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Month in Review

June 30, 2014 1 comment

badtri

Looking Back, June 2014:

MIR 1406 2

MIR 1406

(“Sport” is a combination of softball, volleyball, or any other team sport I may get myself talked into.  Not “training” per se, but part of the general contribution to how tired I feel in any given week/month)

I was hoping for a bit of momentum after a strong end to May, but that didn’t turn out as such.  There were a few rainy days (and many days threatening to be raining) that altered my training plans – and a race on June 21st led to a bit of a taper the week before (and a bit of recovery/laziness the week after).  But, if I’m being honest, it was a bit of a let down month.

I find posting the images above (and thus, looking at them) to be really helpful.  What good is data if you’re not reviewing it and learning from it, amiright?  One thing jumps out at me above all else in the pictures above – there was zero time spent on strength training in June.  Zero.  Whoops.  I certainly need to fix that in July.

On the positive side though, I stepped on a scale this weekend for the first time in a long time: 228.6lbs.  That’s the first time I’ve been < 230lbs since… highschool?  maybe?  possibly very early highschool, even!  That’s a pretty damn awesome feeling!!

YabbaDabbaDo

Looking Forward:

July is a bit of an odd duck.  My “A” race of the year is two weeks away, on Sunday July 13th.  And I’m debating adding in a Try-a-tri at the end of July that wasn’t in my original race calendar, but a bunch of highschool buddies are trying it out, and if I’m gonna drive down to cheer them on, I might as well suit up as well, right?  For all my Sprint and Olympic distance races, I’ve never actually tried a Try-a-tri.  I don’t take it lightly at all – it’s a whole different beast: a max effort sprint rather than an endurance effort race.  I think it could be fun to give it a shot!

My month then really breaks down into 4 distinct weeks, with very different goals:

  • Week 1 (this week): I’ve got some work to do!  I want to get 1-2 strength sessions in, and particularly work my lower back, traps, and glutes.  If Guelph Lake taught me anything a few weeks ago, it’s that I’m a lot weaker there than I should be.  Continue cycling to work, a long ride and long run this weekend, and a few shorter runs/rides this week would be good.  And it would be nice to get in the pool once or twice too.  Shit – that’s a really busy week…
  • Week 2: Taper week leading up to TTF.  1-2 mid week runs/rides, and a pool session or two.  Start to back it off by Wednesday or Thursday.  Better to be a bit under trained and rested than well trained and exhausted going into a race, IMO.
  • Week 3: Waddle week.  If Guelph Lake taught me anything else, it’s that I’m going to hurt for a few days after the race.  Lots of stretching, walking, and active recovery.  Hopefully by mid-late week I’ll be ready for some light running
  • Week 4: Shit, it’s race week again already, huh?  I may not get as much of a taper in leading up to my try-a-tri (and hoping I don’t need as much of a taper).  Try to squeeze a few speed work sessions in, especially early in the week.  But really, this 2nd race is for fun – I’ll do what I can, and won’t worry about what I can’t.

5 Things I Think I Think:

  1. I’ve noticed that my training, and my blogging, tend to follow similar patters.  When I blog 1-2 times per week, I train regularly.  When I’m absent online, my training often suffers.  It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing: I don’t know which drives the other.  When I blog, I think about training.  When I think about training, I am more inspired to get out and do it.  When I get out and train, I have more experiences to blog about.  I don’t know if this means anything or not… funny coincidence, perhaps…
  2. I’m starting to question some of the goals I set out for myself for my “A” race, now only 2 weeks away, when I wrote them back in March.  I’m still learning how to set reasonable expectations for myself as far as racing and training are concerned.  I think this may warrant a full post on it’s own (which, hey, maybe the prospect of another post will help me get through this training week!)
  3. Sports Geek: The CFL season kicked off this past Thursday.  I think I should be a lot more excited, but I’m not.  The funny thing about sports in summer – I just want to get outside, go sit on a beach, or a patio, or ride my bike.  I don’t want to follow yet another sports league starting up right now!  The CFL is a great league, with a great product, but the timing of their season is all wrong.  I’ll start to care in September, when the season is half over, and I can figure out which bandwagon to jump onto.  I just can’t bring myself to be interested in it at this time of year.
  4. Beer Geek: Got to try a growler of Pale Ale this weekend from Royal City Brewing, who’ve been open in Guelph ON for less than a month now.  My first impression – it was a pale ale from a new brewery that was still getting settled.  But the more I had over the weekend, the more I really enjoyed it.  Really happy to see another new local craft brewery getting off the ground.  Exciting times right now!
  5. I think having a stat holiday on a Tuesday is weird.  I’m all for celebrating Canada Day on July 1st each year – birthdays should be celebrated on their proper day – but the stat holiday (the day off work) should be flexed to a Friday or a Monday.  It’s odd being at work on a Monday, knowing tomorrow is a day off.  Oh well, happy pre-Canada Day everyone!

