Monday, 19 November 2012 20:55

Ironman Arizona 2012 Race Report

Ironman Arizona 2012 is the last triathlon of the season and I went out with a BANG.  This race report came very close to being the shortest race report for an Ironman race but fortunately (or unfortunately for you) I have a lot more to say since there was and ending that I can speak of.  In case you don't want to go through the process of reading every word just jump to the bike section and you can read why this was very close to being a short post.  If you care to read it all than let's jump right in together: Thursday:  On Thursday I flew into Phoenix ahead of Karen because she had to work.  From the airport I drove straight to the expo to go through the athlete check-in and get all of that over with before heading up to Emily's house.  Emily was kind enough to allow Karen and I to stay at her house during this race weekend and I am so grateful to her for doing so.  We picked up dinner and then I headed back to the airport to pick up Karen and prepare for a rather easy Friday. Friday:  Lots of nothing going on.  Did the rounds of the expo for Karen to see and spent the day off of my feet as much as possible.  Friday night is the big dinner night for a race on Sunday and I ate and ate and ate.  Felt good though. Saturday:   Headed down to the transition area early so that Karen could begin her 22 mile run since she has the Dallas Marathon coming up.  At first I was going to go to sleep in the car and then do the practice swim and a quick 30 minute bike and 30 minute run.  I was antsy so I figured I would ride and run then swim.  Thankfully I did as I realized as I was heading to the swim that I did not bring my bike and run gear bags and they had to be checked in that day.  After getting that all done we headed to the tattoo parlor to talk to the artist about sketching out the tattoo (I will be getting it today so stay tuned for pictures.) Sunday:  Race day.  It all starts with a 3:30am wake up followed soon by a cup of coffee, a bowl of granola and toast with peanut butter, banana and honey.  Gather up whatever I need for morning clothes and into the car we went.  Off to the race site at 4:44am (a node to Emily) and we got down to transition after fighting with the GPS for a few minutes.  Walking down to the race site I had a calm come over me.  Maybe it was experience or just that I knew I was ready but either way there were no butterflies. I got all my gear checked over and then put my nutrition on my bike along with pumping up my tires.  Body marked and porto-potty time.  After that I ran into Troy and Michelle and what a terrific sight.  We all stayed with each other until it was time to jump in the lake, and here the race report begins: Swim:  Michelle and I jumped in the lake together with about 7 minutes to go before the cannon.  We found a surfboard and hung onto it.  While handing on I dropped my face into the water several times and kept kicking to keep my body warm.  The water temp was 64* and while I made it much colder in my mind before jumping in the temperatures  still ran a chill down my spine. With about 1 minute to go until the start I told Michelle that we needed to start swimming so that we were moving and would be able to just go without stopping.  As we were swimming the cannon went off and we said our good lucks and went.  The start at IMAZ is not as crazy as I expected.  I sighted on every stroke to start to make sure I wasn't swimming on top of people and to also help me find a line.  After the first 200 meters I found an opening and went.  I was not touched after that, nor did I touch anybody.  That is until the first turn buoy, then second turn buoy which are very close together.  People warned about the sun as you would be swimming into it but I never had any issues on this section of the swim. After the second turn I had smooth sailing and picked up the pace.  I was settling into a groove when the leg cramps started to hit.  My calf muscles would get very cramped and I had to swim while flexing my feet.  It was after the 4th or 5th cramp that I decided to kick just a bit more to keep my legs from tightening up again.  Then before I knew it I saw the last turn buoy and was headed toward the stairs.  When I got to the stairs my legs were a bit fatigued and I almost slipped climbing the stairs and that is when the lady in front of me went down.  Feeling so bad for her I just stepped over her and kept on moving.  Found the wetsuit strippers and off to grab my bag and into the changing tent. T1:  I pride myself on getting through the transition areas quickly, but this time I decided to bake cookies or so it would seem.  A 12 minute transition in T1.  What is this all about?  Well, let me tell you.  Being afraid of being cold I took some toe warmers and hand warmers from Emily that had to be opened.  I changed out of the shorts I swam in and into a dry pair.  I put on a top (swam without one) then applied sunscreen and arm sleeves.  Put on race bib, shoes, gloves and helmet and I finally got out of that tent. Bike: Ironman Arizona is a 3 loop bike course with each loop consisting of 37 or so miles.  I got on my bike at the mount line and started going.  I held back a bit because I wanted to make sure that I could feel my legs and not over exert myself because I was cold.  After finally settling I began my plan to hydrate and get the calories in.  The plan was to drink my prepared drink every 15 minutes, a HoneyStinger every two hours and EFS every 1.5 hours.  In between I would take water off the course from every aid station.  I would drink what I could and chuck the bottle before getting out of the aid station area. At the first aid station, which is about 13 miles into the race, is where the race nearly ended.  I slowed down behind another rider as he reached for a water bottle.  As soon as he grabbed it I grabbed mine.  He dropped his, and then a Gatorade bottle dropped from some place and he went down.  With only one hand on the bike and no place to go I went down over top of him and hit the ground with a huge thud.  I  could feel the air leaving my lungs and then my head smack down hard on the ground and then the sliding began.  I stayed down for a moment and then stood up and a few volunteers helped me. One woman told me I was ok and that I had no swelling and the bike looked ok.  I was gathering my thoughts when I thought of not being able to continue and this so soon into the race.  I thought of the sacrifice that Karen had put in to get me here.  I then started smacking my saddle and cursing.  After feeling bad for myself I did a body check (check) and a head check (check) and then a bike check (check) and started to go.  Before even the first peddle stroke I noticed that while my bike was pointing forward the wheel was pointing to the left.  That is when I really thought my race was over.  I asked the volunteer helping me if there was a bike aid around and he found there was one at the end of the aid station.  I walked my bike down there not knowing what to think.  The mechanic put it up on the bike holder and made some adjustments and told me the bike was perfect that I could keep racing. I got on the bike and with a lot of hesitation and trepidation I began going.  This section is where the 3% grade is but we were also facing a headwind.  With my body still wracked and the elements against me I had the slowest splits of my day at this point.  When I reached the turn around I was pissed and said it was time to ride.  I started hammering and noticed that I was riding at 30 mph (thank you tailwind.)  I got to the turn around to start Loop 2 in about an hour and finished Loop 1 in 2h6m.  My goal was to do a 5:50 bike split and doing the math I knew I would need to kill the 2nd and 3rd laps but I did not want to hurt my run so while I was aggressive I did not blow all my energy.  My left hip was feeling good and other than the cut on my shoulder I thought I was ok.  That was until my right hip started throbbing and the top of my right foot started to hurt. When Lap 3 started I just wanted it over with and pedaled.  This time there were no incidents or issues but I really wanted to be off my bike and running. T2: More like it.  I ran down my row, yelled out my number and as I got there the guy was picking up the bag and I told him to throw it.  I caught it in full stride and ran to the tent.  Just like in Texas I did not go into the tent and sat down on a chair outside and put on my visor, running shoes and grabbed the bottle of EFS.  Off I was in a swift 1:51. Run:  3 loop course but the miles seemed to be further apart than I remember a mile being.  The course is a mixture of cement and gravel.  There are a lot of turns and  I think this caused the miles to be further away than other 3 loop courses I have run or trained on.  When I started running I noticed my pace was down in the 8:00/mi and I wanted to pull back and get my HR under control which I did.  I slowed down and started the hydration plan.  Every aid station I would take water from and every other aid station I would walk for 10 seconds.  I did this through the first two aid stations but I felt great at the 4th aid station and did not stop to walk. I started to feel really full and though I needed to use the toilet.  I went into the bathroom (yes, not the porto as there were bathrooms on the course) and nothing happened so I got out and got ready to get going again.  I managed to make it to Mile 10 before I wanted to walk the aid stations.  At this point my left hip was throbbing and my shoulder hurt so bad I could hardly keep my left arm pumping during the run.  The pain was almost unbearable but I started to do math calculations in my head. When I reached mile 13 my watch was beeping so much that I just turned it off and decided to just run.  I knew that to get in under 12 hours I needed to run a 2 hour half-marathon and that became the goal. With every passing mile I would multiply the remaining miles by 10 minutes (assuming I was running 10:00/mi pace but I really had no clue) and made sure that I was always under 12 hours.  When I hit the 17 mile marker I told myself it was only 15k to do, then again at mile 20 (only 10k to go) and finally at mile 23 before I could get my thoughts out another athlete yelled: only 5k to go until I am an Ironman.  That got me fired up and I picked up the pace.  I was really hurting here but knew that I did not have far to go. As I got closer to the end I could feel the electricity in the air.  As I made the turn toward the finisher's chute Susan Lacke ran up on me and I had no idea who it was but I got pissed because I was thinking:  What a$$hole is going to sprint past me to get to the finisher's line.  When I saw Susan's face I could have cried.  All the pain was now leaving my body and I only had a few hundred yards to go.  I crossed the finish line and could not lift either arm, legs in total shut down mode and my brain completely fried from trying to motivate my body to keep moving forward.  After the catcher held me for a few moments I started walking and found Richard who helped me through the chute and over to Karen. I hugged her and told her I was in so much pain.  More pain then I ever thought I could endure.  My hip was screaming mad, my shoulder was not happy and the soft area on my head started pulsing.  I never noticed the major road rash on my calf or shoulder area, let alone the skin ripped off my elbow until this morning's shower when it all screamed at me. Through it all I never lost sight of my honor my father.  I did not hit the 11:18 but I think he would be proud of me for not quitting.  He would be proud of me for proving that anything can be done if you put your mind to it.  He would be proud that when I finished I did not bitch and moan about my time but instead accepted what the day gave me. For that I am the proudest.  I fought the good fight on the course and when it was all said and done I set a PR in the process.  Finishing my second Ironman this year in 11:53 will be remembered for the time but for me it will always be remembered for not quitting even when the going got tough. Thank you to everybody for reading and for your support.  At different times on the course I channeled you and you helped m get to the finish line.  I can never repay for your help. [gallery link="file"]

