Sunday, January 2, 2011

Where I stand these days

Where I stand (epic title, get used to it; that's how I roll)
As it relates to:

I've now been swimming for almost exactly 2.5 years.  Having never gotten in a pool to swim laps (and try to improve) until July of 2008 trying something new was scary and intimidating.  I remember way back in the day Jocelyn spent about 3-4 months trying to get me to go to a masters class with her and I always turned her down, citing the fact that I'd be demolished and embarrassed.  Or even better, that I didn't have any good swim apparel.  That is the best excuse in the world, bar none.

My swim totals from 2008 to 2010 looked a little like this 106850 (July-December) in 2008, 358615 in 2009 and 483506 in 2010.  Obviously, I've been trying to work on what has been my biggest limiter.  There were some ups and downs along the way.  One of my favorite swimming related trends is the fact that I've gotten slower every time I've gone to White Lake and swam 1.2 miles.  Case in point: 2009 - 31:59, 2010 - 32:08, 2010 Triple T Half - 35:something.  My downward spiraling trend will hopefully stop in 2011.

The only thing I can say with confidence with regard to swimming is two-fold:

1) I will be swimming a LOT in 2011. Like a lot a lot.
2) I've gotten faster, slowly.  My first open water 1500m swim was in Lake Norman in 2008 and it was 32 minutes.  My most recent open water 1500m was 23:38 (not a PR actually thanks to the wetsuit legal swim at OTM - 22:50) at Stumpy Creek.  I'll call that some sweet improvement, albeit 2 years in the making.

I can't say many negative things about my cycling in 2010.  The only thing I'd change in hindsight is biking more towards the end of the season.  Last year I was doing my biggest race in mid-November so I was doing a lot of riding in September/October.  This year I essentially stopped riding any decent amount after Louisville and was inconsistent with what riding I did.  That really brought the ol' averages down; I was headed towards a 7k+ mileage year but ended up coming in slightly under my 2009 totals.

As far as stand-alone biking, I managed to do two bike races this year, something I hadn't done since ye ol' College days.  Back at William and Mary I was a legend, the best bicycle races ever to grace the bricks at the UC.  Times have changed, however, and I was glad to be able to test my legs against some "real" cyclists.  Triathletes often tend to think of themselves as amazing cyclists but are quickly disproved when they foray into crits so I was expecting to be dropped in both of the crits for which I was signed up: Cat 4 and Cat 4/5 <35.  The two races were at 5 and 7:30 pm (roughly) and I somehow managed to win both of them.  Needless to say, I was surprised and pretty pumped up about it.

I was very pleased with my bike splits in almost all of my races this year (Cool Breeze and Over the Mountain being the exceptions) but the mantra of "There's no such thing as a good bike split and a bad run split" held true for me, which slightly marginalizes the fast bike times.  I should be able to run faster than a 1:32 in a half marathon so...did I bike too hard in NOLA and WL?  Those are questions that I aim to fix next year with the help of my coach, my powermeter, and another year of experience.

My expectations for riding with a powermeter in 2010:
1) Race smarter
2) Not necessarily bike a lot faster (i.e. sub 2:12:00), but be able to do close to that with less energy spent.
3) Run faster
4) Satisfy my ginormous ego with 1500+ watt sprints and 20++ watts/kg

Well, where to start with running.  Firstly, I've now been running for almost exactly 3 years.  After swimming, it's definintely been a limiter in races this year.  In New Orleans, I went from 1st AG at the start of the run to 2nd.  At White Lake, I went from 5th to 7th.  At a small sprint in KY I went from 2nd to 4th.  Stumpy Creek was the worst, going from 1st to 4th (getting to watch Scott sprint away from me, Tom Clifford blast past me and ol' man Frank Fawcett ease on by me...).  I know that I'm not a bad runner, I just haven't been able to race to what I believe is my potential.

I had a much better year of training as far as the run goes in 2010 versus 2009.  Last year I took multiple weeks off due almost wholly to injuries: two severely sprained ankles in February/June and a serious bout with ITB issues in October/November.  I believe I totaled almost 5-6 weeks off from running in 2009.  Not so this year; anytime I took off was due to other stuff.

Most running I did this year was aerobic.  "Base" zone running if you wish to use such terminology.  I rarely strayed out of my comfort zone.  Despite that, I managed to post some good stand-alone run times in 2010.  Corporate Cup Half-Marathon was a good race; Behme and I planned on running together and the first ten miles at 6:20 pace felt very smooth and after some encouragement from John I headed out on my own and forged ahead with the last 4 miles at just under 6 minute pace.  A mostly cruise-control half-marathon in 1:21:30.  I was really happy with that as it promised some faster half-ironman run times (obviously, I was faster but not as fast as I thought I could be, alas!).  The ING Georgia Marathon was also a good experience.  The first 17 miles went by with nary a problem and then the course got hard.  Really hard.  Gradual, long inclines followed by incredibly short, steep downhills  that absolutely murdered my quads and calves.  Our only goal for that race was sub 3 so to both come in under goal pace (albeit barely) was a nice consolation for not being able to walk for two days.

So this year I've been able to be more consistent, but I haven't necessarily improved much in 2010.  I think that consistency and injury-freeness will help out a lot for next year, however.  We shall see.

Next and last: Expectations for 2011 and beyonddd!!!

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