CanadianFlag

Does a Try-a-Tri need a taper period before the race?  What do you think?

Race Recap: Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon

June 22, 2014 7 comments

SubaruI’m moving around pretty gingerly this morning – trying not to move very much at all, to be honest.  So while I’m sitting at my laptop anyway, might as well write up a post race recap, right?  right!

Yesterday I “raced” in the Subaru Guelph Lake I Olympic Triathlon.  This is a relatively large race around these parts, and highly talked about in the race community.  Plus, it’s in the town I grew up in, so it’s long been on my bucket list.  Yesterday I got to cross it off.

Race morning flowed pretty smoothly.  I was up at 5:00 for an 8:00 race gun, at a site 40 minutes drive from my home.  Not too bad.  It was raining outside when I woke up (sigh), but had stopped by the time I got into my car.  I was really impressed with the race area.  Registration flowed very quickly, and I had lots of time to set up in transition.  I ran into some friends of mine who were also racing, which was really nice.  Otherwise I would have had a lot of time to kill, nervously, by myself!

The swim was a lovely out-and-back across Guelph Lake.  The sky was blue, the water was warm and still, and it was wetsuit optional.  Perfect!!  My swim felt very sluggish, in large part because I was having difficulty sighting when breathing to the right.  So I quickly abandoned bilateral breathing, leading to an increasingly imbalanced arm pull.  While breathing to the left the whole swim, my right arm ended up doing most of the work, and started to slow down.  Plus, at the far point of the swim we got pretty close to the shore on the other side of the lake, and I may have gotten a bit distracted by the lovely trees and rocks and blue sky above.  Whoops.  That being said, I swam in 29:38 (1:59/100m), which is a personal best swim time over that distance, so I’m pretty happy with it.

As an aside, I struggle comparing my swim times between races, as there’s a big variable at the end – the swim run-up.  Inevitably, when getting out of the water, you need to run a certain distance from the water’s edge to wherever the transition area is set up.  This can be anywhere from 10m away to several hundred meters away.  Yesterday’s race was the later, and up a steep hill.  Fine.  Somewhere along this path they need to put the chip mats that you step on to record the end of your swim time.  Why do they always put these mats right up at transition, meaning this long run is included in your swim time??  Why can’t they put the mats right when you get out of the water, and include this “run time” as part of T1?  I’m sure that run up the hill took me at least 3 minutes, meaning my “swim” was much better than recorded.  Oh well – one of my little pet peeves I guess.  Carrying on…

T1 went pretty smoothly.  I didn’t suffer from the dizziness post-swim that I normally have to fight off, which was nice.  Although, when exiting T1, a race official pulled me aside and told me I couldn’t start the bike without tightening the strap on my helmet.  I’ve used this same helmet, with the strap in the same spot for every race.  I pulled aside, took off my helmet (dropped my sunglasses) and tried to adjust the strap.  The darn thing wouldn’t budge.  I managed to yank it maybe a cm – probably less – when she said that was fine and I could go on.  It probably only amounted to a minute delay, but was kind of annoying.  Oh well – she’s trying to do her job and keep us safe.  Can’t fault her for that, I guess.  The chip timing company this race used didn’t report on T1 or T2 times, so I can’t tell you how long I was in transition.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.

The bike was where things really unraveled for me.  There is a bike course elevation profile on the company’s website, which I looked at before.  I knew there would be an overall decent elevation climb in the out direction (and a nice overall elevation decent in the return direction), but I didn’t notice all the little – and quite steep climbs – both ways.  They really did me in.  I was trying to stay aero in my new aero bars – by about 15km I started to develop a significant pain in my left lower back.  It may have been in part due to the imbalance in my swim stroke?  Shortly after I had to abandon the aero bars completely.  By about 25km my glutes were toast!  I had to keep talking myself into staying in my saddle.  I haven’t ever had either of these problems – not in training, or any previous race.  I finished the last 10km of the bike ride absolutely grimacing and trying to talk myself into still doing the run portion, and not just DNF’ing.  I was in a lot of pain.  In the end, my bike was 1:34:49 (25.3km/hr).  Yuck.  That’s the slowest official bike pace I’ve ever posted in any race.  I obviously have some work to do here!

GLI2014BikeProfile

T2 went smoothly.  Nothing to report.  And since I don’t know what my T2 time split was, we’ll just move on…

I have mixed opinions on the run.  It was tough, and slow – in large part because my lower back and glutes were both shot from the outset.  Every little climb on the run and my back started barking.  And there were hills.  Lots of them.  There was no elevation map for the run on the website – I was not prepared for the amount of steep rolling hills on the run.  I don’t think there was a flat stretch longer than 10 meters at any point on that run course – everything was an incline or decline.  And my back hurt the whole way.