Published in Race Reports
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 17:20

Open Water Swimming

[caption id="attachment_6694" align="alignright" width="300"]openwaterswimming_ironman_triathlon_training Source: / Photo: Erik Isakson[/caption] Open water swimming would seem to be coming to an end as the triathlon season is winding down but in my best kid voice:  I don't want to stop open water swimming.  Since mid-June I have been doing an open water swim at the lake near my house and it has been every Friday since August 7th that I have done the swim thanks to an invitation from Michelle.  Ever since that glorious day in the lake I have consistently swam 2 miles every Friday and it has done wonders not only for my swim technique and sighting in the open water but also for relaxing my mind and body. When I put on that swim cap and goggles and head out for this swim I forget about the entire week of lactate threshold running and hill repeats on the bike.  This 1+ hour of training is my peace of mind and I l do not want to stop doing it.  The weather here in Texas is around 50* at 7:00am and that is when I plunk my body into the lake and while the water temp is cool it is warmer than 50*.  I submerge my body and go and it is wonderful. When the temperatures continue to creep downward will I have the motivation to submerge myself into that cold water?  My answer as of today is yes.  Maybe I don't swim 2 miles but I will continue to swim.  I want to continue to open water swim so that when March and 70.3 Puerto Rico comes around I am ready to go and don't have to start all over again.  Let's not forget that Ironman Texas is in May and I want to have a drastic improvement on my 1:36 from that race. Swimming is not my strongest sport and any type of improvement here is going to help my overall race.  I have gotten out of the water thinking that I swam a certain time only to be disappointed at what I see.  I am not looking for leaps and bounds improvement but if I can knock that 1:36 at the 2.4 mile distance down to 1:25 (without wetsuit) and 1:20 (with wetsuit) then we are looking at an 11 minute improvement at Ironman Texas in 2013.  That would set me up for a tremendous race and the only way to do that is to continue to get better at open water swimming. Another way to get better at open water swimming is going to be in going to the pool consistently during the off-season.  Working on drills and sets and streamlining and technique and repeating until I am so tired of the pool that I never want to go back.  I need to embrace my inner Nemo during the winter at both the pool, but especially in the open water since 70.3 and 140.6 distance races don't take place in a pool. While searching for different tips and tricks on the internet I came across this article for pool swimming that would seem to be a good change of pace to what I have been doing in terms of drills.  This article also provides a couple of swim sets to help test out how the consistent and hard swimming is working.  I know in the past year I have seen an improvement and I am thrilled to see it but I also know there is more to be done. See You In The Lake!

Do You Swim In The Open Water In The Offseason?

How Have You Improved Your Swim?

