Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ironman Number 5 in the Bag

Quick summary: HOT! As the heat picked up on the bike, my power dropped off. By mile 100 my face was covered with sale. There was so much salt building up around my eyes that I had to pull off chuncks of it. I took in almost all my calories from liquid (and the other 400 or 500 were Gu) and was pounding water. The heat on the bike took its toll, and my pace and power dropped way off throughout the bike.

I started the run considering dropping out. Then I though I don't want to get in that habit. If I got to the point that I couldn't run and still had loads of miles to go, then I'd drop out. Until then, keep going. Plus, it's really hard to tell how I'll feel once I start the run.

...and then ten feet into the run I knew I'd be a tough day. I had no jump in my step. Still, I held 7:00/mile or only a bit slower for the first 7 miles. I gradually slowed to 8:00/mile, and I was a-hurtin'. I walked 5 or 6 aid stations, though I think my pace between stations is faster when I walked than when I run to the stations to the extent that it was pretty even.

Overall, 1:06 swim (okay) + 5:06 bike (no bad considering the heat-induced drop off) + 3:20 run (really good considering the 95 degree temp with very, very few clouds).

2nd in my AG for the third IM in a row (though I suppose there's a chance the results will be updated and I'll drop a spot or two). I just cared about finishing, though, given the conditions. I was told a few times I was 6 minutes back of #1 in my AG, but that was probably on course time not including the time trial swim (incidentally, the dude finished ended up finishing something like 6 minutes ahead of me).

Physically, I'm feeling not too bad. I only lost 5 pounds throughout the race and even peed a few times during the run.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MAF test

Well, I've been extremely busy with work as of late, so the blog has taken a back seat. I update sporadically until Louisville. I should write a race plan this weekend so that I start to focus on the race. It's hard to focus with so much other stuff going on. My diet hasn't been great lately (too many work-related lunches -- one at a pizza place, one with fried chicken), but I sneak in fruit frequently and finish the day off with a huge salad.

Workouts of note as of late:

Fun ride with 20 x [30 sec hard, 30 sec easy] then 40 x [15 sec hard, 15 sec easy]. For the 30 second efforts I did most in the 340-350 W range before building to 370 W for the last several. For the 15 sec efforts, I averaged 257 W for the entire 20 minutes. I blasted some Girl Talk on the iPod to keep things going.

Now I'm out the door for today's second workout: a 45 min swim.

MAF test - 6 miles, Harvard Gulch, 85 degrees, sunny, PE was 5 or 6/10
Avg HR for the 6 miles was 148 bpm and my paces were: (1) 6:57, (2) 7:11, (3) 7:18, (4) 7:25, (5) 7:19, (6) 7:19. I didn't feel like heat was an issue.

400m in 1:23
800m in 2:57
1200m in 4:39
1600m in 6:21
1600m in 6:23
1200m in 4:42
800m in 2:59
400m in 1:24

Those times are for an effort a notch below really hard, something like 95%.

Also, some easy riding and swimming.

5:30 ride with 5 hrs at 129 bpm. I rode a bit past Evergreen and back. It's not as nice as Boulder, but it sure beats Birmingham, MI.

Also, easy swimming.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ellen Hart

(ASI did a good job with the Boulder 70.3 photos. I thought this one in particular was cool. I'm tempted to buy the high resolution photo.)

Buring the Boulder 70.3 last weekend, I was at about mile 9 on the run as I ran along an out-and-back section. A lady running the other direction was looking very strong. It took me the next 3.5 miles to catch up to her, and when I did I was amazed to see that she was 52 years old. She had the physique of a 30 year old professional triathlete. I asked her if she was really 52, and she said she was and that I better speed up or she'd beat me to the finish.

I had to look her up online, and it turns out she has run in the Olympic trials for the marathon, won Boulder Bolder twice, and even almost made the Olympics trials in the marathon at age 48. ABC made a made-for-TV movie about her and her struggles with bulimia called "Dying to be Perfect". She's also a graduate of Harvard and CU law school. Slacker. If you check out my race photos here -- -- she's the lady finished at the same time as me. Fifty two years old...

