that time and more on the run because of it. Your half marathon time is pretty meaningless as well. Maybe the second half of a full marathon is a little more accurate? Maybe.
  4. Don’t set time goals for these distances. Did I say that already?

I was pretty lucky when I did my first 70.3. I was severely under-trained. My buddies I was racing with liked to joke about my 5-6 week taper. I was scared to death of the distance. I spent most of the Saturday before the race watching the weather and hoping the race would be cancelled. I spent the pre-race time that morning looking at the lightening feeling relieved that the race would be cancelled. The race went on, and I didn’t race it. I did the course, but I didn’t “race” until the last 5k. I was able to go all out for the last mile and came away feeling great and having met my original time goal.

But that was just dumb luck as a result of respecting the distance and knowing I wasn’t trained to go at it hard.

My approach to training has changed quite a bit since then.

My last time out, I was pretty well trained, but not very confident in my run. I hadn’t done much running distance for a few years. I trained for months at a HR that was WAAAAAAAY too high–I practically lived in Zone 3. On race day, I was a little disappointed in my swim, soI took it out on the bike course. I came out of T2 “grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ saw brar”.

But the run course had the last laugh.

The plan was to PR by 15 minutes. The result was missing a PR by 15 seconds.

So there are no time goals this year. I have goals, but they are very different.

Swim: For the first time, I’ve put in good work on the swim. My easy pace is a touch slower than my hard pace, but I’m happy with how the easy pace feels, and form doesn’t fall apart. All I want to do is comfortably complete the course breathing every 3 strokes. If I have to speed up for a bit and breathe every other stroke, that should only go on for 10 breaths. Focus on exhaling and thinking “PULL!”

Bike: Keep the heart rate at ~125 for the first half of the course and ~130 for the second half. Last time out I averaged 145, and I thought that was a good thing. What?!?!?! Take splits every 30 minutes to check the average and be mindful of how it is increasing. The bike computer will not ever display current speed or average speed. Only elapsed time. That’s all. If I feel like doing math, that will give me something to pass the time.

Run: Keep the heart rate below 142 for the first 7 miles, keeping the 30 minute split checks going. At 7 miles, I’ll assess how I’m feeling and possibly let it go up to 150. If still feeling ok at 1o miles, let it rip.

We’ll see how this plays out and what I learn from it. Mistakes will be made…a perfect race is next to impossible. The key will be to realize the mistakes in the moment and try to come up with a work around.

 

 

Daily Reading List — January 16th

How Much Time Does it Take to Finish a Half Ironman 70.3? – Nothing like feeling very average, then reading an article like this and finding out you are very average. #SomethingMustChangeIn2013

10 Questions About Investing In Index Funds – I like the set-it-and-forget-it aspect of index investing. If it's good enough for a rib roast or a whole chicken, it's good enough for me.

We Need A Unified Search AI – People removing 'likes' and other info about themselves on Facebook in 3,2,1…

They won't be rushing over to G+ to tell them about it either.

The Eight Basic Run Types – A nice reference with short descriptions of each type. Easy to digest!

70.3 Ain’t Broke Me Yet

Registration is complete for the Rocketman 70.3 in May! I was tempted to do the IMFL 70.3 in Haines City again to try to get some redemption, but opted for Rocketman instead.

  • Indian River swim > Lake Eva swim
  • Chance to ride KSC limited access roads and see iconic sites like the VAB and launch pads up close > Polk county orange groves (although, the Haines City bike ride is pretty awsum)
  • 1 loop run > 3 loop run
  • Local race > somewhat local race

UPDATE: I also have yet to read anything in the Rocketman rules requiring participants to wear a shirt. It’s the little things.

@hungrymother and @mcarthur01 are both doing the Haines City race a couple of weeks later, so I’m thinking of volunteering for that one since I’ll be going over there anyway. Maybe I could get an early shift?

Practicing Race Plans In Training

My race plans usually aren’t very complicated. I’m just a regular ol’ MOP’er. I don’t have the latest equipment or a coach. I don’t race very often, and I don’t live and breathe triathlon. It’s just fun for me, and I actually enjoy the training more than the racing. I’m not racing anyone but myself anyway…no realistic chance of placing in my age group.

But I loves me a PR.

So here are some of the things I’m thinking about for my upcoming race, and how I work on them in training.

Swim

The course has changed to an ‘M’ shaped swim. Sort of unconventional, and I’ve never done one. As usual, I’d I’d like to take it easy for the first “out” part. I plan for what I want to happen on race day in my training swims by overcompensating for an easy start, swimming the first 500 yards as “long” as I can. This means really reaching and gliding with each stroke; usually about 11 strokes for the 25 yard length, breathing every three strokes. I then do at least 500 with a little faster turnover, breathing every two strokes. Sometimes I’ll go another 500 at that pace. I know I can handle that, and I’d like to pick up the pace a little on the diagonal parts of the ‘M’ on race day. From there, I like to take it easy on the way back, almost a cool down, because I don’t want to transition with a jacked up heart rate and body/mind that isn’t as relaxed as possible.