Published in Train
Thursday, 13 September 2012 14:48

Ironman Arizona Update

[caption id="attachment_6488" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmanarizona_triathlon_training Source: Ironman Arizona
If the roads are that paved I will be one happy person[/caption] Ironman Arizona is a tad over 9 weeks away and the training is entering its peak phase for sure.  Coach doesn't provide me the schedule in advance so I only know what I am doing for the week on Sunday afternoon/evenings.  I like it this way, and she plans it this way, because I can't look ahead as to what might be hard and so I lose the focus and purpose of the current days training.  For me every training session must have a purpose otherwise I feel as if I am wasting my time and I hate wasting time. My overall impressions of this training cycle, in comparison to Ironman Texas, are that it is going better.  I feel stronger at this point of my training cycle than I ever did for IMTX.  The workouts that have been prescribed are harder because there is a lot more interval and hill work but it has certainly been paying off.  When I raced Rev3 Maine a few weeks ago I felt strong in the water (the wetsuit didn't hurt) and very strong on the run.  I had the fastest run split at the 70.3 distance at that race and this is coming off of 8 months that included 70.3 Puerto Rico and Ironman Texas racing and training. I received some great news from Rebecca when she rode the course last week.  Her feedback was that it can be a course that I spend the entire time in the big ring on.  She said I MAY have to go to the small ring when I get out toward the turn-around of Loop 3 but otherwise should be more than OK in the big ring.  After the sh*t show that was last weekend's ride into the 15-20mph headwinds my biggest concern is not the course itself but more mother nature and the winds.  I know that there is nothing I can do about it and that we all will be dealing with it, but that wind can play havoc on your mind. In addition to Rebecca's first hand scouting I asked Aimee about the course since she raced IMAZ last year and she gave her impressions.  Again the bike wasn't the biggest deal in terms of the course but more a concern when it came to the wind.  If it's there it's there but that is nothing I can concern myself with as I keep pushing forward and adding miles and miles to my tires and legs. My runs have been outstanding and my hope is that I am not peaking too soon with that discipline.  I ran 17 miles on Tuesday at a 9:37/mi pace and kept my HR way down.  The cooler weather is helping out tremendously with this, but so is the fact that I was running smart in the 100* days here.  I took it slow then and now the pay-off is here with faster run splits.  Yesterday I was scheduled to run 50 minutes at LT pace and when I first saw the schedule I was thinking how painful it was going to be.  Running with an HR of 155-165bpm coming off a 17+ mile run was not going to be pleasant, or so I though.  I got in the pool first and swam a hard but enjoyable 3800 yard set and then set out on my run.  Surprise, Surprise!  I held an 8:00/mi pace while keeping my HR at 151bpm. [caption id="attachment_6489" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmanarizona_triathlon_training Source: Ironman Arizona
I'll be sure to point out who I am when they take the pic this year.[/caption] My goal is to run a sub-4 hour marathon and if I am able to hold an 8:00/mi pace at 151bpm then holding a sub-9:00/mi pace at a 140-145bpm level is certainly feasible.  Aimee mentioned that the course was flat outside of the ramps going up from the lake.  If they are short then there is plenty of time to recover on the flat sections and run fast to make up for lost time on the uphills. I have also changed up my nutrition plan and have been using it in training and raced with it at Rev3.  For Ironman Arizona I am getting rid of the water cages on the back of my saddle and using only a torpedo and a down tube cage (read that as no speedfil.)  In the torpedo mounted bottle I will have 400 calories of EFS Liquid Shot watered down (Kona-Mocha of course.)  In the down tube I will have 400 calories of Herbalife24 Prolong and Prepare mixed (Mango flavor for that brunch feel when combined with the Kona-Mocha.)  In the side pockets of my jersey I will have two HoneyStingers (1 vanilla, 1 chocolate) and I will start the bike with a lemon flavored honeystinger.  When you add up all the calories you are looking at 1280.  For a 6 hour ride that comes out to 213 calories per hour.  If I need to I will supplement with perform on the course (used it on a training ride and it didn't bother my stomach so we should be good to go.)  I will also take a water bottle and drink and toss at the aid stations every 10 miles. Out on the run I will have a tiny handheld in my shorts pockets.  The racing kit I have has shorts that have a pocket that is perfect for holding the mini-handheld and you don't even realize it is there.  I will have them filled with 400 calories of EFS Liquid Shot (vanilla to change-up the flavor) and I will have 2 HoneyStingers (vanilla) in my jersey for at the 1 and 3  hour mark.  This will give me 720 calories for a total of 180 calories per hour. My plan is to take 10 second walk breaks every two miles at the aid stations to get water in me.  If I am on target I should be hitting the aid stations approximately every 18 minutes which is perfect timing for a swig of EFS and a swig of water to wash it down, then keep on going.  I have been having success with this practice on my long run and hope that it continues on race day. So all that being said the training for IMAZ is going well.  I feel strong and mentally ready.  I know that I am only going to keep getting stronger in the next 4 weeks and I have to be smart to stay on top of my eating and sleeping habits.

If You Have Raced IMAZ What Are Your Tips/Tricks To A Successful Day?