The run was really interesting though – the first half of the out-and-back course was through the conservation area’s campground, which was reasonably booked up.  Which means there were people lining the course, watching, for most of this stretch.  But they weren’t cheering.  They were curious – some of them outright heckling at the spandex clad runners running past their campsites at 10:00am.  Many of them were irritated, trying to drive their cars in and out of their site, or walk to the washrooms or water pumps, and having so many runners in their way.  I love running past cheering spectators.  This was very different.

The run course then left the camping area and went into some back fields on the conservation area’s property.  We moved from primarily paved roads to primarily dirt trails through fields.  Still just as hilly, but not a tree in sight.  This was the first time I realized that I hadn’t put any sunscreen on.  It was hot.  By this point I was reduced to running 2:1 run/walk intervals, and walking up most of the steep hills.  Between the heat, my back, and by this point a significant fueling deficit, I was just trying to keep moving.  It wasn’t pretty.  But for me, the run is never pretty.  Still, I’d like to get to a point where I can reliably run the run, instead of suffering through it.  More work to do.  That being said, I finished the run in 1:14:01 (7:25/km) – not nearly the pace I can hold on a straight 10k run, but better than the run on my previous Olympic distance tri (1:18:19).  In other words, not nearly as bad as it felt!

Overall, I raced in 3:23:48.4 – 27/30 in my age group, and an Olympic tri Personal Best by about 1 minute.  I would have liked a better time, but to drop my time (even if only by 1 minute) on a course that was much hillier in both the bike and run, and much hotter as well isn’t a bad thing at all!  I’m making progress.

With this race now in the rear view mirror, I’m 3 weeks away from my ‘A’ race of the season, the Toronto Triathlon Festival Olympic Tri.  I’m not sure how much I can accomplish in three weeks to learn from yesterday’s race, and improve.  I need to keep putting the work in on the bike and the run – particularly my long distance workouts in both.  In the off season, I need to do a lot of work on strengthening my back side – traps, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.  But I know the TTF course better than this one – particularly the run – and it’s quite flat and familiar.  I won’t be surprised by hills this time, and the race starts an hour earlier, so I might not have to deal with the heat as much!  And who knows – I might even remember to put on sunscreen (you should see the sunburn today – it’s pretty epic).  I’m hoping for a great race at TTF, and a Personal Best!

Do you put sunscreen on for races?  Do you put it on before the swim, or quickly in T1?

PS – my apologies for the lack of pictures in this post.  I was flying solo at this one – my wife was on call and so had to stay home.  Thus, no pictures 😦

Race Season is Fast Approaching!

June 16, 2014 2 comments

Only 5 more sleeps until my first triathlon of 2014.  I’m surprisingly nervous.  It’s not like this is my first time at the rodeo – I’ve got a half dozen triathlons under my belt from prior summers.  It’s not even like this is my first time at this distance – I did my first Olympic distance race last September.

But it’s my first tri of this season – after a long (very long!) winter, I can’t help but feel a bit rusty.  Am I ready?  I had 8 months during the off season to train, did I train enough?  I certainly wasn’t perfectly focused, was I focused enough?  That run doesn’t feel any easier than it did last fall.  But my times are getting faster, even if I huff and puff just as much.

easier faster

Or maybe it’s not nervous?  Maybe it’s antsy?  Maybe it’s 8 long months of telling myself that all those cold mornings at the gym, all those hill sprints (or, the one or two that I did at least), all those long runs were for something – were building towards something.  And that something is finally here.  And even if this isn’t my “A” race of the season, it’s a race.  It’s a chance to get out and do what I love.  This is what I’ve been working for!  Maybe it’s excitement!  Race season is finally here!!

…So here I go it’s my shot.
Feet, fail me not, this may be the only opportunity that I got…

Ready.  To.  Go!

That’s my pre-race Jam!  What’s yours?

2014 Goals

March 13, 2014 2 comments
I can laugh about it, at least...

I can laugh about it, at least…

image from *clean* funny pics

Today I’m working from home – for the 3rd day this week – with a head cold.   I like to joke about the ‘Man Cold‘, but in truth I try hard to keep being a functioning adult as much as I can (though my wife may have some comments to make on that front).  I’m working from home to keep the germs out of the office, and so I can make myself hot beverages more readily, but I’m still working!  Life doesn’t stop because of a head cold…

… except for training.  When my head feels like it’s in a vice, and all breathing is through my mouth, I have zero interest in getting on a treadmill.  Does that make me a lazy triathlete?  Maybe.  Do I care?  Right now, not really.  I’ll get back to training as soon as I can breathe again!

What I can do in the interim is finally start to put some thought towards my 2014 goals.  Better late than never, right?

