Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Race Strategy: 4 days to go!

Talked to my coach yesterday and have my race strategy.

The swim is all about staying relaxed, focusing on form and drafting the entire swim. I'll go out fairly fast, focusing on my best and most relaxed form and look for swimmers of similar pace to draft off. If someone passes me gradually, that's a good choice. This will require focus for the entire swim when it comes to drafting. Historically, I have had trouble keeping a good line on the way back into the harbor, but if I draft well perhaps I won't end up off track. I do have to maintain a solid effort, but the effort will be focused on keeping good form and rotation. I've got to hit 32 minutes, and would love to go lower than that.

I can't run at top speed through transition, but I won't walk through either. Coming out of T1, my focus on the bike will be to get my Heart rate down below 150 and closer to 145. If this means going slow, then I'll go slow. I'll watch both my HR and my wattage and keep in zone 3, with my HR in the 140's and wattage close to 170 (or higher if the altitude is my friend), until I get to the hills, where I can push a little harder, perhaps wattage to 200 and HR to 150. Of course, I can recover on the downhills (remembering to come strongly over the top of the hills). I will push the last 10-15 miles and even let my heart rate come up a bit depending on how I feel. So long as I don't push too hard, I can run off the bike finishing hard! This effort will get me close to 2:40, and hopefully faster than that.

Nothing to worry about with T2, these are never a problem.

And finally, the run. The key for me is to do the first mile relatively easily, breathing every 5 steps. Whatever pace this is, will be, but I expect it to be between 7:30 and 7:45. The next few miles will be increasing the effort and pace to try to maintain at least 7:30 pace. Breathing will be every 4 steps, with progression to breathing every 3 steps towards the middle miles. I expect to hit the last turnaround (3 miles to go) and push hard breathing every 2 steps. This will all be mental. I can keep the leg turnover and the pace, my body is capable of that. I just need to will myself to do it. If I do the run in 1:40, I'll be happy, but I think I'm capable of going at least a couple of minutes under.

Goal-4:55 to 5:00 and it will be a successful race. If I hit all cylinders, 4:50 is possible.

My taper is going well. I'm already getting giddy. My tapering workouts are going perfectly.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Swimming Fast is Hard, Swimming Hard isn't Fast

Had a remarkable swim lesson today. I had done a solid bike workout this morning which included 40 minutes non-stop at around half ironman effort. By the time I got to the pool after a morning of work I was on the fatigued side. I did the warm ups and drills with my swim coach, Moe McGarity, and then did a set of 75 yards x 8, descending every two. The first two were done in about 64 seconds, and by the time I did the last 75 yard effort, I was (pleasantly) surprised to find that I did it in 49 seconds. This should translate to a 100 yard swim in 1:05. Last year, my fastest 100 ever was 1:13. One of my goals is to someday break 1 minute.

One of my major breakthrough's is learning that swimming fast doesn't correlate with trying to swim hard. It's actually trying harder to swim with good form. If I actually "try" to swim fast, I tend to lose track of my form and not really go much faster, but certainly will wear myself out. Today, whenever I felt like I was doing that, I concentrated on staying focused on my form and it really worked. At the end of my workout I did a couple of "all-out" 25 yard efforts and managed to get one done in about 14+seconds (under 15 for sure).

My confidence in my swim is clearly at an all time high.

10 days before the California 70.3 and my taper is going well!

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's great to have a coach

The weekend was a remarkable experience. Mentally, I wasn't that into Friday's workouts (swim and short run) and then really felt like Saturday was tough (another swim and a 2 1/2 hour bike with 4x8' hard efforts). I made it through, took a late nap and woke up feeling like crap. All I could think about was that I didn't want to do Sunday's workout. Even my wife commented on how tired I looked. So, I e-mailed my coach, telling him how tired I was and how I wasn't looking forward to Sunday's workout. Before getting his response, it dawned on me that I might be "bonking". It hadn't occurred to me that I could be glycogen depleted a few hours after my workout, but that's what was happening. So, I raided the fridge, eating everything in sight over the next few hours and gradually began feeling better.

My coach, Tim Waggoner, e-mailed me back, reminding me of the importance of learning how to train with fatigue. I read the chapter from Matt Fitzgerald's book, "Brain Training for Runners" on this very topic and fell asleep with a positive attitude about the next day. Sure enough, I had a great workout on Sunday, riding 2 1/2 hours and then doing 5 of my 6 miles running at half ironman effort/pace. And, I kept eating the rest of the day. I've been pushing the border of glycogen depletion lately:)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

2 Week Countdown

Two weeks to race day for the California 70.3. I'm getting excited about the race for a number of reasons. My training has been going great. I'm swimming faster than I ever have, my wattage on the bike keeps coming up and I'm pretty sure that I'm running faster than ever, especially when I'm tired.

I made a really big decision this week regarding the race. The winning time in my age group for the last few years has varied from 4:43 to 4:55. My first and most basic goal is to finish the race in under 5 hours. If I click on all cylinders, I could go under4:50. That certainly puts me in range of top three and possibly winning my age group. As there is one slot (most likely for the winner of the age group) for Kona (Ironman World Championship), which is every triathlete's dream, I could have a chance at that slot. Kona is 2 weeks before the World Long Course in Perth, so I would have to make a choice. After thinking about it a little, I said, "what the heck!". If I qualify for Kona, I'm going. Austrailia will become a vacation. If I don't qualify for Kona, I've already qualified for the long course World's. So, I've got exciting plans in October no matter what!

My swim has really improved this year with help from my swim coach, Moe McGarity and continued great workouts from my tri coach, Tim Waggoner. A couple of years ago, 1:40 pace/100 yards was challenging to keep even for 500 yards. Now, that's my easy 500 yard pace. I've been doing a lot more pulling this year and my swim volume has increased. All of a sudden, 1:30 pace in a wet suit for a half ironman swim doesn't seem daunting. If I can get off to a good start (and I'll start at the front) and catch a decent draft and maintain it, I think that I can complete the swim in under 32 minutes and quite possibly, 30 minutes.

Two years ago, I biked the California course in 2:45. I believe that I am a stronger biker today and hopefully I can go under 2:40. This one is a little uncertain in terms of how much faster I can go. The course is all about pacing, especially leaving something for the hills, but I'm very familiar with the course and think that I can do well.

Finally, comes my run. Tim has had me doing more progression runs this year and keeping 7:30 pace at the end of a long run doesn't seem as problematic as it used to. The key to my run, however, is not my legs, but my brain. The run is going to be the most mental aspect of my race. I'm going to have to stay focused during the first half of the run in order to maintain a solid pace and then stay really focused during the second half of the run to keep from slowing down. I'm going to try to practice my visualization of this every chance I get over the next two weeks. I start tomorrow with a 2 1/2 hour bike followed by a six mile run at race pace (7:30). If I can do that at altitude, I can do it at sea level. My run two years ago was 1:45, so I'm planning to at least go under 1:40, and try to get as fast as 1:36-1:38.

I never worry about my transitions, they should take a total of ~6 minutes.

What's really fun to think about is that in 2004 I did this race in 6:08. A year later I dropped that to 5:49 and two years ago, was able to finish the race in 5:13. To go under 5 hours racing as a fifty year old will be really cool! I'd like to say I'm going to just go out there and have fun and see what happens, but the reality is that there has to be a crossover between fun and focus for me to hit all of my goals.

Fortunately, work is going better and my stress level is down, I'm going to try to keep it that way:)