Published in Train
Monday, 06 August 2012 14:03

Training Camp Triathlon Style

Training Camps have opened all across the country for the players of the National Football League.  For me, this past weekend was a training camp as well but this was a triathlon training camp.  I made the decision about a month ago to invite myself down to the Houston area to spend the weekend chasing The Carrot (Jeff Irvin) all around his neighborhood.  The timing worked out perfectly as Jeff was going to be doing his final big block of training in advance of Ironman Mont-Tremblant and I am in the throes of training for Rev3 OOB Maine and Ironman Arizona. [caption id="attachment_6303" align="alignright" width="300"]triathlon_training_cooktraineatrace_danglethecarrot_ironman At A Rest Stop Flashing Off Jeff's FLO CYCLING Race Wheels[/caption] Our plan was for me to head out from Dallas on Friday afternoon to get to Jeff and Annie's by dinner time.  We would eat, load up water bottles and be asleep early so that we could catch up with a group ride that started at 630a on Saturday.  We would ride for 4 hours then follow that up with a 30 minute run.  After that we had no plans but to make sure to get to bed early again so that we could be on the road running for 1.5 hours by 530am and then hit the pool for a good swim and then I would be back on the road to Dallas by lunch time.  All sounded great and you know what.....we nailed it. Friday around 1pm I got on the road after packing as if I were moving in with the Irvin's and not just staying for a weekend. This sport of triathlon that I love involves a lot of shit.  Let's see what I brought:  1 cooler with Herbalife products, rice cakes, powdered peanut butter, honey, plates and knives and forks.  1 triathlon bag with cycling shoes, helmet, water bottles, running shoes, swim cap, goggles, pull buoy, towels and running sneakers.  1 bag with clothes for wearing and clothes for training.  1 bag with laptop, ipad, cords and magazines.  Oh, and don't forget the bike and the pump in the car plus the small cooler that had fruit and 3 water bottles for the 4 hour drive.  As I had planned on taking it slow I didn't mind stopping nearly every hour to have to use the restroom.  Pulled up to the Irvin's house around 5pm and unloaded all that garbage.  As soon as Annie got home it was off to dinner. Now here is a funny story about dinner.  We go to an Italian restaurant and I order a veggie pizza with no cheese.  After Annie and I split a hummus plate I can see the waiter walk up to the table with the pizza and then turn around to head back to the kitchen.  Annie says that there was cheese on the pizza and so they had to take it back to make a new one.  After the food comes and we are chowing down and laughing and having a good time the waiter comes by with a complimentary dessert.  Guess what he brings?  He brings a cheesecake?  Really?  I just ordered pizza with NO CHEESE and you bring a cheesecake to make up for bringing the first pizza over with cheese?  Annie, Jeff and I just laughed at the irony of it all.  Off to the house we watch some Olympics and then early to bed. When the alarm went off in the morning I hit snooze about 100x as I was just not ready to hit the road but it was time to go.  Jeff and I load up the Team Baha vehicle and head out to the Lifetime Fitness gym.  From there we would ride two miles to the launch site of the group ride.  When we got to the launch site I had to buy some HoneyStinger waffles.  I got two vanilla and 1 chocolate.  I had never tried the chocolate and it was good.  Not as good as the Vanilla and Honey but better than Strawberry.  7am comes and the ride starts.  After about 30 minutes we are stopped by a train crossing and as we are standing there I say to the group:  Nobody told me we were going swimming in the ocean first.  I was covered in sweat and could feel the wet blanket of humidity covering me.  It was unreal how covered in sweat I was. Jeff and I split off from the group and ride at our own pace and move around the area at a very nice clip.  The one thing I noticed about this ride is that it is FLAT.  I mean completely flat.  I downloaded my Garmin data and the total elevation gain over 70 miles was 217 feet.  The ride in and of itself was great as it was a different route, obviously, than I had been riding but the company was awesome.  Jeff and I talked the whole time and laughed a lot throughout the ride.  One thing that was key was that we stopped a few time and I had to pee which meant that I was hydrating properly. At one point Jeff and I were going about 20 mph and enjoying ourselves when this terrier comes tearing out of his yard and chasing us.  We picked up the pace to the tune of 28 mph and the little dude was not just hanging with us but he got right in between us which means he was going faster than 28mph.  It was hilarious and I could not stop laughing at this dog.  Thanks pup for giving us our interval work for that hour. [caption id="attachment_6304" align="alignright" width="300"]triathlon_training_danglethecarrot_nap Dangle the Carrot and Cook Train Eat Race enjoying the Olympics[/caption] When we were done we put in a solid 30 minute run and the legs were starting to feel it by the end of the run.  There was this feeling of a huge gorilla sitting on my chest.  The air is thick and damp and it is a much different climate to work in than the weather in Dallas.  Once we were done with the run we decided to have lunch and as we were getting ready to go grab food we made the best decision ever which was to go and shower first.  Now here is where I feel for Annie.  In to the house come these two smelly and sweaty guys that had just finished working out for nearly 5 hours.  It was a horrendous smell that came into the house.  Shower off to lunch then onto the couch for some Olympics.  Now when they invent the ability to watch TV through your eyelids Jeff and I will be ready. As you can see from the pic we both passed out. On Sunday morning we were going to put in 90 minutes (sounds much longer than 1.5 hours doesn't it?) and then hit the pool.  As soon as we walked outside I knew that the run was going to be a slugfest.  Jeff and I had planned on running 10 miles in the 90 minutes for a 9 minute pace.  We decided to incorporate a 10 second walk break at each mile to simulate the aid stations at the Ironman races.  Once we started that gorilla on my chest had been joined by an elephant.  Seriously difficult to breathe with the humidity.  After about 2-3 miles I finally felt in a groove.  After 45 minutes we stopped at the car to top off liquids and off we went.  It was at this time that the sun was coming up and the weather felt great.  That lasted about 20 minutes and then the heat began to creep in.  When the 10 miles was up (after 95 minutes) and we were walking toward Starbuck's I could feel the bucket of sweat just dripping down over me.  I changed shirts in the parking lot and could actually ring out my clothes they were that bad. At the pool after the run and the 70* water felt cold.  Once I started my swim I thought:  Holy crap this is long.  Did the heat and humidity sap every ounce of strength from me?  That is when I realized that this was a 25 meter pool and not the 25 yard pool I was used to swimming in.  Every set felt longer than the next and it actually was.  I put in 2500 meters of swimming and it felt good on my legs.  The hot tub felt even better. Back at the house and Annie had made us waffles......yaa-hoo!  Oh these waffles were the best thing I had ever eaten.  I jumped in the car for an eat and run incident but I knew that if I did not start driving I would never make it home as the exhaustion would take over soon enough.  I managed to get home in about 4 hours and when I walked through the door the only thing I could think about was food.  I was starving and wolfed down dinner then watched Running the Sahara with Karen and started to doze off around 8pm. An awesome triathlon training camp weekend with Jeff was done and it was time to get ready to get back into my routine.  I cannot wait to have another triathlon training camp and right now we are looking at February in Austin where we can get some climbing in.  Thank you Jeff and Annie for hosting me.

What did you do this weekend?  How was your training?

Published in Train
Monday, 02 July 2012 14:48

Ironman Arizona Weeks 3 And 4

Ironman Arizona training is in the process of being right in the middle of the throes of a Texas summer.  I sure paid the price this weekend with the heat and the humidity kicking in and really kicking my butt.  I can't recall the last time I had to slow down to the point of basically walking but the lactate threshold ride followed by the lactate threshold run put a whopping on me and reminded me that liquids, liquids, liquids are very important. For the past two weeks I have struggled mentally with my swim.  I felt like I was going backwards and I can trace it to the fact that I was trying to hard.  I was putting so much pressure on me to get faster and faster and faster that I paralyzed myself.  I would get to the pool and just not want to get in because of the worry of whether or not I would be faster. After my open water swim I emailed my coach with the subject:  Swimming......UGH!  I told her that I felt like my swim was going backwards and that no matter what I tried I was struggling.  As usual her response opened up my mind and allowed me to swim freely the very next day.  I was so comforted by her words that my text message to her was:  From Swimming.....ugh! to Swimming.....hellz yeah!  I have had two swim sets since our email exchange and they have both been very good and I am looking forward to today's swim set. I have changed a few things about my training for Ironman Arizona in comparison to Ironman Texas.  For IMTX I did my Monday ride in the morning on the trainer.  It has been a 1 hour ride in the aerobic capacity zone.  This time I am going out on the road and starting around 6:30am and doing a 30 mile loop and I am loving it.  I have created my own race against myself and am pushing myself. Here is a comparison of the last two Monday's in which I rode the same course.  The one from today I hit the start button on my Garmin one mile into the ride so the total ride was 1:36:19 and I am excited about that.  It was warmer with a steadier wind of 10mph versus 1-2mph last week. [caption id="attachment_6138" align="aligncenter" width="600"]ironmanarizona_imaz_training_triathlon Very Comparable Week To Week[/caption] The second thing I have changed is that instead of swimming at 5am in the morning I am doing my swims at lunch.  Although I have hated the swim for two weeks I think this is a good change.  I can focus on the form of my swim instead of sleep-swimming through the set.  I am still getting up early but I am doing the ride or run and then coming home before going for a lunch swim.  This has forced me to make adjustments to my schedule but I think it is better for me. The numbers for the bike have been down for the past two weeks but the run mileage has picked back up a bit.  Overall time for each of the past two weeks spent training has been just over 13 hours.  This week should be in the 15 hour range when all is said and done. Here are the numbers to date: Swim: 18.4 miles Bike: 452.9 miles Run: 79.7 miles   [caption id="attachment_6140" align="aligncenter" width="600"]ironmanarizona_imaz_training_triathlon Will Be Interested To See If Weight Drops As Summer Drags On[/caption] Thank You For Reading!
Published in Train
Monday, 21 May 2012 11:44