Now, I know realistically that the adrenaline is going to be a factor at the start, and I also know myself well enough to know that it takes me a couple of hundred yards to settle into an open water swim. And if I find some good feet, I’m jumping on them and riding as long as I can.  But the swim is negligible for my overall time, so I just deal with whatever happens there on race day. I won’t be worried if I swim a little faster than planned, and I won’t be worried if I swim a little slower than planned.

Bike

There are some rollers on this course, and winds could be a factor as well. I have a pretty old bike that never was the latest and greatest, and I don’t have multiple cassettes and wheel options to change based on terrain or what the wind is doing. I keep my strategy here simple. Fight the wind and fight the hills, and relax a little on the downhills and with the wind at my back. I practice this in training all the time. The rationale is pretty simple. When an object, in this case a fat guy on a bike, is going slow it doesn’t take as much energy to increase it’s speed by 1 mph as it does when the object is going fast. It’s tempting to ride harder when the wind is at your back because you can look down and see your mph jump on your computer, but physics says it’s a foolish thing to do. It sucks fighting to stay over 18 mph in a headwind, but it beats giving up and going 16.5.

I stay in aero all the time, or as much as possible. If any sitting up is going on it needs to be standing to power up a hill or, if seated, with wind at my back. Even then, only for a rest. Stay aero.

I like this course for my plan because the course is a loop that starts heading south, then heads back north. The biggest hill is at about mile 27, and there’s a good chance winds will be out of the south. That means I can put a bigger effort in at the beginning going generally uphill and into the wind, and get more of a rest at the end, going generally downhill with wind at my back. That will help with my plan to fight for a pre-determined average speed on the bike and (hopefully) get a chance to try my run strategy out.

Run

I’m doing something here I’ve never done before. Maybe it will work, and maybe it won’t. Either way, it’s a better plan than “just survive”, even if that’s what I end up doing. I’m breaking this run down into 3 separate pieces: 2 five mile sections followed by a 5k. I have paces I’d like to run for each of them, but the hard part is going to be holding those paces. For the first 5, the challenge will be getting up to speed getting off the bike. There will need to be some split differences in these miles. I know from experience that it takes me about a mile to get my legs back from the bike.

For the second 5, the challenge is going to be getting to the right pace in the first mile and then holding it without speeding up. I’m not really concerned with what will happen if I slow down during this section. If I can’t hold the pace for the entire 5, there’s no way I’d be able to race the last 5k anyway, so I’ll be better off saving myself whatever gas I can to get through it. But I don’t want to go faster than my predetermined pace, so I can have as much as possible available for the 5k.

If I make it through the second 5 on pace, it’s a 5k race with whatever is left in the tank. Again, there’s a course advantage here. The course is three loops, and the first part of the loop is uphill. If I can make it to the top of that hill on pace  in the last lap, what I’m left with is a mostly downhill 3 miles or so. That should help with the pace. Again, if I can’t keep on the pace schedule for the first 1o miles, then whatever happens happens.

To train for this, I’m going out and doing short runs and trying to hit those paces. For instance, I’ll do a one mile warm up, then try to do my first mile at the pace I plan on running the first 5 during the race. For the second mile, I’ll try to hit my planned pace for the second 5 during the race. And for the last mile, I go at the 5k pace I’d like to hit on race day. I’m actually doing my long run this weekend with the same strategy, but using 2 miles instead of one for each planned section.

It’s worth noting that this entire, detailed, thought-out plan is a product of two things: (1) Not listening to music when I run, so I have nothing to do but think about this and (2) Tapering right now, so I’m obsessed with thinking about this race. If you are using this plan as advice, keep in mind that it’s free advice, and it’s worth about what you paid for it…if that.

In a way, I’m looking forward to this all being over with so I can go back to worrying about what new features Google is pushing out this week. Or maybe I’ll keep up with the Kardashians for a day or two until I’m so repulsed that I want to train for something again.

 

 

Florida Ironman 70.3 Triathlon (As a spectator)

Florida Ironman 70.3 2010

I went over to Orlando yesterday morning with one of my buddies to watch another friend compete in the Florida 70.3 triathlon put on by IronMan at Disney. It was absolutely amazing. I’ve done triathlons myself, but I’ve never gone to see one as a spectator. When you are competing, you’re pretty focused on yourself and what you need to do, so it’s hard to take in the whole event. Even if you aren’t personally into endurance competitions, it’s something I’d recommend going to see once in your life.

It was completely inspiring.

It’s hard to say what the best part of the race was. It may have been watching competitors complete the 1.2 mile swim just before the cutoff time–one lady exited the water with a huge smile and obvious sense of accomplishment on her face, and stopped and broke into tears as soon as she crossed the timing mat.

It was also great to see so many people of different ages and body types doing the race. There were very few elite athletes in the 2,000 person field. They were mostly regular people who have decided to sacrifice a lot of time and effort to take on a race this size knowing they’ll have to make it work around the rest of their lives. As my buddy who went to watch with me noted, “I bet there are so many great stories here.”

After seeing another competitor with only one arm exiting the swim, and yet another getting ready to run with two prosthetic legs and 1.5 arms, you realize that anybody can do a this. All that matters is whether or not you think you can.

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