Anyhow, training has been pretty easy for the past week. I've put in about two hours a day, with about half of that in the pool. My runs have all been very easy -- 8:30 to 9:00/mile pace. Riding has also been easy, with my toughest workout including a 60 minute ride with a whole bunch of 2 minute "hard", 1 minute "easy" repetitions. My "hard" reps started at IM effort and increased to a bit above HIM effort.

I feel recovered from the race, but haven't test myself yet. Better to err on the side of caution with Louisville fast approaching. Chuckie suggested that my recovery may be quicker than normal because I wasn't able to go to the bottom of the well during the race (see the second half of my run). Today will be a bit of a test, as it includes a long (6 hr) but moderately paced ride. Then tomorrow I get to do a track run. Track runs are fun because I get to run fast.

The only other workout of note is yesterday's swim. Stacey joined me for a bunch of hard 100s. While we used to be very evenly matched swimmers, since I started working hard on my swim last year I usually finish 3 or 4 seconds ahead of her in a 100. Somehow, though, she picked up the pace big time yesterday and beat me on most of the 100s. What the...??? She loves it when she can beat me. I might have to start sneaking in extra time in the pool so that doesn't happen anymore!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boulder 70.3 Race Report

One of these days, I'll put together my perfect race. Over the past year I've had a lot of races where my bike or run is solid, and I'm even happy when my swim doesn't take me completely out of contention for the AG win. Yet in every race I've also had a lack luster discipline. That happened again today, and this time where I least expected it -- on the run.

Knowing I veer left, I lined up on the far right so that other swimmers would box me in and prevent me from heading off course. I kept my turnover high and even found a few pairs of feet to sit on at times. About 1250m into the swim, I felt something against my neck and thought it was a strand of sea weed. I grabbed the thing I yanked it, only to pull off my own goggles. Oops. I quickly put the goggles back on even though they were flooded with water. To my surprise, my vision was amazing. Turns out I've been having sighting issues only because my goggles are completely fogged up. With goggles full of water, I could see everything -- picking a line and finding feet to sit on have never been so easy. I've found few strategies to prevent goggle fog and hopefully I'll perfect on before Louisville.

The swim went well for me and I exited in 31:24, good for 14th out of 86 in my age group. That's five minutes off my competitors' times, but I was also off by five minutes at the shorter Boulder Peak swim. That's progress, I suppose.

This is a fast bike course. Even though it's two loops, it seems like the route is 3/4 downhill.

Heading out of T1, I kept an eye on the SRM and kept my power below 300W. It's easy to crush the first few minutes of the bike, but that's not a wise strategy. Still, when the first few miles are crowded I'm will to put out a bit more power than would otherwise be prudent.

About 5 miles into the ride two-time IM world champ Tim DeBoom passed me (due to the wave format and Tim being much faster than me, he was on his second loop while I was on my first). I was actually able to legally hang onto him for a bit, and even had to sit up at times to avoid getting too close, before he pulled away on an uphill. The rest of the pro pack following Tim soon passed. These guys ride hard uphill, and for a while I put out more watts than I wanted to keep pace. I was hoping to legally ride their train for the rest of the loop. My lack of legal drafting experience got the better of me, however, and I allowed such a large gap to open that I was no longer getting any benefit. I'd have had to push real hard to catch back up, and even then I was afraid of getting a penalty. Anyhow, there's an out and back 15 miles later and I was able to see that they only put about a minute on me during that time.

I drank a lot on the bike. Two Gatorade, almost two waters, and a few Gus. That's probably IM equivalent fueling at about 400 cal/hr. A tad much for a half, but my stomach was quickly taking care of any pooling from the big gulps I was taking.

Usually at the end of a hard 56 mile ride my legs are beat. Actually, they're typically beat about 40 miles in, and I spend the last 16 miles really focusing to keep the effort up. Today, however, that was never an issue. I got off the bike feeling better than I can ever remember for a half. Not that there was no fatigue, but I never had to dig deep on the bike.