Ironman Texas - Swim

Ironman Texas was an incredible day all around.  I cannot say it enough but this day was exciting, fun, phenomenal, inspiring, motivating, intense and a just a great time. In case you do not know I finished the race in 11:59:51 and for every second of that day I smiled.  There was never a moment when I thought of quitting or slowing down on the bike, or walking on the run or floating on my back in the swim.  The day did not go exactly as planned but what Ironman race does?  As I write each section of this extra long race report I will get into my feelings of each section, but know that I did exactly that:  I compartmentalized the race and once one section was over it was over and onto the next part. The night before the race we went to dinner with a ton of people at Bucca Di Peppo.  Well, let's be honest it was more linner than dinner since we got to the restaurant before the blue hairs.  We sat down to consume grub at 4pm.  Yes, we were done and the normal early crowd was just getting there but it was perfect timing as I could get back to the hotel and setup all my drinks and food without rushing through it.  I wanted to make sure I had enough calories for the bike and run and that all my bags were packed with everything that needed to go in them. After everything was set I sat on the bed and went to talk to Karen and realized she was already asleep.  It was 7:30pm.....but I will give her a pass as she ran 12 miles early in the morning with Jeff.  So sitting there with all my thoughts was perfect.  I went over my race plan, my nutrition plan, my hydration plan.  I took out my sharpie to write these plans down on my hands.  I knew it inside and out and was going to follow it no matter what happened. I fell asleep at 9:30p and when the alarm went off at 3:30am I felt refreshed and ready for the momentous task that lay ahead of me.  I made a smoothie and had two slices of vegan rye bread with homemade almond butter, honey and sliced banana.  I chose not to have a bowl of granola or eat the rice cakes.  I was concerned about the fiber in both and did not want to have a too full feeling when the swim started. Karen and I left for transition around 5:15am and got to the area around 5:30a.  This is where the day could have fallen apart on me.  I could not get my extra tire attached to my bike because I had put on water bottle cages and could not figure it out.  After struggling with this for what seemed like forever and sweating a ton I finally got it attached and I loved how I did it.  Everything was set after I put my bags in and pumped up my tires.  I ran into Coach at the Run Gear bag section took a picture and said our good lucks.  Coach was in the zone and ready to race. Walking over to the swim start I was loose and just looking forward to the start of the day.  After standing in line for what seemed like forever for the bathroom I used TriSlide and kissed my wife good-bye and started to walk to the swim start with Juan.  This is when the first butterflies showed up.  I wasn't nervous about the swim distance or pace or MMA like scenario that was going to unfold.  I was worried about having to float until the cannon went off.  I got in the water with around 6 minutes to go and found a spot that seemed fairly empty.  I floated on my back and then used the sculling method while on my stomach to create space.  I looked around and had somehow floated to the front.  I pushed back but kept moving forward.  It was there that I engaged in conversation with a guy from Waterloo, Iowa.  He was so fired up and excited to be doing this race that this eased my nerves.  We were embarking on a memorable moment in our lives. The cannon went off and I went to hit start on my watch when I noticed it was off.  WTF can I do now?  I turned on the watch and hit starts as I was swimming and getting slam danced on.  Seriously this is like trying to squeeze 1,000,000 golf balls through a garden hose at the same time.  Contact is unavoidable.  You get hit, you hit and it is all in the name of the swim start.  I managed to keep my composure and just kept swimming hoping to find a lane at some point.  I did not get my heart rate elevated and kept my breathing on pace. It was about 200 meters in when I took a heel to the eye and was thrilled to know I had goggles on.  The goggles did not move but the suction to my face was magnified.  It is what it is and just kept on swimming.  Eventually I found a hole and just kept going and was in a great rhythm.  This happened throughout the entire swim.  You find a lane and you feel great to just be swimming when all of a sudden you catch a hand to the back. At one point I had somebody grab my ankle and start to pull.  Silly goose didn't realize I had another leg and I landed a Chuck Norris style kick to the side of their head and the hand was released.  I was working on a smooth, efficient stroke when I found myself right next to the buoy.  What am I doing here I thought?  I normally veer to the right in my swimming and now I was veering left.  So much so that I wound up on the inside of the swim course at one point and had to adjust to get back to the left and on course.  I was spotting all the big buoys and knew they were 200m apart.  I was taking 10 strokes before looking up.  Maybe this was not the best plan but when you are in the water with so many athletes spotting just didn't seem that important and it made the swim go by faster. Before I knew it I was at the turn buoy and as you know this is where the contact picks up.  People are swimming on a looping style and others are swimming a straight line and you can't help but make contact with people.  The 2nd turn buoy is only about 100 meters away and so the turning and contact pick right back up.  Now I am heading for home and I smiled so huge.  I figured if I got out this far that the rest of the swim would be easy and I would finish and start the race. As you are heading back the sun is right in your eyes causing an issue with finding the large orange buoys.  I did the best I could until I found the crane to spot off of.  It was about this time that the wetsuit swimmers were  catching up to me.  I started to do math and figured if they were swimming 1:20 that I would be done around 1:30 and I was comfortable with this because I was having a good swim and enjoying myself. You make a right into a canal and when 100s of swimmers enter this canal it is bananas.  This section is just relentless.  You are getting hit more and hitting more than at the start of the swim.  At one point a wettie hit me on the back and instead of pulling off kept pushing me down.  I was under water for a good 3-5 seconds when I finally had enough.  I threw a punch right to their gut and was able to get back up for water. A few moments after that I am breathing to my left and seeing buildings and realize that we are close to the end.  I also notice two guys who are extremely tall and have the water at their waist.  I assume that we are done and stand up myself (the water is at my chest) and realize that we are forever away from the finish.  This screwed with my mind a bit because I was ready to get out and get on the bike.  After recovering and going I could finally see the finish kayaks.  Then the zig-zag swimmer showed up.  He came from my right and crossed in front of me, realized he was going in the wrong direction and headed back to the right and was in the way.  I finally just grabbed him and pushed him away from me, made the turn and headed for the stairs. As I got out I saw the time on the clock showed 1:34:xx.  Had this been prior to Puerto Rico I would have let this ruin the next few moments.  On that day I did not care.  I had just swam 2.4 miles and was ready to continue on my way to becoming an Ironman. Stats: 1:34:23 (2:26/100m) --> Goal: 1:15 - 1:20 Division Rank: 284 Gender Rank: 1214 Overall Rank: 1554 Come back tomorrow for the recap of the bike. [gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="rand"]
Published in Race Reports
Friday, 04 May 2012 13:15