TTF

2014 is going to be divided in two halves for me.  My “A” race this year is the Toronto Triathlon Festival (Olympic Distance) on Sunday July 13th.  So my year is going to be focused on getting ready for this race, and then staying healthy and fit through the back half of the year.

The Front Half

The Toronto Triathlon Festival, from today, is 17.5 weeks away.  In previous years, my goal has been to simply ‘finish’ races, and hopefully to PB (though nearly each race was a first at the respective race distance, this was almost always a guarantee).  This year, I want some specific goals to shoot for:

  • I want to finish sub 3:05:00.  That’s about a 10% improvement over my Olympic Distance PB of 3:24:44
  • I want to run the 10k leg of the race in sub 1:05:00 off the bike.  My PB straight 10k time is 1:02:41, so I can do this.  But I struggled running off the bike last year, with the run in my Olympic race taking 1:18:19.  If I can shave 13 minutes off my run, I’m well on my way to a sub 3:05:00 time.

How will I get there?  In these next 17+ weeks, I want to:

weight-loss-scale Drop 15lbs.  My current weight is 234lbs.  By race day, I want my race weight to be under 220lbs.  That’s less than 1lb/week to lose.  I can do this.  Through consistent training, and a better focus on eating healthy, whole, and natural foods, this should be manageable.  Why? Because I’ll be able to run and bike a hell of a lot faster with 15lbs less fat weighing me down.  Plus, last year my wetsuit was a tight fit, and I sure as hell am not buying a new one!

WaterlooMarathon Race a half marathon.  My run is by far the weak leg of my race.  Last year I did a spring half marathon and training for it helped me focus my training volume on the run, which I think helped my running comfort and endurance.  So I’m going to try that again this year.  I’m looking at the Waterloo Half Marathon on Sunday April 27th.  That’s 6.5 weeks away – enough time that I can stretch out my long runs to get ready.  I’m not setting a finishing time goal for this – though a PB would be nice (and anything faster than 2:38:00 would be sufficient, so the odds are good).  I’m running this because I want to focus on running a volume of miles over the first segment of my training, and having a race on the calendar will help keep me motivated.  Plus, race day is fun!  Also, my wife wants to run too, and any opportunity to run a race with her is always worth it!

Subaru Race a test race.  I’m planning to race the Subaru Triathlon Guelph Lake I (Olympic Distance) race on Saturday June 21st.  That’s 3 weeks prior to my ‘A’ race, and 14.5 weeks from today.  This should give me good feedback before my ‘A’ race.  Plus, the Subaru Triathlon Series is a series I’ve been meaning to try for a few years now, and having grown up in Guelph this is going to feel real comfortable.

I’ve spent some time this week – while stuffed up and not training – realigning my training plan towards these goals.  I’ve split the next 17+ weeks into three phases:

The Build Phase – Really this is just keep on doing what I’ve been doing all winter: Base training.  This phase is all about volume.  I’m sticking primarily to the training plan I have been using, but making some modifications based on what I’ve learned so far this winter works for me: i) Fridays are now rest days.  It is sacred!  ii) Monday mornings are now off mornings.  Not every day needs to be a 2-a-day, and the less times I have to fight my alarm the better!  iii) Monday and Wednesday afternoons are going to be easy bricks.  The goal is still about volume, not about hard training.  But I need to account for the new days off somewhere.

The Build Phase will last for the first 6+ weeks until the Waterloo Half Marathon, then we get into…

The Intensity Phase – The next 8 weeks are my intensity phase.  Here, the volume drops back a bit, and we replace it with more bricks, speed work, and intervals.  Workouts are more intense, but not as long.  The emphasis on running in the first phase (leading up to the half marathon) starts to balance out with time biking and swimming.  Monday mornings and Fridays are no longer sacred, but replaced with easy recovery swim and ride.

The Intensity Phase will last for 7 weeks, plus a taper week leading up to the Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon, then we get into…

The Third Phase (I really need a catchy name for this one.  Thoughts?) – 3 weeks between the Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon and my ‘A’ Race, the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  3 weeks to focus on anything that I wasn’t happy with, make any adjustments to expectations, and get focused and ready for my ‘A’ race.

The Back Half

I don’t have a definite plan for the second half of 2014 as of yet.  While I’d like to get another race in at some point, for the fun of racing as much as anything, I’m still being flexible about it.  My wife and I are tentatively planning a 2 week vacation in August.  I would bring my running shoes, but not my bike or my wetsuit.  So I’m still weighing the pros and cons of an early September race (possibly the Wasaga Beach Triathlon) or maybe even an early August destination race (possibly the Rev3 Morgantown).  If I don’t race though, I need to look for another mechanism to help me keep focus on training and healthy eating.  I’m coming to realize how easily I slip into old bad habits when I don’t have a race on the horizon.

Now I just need for this head cold to go away.  It’s time to get back to work – there’s a lot to do over the next 17 weeks!!

Summer is coming!

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