Time: 2:10 (a whopping 8 minute PR for a 56 mile ride). This ride moved me up to second in my AG and in position to get the win with a really good run.

239 average W (yes, just 239 W for 25.8 mph)
243 W normalized
87 rpm average
164 bpm average (wow, is that high!)
48.8 max speed (where'd that happen? St Vrain?)

I left T2 2:44 into my race. That meant a 1:20 run, two minutes of my PR, would give me a 4:04 half IM. Great, I thought, don't push too hard, just hang onto 6:00-6:15/mile and run right around 1:20. No need to try for 1:18 only to blow up and run 1:30.

The run started great. I was easily hitting 6:00/mile (well, not easily, but below maybe 0.5/10 below the PE I think I can hold for a half). I was really thinking I could hold that pace until mile 9 or 10 and then go all in from there. Through the first half of the race, my plan was working. 6:08/mile for the first 6.55 miles -- right on track for 1:20 and feeling good.

(Chuckie shot this cool photo during the run.)

Then, pretty shortly after mile 7, I recognized some trouble. There's a short hill and my PE climbed way up just to get over the thing. I had a bit of fluid pooling in my stomach, but I craved water. That's always the worst situation -- the one thing you want the most will only exacerbate your other problem. The temp was hot at 90 degrees or so, but not unbearable and not unlike what I've been training in.

I think some salt pills would have aided my digestion, allowing me to take in more water and Coke. I haven't been successful racing in heat, and fueling is one primary reason for that (or at least that's my present theory). Yes, this is another "oh, I'd have gone faster if I had nailed my nutrition" race report. I apologize for that, but I *think* it's the case. My run strength is there and my endurance is there, so there's no reason to fade other than heat (which wasn't that bad) and fueling.

Anyhow, I dropped to 6:46/mile for the last 6.55 miles and finished the run in 1:24. Bah! A 1:20 would have put me right in the vicinity of Brian Schaning, a fast dude and the eventual AG winner, and while I'm not the fastest runner in triathlon I'd be glad to have a race come down to the run.

So, there ya have it. Acceptable swim, fast bike, good 1st half of the run, bad second half of the run. Overall, I still finished 2nd in my AG and 16th overall. Plus my bike was only about 5 minutes back of some of the top guys in the sport. Now just to put it all together!

Finally, congrats to Stacey on her race. She was worried because between planning our wedding and starting a new job, she hasn't focused on training for the past several months. She still hung on and just missed her 6 hour target (despite a run a whole 40 minutes off her PR). Stacey tells me the real highlights of her race were seeing Craig Alexander, Andy Potts, and Michael Lovato.

(This picture is from and was taken before the Boulder Peak.)

Alright, I'm off to continue eating and drinking amazing quantities of food and liquid. It's probably a sign of dehydration that I can drink about 100 oz. of fluid after the race and not have to "use it."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Week Summary

I had a few less than idea workouts this week, but that happens. I've been on a roll as of late so there's no need to be discouraged.

Also, I have finally looked at my swim videos. I'll post a critique tomorrow. There's a lot to critique.

Oh, and congrats to Conor for a stellar Steelhead this past weekend. That should set you up nicely for Louisville. Just be sure not to ramp things back up too quickly at the beginning of this week.

Now on with the show...

August 1
(1) It's August already? Wow. After a tough ride yesterday (see below), I was curious how my legs would react. Today's ride was up to Ward and then over to Niwot High School for a track run. On the climb to Ward I pushed IM effort up until mile 15, averaging 235 W at 143 bpm for 1:05. Once I hit mile 15, gravity and the steepness of the road forced my effort up a bit, and I spent the next ten minutes averaging 256 W and 151 bpm. PE crept up toward the end of the ride, I think just due to muscle tiredness (particularly in the bum). Anyhow, good numbers for me but aided by the terrain.