Ironman Texas Swim Strategy

[caption id="attachment_5846" align="alignright" width="300" caption="At least with the wall I can't swim too far off course"]ironmantexas_triathlon_swim_woodlands[/caption] The Ironman swim is 2.4 miles long as most of you know.  That is a long way and not having a strategy to tackle that distance could result in a longer day than expected or trained for.  When I wrote the post on the Ironman Texas Bike Strategy Katie of Run This Amazing Day asked where the swim strategy post was.  At the time I had written one because I had one simple strategy for the swim and that was to get through it.  Just get out of the water as fast and as efficient as possible.  The more I thought about that the more I thought to myself:  What does that mean? Swim fast yet efficient?  What's fast?  I do know that when I swim more efficiently I swim faster.  I remember reading that you want to make your body like a javelin because when you submerge a javelin in the water and push the javelin will reach the other end of the pool.  If you stretch out a rope and push it under water it will just collapse.  As I'm in the water I always think 'javelin' and this has helped me  tremendously. At 70.3 Puerto Rico I had a strategy of getting in the front at the start and going hard for the first 100-200 meters and then putting it on cruise control.  Big mistake.  I had the worst Half-Ironman swim I've ever had.  The reason is that I pushed so hard that my heart rate soared and I had to back it down considerably to get my breath and find that rhythm.  After talking with my coach that night she made the comment that the race didn't start until you get out of the water and that the swim is just something you have to do. Taking this theory to the pool and the lake over the past month has been a huge help and essentially a huge boost to my confidence about the swim.  I get in the open water and press the cruise control button and just swim.  I don't worry about how fast I'm going I just think about being a javelin and conserving energy for 2.4 miles or 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes.  It has worked.  I did a 2.2 mile swim (my math in the water is not as strong as my math while riding or running) in 1 hour 10 minutes.  This pace projects out to 1 hour 16 minutes for the 2.4 miles.  I would be thrilled to swim that time and feel as good as I did that day. So what's my strategy?  My thoughts are to start slow.  Let anybody and everybody pass me.  There will be thrashing and there will be punching and kicking, but if I am swimming efficiently then this won't bother me.  If I start out too fast and I start to get hit then the heart rate will spike even more and I'll be pouring lots of energy into getting back to a steady state.  Energy that I will need some 10 hours later while on the run. I can say that I don't know how to draft properly because I don't do a lot of swimming with a partner and practicing the art of the draft.  I have read lots of articles and if I can find feet in the water and swim at about their waist then I will be conserving energy and swimming fast and efficient. I came across this article on TriFuel and it pretty much cements my thoughts that swimming efficiently and conserving as much energy as possible is the best way to go.  Enjoy this post: Swimming Smarter May Help Your Marathon.


Published in Race
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 12:14

Ironman San Juan Race Report

Ironman San Juan was an incredible experience (outside of getting home but even that was an experience) and one I cannot wait to repeat again next year.  That is correct......I have plans to compete at Ironman San Juan next year.  The venue was incredible, the people better than that and the food was top-notch.  It did not hurt that this was like going home and one that I will cherish forever. If you had been following my wife Karen through Twitteror Facebook you know that I missed my goal times but a hefty margin but after much contemplation and conversation with my coach the end product proves what a terrific race I had.  I would be remise if I did not say Thank You to all of you for your support.  It has proven to be invaluable and a tremendous source of inspiration and motivation. Now let's break this down Hubie Brown style.......


ironman_triahtlon_sanjuan_cooktraineatraceGeting ready to Race

Having booked a room at the host hotel I did not have to wake up super early to travel to the race site.  I set my alarm for 4:30am so that I could eat breakfast by 4:45am which was 3 hours prior to my wave start.  Those three hours would provide me with enough time to go to the bathroom and clean out the system before the gun went off.  Typical of race day my breakfast was granola with almond milk, one rice cake with peanut butter and 1/2 sliced banana and a Herbalife24 Carb-Smoothie with the other half of the banana.  One cup of coffee would accompany this breakfast and help to get the system moving and functioning properly. After breakfast I headed downstairs with Karen to make the 2 minute walk to Sixto Escobar Stadium where transition was setup.  Once at my rack I laid out all my clothes and that is when the fireworks started going off.  In the 45 minutes I was in transition I heard no less than 5 wheels blow from being over-inflated.  It is hot in San Juan, hotter than normal this time of year, and thus the air was already expanded in the tires and when the athletes were trying to fit in 140 psi the tubes or clinchers would blow.  The noise was loud and kept happening over and over again.  My buddy Juan popped over to my rack with his bike pump and I filled up my tires, laid out my cycling shoes, running shoes, helmet, race belt, sunglasses, and HoneyStinger Waffles.  Poured the Herbalife24 Prolong into my Speedfil and filled up the A2 with the liquified EFS Liquid Shot Vanilla.  Placed my tiny cooler with my two handhelds of EFS and my recovery food of peanut butter and banana sandwich, an apple and a pear.  All set up and grab Juan to walk out the stadium when we run into Richard.  Photo opportunity taken and time to head back upstairs to relax before walking over to the swim start. After laying down in the bed for about an hour it was time to head over to the swim which was a 10 minute slow walk.  Karen and I took are time getting there and once there I figured I should do some warm-up swimming and tossed myself in the water for a few minutes.  The water was warm but the swim felt good.  I was ready for this day.  As we walked across the street I found my wave and stood in line with the rest of the athletes, when I over heard the dreaded question:  What are you shooting for?  The question was not directed at me but the conversation broke down like this:

  • I am hoping to be around 6 hours.
  • Yeah, I want to do a 40 minute swim then hold 230 watts on the bike....blah, blah, blah
  • Oh you race with watts.  I use my hear rate.
  • Dude, once you go watts you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner.  It is the best.  Best since sliced bread.  You know that sh*t that Samuel Jackson and John Travolta looked at in Pulp Fiction?  Yeah, watts is even better than that.  You thought the invention of the wheel was big......shoot WATTS is where it's at (not exactly this way but it might as well have been.)

ironman_triathlon_sanjuan_swimOut Of The Water And Onto The 500+ Yard Run To T1

 I had made the determination to put myself in the middle of the front row and go for it.  Swim all out for 200-300 meters to breakaway from the fray and then settle into a nice rithym.  I stood on the beach until about 1 minute to go and then waded into the water and when the gun went off so did I.  I swam as hard as I could without sighting because every time I turned to breathe there was a guy there.  In addition to that I tend to swim to my right which in this case was a good thing as the buoys were all lined to the right and we were swimming in a clockwise motion. After some feet slapping and quick kicking I settled in.  I felt like I was cruising and trying to figure out if I wanted to push harder or save myself for the bike and run.  I was never alone and felt that I was doing a good job of swimming at a good race pace.  Before I knew it I was making the right hand turn at the red buoy when a few of the swimmers from the wave behind me started passing me.  Around the second turn buoy and headed for home.  I know I had 9 orange buoys before hitting the bridge and I started counting them off.  The sighting was very good and eventually I was passing swim caps from two waves prior to the M35-39 age group. Once I got to the bridge the sea floor rose quickly and was slightly disorienting.  Through the bridge and we were in an area with a lot of chop.  Being on the small side I was getting tossed around by the 1 foot to 2 foot swells.  At this point I was swallowing so much water and pushed to get to the end.  This is when I turned and saw the Hammer Nutrition race kit.  I thought it might be Richard and as I got out of the water it turns out that it was Richard.  I knew that he was a fast swimmer and thought to myself that getting out with him was a good thing.  I looked down at my watch and saw 41:XX and felt the disappointment immediately. I had to block it out because it was now a long run to the transition area.  By long I mean long.  Well over 500 yards to where my bike was stationed on the opposite end of transition.  Trying to forget the swim and not trip on the way there were the only things on my mind.

  • Goal:  35:00 - 37:00
  • Actual: 41:37 (2:11/100m)
  • Rank: 620 Overall; 129 M35-39
ironman_triathlon_sanjuan_bikeCheck Out The Ocean Behind Me
After mounting the bike I knew that I would be facing a very flat course and told myself to hold back a bit because I did not want to fry myself before the run.  Having driven the course the day before I knew the way out would be the tailwind and then the way back would be the headwind so it made more sense to enjoy the out but conserve energy.
As I started out I went to take a sip and immediately the tip of the straw flew out and down to the ground.  I would be riding this course with no Prolong was my immediate thought.  Of course though the straw worked fine but I would have to keep it pointed up to avoid spilling all over.  Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  As we get started out we do a few climbs to get out on the highway, which was completely closed down for the triathlon.....just an incredible feeling to be riding a highway devoid of cars.
It wasn't until between Miles 5 and 10 that I finally realized that the wind was in my face and that I could stop thinking about the swim.  Nothing could be done now so just enjoy the ride.  I was passing a handful of riders but not really pushing the effort level.  I looked at my watch a couple of times and noticed that my heart rate was fairly constant in the 150-155 range but I also knew I had to bring it down as that is pretty close to lactate threshold for me on the bike.
When I hit the turn around I knew I had just gone 20 miles and the legs felt great.  On the way back into town it felt like I was riding for forever and the reason it seemed that way was the wind shifted and was again in my face.  The 8 miles back to the turn around to do the second loop felt forever and when the rider next to me asked 'Where is the turn around?' as I was passing him I knew I wasn't the only one feeling that way.
I also may have felt that way because I was not drafting the way the majority of the riders were drafting.  These guys were wheel sucking big time.  At one point I could here disks and aero wheels coming up behind me.  Fully expecting one or two riders the amazement on my face must have been priceless when 10-12 guys passed me as a peleton.  Not even trying to draft I got scooped up in the wind pull.  I was there for about 15 seconds before they dropped me but you could feel the advantage they gave each other.  There was also another rider I was behind who made zero attempts to pass the rider in front of him for a good 3-5 minutes.  It was insane and the officials were out in full force.  I saw two red cards handed out and that made me happy.
Around Mile 45 I saw a man jumping up and down and cheering like crazy.  I did a double take and he looked just like my Dad.  It was eerie and I immediately welled up inside.  I could feel the tears build up in my eyes bought fought them back and did what I could to maintain my composure and then it happened.  I ran out of liquids and instead of panicking I pulled back a bit more knowing I only had about 20 more minutes of riding.  Not a bid deal and just needed to get through it.
Trying to finish strong was tough as the end of the ride was on and off ramps and bridges so essentially the majority of the climbing was at the end.  Knowing that I was about to get started on my run I pushed through and passed a few more riders along the way.  I got my feet out of my shoes and coasted into the dismount line ready to run.
  • Goal: 2:40 - 2:45
  • Actual: 2:46:15 (20.21 mph)
  • Rank: 433 Overall; 105 M35-39
ironman_triathlon_sanjuan_runRunning Through El Morro
After grabbing a handful of cold water out of my little cooler I slipped on my running shoes and grabbed my two handhelds of EFS and was ready to hit the run course.  My goal was to try to negative split the run which meant going out slow and getting comfortable and then turning it on at the end.
I was true to my plan as I saw splits in the 8:30/mile range.  This made me smile as I was actually executing the plan I had set out to do.  The only issues I did not factor into my pacing plan was how hilly the course turned out to be and the heat that we had to deal with.  Karen heard natives of the island even say that the temperature was very hot for Puerto Rico that time of the year.
Not one to make excused I pushed through and made it a point to grab water and ice on the way through every aid station.  I poured water over my head, chewed on ice and what I did not chew on I tossed inside my kit.  When the first hill hit I immediately thought of San Francisco and saw so many people walking and knew that if I ran I would be able to gain valuable time on them.  I did not let up and just kept pumping my arms up and down all of the hills through out the course.
When I hit the turn around for the second loop I could not believe that I was 7 miles away from completing my third 70.3 Ironman race.  This gave me some extra inspiration and I picked up the pace and that is when I felt the first rub of my toes on my shoes.  With all the water being poured over my head plus the hoses on the course my feet were shifting inside my shoes.  Going up hills was tough but was worse going down the hills.  Every step became tougher and this pushed my splits for the final 2 sets of 15 minutes to 9:09/mi and 9:39/mi.
It was at approximately the 11.5 mile mark that I knew I had to just bury my head and run through the pain.  The faster I ran the faster it would be over with and so I did.  I was passed by a guy in my age group with a kit that said Energizer on it and I was not going to let him beat me.  I pushed and right at the Mile 13 marker I passed him and pushed through the end.  My final half-mile was run at an 8:30/mi pace.
I crossed the finish line happy that I would finally be able to take my shoes off and let my feet breathe but also caught another lump in my throat thinking about my father.  Karen was right there at the end the way she always is and that made the pain of the day go away.
  • Goal: 1:40 - 1:45
  • Actual: 1:57:00 (8:47/mi)
  • Rank: 267 Overall; 67 M35-39
ironman_triathlon_sanjuan_finishAll Done And Ready To KEEP Eating
While my goal time was not met I am very proud of my race.  I executed the plan to the T.  I busted out of the gate in the swim, I held back on the bike and still managed 20 mph and did not fly out of T2 into the run and burn out.  After talking with Coach there are a couple of tiny things I would change.  First I would not go all out at the swim start but instead swim my race and find feet to draft off of.  I know I can swim faster but burning that energy and going anaerobic may have cost me more than it saved me in time.  On the bike and run I could have pushed slightly harder.  On the second half of the bike I was at an HR of between 135 and 140bpm.  I could push that to 145bpm for sure and not have wasted energy.  From the run perspective I could have pushed harder on the second half as my HR stayed in the 150-155bpm range.  These hear rates are great for an Ironman but for a Half-Ironman I can probably push just a tad harder.  This is being nit-picky because that is how I am built, but all in all on a very hot day I executed a tremendous race.  My nutrition and hydration were spot on and shows that I have learned how to pace for upcoming Ironman Texas.
  • Goal: 5:03 - 5:13
  • Actual: 5:29:35
  • Top 25% Overall
[caption id="attachment_5541" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Dinner In Old San Juan"]Ironman_Triathlon_Sanjuan_dinner[/caption] I ate just about everything in sight.  It was a hot day and I know I must have dropped close to 10 pounds out there.  I ate oranges and bananas and pizza, then my recovery sandwich and fruit.  If I could get my hands on it I ate it was pretty much how it went down.  After spending some time gathering my thoughts of the day I went and retrieved my bike and made my way to the hotel room to lay down. This was short-lived as Karen was hungry and we decided to go to eat and early dinner with Juan and his wife at Cafe Berlin.
Do it if you can.  The swim course is excellent outside of the final 200 meters but in the grand scheme of things that is nothing.  The bike course is gorgeous.  Beaches and ocean views along with nature preserve parks can't be beat.  The run course is very challenging but with a run through parts of Old San Juan and past the castle at El Morro and the history is with you.
The volunteers and crowd were tremendous.  The people were cheering for you even if their athlete passed two hours before you even reached them.  There was singing and dancing on both the bike and run course.  Vuvuzuellas were played and there was plenty of water, bananas, oranges and Gatorade on the course.  The only downside was no sponges to hold onto during the run but otherwise zero complaints.
[gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="rand"]


Published in Race Reports
Friday, 09 March 2012 12:34

Trust! When?