(2) The post-ride track run went alright. The original plan was 5 miles at 6:00/mile. My HR was 160 bpm after the first mile and 170 after the second. A combination of heat and dehydration were likely responsible for the high HR. CV altered the plan and had me do a bunch of 400s and a few 200s, all at about 6:00/mile pace. The 400s are pretty easy for me, as it's not until 200m in that I even start breathing deeply.

(3) I finished off the weekend with a 15 minute flop.

July 31
(1) The day got off to a good start. I began with a 1:00 run with 2 miles at 6:20/mile pace, but otherwise easy.

(2) After the run I headed up to Boulder to join CV and the gang for a 5 hour ride. My instructions were to do 3 hours at IM pace (~220 W). The best thing I can say about my ride was that the first hour went well. I was cruising along pushing 220-240 W and a HR in the high 140s and feeling great. The second hour didn't go too bad, I guess, but by the time the third hour rolled around I was "in a spot of bother" as Phil Liggett would say. My power dropped way off, my HR stayed high, my stomach was full of fluid, and I had no energy.

I think I know the cause of my issue. First, it was a hot day. Second, my nutrition plan for the ride was real foods, or at least somewhat real foods (e.g., things that strike a good balance between staying edible in my pocket for five hours on a 95 degree day and including only non-machine made ingredients, such as Whole Foods energy nuggets with lots of nuts and fruit and LaraBars). So, I've got a high sweat rate due to the conditions and I'm combating that by taking in a lot of water (not sports drink), yet I am taking in almost no sodium. A few hours into the ride, and suddenly water stops leaving my stomach, I get dehydrated, etc. etc. That's my theory, anyhow.

My ride ended basically limping back to Boulder at <180 W. Still, I averaged over 22 mph for the three hours at IM intensity on terrain similar to Louisville and hit 100 miles in 4:45 despite said limping home.

(3) Very short flop.

July 30
(1) 3400m swim with a 1000m time trial. My time was 17:25, with the first 500m in 8:38 and the second in 8:47. I'm no Grant Hackett.

(2) 1 hour run with 40 minutes at 150 bpm. I averaged 6:52/mile at 152 bpm for those 40 minutes on terrain a bit more challenging than Louisville. Nice. That speed felt easy and I kept having the desire to run around 6:30/mile.

July 29
(1) 4500m swim. I did 3200m or so of this swim earlier in the week, but CV made me do the whole thing all over again since I didn't get the entire 4500m in. Not too bad, really.

(2) Extra curricular: 1 hour spin

(3) 30 minute easy run with Stacey. I did not feel that great. Usually these jogs are effortless, like walking, but this day I had a slight side-stitch.

July 28 - Death Run
(1) 2:15 run scheduled, 2:00 complete. I just fell apart. The only other time I can recall feeling this bad on a run is during the latter stages of a marathon or IM. The goal was to warm-up, start running 6:45-7:00/mile, and then cool-down. Sounded easy enough on paper.

My expectation was for a 150-155 bpm HR, yet after 40 minutes my HR was approaching 160 bpm. It started hitting 165 bpm on hills, and I made the executive decision to pull the plug on running by pace. Hour 1: 7:00/mile at 160 bpm average.

I switched to running at 155 bpm for the second hour. Despite slowing to 7:37/mile, I only made it another 30 minutes before making executive decision #2: get home ASAP. I dropped my pace to balance minimizing suffering and getting home quickly.

The hike is Aspen may have taken more out of me than I realized, and it showed during this run. (Again, just my theory.)

(2) Flop.

July 27
(1) Swim. This is the one I mentioned above. I did 3200m of the scheduled 4500m. Hey, a man's got to work! (CV noted on the schedule that if I couldn't fit the whole thing in, I just needed to wake up earlier.)

(2) Tempo ride w/ 1:30 at 230-240 W. I did nine 10 minute intervals with 2 minutes easy pedaling between. Average watts were 245-248 for all sets, and my HR average gradually increased from 143 bpm to 148 bpm. Solid and pretty easy, PE-wise.