[caption id="attachment_5459" align="alignright" width="256" caption="Maybe If I Had A Speed Limit Sign I Will Swim Faster?"]triathlon_swim_paces[/caption] Trust is defined by Merriam-Webster as follows:
  • a:assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
  • b: one in which confidence is placed
I bring this up in regards to training and specifically speed.  At some point we all started at X:XX/mile pace and overtime steadily improved and are now running at Y:YY/mile pace.  You can substitute bike speed or swim speed as well.  There was a starting point and through hours and hours and miles and miles we got faster, but the question is at what point did you trust that was your speed? When I started this triathlon journey I would swim 100 yards in 2 minutes to 2 minutes and 10 seconds give or take.  I wasn't the slowest but I certainly wasn't the fastest.  I have worked at my craft to the point that I can swim my fastest of 100 yard set in 1 minute and 35 seconds and have that be fairly consistent but I still don't trust the pace.  Why? I'm not sure of that answer, but here is some background.  Earlier this year I did a 1,ooo yard time trial and I finished about 1:50/100 yards and felt like I wasn't winded.  It was as if I didn't try.  I will say that Coach always says to do these time trial sets as if it were a race.  In a race I go out and settle into a groove and that was what I did but I felt like I cheated myself and her.  I emailed her and gave her the splits but told her I had more in the tank.  The following month we did another and my pace decreased to 1:45/100 yards and yet I still felt strong at the end. Instead of doing another time trial test I just assigned a random number of 1:42/100 yards for all sets that she asked I swim at race pace for.  A moderate pace  was not going to be between 1:45 and 1:50 and a slow easy pace was going to be 1:50 - 2:00.  Every time I got in the water though I questioned if I could hold that pace for 300 yards or 400 yards.  Never mind that I had actually swam that pace for longer distances.  I didn't trust myself to swim at those times.  It has been an odd feeling. I can recall running my first half-marathon and marathon and just about dying at the end.  I know that I had to get better and I did.  I trusted myself to run faster and I did.  To the point that my first marathon was a 4:29 and most recently ran a 3:31 in December.  I trust that my speed for a long distance run like a marathon is 8:00/mile.  I know that a half-marathon can be run in sub-1:40 without pain and a 15k can be run in sub-7:25/mile pace.  I trust these numbers because they have proven to be true, but I also know that I'm training smarter and that those times will drop. On the bike I was an 18 mph rider but now I am a 20 mph rider.  I trust that speed.  I also question that speed to the point that I think I can hit 21 mph on the bike in one week in Puerto Rico.  I trust that I can ride that fast for 56 miles because I just rode 19.5 mph for 92 miles.  It has proven to be true and thus why I may question my speed in the water.  In two Half-Ironman races I have swam 40:37 and 40:08.  Almost identical times and so I don't trust that my current speed will translate to 1.2 miles.  I am questioning whether or not I can get down to somewhere between 36 and 38 minutes for the distance.  Time will tell and I will put my mind to the test because I am fairly positive that my body can. That is the key to this whole scenario.  Silencing the mind.  Telling the mind to shut-up when it questions whether or not I can go that fast.  I have a goal of 5:10 in Puerto Rico and that means that I MUST swim between 35 and 38 minutes otherwise I will have to ride faster and run faster than I have planned and trained for.  Trust the training that I have done and put the work to good use.


** maybe its just the taper week crazies starting
Published in Train
Saturday, 29 October 2011 11:14

Swim Sets To Get Faster

As you know by now my swim has been the hardest discipline for me to improve upon whether it was getting faster or swimming straighter.  I have truly embraced swim training though because it has been so hard.  I love the challenge of tackling something that is not easy.  I love the challenge of staring fear in the face and saying I'm going to do this and you fear are going to get out of my way. As is typically the case I search for articles and ideas and thoughts on how to improve and figure out if they will work for me.  This is a pure trial and error concept and I think this is born from the fact that I am a marketing professional.  Let's test out A and B and figure which works best.  Then we will introduce C and figure which works best.  It is all about trial and error. So when I came across this article that said you should start your swim at the front of the pack I was intrigued.  I have certainly moved from a mid-back starter to a more mid-front starter.  The difference is that I am now off to the right and after 70.3 Austin I have been wondering if that is the spot for me.  I am more confident in my ability to take a punch or have a leg grabbed and keep swimming without a heart rate escalation.  I am also much more determined to not be nice in the water and will swim over people instead of around them.  Is that nice?  No, but I have goals and those goals are to get faster and faster and faster.  In order to do that I need to swim, bike and run my race.  I apologize if I go over you but I have had it happen to me and it's part of the process. All that being said this article stumped me, not by the content but by the workout that it suggested.  The Warm-Up and Cool-Down are extremely long in my mind and the main set is short but not difficult.  Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about but I would like to get your feedback on this.  I only have 140 days until 70.3 Puerto Rico so we need to make every day count in order to beat 5:28. Here is the article from written by Melanie McQuaid: I am a firm believer that the first 400 yards of any Olympic or half-iron-distance swim makes or breaks your swim split. That’s because nearly everyone sprints the start and then settles into his or her relaxed race pace. The difference is that the first pack of swimmers settles into a much faster pace than the second and third packs. The trick is to settle into a pace faster than you can comfortably handle because the drafting advantage will allow you to stay there, taking advantage of the ability of the stronger swimmers. Obviously, your pack skills in open water will help you tuck yourself into a good draft, but nothing is as effective as starting fast.
Fast_Swim_StartThe first few seconds of the swim can set the pace for your entire race. Photo: Nils Nilsen
To get to the front pack you need to work on your start speed. Start speed is pure horsepower and aquatic velocity, not fitness and aerobic capacity. Many triathletes focus their energy on getting fitter so that the swim will take less energy and leave more for the bike and run. This is a good strategy to keep the swim comfortable, but it won’t get you to the front pack—unless you’re a former Olympic swimmer. Getting faster requires swimming faster with a lot of rest so that you can repeat fast swims. The following swim suggestions are main set workouts. Do a 500–1000-yard warm-up with stroke drills to set your form for the workout and get your nervous system firing. Follow the set with an easy 500–1000 yards to help you recover. In addition to making good technical improvements, these sets will improve your speed come race day.

Pure Speed Set

Purpose: Improve turnover (arm cadence), general power and speed. Kicking is particularly important for speed in non-wetsuit swims. • 8–12×25 kick: alternate medium +20 sec rest, fast +30 sec rest • 200 easy swim • 8–12×25 swim: alternate medium +20 sec rest, fast +30 sec rest

What Do You Think Of This Swim Set?

What Is Your Favorite Swim Set?

Published in Train
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